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Ozzie’s Guillen’s Motorpsycho Nightmare

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There’s a Bob Dylan song called “Motorpsycho Nightmare” in which the narrator finds himself in a sticky situation with a crazy farmer’s daughter. To get out of it he needs the farmer to get mad at him and chase him out of the house. So he does the easiest thing to make that happen in early 1960s America:

Well, I couldn’t leave
Unless the old man chased me out
’Cause I’d already promised
That I’d milk his cows
I had to say something
To strike him very weird
So I yelled out
“I like Fidel Castro and his beard”
Rita looked offended
But she got out of the way
As he came charging down the stairs
Sayin’, “What’s that I heard you say?”

The farmer then threw a Reader’s Digest at him, took a swing at him and chased him out of the house calling him a “commie rat.”

I offer this only to suggest that, perhaps Ozzie Guillen doesn’t mean any of this stuff he said about Fidel Castro. Maybe he’s just living the plot to that song and he’s looking to escape something. Ozzie! Use the “Motorpsycho Nightmare” defense!

Probably doesn’t matter now, though. The original comments and the apology Guillen offered — he explains them in greater detail here — are now secondary to the narrative. All the oxygen of this thing is now consumed by official statements, displays of outrage and fun stuff like this:

A group of Cuban-American demonstrators plans to boycott the Miami Marlins as a result of manager Ozzie Guillen’s comment that he respects Fidel Castro. Vigilia Mambisa, headed by Miguel Saavedra, said it plans to begin a caravan of cars at SW 36th Avenue and 8th Street Tuesday that will culminate in front of the ballpark.

Context lacking from the article: that Vigilia Mambisa appears to be a somewhat marginal and extreme group that has been tied to violence in the past.  Doesn’t matter! Someone has said they are boycotting and that sort of thing is always treated as a big deal even if it’s … not.

As are comments that don’t adhere to the mainstream sentiment about Fidel Castro when uttered in or around Miami.

Not that I’m suggesting that Guillen’s comments were smart. Far from it. There are fewer more idiotic things a public figure in Miami can do in life than to say anything about Castro other than “I hope he dies in the street like a dog.”  It’s near-suicidal, in fact.  The lesson of “Motorpsycho Nightmare” is that if the narrator didn’t have freedom of speech and the right to say crazy things like that, he’d be in big trouble. But freedom of speech has nothing to do with this. It’s just bad sense to attempt to say something like this, and Guillen should have known that.

But really: he didn’t say anything that a reasonable person could construe as actually complimentary about Castro, did he? He said this:

“I love Fidel Castro. I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother****** is still here.”

That’s Guillen trying to say something funny. One could say that and fully believe that Castro is a monster. He’s talking about his ability to avoid being knocked off by the mob and the CIA and nothing more. To think that it’s an actual endorsement of Castro takes a special kind of sensitivity. Especially when one recalls how critical Guillen has been of Hugo Chavez in the past.

But none of that matters. Partially because, as noted, that special kind of sensitivity exists regarding this subject in Miami, even if it’s for understandable reasons. And partially because this story is now totally out of Guillen’s control.

Now the Outrage Industrial Complex has taken over.  Groups like Vigilia Mambisa, who will use this a means of getting some easy press. Organizations like the Miami Marlins who, out of sheer fear, will run for cover rather than do what they probably should do: roll their eyes at Ozzie’s Guillen’s bad judgment and then move along with their day.

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.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.