Saturday, May 31, 2014

Awesome Aiken Autograph

I am really hoping that NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon is the first pick in the coming amateur baseball draft.  It kind of seems that all of the expert prognosticators have penciled my favorite college pitcher into that spot since his first season in Raleigh.  However, this season was probably not what Rodon had in mind for building momentum heading into the draft.  While some of Rodon's numbers can be squarely placed on the fact that NC State, coming off an appearance in the College World Series, completely underachieved.  Especially offensively where Rodon was burdened with poor run support all season.

So what happens if the Astros do not select Rodon first overall?  First, Rodon is likely going to slide to the third pick which is held by the White Sox.  I am not sure why everyone has the Marlins skipping over Rodon, but I am going to assume that maybe they know something more about the Marlins than what I do, which is not much (Go Marcell!).  Second, the Astros will likely take Brady Aiken first overall.

While Aiken is a native of San Diego and is currently pitching for Cathedral High School, he also appeared on the USA Baseball U18 team last summer locally here in Raleigh.  Aiken is an easy throwing lefty who's a pretty hard thrower for a high school kid.  Last summer as a 16 year old he was in the low 90s.  I have seen several reports that have him now throwing closer to the mid 90s.  Aiken's talent was easily visible on the field as he  helped the team win the under 18 Baseball World Cup last summer.  

Since Aiken appeared in the World Cup event for USA Baseball, the good people over at Panini managed to make a few cards of the talented high school left hander.



While Aiken has several Panini cards, and a few Leaf cards from the Perfect Game High School All-Star game, they can be hit or miss on price for a player who is likely a top draft pick.  This card cost me just under thirty dollars, minus a few Ebay bucks right at $20, while other cards of the San Diego native.  I am sure that the rush on Aiken cards while grow as the draft gets closer, and depending on his landing spot, might get slightly crazy.

Rodon has had autographs out on the market for two years and they routinely were selling for close to $100 until this year.  They are now selling for $50 or less.  I would imagine that a tumble in the draft could send his cards even lower in value.  I am not saying it's deserved, but that's the way it will work.  In my opinion Aiken is still undervalued and a great deal for collectors at this time.  The fact that you can find his cards under $50 should prompt collectors to jump on Aiken cards before they are all over $100 in a month.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fabulous Freese Five Star

I swear when I get my computer situation straightened out I will repost this card.  I almost feel bad posting this card without scanning it.  It is that nice.  Really nice.  On appearance alone I give the card a 10 out of 10.  The combination of a red background with silver ink is beautiful when you add in the fact that the card features a picture of Freese wearing his cream colored Cardinals alternate jersey.  Every part of this card is just well done.  I am not sure words can say....


Freese cards are actually something that I have started looking into more since he was traded to the Angels this past off season.  That sounds a little bit backwards, but he was seriously over priced as a Cardinals player.  It happens.  Freese is a hometown guy from St. Louis and did this.....


which was pretty cool until he did this.....



Sometimes it only takes one game to make someone a fan favorite.  Fernando Tatis, Bud Smith, Mark Whiten are just some of my favorite Cardinals players who's legacy with the team was defined by a single moment or a single game.  During his five season in St. Louis Freese posted a respectable .286/.356/.427 line, but appeared in more than 100 games in just two out of the five season.  Add in the fact that his production sagged during the 2013 season and he was always a bit of a defensive liability.  

Now collectors can also add in a trade to Anaheim and the price of Freese cards has plummeted over the past year.  Freese has always been a great signer and had plenty of autographed cards out on the market.  The cards also frequently hovered around $20.  A bit high in my opinion for Freese, but many of his base autographs are now quite easy to find for less than $10, while high end products like my of this Freese Five Star autograph, only cost slightly more than $10.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Working Through My Computer Pains

The Snorting Bull is computerless.  For the last few years I have sat down at my trusty IMac and shared my cards with everyone and anyone who was willing to stop by and read what I had to say.  This weekend, after an upgrade to OS Mavericks, the IMac was a little snarky.  As the week has progressed it has become worse and worse.  Now, it does not even boot it smart mode.  Sure, I could blame OS Mavericks (and I do), but instead I am going to make due for a few days until I get a new computer.  I can still come on here and talk baseball cards.  I'll just use another computer, but you will have to look at pictures instead of scans.  That's just the way it is......

 In happier news, I picked up three new cards from long-time card trader/seller on Facebook.  If you are ever looking to unload a cool Brewers card or are looking for some nice cards to buy Ryan Marcus King Dee is one of the best around.  I originally had asked him about a post he made feature a printing plate of former Rays prospect, now a National, Felipe Rivero.


