Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #14: Jeremy Owens

2007-2008 Durham Bulls 

I first ran into Jeremy Owens while I was in college.  He was apart of the mighty Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders squad which competed in the Ohio Valley Conference.  I also attended an Ohio Valley Conference school.  The Padres drafted Jeremy Owens in the 8th Round of the 1999 Amateur Baseball Draft.  He had a decent run as a Padres prospect, but ended up with the Red Sox after they used a Minor League Rule 5 Draft Pick on him in 2002.  Owens best season in his professional career took place in 2003 with the Red Sox Double team in Portland where he hit 21 home runs, drove in 68, and stole 15 bases while slashing .263/.326/.484.  In 2004 and 2005 were split between time in the Red Sox Minor League system and the Somerset Patriots in the Atlantic League.  In 2006 Owens joined the Rays organization and played for the Double A Montgomery Biscuits.  The following year he ended up on the Bulls and saw action in 111 games hitting 7 home runs, 6 triples, 16 doubles, stole 15 bases while posting a .261/.298/.405 slash line.  Owens also appeared in 18 games for the 2008 Bulls, but only hit .149.  After leaving the Bulls, Owens played another seven season, all in the Atlantic League, for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

Owens ended up in a whole bunch of 2001 baseball products some of which are pretty sweet cards.  Plenty of serial numbered short prints and autographs in the bunch.  Pretty good year for rookie cards with Pujols and Ichiro leading the way, probably pretty cool for Owens to end up in the same sets as those types of players.  Obviously the 2001 Jeremy Owens rookie cards are not very expensive, so I had a lot of different options to choose from....I actually picked this card because I was buying another card off of Ebay, scanned the sellers items, and picked up this card with some combined shipping costs.  The 2001 Legacy set was a pretty unique item.  The boxes came with autographed hats, never really got into the hat thing, but I have always liked these cards.  Happy to have a former Durham Bulls players on one of these nice looking cards.  Wilson Betimet, who also played for the Bulls at the end of his career, also has an autographed rookie in this set.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Just Cat

Venturing outside of baseball cards tonight to pay homage to college basketball.  Easily my second favorite sport outside of baseball.  Like 80% of people who live in the Triangle (figurative statistic, not actual) I am not actually from Raleigh, Durham, nor Chapel Hill, so I picked my ACC school of choice later in life after going through grad school.  If you are not a regular reader, I graduated from the red North Carolina school.  

This one....

We are not Duke, nor Carolina (insert snarky comment about attending class), but State is still a decent basketball program.  In the past few years the Wolfpack have been a regular in the NCAA Tournament and made it into the Sweet Sixteen twice.  One of those appearances resulted in the infamous crying piccolo girl at Villanova.....

The past two years have been disappointing though.  The team has regressed back to their form from when I was in school there.  Bottom half of the league in the standings, poor play from highly recruited players, etc.  I thought we were past things like this.......

which was easily the worst thing I have ever seen at a basketball game.  State hasn't even really had the chance to lose games that dramatically the past two years.  They have just been bad.  Still, there have been some really good players on the team the past two years.  Last year the Wolfpack were led by super freshman Dennis Smith Jr.  The previous year the team had sensational point guard Anthony "Cat" Barber.  

Barber is from Newport News and draws a lot of comparisons to Allen Iverson.  They are from the same area, both are small undersized guards with a lot of speed.  

Cat ended up leaving State after his junior year of college and spent a chunk of last season in the D-League.  I still have hope that he will crack an NBA roster at some point.  He's a great player, hard worker, no doubt he will have a chance.  

In the meantime, I have ventured out looking for a few nice basketball cards of the shifty guard.  I love that you can find cards of players in their college basketball uniforms.  He actually has three or four cards out there, but I liked this Panini card the best....

Just a beautiful card, made way better by the fact that Cat Barber autographed the card with just the word Cat.  The gold pen looks nice on the black background.  The card actually has a fairly glossy finish, but it looks a little bit on the matte side after the scan.....the back of the card.....

