Thursday, October 31, 2013

Card shop finds - Topps 5x7 cards

These oversized cards are pretty ugly with grainy old-school photos from the late 1970's - I leafed through a stack of them to see if I can pick any featuring former MLB players I can reasonably expect to run into in-person next year.

I've learned my lesson not to get 'junky items' signed if I have chances to prominent retired / active players - but for players who were minor stars / rank-and-file guys, I'll try and look for 'oddball' cards, just to change things up from getting the typical cards signed.

Fred Lynn is the most prominent out of the four and he's a former Angel - I might have to get him at some sort of paid signing, but I'll just carry the card with me when I go to an Angels game and hope he shows up for something like some Angels alumni.

Randy Jones does sports radio down in San Diego and participates in various things associated with the San Diego Padres - spring training maybe an option to get him if he is doing something with the team.

Roy Smalley is currently a broadcaster with the Minnesota Twins - though I actually remember him in the mid 1990's as an in-studio analyst for Baseball Tonight.

Rick Manning is currently a broadcaster with the Cleveland Indians - I might have gotten him in the mail years ago, but don't remember getting him in-person.

My wishlist of Angels off-season moves for 2014

Major League Baseball is over [congrats team from Boston] and it's time for teams to make moves for next season - I may not be accounting for the actual resources it would take to make these moves happen for my home team, but it's not like I'm saying the Angels should go out and acquire everybody.

Things always seem fairly reasonable when I'm looking for something to blog about and playing around with ideas - the obvious need for the Angels is plugging their leaks on the pitching staff and the team needs all the help they can get.

1.) Trade Erick Aybar and perhaps a 'prospect' to the St. Louis Cardinals for Carlos Martinez - the Cardinals need a shortstop with Pete Kozma overextended [he's more of a utility guy] and as decent of player as he has shown at times, maybe Aybar hasn't really gotten any better in the three years.

Martinez has a big arm and he's sort of been hyped up [Lil' Pedro anyone?], but because the Cardinals always seem to have a lot of pitching in-hand - Martinez maybe seen as someone that can be traded for talent as opposed to a pitcher that is deemed untouchable.

2.) Sign Stephen Drew or at least someone to replace Aybar at shortstop - he may just give some 'lucky' team three good seasons in his early 30's as a player with some pop and ability to play defense.

He looks like he has some idea of what he's doing at the plate - and may offer just a bit more than Aybar.

3.) Sign Masahiro Tanaka - the Angels needs to add a pitcher who may not be quite an ace, but certainly has the arm and pedigree through his pro career in Japan to be at least a No. 2 in the States.

I really think the Angels offseason would be a failure if they don't land Tanaka - but Tanaka maybe the most sought after free agent pitcher this off-season, so how much will the Angels really bid to even get to talk to him?

4.) Sign Ricky Nolasco - not exciting but someone who should pitch close to 200 innings per year and add stability to the Angels rotation; Nolasco would be making his home starts about an hour away from his hometown, so that can be a superficial bonus for the veteran pitcher.

5.) Trade Peter Bourjos to the New York Mets for Jeurys Familia - maybe I'm selling Bourjos short, but Mike Trout maybe the center fielder for the Angels for the next 15 seasons, Josh Hamilton will be around for four more years and Kole Calhoun looks like he might be more than just a fourth outfielder.

A healthy Bourjos' talents plays infinitely better in the National League - free the guy and at least get back an arm that maybe molded into a Major League commodity, even though Familia was out for much of 2013 and maybe more of a project at this point.

6.) Sign a 'proven' bullpen arm - the Angels gambled on Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett last off-season and got bupkis from neither one, with Madson being cut before throwing an actual pitch for the Angels and Burnett ending his season after pitching in only 13 games.

It may take at least a two year commitment to sign Grant Balfour - but he might be someone to look at as far as giving the Angels perhaps a better option to close out games.

Ernesto Frieri slides over to be the set-up man with pitchers like Dane De La Rosa/ Kevin Jepsen / Michael Kohn being more seventh inning guys - Balfour's age is a concern, but he's had a rubber arm and maybe a guy who leads by example.

When was the last time the Angels had a 'personality' coming out of the bullpen to close out games [?] - Balfour just might be the guy to bring some swagger when things are sort of aimless.

