Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Project Durham Bulls #1: Kyle Roller

I have been working on a few set projects recently on the blog, but I have also been thinking about taking up another project beyond the sets that would focus on single cards of Durham Bulls players.  More specifically, I am looking to add autographs of players who have appeared for my favorite Minor League team.

A few challenges I envision:


  1. Minor League teams have a little bit higher turn over rate than Major League teams.  There are many years where the number of players who appeared on the roster is eye popping.  I am ready to track them down.
  2. Some of the players who appear on the Bulls do not have autographs.  I am thinking about whether or not to chase in-person autographs, but have not made a final decision on that yet.  Kind of leaning towards no.  
  3. What to do about the hundreds of posts that I have made over the last three plus years with cool cards of the Durham Bulls?  Just because I have one autograph of the player, say someone like Evan Longoria, doesn't mean that I am just going to skip over all of his autographs in the future and never give him a post in this series.  I will get there.  

With that being said, I have started a new page up at the top of the blog which will display the different players who appear in these posts.  

With that being said here is the first of many cards....



Kyle Roller - 2016 Durham Bulls 

Background- 
Kyle Roller appeared on the 2016 Durham Bulls for a total of 50 games before he was released.  His time with the Bulls included a .216/.316/.377 line with 5 home runs, 9 doubles, and 12 RBIs.  Roller's professional career started with the Yankees in 2010 after he was drafted out of East Carolina.  He played in the Yankees system from 2010 until the end of the 2015 season.  His best season in the Minors was easily in 2014 when he hit .300/.391/.550 with 26 home runs, 30 doubles, and 74 RBIs splitting time between Double A Trenton and Triple A Scranton.  Roller's other notable career highlight came in the 2015 Triple A All-Star Game when he sparked the International League to a 3-2 win over the Pacific Coast League.  

Card-
I really like college sports, so I was happy to find a card of Roller in an East Carolina jersey.  I am not always a huge fan of the Panini products, but I always liked these Elite Cards.  Roller was the Cape Cod League MVP during the summer of 2009 and was named first team All-American in 2010 at ECU, so while he was not the highest of draft picks or most highly regarded prospects, it's nice to see a player with a college career get a little cardboard love.  

  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Then There Were Two Of Us In The Wolfpack....

Trea Turner is really fast.  I am really fast if I am running with someone who has a sprained ankle.

Trea Turner is really good at baseball.  I am really good at wiffleball when the people I am playing against have been drinking.

Trea Turner is on the Washington Nationals.  Sometimes I watch the Washington Nationals on television.

Trea Turner was once a student at NC State.  I was also once a student at NC State.  I graduated, not sure about Trea, but I might have that over him.  Maybe.

Sorry, I am not scanning my degree for this post.

I did scan a pair of Trea Turner cards for the post that I picked up because I did go to NC State.  I borrowed the title from a speech given by another former student at NC State.....


I am hoping that maybe Zach Galifianakis could have Trea Turner on Between Two Ferns in the near future.



On to the baseball cards.....

I actually picked up both of these cards from a card shop in St. Louis, RBI Cru 7, awhile back.  The store was not there when I last lived in the Lou, but I actually picked these up after they posted a picture of them on Twitter.  I need to get to that shop one day soon, hopefully it's near an Imo's since we do not have provel cheese in Raleigh.  

First up.  


This is a Tier One autograph of Turner numbered out of 25.  I love these cards when they have the gold and silver signatures.  It's a little busy with the granite like design on the bottom of the card, but overall this is a very nice card of the former Wolfpacker.  The card is serial numbered out of 25.  

Next.  



Also a Topps Tier One autograph, this card is serial numbered out of 250.  The card has a little bit cleaner look with the lighter colored marble pattern on the bottom of the card and the signature in blue ink.  While Turner has a really simple signature, he is really good about the consistency on his 'graphs.  The autograph on both cards is roughly the same.  

Overall, I am thrilled to add these two cards to my growing collection of Trea Turner autographs.  

