Sunday, November 29, 2009

Autograph request through the mail received: Jair Jurrjens

Jair Jurrjens c/o Atlanta Braves - signed one card in black Sharpie.

Jurrjens has had a couple of nice seasons in Atlanta
- though his relative youth and talent may make him trade bait, since the Braves are looking at six-man starting pitching rotation at the beginning of spring training, with Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson, Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami and Tim Hudson.

I sent this request on July 10, 2009 and received it Nov. 27 - I'd pretty much stopped sending autograph requests through the mail, so getting back a random request I'd sent was a nice surprise.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods was involved in a minor accident and it goes to show he isn't as perfect as we'd all like him to be - hopefully he can bounce back from any lingering effects of this accident, because he isn't only the best golfer in the world, but also one of the most well-known sporting figures.

With all that has been out there in last week or so, this isn't what the man needs at this point - though maybe he takes a step back for a moment.

Friday, November 27, 2009

National League MVP Award winner Albert Pujols

After winning his third National League MVP award, what can be said about Albert Pujols that hasn't been uttered already - he is the best player in the Major Leagues not named Joe Mauer.

Pujols has done his thing since his rookie year - the numbers are staggering and the numbers don't seem real in the sense they are 'video game numbers. Pujols is a living, breathing baseball legend who is a slam-dunk Hall of Fame candidate, based on the numbers so far.

Contrary to any age-gate rumors, Pujols is finally hitting '30' in 2010 - I wonder how long his metronomic excellence will continue into his 30s, particularly how how goes about his business as a Major Leaguer, when he has accomplished so many achievements.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Featured autograph - Mike Minor

The No. 7 overall pick in the nation in 2009, Minor is a lefty out of Vanderbilt who has the ability to be on the fast track to the Major Leagues - but he doesn't seem to be as highly regarded as his draft status indicates.

I didn't really know much about him until I saw him pitch in the Arizona Fall League - because he was drafted so high, I assumed he'd be considered a stud pitching prospect, but apparently he isn't.

Just like the Mike Leake card featured here - I purchased the card at a card show for $5.

Dallas McPherson

The Oakland Athletics have invited former Angels uber prospect Dallas McPherson to spring training - I've always liked his ability to hit the ball [like everyone else] and he hit as many as 42 home runs [albeit in the Pacific Coast League] as recently as 2008.

However, injuries have plagued his professional career - if healthy, he can probably be a productive Major League hitter for a couple of seasons, but who knows if he can even make the A's Opening Day roster out of spring training in 2010.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

American League MVP Award winner Joe Mauer

After winning his first MVP award, what can be said about Joe Mauer that hasn't been uttered already - he is the best player in the Major Leagues not named Albert Pujols.

Because Mauer is behind the plate as a catcher - the numbers he generates is simply more impressive. Mauer is simply a once-in-a-generation talent that can probably win the next 10 MVP awards if his health dicatates it.

What stands out is this past year, Mauer won his third batting title with a .365 batting average - I realized he was a very good young player, but it didn't dawn on me that he was that good of a hitter.

Batting average maybe overrated in some respect, but to battle every day with pitchers, to make enough contact or lay off just enough pitches to have prolonged success - while enduring the bumps and bruises received from being a catcher, must make Mauer some sort of Superman among his peers.

Besides batting average, Mauer's on-base percentage was a whopping .444 - he finally turned the power on, hitting 28 home runs and slugging .587 in 2009.

Admittedly, I'm not much of a Minnesota Twins/Joe Mauer guy - but I'll be paying to watch him play opening week of the 2010 schedule, when the Twins open up in Anaheim.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The future of John Lackey?

The Los Angeles Angels will probably try hardest to re-sign this SOB, because he is the face of the starting pitching rotation - he bitches, whines, snarls and grovels for every pitch.

Simply put, Lackey has the intangibles of being a bully in the front end of the Angels rotation - losing him would probably as close to losing Nolan Ryan back in the late 70s.

As badly as the Angels want Lackey to come back however – the team will be content to move on if Lackey demands too many years and too much money and somehow a deal cannot be reached.

