Your Own Personal Scout

Hired guns.

Mike Newman at ScoutingtheSally provides an excellent service for the prospecticators among us. He visits parks, takes video, and analyzes players that come through the Sally league – ostensibly for those of us in deep dynasty fantasy leagues looking for an edge on our competitors. His independent work functions well as a fantasy manager’s personal scouting department.

Well, now Newman is offering the chance for some fantasy leaguers to gain the jump on others by paying for a premium service. Subscribers of this service will get voicemails or emails minutes after Newman sees a player live and days before he posts an edited piece on his website. An excellent idea, this offering seems to mark a significant moment for fantasy sports. Jason Grey’s hiring at and subsequent articles for ESPN Insider may have been the harbinger, but now a fantasy manager can ‘hire’ his or her own scout by paying for a week-long advantage on the competition. Fantasy is becoming reality.

But there’s something else at play here. Like Mark Zuckerman and Joe Sheehan before him, Mike Newman is attempting to monetize the hard work he does and has heretofore disseminated for free. The correct price is probably yet to be fixed, but the question of whether or not these writers’ work has inherent value should be settled. Zuckerman’s combination of dedication to his team and unique analysis, or Sheehan’s blend of wit and statistical fortitude, or Newman’s tireless scouting work – these things are worth something.

We have far too few data points to speculate on the sustainability of the model at this point. Zuckerman has recently taken to supplementing his reader-supported website, NatsInsider, with the more old-school method of freelancing for CSNwashington, and this writer knows enough from looking at his own wallet not to ask fellow writers to bare their pocketbooks for the public.

But the intellectual underpinnings, the reasoning behind this model, must make sense to most readers, even if they aren’t willing to pony up. There’s real work being done here, and so it’s most likely worth real money.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

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