Oh, and while we are here tonight.... Go State!  Beat the Illini.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Set Project #4: 2002 Bowman Futures Game Autographs

Yesterday I took a little bit of time to post a copy of a 2002 Bowman Futures Game autograph of slugging first baseman Carlos Pena.  I love the looks of these cards and have decided that these cards are going to be my next set project.  Doesn't seem like it's going to be too difficult, but there is that one set project up on that tab that's been there awhile now.

Always something difficult to find.

So, here is what I am starting out with......


The Wilson Betemit card from a few months ago.....


and the Carlos Pena card from yesterday.  

I also have a copy of the Ryan Ludwick card, but the autograph on the card is all but worn off.  I am not going to count it at this point.  Meaning we are going to run with this checklist as the cards that I need to finish off the set.....

#FGAJ-CH Carlos Hernandez 
#FGAB-TB Toby Hall 
#FGAJ-NJ Nick Johnson 
#FGAJ-DT Dennis Tankersley 
#FGAJ-JW Jerome Williams 
#FGAJ-RL Ryan Ludwick 
#FGAJ-JRH J.R. House 

I am starting out with 2 out of 9 cards, or 22% of the set.  Let the searching begin.......

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 35

"I'm just saying you can't start Pena at first"  -Billy Beane 



I know that if you are a baseball movie junkie you probably remember the scene where Billy Beane goes ballistic in trading a bunch of players in order to force Art Howe to play the players that he wants in the line-up.  At the center of the drama is a young first baseman the A's had picked up in a January 2002 trade with the Texas Rangers.  During his 40 games in Oakland Carlos Pena had an on base percentage of .305.  

Not very Billy Beane like.  

Carlos ended up in Detroit, and while it's hard to sort out in the scene in the movie, I believe the Tigers either gave the A's cash to help with Ricardo Rincon, or to make the soda machine in the club house free.  Jermaine Dye didn't want to walk around with quarters....

Prior to the 2002 season Carlos was actually a top prospect, rated fifth overall, according to Baseball America.  All of that hype had landed him in the Futures Game in Safeco Park the prior summer and into the 2002 Bowman Futures Game relic set.  

I love the autographs in that set in spite of the fact that they seem to wear off of the front of the card.  I recently featured former Durham Bulls utility player Wilson Betimet's autograph from that set in this same weekly post.  

This week.....


Carlos Pena.  I probably paid a little bit more than a soda for this card.  Really it depends on how much the soda costs.  At my work, soda is only sold in bottles which cost $1, so in that case roughly two sodas.  The soda at work is Pepsi though.  

Yes, the signature is a little marked up just like every other 2002 Bowman Futures Game Autograph you have ever run across.  Not the best, but I have also seen far worse.  

You remember how I had been posting set projects the last couple months and stopped a few weeks back?  Thinking this autograph set might go up on that tab.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

So Long For Just Awhile

Watching Minor League Baseball means that there is an inevitable separation looming from the players that you spend your summers cheering.  As a resident of central North Carolina, and Durham Bulls fan, for more than a decade I have seen plenty of favorites move on to the Majors and become successful.  Whether that success comes with the Bulls parent team, the Rays or another club, it's always a good feeling to see former their players doing well.

The fact that my favorite Durham Bulls players move on does not always mean it is the easiest thing to deal with as a baseball fan.  It stinks at times.

The same thing happens to fans of Major League teams too, it just looks a little different.  Some players leave via free agency, some are traded, some are released, and some retire.  They can all be equally difficult.  I distinctly remember hanging through the 1996 Cardinals NLCS Game 7 loss to the Braves just to say I watched Ozzie Smith's last at-bat.  The game ended 15-0, but it was worth it for Ozzie.



This off-season is young, but I have already had one of these difficult moments watching two of my favorite players move on from the Durham Bulls/Rays.  It all started last Friday evening when I saw this tweet flash across the screen of my phone......


I had to step outside for a bit, take a walk, and clear my head.  For the last two seasons I had thoroughly enjoyed watching both players with the Durham Bulls.  I had seen Shaffer awhile back when he was a third baseman at Clemson, but Motter was a new player for me.  Both had a huge impact on the team and were immediately amongst the most popular players with the Bulls fan base.  

