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January 9, 2012

State of the Prospectus

What's to Come in 2012

by Steven Goldman

I want to show you something personal I think about a lot. It’s a picture that suggests to me how random existence can be, how good things can come from unexpected events. This is a picture of the Free French Battleship Richelieu taken about February 1943:  

(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

When France fell to Germany in June 1940, the British attacked the Richelieu, France’s greatest battleship, fearing she would fall to the Germans. Later, safely in Allied hands and dedicated to the cause of freedom (I am compressing a couple of years of World War II history into a sentence here), she was invited to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for repair. In the picture you see above, she is being guided by tugs to her eventual berth in the Borough of Kings.

Contained within the ship in the picture above are about 1,600 French sailors. One of them, though he does not know it yet, is my maternal grandfather. In the days after this picture is taken, he will go on leave in New York, meet my grandmother—who has no idea he’s coming, either—and fall in love. A whirlwind romance will ensue, one that, quite fortunately, lasts the rest of their lives. The Richelieu remained in New York approximately nine months before being sent back into combat. By that time, my grandparents would be married and my mother on the way.

Endings are far easier to locate than beginnings. In a picture taken more than 25 years before I was born, I can see the threads of my own birth. For everyone concerned, it was an ordinary day, or as ordinary as a day in global wartime can get, but an entire family history lay in that moment. Similarly, as I write to you here, on January 9, 2012, I cannot know exactly which of the writers I am about to unveil to you will capture your heart and change your daily routine, I can only tell you that the U.S.S. Baseball Prospectus has pulled up dockside, the gangplank is down, and here come the sailors singing, “New York, New York, it’s a helluva town/The Yankees are up and the Mets are way down!” and hope that you will open your eyes and take them into your hearts—if not in the way that my grandmother did my grandfather (clean thoughts), at least the way you did me when I joined Baseball Prospectus lo these many seasons ago.

Before I introduce some new faces, let me emphasize continuity. In the year and season to come you will see more from R.J. Anderson, Corey Dawkins, Jeff Euston, Mike Fast, Kevin Goldstein, Larry Granillo, Jay Jaffe, Ben Lindbergh, Sam Miller, Jason Parks, John Perrotto, Dan Turkenkopf, Colin Wyers, Geoff Young, and myself—and in the cases of Sam and Jason, more frequently than before. You have also already seen the return of our old friend Maury Brown to man the business of baseball battlements, and he will continue on in that role for what we hope will be an epic-length stay.

Another previous contributor who I am looking forward to welcoming for a regular tour is Bradford Doolittle, who has been one of the stalwarts of our basketball publications for almost five years now. His occasional “Inside the Park” pieces, featuring analytically-friendly narratives on players, teams and baseball issues, have always been a treat, and now we get to see them twice a month. Finally, back when she first joined us, my assistant editor, Steph Bee, used to write the odd piece about California-located prospects and collegians before disappearing into our back offices, where she has rendered yeoman’s service in preparing our daily publications for your eyes. It is long past time she got another turn in front of the curtain, and she will be doing so on a biweekly basis this season.

Our fantasy baseball coverage will continue to be anchored by Derek Carty and his crew of Jason Collette, Michael Jong, Rob McQuown, Mike Petriello, and Michael Street. Derek joined us in-season last year, and we’re all excited to see what he can do with a full year, including the all-important pre-draft period, in helping to point the way to your enjoying a dominant fantasy season, including going from draft to draft in person if necessary—you know, like Elijah.

I also want to point out the continued presence of Daniel Rathman, who joined us as an intern working on our Daily Hit List combined adjusted standings, playoff odds, and commentary (a role in which he will continue this spring) and graduated to our top o’ the mornin’ BP First Take which is our one column that originates in the daily newsletter as a special thank you to those who choose to access our content that way. Daniel points out one of my favorite things about Baseball Prospectus, that Battleship Richelieu principal that I discussed earlier—so many people drift into our lives, but the ones who prove to be lasting and important are always a surprise. For example, Bradley Ankrom—more about whom in a moment—seemed to be a technical hire when he came on board, but as Joe Sheehan told me back in 2003, “BP is a pure meritocracy,” and he put on his writing shoes and delivered pieces like this review of Ed Wade’s reign of error in Houston, and suddenly he was someone we looked forward to seeing on stage as much as up in the rafters tinkering with the lights.

