Economist who is paid to consult for MLB offers pro-MLB opinions in a newspaper report

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Andrew Zimbalist is probably the best known sports economist around.  Recently he gave an interview to the Tampa Bay Times about the viability of the Rays in St. Pete vs. in Tampa and offered some solutions to the Rays’ current quandary. Those solutions were basically in line with what MLB most wishes for the Rays. Strikingly in line, actually, with what Rays owner Stuart Sternberg was saying as he made the rounds last week arguing about the problems the Rays face, including the argument that the Rays may be eventually contracted.

Which is fine. Everyone has an opinion, and Zimbalist is an authority on the subject. But here’s the kicker: Zimbalist is currently being paid as an MLB consultant and didn’t disclose that when he was interviewed.

Noah Pransky made this discovery and susses it all out over at his Shadow of the Stadium blog.  It’s worth reading. And it’s worth remembering to be very mindful of your source, however respectable his credentials happen to be, when listening to anyone holding forth on matters relating to stadiums and economics.

Maybe most especially Andrew Zimbalist.

(thanks to Jonah Keri for finding the Pransky post and Dan Lewis for finding that last little nugget on Zimbalist)

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.