I really liked Felipe and I am not quite sure why the Rays swapped him out with Jose Lobaton for Nate Karns.  Don't get me wrong, I like Nate Karns, but I am not sure that he's that much better than Rivero.  Although Felipe Rivero is having a rough start to his first season with the Nationals, and in Double A, he is still projected by most to be a possible middle of the rotation starter.  He's also a pretty cool follow on Twitter.  Never had a huge Felipe Rivero collection, but I still like his cards and I loved the 1964 Topps design that was used for the Heritage brand cards for last year.  Could not pass by the chance for a cool  printing plate. 


 I also snagged two other nice autographed cards from Ryan.  The first is a Joe Kelly Bowman autograph.  Pretty self-explanatory pick-up.  Cardinals player.  Autograph.  That simple.  Kelly actually has several autographs and I have been good about adding new ones as they are released, but still have some holes in some of the old certified autographs.  I think this might actually catch me up.  Maybe.  


Last card is more of a college baseball player than what he has done in the Majors, second baseman Derek Dietrich.  I was excited that the Rays drafted him out of Georgia Tech in 2011 with their second round pick, but they traded him to the Marlins in exchange for their current starting shortstop Yunel Escobar.  Dietrich was a good player at Georgia Tech, but was not super flashy or an all-conference player.  He just had a good all around game and was always a fun player to keep an eye on. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pujols Rookie Cup

I am a pretty big fan of the Rookie Cup manu cards that Topps put out in the 2014 series 1 release.  I have already picked up a copy of the Ozzie Smith and have been waiting patiently to find a copy of the Albert Pujols.  The card had been selling for $30-$40 when the Topps set first dropped earlier in the year, but the price of the card has been slowly falling for the past couple of months.  The copy I found finally target is numbered 99/99 and looks fabulous....


Honestly, it's also nice to see a card with Albert back in a Cardinals uniform.  Don't get me wrong, I still think the team made the right decision in letting him walk the amount of money the Angels ended up paying him, but the decade he played for the Cardinals was still awesome.  Really happy with the latest card added to my collection, now I just need to track down a copy of the Longoria.....

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Trip to Big D's Card Shop

My computer is throwing a temper tantrum over the new OS Mavericks update so for tonight, or until I get all the kinks ironed out, I have pictures more than scans.  I stopped in at my favorite local card, Big D's, in Raleigh for a little down time on Sunday afternoon.  I had completed a trade with Jimmy, the shop's owner, earlier in the week and wanted to take him in his half of the trade as well as collect my half of the trade too.  You know you cannot just go into the shop and just finish a trade.  I bought a few other things while I was there too.  So, here's the run down.



I actually picked up a few vintage cards.  Vintage like 70s.  A nice Templeton, Hernandez, two early Bob Forsch cards and also a few old Hostess cards from the early 1980s.  



Garry Templeton is looking snarky in that card.  It's clearly a Spring Training card, but he looks mad enough to double bird a Mother's Day crowd at Busch Stadium.  The best vintage card I landed yesterday though was a sweet 1972 Topps Tony LaRussa card with the Hall of Fame manager pictured as a utility infielder for the Braves.  


Pretty sweet.  I also picked up my usual assortment of more recent cards, such as....


A B.J. Upton jersey card from the 2009 Upper Deck set.  Always really liked the card design on this set.  Really cool.  I miss you Upper Deck.  


A Wil Myers green parallel from the 2014 Bowman set.  Former Durham Bull, current Ray, always the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year.  


A Marcus Stroman mini.  No serial numbered, but still a cool looking card of the former Duke star, turned Blue Jays prospect.  



Randal Grichuk autograph from the 2011 ITG set.  Really cool set with some good autographs.  Good inexpensive set to track down if you are looking for some good prospect autographs.  


This beautiful Stanton jumbo jersey numbered out of 25.  Jimmy has had this in the shop for awhile and it has been calling my name..(buy me) it whispered.  For something different.......




An autographed mini helmet of 2002 ACC Rookie of the Year TA McLendon.  He's a bit of a legend around here and had a great year for the 2002 NC State team which was one of their better football teams.  So, what constitutes a good football team at NC State?  They had Phillip Rivers.  They beat the doors off of Notre Dame in a bowl game.  

Finally the card I traded for.....



Longoria rookie, autographed, numbered out of 50.  Not too shabby.  Overall, another great trip into my favorite local card store.  

A New Project....

I have been working on a new project lately.  Just a rough sketch of what the final product might be....



