Pirates Notebook: The future of the site

You’ve probably noticed a few additions to the site recently, mostly involving advertising. When I first started the blog I was seeing about 100-150 page views a day, and I was ecstatic when I had a streak of days over 200 page views. A lot of events over the past few months have caused traffic to jump, and a lot of the new visitors to the site have stuck around, which led to over 50,000 page views last month.

I have a feeling the increased interest in the site is due in large part to some of the features, like the Draft Pick Signing Tracker, the Prospects Tracker, and my trips to Lynchburg, including the Video Recap of Jeff Locke. I want to continue bringing more features to the site, which is where the recent changes come in.

There are three things I’ve added to the site recently. The first thing, and the most noticeable, is the video ad unit above the posts. Now personally I don’t like the look, and I’d like to have a smaller version on the sidebar (kind of like the one at MLB Trade Rumors), but that unit doesn’t fit in my sidebar, and it’s a real pain editing the page template in Blogger. I’ll get to that later.

The second thing is an Amazon product referral on the sidebar. I’m not asking anyone to buy anything, just listing products that I like, whether it’s baseball books I’ve read, sports DVDs I like, and other content related to the site. If you happen to be interested in any of the stuff, feel free to check it out. That being said, I’m one for finding the best price on an item I want to buy, so if you’re interested in a book I recommend, and you can find it cheaper on a site other than Amazon, I say go the cheap route.

The third thing will be product reviews, which will also link to Amazon products. I’m not going to make this a weekly post or anything, but I will do a post when I discover something interesting, that ties in with the site’s theme. An example would be my first review on the book “Odd Man Out”, which gives a behind the scenes look at a lot of things I feature on this site, like the draft, draft signing process, and the minor league system. For all of the Amazon stuff, I’m reviewing them because I like the products. If I get a referral, great, but for the most part I’m just recommending items I think you’d like.

In the future I’m considering two other ideas. The first would be selling sponsorships to some of the most popular pages, like the Draft Pick Signing Tracker for example. This would be kind of like what Baseball-Reference does (I currently sponsor Matt Capps and Zach Duke).

The second is a 2010 preview book that I plan on selling at an affordable price (probably around $10, depending on how much it costs to publish). This will not only recap the 2009 season (including stats for all players at every level in the Pirates system), but will give a preview for the 2010 season, as well as some detailed insight to the top prospects, and this will be the first place I list my top 30 prospects for the 2010 season.

The goal of all of this is to do two things: provide you with more features, all of which would outweigh the annoyance of ads and give you no obligation to spend any money to get these features. That brings up the most important thing: what are the new features?

1. The first thing I want to do is eventually move to a new blog platform. Not only is Blogger hard to edit, but it leaves me limited on what I can do. I want to automate the Prospect Tracker, so that I will have a database that pulls the stats for every player every night, and updates the site with the new information. This will allow me to do two things. First, it will free up a lot of my time updating the prospect tracker manually. Second, it will allow me to feature a lot more players on the prospect tracker, possibly even every player in the Pirates’ minor league system.

My goal for this is to be a mixture of Sox Prospects and First Inning in regards to providing information on Pirates prospects. The ads help because with a new blog platform I will have to pay for hosting each month, not to mention bandwith for the database, and I will need someone to create this database. My goal is to have this ready for the start of the 2010 season.

2. I’d like to add weekly podcasts to the site, maybe even a radio show format where I can include other Pirates bloggers, and maybe some Pirates prospects, if I can get any of the players from Lynchburg to agree to participate. This will require a podcast kit, which is one of the things I’m hoping to get from the video ads. It will also require some free time, which will be accomplished once I automate the Prospect Tracker. I may start doing a five minute podcast later in the season, once a week.

3. The video recap of Jeff Locke wasn’t the best quality, but it was fun to do, and it provides something that a lot of Pirates fans don’t get to see: an actual look at Pirates prospects. I’d like to do more of this, but I want to upgrade my equipment to provide better quality videos. The video ads will help in this area as well. I’m hoping to get videos of every top prospect in Lynchburg, as well as some videos of guys in West Virginia and Altoona (both are about 3-3.5 hours from where I live).

My approach to this site has always been the same. This site exists first and foremost to provide an organized space for all of my Pirates thoughts, focused mostly on prospects, payroll, contract information, and the draft. I never started this to try and get X amount of hits, or to make any type of money. It was always intended as a resource site, whether I had 35 people reading it per day, or 1000 people reading it per day.

