And now, a selected reading from The Impotence of Me and Earnest.

And now, a selected reading from The Impotence of Me and Earnest.

Is Keith Moreland a secret agent? Are the Muskbox submitters a secret sect of low-intelligence sentient life forms? Does anyone remember Josh Vitters? Do people in New Zealand watch the Cubs? All these questions and more will be half-assedly answered in this week’s edition of the Muskbox.

Last year the Cubs gave Scott Baker $5.5 million and now they have reportedly given $6 million plus incentives to Jason Hammel but they’ve offered Jeff Samardzija $4.4 million. That does not compute.


I understand they are in negotiations over a possible long-term deal and he has yet to prove he’s an ace. But he has to have more upside than Baker or Hammel. What gives? — Billy E., Lake Katrine, N.Y.

I don’t know. I really think Scott Baker is due for a breakout year.

CARRIE: It’s all about comparables, not upside.

I’ve used that exact same line on SO MANY women.

CARRIE: Compare their service time and performance. Baker has eight seasons as a starting pitcher in the big leagues. Samardzija has pitched in the Major Leagues for six seasons but only the last two as a full-time starter. The Cubs and Samardzija’s agent are still discussing a long-term deal. Hopefully, they avoid going to arbitration and reach a compromise between what the Cubs offered ($4.4 million) and what Samardzija is seeking ($6.2 million).

Actually, hopefully the Cubs just pay him what they want to pay him and he accepts. Because why the fuck should I care if Samardzija can buy the biggest house in all of Merrillville and still have $6.1M to spare?

The Cubs appear to have four starters in Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood and Jake Arrieta.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Jake Arrieta is definitely a starter now? TICKET PACKAGES ARE STILL AVAILABLE!!!

Who are they considering as No. 5? I know they have Justin Grimm, Chris Rusin and Carlos Villanueva as possible candidates but do you see them re-signing Baker to a reasonable deal or going elsewhere? Who’s the front-runner for the No. 5 spot? — Dustin R., Kimberly, Wis.

Let’s just say the forecast is…Grimm.

/puts on sunglasses

CARRIE: Baker is not in the mix because he signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners. As for who gets the fifth spot among the names you listed, that’s one of the fun elements of Spring Training.

The other fun elements are the blistering heat, the absolute wasteland that is downtown Mesa, Arizona, and being the first one to get Clark’s signature.

CARRIE: Hammel, who has reportedly signed with the Cubs, pending a physical, also is a candidate.

This sentence, which was written by Carrie Muskat, using an old-timey typewriter, is a mess.

CARRIE: The right-hander was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter but missed time because of a strained right forearm. I know Villanueva would like to start but he’s so valuable as a swingman, he may end up back in the bullpen. I’d pick Rusin as a front-runner. He made a huge leap last season and the Cubs may decide they want another lefty in the rotation.

Get Terry Mulholland on the phone!

I was wondering what the future holds for both Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters.


Are they in the Cubs’ long-range plans or have they been passed up by the other prospects? — Eric L., Plantation, Fla.

Yes. ALL of the prospects.

CARRIE: Both battled injuries last season and they’ve dropped on the list of top prospects simply because of the lack of playing time.

Also, talent.

CARRIE: “They did not stay on the field long enough, first and foremost,” said Jason McLeod, director of scouting and player development. “We still have belief in both of them, especially a guy like Josh. He was drafted in 2007, and you’ve heard his name so much. You’d probably think he’s 26 years old or 25 years old. This is somebody who is 24. When he was on the field, the performance was pretty good. He was born to hit and he’s always hit. There were other parts of his game that we felt he had to work on.

Vitters’ career OPS+: 7

CARRIE: “With Brett, it’s the same thing,” McLeod said. “He had a tough year, even the year we called him up. … He got injured last year as well. They both took this offseason to regroup, get healthy, and they’ll both be in camp here in a couple weeks.”

Position players report to Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 18.

/checks math
All right, I’ll allow it.

It seems the rooftop owners are going to make things difficult for the Cubs’ remodel of Wrigley Field. At what point do the Cubs owners decide they are in a no-win situation and decide to relocate someplace else and the rooftop owners have a front-row seat to watch Wrigley Field be torn down? — Terry L., Sun City Center, Fla.

Not going to lie, I dig your style, Terry L.

CARRIE: Preserving Wrigley Field has been one of the Ricketts family’s goals since they purchased the Cubs but with the $500 million renovation plan stalled, don’t think leaving hasn’t been mentioned.

Yeah, but eventually everyone shot down Todd’s idea to increase Cub home runs by moving Wrigley Field to the moon.

CARRIE: “How far do you go before you say, ‘You know what? We tried and we tried to make the good effort, but it didn’t work out?'”

Apparently more than 106 years.

CARRIE: Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Saturday during an interview on WSCR-AM. “I won’t speak on behalf of the [Ricketts] family, but I’m sure this is weighing heavily on them because they want to move forward on this.”

Upward, not forward!

When will Jorge Soler be getting the call? He didn’t get an invite to spring camp. Does that mean he won’t be coming up this year? — Nate C., Orion, Ill.

TOM: Todd, did you sent out the invitations to Spring Training?
Todd looks sheepishly at the ground.
TOM: Todd?
TODD: Ruh-roh!
Studio audience laughs.
TOM: Oh, Todd, you’re about as reliable as a George R.R. Martin release date!

Next time on The Big Bang Theory

CARRIE: Soler is on the 40-man roster already, which is why he wasn’t included in the list of non-roster invitees. As to when he gets called up, that’s up to his progress. The outfielder was limited to 55 games last year because of a leg injury. He needs game experience.

And there’s no better place to get it than in Chicago. Unless you’re talking about baseball game experience.

What’s your pick for the starting lineup for Opening Day, including the starting pitcher, relievers and a closer? I’m from New Zealand and after seeing the Cubbies at Wrigley Field last year, I’m a fan. — Tobin D., Wellington, New Zealand

To be fair, he voluntarily lives on an island where 98% of the species can easily kill him.

CARRIE: New manager Rick Renteria has yet to write out a lineup card…

Fucking procrastinator.

CARRIE: …but here’s a guess:

SS Starlin Castro

2B Darwin Barney

1B Anthony Rizzo

LF Junior Lake

RF Nate Schierholtz

C Welington Castillo

3B Luis Valbuena

CF Ryan Sweeney /Justin Ruggiano

P Jeff Samardzija

Jose Veras is projected as the closer. In the bullpen, Hector Rondon and James Russell are the primary setup pitchers.

Second basemen gotta hit second, dude. Even if they’re terrible at hitting.

Why did Keith Moreland leave WGN Radio? I thought I heard him announcing an alumni game for the Longhorn Network. Is that his full-time job now? — Randy B., Asheville, N.C.

Here’s a better question. Why would anyone care? The broadcast got marginally better with his departure.

CARRIE: Moreland wanted to be closer to his family in Texas.

“No one asked us what WE wanted!”
-The Moreland Family

CARRIE: Former Cubs first baseman Ron Coomer will join play-by-play man Pat Hughes on WGN Radio broadcasts this season.

It’s going to be so weird when Pat introduces Ron. We went from “Cub legend, Ron Santo!” To “Former Cub star, Keith Moreland!” To, presumably, “Former Cub backup third baseman, who at least still has all of his limbs and who doesn’t reek of whiskey, Ron Coomer!”

Ticket packages are still available as of this writing.