Two of our newest contributors came to us through the battleship that is our ProGUESTus feature. Jonathan Bernhardt, whose byline you may or may not see under the name “Heartburn Hardball,” established himself writing thousands of words about baseball's major tragedies and minor victories (including these about minor tragedy Jeff Mathis), and will continue to bring that insight—and length—to Baseball Prospectus. He is as comfortable discussing the fall of the New York Mets as he is the relative worth of a backup catcher; his work is narrative-driven, but statistically informed.

Adam Sobsey is another PRoG alumnus. Since 2009, Sobsey has been the Durham Bulls beat writer for the Independent Weekly, for which he also covers Duke basketball and writes about the arts, food, and wine. He has also won numerous awards as a playwright, and his work has been staged in New York, California, Austin and North Carolina, which makes me, with my one half-started musical, jealous as heck. More to the point, Adam combines an immersion in the minor-league scene with a playwright’s sense of humanity, and I expect that in his column, “Sobsequy,” he will capture the combination of those two as he did in the heartbreaking conclusion to his piece on Russ Canzler back in September. He tells me his first piece will be titled, “The Love Song of T. S. Elliot Johnson.”

Finally, Rebecca Glass will be joining us as both a writer and as one of my elite cadre of assistant editors. Coming to us by way of ESPN, Rebecca is one of the founders of the “You Can't Predict Baseball” blog. She will bring to her “Glass Cuts Diamond” a multidimensionality that is informed by history (not just of the game, but of the world), a vibrant sense of justice, and a wicked eye for the moral or competitive heart at the center of a story. She will also be joining Daniel as the other half of the Daily Hit List team.

This is just the beginning of 2012 for us, and if you don’t see a certain name here or if I haven’t highlighted a favorite feature (Lineup Card and ProGUESTus roll on), don’t worry—we are always tweaking, looking for ways to bring you more insightful baseball analysis. For example—and I don’t think we’ve said enough about this—we unveiled three new site-specific features during 2011: Corey Dawkins’ injury database and projections for every player (scroll down to see Carl Pavano’s catalogue of injury time-outs), Brad Ankrom’s Transactions Browser, which is only going to grow in usefulness as a tool over time, and the full integration of Euston’s Cot’s Contracts pages into our own (either new school or old style, take your pick). Come for the commentary, stay for the resources, or vice-versa, we have a little something for everybody and will continue to add more.

 I suppose that’s what happens when you un-box a battleship of 1,600 French sailors (particularly French sailors)—odds are at least one of them could turn out to be your grandpa. I’m not suggesting that everyone indulge in that level of intimacy with our staff—who can really say for sure where Jay Jaffe’s mustache has been?—but reading and enjoying them is both safe and recommended. And who knows? Maybe one day you will be looking at a row of books on your shelves (or e-reader of choice), see their names, think back to this moment, and remember, “This is where I began an association with one of my favorite writers,” just as I can look at that beat-up battlewagon above and know that my life was hovering just out of view. 

Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Steven's other articles. You can contact Steven by clicking here

54 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Doug Thorburn

Say Hey to the recruits!

I am continually impressed by the ridiculous talent that flows through the BP pipeline, and from the point of view of this early adopter (did they take that cover photo from my office?), it appears that BP is experiencing a renaissance of content.

Thank you sir, may I have another?

Jan 09, 2012 00:49 AM
rating: 5
 
NYYanks826

Welcome aboard to all of the new (and formerly guest) writers!

Will Ken Funck still be dropping by for the occasional article during 2012?

Jan 09, 2012 00:49 AM
rating: 6
 
BP staff member Steven Goldman
BP staff

Ken has been a busy guy this past year, but if he wants to spot an article my door is always open.

Jan 09, 2012 01:03 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Well, gosh darn it, he better!

:)

Jan 09, 2012 01:42 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

The same goes for Tommy Bennett I might add.

Jan 09, 2012 07:23 AM
 
surveyzas
(119)

was just about to ask what happened to Tommy. his contributions were some of my favorite on the site. should we expect more from him going forward?

Jan 09, 2012 13:49 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Yes...Tommy is going to write from time to time when he is able.

Jan 09, 2012 13:53 PM
 
Tommy Bennett

Yep, I'll be around when I can. And thanks for the kind words.

