GM's OFFICE: Hitting the wall

March is always a blur around here. There's the First Pitch Forums tour (live or virtual). A flood of industry drafts. A ton of content on the site, seven days a week. Projections that need to be updated almost constantly. Prospective customers who have questions about what we offer. New customers trying to navigate the learning curve of our toolset, vocabulary, and process. Glitches and issues that inevitably pop up at the exact moment that you just have no time for them to pop up.

The chaos is inevitable; our goal each year is to obscure just enough of it from you, the reader, that it looks like controlled chaos.

None of the above is a complaint. It's a wild ride, for sure, equal parts exhilarating and exhausting. We go 100 miles per hour for a full month, a journey which (to extend a metaphor) serves as an on-ramp to Opening Day and the season in front of us.

But there's a downside to going 100 miles per hour. You might hit the wall. That's how we feel right now: like we just went from 100 to 0 in the blink of an eye, complete with wreckage of our best-laid preseason plans all around us.

Just to stipulate: There's absolutely no question in our minds that the decision to delay the season is the correct one; for the players, for the fans, for the entire country. Everything needs to take a back seat to public health right now—even our favorite hobbies.

We don't know what we don't know

Where do we go from here? It's hard to say, when there is clearly so much that we don't yet know.

Perspectives likely vary based on your vantage point. Here in the Boston area, where last night I spent two hours at the grocery store stocking up on supplies as if a blizzard were approaching; where schools are closed for an unknown length of time; where today's headline in the local paper says "Massachusetts viral outbreak may look a lot like Italy's".... well, pushing Opening Day back two weeks sounds like not nearly enough time to get back to a place where baseball seems appropriate again.

So, the first thing we're going to have to do is wait and see. During our virtual First Pitch Forum event earlier this week, we skimmed this topic in the Q&A a bit. At the time, we were only talking about impact on the Mariners' bats if they played somewhere other than Seattle to start the season. But what I said then was something like "This crisis has evolved so much in the last couple of days, and we're still 15 days (at the time) from Opening Day. That's an eternity in the timeline of this crisis."

Now we're back to 27 days from Opening Day (minimum). That additional distance makes it that much harder to project what the national landscape will look like in four weeks. Right now, we don't even know what we don't know.

What we're going to do here at BaseballHQ.com

Despite the myriad unknowns, we have sketched out some early plans for what we're going to do here on the site for the next few weeks:

Subscription statuses: For our Draft Prep (scheduled to expire 4/30) and HQBasics (expires 4/15) subscribers, we will extend your subscriptions for a to-be-determined length of time, so that your subscription reaches wherever Opening Day does land, and that you have access to all of the materials you need for your drafts, whenever they are held—since that was your intent and expectation when you subscribed to those plans.

Site content: Ironically, this weekend was a big milestone in our preseason Editorial Calendar: with the release of the Market Pulse All-Value Team, we have published all of the essential content for your draft prep needs. We had plenty more content on the way, of course, but in recent years we have used this mid-March weekend as the deadline to get all of the "essentials" published. Then, for the rest of the spring, we turn our focus to events that can change our previously-drawn conclusions: spring job battles, injuries, lineups and rotation spots settling, etc.

So, in a perverse sort of way, Thursday was nearly the perfect day for MLB to shutter spring training. We are exactly at the point where you can take our content on this site and vacuum-seal it for a few weeks.

In some cases, that is exactly what we'll do: there won't be much in the way of news, so Playing Time Today is going to go pretty dark. There shouldn't be much need to make significant changes to the projections. Our best foot is forward, our best work based on available information is published. So, for anyone who is drafting before another pitch is thrown, everything you need from us is here and ready for you.

Then, when MLB opens up camps again, and we know exactly how much time we have until Opening Day, we can pick right up with our usual late-spring analysis as those job battles and roster spots resume, and keep adjusting our projections accordingly as we get clarity on some of the questions that weren't yet answered when things went dark. And if your league is waiting to draft until right before "new Opening Day," we'll keep revising and tweaking and updating projections as fast as we can, so that whenever you draft, you're doing so with our best information at whatever time that is.

That covers what we've done to date, and what we'll do when camps open again. What about the intervening period? We'll still have some new content on the site each day, as we'll try to use the time as best we can. For instance:

•  We'll want to revisit every player with a spring injury and assess their ability to return to contributing quickly in a shortened season.

•  There may be some opportunities to fire up our Research staff, who usually stay in the background in March as we try not to overwhelm everyone with new information, to maybe drop a prime nugget or two for us to noodle on during this quiet period.

•  We had some tech/data changes that we were holding until after Opening Day, since we didn't want to disturb the site layout or function during draft season. But we may have a window for some of that work now.

•  Especially in this time of national uncertainty and (frankly) boredom without any sports, we are anxious to try some interactive content, too. Brent used a new chat platform earlier this week and that went very well, so we'll get regular chats back into our rotation. We've had great success with video content in the virtual First Pitch events, and we'd love to try and pull some subscriber-only video events together in this period.

After all, who better to commiserate with about how much all of this just flat-out sucks? Isn't that what a community is for?

Stay safe out there, everyone.

 

 


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.