There will be a new website with information too.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Joe Morgan

One of the best parts of watching minor league baseball is seeing your favorite players graduate to the Majors and enjoy a successful stay and productive Major League career.  Luckily, the Durham Bulls have a long history of former players on Major League rosters and honestly it's hard to do a thread of posts on Collecting the Durham Bulls without mentioning some of the better Bulls to appear during the team's long run.  So, let's start with Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan.


Morgan was apart of championship teams in Cincinnati and Philadelphia during his long career, but made a stop over with the Durham Bulls in 1963 appearing in 95 games and batting over .300.  Later that season he debuted with the Houston Colt 45s, but had to wait until the 1965 season to see his first Major League trading card in the 1965 Topps set.

         

The card is a Rookie Stars card which means he is sharing his card with Sonny Jackson.  I know that collectors often complain when great players share rookie cards with other players, but Sonny Jackson was at least around for a fairly long time playing 12 seasons as a utility infielder for the Astros and Braves.  It's not Nolan Ryan and Jerry Koosman, but its also not Cal Ripken and Bob Bonner. I love that the card was made while the team was still the Colts and I also really dig the look of the 1965 cards. 

Collectors interested in finding a copy of a Morgan rookie have a wide variety of prices in spite of the fact that Morgan only has one rookie card.  Copies of the 1965 Topps Morgan rookie with rough edges, bent corners, creases and folds, and off centering can be found for as little as $10 depending on the amount of wear and tear. My copy was around $20 with it being off center top to bottom with slight rounding on the corners and a little browning, or discoloration around the edges. 

During his playing career Morgan had the normal run of baseball cards associated with a player from his generation. There is a good number of Topps base cards and cool oddballs of Joe Morgan throughout the years. Since Morgan retired the world of baseball cards has changed greatly, but Morgan has very much been apart of the changes made to the hobby. 

It's not to difficult to still pull Morgan cards out of packs and he has also been a willing signer for several different card companies. Morgan is a difficult autograph to find for less than $20, but you also have to get something pretty exotic for the price to land north of $50.  My two favorite autographs are his 2001 Topps Archives and his 2000 Topps Stars cards.  Both are on card autographs and have a good design.  

                                       
                                         

There are other cool Morgan autographs beyond these two of course.  Morgan also has some really nice looking autographs in some of the Triple Threads and Topps Sterling products, but with some low print runs, those are the types of Morgan cards that can land you a price tag greater than $50.  

If you are looking for an item featuring Morgan in a Durham Bulls uniform I would recommend tracking down a 100th Anniversary Bobblehead issued by the Durham Bulls. If you live in central North Carolina they are fairly easy to find on Craigslist or you can also find them on EBay.  Here's a picture of mine, excuse Mike Matheny in the background. 

                                      
 
   

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tier One Bison

I am a little disappointed in the season posted by Matt Kemp so far this year, but we are only a quarter of the way into the 2014 season.  Last year was a lost season for the Dodgers All-Star outfielder, but many fans and collectors expected a strong bounce back season this year.  Kemp has been hobbled with injuries since he started off the 2012 season looking like the National League MVP.  During the first half of the 2012 season "The Bison" posted a .355/.444/.719 line with 12 home runs and 28 RBIs.  That's only in 36 games.

There is now some discussion of the Dodgers turning Matt Kemp into a bat off the bench.  It seems hard to believe that Kemp has gone from MVP candidate to the bench in Dodgers Stadium in just a year and a half.  I am still a big fan of Kemp and still really enjoy collecting his cards, even if he is riding the pine. 

Kemp's cards have come back to Earth a bit over the last 36 months, but still remain pretty popular.  At the beginning of the 2012 season Kemp was not signing for card companies.  Sure, there were a ton of redemption cards for Kemp autographs inserted into card products, but the actual autographs were a long wait.  I have been working on picking up a few of them over the past few weeks and managed to track a few down.  My first comes from the 2011 Topps Tier One. 



This is a really great looking card with an on-card signature.  I love the simple gold design around the edges of the card.  Really awesome card picked up for less than $20.  More Kemp cards will posted soon. 

Uber Taveras

The market place on Oscar Taveras cards really cooled last year when the Cardinals uber prospect wasted his first full season in Triple A with an ankle injury.  Add in a buffoon sports writer in St. Louis questioning his maturity and the team's commitment.  Taveras had a little fine tuning done on his bum ankle, worked hard this off-season, and is back to crushing minor league pitching for the Cardinals Memphis affiliate.  The sports writer is still trolling is own fan base.

The reaction to all of this from the sports card hobby was a slide in the price of Taveras cards.  Sure Oscar is hitting .320 something with power in Triple A, but last season still lingers in the minds of collectors who sunk hundreds of dollars or more into Taveras autographs and short prints.  The reluctance to spend on Taveras autographs has pushed the price of some of his autographs down below the $20 mark.  

