The NFL has reached its penultimate stage, which is exciting to me if only because it allows me to use “penultimate,” one of my favorite – but rarely useful – words.

  • After years of having no one to whom you could point and call a “very good” first base prospect, the Cubs now have two in the top ten in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. 2011 second round pick Dan Vogelbach comes in at number 10, and recently-acquired first baseman of the future Anthony Rizzo comes in at number 1.
  • Speaking of Rizzo, the Tribune has a nice feel-good write-up on the Jason McLeod favorite. Rizzo is going to be an easy one to root for. And it’ll be at first base – McLeod noted on a radio appearance yesterday morning that the Cubs don’t plan on trying him out in a corner outfield spot. Rizzo is a first baseman, and a great one, defensively, at that.


  • Folks want to know where the Cubs’ compensatory pick for Carlos Pena will fall – by my early calculation, it’s going to be right around number 53 (near the end of the supplemental round because it’s for a Type B player, and it is the Cubs’ second supplemental pick (Aramis Ramirez is first, at around pick 42)). That’ll give the Cubs three picks in the top 53, and four in the top 61 or so. Crappy years do have their upside.
  • Ryan Braun, who in October tested positive for a banned substance, accepted his MVP award last night, and here’s a portion of his speech: “Sometimes in life we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure. We have an opportunity to look at those challenges and view them either as obstacles or opportunities. I’ve chosen to view every challenge I’ve ever faced as an opportunity and this will be no different. I’ve always believed that a person’s character is revealed through the way they deal with those moments of adversity.” Perhaps, Ryan. But it’s also possible that your character was revealed about four months ago. Time will tell.
  • The Sun Times reported last week that some Cubs’ scouts were upset that the team had asked them to double up in rooms at the Cubs Convention and to take the L to get there. Now, the Sun Times reports that the Cubs have cut scouts’ per diem from $50 a day to $30 a day. Clearly, the Sun Times has the line on a disgruntled scout or two. I asked a scout if he’d yet heard of the change, and he hadn’t. He said it would surprise him given the Cubs’ stated desire to get the best scouts and pay them like the best. Then again, maybe the Cubs are paying the best salaries, but cutting around the margins. They wouldn’t be the first company to try that approach.
  • Another suggestion – this, from Phil Rogers – that Larry Lucchino is the problematic piece in the Cubs/Red Sox’s efforts to settle the Theo Epstein compensation issue.


  • I’ve heard repeatedly that Alfonso Soriano is a very nice guy, so this story from CubsCon is not surprising: “[O]n Saturday, I met a young girl who was about 12 years old. She was waiting for Alfonso Soriano for 6 1/2 hours in the same spot. She spoke with me about how much she loves him and wants to name her kids after him. I walked up to the stage with her at 4:30 p.m. to finally meet him and she started to cry out of sheer joy. Alfonso signed a picture, a ball and a bat for her and took three pictures with her. That was probably the most exciting moment of her life, and to be a part of that was heartwarming. Despite all of the angst for Soriano that many fans have, the sheer emotion of the situation took over. For that moment, everything was at ease. The best part was Alfonso’s reaction; he loved every second of it.”
  • An interesting article arguing that the only way to really stop PED use is to hammer the players in their wallets every year of their current contract after they test positive. “The notion that being exposed as a possible cheater is a strong enough deterrent is just disingenuous PR spin. Baseball was never as puritanical as revisionists make it out to be. The game’s history is filled with philanderers, drunks and racists — and that was the “Golden Age.” If the game really wants to stop PEDs, it will stop pretending it operates in a “Leave It To Beaver” world and acknowledge that it’s just trying to keep up with the Kardashians like every other money-driven business.”



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