Motter played all over the field during the 2015 season and posted a great line for the Bulls....


In 127 games in 2015 Motter posted a .292/.366/.471 line with 14 home runs. 43 doubles, 72 RBIs, and 26 stolen bases.  He was not promoted to the Majors by the Rays at the end of the season after posting that line.  

Shaffer did not quite lead the International League in home runs in 2015, but that's mainly because he only played 69 games in Durham that summer.....


His final line was .270/.355/.582 with 19 home runs, 17 doubles, and 45 RBIs.  For the year, Shaffer ended up hitting a total of 26 home runs adding in the dingers he also hit in Double A Montgomery.  Shaffer did get called up in September of 2015 and managed 7 extra base hits in 74 at-bats.  Everyone knows the first hit and home run Shaffer hit against the White Sox.  It was classic....


Both players were back with the Bulls in 2016.  Motter and Shaffer both also spent time with the Rays.  Tampa utilized Motter's versatility and played him in both corner outfield spots, all four infield positions, and he even pitched a third of an inning.  Yet, he only briefly stayed up with the Rays.  Shaffer got another 48 at-bats with the Rays, had 7 more extra base hits, and managed to improve his slash line percentages from the previous season.  

For whatever reason, both players were basically buried this year in Durham.  Neither of the players performed up to their best in Triple A, but they both seemed to handle it the right way.  Motter continued to work hard, grind out at-bats, and move all over the field to wherever the team needed him.  Shaffer worked out all over the field too, including spending some time learning the outfield.  

It was clear that neither player fit into the Rays plan. 

While the trade was a little hard to take, ultimately I know that the Mariners are going to give both players a chance to win jobs and playing time.   I know that both have a really good of getting the playing time that they did not get in Tampa.  

Further, as a baseball card guy, I am really excited to continue my collection of both players.  Shaffer has had a bunch of cards already including one from his first home run.....


I am not sure if anyone can ever top this card, but I am hoping that his cards will be a regular occurrence for years to come.  For next year, I am planning on having to track down a few sweet Mariners cards of the former Clemson Tiger.  

Same with Motter.....  


who has picked up his first Topps cards late this summer, but I have had fun chasing down the different variations of the two that are floating around.  A regular role in Seattle will definitely result in more cards of the super utility player.  Besides, as someone recently pointed out to me, someone with hair like Motter's needs to be playing on the west coast.  

While I am disappointed to say that I will never see Motter and Shaffer play another game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, I know that the trade is the best thing for both of their careers.  I am looking forward to some late nights next summer staying up to watch a few Mariners games.  I know many other Bulls and Rays fans will likely be joining in with me in watching two of their favorites succeed somewhere else....

So long for just awhile.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Double Helping of Piscotty

Thanksgiving has been good this year.  My in-laws were in town from northern Michigan and my wife and her sisters made a really good dinner.  I got the day off of work and had some really good time with my kids today.


I couldn't fit the cranberries on my plate and passed on the sweet potatoes.  Pretty sure I am one of the few people who lives in North Carolina who is not crazy about sweet potatoes.  

I had a good time today sorting out a few cards and sets that were lingering around my baseball card room and I also had the chance to sit down and scan a few cards.  Tonight I am going to share a pair of picked up a few weeks ago that were in my stack of cards that I sorted out today.  

Piscotty is one of my favorite current Cardinals.  First card.  


Love the Strata cards.  The cool thing about these is the authentication sticker that can be traced to a specific game.  Some of the jersey swatches are tied to some eventful games, others not so much.  Last month I picked up a Strata card of Astros card Dallas Keuchel who did not even play in the game tied to his jersey swatch.  

The Piscotty swatch?



The Cardinals won the game 10-2 against the Reds and Piscotty even played in the game.  He was hitless, but did walk and scored a run on a double by Mark Reynolds.  Not the best stat line by any means, but given the game that was connected to the Keuchel swatch, I am happy just knowing that Piscotty was actually in the game.

Next.


