Announcement

Greetings all.  It’s obviously been awhile since I posted and I apologize for the abrupt departure.  With MLB’s blessing, I’m taking a break from this blog to work on a couple of other opportunities.  Specifically, I’ve been given a chance to do some freelance work for ESPN Page 2.  Here is my debut if you are interested.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=mergler/090623

Thanks for your support here and I’ll let everyone know if/when I come  back.  In the meantime, if you want to hear my thoughts on fantasy baseball, I’m still contributing each week to the Roundtable feature that runs Wednesdays on MLB.com’s main fantasy site.

Thanks again for reading and I hope you’ll continue as I write on other platforms.

 - Toby

Toby Awards

We are now a third of the way through the MLB season, enough
time for me to dust off my favorite gimmick – The Toby Awards! (Previous
editions here and here).  Let’s get right
to it.

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Punch-Out Award for
Most Anticipated Arrival

When news broke that the classic Nintendo game “Punch-Out”
was being resurrected and adapted for the Wii, I was giddy.  Outside of maybe Tecmo Bowl, there isn’t a
more iconic title that had yet to be updated. 
I couldn’t wait for release day so I could reunite with Little Mac and
recreate his slightly racist rise to glory (even a Larry the Cable Guy show
isn’t as chalked full of stereotypes).

And The Toby Goes To – Matt Wieters:
As much as I pined for Punch-Out, it didn’t begin to compare to how hard the
fantasy community sweated out Wieters’ arrival. 
It was amazing that following the announcement, a ton of writers
wrote similar apocryphal stories from 25 years in the future describing all of
his accomplishments.  If I had been hit
upon the head and knocked out, I might actually thought I’d been in a two
decade long coma and have taken them as fact. 
How else could you explain everyone writing the same thing?

New York Skyline
Award

I moved out of New York City five years ago this month and I
must say I don’t really miss living there anymore.  But every time I come back to visit, I
cherish that first look of the Manhattan skyline.  No matter how many times you see it, it never
gets old.

And The Toby Goes To – Raul Ibanez:  Speaking of refusing to age (and tenuous
transitions), Raul Ibanez numbers are absolutely stunning so far this year and
is going to end up on a lot of championship teams (hopefully mine).  Seeing him rake this season has been like
owning a stock for several years that has provided consistent, but low-level
returns that suddenly explodes for no real reason.  Please, oh please let this hypothetical
investment not be in an HGH company.

Rock and Roll Ain’t
Noise Pollution Award for Perfect Beginning

You know on your IPod how if you just press play without
making a selection or choosing shuffle, the same song always comes on?  On mine, it’s ACDC’s “Rock and Roll Ain’t
Noise Pollution,” so I’ve heard the beginning of this song many, many
times.  And you know what?  The first 20 seconds are absolutely
perfect.   It’s a slow, clean guitar riff
with the lead singer lighting a butt and taking a puff in the background.  It’s exactly how a rock song should
start. 

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And The Toby Goes To – Zack Greinke:  The start to Greinke’s season has been just
as perfect and just like starting up the IPod, each time he takes the hill
seems to turn out the same way.  He
hasn’t just beaten hitters this year, he’s demoralized them.  Beginning the season with four consecutive
shutouts was particularly inspired.  We
haven’t seen a Zach perform at this high of level since the Five Aces
doowhop’d all over the Bayside High sock hop. (You knew a “Saved
by the Bell” joke was coming, but probably not that one.  It happened during the Tori Senior Year,
which even the show disavowed ever happened).

LeBron James Award
for Best Performance Without a Supporting Cast

If you watched the Eastern Conference finals then this award
needs no further explanation.  If it was
a reality show, it could have been called “Lebron the Great Plus Eight.”  While King James gave the performance of a
lifetime, his eight teammates in the rotation ran around helplessly, causing
havoc and doing more harm than good.

Winner – And The Toby Goes To:  Gonzo is wasting a career
year in San Diego, as his offensive teammates have been absolutely
terrible.  He’s nearly doubled up his
next closest teammate in Runs, RBIs, and Home Runs.  Click this link,
you’ll see the same face staring back at you everywhere.  Kinda creepy (mainly because he looks like a
player from “Backyard Baseball” came to life), but a fitting tribute to his
season.

Big Whiskey and the
Groogrux King Award for Most Disappointing Hometown Performance

Growing up in Virginia and going to school in
Charlottesville, the day the Dave Matthews Band released a new album was among
the most highly anticipated of the year. 
I remember popping in “Before These Crowded Streets” and driving
aimlessly around my hometown for an hour while listening and then rushing home
so I could play it again.  But their
latest release is bland, uninspired and terrible.  It sounds like someone doing a Dave Matthews
impression and doing it poorly.  If a
band called “Lie in our Graves” played this album at a local coffeehouse, they
would be booed out of the overly-pretentious building.

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Winner -And The Toby Goes To:  Here is what you really need to know about
the Nats bullpen – the team is going to score 200 more runs than they did last
year, the starting pitching has been roughly equivalent, and they are still
going to lose over 100 games.  At this
point, I’d rather see the British Army enter Washington than a Nats reliever.  I hate them.

