Monday, March 15, 2010

Asking For Some Feedback From You

One of the things I struggle with most about creating a stream of content for a blog is one of the most basic principles taught in any writing class: writing for the appropriate audience. Well, part of the reason for that is in academia, who you're writing for is much simpler to define - it's your teacher unless otherwise stated. With a blog, the audience is incredibly diverse, with people of all ages, in a variety of locations, with incredibly disparate reading habits, each looking for something unique.

Every reader that comes to the site brings a slightly different perspective with them. You folks come from all over the country and the world (in the last month we've had visits from 109 countries spread out on every continent except Antarctica). You folks all have a different daily rotation of blogs that you read and you emerse yourself in them to varying extents. How can we cater to those who read tons of Yankee and other baseball blogs at the same time as we take care of those who read relatively few? The answer is that you really can't. You have to try to find some sort of a happy medium.

One of the most important distinctions there is among the readership of any blog is the way that the site is consumed, either through the website or via RSS. When we weren't posting last week, someone who primarily visits the homepage probably checked back a few times before the week was over to see if there was a new post, only to come up empty. However, those who read via RSS probably didn't care or even notice our impromptu hiatus - they are automatically notified when one of our posts goes up and don't spend much time worrying about when the next one will come. Essentially, there is a significant portion of our readership who isn't concerned with how often we post, and another, larger section to whom the volume of content is extremely important.

This is how I imagine the dichotomy looks:
For instance, a blog like Wezen-Ball is best enjoyed through an RSS feed because although Larry doesn't post very often, when he does, it's extremely good. MLB Trade Rumors, on the other hand, is updated often enough for people to be able to check back every few hours and find some new things to read.

In general, people who visit the homepage get drawn back more often by a large number of posts but will get out of the habit of checking the homepage it it's not updated frequently enough. On the other hand, those who read via RSS are more likely to be annoyed by an unwieldy volume of them since they have probably already subscribed to about as many (or likely more) blogs than they can comfortably keep up with. But, they can also tolerate a very low volume of posts.

There is a theoretical sweet spot where those lines two meet, but given the standards we hold ourself to here, it's probably not possible for us to post that much quality content that often.

I think we usually manage find a pretty good balance between quantity and quality, but March is probably the worst time of year for our style of blogging. We don't do a lot of straight reporting of the news around here and because of that, it turns out to be much more difficult for us to find content during Spring Training than it is from November to mid-February. There are only so many stupid posts about Youk we can put out and so many hacky columns in the New York papers that we can make fun of.

This time of year there is a constant supply of news emanating from Florida, but it's the type of stuff that is not worth analyzing. We all know that what happens in Spring Training isn't to be taken too seriously, and since we try to do more than just blockquote a beat writer and state the obvious, there simply isn't that much to say. Not all of us can be like the dudes from River Ave. Blues and continually come up with interesting topics out of thin air without so much as a meaningful baseball game to draw upon.

With a few exceptions, you folks don't tend to comment a whole lot. We normally don't solicit comments either, but we could certainly use some feedback on this.

A few starting points:
  • What do you expect from a baseball blog in general?

  • What have you come to expect from us in particular?

  • How often do you check the site and are there specific times during the day and week that you do so?

  • How much do you value quality over quantity (or vice versa)?

    What kind of posts (linkarounds, historically-slanted pieces, FJM-style, straight news, etc) would you like to see more or less of?

  • We might have to ask again when the regular season rolls around, but what would you like to see from a blog when in comes to game-to-game coverage?

  • Do you enjoy our signature game previews wherein we choose a different song for every one?

  • Is it worth putting together a full recap for every game, or would you like to see something more streamlined like bullet points and/or some graphical data?
We'd certainly appreciate if you could take some time and leave your thoughts - even if it's something quick about just one of those questions - in the comments. You aren't going to hurt our feelings by telling us you don't like something. We're not simply fishing for compliments, so feel free to be honest. If you enjoy the blog here's a good chance to tell us why. If you have some criticisms, now would be a good time to voice those as well.

We're all ears...

First Round Of Cuts In Yankee Camp

Good morning Fackers. Did you miss us? Other aspects of life necessitated that both Jay and I take a little break from blogging last week. Thankfully there isn't much of consequence happening in Spring Training these days, unless you feel the need to read yet another post about who should be the fifth starter or fifth outfielder.

But here we are at the Ides of March, the Yankees' second to last off day before they break camp. We're into Daylight Savings Time and less than three weeks from Opening Night. The team plans to roll out their presumptive Opening Night line up for Tuesday's game, which features Nick Johnson and Robinson Cano in the much debated two and five holes respectively. The regulars will be sticking around a bit longer in upcoming games and Joe Girardi has informed the pitchers that their performances are starting to matter.

Of course, as the starting nine goes a bit deeper into games, fewer players are required in camp. To that end, the Yankees made their first two rounds of cuts Friday and yesterday, optioning or reassigning the following players to minor league camp:
Wilkins Arias
Jeremy Bleich
Andrew Brackman
Wilkin De La Rosa
Grant Duff
Christian Garcia
Kei Igawa
Zach McAllister
D.J. Mitchell
Kevin Whelan

Jose Gil
Kyle Higashioka
No major surprises here. Brackman, Garcia, and De La Rosa are the only guys on the 40 man roster and none had any realistic chance of making the team. McAllister and Bleich aren't too far off from contributing but both need more time in the minors and neither has been added to the 40 man roster yet. Arias and Mitchell definitely need more time in the minors as they have only risen as high as AA and high A respectively. Duff and Whelan are high level minor leaguers who profile as fringe-type, back of the bullpen relievers. They're no more palatable than the likes of Jonathan Albaladejo, Mark Melancon, Romulo Sanchez, and others who are already on the 40 man and are longshots to make the team.

With ten fewer pitchers in camp, fewer catchers are needed. Higashioka and Gil are the low men on the organizational totem pole, so they're the first to go. Higashioka is considered a prospect and will likely be the primary catcher in low-A Charleston this year; Gil is organizational filler.

Lastly of course, there is Kei Igawa, about whom much ink and venom has been spilled. I suppose the most remarkable thing about Igawa's early cut is that he was amongst the first players to go despite the team's lack of a clear-cut second lefty for the bullpen. Given Girardi's penchant for playing match ups, I suppose this speaks volume as to how little the organization thinks of Igawa. At this point, I don't understand why the team doesn't ship him to a pitching poor NL team where he might be a useful part. Whatever they get for him - salary relief, a C-level prospect, Jamie Hoffmann's rights, a bag of BP balls - would be of more value than Igawa himself. Perhaps his early departure is a sign that the team is serious when they say they plan to carry the twelve best pitchers, regardless of role or handedness.