7.) Trade for Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez - I don't want to be the guy saying the Angels should go out and pick up an older [past 35 years old] player, but Ramirez maybe worth the gamble; not a long term solution, he maybe sort of a veteran a potential contender can coax a couple of good years out of before he is put out to pasture.

8.) Trade Mark Trumbo to the St. Louis Cardinals for Allen Craig or David Freese - trading Craig might not be a priority for the Cardinals but they would be freeing up some money and allowing their younger players to get an opportunity at the Major League level.

Though Craig maybe damaged goods at this point and is locked up to a long term contract - he has shown to be quality hitter the Angels can be put at first base to spell Albert Pujols or slot at DH.

I have my own reservations about Freese and getting injured, driving into trees and all - but he maybe a younger alternative to Ramirez and maybe he can be the answer at third base, for at least two or three seasons.

Trumbo maybe too much of a swing and miss slugger - but has legit power and may not be such a stiff that he can't play the field [either at first base or in the outfield] for a National League team.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Featured autograph - Tyler Austin

Austin was pretty accomodating otherwise in the three times I ran into him at the Arizona Fall League - I had this 2013 Topps Heritage Minors insert, which is just a little bigger than a postage stamp and another card signed the final time I saw him.

It's a temptation for me to get oddball sized [either a little larger or maybe a little smaller] trading cards signed, though I try to stick with only standard sized cards for uniformity - I had everything else I brought for Austin signed, so I wanted to see if he'd be able to fit any sort of autograph onto such a tiny card.

After four games and 12 at-bats, Austin was injured and didn't play in any more games at the AFL before going home - he is only 22, but Austin maybe one of those players who may fall short of having long term success [presumably when he reaches the Major Leagues] because of various injuries.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Featured autograph - Tommy Gregg

At times I try to find about the signing habits of players and coaches to at least account for guys with certain quirks - from players / coaches with limits [i.e. maybe signing one or two cards at a time] to guys who won't sign certain cards for whatever reason.

The thing I learned about Gregg is he will not sign Atlanta Braves cards - I was really hoping to get my lone card of his signed during my Arizona Fall League trip, but since it's a Braves card, so I didn't even bother.

Just just to say I got him though, I had Gregg sign a 2012 Topps Heritage Kansas City Royals team card - since he is the hitting coach for their AAA team in Omaha.

Gregg's Major League cards picturing him in a uniform other than the Braves - include his 1988 Donruss #203 and 1988 Score Traded #69T.

He also has a 1988 Fleer Update #U-113 - maybe Gregg won't sign a Braves card, but he'll sign one of his cards that pictures someone else.

Though Fleer did have the correct picture for Gregg in the 1989 Fleer set as shown above - cue the semi-racial remark about how stupid Fleer was to put a picture of a black player on a card of a white guy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Featured autograph - Mark Davis

Like Carmelo Martinez in the previous post, I remember Davis mostly through the junk wax cards I found - Davis seemed to be a little more notable because he and Storm Davis were kind of highlighted in the 1990 Sports Illustrated baseball preview issue I remember reading once upon a time.

Neither key free agent signing were really as good as their superficial numbers from the previous seasons [before they signed with the Kansas City Royals] suggested and both flopped - I don't know what their on the field failures truly meant to me, except perhaps groaning a little more when I came across their cards.

I was able to get my cards signed by Davis [currently a coach in the Royals minor league system] at Royals instructional league camp this year - he was accomodating and I asked him to inscribe the card shown with a 'Cy Young' notation, since I felt it was the only appropriate card I had.

If I had my eyes peeled, I could have gotten Storm too, who is a coach in the Chicago Cubs minor league system - I had several cards for him as well ready to be inked up in case I saw him at Cubs' instructional league camp.

As an in-person autograph collector, I don't get more daps by get 'extra guys' like Davis - but it's sometimes fun to be a nerd, finding out which MLB organizations have former MLB players coaching and rounding up cards to try and be autographed in-person.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Featured autographs - Carmelo Martinez

I have no actual memories of many rank-and-file MLB players like Martinez except from junk wax cards I've stumbled upon for over 20 years now - from his baseball card pictures, I always thought he was someone who looked a little unsavory, maybe a little unkempt and more than a little intimidating.

