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May 2, 2014

TTO Scoresheet Podcast

An Interview with John R. Mayne

by Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

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The Scoresheet community is filled with incredibly insightful, intelligent, and passionate people who are more than happy to offer advice—so long as you aren’t in their league. We strongly recommend picking the brains of people who know what they are doing and trying to ignore the guidance of those who do not. (We will leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which of those we are.) Any opportunity to improve or refine your strategy, even if subtly, should be explored.

This week, we were pleased to have the chance to speak with Scoresheet veteran John R. Mayne about all things team related. John has been playing Scoresheet for more than a decade, and is one of the literally wisest counsels in the Scoresheet community. He can be found in AL NorCal, where he is the commissioner, competitor, and oft-champion, as well as in the annual Mock Draft, a rite of winter that is a tremendous fount of wisdom for early player evaluation. We had a wide-ranging discussion, from where to set a hook to the value of the prospect, to how to build a championship team that can still be competitive in the future. Listen to the full conversation in the podcast, but here’s a trimmed-down version:

TTO: What do you want to see in a prospect?

JRM: First, I like hitters over pitchers; the fantasy graveyard is littered with young pitchers who failed badly. Secondly, I like athleticism and performance and age differential relative to league. Thirdly, if a guy has only one real skill, I want it to be power. To quote Joey Gallo fans, "Power erupts; absolute power erupts absolutely."

TTO: How closely do you monitor early results for prospects?

JRM: Very, very closely. If you can get in before BP or Baseball America touts a high-performing prospect, you can be ahead of the curve and grab the next big thing. Or the April mirage. But the ratio of hits to mirages need not be high.

TTO: Does that really make sense? I mean, we know April isn't of overwhelming value for major leaguers, and minor league stats are more subject to vagaries of schedule, right?

JRM: Sure. But you don't have a strong weight of information behind younger players, and the probability of a Great Leap Forward (GLF) is much higher for prospects. Betting on those will end sometimes in failure, and sometimes in Wil Myers. People can take the GLF at the age of 19. Very few take the GLF at 35. Aaron Harang is still mostly Aaron Harang, but Mookie Betts might really be special. So, yeah, April's not everything—don't cut Brad Miller quite yet—but April matters. [TTO notes: This was written before Aaron Harang was speared by the Marlins.]

TTO: Switching gears, you trade more of your picks every year than anyone we've ever seen. Why?

JRM: Simple economics. In a standard league, a marginal protect is worth almost nothing to a non-contender, but he might be worth a 15 to a contender. There's a massive middle to exploit for both sides, and I am all for exploiting it. It strikes me as borderline irrational to not have these sorts of trades in bulk in a standard format.

TTO: How do you manage to avoid catastrophic losing seasons after a runup? That seems untenable. Is it just that your league-mates run out of crayons to fill out their lineup card?

JRM: It's mostly the crayons thing. I tell them, "Crayons are not for eating!" but it doesn't always take. Of course, giving up most of my picks makes for inevitable costs in the off-season - trading off good things for protects and picks becomes sadly necessary. But it's also necessary to play hard for a championship in a league where others are doing the same thing - they're going to have a Bullpen of Doom, patch every hole, and acquire two guys in their mid-30s having brilliant seasons. You can't beat that without engaging in the dangerous pastime of "trying."

TTO: We question whether we really made the "crayons" crack. It seems like you are editing our questions for the sole purpose of insulting people, whereas in the Podcast, only a half-dozen or so of your statements seemed intended to disparage. Of course, we've read your stuff, so we're dismayed but not entirely surprised. Oh, and the peach crayons are the tastiest.

JRM: Mr. Mayne is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life.

He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them.

TTO: Yeah. I think we can end our written interview on that. Thanks!

Start

David Murphy
If it feels as though these projections are just based upon following the Twins around, well, have you watched them play recently? The rest of the week sees Cleveland head to Tampa, but as it stands, Tampa’s once-vaunted rotation is now down to punching bag Erik Bedard and the overmatched Jake Odorizzi, if they haven’t been sent down by that point. Murphy’s seen a nice, predictable rebound in Cleveland, rewarding owners who seek out platoon starters and value plays. If you drafted him late, consider benching your regular this week, and working Murphy higher generally.

Andrew Romine
Detroit draws the other half of Minnesota’s games, and faces Houston as well. That said, there aren’t a ton of players on Detroit’s roster who you likely need to make weekly decisions about. Rajai Davis should be in your lineup against lefties anyway, so let’s focus on the man who ended baseball’s reign of Alex Gonzalezes for a moment. As a fringe player, Romine’s job security is measured by the week, but if you drafted him late, and have a weak starting option (or scrambled to replace Iglesias), the opportunity for quality at bats seems to be there.

