Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Featured autograph - Joe Smith

Maybe the salaries for rank-and-file MLB players have bumped up with more money in the game - so a three year, $15 million commitment for someone of Smith's talents might not be unreasonable, though I wouldn't have been itching to sign a random guy with little upside.

Smith seems to be a reliever who doesn’t throw hard and doesn't close out games - maybe a smarter MLB team might find a way to acquire pitchers with some potential flailing around in the minors or veteran MLB pitchers who've bounced around, looking for another chance to pitch.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fairfield Company 250 card baseball cube - a recap

I’m a baseball card hoarder and maybe the best thing about repacks - is when I’m always looking for a cardboard fix, a repack gives me an assorted number of cards to flip through when I can't always make it to the one card shop I go to and/or the card show.

I was thinking of picking up some loose packs of 2013 Panini Perennial Draft Picks but I ended up with one of these Fairfield repacks [$9.99 from a Target] - with about 250 cards and two random packs in a cube, this was a little pricier than the usual $4.99 hanger packs from Fairfield.

2012 Bowman Chrome
#168 Jordan Pacheco
#BCP 147 Joel Caminero
#49 Ivan Nova

2012 Bowman Platinum - had a hanger tag on it and the pack was marked with a sticker that read $3.19

#39 Justin Upton
#30 Adrian Gonzalez
#BPP 8 Michael Choice
A nick thick white dummy card
#31 Andre Ethier

Repacks are all over the place - most are cards I wouldn't want anyway, but having low expectations, I was ready to dig in.

The cube was sealed by some plastic stickers / tape - hard to get into without staining the cube permanently.

1988 Donruss Jamie Quirk #404 - a stare that could kill.
1990 Upper Deck Jeff Robinson #403
1990 Upper Deck Jim Gott #89
1999 Upper Deck Ultimate Victory Dustin Hermanson #67
1989 Score Dave LaPoint #384
1990 Donruss Tommy Greene #576

1986 Topps Gene Mauch #81 - the repack card that came out of some kid's collection from the 1980's.

1986 Fleer Baseball's Best John Tudor #40 of 44 - guy was a deer caught in headlights.
1990 Upper Deck John Farrell #570
1989 Score Luis Alicea #231
1989 Donruss Melido Perez #58
1986 Topps Mike Pagliarulo #327
1991 Topps Dennis Rasmussen #774
1989 Upper Deck Tim Birtsas #638

1987 Fleer Update Devon White #U-123
1989 Upper Deck Tom Niedenfuer #488
1987 Fleer Greg Mathews #303

1986 Topps Jim Frey #231
2012 Bowman Ricky Romero #111
1989 Topps Tim Burke #48
2008 Upper Deck Documentary Jim Thome #2462 / CWS 82
1988 Topps Brian Fisher #193
1988 Topps Andre Dawson #500
2004 Topps Andruw Jones #711
2011 Bowman Scott Rolen #154
1990 Topps Felix Fermin #722
1991 Upper Deck Looney Toons "Acme Battle" #173
1991 Fleer Benito Santiago #542
1990 Topps Joe Morgan #321
1988 Topps Joe Sambito #784

1993 Upper Deck Matt Mieske #704 - paper loss from being stuck in a pack for so long.
1986 Fleer Ricky Horton #38
1987 Topps Ed Lynch #697
1993 Upper Deck Mark Whiten #654
1991 Fleer Bob Walk #54
1990 Upper Deck Stan Javier #209
1992 Donruss Fun Pack Jeff Johnson #93
1993 Fleer Juan Guerrero #435
1993 Upper Deck Bobby Ojeda #808
1988 Score Steve Garvey #225
1988 Donruss Tracy Jones #310
1987 Topps Chuck Finley #446
1987 Topps Jeff Dedmon #373
1987 Topps Ted Power #437
1988 Donruss Kelly Downs #145
1990 Fleer Tom Henke #84
1988 Donruss Tommy Hinzo #526
1988 Donruss Tracy Woodson #499
1990 Fleer Luis Aquino #101
1990 Fleer Todd Burns #2
1989 Upper Deck Atlee Hammaker #544
1992 Upper Deck Bill Wegman #612
1990 Upper Deck Zane Smith #477
1992 Upper Deck Marquis Grissom #718
1990 Donruss Edwin Nunez #563
1990 Topps Traded John Candelaria #18T
1988 Score Jose Gonzalez #364
1992 Upper Deck Bill Krueger #781
1988 Score Doyle Alexander #610
1989 Upper Deck Pedro Guerrero #306
1988 Donruss Bob Knepper #138
1991 Fleer Sid Bream #35
1988 Donruss Mike Scott #112