I suspect that the Cardinals are planning on leaving Oscar Taveras in Triple A until the second half of the season.  The team already has a crowded outfield in St. Louis with Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos, Allen Craig, and Mike Matheny's man crush on mediocrity, Jon Jay.  Throw in that Taveras is sharing the outfield with two other top offensive prospects, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk, and something is going to have to happen to make room for all of these players on the Cardinals bench.  

I suspect that as long as Taveras is in Triple A his cards will not regain the value the cards possessed during the summer of 2012.  If you are a regular reader you know that I am always cautious with spending money or trading resources away for high priced, high end rookie cards, but Taveras should be very high on your buy list at the moment.  

I figure at worst Taveras is probably going to be an above average Major League player for the next decade or so.  Add in the fact that he plays in a baseball crazy town with a good market for baseball cards and you've got to be pinching yourself over the prices Taveras cards have been selling for this year.  It's amazing what a high ankle sprain and garbage journalism will do to help out your cause.  

So here is my latest Taveras autograph I added to my collection:




I am still pinching myself a little bit over the cost of this card which I traded for over Facebook.  I ended up parting ways with a pair of Mets autographs, a Jeremy Hefner Gypsy Queen autograph and an Upper Deck Etchings autograph of former shortstop Jose Reyes, for this great looking Taveras autograph. While I already have a copy of this card, it's hard to pass up on this card at that price. Plus Upper Deck Etchings is one of my least favorite sets of all time. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Just Passing Through

I made a trade with an old trading partner from back in St. Louis.  While we were exchanging pictures of cards he sent over a picture of a Grant Hill autograph wondering what if I could help him find the card a new home.  St. Louis is not a hot bed for hoops, so I could see where it might be tough to pass on a basketball autograph around those parts.  Plus we are dealing with a card that would be a prized possession in the hand of the average Duke fan.  I saw the scan and I thought I could help out an old friend. 



Definitely a cool looking card, but really the scan did this card absolutely no justice.  When I pulled the card out of it's box today I was just stunned at the design of this card.  It had my wishing for days past when Upper Deck made baseball card that pushed the envelope of design.  So here is a picture out of the scanner. 



Still not sure that even this picture does the card justice.  It was also cool to look at the card from the side and see how thick the card stock was that Upper Deck used for this set.  While it's not clear from the picture and scan I think that the card is supposed to be like a shadow box. 


As cool as this card is, it is just passing through and will be on it's way to a new home at some point tomorrow morning.  I am not usually into posting cards that are just making a pit stop in my card room, but this card is too awesome not to snap a few pictures.  Oh and Go Pack!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

Over Postseasoned

Topps starting putting out a set of Postseason cards starting with their 2006 set.  For almost a decade Topps has issued the set and featured players only from the World Series winning team.  The concept has been universally popular with collectors.  The cards are highly collectable amongst fans of the World Series winning teams, but they have also been popular with fans who just enjoy enjoy a good challenge baseball card to track down.  The first set featuring the 2005 White Sox looked like this:



Luckily my Cardinals have won the World Series twice since Topps has added the Postseason cards, so I have had a few years with a little bit of extra incentive to track down copies of these cards.  When Topps released the preliminary checklist for the 2014 Topps set I was shocked to see that the Postseason set features players outside of the Red Sox.  At first glance I noticed the Cardinals and thought that perhaps they had expanded the set out to the two World Series teams.  However, they went a little bit further than that.  Perhaps too far. 


Big shout out to Cardboard Connection for the pretty checklist.  So, the Postseason set now has the World Series winners, World Series losers, League Championship losers, and even the Division Series losers too.  Why not go ahead and throw in a few Reds and a couple of Indians too to round out the set.  Of course, expanded the set has created some problems with collectors. 

So, here it goes...the original Topps Postseason cards were extremely tough pulls and sold very well.  I know a lot of collectors who love these cards.  I know a lot of team collectors who love picking up copies of these cards featuring their favorite teams and players from World Series winners.  They demand for these cards has clearly been reflecting in their pricing. 


Let's take Julio Lugo.  Not the most popular Boston Red Sox player from the 2007 World Series winner, but his autographed Postseason relic card recently sold on Ebay for $78.  I know collectors who would not bat an eye at that price for this card.  If it finished off someone's set I would not be surprised to see it push to over $100. 

However, this year there are more Postseason cards.  The print runs are still the same, but insert rate has risen making them more common.  The results are dramatically lower prices.  Not even close. 


