Monday, July 29, 2013

Albert Pujols - busted expectations

Pujols was going to be the savior of the organization, making the Angels a national brand in Major League Baseball through the next 10 years - putting up metronomic numbers for 162 games a year as the Angels muscled their way to dominate the American League West.

Now, Oakland has put out a better baseball product, Texas still has a decent baseball team and the Mariners will probably end up being better than the Angels at the end of the year - what a disappointment to see how things have fallen apart for the Angels, not knowing the downfall started with the signing of what was one of the dominant talents in the game over the last 10-15 years.

If Pujols had only pop a few more home runs, get a few more hits to raise tha BA or do enough things to get his OBP and slugging up, maybe I'd be more confident in him in 2013 - but he's put up sluggish numbers seemingly all season long, presumably because he had to nurse his bum foot on a game-to-game basis.

Now, with Pujols shelved for what most likely be the rest of the year, I have no rooting interest for the crap team the Angels have put together for 2013 - except for Mike Trout perhaps, who the F cares what the rest of the team does now that Pujols is a goner.

While I don't question Pujols' ability, smarts, desire or 'want it,' not even at these dire times - how is his broken down body going to allow him to become a relevant player again, even if come the start of next year, pronouncing himself healthy and ready to go.

I was naive in thinking Pujols would be the same player when he'd already been decline before he signed with the Angels - what a raw deal for the fans, since I don't think it's going to get better for him.

Featured autograph - Jake Peavy

He hasn't been as great as he once was in his prime years with the San Diego Padres in the late 2000's - but looks to be a hired gun for one of the MLB playoff contenders as the July 31 trade deadline looms.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Featured autograph - Josh Donaldson

Someone asked me who Donaldson was when he was dropped off at Angel stadium as a visiting player a couple of years back and I referred to him the 'scrubbliest of scrubs -' it took some time, but the Oakland third baseman has stuck in the Big Leagues in 2013 and emerged into a fun player to watch on a day-to-day basis.

I wish the Angels had stumbled upon someone like him instead of a guy who plays like a stiff at times in Alberto Callaspo - Donaldson plays some good defense, gives you some pop and has 'clutched up' at times, getting big hits for the front-running Athletics at the most opportune moments over the past couple of seasons.

I think I got Donaldson to sign my card during a past spring training trip either in 2009 or 2010 - his autograph has gotten sloppier over the last several years I've gotten him to sign, though he's been always accommodating about doing it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

2013 Topps Series II Target jumbo pack recap

Top Section
#547 Glen Perkins
#614 B.J. Upton
#630 Andy Dirks
#602 Anibal Sanchez
#610 Brandon Beachy
#660 Miguel Cabrera
#523 Wandy Rodriguez
#534 Alberto Cabrera
#374 Miguel Cabrera - 2012 AL MVP subset
#360 Khristopher Davis
#372 Jeff Locke
#472 John Mayberry
#623 Alexi Ogando

#568 Steve Lombardozzi
#580 Jordan Danks
#641 Bruce Chen
#588 Jordan Zimmermann

Bottom section
#651 Gregor Blanco
#377 J.D. Martinez
#404 Ryan Madson
#559 Travis Snider

#570 Devin Mesoraco
#357 Juan Francisco
#CH-69 Sandy Koufax - Chasing History insert / foil
#CH-55 Ken Griffey Jr. - Chasing History insert / foil
#645 Luis Cruz - Target Red parallel
#481 Justin Wilson - Target Red parallel
#411 Jesus Guzman - Target Red parallel
#TM-88 Jose Bautista - 1972 Topps Mini insert
#CH-92 Mike Schmidt - Chasing History insert

#MM-4 Jason Kipnis - Making Their Mark insert
#634 Victor Martinez - Gold parallel serial #'d 1845/2013
#590 Liam Hendriks
#348 Jonny Gomes
#479 Kelly Johnson
#485 Ruben Tejada

Friday, July 19, 2013

Featured autographs - A.J. Cole, Nolan Fontana and Nick Franklin

I finally completed a 2008 Upper Deck Team USA Youth Junior multiplayer card [previously signed by Franklin and Cole] by getting Fontana [playing for the Lancaster Jethawks in 2013] to ink it up - before a California League game at Inland Empire Thursday night.

