I give credit to timmy! for the inspiration for this post. He asked last week what websites the writers at TCB read on a daily basis. I'll attempt to answer that question for myself, but anyone else is welcome to list their own web reading in the comments.
First, I use Google Reader to keep track of all the various baseball sites. It's one of my most essential resources for following baseball, right up there with Twitter. When I discovered a while back that I could even organize all my RSS feeds into folders, essentially putting all my baseball feeds in one place, it was a big day.
I can break down those feeds into a few categories. First, there are the Astros websites I peruse. Of course, all the Chronicle blogs and posts are in there, including RJ, Levine and Fallas. I also have McTaggart, Astros.com and Footer in my Astros news bin as essential sources. Astros County also is a great site for breaking news. They do a great job over there of tracking down stories in a wide-range of newspapers. That kind of research deserves special mention. Astros Daily is also great, especially for history buffs like me. I was researching an Astros All-Star story the other day and went there first. Sure enough, they already have a list of all the Astros representatives, complete with recaps of how they did in each game. Farmstros is also a great resource, not only for his weekly Farmstros Five and 3,000 Syllable challenge, but for his minor league database. It's the best place I've seen for verifying when a prospect signed, where they are and more.
The next set is of minor league sites. The two biggest are SB Nation entries. I first started being aware of the minor leagues through John Sickels site, Minor League Ball. What a community of prospect nuts they have over there. John does a great job of producing content on every system and I especially like the Prospect Retros. It's a nice touch to revisit how a player was viewed in the minors. The other SBN site that's become essential is Andy Seiler's MLB Bonus Baby. He nailed the draft coverage this season. Just nailed it. You may have been able to tell how much we liked his content by how frequently we linked to him over those days leading up to the draft. Moving on, Greg Rajan's blog at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times has up-to-date information on roster moves and possible injuries with the Hooks. Same goes for the two Round Rock feeds at the Austin American-Statesman. John Klima's Baseball Beginnings has a very in-depth look at West Coast and other top prospects from around the country. The thing I especially like about his site is the video he provides with most of his scouting reports. That's why I also like Scouting the Sally, where they scout the South Atlantic League in person, complete with video and pretty exhaustive scouting reports when they profile a player. It's a good source for eyes-on reports of Lexington players. Project Prospect rounds out this field, providing a unique view on prospects that you don't get many other places. They have aggressive opinions and aren't swayed by what others are saying. I have to respect that and like adding their voice to the rest.
I keep up with the other 29 SB Nation baseball blogs, just to see if they're doing anything interesting or have good ideas that we can use on this site. But, that's obviously a lot of content to read each day and I usually just skim through their posts. I'm also a brown-nose, so I'll bring up the sweetness that is SB Nation Houston and our hub site, SBNation.com. Both have some very talented writers covering things from a ton of angles. I'm not sure why they let me write for one of them, but that's a question for another day. The rest of the sites, we can break down in bullet point fashion.
Baseball Analysts -They post infrequently, but really bring it with the analysis when they do put out articles. Some of the smartest baseball content I read on a regular basis. Probably ranks just behind THE BOOK in making my brain hurt.
Baseball Prospectus - Unique takes, good coverage of the minor leagues, it's basically what we all hope ESPN and the rest of the MSM would do with national baseball coverage. Essential, essential information.
Beyond the Box Score -Yes, it's SB Nation, but it's also really, really good. One of the top sabermetric sites on the internets, with passionate writers who do a ton of research.
HardBallTalk -I read this mainly for Craig Calcaterra and Aaron Gleeman. Both are funny, but can also provide quick takes on a lot of different subjects, which is needed when I'm reading so many articles and posts in any given day.
FanGraphs -Somewhat between HBT and BtBS in content length, FanGraphs only annoys when they unneccesarily bag on the Astros. They have a smart writing staff who produces pretty solid and timely content. I especially like the addition of Brian Smith over there to cover the minors.
Paul DePodesta's blog -Since Kevin Towers was fired, DePo doesn't update as much. But, he still provides a refreshing voice inside the front office of a team. Also, he covers the minors a lot, so I learn a lot from what he says about prospects, how he analyzes them, etc.
MLB Trade Rumors -One of the most essential sites I follow. If there's a better aggregator of news online, I haven't found it. It's ESPN's Bottom Line on steroids. Plus, there's the added bonus of waiting to see if they'll link to our stories.
Stat of the Day -This may surprise you, but I'm also a stat geek. So are the guys who run Baseball Reference, so they started a blog devoted to bringing readers interesting stats, leaderboards and more from their databases. One of the ways I've used it is to pick up tips on the Play Index, which is one of my favorite research tools.
THE BOOK -The best analytical baseball analysis you'll find. I can't emphasize enough how much this site is crucial to expanding how I think about baseball. It also helps keep me in check with my own analysis, which I need from time to time.
The Hardball Times - In the FanGraphs, BP vein, THT puts out good content from a talented writing staff. One of the reasons I was drawn there at first was Calcaterra's And That Happened, which was an easy way for me to follow what's going on around the rest of the league. It's still there and still a big part of my mornings.
Special mention should also be made of the one and only Player's Category, with one Morgan Ensberg's Baseball IQ. What a smart, engaging and different take on baseball. Every time I check a post, I either learn something new about perspective in the game or am challenged by the questions he's asking. You really can't ask for more out of a baseball site.
You'll notice I left some sites out. Most notably, I didn't mention any of the ESPN guys, including Rob Neyer. I used to read them pretty religiously. Buster Olney was great for his information and takes on scouting reports. Rob Neyer was pretty essential for finding stories and some of the most even-handed analysis out there. But, a couple of months ago, my RSS feed for Neyer apparently broke and I didn't even miss it. That should say something about how essential it was, right? I also respect Baseball America as an information source, but have little use for their pay wall and exorbitant price for insider content.
I'll end with a couple more questions (as I'm so apt to do): are there any sites you're reading that I didn't mention? Why do you like those sites? Are there any that you're surprised I'm reading? Any that you're surprised I left off?