Friday Mailbag: Survey Responses

Thank you for everyone who completed the survey yesterday. I needed the first half of the survey to collect general data on the readers of the site. The second half was to get suggestions for the site. All of the surveys were confidential. I don’t receive names, e-mail addresses, IP addresses, or anything else that gives me any indication of who said what. For the multiple choice answers, all I see is a graph with how many people selected each answer.

I’ve been keeping up with the responses in the two open questions. A lot of the responses were the same 5-6 comments, although there were plenty of unique comments and suggestions mixed in. I figured the responses would be a good time to do a mail bag, focused on the future of the site and any potential changes. So let’s begin with the first question.

What would you like to see added to Pirates Prospects?

Nothing. I love it!

Thanks! I got this comment a lot, probably the most frequent response. But I’m always looking for new things to cover on the site, and new things to focus on. So even if you’re one of the people who said you wouldn’t change anything, feel free to send in suggestions or comment on articles that you really like, so that we know what to add or focus on.

Would be helpful to see minor league teams’ statistics during the season on a team-by-team page, as well as trends (last month, etc)

This is something that I’ve always wanted to add. The problem is that it takes some programming knowledge to pull the data each night, and it would also take a new server to host the data. I haven’t made this a priority, so I don’t really have the resources to hire someone to set this up. Of course, if there’s someone out there who knows a bit more about this, and would be willing to work for Pirates Prospects books and the continued growth of the site, let me know.

More live blogging is cool. Not sure if that’s something you already did regularly as I didn’t start reading PP regularly until this past offseason.

I got this comment a lot. I’ve done live chats in the past. I’ve always wanted to do a regular one, but I always forget about it until I see someone else doing a chat. I’m thinking about just picking a day and doing a one hour chat each week. I was talking about this with Kristy today. I might get a regular day during the week and hold weekly chat.

I’d also like to do a mailbag, but to be honest I never get the questions for them. I get questions in the comments, but I either respond to those, or use those as article ideas. Same thing on Twitter. Maybe actually starting a mailbag will prompt some questions. And I could probably hold off on some questions. But then again, how many of you want me waiting until Friday to answer a question you asked on Twitter on Monday?

I’ll be live blogging games from Pirate City. There’s another B game tomorrow at Pirate City, so I’ll be doing the same thing that I did on Wednesday.

More scouting reports via videos

Here’s the thing about videos. I got a lot of comments from people who like them. But for the most part, videos aren’t really popular on the site. The video of Josh Bell was the 4th most popular blog post since opening this part of the site in the last month. The video of Gerrit Cole was 6th. But then something like Jose Osuna or Elvis Escobar only gets a few hundred views. I kind of get that. Bell and Cole are more popular, so there would be more interest in video. But there’s also plenty of video already for those two players, and not much video on guys like Osuna or Escobar.

The process for video is the same for every player. It takes about 10 minutes to shoot the video, 20 minutes to edit the 1-2 minute video, then 30 minutes to upload the video (which isn’t really that bad, since I hit upload and head back out to the field). If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, the only videos that really do well are the top prospects. Even with them, only the first video really gets attention. So I’m probably going to cut back on the videos, just because I’d rather spend time on things that have more mass appeal.

Am I wrong on this? Is the issue a lack of interest, or is there an issue with locating the videos? I feel that it’s more a lack of interest. For question #7 (what is your favorite feature), all of the responses were split between 20-33%. “Videos” got less than one percent. So rather than spending that time shooting and editing video, I’d rather do more player interviews and features, since it takes the same amount of time, and over 20% of responders said that was their favorite feature. Speaking of which…

information about the players in minor league camp

I’ll have a lot more of these coming. This is the first full week of minor league camp, and they don’t start games until Sunday. So it’s been hard getting content. I could write about what the players have been doing in the off-season, and I could recap the previous year, but I already have all of that in the Prospect Guide. Shameless plug there, but I’ve got to be honest, I’m aiming to sell books here, since that’s one of the keys to the site’s growth.

Once games get going I’ll have more to write about. I just interviewed Jason Townsend today after watching his first live batting practice session. That should put things in to perspective. It’s March 9th, and Townsend just threw to live hitters for the first time today. And that’s nothing on where Townsend is at. Minor league camp is just a few weeks behind major league camp.

Blog/online diary from minor league prospect.

I got a few of these comments. This is something that would be interesting, and is definitely something I’ll look in to.

Message board

I don’t have any plans to run a message board.

more stories that we don’t see on other media…ex the mcdonald changeup story was alos in the trib and very similar but i enjoy the new writers you’ve brought on board..been following kristy robinson and like her work

When McDonald is doing a post game interview, or any player for that matter, they’re talking to everyone. Certain things will be said that everyone latches on to, which leads to a lot of similar articles. We’re not going to avoid writing an article because other people are writing the same article, just like they wouldn’t avoid writing the article knowing we’re writing the same thing.

