Baseball needs 32 teams

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Jesse Spector of Sporting News makes that argument today and it’s hard to disagree with him. Go check out his full story on it, but the upshot is that both regular season scheduling and the playoffs would be easier, more attractive and more fun if we had two 16-team leagues instead of two 15-team leagues.

Spector mentions Montreal and Las Vegas as his top expansion candidates. I certainly agree with Montreal. It has supported a team in the past and its failure to continue to support the Expos had A LOT more to do with how the Expos were managed than with how able the city is to support a team.

I’m less optimistic about Las Vegas. As I’ve argued here before, I think the demographics and economics of Vegas are all wrong, even if the idea seems sexy. Baseball is not event-driven like boxing or a relatively rare event like football, which would only require a stadium to be filled eight times a year. There are 81 home games and attendance and television ratings are built on locals buying in to the product day-in, day-out. That’s not really the Las Vegas profile. In Vegas, a disproportionate number of locals work nights. While there are a lot of moneyed tourists coming through, they’re coming to gamble and party, not sit at a ballpark. And even if they were so inclined, you can bet that the casinos would try extra hard to keep them away from doing things that take them off hotel property for three prime time hours each night. To avoid that baseball would have to basically partner with a casino, and that would be pretty difficult for a sport with baseball’s history with gambling.

Really, the best expansion candidates are places where baseball would not allow expansion due to territorial concerns. I’m talking about growing suburbs and exurbs like the Inland Empire in L.A., the New Jersey or Connecticut burbs around New York, Chicagoland and places like that. In the middle of the century newly growing cities made sense for baseball expansion and relocation. These days population growth is occurring around existing cities.

Anyway, the where isn’t as important as the what. And the what is that 32 teams make a whole heck of a lot of sense.

Diamondbacks sign Kris Medlen and Antonio Bastardo to minor-league deals

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Arizona Diamondbacks have signed pitchers Kris Medlen and Antonio Bastardo to minor-league deals. Medlen will make $1.1 million if he breaks camp with the Snakes. Bastardo will earn at $1.5 million if he makes the team.

Medlen hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2016 and hasn’t pitched effectively in the bigs since 2013 due to multiple Tommy John surgeries and, more recently, shoulder ailments. Last year he put up a 4.95 ERA in 20 games in the Braves’ minor league system. If he’s healthy he could be a depth guy for the Dbacks in the event one of their big league starters go down.

Bastardo pitched in nine games, ineffectively, for the Pirates before being released last season. He didn’t catch on anywhere else after that so, hey, I guess he’s fresh?