Tuesday September 14, 2004
NFL "EXPERT" Picks Results
Q&A with Kevin Goldstein
General Manager of BaseballAmerica.com
Good morning everyone! Well, yesterday I briefly discussed how great it would be to have a dream job, a job that you absolutely love, a job you are proud of, a job that you are passionate about, a job you can't wait to go to each day. I mentioned that today I would have a Q&A with someone who has one of those jobs. For me, and probably for anyone who takes the time to come to a baseball related website every day, a job at Baseball America would be a dream job.
I have been a subscriber to Baseball America for about four years. I absolutely love it because it discusses baseball and players that you don't read about in your local newspaper. About a year ago, I also joined a mailing to receive the daily Baseball America Prospect Report. Kevin Goldstein sends that out. Over the last year, I have e-mailed with him on a few occasions and recently asked him if he would mind taking some time to answer some questions for me and my readership. I think that in reading this, you will see just how busy this man is, and that is why I really need to thank him for taking some of his valuable time to do this!
So, without further ado, here is the conversation with Kevin Goldstein:
SS: Letís start with a little background on your job. You are the General Manager of BaseballAmerica.com. First, how long have you been at Baseball America? And, what does your job entail?
KG: Iíve been a fulltime employee of BA for a little more than a year, but Iíve had a professional relationship with them for many years. I built the first BaseballAmerica.com for them way back in the Clinton administration, and worked with them on special projects here and there before joining fulltime. My job entails a lot, as does everyoneís at BA. People think weíre a way bigger organization than we are, but actually, everyone is just busting their <butt>.
Iím responsible (obviously) for BaseballAmerica.com, and that doesnít just mean overall oversight for the site current and future, but it means the little day-to-day things too, publishing stories, editing photos, etc. I also take care of our architecture and most of the programming for the site. Because my background is in the Internet, Iím involved heavily in our dealing with organizations like our statistical providers, and our content partners like ESPN.com. Iím also involved in long-term planning as to how to better utilize our online presence to serve our readers.
When I was hired fulltime, BA also, for lack of a better word, purchased The Prospect Report (now The Baseball America Prospect Report or BAPR), and so that is another important responsibility, as over 11,000 people receive that email every day.
In addition to that, I do have some editorial responsibilities, contributing to our Daily Dish online, and contributing to our prospect rankings. For example, right now we are compiling our Top 20 prospects for each league, and Iím doing the California League.
SS: I know you compile The Baseball America Prospect Report, an e-mail that you send out on how prospects at each minor league level perform. I know that I read it and enjoy it every day. To compile that list must take some time and a lot of box score reading. How does that process work and how do you determine what to include in it?
KG: The process is pretty simple really. I just look at every box score and pullout the relevant lines. I know it sounds tedious, but Iíve tried to do other things to make it Ďeasierí, but I think one needs a full box to really understand what happened in the game. So in a regular minor league season, Iíll look at over 10,000 box scores, a number that even staggers me.
Determining who does (and doesnít) get listed may be the most frequent question I get (especially from agents and parents). Basically for each team I have a follow list (pretty much in my head) of 20-30 guys Iím looking out for, plus about 5-8 draft picks from June once the short-season starts. Big name prospects (Top 100 guys) really donít need to do much, Iíll usually list every start for the big name pitchers, and position players need only a couple hits or so to get listed. More fringy guys need to do something a little more special to show up. Iíve been doing this for a long time, so Iíve kind of turned it into an art form (at least in my mind). During the busiest part of the year, when all 16 teams are rolling along, it takes 90-120 minutes to do.
SS: One of the things that I have always enjoyed about Baseball America is that it does cover the Major Leagues, but it seems to really accentuate the other areas of baseball that sometimes get missed. For example, there is extensive minor league coverage. College and high school ball gets recognized. Foreign leagues and Winter Ball get their due as well. Is that a goal of Baseball America, to provide coverage that isnít found other places?
KG: Itís certainly our stated goal Ė our tagline is ďBaseball news you canít find anywhere else.Ē Our focus is primarily the minor leagues, player development, the draft, college and amateur baseball and not only do I think we cover those things better than anyone else, but I donít think anybody else even comes close.
SS: What is your baseball background? Where did you find the ďlove of the game.Ē
KG: I have no idea really. Just I remember sitting around as a child with pages filled with columns of numbers, and constantly sorting baseball cards and things like that. As a teenager I discovered the Bill James Abstracts and later Baseball America, and that really changed the way I looked at the game, turning it into a bit of an obsession.
SS: Did you play ball growing up?
KG: Long enough to realize that Iím much better at watching it.
