In the eyes of many observers, Starlin Castro hasn't made strides great enough this year to merit his seven-year, $60-million contract extension.
But the Cubs have spent the last week selling the idea with gusto, trying to convince the fans -- and maybe even themselves -- that this was the right move.
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Before you get too angry -- or giddy -- over the signing, take a deep breath and remember a few things.
The Cubs have bought out several years of arbitration and free agency, thus saving themselves considerable money in the process.
Even if Castro never cuts down on his errors or improves his offensive production, he's still going to be worth piles of money the way the system works.
If he does improve, the Cubs have not only saved money by purchasing those years at a time when Castro isn't at his best, they have bought low and will look very smart years down the road.
It also doesn't mean the Cubs have made up their minds on Castro despite public pronouncements that Castro is absolutely their shortstop of the future.
They still have plenty of time to figure it out, and since the contract includes no provisions preventing trade, if the Cubs choose to move him they can do so with a team-friendly contract that most clubs would find palatable.
So there's no downside to extending Castro now, and no reason to get too worked up about it regardless of which side of the fence you reside.
Waking the echoes
Notre Dame football analyst and former Irish back Allen Pinkett told Dan McNeil and Matt Spiegel on the Score Wednesday that, "I've always felt like -- to have a successful team -- you gotta have a few bad citizens on the team."
Given the opportunity to walk it back, Pinkett said, "You look at the teams that have won in the past. They always have a couple of criminals … that's how Ohio State used to win all the time. They would have two or three guys that were criminals. That just adds to the chemistry of the team."
Absurd remarks, of course. One assumes Pinkett meant that in order to win, a team needs some tough, street-savvy, borderline-crazy characters who are willing to intimidate the opposition while tiptoeing the line between legal and illegal on the field, not off it.
Then again, maybe he really wants criminals. Either way, a crazy thought to verbalize in that fashion, and Notre Dame officials can't be too pleased.
If the White Sox replace A.J. Pierzynski with Tyler Flowers, they're going to be awfully right-handed next season.
Since it will be hard to find a left-handed hitting third baseman, it's probably worth wondering if the Sox would make a change at second base. But even that seems unlikely as Gordon Beckham is a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman.
Pro Football Weekly has forecast Alshon Jeffery as the seventh-best rookie fantasy selection behind Trent Richardson (Browns), Andrew Luck (Colts), Robert Griffin III (Skins), Doug Martin (Bucs), David Wilson (NYG) and Justin Blackmon (Jags).
There's no doubting that MLB's drug-testing policy has huge holes and has a long way to go before it's endorsed by the world's best sports and drug-testing agencies.
But catching players is not evidence that the system doesn't work. It's merely evidence that some players are dumb enough to get caught in a system that isn't very difficult to beat.
The Bears have opened in Vegas as a 9½-point favorite against the Colts in Game 1, with the total set at 42.
LSU is ranked third in the AP poll behind USC and Alabama, but it's hard to imagine the Tigers making a serious run this season without their best player.
Padraig Harrington, on learning from European captain Jose Maria Olazabal that he hadn't been selected to play in the Ryder Cup: "The dogs in the street knew I wasn't getting a pick, so it wasn't a hard phone call whatsoever."
Green, not yellow
S.F. Chronicle's Scott Ostler: "Lance Armstrong has not been raising millions of dollars for cancer research. An article in February's 'Outside Magazine' explains the deal. Livestrong no longer accepts research grant applications. Money is spent to assist cancer patients, yes, but, 'Livestrong spends extensively on advertising, PR, and branding, all of which helps preserve Armstrong's marketability at a time when he's under fire.'"
CBS' David Letterman, on LeBron James' $300 shoes: "Nike had an explanation for the reason these shoes are so expensive. They said the kids in China making the shoes are demanding two cents a day now."
Miami Herald's Greg Cote: "Showtime ended 'The Franchise' series with the Marlins one week early -- and nobody cared."
From @TheFakeESPN: "Tebow has yet to figure out that 'between the numbers' doesn't refer to the grass in the middle of a football field."
Sportspickle.com: "Eagles to sit Michael Vick until the Super Bowl."
Who is Graham Spanier kidding?
And finally …
Omaha World-Herald's Brad Dickson: "The Mars rover Curiosity continues to send back some amazing photos. In the latest, you can see a Tim Tebow errant pass attempt sail past."
•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.