Jon Niese
We weren’t particularly high on Niese this spring, not after his lingering injury and the constant threat from the Mets’ young pitching corps behind him. Color us surprised, then, to see him come back as much the same pitcher as he was last year. If you haven’t already moved him into the rotation, do so this week, as starts against the feisty Marlins and Phillies, who are both punching above their weight. In the long run, his fastball velocity is down after a long period of consistency, and more ominously, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Jacob deGrom will have to replace someone, so Niese may still find the sands of Citi Field shifting beneath him.

Sit

Danny Espinosa
What great fortune awaited Espinosa owners! Okay, now, to the bench. Espinosa has likely already rewarded patient owners, but this is a bad week for Nationals hitters, as they likely catch Kershaw and Greinke, and then head to Oakland for three. If you have Espinosa, you probably have another option, so it’s a great time to give your find a week off and play your ex-second baseman instead.

Eric Hosmer
I dunno anymore. Hosmer’s solid week has taken him back to replacement level, and there’s still some hope that he at minimum maintains last year’s breakout performance. The lack of home runs, in particular, feels like a statistical anomaly. Not sure that this week will change the dominant narrative, though, as the Royals traipse through San Diego and Seattle to test how far the fences have actually moved in.

In the podcast: This week, the Outcomes talk with Scoresheet veteran John R. Mayne about everything under the sun. The Outcomes became better players after listening to this one, and so should you.

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Related Content:  Podcast,  Scoresheet,  Fantasy,  John R. Mayne

2 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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John Carter

That was an excellent chat with JRM. It was fun to finally put a voice to his written comments. Thanks, guys, thanks, John.

More to the point, he had some interesting insights. Most of them, I have had leanings towards myself - just not nearly as gung-ho as JRM is with them. (He is obviously fearless about his convictions.) I even include fastball speed in my shorthanded notes on every pitcher along with strikeout %, K:BB, projected ERA, projected innings, injury notes, and GB%, but I generally only gave it a fair amount of consideration when choosing relievers. He has me wondering if it is as important as K% when considering a starter's potential. How about a link to his study?

Where I am resisting JRM's ways are with his aggressive pick for patch and bullpen of doom trades. He makes sense, but in my experience, often the players on your team who weren't meeting their expectations finally do in September, while those who are traded for in August because they were exceeding expectations, end up normalizing in September. I understand those April-August stats count 60%, but I'm still hurting from having a 107 game winning team last year with no holes and my own bullpen of doom - and still losing the championship to a team that was much hotter than mine last September. And just for the fun of it, I really don't like missing out on picks at any time during the winter.

How JRM manages to go from missing his first 8 picks to ending up with 60 (+26 over league average) players is really impressive. Thanks, Ben, for trying to get out of him how he does that.

May 02, 2014 11:54 AM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

I went to the NorCal site and tried to make sense of the transactions.

Going all the way back to October 2012, he traded Shin-Soo Choo and Eric Aybar for Chris Archer, R13, and R26.

Not much activity until all of March was a tornado of trades with picks flying all over the place including several for no player at all (three way trades?) However, best as I can follow, the net result was a one man loss in picks & players for JRM.

Finally during the second week of April he trades for Chris Davis losing two picks and trades away Edwin Encarnacion gaining four picks. Note jumping on the small sample size that was Davis's first amazing week last year.

In May, John netted three more picks and one player. He traded Matt Harrison for Joquin Benoit, R25, and A-Rod, who was a surprise that he even played to some. Then traded Justin Masterson for platoon-able Mark Reynolds and two more picks.

In June he trades a couple of picks for three players: a couple of doomy relievers and J.J. Hardy. Huh? How'd he pull that off? His next deal gives up a couple of winter picks for Adam Dunn and four late supplemental picks. Nice. (I love late supplemental picks.)

In July, JRM gets one more LSP for a winter pick as well as Koji Uehara for Micahael Brantley. Very nice.

August: mostly trades future picks (or pick down-grades) for platoon players and relievers - as well as trades younger players for older. His net gain is about five players. His final trade on Sept. 1 is a pick downgrade from 26 to 32 for Glen Perkins and some guy named Mariano Rivera.

At that point he should have had 44 + 17 = yes, 61 players. How did he do it? He makes many trades and tries to get picks - particularly supplemental picks thrown in. Apparently, he sells his deals as a player down-grade and gets their undervalued picks thrown in to help even things out. He also likes trading pick down-grades to get a pile of serviceable players - especially late in the year when they are much more valuable to him than his out-of-the running trading partner. That's an active manager!

May 02, 2014 12:52 PM
rating: 0
 
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