The story out of Kansas City is really troubling on so many levels. I wish other writers would resist the urge to use the tragedy as a spring-board to discuss their favorite pet issue – domestic violence, mental illness, concussion problems in the NFL – and take some time to just think about the victim, and the family. All of those things merit discussion in time. But this isn’t that time, and 10 minutes after the event certainly weren’t the time.

  • The Cubs haven’t yet confirmed the signing, and might not until he’s actually sitting at a press conference (or, perhaps when he takes the mound in April, after a full Spring Training (“Now entering the game for the Cubs … what’s this? A newly-signed righty out of Japan! Confirmed!”)), but last night reports indicated that the Cubs have come to terms with Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa on a two-year, $9.5 million deal, with an option for 2015 (which appears to be either a player option or a team option, depending on how many games Fujikawa finishes). Jon Heyman adds that Fujikawa also can receive up to $2 million per year in incentives, which, again, is almost certainly based on games finished (which is a proxy for “saves,” since teams are not allowed to based contract incentives on production stats like saves, or homers, or RBI – only things like appearances, games played, and awards).
  • The added incentive money makes sense. I was visiting my mom with the Little Girl yesterday when the Fujikawa news broke (and scrambling to leave so I wouldn’t destroy her bedtime), so I didn’t have too much time to digest the contract, itself, and ponder whether it was more or less than I thought it would be. Consider Fujikawa’s history of success and the state of the reliever market, I suppose I would have thought it was a pretty cheap deal – though the uncertainty of a player who hasn’t played in the States obviously factors into the cost. With those incentives added, it shifts a bit closer to the expected range. If Fujikawa becomes the full-time closer, his salary in 2013/2014 could be $6 million (plus he’d already have pocketed a $1 million signing bonus), which would put him in the range of, for example, the deal Jonathan Broxton just signed to close for the Reds. Once again, the likelihood that Carlos Marmol opens 2013 with the Cubs is slim.

  • Jed Hoyer on Junior Lake, who continues to rip up the Dominican Winter League: “Junior is an amazing athlete. He has the ability to move around. When you have a guy who can play short and third and left and center field, I think we’ll use all that athleticism. We don’t know exactly what his final home will be but it’s been nice to get reports from [long time scout and Dominican manager] Dave Jauss from the Dominican Republic talking about [Lake’s] performance and development. I hope he can springboard off a good winter ball and head into Spring Training with some confidence.” This is the second straight season that Lake has dominated a post-season league (last year it was the AFL). He remains an enigma: a physical talent with skills he can’t harness consistently, and enough defensive ability at a variety of positions to maybe be passable, but not enough (yet) to be great at any one spot.
  • John Sickels teases us with the contours of his Cubs’ prospect list, without yet revealing the list. In that post, and then updated in the comments, Sickels says the Cubs have (not yet final) one A prospect, two B+, one B, nine B-, sixteen C+, and thirteen C. For reference, Sickels’ grades generally work like this: Grade A prospect are future stars or superstars (if injury doesn’t derail them), and it’s an extremely rare ranking. Grade B prospects are very good prospects, some of whom will become future stars. Most will at least make the majors in some kind of useful role. Grace C prospects are good prospects, some of whom will become stars, but who are either too young or have too many question marks to receive a higher grade. That the Cubs have thirteen prospects at B- or better is blowing my mind.
  • As we go through the holiday season, thinking about family as much as fandom, this story on the Duncan family – that would be patriarch Dave Duncan, long-time Cardinals’ pitching coach – is worth a read. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that, whatever our fandom, we’re all people.

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