Monday, October 27, 2014

#MyCardMonday

One of my recent favorites, gone a little too soon.  #RIPOscar



The Snorting Bull will return in November.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I Made A Trade!

I used to make a ton of trades when I first started my blog a few years back.  I would throw out a card on Twitter or a Facebook group and ten to fifteen minutes later I would have something simple ironed out with the other collector.  I would drop the cards in the mail and a few days later would have a nice bubble mailer to open.  It was always a great feeling to rip open the mail, scan the cards, and post them here on my blog.  There was a little drama every once in awhile, but it was a great inexpensive way to move unwanted cards and pick up some adds for the collection.  

Where did the trades go?  I am not entirely sure, but I have kind of gotten away from the practice over the past year or two.  I cannot point to one specific incident that made me push away from the practice, but I think the fact that I actually have a local card shop that is worthwhile has been a factor, along with the fact that the Facebook groups have exploded.  Most of the groups started out with a circle of collectors and they were all generally known.  You knew who to avoid and who was cool to deal with.  Now?   Maybe I have been away to long.  

Last week I ventured back out into that world looking to unload a few of the cards I picked up in my Topps Update box.  Some of the offers were decent.  A Sepia Taveras parallel, a gold Zobrist refractor, and a handful of low end Rays autographs for a Jeter jersey card could be doable to name one of several which were worthy of some thought and consideration.  Others just made me cry.  A 2007 SPx Juan Salas autograph with a throw card of a 1999 Just Minors Adam Kennedy autograph for a Julio Teheran Strata Autograph, or a Jared Sandberg autographed baseball for both the Jeter jersey, Teheran autograph, and a Joe Morgan World Series Trophy Card.  Ridiculous.  

So, the point of my post was not to dump on all trades and tell people that the world of baseball cards is filled with terrible trade offers.  First, I had someone offer me the price of a completed auction listing on Ebay for the Jeter card.  Only the card was not listed on Ebay, so I paid no fees.  Good and good.  I also ran into an old trade acquaintance who had no interest in trading or buying anything I pulled out of my Topps Trade box, but did trade me a few other cards I was interested in adding to my collection.  

Here are my newest four autographs:











Thursday, October 23, 2014

Friday Five: Top 5 Sesame Street Characters

What?  You don't dig Sesame Street?  Elmo is not on the list.  



5.  Grover

I should say that the old Grover makes the list.  If you have watched Sesame Street in the past few years Grover shows up as a superhero, aka Grover 2.0, which is not so funny.  Old Grover is cool though, especially this gag with the fat blue guy better known as Mr. Johnson.  





4.  The Count 

I like math and so does this guy.  I have always been a fan of his laugh.  



3.  Bert and Ernie 


These guys are awesome.  

 
 

2.  Oscar



1.  Cookie Monster 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Darth Carp




I ran into this card in an auction on Facebook.  There is such a group and it actually runs quite smoothly.  No fees.  I like it.  I scan the page here and there and find some good cards and good bargains in the room.  Most Carpenter autographs, outside of his 1999 Skybox Autographics card, are Upper Deck cards with low print runs.  While they do not sell for really high amounts, they can be tough to run across.  I was happy to shell out a few bucks for this nice Carp with the Jays pre Darth Carp.  

If you do not know the legend of Darth Carp, there were no field microphones on when Carpenter pitched for the Cardinals.  Do you read lips?  Watch until the end.  Darth Carp.  





#MyCardMonday

I wrote a post yesterday about the hits I pulled out of a box of 2014 Topps Update.  I usually will give my two cents about the base set, but for this post I skipped the subject.  The base sets always mean something to me.  I like looking at the photography, the players in the set, and al sorts of other little things in each of the sets.  I always have favorites.  This year's Update set had a clear favorite in my book.  It's card 113 and looks like this:



The Cardinals had a long year in spite of the fact that they made it all the way to the National League Championship Series.  The offense was down and the team struggled with injuries and consistency throughout the year.  One of the real bright spots for the team was supposed to be young outfielder Oscar Taveras.  It started off well and was happy to see Topps include his debut in their set.  It looked like this:




Taveras ended the year batting .239 and really struggled to find playing time this year in a crowded outfield.  I wish Mike Matheny had found him more at bats at times this year, but I am sure his time is coming sooner than later.  I need to go find a few of the other versions of this card.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

#MyCardMonday

The playoffs in the minor leagues can often mean a new group of players.  The Durham Bulls made this year's International League playoffs after they won their division.  Throughout the year the team used a combination of Ali Solis and Curt Casali as catchers.  However, towards the end of the season Casali was called up to Tampa leaving an opening in Durham.  Enter Montgomery Biscuits catcher Luke Maile.