The back does seem to have some sort of weird two sided thing going on, if you look at the middle of Cat's face.  Not sure what effect Panini was going for here.  Still I like the black and white picture with the NC State logo down at the bottom of the card.  Happy to start off the Cat Barber collection and hope to add a few more nice autographs in the near future.  Hopefully a few of them will be of Cat in an NBA uniform....

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 52

I am completely fascinated by the 1970s Kelloggs and Hostess cards.  I don't post many of the ones that come into my collection, but I always look for them in the cheapy bins at card shows, or if I am buying a card on Ebay and see one I can get with combined shipping I will go for it.  I recently made a non-Kelloggs card trade and ended up with a cool 1975 card as a freebie.  

Silent George.  

George is pretty cool in my book.  Played on the Cardinals in the early 1980s and was a big part of the 1982 Cardinals World Series team.  He was also traded for John Tudor who became one of my favorite mid-late 1980s Cardinals players.  I also went to college with one of George's kids who had the second most fumble recoveries in a season while playing at Southeast Missouri.  

I don't have many 1970s Hendrick cards, maybe something on the A's or Padres, but nothing on the Indians.  Not really one of my favorite teams, so they get skipped over often.  Anyway, I really like the 1975 Kelloggs cards, not sure if they are my favorite all-time design from that company, but they are high up there.  Which brings me to a throw-in to the throw-in.  

It started out as a quick thank you message for the cards I had originally traded for along with the Hendrick.  I made note to say something nice about the Kelloggs Hendrick card since I really enjoy those cards.  That prompted my trading partner to mention the fact that they had a cool Kelloggs oddball, also a 1975, which I would really enjoy.  

A few days later in the mail I received a white envelope with this card inside......

What is it?  It's another 1975 Kellogg's card.  This one is from the American Presidents sets.  I did not know such a thing even existed.  Kind of good timing considering that my son has been really into Presidents for the last few months.  We have books, pictures, look at coins to see what President is on them, etc, etc....

Anything with Presidents is cool, so I will have to stash away Franklin Pierce and see if he wants to put this card in with all of his other stuff.  Although, if you know anything about Franklin Pierce he was arguably one of the worst Presidents........

ever.  He had a sad start to his Presidency and then lived the rest of his life in sort of an alcohol induced stupor.  

Cha Cha Graph

During my high school years I used to regularly go to Cardinals games on Sunday afternoons with my father.  We'd drive downtown to Busch and check out the early-mid 1990s Cardinals which were some of the worst teams in the history of the franchise.  Gussie Busch died at the end of the 1989 season leaving his son, August IV, in charge of the team.  The Cardinals became cheap and indifferent to the product on the field.

The pitching staff was led by such notables as Bob Tewksbury, Omar Oliveras, and Rene Arocha, and while I love Ray Lankford and will argue you non-stop about him deserving to be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame, he had very little help.  Mark Whiten was decent, Pagnozzi was a nice defensive catcher, but there were too many players like Tripp Cromer and Scott Cooper on the roster.  

In the end my father and I often spent time watching players on the team shine against the Cardinals and I also got a fair share of stories about the Cardinals teams of the 1950s and 1960s that my father grew up watching.  That included lots of stories about Musial, Gibson, and Brock.  Other notable names got tossed in there too like Roger Maris, Julian Javier, Mike Shannon, and Ken Boyer.  

Then there was Orlando Cepeda.  There was only one Cha Cha story that my father ever told and it came out every time someone hit a long home run.  I think I first heard the story at some point in late elementary school after Jack Clark launched a ball to the back of the bleachers.  Basically, the first game my father went to in Busch Stadium II, the cookie cutter one, was a pitchers dual that was decided on a Cepeda home run.  

Supposedly the home run landed in the home deck of Busch, straight down the left field line, near the top of the second deck.  There is no video of the dinger, but there are news stories....

While I have spent time and money chasing down autographs of a lot of the players from those Cardinals teams of the 1950s and 1960s, there have been a few players who have escaped me.  I actually have a Cepeda autograph, but it is with the Giants.  I am sure that most people who saw Cha Cha in person probably remember him better as a member of the Giants, still he won a World Series with the Cardinals in 1967 and won a National League Championship with the team the following year in 1968.  Pretty good stretch before he was traded to the Braves for Joe Torre.  

