Interrogate the Industry No. 5: Craig Goldstein


As the Interrogate the Industry series has developed I have received many comments saying it is a fun read, cool concept, and to keep it going through the football season. Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback, yes I will continue on with the Football season, although I am not sure if I will intertwine the sports, or have separate posts.

I also received some constructive criticism, which I value, and everyone else in the industry should value as well. It seems that many readers favorite questions involved the non-fantasy related topics. Obviously, that will continue. However, another good point from a few others was to focus more on the industry insider being interviewed and their history, personal interests and so forth.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and please continue to do so. This is still a new concept for me as it is evolving and will continue to evolve. Look for more great interrogations to come. This week I snagged some of Craig Goldstein’s time so please enjoy and good luck this week in your leagues.

Interrogate the Industry: Craig Goldstein

Follow Craig on Twitter @cdgoldstein

You can also find his work and contributions at Baseball Prospectus and SB Nation and MLB Draft insider and The Dynasty Guru

Also, be sure to tune in to the podcast TINO (There is no offseason) which focuses on keeper/Dynasty League formats.

1. Everyone got their Fantasy Industry start somewhere. Talk about yours as brief or detailed as you like. If possible include ups and downs, others in the industry who helped?

image from derekcarty.com

image from derekcarty.com

I got my start writing a fanshot after Fake Teams (SB Nation’s fantasy blog) made a post saying they were looking for writers. I had no intention of actually doing this until my best friend convinced me (and it did take some convincing).

I followed up my post with an email to Ray Guilfoyle (who still runs Fake Teams) to let him know I had done so. As far as I know he liked my post, but we also found out that we were both Dodgers fans living on the east coast and bonded a bit over that. He brought me on and I wrote there for about six months – three times a week – before Ray was kind enough to bring me on as a paid contributor.

I wrote for Fake Teams from February 2012- August 2013 and I owe everything I am (such that it is) to him for giving me the opportunity and allowing me the flexibility to write on the topics I did, and in the style I did. I also owe some thanks to Jason Hunt at Fake Teams for sharing the minor league coverage, and some fantastic prospect discussions with me.

Eventually Bret Sayre came on board to Fake Teams and we struck up an internet friendship that ultimately ended with my writing for his personal site (The Dynasty Guru) and with his bringing me on at Baseball Prospectus at first as an intern, and then later as a paid contributor. I’ve been with BP since August and it really is a dream come true. I’d been reading BP for years and to be involved with the talented staff there… I’m not sure I have the words (bodes well for my writing, I know). Sometimes I just take a mental step back to appreciate the people I get to work with and the brains I get to pick because I’m at BP.

I know BP is a big name in the industry, and I think it deserves to be, but I’m not sure people realize the work that goes into the site, from the upfront content to the back end work. For a vast majority of us, this isn’t our day job, but instead a labor of love and I think that’s what ultimately comes through. I can’t name enough people that deserve to be recognized more for what they do, from head honcho Joe Hamrahi to Ben Lindbergh and all our editors to Rob McQuown and the tech team to our incredible intern team. It really is amazing.
I’ve been fortunate enough not to have many downs in my writing career. I’ve really lived something of a fairy tale as far as my writing goes, getting to write for BP within two years of starting. The best advice I can give to people is to just start writing and don’t stop. Writing 3-5 times a week is really hard to do from a mental stamina standpoint but you have to be able to do it to get to the small plateau I’ve reached in this industry.

I also need to thank Chris Crawford of ESPN/MLB Draft Insider for giving my chance to write on non-fantasy stuff, as well as Marc Normandin and Kurt Mensching of SB Nation for bringing me on to work with the News Desk team.

2. If there is one thing you could change in the Fantasy Industry right now, what would it be? Why?

Is it greedy to say pay? It’s not even about me, as I’m not sure how much or how far I can get, but this is something that applies to the writing industry as a whole. The need for content — seemingly any content — is such that sites hire people with the promise of exposure, often writing for little to nothing, so the sites can be content farms. Then they pay a premium to legitimate writers to be a face for their site so they can be taken semi-legitimately. Bleacher Report gets a ton of hate for their SEO driven content, but really it’s pretty much what everybody does. There isn’t really enough money in it to get help from a Digital Marketing Agency, so until there is—if there ever is—then the situation just sucks, and legitimate writers will continue to fall to the wayside.