It is a two-way street for Lackey and the Angels – Lackey doesn’t have to choose the highest bidder and if he feels the Angels have made him an offer that falls a little bit short of what others are offering, but still fair enough for him to be with the Angels, he should take it.

While he has turned into an ace and some say may have matured, he still tends to have his bitter beer face moments - the good and the bad is what makes Lackey a fun pitcher too watch.

His swagger and cockiness maybe a little over the top and may not even be necessary at times when he is really imploding on the mound - but I shudder to think if the Red Sox or Yankees add Lackey to their starting rotation.

2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond Barry Bonds / Jeromy Burnitz wrong back card

I picked this oddball card up from the $0.50 bin at a card shop several months ago - it is a 2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond wrongback featuring Barry Bonds on the front and Jeromy Burnitz on the back.

Although interesting, I assume cards like this from the last 10-15 years are just common misprints - if a card like this was printed in 1990 instead of 2000, it might actually be worth something.

Well, everyone thinks Bonds is a bum and no one really has cared about these types of cards for a long time - maybe a die-hard player collector.

Featured autograph - Mike Leake

The No. 8 overall pick in the nation in 2009, Leake is a relatively undersized pitching dynamo - who has the ability to be on the fast track to the Major Leagues after a stellar career at Arizona State.

This card featuring Leake on the US National Team is from a 2008 Upper Deck Timelines insert set - lurking around to find some 'bargain bin' type cards, I purchased the card at a card show for $5.

The card features doesn't feature Stephen Strasburg, but it isn't a bad pick-up - if Leake works to fulfill his potential in the near future.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum

Tim Lincecum was announced the 2009 National League Cy Young Award winner - being honored Thursday for the second straight season as the best pitcher in the National League.

Along with Zach Greinke in the American League being honored, it only punctuates the underlying story behind the headlines - Lincecum only had 15 wins and Greinke only had 16 wins but clearly were deserving because of their sheer dominance.

It seems kind of silly to think if a guy makes 30-35 starts and is good enough to pitch six, seven innings in the majority of those starts to win 18, 19, 20 or more games - he isn't as good as the guy who wins only 15, 16, 17 wins.

But for a starting pitcher, the evaluation of the quality of work has evolved and statheads or sabremetrically-inclined baseball fans/pundits are rejoicing - because they are the ones championing more sophisticated stats to be taken into account over merely being stupefied by the numbers of wins accumulated in one season.

It isn't no coincidence Lincecum and Greinke are acutely aware of the terms - and have seemingly been made poster-children for evaluating a pitcher's performance.

For Greinke - he likes the FIP.

For Lincecum - it is all about the WHIP.

In the end, Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright had more wins, pitched more innings and clearly demonstrated their value to their team - Lincecum simply had the more dominant season.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2009 Fan Pak!

Sometimes there isn't too much fun to be had with trading cards anymore and it maybe fun to have a trading card product - where you have cards with players' images [to punch out, pop out and maybe display for a few hours].

2009 Fan Pak! will likely have a short shelf life, because with their odd size, the cards have a gimmicky feel to them - even though Enterplay [the company making these cards' aimed to produce these cards for young children, instead of advanced, adult collectors.

I ended up picking a couple of packs of these cards - to the credit of Enterplay, the cards are glossy, colorful and actually have players' images on them, so it makes the cards a little more collectible for traditional baseball card collectors.

The trivia and mini-games cards are OK, though seem boring without a player images -

The temporary tattoos are OK if you are going to actually apply them onto your skin - I'm not 12 years old though, so no dice here.

Team stickers would have been nice - maybe to put on a homemade card or flat paper item to get autographed randomly.

2009 Fan Pak by Enterplay [$1.99 each / two packs] -

Pack #1
56 Jimmy Rollins
- pictured
43 Brian Roberts - pictured
31 Kosuke Fukudome Top Stories
8 Ryan Howard Top Stories
8 Trivia and Mini-Games
T12 Fan Pak / Fan Tats

Pack #2
40 Derek Jeter
62 Alfonso Soriano
27 Placido Polanco Top Stories
3 Geovany Soto Top Stories
75 Trivia and Mini-Games
T18 Fan Pak / Fan Tats

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke

Talent overcomes all other things for the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke - being a great athlete and having an electric arm didn't always guarantee stardom however as Greinke proved seemingly long ago back in 2006 when he walked out on his Kansas City Royals team during spring training.

