Japan’s prime minister calls for baseball expansion to help the economy

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Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe’s economic plan calls for all kinds of things. One of which is baseball expansion:

“Prosperous baseball teams could strengthen attachment to regional cities and help local economies thrive,” said the report, which cited the success of U.S. Major League Baseball in nearly doubling from 16 teams to 30 since the 1960s.

In the U.S. we limit our political/baseball interaction to first pitches and underwriting ballparks, so it’s kind of weird to see that sort of a recommendation as a part of actual policy. It’s also weird to be reminded, as this article reminds us, that in Japan baseball team expenses are all written off as advertising for the corporations which sponsor the teams. Sometimes they’re called the “Tokyo Giants,” but they’re really the Yomiuri Giants. All the teams have corporate names like that.

Anyway, this shows you how lame Major League Baseball’s lobbying efforts are compared to those in Japan. C’mon guys, get with the program. I want to see someone in Washington agitating for more baseball teams this time next year.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.