There have been a few Cepeda autographs in a Cardinals uni over the years, but I have never tracked one down until last week.......

The 1968 Topps are not my favorites, I am a fan of the burlap sack comparisons, but that was a good year for the Cardinals.  Very happy to add this nice Cepeda autograph to the collection.  Maybe I need to find the other Cardinals autographs in this year's Heritage set....there are a few more nice ones....

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Temptations of the Target Card Aisle

I really can't stand shopping and try to avoid it at all costs.  I can do the grocery store, hardware stores, and definitely the baseball card shop.  However, other places like Target, Wal-Mart, and big box malls are low on my list.  Why should I rummage through stacks of khakis at Macys or The Gap when I can just simply go click a few buttons and have pants sitting on my front porch a few days laters....

As much as I try to avoid these types of stores, sometimes they are a necessary evil.   Lord knows I cannot stand that Target dog, but seeing him means that I can always stop by the card aisle at Target.

Most of the time I glance through the cards, but I often pass up the chance to buy cards.  I don't like spending money on retail blasters and packs when I am just going to end up buying a Hobby box at some point.  The one time where I feel weak around the retail card aisles is when I have not had a chance to buy a hobby box of a product that I want to collect....

Sometimes in the past my local card shop has been a day or two late in receiving shipments and I have dabbled with a hobby pack or two, but in the case of this year's Bowman set I am skipping the Hobby Box altogether.  I have picked up a few autographs, which I have already posted, and I have also picked up a copy of a set.  It's just that I got one of those awesome Ebay messages about my seller being out of town and the shipment being delayed by 10 days.  Annoying, but I liked the price, so worth the wait.

In the meantime, I ventured into Target and I found myself grabbing a few packs of Bowman....

So a few quick thoughts on this year's set.  First, the design reminds me a little bit of the 1994 Bowman set.  I think it has a lot to do with the border in the top right hand corner with the Bowman logo.....

It sort of the reverse of the 1994 set which had a border, the line is a little thicker and extends the full length of the card, with the Bowman logo in the opposite corner.......

There are some obvious differences between the two card designs...94 was just the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the cards.  

The rest of the set seems typical of what Bowman puts out each year.  As a minor league baseball guy this is a staple set in my collection and I love seeing a lot of the players I get to check out in the Minors, or will check out, in a card set.  

So, let's start with my minor league team of choice the Durham Bulls.  I was able to find a few former Durham players in my few packs of Bowman along with a current player....

although Schultz is currently on the DL with the Bulls.  The guy produces a serious amount of misses, good under the radar player if you are into that sort of thing.  

We get the top 100 prospects set back again.  I have often thought about trying to assemble one of these sets, but that seems like it would be a rather tough task.  I pulled two cards from this insert set....

I like the Maitan card.  I know several Braves fans who really like him.  I will file this one away and check in on it in a few years.  Even though I will probably not come close to finishing this inset set, I will at least go find the Cardinals and Rays cards in this set.  

We also have some international cards in the set this year because of the World Baseball Classic.  Not really a fan of these, but in the past some of them have turned out to be a big deal after players have joined MLB from other places.  

I pulled a Korean pitcher.......

kind of wish it was Seung Hwan Oh.  Not sure about Yang Hyeon-Jong. 

Last card is a Buyback.  Topps seems to have gone all in on these sorts of things of late.  I pulled a Freddy Garcia card.  

I like seeing some of the older cards and enjoy revisiting them, but it's Freddy Garcia.  It's Bowman.  If I am going to get a Buyback I was hoping for a prospect that didn't make it....

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 51

I am not a Yankees fan.  I am not going to make some post claiming that Derek Jeter is the greatest shortstop of all-time, nor the greatest modern shortstop.  Still he has been really important to the baseball card hobby and I felt I could take a few minutes to give him a little love on the night the Yankees retire his number 2.  Specifically I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about my favorite Derek Jeter rookie card.