It is fun watching Greinke pitch - it is kind of watching someone throw darts at opposing hitters trying figure out how to hit him.

In some respects, watching Greinke be at the top of his game maybe more satisfying for most baseball fans - because Greinke's story is also about redemption and triumph to overcome a personal problem, a mental illness Greinke can only deal with on his own.

Monday, November 16, 2009

American and National League Rookie of the Year Award winners

It must feel good for the Oakland Athletics organization and its fans - when the A's No. 1 reliever Andrew Bailey gets the nod as the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year, over guys like Rick Porcello, Elvis Andrus, Gordon Beckham, Jeff Niemann, Ricky Romero among the top American League rookies.

An accomodating signer, it was pretty nice to get Bailey's autograph in spring training and a couple more times during the past baseball season - having his autograph already means I don't have to get one to put in my award winners collection.

An infielder by trade, Florida Marlins star rookie Chris Coghlan was a hard-hitting outfielder for the Florida Marlins in 2009 - really doing a little bit of everything, playing in 128 games. At the plate, Coghlan generated a .390 on-base percentage and a .460 slugging percentage. The 2009 National League Rookie of the Year had 162 hits and among those hits were 31 doubles, nine triples, nine home runs and 47 RBIs in 504 at-bats.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Featured autograph - Dave Winfield

Pictured is an autographed card I got from Hall of Famer Dave Winfield this past Major League Baseball season during a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game
- he is wearing an Angels uniform on the 1990 Leaf card and while he is remembered for being Mr. May in New York[and also killing a seagull in Toronto as a Yankees' player], he posted respectable numbers towards the latter part of his career [with the California Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins and finally the Cleveland Indians], before retiring in 1995.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Debating whether to get the great Vladimir Guerrero's scribble

For $70 a pop, Vladdy can sign my 8x10 photo on Saturday, November 7 at an Orange County, California card shop - it will probably a last minute, impulsive decision whether or not I go for this.

Stateside and away from his Dominican Republic homeland, Vlad is aloof towards most fans to approach him and his autograph is basically hard to get - but why is he worth something to me then if he won't give me the time of day? I don't particularly need to get another autograph from him, especially when I have gotten him to sign for me before during his first year with the Angels in 2004.

On the other hand - I can throw away the same amount [$70] to spend Angels baseball tickets for several games and know I'm not going to get his autograph.

He is a free-agent and may not be back with the Angels - but then considering his signing habits, does it matter whether or not he returns?

It was maybe eight or nine years ago already, I ended up getting Willie Mays' autograph at a public appearance - his fee then was $100.

That is only $30 more than Vlad's signing fee for small items - while a great player himself, Vladdy is no Willie Mays [though The Say Hey Kid does pop up at #6 of Vladdy's comparables through the age of 33, but then Vlad is actually 34, so who knows].

I think it would be great to get Vlad's autograph - but I won't lose sleep if my 8x10 still as no scribble on it by the end of the day on Saturday.

My tip of the cap to the victors of the 2009 World Series

No consolation to anyone who isn't a New York Yankees fan, but a lot of times the best team on paper doesn't win it on the field - this time, best Major League Baseball team money can buy won itself a championship, the Yankees' 27th World Series title.

Money makes the best professional sports teams into champions
- but the fact the Spanks missed the playoffs in 2008 and hadn't won a WS title in 2000 was something of a unique revelation.

Still with way too much money and finally the right combination of players/coaches - the Yankees are on top again.

A-Rod most definitely earned his pinstripes - after I declared he was probably never going to be a true Yankee as he limped into the 2009 season.

Derek Jeter was Derek Jeter - playing to his career numbers, but with some added weight in the postseason.