1989 Topps Jon Perlman #476
1989 Topps John Costello #184
1991 Fleer Terry Steinbach #24
1989 Upper Deck Franklin Stubbs #91
1988 Topps Zane Smith #297
1989 Topps Twins Leaders feat. Greg Gagne #429
1992 Score Daryl Irvine #726
1992 Score Mike Magnante #739
2005 Playoff Prestige Carl Crawford #13
1986 Fleer Mike Scott #311

1991 Classic Best Mike Lansing #45
1997 Topps Hideo Nomo #440
1987 Topps Tom Lasorda #493
1993 Score Paul Wagner #315
1993 Score Felix Jose #110
1994 Fleer Jim Leyritz #237
1994 Fleer John Burkett #687
1993 Score Jeff Tackett #355
1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Jack Armstrong #40

1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Moises Alou #35
1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Kim Batiste #48
1994 Topps Kerry Wood #590
1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Brad Ausmus #43
1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Jeromy Burnitz #69
1988 Donruss Ken Forsch #111
1992 Topps Billy Ripken #752
1992 Topps Danny Cox #791
1992 Topps Ricky Jordan #103
1989 Donruss Gary Gaetti #64
1990 Upper Deck Atlee Hammaker #620
1990 Upper Deck Les Lancaster #584
1990 Topps Mike Flanagan #78
1987 Topps Frank Viola #310
1988 Topps Jim Winn #688
1989 Donruss Juan Berenguer #81
1987 Donruss Dave Sax #647
1987 Donruss Juan Nieves #90
1987 Donruss Bill Buckner #462
1989 Topps Cap'n Crunch Frank Viola #4 of 22
1991 Topps Glossy All-Stars Roger Craig #12 of 22
1989 Topps Glossy All-Stars Willie Stargell #22 of 22
2010 Topps Milwaukee's Bash Brothers feat. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun #350
2010 Topps Mark Buehrle #358
1989 Donruss Jeff Hamilton #550
1992 Topps Kent Mercker #596
1988 Score Curt Young #125
1990 Fleer Carlos Martinez #540
1988 Score Steve Farr #466
1990 Donruss Jeff Huson #693
1989 Topps Ernie Riles #676
1992 Score Greg Hibbard #266
1989 Topps Rob Ducey #203
1986 Topps Don Schultze #542
1991 Leaf Mike Felder #445
2010 Topps Update Series Ben Sheets #US-205

1986 Topps Checklist #791
1991 Leaf Ed Sprague #485
1991 Leaf Bernard Gilkey #286
1994 Ted Williams Tim Salmon #160
1993 Leaf Bob Scanlan #13
1994 Donruss Bret Barberie #127

1980 Topps Fergie Jenkins #390

1992 Pacific Tom Terrific Tom and Nolan #82

2001 Fleer Platinum Todd Helton #295 - National League All-Star subset

2010 Topps Justin Verlander #615
1989 Topps Bazooka Tony Gwynn #13 of 22
1985 Fleer Alex Trevino #341
1985 Fleer Bryan Little #402
1988 Score Lee Guetterman #323
1988 Score Kirk McCaskill #552
1988 Score Terry McGriff #281
1988 Donruss Dave Valle #393
1988 Donruss Mike Griffin #494
1988 Donruss Jeff Hamilton #525
1988 Donruss Bob James #507
1990 Fleer Bill Ripken #186

1988 Donruss Randall Byers #605
1989 Upper Deck Gary Redus #419
1992 Topps Stadium Club Kim Batiste #788
1989 Upper Deck Herm Winningham #636
1993 Topps Joe Girardi #425
1990 Fleer David West #388
1985 Fleer Bruce Benedict #320
1992 Donruss Felix Jose #233
1990 Fleer Bob Stanley #289
1992 Donruss Tom Gordon #250
1990 Fleer Bill Ripken #186
2002 Upper Deck A Piece of History Andruw Jones #46

2013 Topps Update Series Yasiel Puig #US 330 - surprised this was in here, though it's worth about $2 at most...not even the actual rookie but the Rookie Debut subset card.
2013 Topps Update Series Scott Feldman #US 231
1990 Procards Greg Pirkl #US 2637
2012 Topps Jonathan Sanchez #404
1987 Donruss Jim Traber #477
1991 Topps Glossy All-Stars Andre Dawson #19 of 22

