I had something really clever worked out in my head last night for this little intro spot, but then sleep stole it from me. Lesson: write it down.

  • Dan Patrick is shining a ray of hopefor Ryan Braun, who is currently appealing a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance in October. Patrick says he’s heard from “somebody involved in the process” that Braun may ultimately be exonerated. Among Patrick’s comments on his radio show yesterday: “There were whispers that this was a personal medical issue, that he was taking something for that, that may have spiked his test. I since found out [Sunday] that that is not the case …. Ryan Braun may be exonerated here. He may be found innocent. And judging from all of the information I was told, there’s a good chance that he should be …. The bigger issue here is the testing and was Ryan Braun a victim of the testing by Major League Baseball. Let’s see how this plays out …. The feeling I got [Sunday] from somebody involved in the process in this, it’s not as cut and dried as people would think. And Ryan Braun may be an innocent man.” We’ll have to wait to see what Braun’s defense actually is – personal medical situation or erroneous testing – but it still remains a longshot that his suspension is overturned, if only because it’s never happened before.
  • A Big League Stew link made the rounds yesterday, making fun of the Cubs’ “culture change” under Theo and Jed for purportedly teaching its “prospects” the dance moves to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” And the included video is pretty funny. The “prospects” in the video are members of the Idaho Cubs, and, hey, what do you know, the Cubs do have some prospects in Idaho … but they aren’t the Idaho Cubs. They’re the Boise Hawks. The Idaho Cubs are actually not a part of the Chicago Cubs’ organization, but instead are a development team for kids hoping to someday play collegiate or professional baseball – it’s mostly high schoolers. The team is sponsored by the Boise Hawks, but these aren’t Cubs “prospects.” (The Big League Stew post was later updated to include the following: “Admittedly, the connection here is kind of a stretch: The Idaho Cubs are sponsored by the Boise Hawks, Chicago’s short-season Single-A affiliate. But it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it in the middle of January.”) Take your derision elsewhere, thankyouverymuch.
  • The Tribune’s Dave van Dyke discusses which team has the better rotation right now, the Cubs or the White Sox, and lands on the White Sox, though he thinks both rotations are ugly. Shrug. It seems to me that Garza/Demspter versus Danks/Floyd is a push, and I’ll take the Cubs’ 3 through 7 over the White Sox’s 3 through 5. Or have I just been sold on Theo and Jed’s insistence on rotation depth (we were all a pretty easy sell after seeing what happened last year with Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner).
  • The bids are in for the Los Angeles Dodgers – about 10 of them – and, among the notable names: Mark Cuban.
  • ESPNW’s Amanda Rykoff takes a look at the anticipated storylines for the 2012 season for each team, and the Cubs’ story is pretty much exactly what you’d expect: “Theo Epstein has arrived. Carlos Zambrano is gone. I don’t think anything else matters much to Cubs fans these days. The Cubs have a new ad campaign called ‘Baseball is Better’ and that seems to be the feeling these days on the North Side. There’s always next year in Wrigleyville, but maybe, just maybe, this will actually be true with new management in town.” I’d say the real storylines are a bit more nuanced than that – the primary one being how has the team positioned itself for 2013 and beyond – but Epstein and Zambrano are obviously names you’ll be hearing on a daily (or near daily, in Zambrano’s case) basis this year.
  • Brad Paisley will join Roger Waters in making a stop at Wrigley Field this summer. Paisley will play at Wrigley on June 9, with Miranda Lambert, Chris Young, Band Perry and Jerrod Niemann opening.
  • ferrets_bueller

    Can’t wait to see the Wall live again, at Wrigley this time.  Although, I have to say, I really wish they had used the United Center again.  There are shows that can be played at a place like Wrigley without losing something…to me, that really isn’t one.  Oh well, twill be epic anyways.

  • Fishin Phil

    January has now officially gone on too long. I am ready for some Spring Training news. Would somebody please push the clocks ahead?

