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Baseball Prospectus Announces Sweeping Changes PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 04 January 2010 14:07

Baseball Prospectus

When we reported on New Year’s Eve that long-time Baseball Prospectus writer and managing editor Joe Sheehan would be leaving BP, we said that Monday there would be an announcement from them on Monday regarding major changes coming to the media outlet, and today that news has been released.

Kevin Goldstein, BP’s Managing Partner, updates State of the Prospectus: The Year and the Decade to Come with several key pieces of interest:

Perrotto Brought on as Editor-in-Chief

With Sheehan leaving, BP has brought on John Perrotto full-time and made him Editor-in-Chief. Perrotto has been writing for BP for some time, but also had been on the staff of Baseball America and Ogden Newspapers. Great move by Baseball Prospectus.

More Advanced Stats

Advanced metrics has been BP’s bread and butter, and they appear to be pushing outward, again. As Goldstein writes:

Some specific projects our entire stats team is working on (but are hardly limited to) include:

  1. SIERA (Skill Interactive ERA): A run estimator that corrects QERA's flaws and dethrones it as the most accurate of its kind. There's a long explanation of SIERA in the upcoming Baseball Prospectus 2010, and look for it here soon.
  2. New, "from the ground up" defensive measurements, including a separate project that will result in a state-of-the-art metric for measuring the value of catcher defense.
  3. A revamped and much improved MORP.

A more critical aspect for those that use PECOTA for forecasting, Goldstein writes that Nate Silver is assisting in getting PECOTA out of the realm of spreadsheets “to a more stable and sharable development environment”

Content: Cot’s Contracts Coming to BP, More

With Sheehan departing, this was an area that needed addressing. What will be a loss for SB Nation will be a gain for BP as Tommy Bennett from Beyond the Boxscore comes over.

But, the biggest addition will be BP hosting Cot’s Contracts, the invaluable site that shows contract details at the Joint Exhibit One level. The bonus is, Cot’s, as it currently is seen, will remain free. However, Goldstein said that a searchable version of Cot’s will be available as part of premium service. A searchable version of Cot’s has always been a “would love to have” for countless researchers. To add to the goodness in the Cot’s deal, Jeff Euston, the creator of Cot’s, is being retained by BP and provide occasional articles. For biz folks, the addition of Cot’s and Euston may be the best part of this latest news from BP.

Will Carroll and Christina Kahrl

With Sheehan leaving, there had been concerns by many that other longstanding staff members might be leaving, as well. This was largely borne out of Will Carroll’s wikipedia entry saying that he was a “former member” of Baseball Prospectus just as the 2009 season was coming to an end. Goldsteind writes that Carroll is “returning in 2010, with a commitment for 2011.”

With Perrotto coming on as Editor-in-Chief, question surfaced as to what Chistina Kahrl’s role would be. Goldstein reports that Kahrl, “who for years has held a dual role as a feature writer, primarily on transactions, while also serving as the website's editor-in-chief. In 2010, Christina will focus solely on writing, not only on transactions ... We've always loved Christina's writing, and now that she's no longer a two-sport star, we firmly believe that it will become even better (and more regular). In addition, Christina will be working on a pair of book projects, but we'll have much more information on that for you in the coming months.”

Focusing on retaining Carroll, after the loss of Sheehan, should be seen as good news for BP, regardless of whether you are a fan of his work, or not. Fans lean on being “comfortable” with their media outlets; that sense that while new is good, keeping core staff members lends itself to knowing what to expect week in and week out. With Carroll, Kahrl, and Perrotto being BBWAA members, BP keeps its core solid…. Even if the details of Carroll’s retention lends itself to one, maybe two years of extension.

Blogs for Each Section of BP

A cool addition announced is that blogs will be expanded upon within Baseball Prospectus. “Unfiltered” was a great addition, and Goldstein reports, “We will have blogs for all of our subject categories (analysis, transactions, news, prospects, injuries, etc.) that allow our writing to provide instant analysis with our commenting features creating some of the smartest conversations out there.”

Final Thoughts

Writing for Baseball Prospectus is something I consider a highlight in my sports career. During my time there, I noted that other outlets gaining traction, and that holds true today. Whether it has been The Hardball Times, or Fangraphs, or The Book, the expansion of analytics based content has grown considerably on the internet since BP was launched. The moves by BP are a sign that they are not willing to sit on their laurels, and continue to be the bar that others aspire to. The addition of more analytics, in this writers opinion, has less value than it used to. The expansion of new analytics has diluted their overall value -- less return on their investment than they used to. Getting PECOTA more manageable, alone, would have been a major advancement. The addition of other analytics seems to target a very narrow audience.

Conversely, BP should work to retain that which made them great, while continuing to “add rooms” at BP online. Details of Sheehan’s departure are not fully known, however, Sheehan said in his final column that there were, “No hard feelings or recriminations, just two entities doing business.” The latter seems to point to contract negotiations, and with Carroll very nearly not being extended, that seems to be the case, as well. With BP absorbing other outlets, there has been a decision to grow Prospectus Ventures with the acquisitions. But, it’s possible BP could lose subscribers along with the likes of Sheehan, or Carroll. The decisions are never easy in that regard, but efforts to retain those that have extended tenure should be a focus for BP as they continue to expand.

All in all, however, the changes announced by Goldstein means BP remains highly relivant in an ever competitive field. The additions should be looked at as all great moves, going forward.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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