1984 Topps Doug DeCinces #790

2007 Topps Jason Giambi #NYY3 - Yankees factory team set
2009 Topps Brandon Backe #618
1991 Upper Deck Randy Myers #371
1986 Fleer Jody Davis #364
1985 Fleer Mike Moore #495
1988 Score Bob Walk #162
1990 Score Wayne Tolleson #386
1987 Topps Glenn Braggs #622
1987 Topps Jackie Gutierrez #276
1990 Fleer Duane Ward #85
1987 Topps Allan Anderson #336
1990 Fleer Rick Sutcliffe #43
1987 Topps John Henry Johnson #377

1987 Donruss Willie McGee #84
1989 Fleer Steve Lake #454
1987 Donruss John Gibbons #626
1987 Donruss Steve Sax #278
1987 Donruss Dave Bergman #420
1989 Fleer Billy Doran #357
1987 Donruss Ken Griffey #513
1987 Donruss Alan Ashby #332
1987 Donruss Mark Davis #313
1987 Donruss Bruce Hurst #174
1991 Score Tony Fernandez #432
1988 Donruss Pat Tabler #219
1988 Topps Junior Noboa #503
1988 Topps Thad Bosley #247
1988 Donruss Pedro Guerrero #278
1988 Topps Jim Fregosi #714
1988 Topps Danny Darwin #461
1988 Topps Steve Bedrosian #440
1990 Score Dave Valle #109
1987 Topps Claudell Washington #15
1989 Topps Dan Pasqua #558
1989 Topps Angels Leaders feat. Mark McLemore [?] #51
1989 Topps Roger Clemens #450
1989 Topps Terry Pendleton #375

1989 Topps Bill Wilkinson #636
1989 Topps Dennis Lamp #188
1989 Topps Paul O'Neill #604
1989 Topps Cardinals Leaders feat. Luis Alicea, obscured player and Tom Brunansky
1989 Topps Storm Davis #701
1989 Topps Gary Gaetti #220
1984 Topps George Foster #350

1990 Fleer Matt Winters #124

2010 Topps Yankees 27 World Champs Lou Gehrig #YC 2

1986 Fleer Gorman Thomas #477
1986 Fleer Ken Dixon #273
1986 Fleer Hal McRae #14
1991 Donruss John Kruk #260
2011 Topps David Eckstein #51
1988 Topps Steve Buechele #537
1987 Fleer Mike Stanley #47
1990 Score Rick Wrona #557
1988 Topps Tony Pena #410
1992 Score Omar Olivares #334
1988 Topps Bruce Hurst #125
1989 Topps Tracy Woodson #306

1992 Topps Steve Olin #559
1989 Fleer Mike McFarlane #287
1983 Topps Larry Parrish #776
1988 Score Mickey Brantley #213
1986 Topps Charlie Moore #137
1991 Score Ken Howell #458
1987 Topps Tom Paciorek #729
1986 Topps Ray Knight #27
1989 Topps Mike LaCoss #417
1987 Topps Tom Paciorek #729
1987 Topps Eric Show #730
1987 Topps Indians Leaders feat. Phil Niekro and two others? #11
1987 Topps Claudell Washington #15
1987 Topps Dave Concepcion #731
1988 Donruss Dave Concepcion #329
1988 Donruss Mark Clear #372
1988 Donruss Steve Balboni #424
1988 Donruss Mike Young #396
1988 Donruss Rick Manning #486
2010 Topps Jason Motte #541
2010 Topps Nate Robertson #84
2010 Topps Koji Uehara #351
2010 Topps Milwaukee Brewers #574
2010 Topps Tommy Hunter #658
2010 Topps Austin Kearns #291
2010 Topps Brian Fuentes #648
2010 Topps Jonathan Sanchez #28
2010 Topps Baltimore Orioles #543
2010 Topps Jesus Flores #485
1989 Topps Willie Fraser #670
1989 Topps Kevin Elster #356
1989 Topps Jeffrey Leonard #160
1989 Topps Andre Dawson #391
1989 Topps Pete Stanicek #497
1989 Fleer Jim Rice #97
1989 Topps Mets feat. Kevin McReynolds, Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez #291

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I'm getting Kelly Gruber flashbacks

Gruber was a third baseman acquired by the Angels - but after coming over in the 1992 offseason, Gruber ended up playing in only 18 games for the Angels in 1993 and was a bust.

Some 20 random years later, the Angels have gone out and traded Peter Bourjos and prospect Randal Grichuk to the St. Louis Cardinals - for third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas.

I feel Freese is similar to Gruber, though to be technical, there is no listing of Gruber - among the similarity scores on Freese's Baseball Reference page.

However, they were both veteran players who played on a World Series championship team and have put up pretty good numbers in spurts - Freese, like Gruber so many years ago is expected to solidify third base for the Angels even though Freese is going to be 31 next season and isn't getting any younger.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping Freese can stick at third base for the next two or three seasons - I'm worried about his off-the-field problems in the past and I hope he'll be able control the vices that have derailed him and stay out of trouble.