As for stories that you don’t see elsewhere, that’s where I think the player features have value. Kristy has been interviewing a lot of players in major league camp, and I’ve been starting with some features on guys in minor league camp. The reason this site has grown so much, I think, is because we’ve gone a different route and covered stories you don’t see elsewhere. So I’m definitely not changing that. At the same time, we have unlimited space for articles, so you’ll see some stories that are similar to other outlets, just because Kristy is getting the same post-game quotes as everyone else.

A better commenting interface.

I don’t know who wrote this, but if you feel the same way, feel free to offer suggestions…in the comments. Are there certain features you want to see? A different layout? I like Disqus because it’s convenient for me (I get an e-mail every time someone comments), and it’s convenient for the site. The site is actually four different sites that act as one site. Disqus helps with that by linking the comments from all of the sites together (actually only two, since the main part and the blogs part are the only ones with comments).

They have some advanced features, but I don’t really want to pay for a commenting system at this point. For the most part people read the content here, then go talk about it somewhere else, whether that’s a message board, another blog, or the comments section in a newspaper blog post. So I haven’t focused on the comments section that much for this reason.

Really enjoy the player value columns showing the types of prospect return certain players should generate in trade situations.

This is actually one of the most popular features on the site, going by page views. I’ll continue with them, although only when they’re warranted. I’m only going to do one of these if there’s a credible rumor that can back them up. I’ve found that if I talk about trading for another player, it becomes a game of telephone. I’ll do a trade value article looking at what a player would cost if the Pirates were interested. It doesn’t take long before that turns in to “Pirates Prospects says the Pirates are looking at Player A”.

A regular scouts take on someone in the system, maybe weekly

Two things about this. One, you’re going to have a hard time getting a scout to put their name out there with an opinion. Two, if you do get a scout to do this, there’s probably an agenda behind it. I talk to scouts during the season, and their input is always incorporated in to my evaluation of a player.

maybe partner with similar blogs for other teams to get outside views of prominent bucco prospects

This is something I’ve thought about in the past, but it’s not really of interest to me. A big reason is that I don’t think there’s much value in outside views, at least on that level. I’d love to get guys like Jim Callis, Kevin Goldstein, or John Sickels to get their view on certain prospects. But I don’t have much interest in what a Cardinals blogger thinks of the system, because they probably don’t follow the system close enough to give a good opinion. I know I couldn’t give a good opinion on the St. Louis farm system. We had Jim Callis do a feature on the site in the past. I’d like to do more of that with people who focus on all teams, because that’s the type of outside view which has a lot of value to me.

better technical performance from the mobile app… sometimes does not display correctly

For all of you who use the mobile app: I was experiencing the same issues when WordPress released a new edition. It was a conflict with the current version of the app at the time. I made the required changes a few weeks ago, and it started working immediately. Then the app released a new version and the problems started back up. I made changes two weeks ago, and everything seems to be working. If you’re still experiencing problems, let me know through the contact form. Let me know what the exact problem is so that I can try to find an answer with the person who designed the mobile app.

It would really help the site from a credibility and legitimacy standpoint if they brought on a copy editor or at least took a closer look at their copy before publishing.

In the last week I actually installed software to the site that acts as a copy editor, making suggestions and picking out potential mistakes.

I’ll be honest. I don’t really care too much about the editing. If I had money for a copy editor, I’d use that money elsewhere. To make this site work, I’m the writer, editor, photographer, webmaster, marketing manager, ad sales rep, and more. Since the editing issues are small, editing takes a back seat. The new software will help make things easier and will pick out mistakes. But the only reason this is a full-time job is because I fill so many roles on the site. And editing is really a low priority in the grand scheme of things. I know it annoys some people. But I think we’re talking about minor errors, and I’m not sure if there’s anyone who would trade some of the content on the site to make sure the site never had a typo. I know I’m not making that trade.

This may be hard to get, but an insider in the Dominican Republic for in depth international player reports.

That would be great.

More pictures and a picture page like the video page

I mentioned the videos earlier, but pictures are different. I’m always shooting pictures on the field, and it takes no time to edit and upload them. So maybe I’ll have a daily blog post with pictures from the day’s events.

Nothing really pressing – most of the bases are covered (see what I did there?) The only thing that may be missing is commentary/not strictly reporting features. Might be nice to have a columnist or other content which convey more opinions or niche topics – “business side of the Pirates”? Not sure if any of that is something that really belongs here, but might be the next logical step.