I really liked the Stadium Club cards back in the early 1990s.  Upper Deck was probably my favorite of the glossy "premium" cards from that era, but Stadium Club was not far behind.  At the time the Stadium Club Murphy and Stadium Club Dome sets were released they were some what of an oddity.  A boxed set in a plastic stadium.  The guy at my local card shop at the time thought that they were pretty ridiculous.  I don't remember the conversation when I picked up the Murphy set, but I got a long talk about how the Dome set was "gimmicky" with filled with "senior photos in their mom's backyard" when I bought a copy during college.

I somewhat agreed with him.  I actually don't have my box for either one of the sets.  I broke them both and at some point tossed the box.  Given the number of singles from the set floating around I don't feel too bad being without the boxes.

This is what it looked like....thank you Ebay.....

The Jeter card didn't feature him wearing a cool high school or American Legion uniform like Shawn Green.....

or making an fashion statement straight out of a Bell Biv DeVoe video like Ozzie Timmons.....

It's still easily my favorite Jeter rookie card and probably my top overall Jeter card in my collection.  Not that I go out of my way for his baseball cards, but I feel like this card is one of the most iconic 1990s baseball cards.  It's not the Griffey rookie card, but if I made a list I would have it in my top 10.  

In Search of Mags

I try to make Mother's Day an easy day for my wife.  I wake early with the little ones, make breakfast, and do a bunch of chores.  This morning I emptied out the dishwasher, filled it with a few things that did not fit in at the end of the night yesterday and then I put away laundry.  Wrangling a six year old who likes to read books is not a difficult task, but keeping an eye on a nine month old who furniture surfs, climbs stairs, and get her hands on anything she is not supposed to is a little bit more difficult.

Luckily I combined the laundry and care of the nine month old....

Littlest one was amused by being in a laundry basket and I had a few minutes to sit down to type a blog post after the house looked good.  I needed the extra time because I need to dig out a card for today's post.

A few years back, when I used to write a blog post almost everyday, I used to not even try to post all of the cards that came into my collection.  I stuck with the ones that were the most interesting at the time, so plenty of cards went straight into boxes without touching my scanner.

As it turns out, what was not interesting a few years back has suddenly become interesting during the past week all thanks to a bunch of Cardinals outfielders getting hurt and the team having to call up a speedy little outfielder all the way from A-Ball by the name of Magneuris Sierra.  Here is Mags in action last weekend against the Braves.....

The 2017 Cardinals are slow and sloppy on the bases.  Their defense causes fans to check their supply of antacids or alcohol or both.   Mags is the opposite of those things.  He can catch a fly ball and then the ball back into the infield.  He can run to a base without doing something really really stupid.  Although he got picked off right after he got his first hit.....Otherwise he hasn't done anything stupid on the bases.  

Anyway, I know I picked up a Mags auto a few years back and decided to wade through the autograph box to see if my memory served me right.  I broke out one of the autograph boxes.....

and started wading through a few hundred autographs of players with S last names.  There were plenty of scrubby Cardinals along the way....

like Kevin Siegrist.  I know people like him, I don't.  I also found a cool Kyle Skipworth card too.....

who is a former Greensboro Grasshopper and guy who was drafted way too high (6th overall) considering he's playing in Double A this year almost ten years after being picked.  Then I found it.....

I know I am not really big on the Panini cards, and it's a sticker autograph, but it's not like there is another Sierra autograph out there at the moment.  I was just happy that my memory was correct and I had one of these in the collection.  Especially since these have had one of those "This guy got called up and had a few hits, so I am going to pay a whole bunch of money for one" weeks since the Cardinals called him up.  There are a few other Mags cards in my collection beyond this autograph, but that's for another day.....

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #13: Zane Smith

1983 Durham Bulls 

Zane Smith was drafted out of Indiana State by the Braves in the third round of the 1982 MLB Draft. That summer he pitched half of a season with the Anderson Braves which was the team's Low A Ball team in the South Atlantic League.  For his first full season in professional baseball in 1983 the Braves sent Smith to Durham.  While playing for the Bulls he posted a 9-15 record in 27 games, all starts, with 126 strikeouts in 170.2 innings.  Not his best season, but the Braves bumped Smith up to Double A for the start of the 1984 season, and by the end of the year, he was pitching in Atlanta.  Smith went on the have a nice 13 year career pitching for the Braves, Pirates, Expos, and Red Sox.  His best season was probably 1990 which was split between the Expos and Pirates.  While Smith's record was only 12-9, but his ERA was just 2.55.  Smith also had a great NLCS in 1991 with the Pirates allowing just 1 run in 14 inning during the series against the Braves.  

