Protestors to picket the Cubs-Dbacks game. I kinda wish they wouldn't

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As you probably know, Arizona passed a law that makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and gives
the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the
country illegally. Supporters believe it to be a necessary move to combat illegal immigration to the state. Opponents call it an open invitation for
harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their
citizenship status.  I have my own opinions about it all and I’m sure you do too, but that’s not terribly important in this forum because this forum is about baseball.

But the controversy over Arizona SB 1070 is now hitting baseball, as people are protesting the Arizona Diamondbacks wherever they go:

Today at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and in just about every city the team
visits, there is expected to be a protest outside the stadium against
Arizona’s new immigration-enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070. One of the people organizing and encouraging such protests is Tony
Herrera, the Arizona representative for a national movement (it has a
Facebook page) called “Boycott Arizona 2010.”

“This team is an ambassador for Arizona,” Herrera told me. “And the
owner, Mr. (Ken) Kendrick, is a big supporter of Republican politics.
This new law was a Republican bill. Until the law is changed, there
should be protests.”

Some people are also suggesting that Major League Baseball take away the 2011 All-Star Game which will take place in Chase Field.  The odds of that happening are somewhere below the odds of Lou Dobbs joining those protests, but people are asking it all the same.

I like to rouse rabble as much as the next guy, but protests based on attenuated links kind of irk me. Yes, the Dbacks are from Arizona and yes the team’s owner — one of several dozen in a large ownership group, by the way — generally supports the party that sponsored the legislation, but the Diamondbacks and any fans heading to Wrigley Field this weekend are innocent bystanders here. I’m guessing they no more appreciate having a ballgame interrupted by immigration politicking any more than Super Bowl viewers were interested in listening to Tim Tebow go on whatever it was he was going on about in that boring little commercial that caused all the hubub.

People can obviously do what they want because the First Amendment is pretty damn awesome, but I can’t help but think these sorts of protests and calls for boycots are at best ineffective in furthering the protesters’ cause and potentially detrimental. If you’re running late to the game and you have to navigate a picket line outside the gate, you’re probably not going to be very sympathetic to the protester’s cause.  And if calls for boycotts are actually heeded they won’t hurt the owners of the Diamondbacks nearly as much as they’ll hurt the concession guys and stadium sweepers who get laid off because business is slow.  These things are great for some short-lived publicity, but short-lived publicity is generally not the best way to affect political change. That takes sustained activism, legal action and other less-sexy things than jumping in front of TV cameras.

But I guess my biggest beef with this sort of thing is that when I go to a baseball game, I’m looking to escape reality for a little while and it angries up my blood if I have to have to think about the real world for those three hours.  Maybe that makes me a bad citizen or something, but it’s how I feel. And I feel that way whether I agree with the protesters or not.

UPDATE: If you’re looking for more on this, BIll at the Daily Something has some.

CC Sabathia: getting in shape and ready for baseball

sabathia getty
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CC Sabatha made headlines in October when he abruptly left the Yankees to go into alcohol rehab. After a month there he came back and gave interviews about his decision and his battle with the bottle and then disappeared into the offseason the way most players do.

He emerged the other day and spoke with the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand and says that he’s ready for baseball once again. Indeed, in some ways he’s more ready now than he usually is by mid February. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions for the past three weeks — he normally waits until he gets to Tamps — and he says his troublesome knee is feeling good.

 

Sabathia will turn 36 during the season. In 2015 he was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts and posted his lowest strikeout rate in a decade. Late in the season, however, with the help of a knee brace, he was at his most effective in some time. He won’t need to return to 2008 form in order to help the Yankees this season, but he will need to look more like he did in September if he is to help the Yankees to the playoffs.

Jacob deGrom open to extension with Mets

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom talks during media day for the Major League Baseball World Series against the Kansas City Royals Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.

While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.

“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’

It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.

DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.

Royals, Mike Moustakas avoid arbitration with two-year deal

Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas celebrates after hitting an RBI single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Seriesagainst the Toronto Blue Jays  on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.

The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.