That’s actually the point of the blogs. It will be a place for reporting on minor events, but also giving opinions on stories. Also, Kevin Creagh does a great job following the business side of the game.

Sabermetric glossary

There’s actually a big section on this in the Pirates Prospects Annual. Another shameless plug!

More blogs

I just have to work on taking over all of the remaining existing Pirates blogs first.

daily box scores

I include links to the box scores in the nightly prospect rundown.

A place that has daily updated links to other national news outlet articles related to the Pirates or of interest to Pirates fans.

I want to do this with the nightly “First Pitch” article. But I really don’t get much of a chance to read anyone else. I need JAL to come here and do his Morning Links.

Pirates Prospects fantasy baseball league

I’m working on a fantasy contest this year. Details to come in the next few weeks.

I realize it’s Spring Training, but I don’t really care about B game reports or that sort of thing. I’d love to see more about fringe/long-shot prospects trying to work their way up the system.

Nothing specific to this comment, but in general to the “I don’t care about (insert topic/article)”. The benefit we have here is that there’s unlimited room for articles. I don’t have to worry about running out od space. We can report on the B-game, and still have features on the lower level international guys on the same day. I pretty much base the content on the site off of results. If it’s popular, I’m going back to it. The B-game coverage was the most popular feature on the site this week. So I’ll definitely be doing something similar tomorrow.

In general, I try to put stuff out there that will be appealing to everyone. Not everyone will like everything, but my goal is that everyone will find a lot of things they like on the site.

I would love if Tim and the crew started doing a podcast.

I’ve thought about this in the past, but I probably won’t be doing that any time soon. There’s some good Pirates podcasts out there right now.

The Pirates Prospects Books

A lot of the responses were the same, so this section won’t be that big. Again, I don’t have any information on who sent which message. If you mentioned you haven’t received your book yet, get in touch with me using the contact form above. You should have received a tracking number. Send that number to me when you get in touch.

There were a lot of people who said they couldn’t buy the books due to financial reasons. I totally understand that. I’m just happy you read the site.

For those who asked about a digital version, there’s a link to the digital version on the products page of the site.

Now for a few responses.

There is so much information provided by the website, I feel that I do not need to purchase the book.

I got this a lot. I also got a lot of comments asking for added coverage of the minor league system.

The reason I can provide so much on the site for free is because of the Guide. The only way to continue to add coverage is through the sales of the Guide. I don’t know if it’s the same people who are saying both things, but I’m just pointing out that’s how it works.

Ultimately I care more about people visiting the site. The ad revenue on the site, generated by the traffic to the site, is what makes this all possible. But the Guide is what makes expansion possible, such as the current Spring Training coverage, the addition of Kristy to the staff, and all of the live reports during the year. So if you feel like the site gives enough coverage, realize that a big reason for this coverage comes from the book sales.

No interest in the book per se, would be more interested in a paid website, or members only area. (similar to espn)

This would be the alternative to the books, but it’s not really ideal. No one wants to pay for news anymore, especially when they previously got the news for free. Some places get away with this. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus are prime examples. They’ve got free articles, but most of the content requires a subscription.

That’s not really something I want to do. I’d rather make everything free on the site. But that’s a tough challenge. A member’s area would be easier, in theory. If all of the daily readers just paid $2 per month, I would be able to give the Prospect Guide away for free, and provide live daily coverage of every minor league team in the system. And that’s pretty much what the book tries to do. It’s kind of like a member’s only site, only it’s a book. It has content that isn’t on the site, and the book sales help the site in the same way.

The options are a site where everything is free and a book you can pay for. Or a site where you have to pay for some content. If I did a subscription, it would be the same price as a book. And the content on the site wouldn’t change.

But I have no plans to add subscriptions to the site.

I would like to purchase a copy but pay-pal caused me a lot of problems. I just won’t deal with them.

You don’t have to have a Paypal account to buy the books. Paypal is only a way to process the transactions. You can just enter your payment information as a non-Paypal member.

I would be more likely to buy if available as Kindle eBook.

Got a few of these. I’m working on it. For now I think you can buy the eBook and transfer it to the Kindle. But my publisher doesn’t deal with the Amazon marketplace, so I’m working on that avenue. And right now my focus is more on Spring Training.

Didn’t know they existed

And I always feel I plug them too much.

Very interested. Will buy in the future

To all of the people who said this, I appreciate your future orders.