Felix Dubront won the World Series last year with the Red Sox.  He's still on the Red Sox.  His Postseason autographed card recently sold for $28.  Drastic decline in price, but still has not stopped sellers from trying to price their Postseason relics and autographs aggressively at high prices paid by collectors in years past.  I would love to get my hands on a Michael Wacha autograph from this set, but man, people are asking a lot.

  
A copy of the Matt Holliday relic would be cool too.  Until then my patience has paid off with this year's Postseason set and my rantings about pricing and Topps screwing things up with this annual set has come to an end.  The post is not over, it's just time to share my latest card. 


While I am sure that most Rays collectors would like to forget about last year's playoff appearance against the Red Sox, this is still a really cool looking card.  I managed to pick this card up for less than $10 last week and was happy to see a copy that was not a Buy It Now, or attached to a trader who valued it at $100, because you know...Postseason card.  Now, if we could only talk a little bit about the player selection.  Why isn't Jose Lobaton in the set?  This was the best moment of the Rays Postseason in my opinion. 


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lost In Box

I have a pretty large collection of cards.  A few thousand autographs, relics.  Plenty of cool rookies, serial numbered cards, short prints and that does not even touch the hundreds of sets that I have put together during the 31 years I have collected baseball cards.  I keep the lion's share of my autographs, relics, and other cool cards in a bunch of 800 count boxes.  These boxes have some of my favorite cards.  They are my pride, my joy, and are never far from my side while I working on my cards. 


Most nights I sit down at my desk, open my mail, and type up my daily post.  If I am doing a post on cards already in my collection, like my Collecting the Durham Bulls tread, then I sort through my boxes and find the cards I need for my post.  Every once in awhile while digging through my boxes looking for cards, or while putting away a recent aquisition I stumble on something really cool that I have never post on my blog.  It's one thing that I should probably do a better job of as a long time collector with a collection that was already pretty large before venturing into the world of blogging. 

So, here goes....

I spend a fair amount of time collecting cards, writing about cards, and watching baseball.  I have to squeeze it into my evenings in between story time and trucks with my three year old or walks with my wife.  Through in chores around the house, grading papers from school, a little lesson planning.  Baseball games are a steady background noise.  One player I have had an eye on this year is Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon.  Having a great season.  I have a few of his cards flagged to watch on Ebay and COMC and have also seen one or two floating around on a trade room. 




While putting away my newest Matt Carpenter card I flipped past the card of a Minor League autograph from the 2010 Topps Pro Debut set.  I remembered the picture on the card and I remember picking the card up in a big lot of autographs in a Facebook trade when the set was first released.  I just did not remember the name on the front of the card.  Well, I can stop looking...



Perhaps I need to spend an afternoon looking through my boxes and find a few nice surprises that I did not remember having in my collection.  I am sure I could probably make a few posts out of the cards tucked away inside the boxes.  In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this awesome find, even if it was here in my office all the time. 

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Wool E Bull

It seemed like a good day to put up my Collecting the Durham Bulls post on the awesome mascot for the Durham Bulls.  When most people think of the Durham Bulls mascot, they naturally think of the odd looking fellow from the movie Bull Durham, who takes the brunt of a Nuke LaLoosh fastball as a Crash Davis devised strategy to frighten the opposing hitters. 



The Bulls mascot Wool E Bull is one of the best mascots around professional sports, not just baseball.  The Bulls are actually celebrating his birthday this evening, so why not today....  I don't post stuff about Fredbird or Raymond.  Mr Wuf?  He's pretty cool, but I am still going to go ahead and place Wool E. ahead of my favorite college mascot too. 




Wool E Bull actually has baseball cards too which makes him apart of my Collecting the Durham Bulls thread.  Every year the Durham Bulls have a Wool E Bull card in their team set which is always one certain place to find a copy of a Wool E Bull card.  


There are rarely single copies of the Wool E Bull card floating around on Ebay or COMC, so if you want a copy of his cards you will actually have to buy the complete Durham Bulls team set.  Outside of the team set, there is another Wool E Bull card in last year's Topps Pro Debut set.  


The card is actually considered a patch and features a cloth center piece with a picture of Wool E in action.  There are not a ton of these cards around and they tend to cost more than $10.  Some would consider that steep for a mascot card, but it's a small price to pay to pick up a cool card of my favorite minor league team.

2013 Topps Archives Gallery of Heroes Albert Pujols


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Mike Montgomery

I have been excited to put up my Mike Montgomery post on my Collecting the Durham Bulls thread for a weeks now since I saw him throw a no-hitter.  I had thought about jumping the gun a little bit, switching around the order I had scheduled my posts to appear, but stuck with my original schedule after taking a few deep breaths. 

