I spent the last ten minutes looking at a prospect list. There's a ton of them out there. Some are good, some are bad, and all to me are like stock analysis. There are reasons that they're written that are very valid and yet the outcome might be completely different for a number of reasons. For me, they're entertainment at a point in the season where there's not much else. Baseball America has done them for years. John Sickels and Kevin Goldstein do a nice job. The others? Well, I come back to the thing I realized a couple years ago.
I wrote about this somewhere, but can't find it. I remember a January or February day at the local grocery store. Just before the frozen aisle, just this side of the bandages and antacids, is the magazine rack. I always check to see when the preview magazines are out and pow, there was one. I forget which one but I parked the cart, walked over and started glancing through. I flipped to the contents and was looking at the articles, at the teams and realized -- wait a minute. I don't know any of these writers. It really doesn't mean anything, but I know a lot of people in the industry, especially the fantasy industry and I'd never HEARD of these guys. Why would I spend seven bucks on this?
A lot of prospect lists are like that. Guys I've never heard of talking about players they've never seen. Maybe they have, but they don't say that. Maybe they talk to people like Goldstein does, but it doesn't come out in their writing. I don't see quotes from scouts. Essentially, I think many of these are meta-rankings, lists of lists, made from reading lists, not seeing players. At one end it's worthless apart from the components and on the other, it's simple plagiarism.
But then again, I give them the benefit of the doubt if they're well written, informative and entertaining. I'm sure that someone picked up a Rotowire magazine at some point and wondered who the bleep this "Will Carroll" character was. Or maybe he's still wondering. Or she.
But inside the industry, there are a lot of people I do know. Mostly, it's because I've done radio with them in either direction. I've met them at the Winter Meetings, at least a lot of the beat writers. They're actually considering BP for membership in the BBWAA this year, which should be interesting. I don't think we'll get in, but it's nice to at least get a foot in the door. With newspapers collapsing, I wonder where the BBWAA will be in ten years. Someone I really respect and admire talked with me on the phone today about whether there might be a fit for him at BP. I wish I could hire the guy, because he's the top in the field, but I don't have that kind of influence at BP and he won't come cheap. In this economy, it could be anyone. Murray Chass isn't at the Times, Gordon Edes isn't at the Globe, and who knows who's next.
There's a lot of great writers out there, solid writers and thinkers and hard workers. In a crowd like this, you probably wouldn't say "who?" if I mentioned Alex Belth, Matthew Leach, Aaron Gleeman, Eric Seidman, or Sam Mellinger. But is anyone the next Peter Gammons, or is that like asking who the next Sandy Koufax is? The next Tracy Ringolsby? The next Michael Lewis? (I have an idea about that ...) And moreover, where will they be writing?
Who will I say "who?" about next? And who am I missing?