Gwen Knapp

Gwen Knapp to leave SF Chronicle for Joe Posnanski's 'Project X'

It appears that the Bay Area newspaper scene will lose another columnist to digital media. I’ve heard rumblings that Gwen Knapp, who has written for the San Francisco Chronicle for several years, will leave that publication and join Joe Posnanski’s upcoming online venture, which at this point is known as “Project X.”

Posnanski, who left Sports Illustrated at the end of March to work on this venture (along with his highly anticipated Joe Paterno biography), provided a brief, vague description of Project X:

I can’t really go into details about the venture except to say that it’s a joint thing between the new USA Today Sports Group and MLB Advanced Media, and it’s obviously very exciting. It is, for me, a chance to work with old friends on new things.

Beyond the news that Project X exists, and whispers that Knapp will be one of the writers who’ll join Posnanski’s yet-to-be-formed army, there isn’t much in the way of hard news. I can’t find anything on other possible Project X employees, or when said project will launch. It doesn’t require much in the way of investigative reporting to surmise that Project X will feature a significant amount of baseball writing. With USA Today in the mix, and writers like Knapp coming along for the ride, my guess is this will be Posnanski’s version of Bill Simmons’ Grantland, with a more traditional voice and aesthetic.

I tried searching for connections between Knapp and Posnanski, and all I could find was a short column Knapp wrote in September titled, “Merits – or not – of pitchers’ wins”:

In the endless debate over the merits of pitching wins, Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski recently dissected the quintessential case of a pitcher overcoming a dreadful supporting cast: Steve Carlton going 27-10 in 1972 for a Phillies team that won only 59 games.

Posnanski pointed out that in 18 of Carlton’s 27 wins, the typically wretched Phillies scored three runs or more and that they scored four or more in 14 of the wins. In other words, the team gave Carlton a fair amount of support, undermining the argument that he carried that team and that, therefore, any great pitcher can rack up wins despite the team around him.

As a witness to Tim Lincecum’s absurdly misrepresentative 12-12 season and Matt Cain’s inability to lift his lifetime record above .500, I’d never argue that wins define a pitcher. Posnanski’s analysis, as intriguing as it is, doesn’t diminish the significance of Carlton collecting 46 percent of his team’s wins.

Posnanski and Knapp could be lifelong friends for all I know. However, if a passage like the one above is all it takes to leave the ink-stained world of buyouts and consolidation, expect newspaper scribes across the country to start referencing the great Posnanski two or three times a week in hopes of getting a Project X invite.

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