Monday, April 21, 2014

Allen "Torty" Craig Autograph

The Cardinals have an on-field mascot at Busch Stadium, but also have a mascot floating around in their locker room too.  Outfielder/First Baseman Allen Craig owns a pet turtle which is the unofficial mascot of the Cardinals.  Many Cardinals fans have missed the exploits of Torty this year, who is usually hanging around on Twitter spinning stories about Adam Wainwright and Jon Jay dancing around to Kenny Loggins classic Footloose, or talk about "Master Allen" and his love of sprinkle doughnuts.  Pictures of the doughnuts are included.  Torty last appeared to tell the story of Carlos Beltran's departure to the Yankees.

 Torty first came to prominence during the Cardinals 2011 World Series run where his "Master Allen" had a strong showing including the go ahead home run in the seventh game. 

While Allen Craig is off to a bit of a slow start during the 2014 season, Cardinals collectors are still have a good time tracking down his cards.  Craig is featured prominently in the 2014 Museum Collection release and I decided to track down a nice signature card of the Cardinals right fielder.  

I loved this card when I saw it and was quick to pick up a copy of this card.  Craig also has an autographed jersey card in the Museum set, but the signature is on a sticker and several of the autographs have the last loop at the end of Craig's autograph cut off.  This card is also a pretty affordable pick up.  These cards have been come off of Ebay for right around ten dollars shipped.  Really cool card for the price.  Free Torty. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Museum Jumbos

I am still spending some time tracking down some more Museum cards.  The price of some of the jumbos has fallen slightly since product released a few weeks.  The prices for Museum cards are already a little bit low this year, so there are some really good bargains floating around out there for collectors.  This past week I managed to find two really nice jumbo Museum cards for my collection. 

First up is one of my favorite former Durham Bulls pitcher Chris Archer.  This Archer card is one of two variations he has in the Museum Collection on his jumbo cards.  This card is a swatch of his home jersey, but there is also a copy floating around with a nice piece of his alternate light blue jersey.  This piece of jersey is numbered to 50 which is one of the higher print runs of Museum Jumbo cards in the set.  Still trying to find a copy of that one.  Next...

The Matt Holliday jumbo card is numbered out of just 35.  There is also a copy of this card with a print run of 10 and a print run of 50, but I am not sure if he has any other colors or variations on his Museum Jumbo cards.  Just big pieces of white home Cardinals jersey. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Kevin Pillar, Not Admiral Ackbar

I love the Inception autographs from last year and recently ran across one of International League favorite Kevin Pillar.  Pillar is a prospect in the Blue Jays organization and spent last year in Buffalo.  He also spent a little bit of time up in the Majors with the Blue Jays.  Bowman included the 2011 draftee out of Cal State-Dominguez Hills in an on card autograph in the set.  Really a nice looking card. 

I might be a little partial to this set, but this is a really good looking card.  Nice close up action picture with an on-card autograph.  Can't be beat.  I still have not seen Pillar in person, but started paying attention to him last year when the Durham Bulls tweeted out this scoreboard shot of, then Buffalo Bisons outfielder, Kevin Pillar. 

I'm a big fan of Admiral Ackbar.  I thought Ole Miss should have probably used him as their new mascot.  They really missed the boat. 

I was happy to see Pillar get promoted up to the bigs after a great showing in the International League.  Hopefully I will get to see a game with the Buffalo Bisons this year (seeing Marcus Stroman would be a bonus too).  If Pillar is up again then I guess I cannot complain.  He struggled a bit in his first trip up, but did end up hitting the longest (time wise) first home run in the history of Major League Baseball (record is not official)

it's a tar heel card

It's too bad that Blogger does not let you change the font size for just one post because the Tar Heel in the title would be a size 3 font if I had my way.  Last spring as college baseball was winding down there was a lot of speculation about Colin Moran, the UNC third baseman, being the top overall draft pick in the MLB amateur draft.  There were a group of people who were pretty sure if he was not the first pick, he would be in the top five for sure.  ESPN's Keith Law issued a video scouting report of the Tar Heels third baseman which confirmed this common notion.