Maile is a former Kentucky Wilcat and was drafted by the Rays by the Rays in the 8th round of the 2012 MLB Draft.  Maile seems like he could be a decent catcher, but should be back in Durham again next year for a little bit more seasoning.  That said, today's #MyCardMonday is a little bit of a head start on picking up next year's Durham Bulls cards.






This is Luke Maile's only certified autograph and comes from the 2012 Donruss Elite set.  While this set has some really cool patch cards featuring the logos of the college players who signed for the set, Maile only has this basic autograph.  The card features a sticker autograph and a picture of Maile in his Kentucky baseball uniform.  There are colored parallels of this card, but they a little outrageous for a guy who hits .270 in the minors.

2014 Topps Update

We are getting near the end of the 2014 baseball card calendar.  The release of the Topps Update set usually represents the tail end of the year.  There are a few things hanging around out there, like Bowman Draft and some really high end $400 a pack autograph thing, but not a lot left.  I picked up a jumbo box of 2014 Topps Update at my favorite local card shop here in Raleigh Big D's Sportscards.

I have the base set of the 2014 Topps Update set pretty much put together out of my jumbo box, but I am still going through and sorting things out for all of those photo variations and sparkle cards.  Cardboard Connection has a really good checklist if you are looking to figure out which packs of cards are short printed.

So, let's skip past the base set for the moment and look at the hits out of the boxes.  My autograph:




I am not sure if I am going to redeem this card or not.  I have only picked up two redemptions this year, but my first card is still outstanding.  Not sure that I am really going to see this one through, but I really like the Strata cards.  Perhaps a trade, or I can sell it, and redirect the fundage.  My relic hit......





I could not ask for anything better than this card right now.  Jeter is a great hit.  Again, not a card I will probably hold onto, but should bring back something nice in trade, or sale.  My manu-card.....




This is my second or third cool Joe Morgan insert that I have picked up this year.  I have another one or two of these that are on the way, but this is a pretty nice looking card.  Not the thickest manu card that Topps has put out this year, but I really like the World Series theme that Topps has running in this year's Update set.

My other inserts:










I really like the insert sets in Update.  The minis have been a favorite of mine throughout the year and I have a few more to chase down now.  The World Series cards are really nice and the Power Players cards look a lot like something out of the late 90s Topps sets.  I picked up one other card from my box, a black Julio Teheran, and traded the card to the owner of Big D's.  Jimmy is a pretty big Braves fan.  I landed these three cards.....






 


Lost In the Post Office

I really try to love the Post Office.  It's a necessary evil.  No, they are not always efficient.  However, supporting the Post Office somehow feels a little bit like supporting a local business.  Where would my card collection be without the Post Office?  Again, a necessary evil.

During my trip last week I had my mail held and the Post Office managed to lose all of my held mail. I do not mind if they lose my bills and those annoying grocery store ads, but you cannot lose my baseball cards.  I was determined and it only took a week, but my carrier happened upon them finally yesterday morning.

Here's what was in my mail.







I was really excited to get my hands on a Alex Bregman card.  He's currently a shortstop at LSU, but has several autographs out already in USA Baseball products.  I saw Bregman play for the college version of the USA Baseball team and was incredibly impressed.  Others have taken note and his card prices have started to pick up.  I do not think that he's going to be the first pick or anything, but I would guess he's in the first half of the first round.




I am still going to try to add a few more of his cards beyond this autograph and he will be a player you should watch this spring as the college baseball season starts.  A good season and a deep run into the NCAA tournament could help his cards out even more.  

Speaking of LSU, I also picked up a copy of another Bowman Platinum Mike Mahtook autograph.  Mahtook was an All-American at LSU where he won an SEC batting title and was a member of the 2009 College World Series Championship team.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday Five: My Top Five Kansas City Royals

I meant to post this last night.  I laid down in bed and was watching a Magic School Bus with my son.  I fell asleep.  Here's my second Friday Five, but on Saturday.


