When we first released the Prospect Guide, the book came out at the end of January, or early February, closer to Spring Training. We had the later release date originally in order to get the most moves into the book as possible. We switched from that method after the first two years, pushing up the release date of the book to early December. This was in order to get the book out in time for PirateFest one year, and for Christmas sales every other year.
The problem with this is that we missed a lot of good info with the book, and left it open to the possibility that it could be somewhat out-dated by the time Spring Training came around. We were fortunate with the latter, as the Pirates didn’t really make any big moves that impacted the book in previous years. The biggest move they made was last year’s trade that sent Keon Broxton and Trey Supak for Jason Rogers, and that wasn’t exactly a big trade, as it only impacted one player inside the top 30, and he was just inside that group.
This year, there was the threat of big trades on either side. The Pirates were shopping Andrew McCutchen, looking to add some big prospects. They were also talking about Jose Quintana, which would have removed some big prospects. There was a risk that we could have released the book, and the top of our prospect list could have been drastically changed, with a few big players no longer in the system, and a few big players not in the book.
Technically, that could still happen. This offseason has been very slow, and I don’t think the Pirates have been ruled out for anything yet. But we have to release the book at some point. Originally I was shooting for this weekend to send the book to the publisher, with shipping next week. I decided to push that back two weeks, giving a bit more time for moves, along with more time for additions to the book.
Aside from the transactions, I wanted to push the book release back so we could get the most information in the book as possible. A big part of this was the information learned from mini-camp. I’ve released a few of those articles with new info, but have a lot more coming. And my first priority is getting that info in the book, followed by writing up new articles on the site on each player. I should be finished updating the book with mini-camp info by the end of this week, with only a few other changes needed.
This past week, I got in touch with the publisher and started setting up the release date. This involves getting test copies of the book to see if everything is printing properly, and that’s a process we used to do at the end of November. This puts us on track to go to publishing and ship the book out the week of February 6th, which is a week before Spring Training. I know a few of you make your way down to Spring Training early. If you ordered the book already, let me know and I can deliver it to you at a Florida address, or just hand deliver it at Pirate City. If this applies to you, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also did a top 20 prospects countdown in the past. This will actually take place before the book is released, adding a bit of suspense and buildup to the book. We will be starting that countdown in the next week.
If you haven’t ordered the book yet, you can do so on the products page. There are discount codes on that page for current Annual and Top Prospect subscribers. We will have an eBook version available when the book is released.
We were having issues with the app during the season where it wasn’t updating for some users. The developer recently released an update that fixed this issue, and the feed should be up to date for everyone. If it isn’t working for you, try checking for the latest update, or downloading the app again.
During the 2016 season, I disabled the push notifications due to an issue with the site. The notification system created too big of a stress on the servers, especially when big news was released. When a trade would take place, and we’d post an article, there would be server usage for the posting of the article, along with sending notifications to Facebook and Twitter. Then there would be a big server load with people rushing to the site at once to read the news, along with the server load from the comment section.
The site is set up to handle all of this when a trade is made. But the push notifications add a new layer, sending out messages to over 2000 people all while that other stuff was going on. This added layer was causing the site to crash every time there was news, or slow down considerably when there was just a regular article (which, during the season, is about 6-7 times per day). We haven’t found a solution for this yet, so the push notifications remain disabled.
When we switched to the subscription model, we removed all advertisements from the site. Previously, our ads were served up via ad networks, with rotating banner ads. These also put a strain on the servers, leading to slow loading times. Without the ads, the site loaded much faster, had a cleaner look, and we didn’t have to worry about those really weird ads some of you were reportedly getting (although it was always weird telling people that Google bases that stuff on your search and order history, which is why I now get tons of ads for a home brewing kit, even though I just bought a home brewing kit).
Removing the ads wasn’t exactly smart business. It made the site cleaner and a better experience for everyone (you got a cleaner, faster site and we had less hassle for the servers and no longer had to cater to page views, leading to a quality over quantity approach). At the same time, it also removed a lot of revenue, which might have paid for an extra full-time employee in each of our first two years under a subscription model.
I don’t want to bring the ad networks back, but we’re looking at incorporating more ads this year through direct sales. Those ads are much easier on the servers, and they’d be mostly Pittsburgh-based companies, so some of you would never see those ads for Russian girls or whatever weird stuff Google was serving up. We’re looking at the best way to approach this, and the goal here is to create revenue for 1-2 additional full-time employees, which will lead to a better site experience for everyone.
If you’re interested in advertising on the site, e-mail me at email@example.com for more information.