So, we're over halfway through the 2008, and after thumbing through John's book while giving old Mr. Brown a pinch, I was wondering how people utilize the book.
Other than bathroom material, I mostly use it as a big database throughout the season that I turn to when I come across a prospect with an interesting stat line or recent performance and I want a kind of bird's-eye view of him. I think that's what the real strength of the book is, you get John's own impressions, some background on the guy usually, and maybe a sentence or two on their tools or stuff.
I guess what I find least useful, or what I utilize least, are John's guesses as to how this or that guy is going to develop. I guess I find that somewhat interesting, but I never act on it (in my leagues), especially since half the pitcher forecasts are the "we'll have to see how he does at higher levels" variety.
Those of you in keeper leagues: are there any prospects you've jumped on based on John's write-up or recommendation?
I remember going after Tommy Mendoza, Jon Jay and Scott Sizemore based on John's recommendations. Since then I've developed my own means of identifying lower level guys and have relied much less on a single-year's performance, or John's recs (which are what led me to the above guys).
I suppose another part is that I don't usually read the book straight through BEFORE the season. I'll check on some favorite prospects right away, but I usually wait until in season. Because:
1) I like to see what John has to say about someone whose performance or stat line has caught my eye. Since John is usually non-aggressive and pretty risk-averse on really jumping on dark horse prospects, I usually see his commentaries on guys as a nice, middle-voice sort of common sense view of guys: this guy is an athlete, this guy sits in the high 80s, this guy has a long swing, etc. Very rarely do you see John really push a guy very few others are pushing, like Goldstein did with, say, Neftali Feliz, or Baseball America did with Nick Blackburn. I feel John almost never gives me the jump on this or that guy, but he does provide a sober voice to counter other folks' enthusiasms.
2) Also, while on the toilet, during the season, I'll come across a write up by John on a guy that is intriguing (usually concerning some lower-level athletic player) and then I'll go to MILB or wherever and check out their stat line, or look closer at their stat line. This year, I've moved towards Michael Tarsi, the big lefty in the Twins org, off of this method -- he has a superficially poor ERA in the MWL, but his FIP and components suggest a better prospect than first glance provides.
So, I'm saying, I pretty much get 90% of my use and pleasure from John's book DURING the season, and not beforehand. Sometimes I'll also dip into old ones and see if I can find common denominators on sleeper guys who became exciting prospects, or guys that became busts.
These two tendencies of mine have moved me much more in the direction of following scouting reports than following single year stat lines, and it has directed me towards watching certain stats categories for development or regression.
I wonder how many folks are similar, or how many have their own unique way(s) of reading or using John's book.
Who knows, it might even help John get to know his readers better.