I do not spend very much time on the Royals on my little blog space.  Only 17 posts where the Royals were tagged in my two plus years blogging about cards is a pretty tiny amount considering I almost make one post per day.  In fact, it was pointed out to me about a year ago that I do not make enough Royals posts and I was "ignoring" the other team from Missouri.  Today, and perhaps the next week, the Royals will get their moment in the sun on my blog.  For my second Friday Five post today I present:


MY TOP FIVE ROYALS



I could have made the logo bigger.  This list is not "The Best Royals, it is the Royals players I remember as Royals who were good and enjoyable to watch.  For example, Rick Ankiel was on the Royals and I am a big fan.  I also think of Rick Ankiel as a Cardinal and understand he was not really all that good on the Royals.  Not on the list.  Neither is Todd Benzinger, whom I saw hit a grand slam at the K once.  Although I think it was Royals Stadium at the time.  No matter.    Royals fans may not like my list, don't hate me because I am from St. Louis, but I think it's pretty fair.  

Honorable Mention: Bo, Mark Guicza, Greinke, Willie Wilson, Danny Tartabull, and Brett Saberhagen 


5.  Dan Quisenberry  



He was a Cardinal, but more memorable as a Royal.  Quiz was your typical awesome 1980s relief pitcher.  Funky pitching style, sweet mustache, and he pitched more than 1 inning.  He led the American League in saves five times during his career and he ended up saving more than 200 games for the Royals.  Also had 6 saves as a Cardinal.  I did not know before this last week that he actually ended his career with the Giants.  Really cool pitcher, sad he left us a little too soon.  


4. Kevin Appier 



I tossed back and forth a few different pitchers for this last.  My most vivid memories of Royals pitchers, outside of the current group, is Appier, Gubicza, and Greinke.  While I considered Gubicza for his cool heavy metal t-shirts and Greinke for his Cy Young Award, Appier was really a much better Royal than either of those players.  Some of that has to do with time, Greinke was on the Royals for a shorter time, but is having a better overall career than Appier.  Just not with the Royals.  Appier played in KC for 13 years, won 115 games, and struck out almost 1500 hitters.  He is the team's all-time leader in strikeouts, third in wins, and also leads all Royals pitchers in WAR.  Appier also had that weird delivery where he looked like he was tilted back at an odd angle.  


3. Carlos Beltran 

I always really liked Beltran as a Royal.  I felt really bad for the team when he was traded away to the Astros.  I am sure if the front office had planned a little better with the Mike Sweeney contract, they would have had a better chance to hang onto the very talented center fielder.  I think Beltran is at the point where he is bordering on Hall of Fame numbers, but he was largely ignored for the first seven years of his career in KC.  The switch hitting center fielder posted almost 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, and an average around .300 almost every year he was in Kansas City.  Won a Rookie of the Year too, but should have made a few more All-Star game appearances.  



2. Alex Gordon 

My favorite current Royal.  Alex Gordon is an elite defender and a pretty good offensive player too.  I would actually say that if my list were based on talent, Gordon would be lower down the line here, but we all need a little "grit" with our baseball at times.  Watch the first game of the World Series, ignore the batting average, on-base percentage, and home runs and just enjoy watching him play the game.  On top of all of the "grit"  Alex Gordon has one of the best rookie baseball cards of the past decade.  That boasts him up at least two or three spots on this list, right? 





1.  George Brett 

3000 hits, Mr. Royal, etc, etc, etc.  Pine Tar Incident.  


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Friday Five: Top 5 James Bond Movies

I have really had a good time making these posts the post few weeks.  Thank you for taking time to read my lists, both baseball related and non-baseball related, that I have posted.  This week I am going to put up two more list with one list being a baseball list and one list being a non-baseball list.  James Bond movies are obviously not a baseball list.  I have always enjoyed these films and they always seem to pop up on my radar at some point for background noise at night while I am working on school work.  I kind of drift between 80s and 90s music, detective shows (I have been on Motive for the last year), and movies.

There are many random movies I will put on for background noise, but nothing that is new or never viewed.  I have seen all of the James Bond movies and know them well.  After watching them and watching them and watching them some more they are still entertaining....well not this one.....





Which has my vote as the worst James Bond movie and is my almost only unwatchable.  Tosca isn't for everyone....... Here are my five favorites in order......



