The last day of the year is usually a time for reflection, a final look back at the good and the bad of 2010. However, I'm already looking forward to 2011, specifically changes in how I'm going to go about writing On The Beat, my non-award winning column here at BP.

On The Beat went from running twice a week to three times a week last season. Next season, the plan is for it to be posted at least four times a week and sometimes five. It's an ambitious undertaking but I feel I'm up to the challenge after spending 22 seasons as a beat writer at daily newspapers, the majority of which was spent trying to make bad-to-awful Pirates' teams sound remotely interesting.

I want to tweak On The Beat, make it more interesting and more informative. And I'd like to solicit your help. After all, it is you for whom I write the column (which sounds like something Not Jim Tracy would say on the podcast).

I remember when old friend Buster Olney began his now very popular blog on We talked about what he was attempting to do with it and he said he was looking at the undertaking as a blank canvas.

I, too, want to have a blank canvas in revamping On The Beat and I'd love you to grab a brush and help paint. Ideally, I'd like it to become a catch-all type piece full of interviews, analysis, newsy tidbits, rumors, gossip, humor, links and maybe even a little fantasy baseball and wagering advice.

And I'd also like to make it more interactive. For example, say I'm going to be catching up with a certain team, perhaps the Yankees. I'd like you to offer suggestions of questions I should ask Joe Girardi or the players. I can't promise I'd be able to ask them all but I'd consider each and every one.

Please feel free to leave your comments below and try to keep the wisecracks to a minimum. When it comes to getting my chops busted, my wife already handles that job quite ably and doesn't need any assistance.

Happy New York and let's all look forward to a great 2011!


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I love the section you added this year where you get scout's opinions on various players - more of that in 2011 please!
Yes! Yes! Yes! Scout's opinions were a cool addition.
I second that idea!
All those suggestions you listed sound good, John. I know you asked for suggestions but its easier for me to say what I don't want. I can get basic beat writing/gamestories and boilerplate quotes from just about any news media outlet. I come to BP to avoid that, but not just to avoid that, to move past it. I know that probably isn't very helpful, but its about all I can give you at 2:30am.

Happy New Year to you as well!
John, BP has seen a lot of changes over the past two seasons. Your regular "On The Beat" columns are already the greatest positive change at BP, and I thank you for your work.

I'd like to see a two-part feature at the end of each "On The Beat," titled "What I See." You see things about baseball that most fans don't, simply because of your experience and wisdom. I'd like the first part of "What I See" simply to be a short candid observation about some small part of the game that stands out in your mind: a catcher who suddenly looks much better throwing out baserunners, a team whose chemistry looks better in April, or a pitcher who just looks lost on the mound. The second part would be a different view, also in very few words, from a different member of your staff who is well-suited to see the same thing from a different perspective: Matt Swartz could look at obscure stats, while David Laurila could comment on team chemistry, for example.

John, you're an excellent journalist, and journalists are objective. I don't want to lose that. I would like you to add a little bit of an editorial section to your work, complemented by the perspectives of others on your staff in their areas of talent.
John, I think i read at least a part of every "On the Beat" article that you wrote. I loved that the articles covered so much topics, and were relatively lite reading. It makes for a great quick escape from the workday. But on extremely busy days at work i might not have time to read each section, so i often would skim the first paragraph to see what each section is about, and pick the ones that most interest me. It would be a lot easier if they had titles or headers or whatever the appropriate term may be.

Also, I mildy disagree with Matty above...i do come to BP to avoid being overwhelmed by talking points. But in order for BP to be my complete news source it does need to cover the talking points, or else I'm missing out on the water cooler talk.

Keep up the good work.
John, I also disagree with Matty above. I actually love having the "newspaper-esque" coverage by an author who is aware of what WARP or VORP is.

If I want detailed technical articles, there are many BP authors that offer that. What I can't get anywhere else is the kind of beat writing that infuses the advanced stats with the traditional coverage. I really enjoy that when I am in a more sit and relax kind of mood.

IMHO, asking John to have less of the beat coverage would be like asking Kevin Goldstein to give us more stats on the prospects instead of his balanced coverage - which I wouldn't like either.
I second many of Poptarts sentiments....John, your strengths are delivering the "newsy tidbits, rumors and gossip" from a knowledgeable perspective.....there's no need to try to outdo KG or Matt.....
John - I very much enjoy the On the Beat columns and just wanted to say keep up the great work and very best to you and yours for the New Year.

On a side note, as mentioned above, I too am a fan of the scouting reports. In terms of the suggestions, I would highly recommmend a fantasy flavor added to the segment and possibly some minor league reports as well (to coincide with KG's Future Shock/Monday 10 Packs). Perhaps a player from his Monday 10 pack could be featured in one of your weekly On the Beat posts, a little greater in depth of what scouts are saying about the player!? Just a thought.
I'm actually against the "fantasy flavor" idea for John's column and KG's top 11s....and I play fantasy baseball. It seems pointless. If you read the scouting report or the article, it'll give you a good idea about a player's value in fantasy basball terms.
Thanks for all the feedback and ideas! I appreciate the response.
I too love the scout's thoughts on players - more is better! I agree with the idea of more minor league reports as well. I have found the minor league / prospect info to be some of my favorite material on BP.
I want to add to the chorus of people who like scouting reports. I also like the comments from the front offices about what they are thinking as well.

