June 2009

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.

 

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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.

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Expert League Update: Heads A Rollin’

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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.

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