On the Field 

The Bulls picked up Mike Montgomery from the Kansas City Royals in the James Shields/Wil Myers trade.  I love James Shields, but this trade is the gift that just keeps giving.  Myers won the Rookie of the Year Award last year, Odorizzi looks like a solid Major League starter, and now Montgomery is starting to put it together for the Durham Bulls.  By the way, there was a fourth player in the trade too, Patrick Leonard, who has a .947 OPS in the Florida State League.  Montgomery is now in his second season with the Bulls and is still a pretty good prospect for the Rays at 24 years old. 

Last season the left-handed starter had his struggles at times in his first season in the International League and first full season in Triple-A.  He did spend half of a season in the Pacific Coast League with the Omaha Storm Chasers.  The knock on Montgomery has always been that there are too many base runners and too few bats being missed for him to be a serious Major League pitcher.  It's actually why he's having a good season this year.  Let's take a look. 


In Montgomery's first go around in AAA in the Royals system you can see where he had a low K's per 9 and his walks per 9 ratio was high compared to his strikeout ratio.  Add in a high hits per 9 and you have a recipe for trouble.  Montgomery ended the 2012 season with 90 innings at the AAA level and an ERA of 5.69.  Montgomery has since improved in his two years in Durham.

Looking back at his numbers in Omaha, his 2013 line in Durham generally improved.  His strikeouts dropped slightly, but so did his walks and his hits.  His ERA improved to 4.72 in 108 innings pitched, but there was still room for more improvement.  I'm not sure what the Rays did during Spring Training to work on producing more strikeouts with Montgomery, but it has been awesome to watch.  His walks per 9 and his hits per 9 have continued to trend downward, while his K's per 9 have almost jumped 2 per 9.  Really good improvement.


Cardboard
Montgomery has a good selection of cardboard floating around out there.  He's had several cards in different Bowman and Topps Minor League products.  His cards are generally very affordable and should be an easy find in the cheapy bin at your local card shop.  If you are going to frequent Ebay or COMC to find a copy of some Montgomery cardboard I would guess that most of his base cards will cost you a dollar or less.  If you are really looking for one or two nice Montgomery cards for your collection I would suggest chasing down one of his autographs.  He has several. 



My favorite is his 2012 Topps Heritage Minor League autographed card. Yes, he's in a Storm Chasers jersey, but I love the look of the card.  Maybe minus the silver autograph sticker.  I am actually guessing that the silver autograph sticker is a leftover from his 2010 Bowman autograph signing, which also used a silver autograph sticker.  The vast majority of the autographs in this set are on clear stickers, but style wise you can never go wrong with adding Topps Heritage cards to your collection.  This card tops out around $5, but with patience can be found for $0.99 plus shipping on Ebay. 


If you are looking to just simply add a Montgomery autograph I would try to track down a copy of his Topps Pro Debut signature from 2010.  The card is not the most attractive, but is very inexpensive, often settling on Ebay for $2 to $3.  He does have a few non-licensed autographs from 2008 with TriStar, Playoff, and Donruss Elite, but this card looks much better.  The Donruss Elite isn't bad since it shows the back of his jersey and you cannot tell it's a non-licensed card. 

As mentioned before, Montgomery does have a 2008 Bowman autograph which is both a true rookie card and a certified autograph issue, but I do not have a copy of the card.  Hard to fathom, but it's true.  The card has almost always been a consistent seller around $10.  I am not saying that Montgomery is not worth $10, but I just have not put a ton of effort into finding a copy of the card.  Someday I will get there. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More Marp

It's a shame that Matt Carpenter only has one certified autographed card.  I made it a point to pick one up last year when he signed for the Topps Gypsy Queen set.  At the time of the autograph's issue the Carpenter was a former utility player trying to make the transition to everyday second baseman for the Cardinals.  While the card was initially popular, the value of the card sunk gradually as the summer progressed.  However, towards the end of last season's card calendar, the value of the Carpenter cards picked back up after no other autographed cards hit the market.

Carpenter also had a few nice moments during the second half of last season including an All-Star Game appearance and that at-bat when he broke Clayton Kerhsaw. 



Kershaw had a rough rest of that inning and Puig threw the ball all over the yard.  He was just having fun.  Needless to say, like other Cardinals fans, I am a pretty big fan of Matt Carpenter.  I had a chance to pick up another copy of the Gypsy Queen autograph this past weekend and managed to snag a copy in exchange for a copy of an Andre Dawson autograph (Expos card) and a pair of relics.  