It would be amazing if we could afford to pay people to write while they’re producing legitimate work instead of sort of rewarding for that work on the back end, but I’m not sure that would ever be financially viable. It’s just not how the system works.

Photo from: Dustin Nosler on flickr.com

Photo from: Dustin Nosler on flickr.com

3. In a Deep Dynasty League which of these young pitchers would you want the most? Rank them if possible?
Julio Urias, Sean Manaea, Jose Martinez, Lucas Sims, Adalberto Mejia, Lucas Giolito

1. Giolito 2. Urias 3. Manaea 4. Sims 5. Mejia 6. Martinez

It’s a little unfair to Martinez because he just went down for the year with a non-UCL elbow injury. Giolito is a potential monster. He’s not there just yet but the talent (and the frame) is enormous and I think he’s an ace eventually. Urias isn’t quite to that point but I love his poise and willingness to pitch inside. I don’t think he’s an ace but I do think he can front a deeper fantasy staff if you don’t have an elite guy, and you’ll still be OK, kind of like Mat Latos before this year.

4. What is your least favorite Fantasy category? What is your least favorite Fantasy term, or phrase?

I tend to be fairly agnostic when it comes to categories. Specific categories in particular don’t bother me but I don’t like when leagues double up on certain things like OBP and OPS or whatever that tilts the league toward certain type of player. I guess Losses, as a category bothers me. You already get punished for not getting a win (a category that’s fairly random on it’s own) and now there’s an extra punishment? Not for me thanks.

As far as a term or phrase – I suppose it’s not limited to fantasy but there seems to be some sort of renaissance happening where we’re ignoring everything we learned about small sample sizes. Or more accurately that it’s dangerous to assume we can learn anything from them. There’s so much research and analysis being done on month long samples and taking a players’ production as soon as they reach the stabilization rate minimums that Russell Carleton found a while ago. Which is all well and good, but sometimes it’s worth remembering what a player’s entire career has been leading up to these last 40 games and if it’s likely something has changed in the meantime.

Additionally, I think there’s been this trend toward announcing WAR (either f or b) as though it means something within the first two weeks, month or two months of the season. If you want to take the hitting components and tell me that’s solid, I’m with you, but we all seem to acknowledge that even one-year defensive sample sizes are highly subject to variance yet we’re willing to quote one-month WAR numbers without acknowledging that the defensive numbers are likely to be too fuzzy to mean anything. It just seems weird to me.

5. Is there good reason for owners in re-draft leagues to get excited about Eddie Butler, Gregory Polanco, and Jon Singleton? Or is it just prospect hype?

It depends on the depth of the league. Hype gives value in and of itself, because even in a 10-teamer, someone might give up value if you have a name like Butler. Polanco should be owned in all league sizes as he has the potential to be an impact player from the word go. I think Singleton probably has some use as a power bat for the corner infield slot – but again that comes down to league depth a bit. Butler probably isn’t usable in 10-team leagues and maybe even 12-teamers, except in away games.

Prospect hype does get out of control, but it’s something we all struggle with because these guys do have real value and we all fear getting burned by not giving them credit. That said, I’ve been working on coming around to trusting older players a little more and letting other owners carry the risk of dealing with the sparkly new toy.

6. If you were asked to write an episode for any television series ever created what show would it be for?

Hard to know if this is asking what I am suited to write for (something terrible like a reality show) or what I’d want to write for, but I’ll take a crack at the latter.

My favorite show of all time is Seinfeld. I can accept that it might not be the best but it opened my mind to comedy in that format. It’s extremely tame by our standards now, but the layering of humor was something I was fascinated with throughout high school. I can still watch episodes and find something new to appreciate.



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