In reality, he was just another professional baseball player who looked out of shape and also had a little baby face going [at least early in his Major League career] - he is 53 years old now and has been a coach in the Chicago Cubs' minor league system for a while.

While I didn't actually figure out who he was until my friend flagged him down at Cubs instructional league camp several weeks ago - I was able to whip out the eight cards I'd brought and Martinez knocked them all out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sorting through the various baseball card releases

It maybe the time of the year where the MLB / MiLB season is basically a done deal and until things pick up again in the spring - I might have to turn to filling my time with picking up the random, cardboard offerings put out by mostly Topps, but also by Panini [so maybe I won't get bored and I'll have new cards to try and get autographed in-person in 2014].

I'd like to be able to pick up a couple [or really several] boxes of something, but that isn't going to happen - trying to account what I'm planning to accumulate with regards to recently recent products.

Out already
2013 Bowman Chrome - looking to pick up a base prospect set.
2013 Topps Chrome - looking to pick up a base set, though is there any notable rookies besides Yasiel Puig? Don't really need a bunch of redundant veteran cards.
2013 Topps Finest - though it's basically redundant vets and maybe some young stars, I like the 1993 Finest themed inserts and maybe looking to get at least a couple if random singles once the novelty wears off in a month or so. I can't imagine buying even one mini-box [about $50 or so] for this stuff. 
2013 Topps Update - maybe I'd picked up a blaster box, hanger box, hanger rack / jumbo pack by now, but maybe I'd settle on picking up a base set and call it a day.
2013 Topps Update Chrome - not really an intriguing product to me, though it may actually entice me to try out a Topps Mega Box anyway.

It seems the value really isn't there with only two 4 card packs of this Topps Update Chrome in a box with five 8-card 'filler packs' of 2013 Topps Update - it isn't like Topps Update Chrome is going something really sought after once the novelty dies down, though there might be some nice pulls as far as parallels.   

2013 Bowman Draft - definitely looking to get a box or two of this, maybe a base set, maybe related inserts and some loose hobby packs, retail blaster boxes and maybe a hanger rack / jumbo packs.
2013 Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks - looking to pick up some loose packs, a base set and maybe related inserts if it has players that pique my interest.  
2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition - looking to pick up some loose packs, a base set and maybe related inserts if it has players that pique my interest.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In the fail box - a Derek Law minor league card

A card I needed for my Arizona Fall League hunting trip last week finally came in yesterday - even though I'm already sitting somewhere on my couch at home.

Law looks like a reliever who has put up great numbers but is he considered a serious prospect or is just going to be another guy - when I ran into him at Fall League, I ended up getting him to sign a 2010 Upper Deck Ballparks subset card.

I guess it's not a big deal but who knows if I'm going to spring training in 2013 - where I might be able to run into Law again.

Card shop pick ups

I was on a week long vacation hunting for autographs at Arizona Fall League games and made a couple of stops at a card shop near one of the AFL stadiums in Glendale - nothing really stands out about this group of cards I picked up for $17, but I'll get most autographed in-person if I have the opportunity to do so.