I have always really enjoyed the Bowman Inception cards and this year's were no different.  On-card sigs, nice design, etc.  Very cool.  Piscotty has actually been in previous Inception sets, but this might be my favorite autographed card of his over the past few years.  I like the card dark background with the faded area for the autograph.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Big Dawg Cardboard

If I had to rank the best players who appeared on the Durham Bulls last season first baseman Casey Gillaspie would have to rank at the the top of the list.  He was not in the Bull City for the full season, but in just over 200 plate appearances he put up a .307/.389/.520 slash line with 7 home runs, 2 triples, 13 doubles, and 23 RBIs.  I would guess that the former first round pick of the Rays starts the 2017 season in Durham, but he might not be there for very long.

Naturally, I had taken stock of the Casey Gillaspie cards in my collection and felt like it was a little bit on the flimsy and light side, so I picked up a copy of his Bowman Chrome autograph from 2015 to improve what was in my Durham Bulls autograph box....


Considering that the Rays just traded first base prospect Richie Shaffer to the Mariners, it probably means that Gillaspie has a pretty good shot at getting some playing time in Tampa sooner than later.  Excited to add this nice looking autographed card and looking forward to seeing him next season, at least for a short time, in Durham.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Piecing Together Some Cards

Stadium Club has been back as an annual release for Topps for 3 years now and one of my favorite parts of the rehashed product is the Triumvirate cards.  These puzzle piece looking cards really started in the late 1990s Stadium Club sets, but came along for the ride when Topps brought back the brand.  I was quite happy with the decision.

One of the original Triumvirate cards from the 1990s....




I don't run out and put together the entire insert set or anything, but I tend to work on the Cardinals and a few other single cards of players that I enjoy collecting.  Former Durham Bulls mainly.  Last year the Cardinals Triumvirate set featured Jason Heyward, Yadi, and Adam Wainwright.  Looked nice all put together at the end.....



Not quite sure about that Heyward card in the middle, but overall a really nice looking set of Cardinals cards.  The 2016 Triumvirate Cardinals set featured all pitchers.  The single cards....


I like the background on this year's set a little bit better than last year.  I know that the green color sort of gives a little bit of a Christmas vibe with the red on the Cardinals uniforms, but I still think it works well with the black background at the top of the card fading down to a light grey at the bottom.  Rosenthal was probably a solid choice for this set when the good folks at Topps were putting this set together, but he had some struggles this year.  



Wacha is the other end piece in the puzzle.  I honestly would have loved to see Carlos Martinez is this spot instead of Wacha, but I do not get to pick the players for the cards.  Of all the young arms the Cardinals have brought up over the last three to four years, CMart has clearly turned out to be the best.  Not to say that Wacha hasn't had his moments.  See 2013 playoffs.  


The center card in the set belongs to Adam Wainwright.  I've got no complaints here.  It's getting late in his career, nice to see him pick up a few more insert cards along the way.  

All three cards put together....


Looks sharp.  I cannot wait for the 2017 Stadium Club set, I will put this together again next summer.  





Monday, November 21, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 34

This week is more of a two-for of two Cardinals players who were traded for each other.  Angels fans avert your eyes.....

The 1999 Cardinals have a pretty good case for being one of the worst team's that the franchise has fielded over the past twenty years.  The team has had exactly three losing seasons during that stretch, but the 1999 team was especially brutal.  While the team's offense featured Mark McGwire (176 OPS+), Fernando Tatis (139), and Ray Lankford (118) the pitching staff for the club was brutal.  

Kent Merker, Darren Oliver, Jose Jiminez, and Garrett Stepehenson made up four fifths of the rotation, but there were spot starts from Juan Acevedo, Lance Painter, and Larry Luebbers.  Ouch.  The bright spot was veteran Kent Bottenfield who spent the first few years of his career with the Expos, Rockies, and Cubs.  

In 1999, he won 18 games and made the National League All-Star team.  




At the end of the year the Cardinals rightfully blew up the team.  Kent Bottenfield survived the off-season and made it to the team's spring training along side several new players.  The team signed Mike Matheny away from the Blue Jays, Andy Benes away from the Diamondbacks, they traded for Fernando Vina, Pat Hentgen, Dave Veres, and Darryl Kile.  Plus they brought up some young players from the Minors like Rick Ankiel and Placido Polanco.  