Fontana currently has an on-base percentage of over .400 playing in the Cal League - though if he reaches the Major Leagues, he may end up as a utilityman somewhere.

Cole, a pitcher who was traded back to the Washington Nationals from Oakland, made an appearance at the 2013 Futures Game and closed things out for team USA - I got him to sign the card after a Cal League game in Lake Elsinore in 2012, when he was on Stockton [Oakland A's farm team].

Franklin has been 'star rookie' so far with the Seattle Mariners, though so was Dustin Ackley a few years ago - I got Franklin while he was playing in the Arizona Fall League in 2011.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Featured autograph - Billy Buckner

There are journeyman baseball players who manage to stick around the minors for a while, maybe even getting a opportunity to be up in the Major Leagues for a short time - I guess players of Buckner's ilk are still striving not only to reach the Major Leagues [for the first time or not], but actually stick on a permanent basis.

I've probably had Buckner's 2004 Bowman Draft card since it first came out and after holding onto onto it all these years, was able to get it signed this season - Buckner has been given a little opportunity to pitch in the Major Leagues after the Angels signed him as AAA depth.

It doesn't mean he is going to stick around but hopefully he can do something on the mound for the Halos - maybe like a Jerome Williams [despite his recent struggles as a starting pitcher] who has earned some MLB time with the team in parts of the last three seasons.

Since the card featured was for my 2004 BDP set, I had a longtime acquaintance help me get another card signed by Buckner for my all-time Angels collection - even though it's been about 10 years, I'm still trying to complete the 2004 BDP set autographed and probably have a good number cards signed featuring the guys who at least reached the Major Leagues.

I still need a bunch of cards signed featuring players from the set - who ended up like the guys I wrote about in this previous post.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

1999 Fleer Tradition Update set break

I picked this box set up for perhaps $20-$30 when it first came out because of the potential of the 'hot rookies' - such as Tim Hudson, Josh Beckett, Pat Burrell, Rick Ankiel, Eric Munson [!] and Alfonso Soriano among others.

I remember it like it was just yesterday and probably can find the ad where this set was advertised by Fleer in a Beckett - after 15 years I finally decide to unbox the cards since the set is probably worth about $10 to the right person, which means to say it's kind of worthless otherwise.

The actual cards are pretty nice though, even to this day and it doesn't look like there is any damage as far as the cards sticking together - I might be able to find some random cards I can conceivably get autographed by players in this set, who maybe a coach or a manager somewhere.

Just speaking as an in-person autograph collector who chases after random coaches / managers / team personnel / scouts who maybe ex-MLB players with cards - it might not be an idea to occasionally [unless you've been a baseball card hoarder all these years anyway] look for and bust a box [or open a set] of cards from at least 10 or 15 years ago to possibly find cards to be autographed besides just having current year cards for active MLB players.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Befuddled by actual baseball cards featuring guys who don't quite make it in professional baseball

As an in-person autograph collector, I put together cards for the 30 MLB teams on a year-to-year basis with a 'block' of cards for anyone with the big league team and another 'block' of cards [USA, draft pick, first year prospect, minor league] - for players/coaches in the minors, along with any extra cards for the Major Leaguers.

As I'm slaving away when it's about 90 degrees in a room where most of my baseball cards are, trying to do some sorting, to keep things in order - besides top prospects and players I assume will get an MLB shot, I always find myself looking at some minor leaguer's card, wondering if he could still possibly with the big league team I've sorted his card in.

There are always minor league players I have to Google to see if they've likely been released by a particular MLB team - when I look at a player's profile on and find his status as 'released,' there is some closure and I can remove those players' cards from whichever team set I'd organized them into the first place.

Sometimes I might have to go digging around through blog / twitter posts or peruse a posted transactions list on Baseball America] when a cut player's profile was never updated on - it's kind of funny when I have cards of players who have been cut a year or so ago.

A baseball card collector gripe I've occasionally heard since Bowman brand was re-introduced 25 years [!] ago - was a collector would likely be stuck with cards of players who ends up not making the Major Leagues instead of cards featuring proven players at the MLB level.

Maybe it's because Topps is too eager to add unproven players to the checklist of various products like Bowman / Topps Pro Debut / Topps Minor League Heritage in search of the next big league star - even if it's really just to fill out the base set.

