BA's work heats up during offseason
by Will Lingo
Doctors, lawyers, high-powered executives. Sure, those are great jobs. But they all fall short in dinner-party conversation when put up against working at Baseball America.
We're almost guaranteed to be judged holders of the most interesting job in any social group, and when people find out that, in addition to being able to talk about baseball (and sports in general) all day, we also get to wear blue jeans or shorts to work, well, they hate us.
After the talk about how cool our jobs are dies down, though, the next question is almost inevitable: "What do you guys do when baseball season is over?"
As you savvy baseball fans know, baseball season never really ends. On just about any day of the year, you can find someone playing baseball somewhere. And we certainly try to keep up with all those people.
But we get the point. Among the games most people care about--those in the major and minor leagues in North America--you have game action for seven months out of the year. What in the heck do we do for those other five months?
We crank out even more baseball information than we do the rest of the year.
We like to say we work even harder in the winter than we do during the season because while games are being played a lot of the information generates itself, for lack of a better description. Baseball produces new statistics every day, and stories happen at the ballpark every day as well, whether it's a player on a hot or cold streak or some bizarre happening that we have to share.
After the games end we have to go out and find the news ourselves, both for our issues and the Website, but also for the four books we produce each offseason.
Buy The Book
Oh yeah, those darn books. They certainly make the winter more interesting, and they're a huge part of keeping us busy during the offseason. We hope you know them and love them--the Almanac, Directory, Prospect Handbook and Super Register--because we put a lot of work into making them the best baseball references of their kind.
The Almanac falls first in our work cycle because it's the book that summarizes everything that has happened in baseball for the year that was. The biggest part of the book is major and minor league statistics, but this being Baseball America we cover every corner of the baseball landscape, from college statistics to how things played out in the Dutch pro league this year.
That book has already gone to press and will be delivered to us at the beginning of December. That means it should be in bookstores by early January, and if you order from us you should have yours in plenty of time for Christmas (hint, hint).
Now we're in the middle of the Prospect Handbook, which is going to press about a month earlier this year. That means we should have it in our hands by the end of January, and it will be in bookstores by the end of February. (Because it takes about a month for books to work their way through the national distribution network to individual bookstores, you'll always get your copy quicker by ordering directly from us.)
We'll kick off work on the Directory soon, but the real work on that book begins after the Winter Meetings and the holidays, when teams have hired for most of their key positions. So that project occupies a lot of time in January, as we try to get you the most up-to-date information on who works where in baseball and how to get in touch with everyone. That book should be in our hands by the end of February, and in bookstores by the end of March.
And finally there's the Super Register, which consumes news editor J.J. Cooper's life for four to six weeks each year. As we hope you know, the book lists vitals and career major and minor league statistics for every active player in Organized Baseball in 2005. That book is scheduled to go to press in February and get back to us in mid-March, and then we'll ship it to you. That's the one of our four books that is not distributed to bookstores, so you can only order it from us.
Prospects, Our Passion
The one area that stretches across the books, each issue of BA (especially in the offseason) and the Website is prospect rating. It's the whole basis for the Prospect Handbook and a huge part of our content throughout the winter.
That's why you can find prospect debates taking place in the halls of BA World Headquarters on any day of the week. In this issue alone, we debated where righthander Rafael Gonzalez fit into the Reds' top 10, whether lefthander Dana Eveland should be ahead of righthander Jose Capellan in the Brewers' top 10, and whether righthander Stuart Pomeranz rated ahead of outfielder Daryl Jones for the last spot on the Cardinals' top 10 list.
We don't always agree with each other about these ratings, and sometimes the people we talk to with different organizations let us know how and why they disagree with our ratings. For instance, in most cases we rate recent draft picks higher than teams would, and teams tend to rate players who are closer to the majors higher than we would.
So we expect you to disagree with our ratings in many places as well. That's what makes it so much fun to discuss. While Jim Callis and I can have strong feelings about the relative value of Jones v. Pomeranz, we really have no idea how it will all turn out. That's why you'll find a tattered piece of paper in our office known simply as the "bet board." But that's a whole other column.
In the meantime, enjoy another round of prospect goodness. And we'll keep cranking out more than enough baseball information to keep you going through the winter.