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Ryan Braun confident in abilities heading into 2014

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At the same time the Brewers were finalizing their deal with starter Matt Garza, outfielder Ryan Braun was making the rounds with the media and fans at the “Brewers on Deck” event at the Wisconsin Center earlier today. He was asked about a variety of topics, but mostly about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Braun, of course, had his 2013 season was cut short in late July when he accepted a 65-game suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis. As Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel details, Braun was apologetic, even mentioning that he had made personal phone calls to suite owners and season ticket holders.

Braun is also confident in his abilities in 2014 and beyond:

If Braun is unsure whether he’ll be able to put up numbers without the ‘extra edge’ he had previously, as one questioner put it, he certainly isn’t letting on.

“I think I’ll be better than I’ve ever been,” he said. “Very confident in that.”

Prior to his suspension last season, Braun had been dealing with some neck problems and a nerve injury in his right hand, resulting in a month-long DL stint. The hand injury sapped him of his power. In his final 31 games, between May 11 and July 21, Braun hit just one home run.

Braun turned 30 years old in November and he still has $24 million in salary remaining between 2014-15 before his five-year, $105 million extension kicks in. Obviously, the Brewers have a lot invested in Braun’s ability to both stay productive and out of trouble.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.

Royals sign Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Royals have signed starter Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension.

Duffy was arbitration eligible this offseason and would’ve been a free agent next winter if he hadn’t signed the deal. Given his stuff he might’ve made a mint as a free agent, but he’s also been inconsistent at times and any pitcher is an injury away from losing a payday, making this a nice, lucrative bet for the lefty.

Duffy, 28, posted a 3.51 ERA and a 188/42 K/BB ratio across 179.2 innings in 2016.