2005 Donruss Leather and Lumber Albert Pujols #HI-I - Hitters Inc. insert serial #'d 0441/2000 $2
2012 Topps Chrome Torii Hunter #51 - Purple refractor $0.25
2012 Topps Finest Mike Trout #78 - $0.25
2013 Bowman Jered Weaver #9 - Blue border parallel serial #'d 467/500 $0.25
2013 Bowman Chrome Corey Seager #RTR-CS - Risin Through the Ranks insert $1 
2013 Bowman Chrome Kyle Crick #RTR-KC - Risin Through the Ranks insert $1
2013 Bowman Platinum Mike Trout #2 - $0.25
2013 Bowman Platinum Hyun-Jin Ryu #96 - $0.50 / 2 for $1 - anything marked '2 for $1' must be bought in pairs.
2013 Bowman Platinum Brandon Maurer #30 - Gold parallel $0.50 / 2 for $1 
2013 Bowman Platinum Kris Medlen #52 - Gold parallel $0.50 / 2 for $1
2013 Bowman Platinum Paco Rodriguez #94 - Blue sapphire parallel $1
2013 Bowman Platinum Tyler Austin #BPCP 30 - $0.25
2013 Bowman Platinum Renato Nunez #BPCP 70 - Xfractor parallel $1
2013 Bowman Platinum Michael Snyder #DIR-MS - Diamonds in the Rough insert $0.25
2013 Panini USA Champions D.J. Peterson #139 - 2012 National Team Certified subset $0.50 / 2 for $1 
2013 Pinnacle David Wright #CV4 - Clear Vision insert / single $1
2013 Pinnacle Aramis Ramirez #CV 51 - Clear Vision insert / single $0.50
2013 Pinnacle Josh Hamilton #SF 9 - Swing for the Fences insert $0.50 / 2 for $1
2013 Topps Archives Don Baylor #234 - SP reprint / $0.25
2013 Topps Chrome Robbie Grossman #82 - Purple refractor parallel $1
2013 Topps Chrome Brandon Barnes #93 - Refractor parallel $1
2013 Topps Chrome Brandon Barnes #93 - Orange refractor parallel $1
2013 Topps Chrome Anthony Rendon #128 - Refractor parallel $1
2013 Topps Gypsy Queen C.J. Wilson #224 - Blue framed parallel serial #'d 146/499 $0.25
2013 Topps Heritage Minors Addison Russell #203 - SP $0.50 / 2 for $1
2013 Topps Heritage Minors Tyler Austin #TA - Bazooka Mini $1

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Scratching an itch and busting retail packs on impulse

2013 Panini Pinnacle [$2.99 each]

#147 Joey Votto
#122 Adam Dunn
#193 Yasiel Puig - this random non-MLB licensed card of the next Joe Charboneau a 'hot rookie' doesn't really pay for anything and the right edges are rough cut anyway; still an OK, cheap pull in my book.
#167 Bryan Morris
#AC 2 Greg Maddux - Awaiting the Call insert; I'm not a fan of inserts that don't 'pop' like this one; almost feels more like a subset than an insert.
#77 Wei-Yin Chen
#34 Matt Moore
#91 Alex Gordon

2013 Panini USA Champions [$2.99 each] - I doubt many are collecting this, but I wish I could get more of the 2012 National Team Certified 62-card common set because I've seen a few of them and like how they 'pop,' even though they seem to be a subset of the basic set.

#115 David Dahl

#183 Kyle Robeniol - 2012 National Team Certified subset
#4 Joe Carter
#62 Austin Maddox
#96 Zach Green
#54 A.J. Cole
#12 Barry Larkin

2013 Topps Chipz [$2.00 each] - I've tried to stick with actual, non-oddball sized baseball cards, but curiousity sometimes gets the best out of me.

There are minor scratches and imperfections but these things are supposed to be tossed around like gaming chips - so wear and tear is natural I guess.

Giancarlo Stanton - I assume this is the silver [1:4] parallel since it's has a shiny, silver refractor finish on the back.
Brian McCann 
Mike Napoli
Alex Rodriguez - covered by the New York Yankees team sticker, which resembles of the Fleer logo stickers from the late 1980's.

Monday, October 07, 2013

My cardhoarding misadventures - the struggle to keep collecting viable

Nothing is ever clean like the way I go about things but it doesn't mean I'm not trying to figure things out - however, at times I feel like I'm swamped with baseball cards and a reboot is in order to stave away the idea all I've collected isn't relevant.

If I'm not efficient, if I'm not putting things away, then why even bother [?] - maybe there hasn't been any commitment to what happens after the fact.

From reading other card bloggers, it's hard to believe that baseball / sports / non-sports cards can fit so neatly within their daily lives - I have no card room, no card table and no space to really leisurely stretch out with my cards.

Maybe my safe haven is being able to be upstairs in my sister's old room - but then having gone through this past summer, there are prolonged periods of time when I just don't want to be in there because it is too hot.

I find myself struggling with the collecting dilemma - how do I keep things relevant, where I care about the cards for themselves, when I get overwhelmed and feel like I've outgrown them.

If I can see things five or six years from now, I'm sure I'll still be collecting something - so I kind of want to have a blueprint of my collecting activities i.e. this is what I'm doing with the cards I add on a regular basis.

I'm afraid I'm the guy with no focus on his collection - if I'm sort of, kind of collecting, how do I stay away from being aimless?