As an autograph collector, I don't mind pulling cards of players still in the minor leagues - since I'm hoping I can get to see the particular players and get cards I've hoarded signed at some point.

However, for players who end up basically being non prospects, there is a 'here and now' aspect with any draft pick / first-year prospect / USA cards - just because a guy in the minors or a draft pick gets a Bowman card, doesn’t mean he is any sort of prospect at all.

I run into my fair share of cards featuring guys who are basically fillers in Bowman [or any other brands like Panini Elite Extra Edition] products - if I have access to get the cards signed when they first come out, then it's doesn't hurt as much, but it basically sucks to be stuck with cards of 'never has been' types who are at times cut before I see them in-person.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Featured autograph - Edward Mujica

It took him several teams through parts of eight Major League seasons but it looks like Mujica has found his niche as a relief ace for the St. Louis Cardinals - the 2013 All-Star signed my cards when the Cardinals were visiting the Angels a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, July 12, 2013

2013 Topps Pro Debut retail box

I read about a cheaper, 'retail' version of 2013 Topps Pro Debut and bought this on a whim [online through my phone] on the way home from a field trip three or four weeks ago - I don't think boxes are actually meant to be sold through big box stores but Topps made a cheaper option, presumably to cater for those who want the base cards for themselves.

I didn't do a pack-per-pack recap but on my sixth pack, I pulled a Yasiel Puig
- so that probably paid for most of the box at this current time.

Out of the box break I got 192 out of 220 cards with no dupes - these are the 28 cards I didn't end up pulling

5 C.J. Cron
30 Anthony Alford
36 Adalberto Mondesi
37 Courtney Hawkins
55 Matt Magill
56 Bralin Jackson
66 Miguel Sano
73 Christian Bethancourt
81 Justin Nicolino
83 Shawon Dunston Jr.
104 George Springer
121 Kyle Lotzkar
124 Mark Montgomery
125 Javier Baez
129 Dorssys Paulino
151 Chih Fang Pan
153 Kyle Crick
158 Matthew Skole
166 Jorge Bonifacio
168 Chris Stratton
174 Jake Marisnick
179 Mark Bordonaro
183 Julio Rodriguez
186 Bryce Brentz
190 Trevor May
215 Hunter Morris
216 Keury de la Cruz
219 Joe Panik

Cards I actually pulled from some loose [hobby] pack breaks

36 Adalberto Mondesi
37 Courtney Hawkins
81 Justin Nicolino
83 Shawon Dunston Jr.
153 Kyle Crick
158 Matthew Skole
174 Jake Marisnick
179 Mark Bordonaro
190 Trevor May

The 19 cards I'm need to complete the set

5 C.J. Cron
30 Anthony Alford
55 Matt Magill
56 Bralin Jackson
66 Miguel Sano
73 Christian Bethancourt
104 George Springer
121 Kyle Lotzkar
124 Mark Montgomery
125 Javier Baez
129 Dorssys Paulino
151 Chih Fang Pan
166 Jorge Bonifacio
168 Chris Stratton
183 Julio Rodriguez
186 Bryce Brentz
215 Hunter Morris
216 Keury de la Cruz
219 Joe Panik

Besides Puig, I also pulled cards of guys like Byron Buxton, Anthony Rendon, Maikel Franco and others - 2013 Pro Debut retail is a fun, low end break if hunting for cards picturing top prospects, rank-and-file minor leaguers and the top prospects who've graduated to the Major Leagues in 2013.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fairfield Company 100 card jumbo pack - a recap

This repack promises 10 Hall of Fame cards - mostly from the junk wax era where they are a dime a dozen, so meh.

Top section
1991 Upper Deck Charles Nagy #19
1989 Topps Bob Milacki #324
1989 Topps Orel Hershiser #394 -
All-Star subset
1989 Topps Tom Lasorda #254
1989 Topps Darryl Hamilton #88
1989 Topps Rick Sutcliffe #520
1989 Topps Danny Gladden #426
1989 Topps John Cangelosi #592
1989 Topps Kirby Puckett #403 -
All-Star subset