After Moran was drafted his cards went crazy, like most top draft prospects, and collectors spent plenty of time and money scooping up cards of the future Marlins third baseman.  However, I decided to let a little time go by before picking up too many Moran cards.  I got a few, but not much time or money was sunk into the effort.  The main reason being that I am not drinking the Kool-Aid on Colin Moran being a good Major League player.  I know that certain individuals might attribute my opinion to my degree and sports loyalty belonging to the red North Carolina school, but it goes far beyond that.

First, in the Keith Law scouting report he makes light of the fact that Colin Moran might have a slow first step.  Let's correct that and say that the second, third, fourth, and so forth are also slow steps with Colin Moran.  He's slow.  Molina brother, Vinny Castilla slow.  Let's take a look:

Moran is on second when the ball is hit and is a good ten to fifteen feet off the base.  When the ball gets past the pitcher he's running "full speed", the outfielder for NC State throws the ball with on several bounces, and Moran is still out by feet.  Does he get within five feet of the plate even?  I don't think so.  In watching Moran his lack of speed really hurts his defense.  I know he has a good arm over at third base base, but his fielding stats in Single A last year showed his range factor is somewhere around David Freese (Cardinals fan cringe) and he has a lower fielding percentage.  Yikes.  

I know he's more of a power/hitting prospect, but I even have my doubts there.  Last year Moran' overall offensive production in college looks great.  He posted a .357/.485/.579 line with 13 home runs and 84 RBIs.  Good enough to win the ACC Player of the Year.  However, it should be noted that their was a drop off in both power and batting average from Moran once UNC reached ACC play last year.  I am not sure he ever got a hit off of Luke Weaver or Carlos Rodon, who are the two best pitchers in the ACC.  

After being drafted last year, Moran hit .296 in Single A Greensboro and also managed an On Base Percentage of .354.  However, he only had 4 home runs and 8 doubles in almost 200 at bats for a slugging percentage of .442.  Moran still has not appeared in a minor league game and seems destined for a short season A ball team this year.  Not a great thing for a top 5 draft pick who's supposed to be a polished college bat.  

Moran started this season in the Baseball America Top 100 prospects, but down the line a bit at 74.  I'm not going to doubt Moran's ability to reach the Majors, he will get there, but I am calling into question how big of an impact he will have once he reaches that level.  Card collectors seem to have figured out Moran quickly and his card prices have dived south sharply.  

The drop in prices has put many of Moran's autographed cards below $5.  Sure, if it's short printed or serial numbered to something really low you are still going to pay for it.  If you are looking for a good risk on a $4 or $5 autograph this a good risk.  I could be right about Moran and he could be a ho hum third baseman for your favorite team for the next five to ten years in which case $5ish is a good price for an on-card autograph.  If I am completely wrong about Moran and he ends up being the National League starter at third base for the next decade I will write another post saying I am wrong and you will have scored a major bargain on a nice piece of cardboard. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Some Big Mac Dirt

The 2001 Stadium Club "Dirt Cards" have always been one of those really unique ideas that a card company tried out and then quickly never ever tried it again.  Many collectors do not the communal cards, such as game used base cards, the Stadium Club pitchers mound and batter's box cards have remained pretty popular over the past decade plus since Topps first introduced them to collectors.  I am sure that if card companies had continued to make these they would all be $2.00 shipped on Ebay, like game used base cards are, but having only one run of cards like this has actually helped their value and popularity.

There are a few cards in this set which can be found for less than $5, but the cards generally float somewhere closer to the $10 mark, and at times, can even approach $20.  I had picked up a copy of the Big Mac card way back around the time the 2001 Stadium Club set was first released, but ran across another copy last week while making a few trades to work on my thread about the Durham Bulls.  I needed to take on another card to even out the trade and had a hard time saying no to this old friend. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How Could I Forget You Evan Longoria?

I had a really good day opening Gypsy Queen cards the other day at Big D's Cards.  Two boxes and all kinds of cool hits came out of my box.  You know what happens when you get something cool.  There are pictures and posts, time looking at your cool hits.  I have been in love with my Gypsy Queen cards the past few days and neglected some of my other cards.  Sadly.  I still love this button card.....


