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.
  • Ron Swanson

    You woke me up with this headline, Brett!

    Oh, and of course he does: “Phil Rogers thinks it’s a good idea to bat Alfonso Soriano first.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If you ever decide to have an avatar, I think you just found it.

  • Spoda17

    … if you haven’t seen the MLB 12 The Show Commercial, here it is… pretty good… sad for us Cub fans tho… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0a9kLDdAot4

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That immediately merited a post. Nicely done.

  • Fishin Phil

    “Phil Rogers thinks it’s a good idea to bat Alfonso Soriano first.”

    Proving once again, that Phil Rogers is an idiot.

  • Chris84

    “Phil Rogers thinks it’s a good idea to bat Alfonso Soriano first.”

    Full disclosure – I haven’t read the article, but I assume Phil is taking the “mind as well get it out of the way early” approach to Soriano.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He offers a number of illogical justifications.

      • Chris84

        I expect no less of him.

  • Edwin

    MLB 12 The Show comes out today. That is sorta baseball related, right?

    • CubFan Paul

      I’m done with Madden. Giving it up because I don’t like the PS3 version compared to the old school ps2.

      Is MLB the Show awesome anyone? I like the commercials with the dork & mauer but I’ve never played it nor do I know anyone who does. Is there a franchise mode? Easy to play on defense? I might buy last years version to save a little money to see if I like it

      • Gabriel

        Yes it is awesome – i’m speaking as someone who owns the ’09 version. Full 40-mans, road to the show (play as your own created player & work way through minors to the bigs), season, franchise, really nice graphics/player likenesses.

        It is so customizable that I have even created Starlin Castro, Rizzo, BJax and others in very close likeness so as to have current-ish rosters. Apparently the new one has HR derby now too.

      • HoustonTransplant

        I have last year’s version of The Show. It’s great, and if you want it to be ‘easy’ you can have it that way, and if you want it to be challenging, you can go that route, too. It’s a really well-done game. Highly recommend it. I’ve always enjoyed it over the other baseball game out there…

  • Smitty

    Love Ron Swanson even more! I didn’t know that could be possible!

  • Chief

    Craig Robinson was signed to do stand up at my college here in San Diego. It turned out to be an awful musical thing. I guess him being a Sox fan is just one more reason to dislike him…

  • TeddyBallGame17

    Phil Rogers is such a terd. Him and Rick Morrissey continuously say stupid “isht” to get a rise out of people. No one is stupid enough to actually believe that Soriano should bat first. Oh yeah, both Rogers and Morrissey are equally ridiculous in person as well…no defending them!!

  • http://bleachernation.com Tarheel Cub

    I have said before to bat Soriano ninth – but recently found out he can’t bunt either. :(

  • Chef

    My manlove for Ron Swanson has now increased to a level which I previously thought to be unattainable for anybody not named Mike Rowe. I’ve even started a FB page, Ron Swanson for President.

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  • Benjamin Raucher

    Dempster’s progress will be carefully watched. I wish him well