    • CubFan Paul

      dont rush it. We still need a 2B and Randy Wells is overpaid to be the 6th/7th starter (& a soft tossing righty in the pen is unappealing)

      Theo&Co need this extra time so that they can flip Wells to a Nat’l League team that needs a ‘solid’/cheap 4th or 5th Starter for a young cost controlled 2B thats ML ready (grrrr@trading LeMahieu)

      • CubFan Paul

        anybody got any suggestions on a AA/AAA 2B/SS thats ML ready (or almost) and on a Nat’l League team that needs a 5th starter? Padres? Marlins?

        • Kyle

          You aren’t netting a near-ready prospect for Randy Wells, imo.

          • fearbobafett

            a backup type that is young for 2nd base and could play other spots i think is more what he is talking about. At least that is the way i am reading it.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Maybe not a great one, but an upgrade on Barney? I could see it.

            But, given the direction of the 2012 Cubs, upgrading 2B no longer seems like a particularly worthwhile endeavor. *IF* Wells is to be traded, just pick up the best prospect you can get, and call it a day.

          • CubFan Paul

            its possible. It could be a kid who’s blocked or a new regime is in town &devalues the prospects that arent his. i’d add the Dodgers, Mariners,and Mets to the list (teams that can afford to spend $3M on a 5th starter)

        • Mick

          I like Trevor Plouffe from the Twins http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/plouftr01.shtml. The Twins are badly in need of pitchers too, I mean they just signed Jason Marquis to be their 5th starter. Plus, along with Marquis, Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano are all in their final years of their contracts so Wells would serve as depth for them next year too. The Twins have other depth at 2B such as Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka too that might match up for Randy Wells.

          • CubFan Paul

            plouffe has a predicted OPS over .700, thats awesome and provides power ..just the kind of player we could target. Thx

            2B shouldnt be neglected/left to Barney because we have other holes or ‘bigger’ problems. Wells will be overpaid for his role next year with the Cubs and Barney is a backup with no upside. i totally expect a trade

  • Kyle

    Dan Patrick, a longtime jocksniffer posing as a journalist, is almost certainly using Braun, Braun’s agent, or one of their friends as his “source.”

    Braun’s people’s strategy from the beginning has been clear. He knows he’s been caught dead to rights, so he’s planting as many false stories as he can so that some people will say “man, there’s so many conflicting stories, who knows what is right?!?!” and give him the benefit of the doubt. He’ll serve his suspension but the fans in Milwaukee will still cheer for him.

  • gritsngravy

    Why do we need a 2b? I do not think Barney did anything last year to not deserve the job at 2b. He is still young and shows some promise. I don’t think we can give up on him so quickly.

    • CubFan Paul

      why? …because Barney isnt “young”, he’ll be 27 this year. There’s no promise in a .666OPS, his career OBP is .310 (!) ..thats horrendous, and Brett lost me when he said upgrading 2B no longer seems like a particularly worthwhile endeavor

      • Kyle

        In the new low-offense MLB, a .310 OPB from a middle infielder isn’t that bad anymore.

        The MLB average OBP last season. The average for 2b was .320.

        .310 from 2b is a bit below average, but combine it with great defense and you have an average player.

        I certainly wouldn’t turn down an upgrade at 2b. But in terms of priorities, I’d say 3b, OF (after Byrd and Soriano are presumably gone by the end of this year) and relief pitching are higher on the list.

        • bluekoolaidaholic

          Totally agree!
          I have followed his career all the way and Barney has been successful everywhere he has been (except on mismanaged Quade’s nightmare). Regardless of his age, he continues to play the game the right way and gives it everything he has. He is a hard worker and I think he will continue to grow. If he doesn’t and there is someone better available that can beat him out, go for it. But until then, I think he deserves the job.

          • CubFan Paul

            Bruce Levine agrees with me, “I expect them to go strongly in their attempts to sign Cuban players. *As far as the major league team, they are in need of a starting 2B or a backup for Barney who can plays 2B and SS. There is no one in the organization who can fill that role*”