See you Monday.

Another Roundtable

Greetings all.  I’m in the midst of traveling, I apologize for not having a new mailbag today.  As long as I’m already disappointing you, I might as well say there won’t be an interview on Friday either.   But I’m working on an interview that I hope will make up for it next week.  In the meantime, here is another roundtable.  You should be thanking me, this way you actually get sound advice.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090603&content_id=5121268&vkey=fantasy&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

I will have a post up tomorrow.  See you then.

Marry, Bury, Date: Week 9

Welcome
back to another week of Marry, Bury, Date — the childhood game I’ve hijacked
to provide the framework for my initial foray into providing expert fantasy
baseball advice.

 

The
premise of the game is simple.  Three names
are thrown out and the participants must pick which one they would Marry (ie
commit to long-term), Bury (get rid of forever), or Date (could be fun in the
short-term).  When considering trade offers or waiver wire
pick-ups, fantasy players are faced with these same three decisions all the
time, so in an effort to help aid these choices, I’ll name one player who I
like for the rest of the season, one player who I think could help in the
short-term, and one guy I wouldn’t touch in this space each week.

 

duct-tape-prom-attire.jpg

After
I’m done, if you want to whisper to the player that I “like ‘em, like
‘em” that’s up to you.  If you do, I
look forward to the awkwardness that ensues all the way through the Junior High
Prom.  Maybe I’ll get my courage up and ask them to
dance during Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.”

 

This
week’s picks are below.

(more…)

Expert League Update: Heads A Rollin’

lebron_kobe puppet.jpg

This past week my team drew the hot hand, losing to Jon
Williams and his endless cavalcade of two-start pitchers 7-3.  Overall, my squad didn’t perform that poorly,
they just got outplayed in one given week and when that happens, you shake
hands and move on (unless you are Lebron James, then you storm out to show your
“competitiveness.”  I hope they make a commercial
immediately where puppet Lebron refuses to shake hands after Kobe beats
him.  Though to be fair, I probably
wouldn’t shake hands with Kobe unless I just saw him wash them.  Never know where they’ve been.  Even the puppet version.)  Besides, it’s hard to get that upset when you
are in first place and your lead in the standings actually grew despite suffering
through your own beatdown.

 

What’s of greater interest is the number of fairly big names
that have ended up on the waiver wire recently in this league of experts.  As we explore each week in Marry, Bury, Date,
there comes a time when it’s necessary to completely give up on a guy.  For several ballplayers who received plenty
of preseason hype, that time has apparently come.  Even in a league where 350 players are
rostered, an expert thought they were no longer worth owning. 

 

Here is a list of guys who have been dropped so far in this
expert league and a couple of brief thoughts on each.

 

Kevin Gregg
(dropped 5/22) – After one owner decided to completely punt saves, he sent
Gregg packing.  I thought this was the
most shocking drop on the list, given the huge premium closers went for in the
initial draft.  I know he’s had a few
blow-ups, but he still is the number one 9th inning option for a
contending team.  I actually burned the
number one waiver priority to pick him up. 
I think he’ll be worth it in a league this deep.

(more…)

Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview: Geoff Stein

geoff2.JPG

Welcome back to the newest installment in our series of
interviews aimed at giving readers insight into the minds and backgrounds of
those fantasy writers and pundits who have reached the level of
“expert.” It seems there has been an explosion in the number of
people claiming the title in the last few years, but no one seems to know where
they come from. These interviews aim to change all that, while also giving
aspiring “experts” (such as myself) some advice on both how to break
into the industry and ways to improve your fantasy skills.

 

Our guest this week is Geoff Stein, the operations manager
for Mock Draft Central.

 

In
your opinion, what makes you a fantasy expert? (basically the polite way of
asking – why should people listen to you?)

 
I don’t think people should listen to me.  I like to point things out and
allow people to make their own choices/decisions.  I’m not a “do this”/”don’t
do that” type of writer;  instead I
focus on producing an original, entertaining piece that makes people
think/informs.

(more…)

Expert League Update: Ya Heard?

This past weekend, I traveled to Arkansas for a
wedding.  It was a great one.  You know how you go to a ballgame or stay out
too late one night and when you wake up the next day you’ve lost your
voice?  It almost always means you had a
good time the day before.  Well I took
that to the next level.  When I woke up on
Monday, I had lost my hearing.  Couldn’t
hear out of my left ear.  Spent most of
the recap lunch staring at my plate wishing the food would disappear without me
actually having to eat it and pretending to follow the conversation around
me.  Guess that means I had an awesome
time on Sunday.

 

Because of the weekend events, I didn’t follow my expert
league match-up at all.  Even forgot to
set my lineup for the weekend before I left on Friday.  You know what?  Didn’t matter.  The results didn’t change a bit.  I won 5-4-1, the exact same result that would
have occurred had I scoured the wire for last second free agent fill-ins and stared at
the scoreboard all weekend.