Hideki Matsui was no average Asian hitter and the Phillies couldn't pitch around this guy - he was the World Series MVP as the designated hitter.

Sometimes the memories get blurry or we don't really appreciate the effort - but Mariano Rivera was fantastic in closing out games [even in non-save situations]. Modern day closers of the last 25 years maybe overrated, but Rivera has to be up there with the guys who once closed out games pitching two, three or more innings at a time.

C.C. Sabathia finally found an organization that didn't ride him to exhaustion in the quest to get to the playoffs - and he was able to pitch some decent games.

Even Damaso Marte pitched in.

Mercenary Mark Teixeira got a ring - good for him, though big free agent signings of past years [Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina] just missed out and as an interested fan, there might be some sweet justice to that fact.

The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series 2008 but weren't as dominant this time around - it took until the WS for Ryan Howard to prove all his doubters right.

It seemed like a key hits were dropping infront of Phillies outfielders - out of position.

Pedro probably had one start in him in this past World Series, but it wasn't good enough, when his lineup couldn't score runs - with only Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz providing most of the fire power at the plate.

Angels resign Bobby Abreu

I thought Bobby Abreu was as good as gone if didn't get what he wanted, which was probably a little bump in salary and two or three guaranteed years - but the Angels front office came through and resigned him for two years [at around $19 million] along with an option for a third season.

If I was Angels Owner Arte Moreno / Angels General Manager Tony Reagins / Manager Mike Scioscia, I don't know if I wanted to pay Abreu for what he has done in 2009 – considering he is a player who has hit his mid 30s.

Still Abreu has been so consistent for a long time and his professional at-bats are something to appreciate - when regardless of the success, I had to sit through past years in this decade where former Angels star Garret Anderson would just give away random at-bats during the season.

It is hard to argue with the offensive numbers Abreu posted through the course of his 12 full seasons in the Major Leagues - the Angels may or may not be his last team to play for, but the man has nothing but been a Halo in his time in Anaheim.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

2009 Topps Updates and Highlights - pack three

Pack three yields a numbered Nolan Ryan insert to 99 - Angels-Jo

UH 255 Omir Santos
UH 166 Mike Redmond
UH 158 Wilson Valdez
UH 90 Orlando Cabrera

UH 93 Pedro Martinez
UH 244 Johan Santana

UH 232 Tim Lincecum

UH 136 Raul Ibanez Gold parallel serial #'d 0385/2009
LGU 11 Nolan Ryan Legends of the Game insert serial #'d 46/99
TTT 60 Dan Uggla Topps Town insert
UH 109 Orlando Hudson
UH 17 Classic Combos - Derek Jeter and David Wright

2009 Topps Updates and Highlights - pack two

Pack two hits a home run with the Babe, Albert and ... Cliff Lee?

UH 125 Fernando Martinez
UH 30 J.A. Happ
UH 278 Gaby Sanchez
UH 252 Justin Verlander

UH 48 Albert Pujols

UH 218 Cliff Lee
LGU 6 Babe Ruth Legends of the Game insert
TTT57 Joey Votto Topps Town insert
UH 51 Jesus Guzman
UH 139 Brian Moehler
UH 108 Chris Tillman

UH 122 Classic Walk-Off - Kevin Youkilis, David Wright, Derek Jeter and Shane Victorino

2009 Topps Updates and Highlights - pack one

Pack one of a three I picked up at Target for $1.99 each - basic Topps isn't high brow stuff, but it seems like packs have a good mix between base cards and usually an insert or two, so it is interesting to pick up a few packs here and there.

UH 173 David Robertson
UH 44 Seth Smith
UH 241 DeWayne Wise
UH 114 Chris Coghlan
UH 213 Josh Johnson
UH 230 Freddy Sanchez - this card might represent the only 'true' update card out of this pack, since he was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the San Francisco giants.

UH 26 Ryan Howard

UH 329 Curtis Granderson Gold parallel serial #'d 0532/2009
PP 3 Albert Pujols Propaganda insert
TTT74 Brian McCann Topps Town insert
UH 290 Jason Michaels

UH 248 Chan Ho Park