Jan 09, 2012 16:50 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Ditto. And ditto.

Jan 10, 2012 07:28 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Gotta love a Funcky ditto.

Jan 10, 2012 10:26 AM
rating: 1
 
CRP13

I hope Jason or Sam is my grandpa.

Kidding aside, I'm looking forward to 2012.

Jan 09, 2012 06:06 AM
rating: 2
 
AWBenkert

I'm glad to know the Hit List is returning. I missed it when it was abruptly removed in the middle of last season. Not only was the writing pithy and clever, it provided a window into all 30 teams that was hard to find elsewhere.

Jan 09, 2012 06:10 AM
rating: 1
 
Greg Ioannou

Was Christina Kahrl's grandfather on the Richlieau too? Can we have her back?

Jan 09, 2012 06:22 AM
rating: 12
 
smallflowers

Please do this. If BP ever ends up with a pile of money that isn't on its immediate way out, please buy us CK back. Otherwise, nice work.

Jan 09, 2012 17:17 PM
rating: 3
 
Richard Bergstrom

Amen.

Jan 09, 2012 20:05 PM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

Can we bring back "Quote of the Week" and find someone to do interviews like David Laurilla used to do?

Jan 09, 2012 06:30 AM
rating: 6
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

We may do something with the Quotes of the Week. We're discussing that. The standard interview really received very little attention or traffic, so I can't promise that will be resurrected.

Jan 09, 2012 07:22 AM
 
Behemoth

I think the problem with the interviews was that it had to be done every week, and there are not enough interesting people to talk to. I saw some of the ones that David carried out on another site, and thought they were very interesting, but it might work better as something that is done as and when there's actually an opportunity to talk to someone interesting who has something innovative to say.

Jan 09, 2012 07:42 AM
rating: 1
 
JimmyJack

Too bad the interviews can't be done like Will Carroll used to do on BP Radio.

Jan 09, 2012 16:12 PM
rating: 0
 
Peter Benedict

This has the sounds of goodness, or hopefully even greatness. I'm particularly excited about Mr. Parks and Mr. Sobsey, but there isn't anything in the State of the Union that sounds distressing. I look forward to BP's 2012.

Jan 09, 2012 07:28 AM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

Rebecca Glass is coming to BP? Awesome!

Jan 09, 2012 07:42 AM
rating: 2
 
Dennis
(749)

Completely off topic, but congrats on your VORG blog getting a promotion into the Sweet Spot network. Keep up the good work Diana!

Jan 09, 2012 10:33 AM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

Wow, congrats!

Jan 09, 2012 10:36 AM
rating: 1
 
bobbygrace

Thank you for the picture and the terrific family anecdote, too.

Jan 09, 2012 08:00 AM
rating: 2
 
Agent007

I hope the Dawkins/Lindbergh Collateral Damage column will continue. I have found that to be extremely enlightening.

Jan 09, 2012 08:31 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Yes it will continue!

Jan 09, 2012 09:19 AM
 
smocon

Good to know.

Any reason why the annual is coming so late this year? Is the Excel spreadsheet for PECOTA coming soon?

Jan 09, 2012 08:42 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Annual coming out late? Where did you see that? PECOTA is undergoing heavy testing right now. I don't have a date for you yet, but hopefully will soon.

Jan 09, 2012 09:22 AM
 
HarleyBK3

On the BP website the indication for BP2012 is "Published Feb 1, 2012" but once I get to Amazon the indication is "Publication Date: February 28, 2012". Please tell me that Amazon got it wrong.

Jan 09, 2012 17:46 PM
rating: 0
 
BurrRutledge

From past experience, the books are usually on the way to online distributors and chai-store warehouses by Feb.10~ish).

Depending on where you stand in said distributor's queue, you could receive by Valentine's Day or President's Day weekend. And, it could be on shelves at your local brick-and-mortar around the same time.

In the past, I have tried to go out of my way to buy my book at locations where BP has done book signings. And I've ordered online as well.

I'd like to know if it makes any difference to BP's bottom line where we order. I suspect that clicking through from the website is slightly more profitable for BP than any other method, but would love to get confirmation on that...

Jan 09, 2012 18:02 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Steven Goldman
BP staff

Ordering through the site does help us a bit and is always welcome. And yes, Amazon hedges its bets. We have this discussion every year. Your eager anticipation is greatly appreciated.