BP readers already have access to a boatload of statistics and can screen for "who's hot/who's not" themselves. What we can't normally get is the insight on who's throwing a new pitch, who's progressing by covering the strike zone better even if the statistical success is not obvious or glaring yet, etc. -- the human element, if you will.

Your columns are the first thing I go to, since they never fail to entertain and inform.
Nothing personal, but I actually have found most of "On the Beat"s either a little dull or a little behind the news curve and as a result a bit redundant. So more frequency will probably actually help. I also endorse the "scout's view" angle--those have been the best items this year.
I agree with this, and it isn't so much the fault of OTB as a recognition that there are now plenty of other resources that can do the same thing. In an environment like that, any one resource's likelihood of being out in front is essentially random. I don't pay for BP to have a random chance of being the best resource for baseball news and (particularly) analysis; I pay for you to BE the best.

Frankly, for the coming year, the best strategy might be for BP to swallow its collective pride, regroup, and try to develop the kind of contacts that Will Carroll had, and to some extent, Kevin Goldstein still has -- the kind that set BP apart from the crowd in a way that OTB cannot. Both on the field and on the web, I can tolerate a "rebuilding year," with evidence of a clear plan to rebuild, better than I can a long descent into everybody's-doing-it mediocrity. But that's just me...
I would agree with this. There's definitely been a void at BP since Will and his bevy of contacts left. On the Beat is an excellent column though, especially the scout's views.
I enjoy "On the Beat" in part because there is more of your personality than in some of the other articles here I'd enjoy hearing more of your perspective and take, as another commenter suggested.

I have also enjoyed other baseball writers' ongoing "beat the Vegas line" efforts when they have included tracking. A PECOTA inspired version would be entertaining.
The scouts feedback is a good piece of the article.

And with all due respect, I agree with lemurranger. "On the Beat" has always been, to me, alot of vanilla. Reporting on what's happened or why some manager feels like their team is playing real well right now and has a chance to do some damage in their division. While that has it's place, it's not what I'm paying money for.

Best thing you can do for me John is have a once or twice weekly op-ed piece about a baseball current event. Team A (or Player B or Manager C) did Action X (and then compounded it with Action Y) and it was smart/dumb. Here's why. Back it up with stats, convince me that your point is correct. Make me care, make me get riled up and pissed that my team is doing something so stupid, or even better that the cross-bay rivals are doing something just as stupid, but getting away with it (and then winning the damn series to boot...but I digress).
I used to feel that way, but as the year went on, I found myself looking forward to OtB more and more. I pay for the cutting edge research, insight, and statistical analysis, but there is definitely a place for good baseball prose, news, and tidbits. I now find OtB the part of the site that balances the complicated number-crunching, and I'm not sure I'd change anything.

Sure do like those scout quick-takes though.
Love the scout stuff, mostly because of the sourcing. Scouts still seem willing to say things to you that are not part of the standard storylines.

Water-cooler stuff is easily available and free elsewhere. What I hope BP always believes in is that if some story is well-covered in the mainstream sports media, then it isn't necessary to repeat it here.

I think this is what initially turned me off by the idea of a seasoned beat writer here (you've mostly won me over, btw) - a paper HAS to cover the major stories, and cover the "faith-and-hope" beat. BP doesn't - you can count on us to have read those pieces elsewhere.

And thus I get a little worried about MORE frequent OtB columns. It's undoubtedly hard enough to find fresh, uncovered stories twice a week - if you are going to write four or five OtBs a week, I am skeptical that they won't have to draw from the same well the rest of the sports journalists drink from.
I feel that OtB has discernably gotten more interesting in the past 12 months. Reading cutting edge statistical work is why most of us are here, but a lot of the heavy lifting statistically, has been done already and it seems much of what is published is of less impact. Application for fantasy and especially wagering would be the direction that I would like to see things go. There are lots of trends or edges that I would like to see exploited.
It would be cool to have Scout's take as it's own feature, with expanded quotes, but I'm not sure how much time the scouts are willing to dedicate.
I second this. That would be phenomenal.
I think the important part is to provide a bit of insight that we wouldn't get elsewhere - almost everyone will get the standard stuff from other sources, and while it's nice to get the same from BP, it isn't essential. What I would like is considered commentary where appropriate, and takes that we are unlikely to get elsewhere, such as the scout comments. I would prefer more of this sort of thing, even if it meant fewer or shorter articles, rather than having 4-5/week largely made up of filler. Also, I don't know if there has been any announcement as to what, if anything, is to replace Will's injury coverage. For me, it was one of the main things that I subscribed for, and I hope that the OtB will not just be padded out with injury info that is basically available elsewhere.
One other thing - respond to at least some of the better comments. This is one of the best things about, say, Kevin's work, that he's willing to interact with subscribers, and it adds a lot of value imo.
John, I'd like to see you engage more with the readers in the comments section. Unlike many of the other BP authors, you generally don't. Thanks!