The Durham Bulls became the Devil Rays Triple A in 1998.  Many of the players on the Bulls teams for the past 20 years are relatively easy to find.  Prior to becoming a Rays affiliate, the Bulls had spent almost 20 years as the Braves entry in the Carolina League.  The Braves cards are a little bit harder to find, especially the players from the 1980s Bulls teams, but several of the mid/late 1990s mega autograph sets have a few of the players in them.  I'm glad that Zane Smith was in a Pirates uniform for this set and not a Red Sox card since he had spent 1995 in Boston.  Nothing wrong with the Red Sox, but this is the way I remember Zane Smith.  (Would have also been fine with an Expos card).   

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Two-Thirds Of A Jumbo

I have taken a pass on buying any boxes of Bowman this year.  Not changing my mind for anything, but I will still end up with the set at some point in the near future.  While I am collecting a few less sets this year Bowman is still a staple set for me.  It someways I feel like I am missing out on the fun by just skipping ahead and buying a set from someone.  At the same time I can spend more time and money finding single cards from the set, or other sets later this year.

Or the cards that I am missing from sets I am putting together on the top tab.

I have already picked up two autographs from this year's Bowman set that I picked up in a trade last week.  One Rays/Durham Bulls card and one Cardinals card.  The jumbo boxes that I am skipping out on come with three autographs, but they seem to be a little pricey for whatever reason this year....

That says $199.95 if you cannot squint your eyes to read the price.  I can get some pretty nice cards for $200 even if I set aside something like $40 to buy a set.  Well, I have two-thirds of that jumbo box, I haven't spent $40 for a set yet, but I do have two cool autographs to show for my efforts....

Let's start with the Cardinals autograph.

Alcantara signed as a teenager with the Cardinals.  He has been around for a few years, and if you just look at the numbers on the stat sheet, you'd probably not think too much about him as a prospect.  Except Alcantara is one of those really raw players who is becoming more polished with time and throws in the high 90s.  His best stat is that he strikes out slightly more than a batter per inning.  I will file this card away and check back in two years or so....

Next is my Durham Bulls card.  

Honeywell started out the year in Double A Montgomery, but has been promoted to Durham a few weeks back.  He's had a bit of a rough start in Triple A, but I like Honeywell regardless....

He's a bit of a throwback player in that he is the first pitcher I can remember since Fernando Valenzuela to throw a screwball.  The screwgy.  

Pretty hard to not like this guy based on that one pitch in his arsenal.  I have still not seen Honeywell in person, but I intend to do so sometime during the next home stand.  Assuming Honeywell has not been called up, sent down, or something else.  

Meanwhile, I need to go out and find another autograph.  Still a few more Durham Bulls and Cardinals players with autographs in Bowman for me to track down.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Risky Cards

Bowman rolled out this week.  It's always one of my staple baseball card products that I work on every year and at some point this year I will stick my toe in the water.  It might be another week or two around here before I get around to getting to a card shop to find a box or two.  In the meantime, I have been scoping out a few single cards out of this year's set that I have run across on different trade groups or on Ebay.

While I was working on putting together a trade for one the Cardinals cards I actually ended up with a cool Cardinals Bowman card from last year.  One of those cards that was a little bit more than what I would spend on a prospect card, but I felt good with the price of the card in terms of trade.  If I going to trade for a more expensive prospect card I'd rather give up other prospect cards and not older  established players.....

This card cost me a small stack of prospect cards.  I can live without them for the most part.  One of them made me a little a sad, but it was something that I can find again.

The card that came my way belongs to last year's Cardinals first round pick Delvin Perez......

Perez was actually supposed to be taken at the top of the first round, but ended up failing a PED test which dropped him down to the Cardinals.  It seems like the Cardinals always take a college pitcher in the first round, but they veered a bit last year by taking the high school infielder.