      • Beer Baron

        While Barney is by no means an all-star player, he is also far from the Cubs’ biggest problem. Last year his numbers dropped off quite a bit In August and September, but that is very common for first year players who are not used to the wear and tear of a full MLB season. His pre-All Star split shows a much more respectable .306/.334/.708 line, which again isn’t a superstar but if he can maintain that for a full season it really isn’t bad for a #8 hitter with solid defense who is only making the league minimum and under team control for 4 more years (and who will be only 26 all season- not 27). I think his ceiling is probably an average 2nd baseman at best, but that isn’t such a bad thing considering what he will cost the team. If there were legit prospects that could be had, great, but teams don’t just give away promising middle infielders so chances are you’re going to have to weaken the Cubs elsewhere (whether it is giving up other prospects or cash) to strengthen themselves at 2nd base. Just doesn’t seem worth it it considering the team isn’t going anywhere in 2012. And if the Cubs are contending in 2013 or 14, Barney will likely have shifted into a back-up role as a utility infielder, which is probably his ideal role, so why not leave him out there this season, let him get his 500 ABs, and then when they’re able to upgrade at 2nd they’ll at least have an experienced back-up on the roster.

      • DocWimsey

        Put another way, there were 15 2Bmen with 450+ PAs and Barney’s OBP was 12th best. However, two of the three guys with worse OBPs (Uggala & Johnson) made up for it with power. So, Barney’s OPS was 14th of the 15 2Bman. Only Aaron Miles was worse than Barney there.

        Of course, this would be somewhat less of an issue if Barney was batting 8th instead of 2nd (which I think that he was towards the end of the season). It does not make a huge difference, but it might add up to 10-15 runs (and thus 1-2 victories) a season.

        I agree with others, however: the Cubs have higher priorities right now, and that’s a pretty damning statement!

  • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

    BN story of the day.

    I was raised by a single mother who always taught me that loyalty was very important. She said you dont turn your back on family and friends. Most people who do bad things aren’t always bad people. I try to see the best in people. I guess that’s why I refused to give up on Z. I’m always searching for the happy ending. My mother also said at some point you have to cut your loses and move on. My argument is I have family and friends who have done worse then Z and I still support them. For instance, my lil cousin keep sticking me for money, even though he knows I have 2 sons(and a girl on the way), and a wife to support on my one salary. He ran up a tab at the bar Sunday while watching the football games knowing he had no money. $48 dollars worth. And guess what, I covered it.

    The point of the story. While caculating the receipt from the weekend(my wife has an accountant degree, even though she’s a housewife. She is tight with a dollar. To tight at times. LMAO) she ask why I had 2 from the bar. I was going to make up an excuse but felt like she already knew. So I told her the truth. After we had a long discussion about me no longer support him financially, I gave in and said I would no longer do it. I explain to her why I help him out at times, and she said I was just stupid, not loyal.

    And then out of nowhere, she said, “That’s why you always telling me you getting cursed out on that Cubs blog you be on. You keep trying to support that crazy ass pitcher. I’m glad they traded his crazy ass. You call it loyalty, I call it psychotic. you just psychotic.” Then she just walked to the bedroom.

    I though it was funny.

  • gritsngravy

    I think that there is a need on other ball clubs for a pitcher like Wells. If we can get anything at all for him up to and including a box of baseballs we should take it. He is a decent pitcher but I don’t see where he really fits into our current rotation. Everyone is saying trade garza but I think that you build around him. The guy is a stud and an inspiration in the club house.

  • Matt

    Brett, be careful if you write down your clever thoughts in the middle of the night. You might come up with “Flaming Globes of Zigmund”.

  • Elephanthole

    Remember when some Cubs fans cried about Ryan Theriot being traded. Well hes out there and hes not here. You CAN quiet the riot.

  • Spencer

    Sweet! The outfield grass is gonna get messed up again so everyone will fall down while chasing fly balls!

    • DocWimsey

      And we’ll be waiting for the worms to come…..

      • ferrets_bueller

        I can’t wait to see that show again…although I wish they’d had it at the UC again.

  • RoughRiider

    Barney doesn’t get enough credit. Remember that last year was his first in the Majors and that he was matching Castro hit for hit the first 2 -3 months. Before he’s written off lets give him a year and see what happens. The pitchers adapted to him. Lets see if he can adapt.

    • CubFan Paul

      he had 4 months to make adjustments & struggled badly

    • ferrets_bueller

      Darwin Barney gets far too much credit.

  • Matt

    Any word on a July 4th concert @ Wrigley? Rumor says it’s PHiSH.