SS: Who were your favorite players or teams growing up? I was a Minnesota boy growing up in the Ď80s and Ď90s, so Kirby Puckett was my favorite player. Were their any lesser known players that you looked up to or enjoyed watching? For me, it was Claudell Washington.
KG: My whole family is from New York, and mostly Brooklyn, so Iím a Mets fan. Fringy players on those great 80s teams that I always liked include Mookie Wilson and Danny Heep, but I think my favorite Met from that era was Sid Fernandez.
SS: What is your background that led to getting your job at Baseball America? Journalism? Other?
KG: Iíve been involved in the Internet world for a long time now, starting at what was just the second Internet company to ever go public. That experience brought me to STATS, very briefly, where I met Jim Callis for the first time. Jim joined STATS shortly after I did, and returned to BA soon after. I was already a long-time subscriber to BA, and Jim and I became friends and he recommended me to BA when they needed somebody with new media experience as I not only understood the business model but also had a passion for the game in the right place.
SS: What is it about baseball that draws you to it?
KG: I think the answer to that is ineffable, and I kind of like it that way.
SS: What is it about minor league baseball that peaks your interest?
KG: Iíve always loved rookies and prospects and reading BA really brought be closer to the process (draft, development, etc.) and that just become what I love. I kind of see the minor leagues/prospects/draft as the Ďindy rockí of the baseball universe. You have to dig a little deeper to find the things you want (theyíre not just right in your face on SportsCenter and your local sports report), but what you do find is far more interesting and special, at least to me. Plus thereís a certain pleasure found in seeing players before they make it big. I saw Alex Rodriguez it what was probably his 15th or so pro game up in Wisconsin as well as truckloads of other future stars well before they were in the majors.
SS: Have you had an opportunity to meet any players or baseball people that meant a lot to you?
KG: So many. Too many to name really. In the last few years, Iíve had the opportunity to interact with players, coaches, managers, scouts, agents, general managers and almost to a man, theyíve been incredibly nice, informative and gracious with their time. Itís been a pretty amazing experience. Maybe three weeks or so after being hired by BA, I got to go to the All-Star game here in Chicago (where I live), and I was standing on the field during batting practice (amazing it inself) when Peter Gammons came up to me and told me how much he loved the report and then we talked for about half an hour. That meant a lot as did him mentioning the report in his column when I was still Ďindependentí, which brought on about 4,000 more subscribers.
SS: Where do you stand on the SABRmetric versus Traditional baseball way of thinking? Have you read Moneyball?
KG: Iíve read it and itís a pretty entertaining book. Iím really in the middle of the road. I think statistical analysis is very important, but I think scouting is too, and the best teams are those that balance the two. I think the Ďtraditional wayí as you put is highly underestimated. People think itís a bunch of old guys with cigars talking about good face and the like, but performance analysis had been part of the game for decades, this is nothing new, and itís not some sort of revolution. I know youíre a big Twins guy, and I think Michael Lewis should rather that writing a sequel to Moneyball, write a book about the Twins, who basically have the same budgetary limitations as the Aís, and the same success, but a very different philosophy. Thereís no one way to do this right, and I donít blame to book for some of the current dogma out there, I blame those that read the book and perceived it as some sort of bible.
SS: Do you follow other sports? What are your favorites?
KG: I follow pro basketball on a level that is kind of absurd. I really have no emotional investment in the game, but I find it entertaining. I also really enjoy boxing, which I know makes me politically incorrect.
SS: Do you play fantasy sports? If so, what is its appeal?
KG: Not really. Iíve played roto a couple of times, but it really didnít do anything for me. I co-own a Scoresheet team with a friend of mine in California, but heís really the majority owner and Iím (if anything) a consultant. I find that more fun that standard roto, but I donít think Iíd play on my own. I am in (and enjoy very much) a weird historical simulation league (using Diamond Mind) that is currently on 1990 Ė many of the team owners are from BA, STATS, BP, etc. Thatís a load of fun, but also ridiculous in its own way.
SS: Aside from sports, what does your life consist of? (I ask, because outside of sports, I donít have much of a life and am always looking for ideas! J)
KG: I donít know, just your basic hip urban-living guy. Playing video games, playing guitar, playing poker, going to bars, hanging out with my lovely girlfriend, watching crappy TV that TiVo recorded, listening to music, enjoying the city, stuff like that.
SS: Some of the minor league seasons are coming to an end and others are beginning their playoffs. What do you do in the offseason? Is there an offseason?
