WTNYAugust 09, 2004
Off My Chest
By Bryan Smith

Note: the following article is a breed between a mission statement and a collected group of 'shout-outs', read at your own discretion.

A while back, I chose to change the focus of this site to minor league analysis. Not only is it immesely important within a Major League organization, but it's also vastly uncovered by the media. Will's site has had some great posts on the purpose of the 'weblog world', all leading to the fact that our job is to keep the media honest. If Rich Lederer thinks Bert Blyleven is getting screwed, he sees it as his job to write about it. When Christian and Alex see flaws beneath the Cubs' surface, they'll say it, where as a beat writer might just think it. Just imagine what Will Carroll's former newsletter has transformed into.

My job? I like to think that it's going to be minor league reporting. I want fans to know who's next long before they wear Major League colors. I want fans to know if the guy their team stuck in a deal won't be another Bagwell or Brock. Obviously, the conglomerate known as Baseball America offers this in fantastic form, but I want to make sure they're not a monopoly. Work, and starting a new experience at the Hardball Times, has derailed what was once a daily blog. When things are more routine next April, if not sooner, minor league content will be available daily. Pushing myself is simply the only way this site will match the great ones I am surrounded by.

But at the same time, I recognize I'm not alone in the minor league world. As previously mentioned, Baseball America is one of the best magazines in the world, and the Prospect Report one of the Internet's best features. Dayn Perry has started to focus on youth at BP, and has seemingly found his niche. When creating my preseason prospect rankings, I often mentioned Mike Gullo, who writes at the Minors First. On Deck Baseball is a site that not only offers solid daily reports, but also a 'Future 500' to boot. Finally, Jeremy Deloney has a minor league blog that averages about four good posts a day, as well as some solid work at MVN. I hardly view these guys as competition, but rather more people joining the minor league push.

All the previous sites are general minor league sites, but many others are more specialized. Just like an avid fan will follow his teams' beat writer, many sites offer daily minor league reports that help keep me up with the minors' latest. This is Brad Dowdy's specialty, and he offers great, detailed reports at No Pepper. At the Batter's Box, one of the sites 23 writers follow each of the Jays' teams daily. Not only that, but we also get the occasional post like this, putting stats truely into context. Avkash Patel does the same at the Raindrops, offering inciteful posts on many Mets minor leaguers, along with near-daily updates. Readers of this site don't need me to prove Fabian's Yankee intelligence, which is available not only regularly in my comments, but also at his site. Finally, with all the Mariner sites on-line, it's nice to see someone just choose one area.

Few people know their teams as well as Joe Ptak and Jamey Newberg, and I urge you to read both. At the Cleveland Indians Report, Ptak provides detailed analysis of both Major and minor league happenings. Ptak is extremely knowledgable, and his annual draft analysis is priceless. I shouldn't have to boast Newberg, because if you miss his daily e-mail, you're truely missing out. Newberg represents everything Texas Ranger, providing more on the Rangers than anyone else. Heck, the guy even writes an annual book...no one can compete with that.

Ranking prospects is a difficult task, and a few sites kep team rankings updated that are invaluable. Dave Cameron, who wrote some great columns at Prospectus, handles that job over at U.S.S. Mariner. This is where I first discovered some kid named Felix Hernandez, who is now my second overall prospect. The aforementioned No Pepper debuted a 'Hot 30' this year, which has always been very helpful to me. Lastly, reading all about the upcoming Brewers' system is available at Brewerfan.net, where their list is expanded to fifty names.

As I once mentioned in a THT article, I haven't been a baseball fanatic as long as a lot of people. But it was minor league baseball, and Kerry Wood's twenty strikeout game, that put me over the top. You'll never find perfect baseball in the minors, but stories from Miguel Cabrera to Bucky Jacobsen are enough for me. I'll try to always have minor league baseball be my focus- please keep me honest- with much more content coming in the future.

Please, to help not only me but also my readers, drop links to other minor league blogs in the comments. The blog world is becoming much too big for my surfing to handle, but any daily minor league report will be read by these eyes.


Bryan - You're like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Like Dorothy with her ruby red slippers, you have always had what it takes, too.

Now close your eyes and tap your heels together three times ...

The three times in your case are Felix Hernandez, Andy Marte, and Dallas McPherson. See, you're already there!