Finally, I got a lot of responses on the content of the books. For the Prospect Guide, I’m thinking about reducing the information in the player sections. I’ll have a report for each player, but it will be a simple scouting report. Some players might just get one line. The trade-off is that this will allow me to do expanded features on the top prospects. The top 50 prospects would pretty much be 50 player features. That’s kind of what they are right now. Each player is an individual page. But these would be written up kind of like individual articles, rather than player reports. This is just something I’m thinking about, based on your feedback.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the survey, and thanks in advance to everyone who will respond over the next week. I’ll be reading every single response to the above questions. All of the comments come to me as anonymous, so if there’s a specific issue, feel free to use the contact form.

Analysis

  • Tim – the first paragraph from tconst above couldn’t describe me any better. Since I found this site, I’ve attained much better understanding of the Pirates farm system and team in general, which in turn, helped me become reinvested in the Pirates.

    As far as suggestions, only a minor one: If it was possible to have links to go with each player/prospects name mentioned in an article. For instance, when prospects names are mentioned in articles, there are times when I’m either not sure who the prospect is (i.e. elvis escobar above) or quickly want to see his stats, so I end up typing his name into google and then usually clicking on the PP link for the prospect’s profile.

    The one annoying thing with the name/link aspect is that you are forced to leave the page you are viewing. However, I think model used by ESPN for fantasy player profiles is best. When clicking on a player, a small (say 2″ x 2″) box pops up with their season avg’s and past 5 game stats, all while staying on the same article. For PP purposes, if this ‘box” would contain say the player’s position, age, height/weight, and stats/splits at each level, I think it would be very helpful/useful to have some perspective on the players when reading posts.

    Not sure if that would require some sort of special server / internet configuration (not programming-savvy), but I thought it would be nice b/c I know I constantly use those player links for fantasy purposes. Anyways, if not, no big deal – keep up the great work!

  • I love the site, Tim. I randomly stumbled upon the website during the first half of the season last year when the Pirates were still in contention for the division title and I have been hooked ever since. I never knew too much about the Pirates’ minor league players until I started following this site, but now I have a much better understanding and knowledge of all aspects of the Pirates organization; and I have you and your staff to thank! Now when I attend Curve games, I have a lot of knowledge on each of the players I see on the field.

    I believe I wrote in my survey that an idea for the continued growth of Pirates Prospects might be either live blogs of each of the Pirates’ minor league team’s games (perhaps starting with the GCL team) or blogs that cover each of the Pirates’ minor league teams. I understand that this would require many more (expensive) upgrades such as hiring more writers and upgrading other technology-related services, but this would certainly add to PP’s already stellar service. Keep up the great work!

  • Tim….I wasn’t around to do the survey, but I would have to go with #1. 🙂

    However, aren’t there minor league links out there? Maybe you’d be able to put a permanent link? I think USA Today, Baseball Reference and MiLB.com have them.

    Those are the places I usually check.

    Hey, you can’t have EVERYTHING on here, right? 🙂  🙂  🙂

  •  Two comments on JAL’s links. Here are a couple of sites that I use and check, even though I am a PG Plus subscriber.

    http://pittsburghsportsdailybulletin.wordpress.com/

    You can sign up for an e newsletter. You also get Steeler and Penguin stuff.

    JAL’s links are also  are found in Dejan Kovajevic’s blogs in the Trib live Sports section: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/

  • salempirate
    March 9, 2012 7:40 pm

    1. Your last point about scouting reports. Sounds good if some are one liners only.

    2. You provide oodles of info. Best site around. Some of the sites I used to visit, I don’t anymore.

    3. Count me as one who likes the B games.

    4. Miss JAL’s links? Me too. P-G’s pay site isn’t worth it to me. But I’d pay a small fee like you talked about for PP.

    5. Rene Gayo: didn’t you interview him in the past? That would be great.

    6. Player value: like this but would it be possible to alsoinclude ML values. Like Player A should command a SP (like for instance a #3), and position player (say a bench guy) and a MiL (say a AA position player).

    7. I don’t think this was covered but you don’t have “stale” coverage. One of you is on top of news. You have commentary all day. And the PBC F.O., to me, is outstanding in providing access, not only to PP but other sites as well. Something I never expected.

    8. Who is hot and who is not. Can’t remember from last season if it was used or not. I think WTM (or you) did it but not sure.

    9. Tweaks here and there, but everything as is is good.

    • Responding to a few of the numbers:

      3. It was very popular. There’s a B-game tomorrow. I’ll be providing coverage.

      4. I don’t have any plans to charge for the site.

      5. I actually just met Rene Gayo for the first time today.

      6. ML values are easy to match up. You just do a player value for each player and match up the dollars. But those trades are rare. If a team is trading for major league players, they’re usually not looking to give up major league pieces. And teams trading major league pieces are usually looking for prospects.

      8. Wilbur did an article like this each week. Got a lot of questions about that. I just figured it was from people who weren’t here last year or didn’t remember.

      Thanks for the other comments.

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