Unlike in St. Louis, Freese doesn't have to be a star as an Angel - just healthy enough to pencil in the lineup for 130-140 games with the potential to hit at least .270, hit at least 15-20 home runs and drive in at least 75-80 RBI.

Maybe once considered a relief ace back in 2011 - it looks like the Cardinals soured on Salas and he spent much of the 2013 season buried in AAA.

At this point of his career, what you see is what you get from Salas, so that is a bit underwhelming - but looks like he has a live arm and the Angels need more of those out of the bullpen to build upon for next year.

I suspect a fully healthy Bourjos in 2014 is going to be fun to watch as he is a Gold Glove caliber defender in center field - at the plate and on the bases, I think he's the ideal National League player from the 1980's, where can he hit the ball in the gaps and run around all day long.

I don't really know what to make about Grichuk - my best guess is he's a guy who has a lot of power, some athleticism and relative youth on his side.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ranking the 30 MLB teams on my watch - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim #1 of 30

Under different circumstances I might have been a fan of another Major League team - but the Angels have been where it's at ever since I've started following Major League Baseball in the early 1990's.

Through the last several years, things have been rough, with the Angels having underachieved despite high expectations - though with Mike Trout starring in center field for the Halos, it's hard to think things aren't going to get better.

Over the past 20 years or so, it's been a pretty good run - the Angels have developed some great talent, won a World Series in 2002 and were perennial contenders through through the late 2000's.

Ranking the 30 MLB teams on my watch - Los Angeles Dodgers #2 of 30

I respect the Dodgers' history and casually check out what current Dodgers teams are doing - though my rooting interests sticks with the Angels.

In recent years, outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have been banged up [especially Kemp] and have not played as good as expected - now either one maybe trade bait this off-season, though each is still owed a lot of money.

I don't always watch the Dodgers, but when I do, I prefer Yasiel Puig - I love the energy Puig plays with whether he is at bat, on the bases, on defense and in the dugout when he is goofing with his teammates.

The caveat however is for better or for worse, he really looks like he isn't in the same planet - it's hard to watch him when he looks like a Little League player who doesn't know quite know where he is at the plate, on the bases or on the field.

Ranking the 30 MLB teams on my watch - Tampa Bay Rays #3 of 30

He doesn't put up the greatest individual numbers but third baseman Evan Longoria makes this team relevant - I like how his batting stance seems so simplistic, but he's able to generate double after double and has the HR pop to 'clutch up' in crucial situations.

It seems like ever since his rookie year, Longoria has been involved in every Rays postseason run - the guy is a money player.

On the mound the Rays have gotten lucky with the pitchers that have come up through their system - but I don't know if Matt Moore or Jeremy Hellickson are ace quality types if David Price is traded, though they have other guys like Alex Cobb and Chris Archer looking to step up.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Featured custom card: 1989 Upper Deck Addison Russell

Shortstop Addison Russell was drafted in 2012 by the Oakland Athletics and in his first professional season in 2013 - reached AAA for a cup of coffee after spending much of the minor league season in A-ball in the California League.

I downloaded a 1989 Upper Deck template posted on, the one I used to create a Michael Roth card - I found an A's logo online and an image of Russell I liked, so I could slap things together.

I added a version with the 'Star Rookie' logo - as a 'late edit' to reflect the idea that there is some anticipation to see what this guy can do in the Major Leagues in the near future.

Unlike the Roth card, I put the Russell customs together on Photoshop - after I had found out in a SCN message board post, that there was a version of the image editing program available online for free.

Ranking the 30 MLB teams on my watch - St. Louis Cardinals #4 of 30

It's impressive how the Cardinals turn out players to contribute to winning teams - it doesn't mean they are going to win the World Series every year, but they are going to be in position to go far in the playoffs in most years.

I remember being in St. Louis in 2006 when they won the World Series - I may recall vague memories of scrubs like Ronnie Belliard and Preston Wilson seemingly having the time of their lives because they were on a team that had won the World Series.

That year's Cardinals team was pretty scrappy all around and even though they weren't as talented - they just ran past everyone else.

When the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011, that was the last time Albert Pujols was ever heard from - I remember marveling at how huge his forearms looked and what a dominant player this guy was, especially after he'd hit three home runs in Game 3, just a day after baseball writer Jeff Passan dogged him in a scathing column.

