You wouldn't have been surprised to hear Matt Garza was traded as long as you were following a few simple steps in baseball trade rumor digging.
Ever heard of a site called MLBTradeRumors.com? I thought you might have. So have hundreds of thousands of other baseball fans, baseball writers and reporters, front office executives, scouts and players.
MLBTR, which was created back in November 2005 by a baseball fan named Tim Dierkes, has become the go-to site for those who don't have the time to look up and read every article written for their daily fix of Hot Stove news.
Here's an example of why it has become such a great resource.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report (via Twitter) earlier today that a deal between the Rangers and Cubs for starting pitcher Matt Garza was close. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports had confirmation from a source that a deal was done just a few minutes later.
A few Texas Rangers beat writers and a Cubs beat writer followed suit shortly after. MLBTR had each piece of news updated within minutes with accurate source links and solid analysis of what was happening.
The updated story now includes a recap of how the news was broken:
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were nearing a new deal for Garza (Twitter link). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was the first to break that a deal had been reached, and he also was the first to report Olt's inclusion in the deal (Twitter links).Rosenthal tweeted that Edwards and a third player would be going to the Cubs, and Passan reported that the package included Grimm and a PTBNL (on Twitter). Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reported that the Cubs could receive one or two PTBNLs, depending on who they selected as the first (on Twitter).
As great a tool as Twitter has become, it's hard to have much of a life and keep up with the timeline of this sort of breaking news. It's probably much easier for those of you that don't work in the industry and aren't paid to report on this actual news to just refresh MLBTR every once in awhile.
In fact, I'd recommend doing that so you can get better utilize the rest of your time.
After breaking the initial news, it's not Rosenthal's or Passan's job to stop working the phones right then and there to go write a complete story or even a summary of what the deal means for either side or how it affects the pennant race and so on. They went back to work, digging for details on which minor leaguers were heading back to the Cubs, as were the team's beat writers and reporters.
As details were being reported, MLBTR was keeping all of its readers updated within seconds and crediting each source reporting anything new. It was a case of great teamwork from various sources who aren't even on the same team.
The ultimate goal was to provide the baseball world with breaking news and organizing the information so it's easy for everyone to follow. And they succeeded.
The analysis from MLBTR's group of writers is strong, although they do not go into so much detail where it would take away from the original source. In order to appease everyone involved, it's important that the reader has the choice to read further into a story by clicking on the link and gathering more information. The MLBTR writers also provide their own analysis.
In order to become a credible site like MLBTR has, it's important to note that several key baseball reporters and industry professionals taking notice and endorsing the site really helped take it to another level.
But why did they rely on a site that was operated by someone without a reputation or experience in the industry?
Because the site was accurate. It was consistent. It was easy to read. It was reliable. Every step necessary to gain credibility was followed.
In turn, it gained the trust of the baseball world.
In fact, it was one of the models and inspirations for my own website, MLBDepthCharts.com, which I started a few years back. If MLBTR was going to tell the baseball world what might happen or what did happen, MLBDC was going to show them how "what happened" looked like "on paper."
For example, a snapshot of the Cubs' organizational depth could be viewed on the site within seconds of the trade being announced.
Information such as prospect rankings, injury notes, current level, platoon, if a player is on the 40-man roster or not, if an injured player in on a rehab assignment and much more is all included on each team's page. A go-to lineup is updated regularly based on trends.
The site has become a great resource for fantasy baseball players, but it's also a good way to monitor a team's organizational depth to identify a need or a surplus during the trade season.
Additional analysis on trades and trade rumors can be found all over the place, including here at B/R. The goal is not necessarily for us to break the news. It's to provide content and analysis that gives the reader the necessary information to understand what something might mean from several different aspects, including the 25-man roster, the farm system, the offseason, the pennant race and so on.
If it's the first report of any baseball news that you're looking for, however, then Twitter is where you'll want to be. Everyone is on Twitter and it's the first place someone will report anything, newsworthy or even not so newsworthy.
It only takes a second to break news on Twitter. And it doesn't even have to be spelled correctly. It could be a 10-word sentence with eight of the words abbreviated. As long as the source is credible, it doesn't really matter. It's obvious in many cases that getting the news out as quickly as possible, and hopefully before anyone else, is the lone goal if a reporter.
Rosenthal and Passan are two of the best at reporting trades or even potential trades and rumors, along with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports and Buster Olney of ESPN, to name a few.
It's doubtful you'll miss much if you just follow that group of reporters while using sites like MLBTR and MLBDC to make sure you didn't miss any rumor or an actual roster move.
The team's beat writers and reporters don't report on rumors as much, but they will often be the among the first to report when the team that they cover has made a trade.
Even the occasional local talk show host or blogger might be the first to hear of a story, although those aren't taken as seriously until a more credible source picks up on it. The original source will normally get their well-deserved props once it's been reported nationally.
There is one thing that you should watch out for when news is reported on Twitter. For some very strange reason, some people on this planet feel the need to create fake Twitter accounts—not the obviously fake ones that can be pretty funny, but one that will purposely try to deceive the public.
By creating an account that is different by one letter, for example, they tweet fake news and hope someone will pick up on it. On occasion, these have been retweeted by baseball writers and false news begins to spread quickly until someone figures it out.
Many of the credible writers are "verified" on Twitter—they have a blue check mark next to their name—and thousands of followers. If someone tweeting news has fewer than a few hundred followers, I'd probably wait for a more credible source to confirm before retweeting, passing on the news or just taking the news as a fact.