-P- As I'm sure most of you saw, Steven Jackson and Anthony Claggett went unclaimed, and they'll remain in the Bucs' system. I thought it was pretty likely someone would take Jackson, and probably the Pirates did too, which is why they tried to trade him after waiving him. But nobody bit, even when they could have him for the cost of a roster spot. It's nice to have them back in the system, but of course that's a double-edged sword--anyone could have taken them, and nobody did.
-P- MLB.com names Pedro Alvarez the eighth-best prospect in baseball. Jason Heyward, the monster Braves outfield prospect, is #1, but #8 is of course very respectable. For a pretty harrowing cautionary tale, though, check out John Sickels' review of his 2005 top 50 hitting prospects. 11 through 20 (including Ryan Howard, Hanley Ramirez, Grady Sizemore and Nick Swisher) turned out very well, but one through ten are a mess, with Prince Fielder the only real star.
-P- Matt Bandi eviscerates Bob Smizik's latest bit of nonsense. I'll do the Post-Gazette a favor by not linking to Smizik, who makes the paper look worse with every word he writes, but I will say this. The comment section on Smizik's blog often features a guy named "Mark in Dallas," who also often posts here. Mark provides "facts" and "context" and "coherent arguments," which a guy like Smizik must find really annoying, and so this time when Mark spoke up, Smizik actually accused him of being some sort of sock-puppet employee of the team. (This was discussed in yesterday's comments thread.) I'm sure Mark can take it, but that's the sort of really slimy thing I hope I never did back when I was just an angry message-board commenter and an angry writer of a blog nobody read. A writer at a major paper really should be above using that paper's website for that sort of thing.
I haven't engaged in or commented much on the animosity that sometimes exists between blogs and newspapers, because mostly I think there's no reason for it. I don't do firsthand reporting, and someone like Dejan Kovacevic doesn't really do commentary. This blog would be a heck of a lot harder to write without Kovacevic's solid reporting, and I'm very glad people are still paid to report. And anyway, there's room for lots of voices out there, and there are lots of people who read both the P-G and Bucs Dugout. Dejan provides me with grist for the mill and occasionally links to what I write; people like me link to what he writes and generate excitement by talking about it. It's a mutually beneficial system.
But when I'm reading someone like Smizik, I have to catch myself before I start thinking that what's happening to the newspaper industry really isn't so bad. There's no reason for what he does to exist anymore; he just spews unfocused, empty, clueless negativity. (There certainly may be good reasons to be negative, or at least skeptical, of what the Pirates are doing, but Smizik doesn't have any idea what they are.) If you want lively, informed commentary, the blogs are far better, and it's much to the Post-Gazette's discredit that it hasn't yet found someone who can write intelligent baseball commentary. (Brian O'Neill did a nice job for a while, but he hasn't written recently.) It isn't hard to find someone much better than Smizik. There are lots of good bloggers out there, most working for free, or close to it.
Normally I can let Smizik be irrelevant in peace; I can deal with the cognitive dissonance of reading a professional and generally well-edited paper that occasionally publishes pieces that contain the sort of ranting and leaps of logic you'd expect to find on a 15-year-old's MySpace page. But Smizik's ripping Mark like that really set me off for some reason.
-P- Finally, a favor: Can anyone email me an Excel spreadsheet I can use for the Community Projections? I compiled them in past years by entering each number into a calculator, but this year I have about 100 projections so far for Andrew McCutchen. That's great, and I encourage people to keep sending them, but it'd be nice to have a spreadsheet that would speed things along. When I was averaging 40 numbers, double-checking my work was hard enough; I fear that with over 100 it will be almost impossible.