I already loved Ron Swanson – the “fictional” Director of the Pawnee Parks Department, played by Nick Offerman – but now that he’s representing the Cubs in a commercial for New Era (against Craig Robinson from ‘The Office,’ who represents the White Sox), I love him even more. “What I said was, I’ll take all the bacon and eggs you have.” The picture there comes from Craig Robinson’s Twitter account.
- Yesterday the Cubs announced that they’ve signed all 24 of their 0 to 3 year service time players (guys on the 40-man roster who aren’t yet arbitration eligible), which sounds like an accomplishment. But, given that the Cubs have the right to “renew” those contracts for any amount they see fit, it’s actually not terribly impressive. Almost all such players will make the Major League minimum ($480K), with a handful getting around, or slightly more than, $500K (Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, for example). Jeff Samardzija falls into this group, but he gets a healthy $2.64 million. Because he signed a Major League deal as a Draft signee, he was making $3.3 million last year, despite entering the year with just about one year of service time. Under the CBA, the Cubs are not permitted to drop his salary more than 20% – and, what do you know, that’s about how much it dropped.
- Ed Sherman says he’s heard that the $45 million estimates on how much the Cubs make in TV revenue annually are low. He believes the number is a bit higher (and harder to quantify due to the Cubs’ ownership stake in CSN), but still less than the $75 million the San Diego Padres might get at the tail end of the deal they’ll soon be signing. The Cubs’ situation could improve by 2015, when their deal with WGN will have expired. That’ll give the Cubs about 77 games with which to negotiate on a new deal (or a new network). But the whole ball of wax doesn’t open up until after 2019, when the team’s deal with CSN expires. I have a hard time believing the Cubs will simply ride that out – I expect some negotiations over the next several years, including the possibility of a new deal with CSN, or a buyout of the Cubs’ obligations.
- Ryan Dempster is working hard to move past last year (mostly last April), and have a good season – in the final year of his deal with the Cubs. But he’s not overly worried about impressing the new bosses (which he concedes is on folks’ minds), or pushing for a new deal: “All those pieces fall into place if you just go out there and do your job. The easiest thing for me to do is focus on my job, and that’s preparing in between starts and every fifth day to go out there and do the best job I can of being mentally and physically prepared to pitch. Whatever happens, happens.”
- Speaking of Dempster, he’s currently lined up to be the Opening Day starter, and not Matt Garza. Although it’s a nice honorific, who starts Opening Day doesn’t really matter all that much. It’s far more important to get your matchups right, and that’s just what Dale Sveum thinks: “[The Opening Day starter decision will] be a lot [about] the matchups. How we want them going into the Brewers series, which actually won’t be that big of a deal. It’ll be [dependent] more on that third series [against St. Louis] more than that, how everything lines up for that first nine-12 games.” (Sveum isn’t saying the Brewers aren’t important, by the way – because there’s an off-day after Opening Day, and because the Brewers series is four games, anyone and everyone will be available to pitch at some point in that series. But that won’t be true of the three-game Cardinals series that comes thereafter.)
- Half of the Sweet Sixteen in the Cubs Bunt Tournament played yesterday, with Welington Castillo taking down tourney favorite Steve Clevenger (clearly Castillo wins the back-up catcher job now). Other winners were Adrian Cardenas, Casey Coleman, and Jeff Beliveau advance; other losers were Blake Lalli, Chris Rusin, and Trey McNutt.
- The Cubs are stepping up their use of video to help players in the season with minor adjustments.
- Fluff on one of the less-talked-about rotation/bullpen candidates, former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine.
- Phil Rogers thinks it’s a good idea to bat Alfonso Soriano first.