Jan 09, 2012 19:43 PM
 
Shawn

A minor criticism - can the upcoming chats reflect ACTUAL chats that will take place this year and can there be a real emphasis on fewer cancellations?

Far too many chat changes this past year for a professional website.

Jan 09, 2012 08:50 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

I am managing the chats personally this year, so from now on, this should not be a problem. We have already had an internal discussion about this.

Jan 09, 2012 09:25 AM
 
lennyd
(815)

Steven,

I'm along term subscriber. The one thing I've been missing the last few years is the kind of team record pre-season analysis that Nate and Joe used to do. Are there any plans to provide that kind of perspective?

Lenny

Jan 09, 2012 08:56 AM
rating: 4
 
greenengineer

BP better not get me pregnant.

Jan 09, 2012 08:56 AM
rating: 7
 
adrock

In addition to accuracy on the schedule, I think it would be great to see more chats from more writers.

I appreciate that staff are very busy, but it shouldn't be difficult for more folks to set aside 60-90 minutes every other week (or irregularly, if need be) for a chat with readers.

Your consideration is most appreciated.

Jan 09, 2012 08:57 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Ok, that's good to hear. We'll see what we can do. I know, this week for example, Derek Carty and Mike Fast will be doing chats. They're not generally on the normal rotation.

Jan 09, 2012 09:27 AM
 
smocon

To Joe: I orded my annual today from Amazon and the expected ship date was in the middle of March. I have received it the past three years in late February.

Jan 09, 2012 10:16 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

Amazon is often conservative about shipping estimates for as-yet-published books, but Baseball Prospectus 2012 is on schedule and should ship around the same time it has historically, if not earlier.

Jan 09, 2012 10:22 AM
 
beerchaser42

Speaking as someone who has ordered more stuff from Amazon the past 10 years than I should ever admit to, I can confirm that they are usually conservative on their shipping estimates.

Jan 09, 2012 12:00 PM
rating: 2
 
ddufourlogger

More Jason Parks makes me a happy fella.

Jan 09, 2012 12:11 PM
rating: 1
 
greensox

Who's not coming back?

Jan 09, 2012 15:43 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

That's a good question. I believe that everyone who was here even semi-regularly for the last several months is still with us.

Jan 09, 2012 16:23 PM
 
R.A.Wagman

Will the divisional series' be running this year? It was hit and miss last year, but some divisions were quite nicely covered by the end of the year.

Jan 09, 2012 18:40 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

We won't be continuing the divisional pieces this year. It became too difficult to get people who were willing and able to just write about a specific division week in and week out. We weren't convinced we could do a complete and thorough job, so we figured we'd shelve that series for now.

Jan 09, 2012 19:17 PM
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

We'll aim to offer plenty of coverage of every division anyway, both through our usual columns and through regular features like the Daily Hit List, but please let us know if you think we're giving anyone short shrift.

Jan 09, 2012 19:28 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Wishful thinking, but can you do the "Kiss em goodbyes" without ESPN? I always feel a bit dumber and dirty afterwards.

Jan 09, 2012 20:06 PM
rating: 4
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Ben is right. We still plan on providing an enormous amount of coverage...especially with more writers on board.

Jan 09, 2012 20:25 PM
 
NYYanks826

What about Emma Span? It's been six months since there has been a good discussion here about fictional gay porn involving baseball players.

Jan 10, 2012 00:00 AM
rating: 0
 
stockmaj

Christina said shed be writing here semi regularly, disappeared, returned once, disappeared, and the inquiry on her above was ignored. If she's too busy to contribute here, can you just confirm that?

I'm content without her, but she never said a real goodbye. More like see you around ( poof)

Jan 09, 2012 18:04 PM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Steven Goldman
BP staff

She is very busy in her new digs at ESPN. However, you will see contributions from her in both Extra Innings, the Baseball Between the Numbers sequel, and this year's annual.

Jan 09, 2012 19:39 PM
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

As well as in Volume 1 of the Best Of Book.

Jan 09, 2012 21:39 PM
 
stockmaj

Good to hear. Thanks for the update

Jan 09, 2012 20:13 PM
rating: 1
 
Jukko1

When will there be a list of signing locations for 2012

Jan 12, 2012 22:55 PM
rating: 0
 
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