 It's somewhat understandable to lose track of other cards with all the excitement of the Gypsy Queen hits, but still I actually had a few other cards I probably should have posted earlier this week.  Before going in to Big D's for my pair of Gypsy Queen boxes I had been offered a few other cards by the store owner Jimmy who always takes time to look out for me.  I found me two really sweet cards.

The first card I picked up was a short printed Yadier Molina card from last year's Topps Heritage set.  Really cool short-printed card that I was missing from last year.  I also picked up another really cool autographed card from Jimmy too....

I absolutely love this Evan Longoria Tribute autograph card.  Jimmy had originally posted the card on his Facebook page and I glanced over it one day.  I was busy doing something and did not have a chance to flag the card.  When the Molina card came up a day or two later I asked about the Longoria card and was happy that Jimmy was able to set the card aside from me.  I picked this card up last weekend when I was picking up my two boxes of Gypsy Queen, but set it on the side of my desk the past few days.  I am sorry I forgot about Evan Longoria, it won't happen again. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Mike Fontenot

Fontenot is easily the most experienced Durham Bulls since the Rays purchased the contract of Erik Bedard last week.   Mike Fontenot played seven seasons in the Majors spending time with the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and Philadelphia Phillies.   This is the veteran infielder's second season in Durham after he spent the 2013 season here too.  In 120 games last summer Fontenot posted a .264/.335/.379 line for the Bulls.  He spent most of his time playing second base last summer, but Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo did play him at third and short as well. 

Every team needs a player like Fontenot around.  He's not a spectacular player, but if the Rays were short an infielder there is no reason why Fonenot could not fill the void for a short time.  In the meantime, he can be a good mentor to young infielders in Durham like Hak Ju Lee and Cole Figueroa.  Fontenot also seems to have a really good relationship with the Bulls coaching staff.  On to the cards....

The first Fontenot cards appeared in 2003 while he was in the Baltimore Orioles organization.  His cards did not have that official rookie card stamp thing in the corner when they were issued that year, so he also appears to have a few rookie cards floating around in 2007.  Do not let the shiny rookie card badge distract you.  If you want a Fontenot rookie he appears in 2003 Topps, Bowman, Topps Total, and Topps Bazooka.  Of course there are nicer Fontenot cards then these....

Fontenot has a whole bunch of autographed cards out on the secondary market.  Most of the cards feature the infielder as a Cub, which makes me a little queasy, but I love the Bulls so I do own one.  Fontenot seems to have a ton of dual or triple autographed cards.  Lots of players have a few, Fontenot seems to have a ton.  I am not completely against dual signature cards, but it is hard to buy a dual autograph when the players on the card have a pretty wide gap in talent, or the players are of equal talent and the price of the card is ridiculous.  Fontenot dual signature cards fit both of these problems. 

Low talent with a high price:

Shockingly as the price seems you have to remember that some of the really cool Fontenot autographs with the Cubs were issued during the 2007 season, which seems a little bit high for Cubs cards.  I guess they won their division that year, but I am not sure why that year (along with 2008) drifts high.  Surely a division title is not the only reason.  What am I missing?

Fontenot also has a bunch of dual signature cards where he kind of drags the card down.  Mike Fontenot and Pablo Sandoval?  So, that the starting third baseman for a two World Series champion and his backup?  I think this would be cool if you had Sandoval and Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, someone else besides Fontenot.  Of course, if you really like Mike Fontenot there are some really cool cards out there were he does not share the card with other players. 

Being a part of two World Series winners in San Francisco means that Fontenot has been in two of these sets which Topps puts out every year to commemorate the winning team.  Fontenot was a part of the 2010 team which beat the Rangers and the 2012 team which beat the Tigers.  The cards are usually numbered to less than 100 and are highly sought after.  While the last card of Fontenot's to sell of Ebay does not have it's exact completion price, I would have a hard time believing it went too far below the original asking price.  Pretty steep price to ask for a utility infielder.