In the mail box - 2013 Bowman Draft sets

I picked up a hand collated paper set and a Chrome set of 2013 Bowman Draft so I double up on the number of base cards for each player on the checklist - much of my baseball 'off-season' as a fan / autograph collector is spent trying to reload as far as picking up random cards, unopened products, assorted hand collated sets, et al within a budget.

I want to pick up a couple of unopened boxes of 2013 Bowman Draft but don't like the idea of spending $120-$150 and realizing I'm still missing maybe 15-20 random base cards - at least with a couple of sets in-hand, I don't have to worry about wondering if I have a card for someone.

The part I don't always like is trying to sort the cards and finding out where they belong - it's hard to look through these cards individually and feel like these cards are more than just little pieces of cardboard.

Part of it is not knowing who most of the players are and the idea these guys may never heard from unless it's the guys who make it to the Major Leagues - a part of it is the idea I have to put these cards away ASAP without going through each card like I would perhaps cards I pick from a bargain bin / dollar and under box.

The sorting gets tedious but I guess it's easier than actual box breaks, where I'm compelled to list everything I get somewhere - then have to go and separate base cards from common inserts / parallels to actual pulls, before sorting many of the cards into 'team sets' I have for my baseball autograph seeking adventures.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ranking the 30 MLB teams on my watch - Oakland Athletics #5 of 30

It seems like GM Billy Beane has found a formula for building a MLB team in Oakland that can contend for the playoffs - even if they aren't as good as other teams when they get into the postseason.

The A's are a division rival of the Angels and I don't particularly care for their recent success - still 10 or 11 years after Moneyball came out, it's impressive how bit players as well as natural talents [as far as pitching is concerned] have been cobbled together by Beane and his staff to help the A's win two consecutive American League West titles.

I didn't know much about Sonny Gray except having a few of his cards and thinking he might be just another midlevel pitching prospect - but after having a fine debut season and a postseason start to remember, the slightly built flamethrower will dictate where the A's will go in 2014.

If he gets hurts and/or is ineffective, the A's might not get as far as they've been the past two seasons - if things falls into place however, Gray might be the type to light the league up on fire and might be my dark horse candidate to win the 2014 American League Cy Young.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ranking the 30 MLB teams on my watch - Texas Rangers #6 of 30

In recent years, the Angels are still looking up at the Rangers, so I can't really talk smack - I do feel like the Rangers have had it tough between losing the 2011 World Series, committing a choke job in losing the American League West title in 2012 and losing the Wild Card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Rays this past season.

It seems like manager Ron Washington can't get a break - it seems like he is the one put on the firing line rather than be considered one of the main guys who is responsible for the team's overall success, regardless of their shortcomings.

Yu Darvish might be the best pitcher in the American League with the potential to throw a no-hitter every time he is making a start - my in-person autograph white whale, I think he'd be the bees knees if he actually acknowledges and signs for me sooner than never.

Adrian Beltre's numbers have stayed consistent playing with the Rangers and besides his bat, he continues to be a great defender as he enters his mid 30's - he is making a late career push towards the Hall of Fame, something that didn't seem quite possible when he is a just an OK player and quite a disappointment in Seattle.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ranking the 30 MLB teams on my watch - Detroit Tigers #7 of 30

Prince Fielder has been knocked around in recent years - the narrative is he's all sorts of overrated because he's fat and getting paid $24 million a year until 2020.

He's not a good defender because he's fat, he is a base clogger and worst yet - he's going to turn into Cecil soon enough.

For a number of reasons, I don't think he's never been as lovable as his girth has suggested - he's no teddy bear and while might be a decent guy, he seems like he's all business.

Is he ever going to hit 40 or 50 home runs again [?] - seems like he really took a step back this past year, even if he was dealing with an apparent divorce.

It's going to be compelling to see how Prince does next season - after the Tigers' postseason failures in recent years, Tigers fans are wondering what they are going to be getting from Fielder going forward.

Ranking the 30 MLB teams on my watch - New York Yankees #8 of 30

The Yankees will always be relevant and I'm not going out on a limb to say some Yankees team in the future will win another World Series sooner than never - but how long has it been since they've been the No. 1 destination for a big money free agent?

It seems like all their moves in recent seasons have been to sign replacement quality players - instead of going bonkers and signing a handful of All-Star talents in the prime.

Even if they are able to re-sign second baseman Robinson Cano - the Yankees seem to be just another MLB team at the moment unless they get back to their old ways of either developing impact players that aren't merely trade bait and/or going after the top two or three free agents in the market in any given off-season.

Closer Mariano Rivera has retired and though re-signed for 2014, A-Rod seems toast and Derek Jeter is facing baseball mortality - which seems so hard to imagine just several years ago.