5. Casino Royale (2006)



The only modern Bond movie that is on my list of great Bond films.  The film is sort of taking the franchise back to square one and starts off the viewers from the beginning of Bond's career as 007.  The plot of the movie is sold and Craig does a great job as Bond.  Better than any performance turned in by the likes of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, or Pierce Brosnan.  The plot of the movie does a good job of showing viewers a lot of background on the James Bond character.  Easily the best of the modern Bond movies.  My one critique with this movie does not actually involve this movie, but the follow up movies behind this story.  We have already discussed, Quantum of Solace is terrible, and Skyfall seems to present a sort of end of the line for Bond.  If the franchise is going to be reset, then why rap it back up in three films.  Skyfall, by the way, is a decent movie.  



4.  Dr. No (1962) 




First film in the franchise belongs on the list, but it was not the best early Bond film.  Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli created a partnership to make the Bond films after Saltzman won the rights to the James Bond book franchise.  Connery does a good job in the movie, but the film was cheaply made and it shows at different points during the movie.  In 1962 money it was filmed and produced for just over twenty thousands pounds.  I don't have a pound sign on my computer.  I'm told, if I am doing my math correctly, that is just under a half million pounds today.  I think that means cheap.  The two producers originally wanted Carey Grant to play the role of James Bond, but he only committed to one film.  



3.  From Russia With Love (1963)

This early Bond film was important for several reasons.  First, it introduced viewers to the crime organization Spector.  Many of the early Connery films circled around his fights with the different villains from this crime syndicate.  Here's their introduction.....





The plot of the film was really good too with Bond running around Turkey and Eastern Europe on trains trying to get his hands on a code cracking device which will help the West battle those pesky Soviets.  The movie has great henchman from Redd Grant and his garrote watch to Rosa Klebb and her knife shoe.  Of course, Bond had his on gizmos and gadgets in this film as viewers are introduced to the character of Q Branch.   






2.  On Her Majesty's Secret Service

This one flies under the radar.  I know several Bond movie enthusiast who hate this film.  Really, I think it boils down to the fact that it's an earlier Bond film and does not star Sean Connery.  Of course, the last two or three Sean Connery movies were well written, but not great performances by the best known Bond actor.  Just my two cents.  The movie has a great plot and tons of great action scenes.  I love the ski chase.  One of the best chase scenes in any Bond movie.  Sweet music too.  




1. Goldfinger

Yes, it's number one on everyone's list, but what's not to love.  Gold, Atomic Bombs, a Korean Henchman with a killer hat, Fort Knox, Pussy Galore, Communist countries conspiring to bring down the west.....Gold painted girls and this cool laser scene.   If I had a trophy I would mail it to Sean Connery and Gert Frobe.  


Four Big Macs

It's been awhile since I have picked up cards from Facebook, but had a few recent finds from trades and purchases which I should probably post and share during the next week.  First up is a cool little lot of McGwire inserts which I picked up for less than $5 shipped.  The seller even threw in a nice Anthony Reyes jersey card to boot.

While these are not the most expensive and rare McGwire cards they are all from the late 90s and bring back some good memories of some great old sets.  Are the 90s sets really that old?  Feeling old now.  Here are the cards......




















Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Road Trip Cards

I spent a few days traveling to the far reaches of northern Michigan for a few days with my in-laws.  There are not a ton of people in Northern Michigan, but there is loads of cool scenery and I dig being in a small town for a change.  It's not like I can walk a few miles from my home in suburban Raleigh and hang out by Lake Huron.  I found a nice picnic bench with this view.....




I also managed to pick up a few cards while I was in Michigan too.  My brother in-law has been collecting cards for awhile now and we had done a little trading back and forth.  I picked up my part of our trades while I was in town.  A few nice Cardinals, a nice Rays autograph, and the last few 1989 minis.  And Ozzie......















A pretty awesome group of cards.  While it is not the most valuable of the cards, I really like the looks of the Wainwright card.  Topps has so many parallels these days it's hard to keep track of them all.  I have a couple other sepia parallels, but they were pack pulls and players I do not collect.  Has a really cool look.  I might have to go out and find a few more Cardinals card like that one.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Triple Threads Code

One of the more perplexing threads of discussion that pops up on my Twitter feed is collectors trying to figure out the Ginter Code.  I know it is a puzzle, I know it's difficult, and I know it a pretty challenging thing to win.  Honestly, most of the time I am completely lost when I start seeing tweets with the hashtag #gintercode.  Things like "The Bud Selig card does not have any information on the back, is this like last year's Pele?"  I think about responding, but just move onto something else.  Maybe local poltical posts.....