The team looked good on paper and returning ace Kent Bottenfield got a Fleer Autographics card that spring too.  He's got a great signature.....



Always loved the Autographics cards from the late 1990s/early 2000s.  All on card signatures and there are a ton of players who signed for the set.  Probably not as good of a checklist as the Donruss Signature sets, or Leaf Signature set, but still very nice.  

In late March of 2000 at the end of Spring Training, Kent Bottenfield and his great looking signature got shipped off to the Angels for Jim Edmonds.  Well, the Angels also got Adam Kennedy in the trade too, but it was a bit lopsided in favor of the Cardinals.  Bottenfield went on to pitch in 29 games in 2000, but that included 8 starts with the Phillies after the Halos traded him for Ron Gant.  

Edmonds went on to win a bunch of Gold Gloves and managed to get the Cardinals into two World Series during his time in St. Louis.  While they lost the 2004 Series, Edmonds was a huge part of the 2006 Series win against the Tigers.  

It didn't take long for Edmonds to get his first Cardinals card of 2000 which appeared in the second series of the Upper Deck set.  I have always liked this card for several reasons......



First, I like that Upper Deck did not use an airbrushed photo for the card.  At this point, I am pretty sure that UD either pushed the players card back to a later series, or they left them in their old uniform, but put the logo of their new team on the card.  Clearly a Spring Training picture after Edmonds got traded.  I also like that they have a picture of Edmonds in his batting stance.  Most people remember Jimmy Ballgame for his fielding exploits, but I always liked his stance....


It was a fun few years collecting cards of Edmonds and I still try to pick up some cool ones when I run across them.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

I Was Hopeful For An Aledmys and.....

Card collectors sometimes like to look over the checklists of products before they come out, see what is in the set, and sometimes gleefully hope that they pull something cool they see there from a favorite player or team.  Really, how often does that happen?

I have been on the lookout for an autograph of Cardinals rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz and had sort of formulated this plan in my mind to skip over the Topps Update product in hopes of putting the time, effort, and money into tracking down that elusive Aledmys autograph.  Welp.

I found myself walking in the door of my local card shop, The Trading Card Co-Op, and found myself standing face to face with Topps Update.  I'd like to think about what happened next as a brief moment of weakness.   Like driving through St. Louis and not stopping for Imos.....

I was trapped.  Jimmy, one of the store owners, insisted that he picked out the Aledmys Diaz card in the box.

So, before we get to the good stuff, here are some of my "hot" takes on the Topps Update set.  Let's start with a few base cards.  I will narrow the few hundred base cards down to my favorite two cards, one from each of my two primary rooting interests....


My favorite Cardinals card in the base set belongs to "rookie" pitcher Seung-Hwan Oh.  He actually spent years and years playing in both Korea and Japan before landing with the Cardinals last off season.  While Aledmys Diaz got most of the rookie spot with the Cardinals, Oh had quite the rookie season too.  I have picked up a few of his cards here later in the 2016 baseball card calendar.  Plus, I like the action shot on this card.  



My favorite Durham Bulls related card belongs to, sigh, former Rays infielder Taylor Motter.  He was actually just traded to the Mariners this week.  I am not even sure what the Rays got back in return, I have brought myself to even look up the players.  More on Motter later this week.  Cool to see a Topps base card of him with the cool long hair.  

On to other things......


My favorite insert set in Topps Update is the Fire cards.  Topps sold these last year as an online product, I picked up a Molina card off of Ebay.  Not sure I every wrote the card up on this space, but it's a pretty cool card.  The biggest difference being that the online cards were metal, these are cardboard.  Still, they look cool.  

On to the hit cards.

My two "relic" cards......



Kind of the typical Topps box.  The All-Star relics have long been a staple of the Update sets.  Jay Bruce is meh, but I pick the Padres colored uniform swatches.  The Yaz "relic" or manu card is okay.  I used to like these cards, but I am getting a little bit tired of coins and the whatnot.  The picture is cool, the card background is cool, the jumbo coin?  I could take it or leave it.  

