The Cubbies, led by former Boston GM Theo Epstein, has signed the second best free agent in John Lester and arguably the best manager in Joe Maddon, along with pitcher Jason Hammel. Not to be outdone, the Sox have signed David Robertson, Jeff Samardzija and now Melky Cabrera. Should be an interesting summer in the Windy City.
## With the signing of Cabrera, there are still two big names running free out there, but that's the last time the word "free" will appear in any sentence containing these two names: James Shields and Max Scherzer. Shields is probably looking for $20+million a year for anywhere from 5 to 7 years. Scherzer..... well his agent is Scott Boras. He will likely try to pit all the "money" teams against each other. Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Tigers plus his always hidden "mystery" team. Word is that Boras is trying for the $200 million mark. You could buy a small country for that. I hear Guatemala is available.
## Just to show you it's not all about money, superstar Bryce Harper did not attend the annual Natsfest Fan Festival this year. This is something teams do to provoke fan interest and sell those season ticket packages. Why didn't he attend? he was protesting the fact that the Washington Nationals won't release him from the final year of his five-year $9.9 million contract that he signed as a rookie. Ya' gotta love his blame-shifting excuse though. "I have attended NatsFest each year and always enjoy my experience with the fans, but was unable to attend this year's event due to matters out of my control."
I lied, it IS all about money.
## MLB scouts, evaluators and General Managers (and agents) are wondering why the Yankees have been so quiet. Are they really going into the season with the team they have or are they waiting in the wings to make a big surprise splash? They don't seem inclined to trade any of their prospects and the only free agent they seem interested in is third baseman Chase Headley. If they're really going to gamble with the delicate arms of Pineda, Nova and Tanaka along with Sabathia's knee, then the free agent they better sign is an orthopedic surgeon.
## Johnny Manzeil is starting at quarterback for the first time today. The prediction here is that he will flash his "money" sign every time he makes a big play or they score a touchdown and so will the defensive linemen every time they sack him.
## Sad news here in Rochester. A regular feature in the Democrat & Chronicle, "Leading off," a collection of quotes from around the sports world, has been discontinued as part of a general 'upgrade' at the paper. Is Rochester such a white collar town that they no longer have room for a little humor? They seem to use more and more pages from the USA TODAY. Might as well cancel the D & C and buy that one.
## The Syracuse Orange basketball team plays today. If they can't start shooting the ball a lot better than they have, then this season is about over with now.
***THEY SAID IT***
"Junior Kentucky forward Alex Poythress tore an ACL in practice yesterday and will miss the rest of the season. Sad and a bit shocking, Kentucky had an actual junior on its team?" -- Janice Hough
"Report: Jets players lied about concussion symptoms to get out of games." -- The Onion.com
" The NBA warned Lakers guard Nick Young about flopping. At this point, I think it's in everybody's best interest to allow the Lakers to just cheat." -- Brad Dickson
"There is speculation the Oakland Raiders will move back to Los Angeles: “L.A. should decline that penalty." -- Ian Hamilton
"Gary Andersen, to reporters, on job one as the new Oregon State football coach: “You’ve got to get your ducks in a row ... What did I say? Bad idea. Go Beavs.” -- From Dwight Perry
"One of my new favorite baseball players has to be pitcher Andrew Heaney. Traded from Miami to the Dodgers, he was then immediately flipped in trade to the Angels. And promptly tweeted “Well, @Dodgers we had a good run! Great to be a part of such a storied franchise." -- Janice Hough