I was recently looking at a few Triple Threads cards to add to my collection when I ran across a really weird looking Chris Archer card.  Most Triple Threads cards have an understandable message spelled out on the card.  Things like "Rays" or a nickname or a stat from the players career or previous season.  The weird Archer card reads JUL SHO SHO.  What's that mean? 



Any guesses?  The Triple Threads Code says this means that Chris Archer had two shutouts in the month of July during the 2013 season.  I had considered something like that, but was holding out hope it was some cool nickname for Archer that I was unaware of, or something cool.  The two shutouts.....

Shutout #1 against the Yankees......



and Shutout #2 with a bonus horrible first pitch by Carly Rae Jepsen




Nate Karns And The Lame Minor League Team Name

I had posted a new card of Rays prospect, and Durham Bulls pitcher, Nate Karns about a week ago with the goal of adding a few more of his cards during the off season.  I always put autographs above other cards, when I am collecting single cards of a player, but since Karns only has one certified autograph I have moved on to some of his other cool cards.  

I was excited to see that he was featured in the Topps Pro Debut Logo Patch set.  This is also one of my favorite sets that Topps puts out every year.  There is almost always a cool Durham Bulls patch in there and a few other nice Minor League logos to pick up.  The Montgomery Biscuits are almost always a must have too.  

The Karns patch was not too hard to find, but I was a little bit disappointed when I saw the card.  I am not sure I really dig some of the Minor League teams that just borrow their nickname from their Major League club.  Potomac Nationals?  We can't do better than that?  Wasn't this team the Cannons at one point?  That sounds much more like a Minor League baseball team. 



It's still one of the most unique Karns cards out there, so I am happy to add it to my growing collection of Karns cards.  The card is limited to just 75 copies.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Five: Best Durham Bulls of the Past Decade

I am doing a double dip on my Friday Five post this week.  I had posted a Cardinals Top 5 players of the past decade late last night and have a Durham Bulls Top 5 list as my second Five of the day.  The Durham Bulls list was a lot tougher to put together.  While there are lots of good names to pick from during the past ten years of Durham Bulls baseball, I decided to make the list based on the player contributions in Durham.  For example, I loved watching Evan Longoria on the Bulls, but he played just 48 games in Durham and hit .248 with 5 home runs before being called up to Tampa.  Not on my list.  So, here goes the Friday Five version of the best Durham Bulls during the past decade starting with a few honorable mentions. 

B.J Upton- He should probably be on the list, but I cannot do it.  Great numbers, really difficult person to cheer for on the field. 

Kevin Witt- Witt was a first round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays who bounced around for awhile in the Minors.  During the 2006 season he ended up in Durham and posted a .291/.360/.577 line with 36 home runs, 29 doubles, and 99 RBIs.  The performance was good enough to earn Witt the MVP award in the International League. An International League MVP award is worthy of consideration on my list, but not quite good enough to make it. 


Russ Canzler- See Kevin Witt.  An International League MVP during the 2011 season almost earned Canzler a place on my list.  He posted a .314/.401/.530 line with 18 home runs and 40 doubles.  Canzler also played on a playoff team, while Witt was the bright spot on a rather difficult team. 


Desmond Jennings- The Rays outfielder spent parts of three seasons with the Durham Bulls on his way up to the Majors.  I always liked Desmond.  Good defender and good speed.  He had some pop in his bat, but I would not say that he had a ton of power.  In the International League Desmond got on-base at a good clip of .372.  In the Majors he's at .327.  Again, fun player to watch in Durham and one of my favorites. 


On to my Five Best Durham Bulls of the Past Decade:

5.  Jeremy Hellickson
The only pitcher on my list.  Good pitching does not seem to stick around Durham too long, but Hellickson was in Durham for almost a year and a half.  During his first half season with the Bulls (2009) Hellickson went 6-1 in 9 starts with 70 strikeouts in 57 innings.  Hellickson helped the Bulls to the Governor's Cup Championship that season and also helped them make the Triple A National Championship Game, which the Bulls won.  Hellickson returned to Durham in 2010 and made 21 starts posting a 12-3 record with 123 strikeouts in 117 innings.  He went on to win the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year.   Hellickson also pitched for the Bulls during the 2014 season on an extended injury rehab. 