The only difference with the increase in traffic is that I can now provide more resources. The new goal is to provide content, which would be sold at a premium pricing level on other sites, all for free. I want to provide video recaps for as many Pirates prospects as I can. I want to cover as many Pirates prospects as I can in the Prospect Tracker, including season splits for each player. Overall I want to make this a one-stop shopping trip. A place where you can find a player’s stats, salary, contract information, how many options they have, how they hit against left handed pitching, where they rank on top prospect lists (if they are a prospect), and video recaps of the players to give you a look at some players who you normally wouldn’t be able to see until they put on a Pirates uniform.

Overall I hope you’re as pumped as I am about the future plans for the site, and I hope you’ll bear with me through the ads. Just know that I will never put up one of those expanding ads on the site. Nothing I could feature would make those ads tolerable.

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated through the 8/6 loss. Here are the big impacts for tonight’s loss:

1. Jose Ascanio: -.257 WPA
2. Andrew McCutchen: -.140
3. Ronny Cedeno: -.069
4. Andy LaRoche: -.063
5. Brandon Moss: -.032

Other Stuff

-The Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch for 8/7 is up.

-The Pirates signed Zack Dods

on for $600 K and Colton Cain for $1.125 M today. The Draft Pick Signing Tracker is updated with the signings. The Pirates have spent $6,786,900, about $3 M less than what they spent last year.

-Donald Veal was placed on the 15-day DL. In theory, the Pirates could keep him on the DL for the remainder of the season. I explain why that wouldn’t work here.

-I comment on the “No comment” situation with Kevin Hart/Steven Jackson and Dejan Kovacevic/John Perrotto.

-A good Sports Illustrated article on Gift Ngoepe. You kind of hope he makes it in baseball. I have a few extra Gift Ngoepe Bowman Chrome rookie cards. I might have a contest for one next year, and maybe even try to get it autographed by him (for those of you that know Bowman cards, Gift’s is one of the rare ones that doesn’t have a printed signature on it).

-The VSL Pirates wrapped up their season tonight, going 48-22, the best record in the league. I’ll be doing a season recap, focusing mostly on the players, sometime in the next week.

-Alex Rios was claimed by an unknown team yesterday. The Blue Jays can keep Rios, trade him, or just give him away and get rid of his salary ($12 M a year over the next five years). Probably no chance, but how great would it be for the Pirates to claim him, especially when Toronto is expected to basically be giving him away for next to nothing just to shed payroll.

Rios is having a down year with a .261 average, but would be a nice buy-low option for the Pirates. This is the first year in the last four seasons that he hasn’t hit .291 or better. He’s also on pace for at least 15 homers and 25 steals, which would make this his fourth 15/15 season in a row. Finally, he’s great on defense, with a strong arm and a 23.9 UZR between right and center field last year.

The Pirates could pick him up for next to nothing, hope he puts up a .290/15-20 HR/25-30 SB season, and then trade him for prospects when Jose Tabata is ready to be called up from AAA. Probably just a dream scenario.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Seven_Patch

    Hey Tim,

    Well I'm not sure about the reason why you are getting so many new readers but I might have an idea why so many are sticking around. It's probably the same reason I have, you have a great baseball understanding and you are sharp on writing your idea's and opinions. It's very refreshing to read pieces on the Pirates from fans that actually know what they are talking about. So while your Draft tracker, prospect tracker and your "scouting" trips to games are all excellent and every bit worth a visit, it's your blog entry opinion pieces that interest me the most. I hope you keep things going, I'll start posting now. I've just created a google account so I could post this comment and say congratulations on the website views, 50,000 views is impressive.

  • Tim Williams

    Seven Patch,

    Thanks for the comments on the blog, and thanks for reading. Glad you decided to start posting.

  • cence

    Tim,

    With this new setup and everything are you going to start charging any fees in order to view the information on your site or is the site with all the features going to stay free?

  • Tim Williams

    Cence,

    Everything will remain free. That was the point of the whole post (and to give a preview of some things I plan on in the future).

    The video ad at the top of the page will help cover the new additions to the site, thus making it a free site.

  • cence

    Ahh,

    Thanks Tim I enjoy reading your posts and was wonering if I was going to have to save up some money, but thanks for keeping everything free.