Last card.  I bet you might have inferred from the title.....


I could not believe it when I pulled this card.  I sat and stared at for a few minutes.  When do you ever pull a card from a checklist, especially a hit card, when you buy a box?  I can hardly think of a time that it has happened to me, but I am glad this came out of one of my packs.  I am still thinking of adding another Aledmys autograph, I have my eye on one, but maybe I will be a little bit more patient with the next one....


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bargain Archives

I have been slowly working on assembling a few Topps Archives Cardinals autographs from this past season.  I posted a copy of my Andres Galarraga Archives card a few weeks back featuring the Big Cat with the Birds on the Bat.  As I pointed out at the time, the Cardinals players that were included in this year's Topps one per autograph box (one card per box too) were really known for playing elsewhere.

Maybe you do remember some of these players as Cardinals, so I can at least safely say that their best days were spent elsewhere.  Probably a safer statement.  My latest Cardinals Archives autograph fits that description well.  Here is the card.....



Sorry the scan is a little fuzzy.  My scanner seems to not like these cases.....

Mulder is best remembered for his time with the Oakland A's, but was traded to the Cardinals before the 2005 season.  He helped the team reach the playoffs that year before falling to the Astros in the National League Championship Series.  He started out as the ace of the Cardinals rotation in 2006 even hit the first home run at the current Busch Stadium....



At some point Mulder's shoulder pretty much fell off and he was not really ever heard from again.  He did get a ring for being on the Cardinals roster that year.  The pitching challenged team also ended up adding spare part Jeff Weaver from the Angels to deal with injuries to players like Mulder.  

Not that I am ever happy to see a player get injured, but that whole Jeff Weaver rental worked out pretty well as I recall....



Needless to say the Mulder Cardinals year's were not his best, but he was still apart of a World Series winner, so it's nice to add a copy of a Cardinals autograph to the collection.  As an added bonus, the person selling this card had a few other Archives autographs on the cheap.  

Here are my other three cards.....



Damon on the Rays is kind of cool.  As a Durham Bulls guy I kind of have become a pretty big Rays fan.  Similar to Mulder, Johnny's best days were spent elsewhere, but it's not like he was terrible during his time in Tampa.  I am pretty sure that his Rays cards in Archives are his only certified autographs in that uniform.  Cheap card, can't pass it up.  

The next two are cool 80s players....


I remember Baines as a White Sox, A's player, and with the Rangers.  He and Willie McGee, briefly, were also my favorite players on the 1990s A's teams.  Truth be told, at the time, I was not really a huge fan of McGwire and Canseco.  Especially Canseco.  Annoyed the hell out of me in Middle School.  Baines was cool though.  


Tony was in the humongous Fred McGriff, Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter trade, plus he was on the Blue Jays when I was a kid.  The Blue Jays were always a cool team in my book.  I liked the unis and a bunch of the players on that team.  Tony kind of bounced around for awhile, again always liked him.  I am pretty sure he has some other autographs out there besides this one.  This card was just kind of there....

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Let's Go Duke! Let's Go Duke!

I am from the Raleigh-Durham area, so if I am making a post about Duke maybe you are expecting something about basketball.  Apologizes to those who live in Raleigh or Durham who hate the Raleigh-Durham thing, it's sometimes a necessary evil to give non-residents an idea of where I reside.  I live in Raleigh.  Back to Duke.

I throw those types of posts on college sports every once in awhile plugging one of our three local ACC schools.  Recently I did go to a Duke football game and saw them play Virginia Tech, but this post is not about that event, not really about Duke University at all, but here is there football stadium, if you have never seen it before......


Little stadium, cool place to watch a game though, not a bad seat in the house.  

Nope.  This is actually going to be a Cardinals post.  We are talking about relief pitcher Zach Duke whom the Cardinals traded for this past summer to help out with the team's leaky bullpen.  I recently had the chance to pick up an autograph of the LOOGY (Lefty One Out Guy) pitcher.  Card brought back some pretty good memories of the mid 2000s.  