4.  Leslie Anderson 
Anderson was a Cuban defector signed by the Rays who stuck with the Durham Bulls for three and a half years.  Anderson played all over the outfield, first base, and DH.  I was not quite sure where he was going to play, but he was going to be in the lineup somewhere.  Anderson's typical season consisted of about 12 to 13 home runs, 20 to 30 doubles, and lots of good hard line drives.  He was not a real patient hitter (.348 career OBP) but the ball had a great sound coming off of his bat.  The Bulls won three division titles and a Governors Cup title in 2013.  Leslie has moved on to Japan.  

  

3. Chris Richard
Richard played a total of four seasons for the Durham Bulls from 2007-2010.  Kind of the fore bearer of Leslie Anderson and the de facto leader of the team for a few seasons, but also put up some good numbers while doing it.  Three of his four seasons resulted in more than 20 home runs, more than 75 RBIs, and an OBP greater than .375  He also had two seasons with more than 30 doubles and an OPS over .900.  The Bulls won their division title each of the four seasons that Richard played with the team including the National Championship and Governors Cup Championship team in 2009.  A good player on a four year run of championship teams is definitely deserving.  


2.  Dan Johnson
Johnson is another International League MVP winner for the Durham Bulls.  He played two and half years for the team starting in 2008 and returning in 2010 and 2011.  Johnson had two seasons with more than 25 home runs, an average higher than .300, an OBP over .400, and a slugging percentage over .550.  He was a really tough out and a really powerful hitter when pitchers threw him strikes.  Like Anderson, the Bulls played him all over the place in the outfield, the corner infield spots, and DH.  During Johnson's time in Durham the Bulls won three division titles.  He is also the owner of one of the great moments from game 162 during the 2011 season when his late inning heroics helped the Rays get into the playoffs. 



1. Justin Ruggiano 
Ruggiano was on the Bulls for five years starting in 2007 and lasting through 2011.  Slight advantage over some of the competition on this list.  He was never an International MVP, but he posted some really good years for the team and spent a lot of time winning while he was in Durham.  He's the teams all-time leader in several offensive categories including hits.  Ruggiano was good for 15-20 home runs, 20-30 doubles, a pretty good average, and great defense from any of the three outfield spots.  The Bulls won their division each of the five season that Ruggiano played in Durham and he was also apart of the 2009 Governors Cup and National Championship team.  It pains me that he is now a Cub, but I still wish him well.  



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Friday Five: Best St. Louis Cardinals of the Past Decade

Last week I looked at the best five basketball players from North Carolina for my Friday Five.  It was actually my first post with that title and theme and I rather enjoyed it.  So, this Friday I am going to post two more lists.  A Friday Five about the Cardinals and the Durham Bulls.  Up first are the five best St. Louis Cardinals players over the past 10 seasons.  That includes the years 2014-2005.  Here's my five.....

Before we get started let's knock out a few honorable mentions:

Jim Edmonds-This time period would have been the end of Jimmy Ballgame's career in St. Louis, but he still helped them to the 2006 World Series and also brought back David Freese, 2011 World Series MVP and hero, in a trade from the Padres.  My favorite Edmonds moment as a Cardinal came outside of the past decade by a year.....


Scott Rolen- Rolen's good year's as a Cardinal ended the day that Hee Seop Choi ran him over at first base in 2005, but he was still a good player and made contributions to the 2006 World Series team.  Still he was past his prime by the time that 2005 rolled around and was traded to the Blue Jays for Troy Glaus in 2007.  Favorite Rolen moment happened outside of this countdown.  




Carlos Beltran- Beltran was a postseason monster for both the Mets and Astros against the Cardinals.  The team signed Beltran after Albert Pujols signed with the Angels hoping Beltran would finally get a ring.  During his two years in St. Louis, Beltran helped the Cardinals get to the National League Championship twice, winning in 2013, and advancing to the World Series.  The Cardinals lost and Beltran is still without a ring.  My favorite Beltran moment comes from this era, but he struck out in the highlight.




Here's the list.....