This card has always been pretty pricy during the past year, and with Perez being in the low Minors, it seemed like a risky proposing to me.  Depending on the version of the autograph that you buy, this Perez card can be send anywhere from $35 cards and up.  In terms of a Cardinals rookie card, Perez is not in the neighborhood of Pujols in 2001, or J.D. Drew in 1998, but he is certainly more than other recent high draft picks like Michael Wacha and Stephen Piscotty.

More importantly, I actually like the start that Perez got off to last year in his first at-bats in professional baseball.  He had a total of 180 plate appearances and posted a slash line of .294/.352/.393 with eight doubles and four triples.  No home runs, but I like that he got on base and he was also able to steal 12 bases.  I'd love to see more power, but Delvin Perez is just 18 and is 6'3.  I'm sure he will fill out a bit, the Cardinals will put him in a weight room, and he will continue to grow as a hitter.

Beyond the Delvin Perez card I also did manage to pick up a few 2017 Bowman autographs.  I also landed a freebie of "The Koz" who is sort of a cult classic in many Cardinals fans collection.  If you do not know "The Koz" he was the team's shortstop for a few seasons, hit about .200 in his best year. He also let a fly ball fall in between himself and Matt Holliday in a playoff game, but was bailed out by an infield fly call......

in better news he also once had a series clinching hit against the Nationals back in 2012.

I don't have many cards of "The Koz", but I always enjoy them when I run across one.  I didn't have this card, so it was a really cool throw-in from my trading partner.  

I will have a post up on my new Bowman autographs sometime in the near future.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Things I Am Sorting Part 10

Yes, I am still working on putting some sets together.  That Pedro Martinez Skybox Molten Metal card is proving difficult and might be spilling over into my other set projects.  I haven't completed any of the sets that I have listed on the Projects In Progess tab at the top of the page, but I have a stack of cards sitting on my desk that need scanning and posting.  

Tonight is going to be an update on my 1999 Topps Gallery Heritage set.  A little bit of logistics first.  When I originally posted the set I had not sorted through my collection yet to see what cards were already here.  I had McGwire and Griffey off the checklist since I had posted them here in other posts.  Here is the checklist minus the Griffey and Big Mac.  

TH1- Hank Aaron 
TH2- Ben Grieve 
TH3- Nomar Garciaparra 
TH4- Roger Clemens 
TH5- Travis Lee
TH6- Tony Gwynn
TH7- Alex Rodriguez 

TH9- Derek Jeter 
TH10- Sammy Sosa
TH11- Scott Rolen 
TH12- Chipper Jones
TH13- Cal Ripken Jr. 
TH14- Kerry Wood 
TH15-Barry Bonds
TH16- Juan Gonzalez 
TH17- Mike Piazza
TH18- Greg Maddux 
TH19- Frank Thomas  

The highlighted cards on the checklist I was able to find amongst my boxes of cards.  So, out of the 20 card set I am looking for a total of 9 cards, or just under 50% of the set.  The better news is that I have found a few of the cards I am missing from the set over the past two months.  

Here is a look at the new cards........

Of the three new cards I picked up for this project this is my favorite card.  There have been plenty of art sets over the years, but Topps did a really good job with this set.  I like that Topps put Maddux in glasses on his card.  Gives him that accountant sort of look that I remember him having while he was playing.  It's hard to believe sometimes that a short guy who barely threw 90 was one of the best pitchers of the steroid era.  This is a really cool card.  

I like the Aaron card too.  Always nice to see the greats from yesteryear in the modern baseball card sets.  I like the Boston Braves markings on the cards, but the Topps Gum ad over his shoulder seems a little bit forced.  

Last card.   

I know there is all the steroid stuff with Juan Gone, but I don't really care.  The guy could hit.  Something about this card feels a little bit unfinished.  The helmet has the Rangers T logo, but the jersey just seems like it isn't finished.  It's a common thing in the art world actually. 

This Titian painting is in the St. Louis Art Museum.  He was commissioned to make the painting, but died before he finished it.  

Same sort of idea between the Titian painting and the Juan Gone card.  The main figure on each is completed, but the edges and details are a little bit vague.  Not really completed.  