 

lost hatch.jpg

Like many fantasy players, I can get caught up in the
obsession and pay too much attention to every at-bat, pitch, and play.  It’s too bad “time spent hoping” isn’t a
fantasy category, as I would clean up. 
While I usually enjoy following my players extremely closely, it’s still
nice to see that you can step away for a few days without consequence.  Fantasy baseball isn’t like the Hatch in “Lost.”  You don’t have to push the button every 108
minutes to prevent the end of the world, even though it often feels that way.

 

Someday I might forget to put a pitcher in and it will cost
me a few categories.  But today I take
comfort in knowing that even in an intense expert league, it’s possible to step
back for a few days without changing a thing. 
Gives me time to focus on other matters. 
Like getting my hearing back.

 

I’ll be back tomorrow with an interview featuring Mock Draft
Central’s Geoff Stein.  Until then.

Mailbag: How To Regain Interest in a Lost Season

Dear Internet Man Who
Lives in My Computer,
I have a question. This is the time in the fantasy baseball season when I have
trouble staying motivated. I start going away on weekends to go to weddings or
bachelor parties or the beach or, more likely, the office, and fantasy baseball
isn’t always the top item on my list of things to catch up on during the week.
Plus, especially in my points league, the status quo seems to be sorting stuff
out so I feel like I’m destined to finish in 4th to 7th place no matter what I
do. Nobody good is available on waivers, at least anybody who will make a real
difference in my performance, and I’m too lazy to trade with anybody but the
guy who low-balls me four times a day. Any advice about how to keep my interest
up and make a move?
Sincerely,
metsfankrod
PS – okay, maybe more like 6th to 9th place.

 

Hey, good to hear from you again Krod Mandoon.  How is your epic quest to ruin television
going?  From what I hear, you are almost
there.  Congrats.

 

im-on-a-boat.jpg

Losing interest as the season goes on is a common problem,
though one not always caused by “my life is too awesome to care” syndrome,
which you seem to possess.  If I was
traveling every weekend to hang out with my friends or go to the beach, I’d
probably lose interest too.  Sounds pretty
nice.  Your office is probably on a
boat.  Jerk.

 

If you are still fielding trade offers and checking the
waiver wire, it sounds like you are not quite a lost cause yet, which is
terrific.  There is nothing worse than
being in a league where guys completely check out in May (Ok, maybe a couple
things are worse – plague, famine, Coldplay). 
I hope no matter how much you stop caring, you always log-in at least
once a week for 30 seconds to set your lineup. 
If you can’t do that, you should give up fantasy baseball as a hobby
because such behavior can ruin it for everyone. 
Now please put your hands up everyone, the only way I exit my soap box
is through crowd-surfing.

 

But since you seem to care a little about fantasy
baseball (you are reading this blog after all), here are four suggestions on
how to jumpstart your interest.

(more…)

Marry, Bury, Date: Week 8

Welcome back to another week of Marry, Bury, Date — the
childhood game I’ve hijacked to provide the framework for my initial foray into
providing expert fantasy baseball advice.

 

The premise of the game is simple.  Three names are thrown out and the participants
must pick which one they would Marry (ie commit to long-term), Bury (get rid of
forever), or Date (could be fun in the short-term).  When considering trade offers or waiver wire
pick-ups, fantasy players are faced with these same three decisions all the
time, so in an effort to help aid these choices, I’ll name one player who I
like for the rest of the season, one player who I think could help in the
short-term, and one guy I wouldn’t touch in this space each week.

 

Thumbnail image for old prom2.jpg

After I’m done, if you want to whisper to the player that I
“like ‘em, like ‘em” that’s up to you. 
If you do, I look forward to the awkwardness that ensues all the way
through the Junior High Prom.  Maybe I’ll
get my courage up and ask them to dance during Oasis’s “Wonderwall.”

 

This week’s picks are below.

(more…)

Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview: Todd Farino

baseball_card_todd3.jpg

Welcome
back to the newest installment in our series of interviews aimed at giving
readers insight into the minds and backgrounds of those fantasy writers and
pundits who have reached the level of “expert.” It seems there
has been an explosion in the number of people claiming the title in the last
few years, but no one seems to know where they come from. These interviews
aim to change all that, while also giving aspiring “experts” (such as
myself) some advice on both how to break into the industry and ways to improve
your fantasy skills.

Our guest this week is Todd Farino, the founder of Fantasy
Baseball Search
and the creator of our Expert League.

 

In your opinion, what makes you a fantasy expert?
(basically the polite way of asking – why should people listen to you?)

 

I don’t really like to call
myself an expert.  I’ll leave that to the readers.  I love to analyze
baseball from a strategy POV.  I think the reason why I have success and
hopefully why people should listen to me is I don’t beat around the bush. 
I tell it like it is.  Some analysts won’t risk their reputation on tough
calls, but I will.  I have a history of winning, playing tough
competitors, and backing up everything I say.  If people want to take
advantage of skills that I have built over the past 18+ years the more to
them.  I still feel I have alot of growth left to do and I’m constantly
revising my strategies every season.  The key to winning is to stay
ahead of everyone else.  I do that the pretty well so far and I don’t
succumb to the pressures of the industry.  I’m very raw in that sense.

(more…)

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