5. Adam Wainwright

Wainwright's career with the Cardinals spans the entire length of time covered by this post.  He came up with the Cardinals for a brief cup of coffee in 2005.  He stayed on with Cardinals in 2006 as a relief pitcher and ended up closing out games for the club in the 2006 playoffs which ended with the Cardinals closing out the Tigers in five games.  Striking out Brandon Inge was huge, but I still love the last curve ball to Carlos Beltran.  Sorry to repeat, but this is a thing of beauty.  


Wainwright became a starter in 2007 and has two seasons of 20 wins and two seasons of 19 wins.  His 119 career wins, all as a Cardinal, already rank him 8th on the team's list of all-time winners.  He should have no problem moving up to third on the list, passing Bob Forsch at 163, with another good couple of years.  He is also already in 2nd place all-time in strikeouts, but with more than 1800 strikeouts between him and Bob Gibson, he is likely stuck in second.  If you are a fan of WAR, he currently sits sixth, and should have no problem getting up to second place.  Gibson is out of reach.  

Some other Wainwright accomplishments include: Three top 5 Cy Young Award finishes, 3 All-Star appearances, and a pair of Gold Gloves.  Wainwright has a World Series ring from both the 2006 and 2011 teams, but did not play during the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in Spring Training.  Always a fun pitcher to watch when he is on, Wainwright makes my list at number 5......



4. Matt Holliday 
Holliday came over to the Cardinals in a trade with the A's during the 2009 season.  The Cardinals resigned the left fielder in the off season and he's been a Cardinal ever since.  Holliday is not a Hall of Famer, but I could put him in a category just below a Hall of Famer.  He a really good baseball player, just not a really great baseball player.  People pick on his defense and there is some perception that he is not clutch, but that's all simply not true when you look at the numbers.  First, he's a very average fielder.  Also, he's very clutch unless your name is Miguel Cabrera.  Then he's slightly less clutch.  

In six season with the Cardinals he has posted a .300/.386/.505 line which is actually not too far from his line in Colorado.  The slugging is off a bit, but he hits less home runs in Busch.  Throw in almost 150 home runs and an OPS+ of 143, and again, you have got a very good player.  

Holliday was on the 2011 World Series Championship team, the 2013 National League Championship team, and has only missed the playoffs with the Cardinals one season (2010) during his stay in St. Louis.  Numerous All-Star games and lots of really, really hard hit line drives.  This was my favorite Holliday hit from this season.  Just smoked.   





3. Chris Carpenter 
It is hard to talk about numbers with Chris Carpenter.  I am not going to tell you how many games he won for the Cardinals during his time in St. Louis.  I do not care very much.  I do not know how many strikeouts Darth Carp had either.  Here's what I know about Carpenter.  The first year he pitched for the Cardinals in the postseason (2006-he was injured in 2004) he helped the team win a World Series.  The 2006 World Series run included a dominating performance out of Carpenter in Game 3 when he went 8 innings, struck out 6, and used just 82 pitches leading the Cardinals to a 5-0 blanking of the Tigers.  

Carpenter's real postseason gems were during the 2011 World Series run.  Game 5 NLDS against the Phillies was one of the great playoff games of the wild card era.   




He won a total of 5 games during the 2011 postseason including the Game 7 clincher against the Rangers.  The real question with Carpenter on my list is this:  How much are rings worth?  I rank Carpenter third.  Two rings are huge.


2.  Yadier Molina 
I am not going to argue that Molina is a Hall of Famer, or anything crazy like that, but I might revise that statement in a few years.  I am not sure sometimes if people appreciate how great of a defensive player Yadier Molina is for the Cardinals.  He's not Ozzie Smith, but he definitely changes the game.  Again, like Carpenter, not a matter of numbers with Molina.  Unless you are counting Gold Gloves.  Yadi has six.  Seven shortly?  

He throws out 45% of would be base stealers for his career and already ranks amongst the all-time leaders for catchers in defensive runs saved.  There is also the 52 base runners he has picked off during his career.  I am not sure where the official list is for catchers, but I am not sure who is really even close to Yadi.  Cardinals fans know...left handed batter, lead gets a little too big on first....





At the beginning of his career Molina was a terrible hitter, but that really only describes a few years at the very beginning of his career.  I would even go so far to say that 2011, 2012, and 2013 Molina was an elite offensive player for a catcher.  During those three seasons Molina posted OPS of .814, .874, and .836.  Add in home run totals of 14, 22, and 12 and you have good output for a "defense first" player.  