Overall, happy to have the three new cards which brings the set completion down to just six cards.  

TH3- Nomar Garciaparra 
TH4- Roger Clemens 
TH6- Tony Gwynn
TH9- Derek Jeter 
TH12- Chipper Jones
TH15-Barry Bonds

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Let's All Flip Out

Things happen to players that makes us want to run away.  Sometime in the spring of 2005 I went all in on Mark Mulder cards.  The Cardinals had just been to the World Series and upgraded their starting rotation by trading for one of the A's big three pitchers.  As a Cardinals fan I loved the move.  The team had a very good starting rotation in 2004, I figured Mulder was going to be a big winner with the Cardinals.

I started hitting up the local card shops around St. Louis looking for cool Mulder cards and found plenty of great options.  Plenty of other Cardinals collectors did the same thing.  His cards were pretty reasonable and Mulder had done a fair amount of signing while he was with the A's.  One of the first Mulder cards I picked up was a copy of his 2003 Donruss Signature Series Autograph.

The 2005 season came and went.  The Cardinals reached the NLCS and lost to the Astros.  Mulder did not have his best season, but still won 16 games.  Chris Carpenter had a career year and won the Cy Young, so really being the second starter in the rotation seemed decent.  Then 2006 happened and Mulder's shoulder basically fell off.  

Collectors flipped out and there were tons of cheap Mulder cards everywhere.  I was happy to take some cheap cards off other people's hands and loaded up on his cards.  My favorite cheap Mulder card was a copy of his 1999 Topps Traded autograph.....

The way I saw the whole Mulder injury at the time was that he was going to miss a year, come back, and generally be his former self.  Not what really happened since Mulder's career was basically sunk after 2006.  He pitched a few games in 2007 and 2008, tried a comeback with the Angels a few years back, but basically he was done.  I probably should have known a little bit better, although I still love the Topps Traded autograph.  

Since the days of collecting Mark Mulder cards I have developed a system of sorts for collecting cards of players who are injured.  There is inevitably either some level of panic with a drastic sell off, or just a slow steady decline.  Either way, the price of the players cards are going to go down.  So, here it is.  Shoulders are bad and we do not touch them.  I could see good reason to flip out.  

until the price of their cards levels off.  Scott Rolen had a bum shoulder after he was run over by Hee-Seop Choi in 2005.  He missed time, his power numbers dropped, and he ended up on the Blue Jays and Reds.  For awhile I just avoided his cards, but they are pretty consistent now and much more affordable than when he was with the Cardinals.  

Then there are elbow injuries.  Everyone is always bummed out when a pitcher on their team has Tommy John surgery.  People can flip out about these injuries, but should they?  I remember back in 2011 when the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright to an elbow injury.  Sure the Cardinals won the World Series that year, but they lost Adam Wainwright right?  So many affordable Wainwright cards......

and then he came back and won 53 games in 2012, 2013, and 2014.  No, Wainwright did not win a Cy Young Award, but everything after the elbow injury worked out pretty well.  Until that whole Achilles Tendon thing, but I haven't really thought that one out yet.  Not a real common occurrence in baseball.  Maybe a reason to flip out, the Achilles thing, not the elbow.  

Currently there is a bit of a meltdown amongst Cardinals fans about Alex Reyes.  I am sad he's out for the season too, but it's an elbow injury.  I am feeling alright about his future still and am still out trying to find his cards.  No need to flip out.    

I just picked up a really nice looking Bowman's Best autograph of the hard throwing pitcher just a few days back......