1989 Topps Jim Abbott #573
1988 Topps UK Minis Nolan Ryan #62
1988 Topps UK Minis Tony Gwynn #29
1988 Topps UK Minis Dave Winfield #85
1988 Topps UK Minis Paul Molitor #49
1988 Topps UK Minis Roger Clemens #15
1988 Topps UK Minis Gary Gaetti #25
1990 Topps Yearbook Stickers #171 Chuck Finley sticker / #5 Gregg Jefferies card
1990 Topps Yearbook Stickers #178 Mike Moore sticker / #63 Greg Swindell card
1990 Topps Yearbook Stickers #170 Lance Parrish and #296 Allan Anderson Sticker / #13 Eric Davis card
1990 Topps Yearbook Stickers #187 Fred McGriff sticker / #32 Jay Howell card
1987 Topps Jim Rice #480
1987 Topps Al Nipper #617
1987 Topps Sid Fernandez #570
1987 Topps Bruce Hurst #705
1987 Topps Rich Bordi #638 - x2
1989 Fleer Rob Dibble #160
1989 Fleer Mike Schooler #559
1989 Fleer Kelly Downs #326
1989 Fleer Mike Birkbeck #178
1989 Fleer Mike Aldrete #323
1990 Bowman Donald Harris #499
1990 Bowman Andy Benes #207
1988 Topps Andre Dawson #401
1988 Topps Mark Ciardi #417
1990 Donruss John Wetteland #671
1990 Donruss Calvin Schiraldi #672
1988 Topps Lee Elia #254
1990 Donruss Steve Farr #356
1988 Topps Dave Engle #196
1990 Donruss Stan Javier #568
1988 Topps Manny Lee #722
2010 Topps Hiroki Kuroda #366
2010 Topps Raul Ibanez #486
2010 Topps John Niese #249
2010 Topps Ted Lilly #14
2010 Topps Ramon Hernandez #554
1989 Topps Paul Molitor #110
1988 Topps Bob Welch #118
1991 Score Tracy Jones #87
1987 Topps Traded Stan Jefferson #55T
1989 Fleer Manny Trillo #440

Bottom section
1986 Topps Tony Gwynn #10
1988 Topps Eddie Murray #4
- Record Breaker subset
1993 Upper Deck Ryne Sandberg #175
1987 Topps Robin Yount #773
1989 Topps Andre Dawson #4 -
Record Breaker subset
1987 Topps Nolan Ryan #757
1991 Topps All-Stars Juan Marichal #22 of 22
1991 Topps All-Stars Chris Sabo #15 of 22
1989 Score Traded Lance McCullers #63T
1989 Donruss Jay Bell #350
1990 Score Cory Snyder #10
1984 Topps Charlie Hough #118
1991 Upper Deck Final Update Bobby Bonilla #99F
1997 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Gary Gaetti #442
1988 Fleer Cecil Espy #465
1990 Donruss Les Lancaster #628
1991 Bowman Tim Layana #689
1990 Donruss Bo Jackson #61
1990 Donruss Dave Martinez #452
1990 Donruss Scott Bradley #581
1986 Topps Richie Hebner #19
1986 Topps Dave Bergman #101
1993 Upper Deck Luis Sojo #94
1993 Leaf Alex Cole #312
1986 Topps Mike Fitzgerald #503
1986 Topps Dave Stewart #689
1993 Upper Deck Dan Pasqua #649
1991 Topps Stadium Club Bob Tewksbury #417
1992 Topps Stadium Club Dave Bush #84
1991 Leaf Mario Diaz #363
1991 Leaf Scott Bankhead #345
1990 Bowman Dave Martinez #121
1997 Bowman Chrome Neifi Perez #197
1990 Topps Tracy Jones #767
1987 Fleer Star Stickers Kirk McCaskill #75
1991 Bowman Mike Gallego #219
1990 Topps Fred Toliver #423
1997 Bowman Dermal Brown #215
1991 Bowman Ramon Martinez #610
1991 Bowman Gerald Perry #405
1987 Topps Bruce Berenyi #582
1987 Topps Ken Schrom #635
1987 Topps Garry Templeton #325
1987 Topps Joe Niekro #344
1987 Topps Daryl Boston #482
1987 Topps Ray Searage #149
1987 Topps Dwight Evans #3 -
Record Breaker subset
1987 Topps Alan Ashby #112
1987 Topps Dan Plesac #279
1987 Topps Milt Thompson #409
1989 Topps Cap'n Crunch Kirk Gibson #2 of 22