Yadier Molina also has two World Series rings and a National League Championship clinching home run off of Aaron Heilmann to put away the Mets in 2006.  Don't let the reputation of the other two Molina brothers weigh down your opinion of Yadi.   

1. Albert Pujols
Like it could be anyone else.  Musial is the best left-handed hitter in Cardinals history and Pujols is the best right-handed hitter.  The Machine is the best Cardinals player that I have seen in my lifetime and it's not even really close.  His career began before my window (2005-2014) for this post, but his prime was smack dab in the middle of it.  Basically, Musial leads every major offensive category for the Cardinals (minus steals) all-time and Pujols is second.  Albert would have passed Stan in a few things, like home runs, if he had stayed and finished his career as a Cardinal.

How good was the prime of Albert's career?  Here's my take.  Pujols already ranks as the second best first baseman of all-time behind only Lou Gehrig.  He posted a WAR just above 3 this year and is about 15 points behind Gehrig.  I am not sure if he will catch him, but it will be close.  Pujols also took home two National League MVP awards, two World Series rings, and a whole bunch of Silver Sluggers, a Gold Glove or two, and an All-Star Game appearance every year he was a Cardinal.

During his time as a Cardinals Pujols posted 30 or more home runs, a .300 batting average, and 100 RBIs every season expect his last in St. Louis when he hit .299 and only drove in 99 runs.  He was not only great, but consistently so.  While I am a little peeved that Albert did not close out his career as a Cardinal, the team seems to do just fine without him.  The Cardinals have 17 playoff wins since Albert left in 2011 while he is still looking for his first postseason victory as an Angel.

Favorite Pujols moment has to be the home run off of Brad Lidge in the 2005 National League Championship series.



Heavy Bottomed Chrome Cards Make The Rockin World Go Round Part 2

Yesterday I detailed some of the reasons why I do not open boxes of Topps Chrome.  While each box guarantees two autographs, the quality of the autographs often leaves collectors short on their return out of the box.  Other products in the same price point yield better autographs with better names.  At the end of the post I shared a nice lot of Chrome autographs I picked up on the cheap.  My first lot featured 4 cards which cost me right at $10 shipped.  Today I am featuring a second lot of cards from the 2014 Topps Chrome set, which also cost me right around $10 shipped.














So here's my breakdown on this lot.  First off, let's remember that this is ten autographs for ten dollars.  How many of these autographs are worth a dollar?  Aaron Sanchez, I've made a post about him recently, has a very bright future with the Jays and I like him, as a pitcher, a little bit better than Marcus Stroman.  Worth a dollar?  Yes.  While Romero, Jimmy Nelson, Erik Johnson, Seigrist, and Ethan Martin are not household names they all have the chance to be decent big leaguers for the foreseeable future.  Each has been successful in the high minors and failed to be consistent in their stints in the Majors.  Worth a dollar?  Yes.  I think Jose Ramirez, Abraham Almonte, and Tony Medica could also all have a decent stay in the Majors, but will likely all be utility players of some sort.  Worth a dollar?  Probably.  Onelki Garcia appeared in three games for the Dodgers.  I think it might be his only claim to fame.  Worth a dollar?  I might have overpaid by a few cents here. 

What does this all mean?  Topps Chrome has become a product of extremes.  You might land some really awesome Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera autograph that is numbered to 5 and will sell on Ebay for hundreds of dollars.  More likely you will pull an autograph like the ones above.  You could pull a player who has a bright Major League future like Aaron Sanchez.  I've also seen Yordano Ventura autographs from Chrome sell for next to nothing too.  You could pull an autograph of a player who will be an average Major League player for the next decade.  I could see Ethan Martin or Jimmy Nelson being someone's fifth starter for a few years.  You could also land a total dud of an autograph like Onelki Garcia. 

In my opinion, Topps Chrome has gone from a smaller, fancier, shinier version of the base Topps set, to a set that feels like a Bowman Draft box break.  Want to know how well you did?  Wait five years........I am not sure how this product lost it's way over the years, but I remember people opening these boxes and just chasing the refractors.  Maybe Topps should dump the autographs in this set if the best they can do is produce a huge hoard of autographs that sell for less than $5.  Until then, I am just going to skip opening any packs or boxes of this product and enjoy a few nice, big, cheap lots of autographs.  I will let you know how I did in five years.....