KG: Offseason? We donít have no stinkiní offseason. In a way, the offseason is when things really get rolling around here. As I mentioned before, weíre doing our league top prospects now, and in the not so distant future, the real insanity begins with our individual team Top 10s, as well as Top 30s for our famous Prospect Handbook, which may been one of the best baseball annuals in the history of man. BAPR itself really never dies. I cover the minor league playoffs, and then the Arizona Fall League, and then the winter leagues in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican. Once those are done, itís time to look at early college games, and then itís spring training again. So basically, the insanity never ends.
Thanks again to Kevin Goldstein for taking the time to answer my questions. What he and the rest of the staff of Baseball America do is such a service for big baseball fans like myself. Check out Kevin's work at BaseballAmerica.com, and be sure to sign up for The Baseball America Prospect Report.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or other discussion, send me an e-mail.
The Twins completed a four game sweep of the Detroit Tigers last night with a 5-3 win. Lew Ford definitely set the table for the win. In the first inning, Ford singled in Torii Hunter for the game's first run. Two innings later, Ford unloaded on a pitch and hit it well into the left field bleachers for his 15th homer of the season. The team then scored a couple of unearned runs later in that inning.
Brad Radke was again on his game. He worked seven innings and gave up just one run to improve to 11-7. Juan Rincon pitched the 8th, and when Augie Ojeda hit a solo home run in the top of the 9th, it was Joe Roa who came in to start the 9th. He struck out the first batter, walked the second, struck out the third and then walked the fourth before Jason Smith hit a double to score two runs and cut the lead to 5-3. Joe Nathan then was brought in to face the tying run, Curtis Granderson (who was playing in his first major league game). Nothing like throwing him right into the fire! Nathan coaxed Granderson to ground out to 2B to end the game, ensuring the win.
Terry Tiffee left the game after colliding at home with Pudge Rodriguez. He separated his shoulder. More tests will be done today, but there are definitely varying degrees of a separated shoulder, from give it a day off to you're going to miss awhile. Hopefully Tiffee is OK. Is Corey Koskie ready to come back? By the way, Tiffee went into Rodriguez hard. That was really impressive, a nice, perfect form tackle that football coaches around the country could use to show their players how it should be done!
The Twins now head back to the Metrodome for three games against the Chicago White Sox. The Sox are now 10 1/2 games back of the Twins with just twenty games to go. Sure, the Magic Number is 10, but in reality, this race is over! It's been over for a month, but it's official. They miss Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez. Freddy Garcia has returned to his old form since coming over. Jon Garland is only slightly more consistent than Kyle Lohse. All told, the White Sox are not a good team, and they have mortgaged their future to acquire the likes of Garcia, Roberto Alomar and Carl Everett. Looks like a two team race for years to come in the AL Central! (Twins and Indians, in case you were wondering)
Here are the pitching matchups for the upcoming White Sox series which begins tonight at the Metrodome:
Tonight - 7:10 -Johan Santana (17-6, 2.85, 0.94, .196) vs Freddy Garcia (11-10, 3.79, 1.20, .244)
Wednesday - 7:10 - Carlos Silva (11-8, 4.46, 1.46, .315) vs Mark Buehrle (14-8, 4.03, 1.30, .283)
Thursday - 7:10 - Kyle Lohse (7-11, 5.45, 1.65, .310) vs Jon Garland (10-10, 4.93, 1.38, .269)
Here are the current standings though the weekend's games in the AL Central:
Minnesota Twins 83-60
Chicago White Sox 72-70 10.5
Cleveland Indians 70-73 13.0
Detroit Tigers 64-78 18.0
Kansas City Royals 52-91 31.0
Any thoughts on the Twins? E-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Congratulation to Jeremy Kovash on being the Week 1 winner of the SethSpeaks Football "Expert" Picks. Because the Packers beat the Panthers, Ryan Maus and Mike Brasel got one more wrong, leaving Kovash as the only 13-3 team. To see all of our picks, click here.
Name Website W-L
Jeremy Kovash Wolf Lake Mfg 13-3
Ryan Maus Twins Chatter 12-4
Mike Brasel Fantasy FB Guru 12-4
Aaron Gleeman Aaron's BB Blog 12-4
David Bergner Baseball Savant 11-5
Ben Jacobs Hardball Times 10-6
David Bloom Ya Gotta Believe 10-6
Vic Quick KDUH-TV 10-6
Mike Labuda ChiSox Daily 9-7
Seth Stohs SethSpeaks.net 8-8
Missy Olson SethSpeaks.net 8-8
John Bonnes The Twins Geek 7-9
On that note, I am going to call it a day. Thanks again to Kevin Goldstein! Thanks to everyone who stops by this site! Have a wonderful day! If you have any questions or comments on anything, send me an e-mail.
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