I know that Bowman's Best has been a thing the last year or two, but the set disappeared for a long time after having a nice run in the 1990s and early 2000s.  Not entirely sure why Topps pulled the plug on the product for the better part of a decade, but I always really liked these cards.  The Duke card, from the 2004 set, featured him on the Pirates where he started his career as a starter.  

I like how Topps did the backgrounds on these cards, not quite sure how I would describe the effect, but I like the look.  When I landed this card I had to guy back and see what other Cardinals players I had autographs of from this set.  Zach Duke is definitely a little bit of middle ground.  

The best card I have from the 2004 Bowman's Best is this guy.......



While the Yadi rookie is nice, there are always a few duds in these Bowman autograph sets. Someone has to wash out in A Ball and some of them have nice looking baseball cards.  Like this guy.....


Travis actually made it all the way up to Triple A with the Cardinals, just never cracked the Majors.  Scott Rolen was in his way though, pretty understandable.  He did have one monster Minor League season in Double A.  

Zach Duke is already out for next year with an elbow injury, so hopefully at some point he can bounce back and pitch a few more games with the Cardinals.  I love the autograph, but sometimes feel a little conflicted picking up cards of players who just briefly appear for my cheering interests.  












Monday, November 14, 2016

Yes, I Am Excited Too Stephen

I bought a few ToppsNow cards during the 2016 season, but I generally avoided the cards.  Topps released a few hundred cards throughout the summer and fall and I am pretty sure that I own less than 5 of them.  It's not that I am totally against the idea of having an on-going set featuring cool events from throughout the season, it's just more about spending $10 every time something cool happened with a player, or team, that I collected.

Not going there.

While some of the cards are low print runs, and carry a premium on sites like Ebay, I have started to find a few cool cards that are a little bit under cost from their original $9.99 cost.  So, like anything I collect I have started to piece together some of the Cardinals cards and a few former Durham Bulls players.

Today, I am going to share a pair of new Cardinals Topps Now cards.  First up is outfielder Stephen Piscotty with a go ahead home run against the Cubs.....



There is so much to love about this card.  I am a fan of seeing players show a little bit of emotion, I am sure that Bob Gibson or Pedro Martinez would have drilled Piscotty on his next at bat for pulling something like this, but I think it's good for drawing younger fans to the game.  You hit a home run 40 feet over the left-center field wall your allowed to be excited.  Especially when it is against a rival team.....




The video cuts away from Piscotty's leap, but you get the idea.  He was pretty jacked up about the home run.  A no doubter too.  Next....


This is actually my second copy of this card, but I got a deal on it from the same collector who flipped me the Piscotty card.  I have said it several times over the last few months, I am excited about the future of Alex Reyes.  Here's a little taste of the 101 MPH heat advertised on the front of the card.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 33

Everyone seems to love these posts on Monday when I feature an old Minor League card.  Today, I am going to give the people what they want; an old Minor League card of a name baseball person.  Not a Hall of Fame player, not even really a good player, but definitely a Hall of Fame manager.  Interestingly enough, at the time this card was made this guy was one of the better prospects in the game.

Card please......



This Terry Francona Memphis Chicks card is out of the 1980 TCMA Minor League set.  TCMA made some really cool team sets back in the 1980s.  Not expensive cards in general and a really fun group of cards to collect.  

As for Francona's playing career, he started out with the Expos after being drafted out of the University of Arizona in 1980.  He was selected as the 22nd overall player in the draft after winning the Golden Spikes Award and the College World Series MVP after leading the Wildcats to the 1980 NCAA Championship....


Francona's troubles in the Majors can mainly be blamed on knee injuries, but he showed a lot of promise while playing in parts of two seasons with the Memphis Chicks.  In a total of 101 games with the Chicks, the future Hall of Fame manager batted .321/.350/.402.  Francona had little power, little speed, but there seemed to be a ton of players with this type of profile around Majors in the 1980s: no power, no speed, and no walks. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Mayaguez Indios Team Set

A little bit off the beaten path for this post.  In my never ending quest for Ray Lankford cards I ended up landing a cool team set of the Puerto Rican Winter League team Mayaquez.  I knew there would be a Lankford card in the team set, but there were a few other cards in here that I was excited to see beyond my latest card of the 1990s Cardinals outfielder.