Not really having the card space to deal with anything but squirreling them away in random spots - where I hope to get back to them [or not].

A.) What I really want is a 'competent' A-Z singles collection - I want to build up a collection of trade bait perhaps, but just cards I can flip through as far as relevant players and possibly some relevant, but not quite my PC stash of cards.

B.) I also want is a comprehensive 'PC' where I have any cards picturing Angels / related to Angels accounted for - anything picturing an Angel at some point is part of my PC, though with varying qualifications.

Angels commons are cards I generally don't care about though I want to keep some handy. - most cards produced between the junk wax era, say 1986-1992 and featuring a rank-and-file player, is stored as commons within my A-Z archive.

I have a section of Angels among my 'team boxes,' which is basically an assorted group of cards put together with the idea I have something to flip through - this is where I sort of want to keep any card that piques my eye but isn't really worth more than about a quarter.

Cards of Angels team stars are stored either in my decade star boxes or within my A-Z archive for space - some players I sort of still care about, but others, not so much.

Angels inserts - I think I'll tend to lose them if I put them in a book, but if it doesn't feature a prominent Angel or even one who made it with the MLB team, what am I going to do with some card?

Angels A-Z singles - what maybe more decent than a common insert, but something less than something for my PC/showcase collection.

Angels personal collection - I feel like I don't have enough unique Angels cards for a Top 30 PC deal, so maybe change the name to 'showcase collection,' so it maybe a little be more inclusive.

C.) Realistic and reasonable consumption - can I go to a Target and pick up a blaster or a rack pack of sorts and feel like I'm not wasting my money? Sometimes I get self-conscious when I feel like I'm not really going to get the nice hits and it's not worth it for me to rip retail in any form.

It's easier for me to grab some packs at my local card shop, when I see there is something new out - though at times my LCS visits maybe infrequent.

I was totally disinterested visiting a card show this past weekend- maybe it was because it was in the morning and I'm not a morning person, but I was meandering around, wondering if I could pick anything up.

If I could go watch myself without a purpose and a plan - almost feeling out of my element.

Maybe I prefer the quiet LCS or at least picking things up online - the only things I picked up were six single packs of penny sleeves [non-premium] for $0.50 each.

When I hit the bargain bins at the card show, card shop, et al, how do I find cheap cards I'm going to appreciate - what do I really do when I bring home a 'haul' of assorted cards worth about $0.50 or less? What do I do to prevent decent looking cheap cards from being just another grouping of cards, particularly the ones I end up not picking up because I can get them autographed in-person at some point.

D.) How do I hammer on the established activities and shine them up [?] - collecting topics, mini sets i.e. transaction box, maintaining decade boxes of 'binder stars,' etc.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Featured autograph - Stephen Vogt

Should have show this one earlier - nice to see the 28 year old rookie come up big in a Major League playoff game.

Friday, October 04, 2013

In the mail box - a 2013 Topps Heritage Minors set

I sorted the cards from the hand collated set by their MLB parent teams and grouped them together by their Arizona Fall League affiliations - so I have them as extras for my AFL trip in case a player with a 2013 Topps Heritage Minors card gets added.

I might have missed listing at least a player or two, but the first set of cards I'm looking to get autographed are those featuring players already on AFL rosters:

Jorge Soler 
Corey Seager 
Eddie Rosario 
Mike Freeman 
Adalberto Mejia 
Kyle Crick 
Joe Wendle 
Eduardo Rodriguez 
Jorge Alfaro 
Kyle Parker 
Byron Buxton 
Max Kepler 
Zach Jones 
Alex Meyer 
Micah Johnson 
Peter O' Brien 
Marcus Stroman 
James Ramsey 
Stephen Piscotty
Stephen Romero 
Tyler Austin 
Patrick Kivlehan 
Trevor May 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

In the mail box - 2013 Topps Heritage Minors A.J. Jimenez SP #217

I thought I needed this card so I picked one up for about $4 - before the card could make it's way to me, I found out that he was hurt, so I can't get the card signed anytime soon.

The best I can do is hope Jimenez can reaches the Major Leagues in 2014 and actually travelling with the Toronto Blue Jays - just my luck, but I also pulled a Jimenez out of my recent break, so I guess I'm really out to corner the market for his 2013 Topps Heritage SP card.