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Daniel Descalso. Cue Sad Trombone.

We all have players on our favorite teams who we sometimes wish to be someplace else.  Mine is Daniel Descalso, although Mike Matheny is rapidly catching up to the utility infielder.  .175 batting average, .214 on-base percentage, .250 slugging, .464 OPS.  That's Daniel Descalso's stat line so far in 2014.  Please explain to me how DD is in St. Louis and not hanging out in Memphis with the Cardinals AAA team.  It's not like Descalso is just going through a bit of a cold stretch.  His 2013 line was .238/.298/.366 and his 2012 line was .227/.303/.324.  His highlight from the last three years was this ejection versus the Cubs.  Note Matheny gets tossed too.  




Since Descalso is somehow broken, of course Topps has decided that he should appear in this year's Gypsy Queen set as a relic card.  I am trying to put together the Cardinals set, but spending money on DD seems to be a painful proposition.  How much is too much for a .200 hitter?  I set a budget at $2 to $3 on Descalso and managed to find a copy in that range.  




There haven't been too many Descalso relic cards over the years and I am not sure he's exactly the most popular player, so I am going to chalk this card up to being a leftover.  Two weeks ago the leftovers were cool when it meant that there were All-Star jerseys in the set, but now that it involves a scrubby player like Descalso I am not sure of their coolness.  At least I have this card crossed off my checklist and found it at a basement bargain price.  Now, let's call up someone from Memphis. 



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Enny Romero

One of the more promising prospects on the Durham Bulls is hard throwing right hander Enny Romero.  This is the first full season that Romero has spent in Durham, but as of this afternoon it may not really be a full season.  The Rays called up Romero to make a spot spot this week against the Mariners.  Not entirely clear why Romero is making the start, but the Rays obviously like the upside on the left-hander.  This is actually the second time that Romero has made a spot start for the Rays who also used Romero for a game in September last year against the Orioles. 



Romero went 4 2/3 in his debut giving up 1 hit, and walking 4.  Romero is a very harder thrower with a moving fastball sitting in the mid 90s topping out around 97 to 98.  I have seen Romero several times during the past year with the Bulls and am always really impressed with how lively his arm is and how much movement his pitches have on them.  Just 23 it is pretty clear that the Rays have big plans for Romero in the future.  In my opinion he is probably the best arm I have seen in Durham since David Price pitched for the team in 2008 and 2009.  In fact, if the Rays make the playoffs this year it should surprise no one if the team uses Romero much like they used Price during the team's run to the 2008 World Series.  

Card wise the selection of Enny Romero cards is pretty deep and is also pretty affordable.  It seems that many collectors are sleeping a little bit in terms of value on his cards.  Basically, Romero is a raw Top 100 prospect, but has card prices like he's a fringe prospect.  I have seen every pitcher in the Rays rotation come through Durham and can promise you that the prices on Enny Romero cards are too low.  Let's start with his rookie card.  



Romero's first appearance on a certified piece of cardboard came in the 2011 Bowman set.  As we all know the Bowman sets are always driven by rookie cards.  Bundle a few nice rookie cards together and the set tends to take off.  There are plenty of big names in the set: Bryce Harper, Francisco Lindor, Dylan Bundy, etc.  Romero will be one that you will want in your collection sooner than later.  Right now his rookie cards from the 2011 Bowman set are an afterthought and are often $2-$3 shipped.  Low prints and serial numbered cards too.  Bargain bottom prices for a top prospect, but there's more.  Romero also has a few autographs and relics floating around too.  

 
Enny Romero has a relic card in last year's Topps Heritage Minor League set and also has one from a Future's Game appearance in the 2012 Bowman Draft set.  Neither card is particularly splashy, but they can both be found for less than $5 and are extremely easy to find.   The Futures Game relic can be found in patch form, but the patch pieces tend to be small and I have not seen one in a long time.  Dry market for those cards.  


Romero also has two certified autographs from Bowman.  The one above is his 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Autograph.  Not the best signature, but I still love the card.  Romero also suddenly reappeared as a signer for Bowman this year and has an autograph in the 2014 issue.  Both cards are easy finds for less than $5.  Romero also has photos on his Twitter account from a signing he did for Panini America at the end of March.  

 

 I guess we are going to get to see another Romero autograph in this year's Prizm release which comes out next week.  I am probably not going to open any wax from that product, but I will have to keep my eye out for some of Enny's cool looking cardboard from the set.  That shirt is cool too. 



