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System Sundays: Future Plans

Sketching in some details of future coverage, and a solicitation from the community.

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images

Good morning, everyone. Today I was planning on kicking off a series, probably a four-parter, in which I will attempt to offer up an overview of the 2018 season for the entire Cardinal farm system. (I will explain in a bit why that is not going to actually be the case.) As it stands right now, I’m planning on doing the complex leagues in one post (by which I mean the Gulf Coast and Dominican Summer League clubs), then moving on to the short-season affiliates, Low and High A, and then Double and Triple A, each grouping of two in a separate post. I could probably cut it down in terms of number of posts, but I’m trying not to make these epic in length.

Actually, come to think of it, this isn’t a bad time to sort of outline what my plans for minor league coverage this offseason are in general. I’ve played around with the year-end list a little, but haven’t gotten serious about it yet. I’ll probably wait and roll that out in December, pushing toward having it done right around New Year’s as I did last year. Hopefully I get more of the actual work on it finished ahead of time so I’m not trying to work on it during the holidays, when things are so busy anyhow. That kind of schedule felt good to me, though; rolling out the future of the franchise as we close out this year and look toward next season.

I’m also thinking of chopping the list up a little more this year, pushing it in something like six posts of five players, two per week, rather than three huge lists. There’d probably be an honourable mentions list, as well as an overall thoughts/wrapup post tacked on as well, as has been the case the last couple years. I could roll the list out that way this year because I’m writing more days a week, and thus avoid 5-6000 word posts, which I know are a bit of a tough ask of everyone. I don’t shy away from long-form writing, obviously, but it’s just a lot of material to take in at once. So maybe two list posts a week for the month of December, at half the previous length? I feel like that might be a bit more digestible. I’m thinking Sunday-Wednesday, maybe, and keep Mondays open for some other sort of piece.

As for draft coverage, I’ll probably hit the first post or two around Thanksgiving, when we’re in a real dead period, with a couple returning players from the 2016 draft being the opener I’ll use as usual. I won’t really do too much on the draft until 2019, though; probably around late January I’ll start ramping that up a bit and doing more consistent draft coverage. Those will probably be Wednesday posts, just because that feels like tradition to me at this point. I usually get somewhere between 60-80 players written up per year; I’d like to push that a little higher this coming year, which I’ve managed once or twice before. We’ll see, though; I always begin every draft season with the best of intentions, and then find myself scrambling at the end because other things to write about have cropped up along the way.

And now here’s where I explain why I’m not actually going to start writing up the system today. See, I had a thought while I was going through those future plans. The thought was this: I have a pretty good handle on how I’m comfortable covering the system, and a fair idea of what I’m doing in terms of scouting players, at least to the extent I can tell you what I see, with a relatively educated eye. Predictions are still certain to make a fool of the person making them pretty much every time, sadly. But when it comes to doing what I do in covering the minors, and draftable prospects, I’m pretty comfortable.

However, it occurs to me that I don’t really ask for input all that often from you, the readers. Once upon a time I used to do big open chats, sort of like Ask Me Anythings before that was actually a thing. I don’t interact nearly so much anymore, for a variety of reasons both personal and public, but in this case I would like to ask for some input. Specifically, I’m opening up the floor to anyone to speak up about things they would like to see covered, in terms of the minors. Now, I can’t guarantee I’ll adopt any suggestions — I’ve tried to do interviews before, and have never felt like I really got what I wanted out of them — nor can I guarantee any angle or topic will be possible.

I received an email from a reader last offseason who wanted to see what a WAR framework would look like in regards to coaches and managers. I tried and tried to come up with a way of approaching the problem, and never could find any way in. It wasn’t for lack of thought, believe me, but I couldn’t even figure out how to begin trying to separate out the effect of coaching from the talent of the players. Managers you can probably look at year over year actual wins vs Pythagorean record and get some feel for who’s adding value tactically, but the men in charge of making the players better?I really have no idea how to begin measuring those contributions.

So this is no guarantee of anything, but I am interested to hear if anyone has any topics or angles they would really like to see explored. As I laid out above, I’ve got plans for the big list, and my usual draft posts, and a few other things like that, but I’m sure there’s some aspect of the system you feel is being underrepresented, or undercovered, or underdiscussed. If so, I’d love to hear it. I’m not the only prospect writer here, either; it’s entirely possible I may not have a good feel for whatever your suggestion is, but Andrew or Lance or someone else might find some inspiration in an idea they perhaps hadn’t considered before.

Really, I’m just interested to hear what you as the reader would want to see or read that isn’t already on the table. Maybe there isn’t anything, maybe there is. But if you have a pet hobbyhorse of an idea, here’s the place to suggest it. For my part, I would love to have spin rate data for the minor leagues, but so far there’s no such data on the public side, so I won’t be writing too much about that anytime soon it seems.

So now I open the floor to you, El Vivi Birders. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see in the coming months.