Let's take a look.




Yes, I messed up the team card on the top right hand side of the scan.  No, I am not going to fix it.  Jim Riggleman and Juan Agosto have Cardinals connections in this group of cards.  Riggelman was the manager of the Indios during their 1989-1990 schedule.  He started his managing career in the Cardinals Minor League system after spending his playing career in the Cardinals system.  

Riggleman was out of Minor League managing in 1989 and spent the year working as the Cardinals first base coach.  Of course, he has gone on to have a pretty long run as a Major League manager, especially with the 1990s Cubs.  

Agosto was a terrible reliever for the Cardinals at one point in the early 1990s.  Most of the players in this set are younger guys, but Agosto is one of the few veterans in here.  He is Puerto Rican, so it makes some sense that he appears in Winter League games there.....


Roberto Hernandez is the big name here.  No Cardinals connection with him, but he played 17 years in the Majors and recorded more than 300 saves.  The other interesting card in this group is Charlie Montoyo.  I know that's not a name many will recognize, but it was a huge and pleasant surprise in this set.  

Who is Charlie Montoyo?  

He was the long running manager of the Durham Bulls and led the team to seven division championships in an eight year span.  That included a Triple National Championship and two Governors Cups.  He now coaches third base for the Rays....



Good times.  



Lankford is here, I talk about him enough I will let it go this time.  Jim Lindeman was also a Cardinals outfielder/1B in the late 1980s.  Never really worked out, but he hit a pretty big home run against the Giants in the 1987 NLCS. 


Last set, we've got Tom Pagnozzi.  Pags was a long time Cardinals catcher, three time Gold Glove winner, and was an NL All-Star in 1992.  

Overall, I really love having this set in my collection.  Really unique and I have not seen many cards like these over the years.  Happy to add a new Lankford to the collection and also pick up some other cool cards of players connected to the Cardinals and Durham Bulls.  



Not So Sure About This One....

Coming into this summer there was so much to like about Cardinals prospect Harrison Bader.  The former Florida Gator star was drafted by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft.  During his first summer of Minor League Baseball Bader hit .311/.368/.523 with 11 home runs, 13 doubles, and 17 steals in just 61 games.  

He was on my list of players to find this summer.  He had cards in some Panini products last year which featured him in a college uni, but nothing in a Major League licensed product.  Honestly, I think the U of F cards looked cool, but there were a little bit more expensive than what I was willing to pay, or part with in trade.  

Then Bowman Chrome came out this summer and Harrison Bader appeared.  I was initially pretty excited, but the cards seemed to linger in and around $25 and Bader had on OPS below .700 in 50 Triple games this summer.  I was still interested in his cards, just not at that price.  

Last week I finally found a Harrison Bader card in a trade and was happy with what I gave up for the card......



I am still not sure about Bader given what happened last year in the high minors, but I should also mention that I picked up another Cardinals player's autograph in the trade.  I wasn't really looking forward to having to pay money for this guy's card......




but apparently he is on the Cardinals roster for the next few years.  Since it was practically a throw-in, I am going to go ahead and be alright with this card being in my collection.  Hopefully both players do a little better in 2017 and we can revisit this post and laugh....

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Shiny Cards Card



I have really enjoyed watching Alex Reyes pitch during his brief stay in the Majors with the Cardinals.  Needless to say I am likely going to spend a fair amount of time in the coming years talking about his cards.  I have already posted a few on here the last year or two, but I am always a little hesitant to go all in on prospects at times.  One of my goals for this winter is to find a few of his autographs that I missed out on, particularly from this past summer.

My first Reyes card of the offseason comes from this year's Bowman Chrome set.  I found this card and liked its appearance and the fact that it has an on-card autograph.  Pretty sharp card and I found it at a pretty reasonable price.

Yeah, brevity.