Monday, May 12, 2014

Finest Waino Graph

There are way too many players who sign for brief periods during their career and then suddenly stop.  It's kind of a bum deal when it happens and really limits the type of collection that card enthusiast of that player can assemble.  For example, Yadier Molina had a fair number of signatures in 2004, 2005, and 2006 before he seemed to completely disappear off the radar in terms of certified autographs.  Luckily, Molina seems to have returned to the scene this year with several different autographs in a few of the Topps releases this year. 

Unfortunately for Cardinals fans ace pitcher Adam Wainwright also seems to fit in with this crowd.  He has plenty of signatures from 2006 and a few in 2007.  Wainwright was a rookie relief pitcher with the Cardinals that season and managed to end up being the team's closer during their run to the 2006 World Series.




The few cards that were credited to Wainwright during the 2007 calendar year were sticker autographs, so it is probable that they were actually signed with the batch from the 2006 season.  Apparently it's a pretty common practice in the baseball card biz.  See all the Gary Carter autographs or last year's Topps Silver Slate Autographs.  

Needless to say that it a little bit disappointing that Wainwright has not signed in eight years, but I am sure there is a really good reason.  Perhaps like Yadi, maybe Wainwright will reenter the world of certified of autographs.  In the meantime collectors are left tracking down autographs of the Cardinals ace from the mid 2000s.  I recently stumbled upon a copy of Wainwright's 2006 Topps Finest autograph.  




I already own a copy of this card, but could not pass by a chance to trade for another copy of this awesome card.  The Adam Wainwright Finest autograph is one of the few Wainwright autographs from the mid 2000s which has several variations.  Older Finest sets do not have all of the color variations that the current Finest sets have, but there are still several different versions with different serial numbers.   While it would be nice to have several more Wainwright autographs to chase down, I am still happy to have a few out there to find. 



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Legendary Yaz Autograph

I used to love the Team Topps Legends autographed cards.  About a decade ago I really enjoyed finding these cards.  I have a whole bunch of them and am really not sure how close I am to putting together a set of these cards, but they consist of great players on classic Topps cards.  All of the autographs are on card which is an added bonus.  Last week I stumbled upon a collector looking to trade a copy of the Carl Yastrzemski autograph, which I already own, but could not pass up a great deal on an awesome card.


One of the trickiest part of finding these cards is the fact that they were packaged into different Topps products over a three year period.  Most of the Yaz autographs were thought to be in the 2002 Bowman Heritage, Bowman Draft, and Topps Traded boxes, but Topps never confirmed the exact distribution on these cards.  If you enjoy collecting older players and are looking for a well designed set of autographs I highly recommend you spend a little bit of time to check out the Team Topps Legends sets.  

Guerrieri Graph Gamble

Taylor Guerrieri is a top prospect in the Rays organization, and depending on the source of the list, might just be the best player in the team's Minor League system.  Before the 2013 season Guerrieri ranked in the Top 50 of Baseball America's Top 100 rankings making the list at number 48.  He still ranks in the Top 100 this year at 72.   However, the talented right-handed South Carolina native has not thrown a pitch for a Ray minor league team since last fall when he was suspended 50 games for a positive drug test. 

It has been widely reported that the drug test failure was due to marijuana use and not a PED positive.   Either way, it was his second violation of baseball's drug policy and has landed him on the restricted list to begin the 2014 season.  I am guessing that he is hanging around extended Spring Training.  While there are clearly some issues surrounding the Rays former first round draft pick, there is also plenty of talent still waiting to be harnessed. 

Guerrieri has pitched in parts of the 2012 and 2013 seasons posting an ERA of 1.04 in 52 innings in Low A during the 2012 season and a 2.01 ERA in 67 innings in High A last season.  Add in the fact that he's also kept his WHIP below 1 at both stops and has 96 strike outs versus 16 walks and it seems that the Rays still have the makings of a good pitcher. 

Guerrieri had a few nice rookie autographs floating around after he was selected in the first round of the 2011 draft, but his card values has tumbled with his drug suspension.  Patient collectors can find them in the figurative Ebay dumpster around $0.99.  If you get really lucky you can find a $0.99 listing with free shipping.  Seriously, if Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak were shopping for Taylor Guerrieri autographs he would label him "low hanging fruit".  I recently pulled off a 2012 Bowman autograph for $0.99, but I piad $1.50 in shipping.  Steeeep. 




Still for $0.99 starting bid, and likely closing bid, you could search out some 1996 Leaf Signature cards of Gregg Colbrunn and Jon Nunnally, or you could go find a Taylor Guerrieri.  Only one of those players has any upside left to their hobby value.  It's a bit of a gamble, but if the Rays can help Guerrieri right the ship he should be a pretty good pitcher with ice card value.