His card prices aren't sinking like a boulder in a lake, but it sure does seem like a lot of people have really lost interest in this guy.  I am still happy collecting cards of Alex Reyes and I am pretty sure that he's going to be a good pitcher.  Yes, there are pitchers who do not make it back from elbow injuries, there is always that chance, but in that case I can look back at Alex Reyes and think about would could have been....  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #12: Hank Conger

2016 Durham Bulls 

Conger was drafted by the Angels in the first round (25th overall) of the 2006 Amateur Draft out of high school.  Conger was a highly regarded prospect for many years making the Baseball Prospectus Top 100 Prospects 4 times between 2007 and 2011.  He graduated to the Majors full time in 2011, but Conger never hit enough to stick a starting job with the Halos.  In 5 years with the team Conger posted a slash line of .224/.294/.353 with 17 home runs, 34 doubles, and 71 RBIs.  He was traded to the Astros after the 2014 season where he was the backup catcher and post home run Robot Dancer.  I believe this was actually called the "CongerBot"

Conger ended up with the Rays in 2016 which is probably not a great thing considering the Rays seem to run through catchers fast.  Not really a surprise, but Conger ended up in Durham and did not hit at all.  In 30 games with the Bulls Conger hit .165/.200/.303 with 3 home runs, a triple, and 4 doubles.  Conger is still in the Minors this year with the Diamondbacks.  

I am not a huge Angels person, so I never really went after any Conger cards back in the days when he was regarded as a serious prospect.  I also never pulled one of his cards, so I am not sure what they actually were worth in terms of trade or monetary value back in the day.  According to the biggest Angels card collector that I know his cards had a decent following in the years he was in the Minors.  Sort of dried up quickly after he got to the Majors.  I got this 2007 Bowman's Best autograph, which was one of his nice autos, for pretty much nothing.  I have always liked this set a lot though, even if it is sticker autographs, the silver on the sticker and card fit together well.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Trip To The Co-Op

Everyone has written up something about their 2017 cards.  I am slowing down a bit this year, so I am doing a little more picking and choosing of sets to collect.  I set out recently to my local card, The Trading Card Co-Op to check out two different products.  In past years I have really enjoyed opening boxes of Heritage and Gypsy Queen, so they seemed like something good to work on.  I'd like to think of them as kind of staple products, or sets that are long running that I have been opening since whenever they started..... Beyond Gypsy Queen and Heritage, I also picked up a single card which fit nicely into my card collection.

New single card.

Love the black card with the gold signature and gold foil.  I am a little depressed about the Cardinals at the moment, so I am just going to leave this card here and move on to my Heritage box.  

The 1968 set is not my favorite, but it's not terrible.  I have always heard it described as the "burlap sack" set.  Good description, but I have always felt that was kind of a negative and I don't really see this set as one that I would run away from.  Besides, my box was pretty sweet.  The card above is a mini and the card below is a mini.

I think mini cards are supposed to be one per box, but mine had two.  Beating the odds is always good.  I also got a chrome Rizzo card.  Another good name to go along with the Posey and Machado.

I had one of cool parallel card which I did not scan because I did not find it until I started sorting out my cards into making my set.  One of those things you miss the first time around because it just doesn't stand out.  The other card was a grey back card which I believe are limited to just 10 copies.  All sounds good, but the card is the Rockies team card.  Not the best, but I am sure I can trade somewhere, or something like that.

On to the autograph.  I cannot complain about this one at all either.....

I actually spent the last few days watching the Cardinals play the Yankees, don't mention the outcomes, but Judge seems to be a really impressive player.  I am going to file this card away in a box and revisit it in the future.  Hopefully Aaron Judge has a nice career, if not I will look back and remember when I could have sold this card for more than $50, but now it's under $5 on COMC.....I like my chances of it staying pretty high.

Shall we Gypsy Queen?  I am going to do this one quickly.  My two autographs....

two pretty good young players.  The Severino is serial numbered to 150.  The Piscotty is not numbered, but it is always nice to pull an autograph that fits into my collection out of a box of cards.  A few other hits, not showing them all.  

My best non-autographed card, might be even better than my autographs, is a Manny Machado throwback variation.  The card is also missing the his position above his name, so this is a short print within a short print.  Way too over complicate things Topps.  Still a cool card.  

I pulled three other color variations out of the Gypsy Queen box.  The Car-Go card is a black and white variation and serial numbered out 50, Dozier and Judge are both purple and serial numbered out of 250.  

I also pulled a couple of cards with no name on the front and a few others with out the player's position above their name.  It seems like you get a couple of these per box based on what I have seen out of other people's pictures around Twitter and Instagram.  

Overall, I am happy to have finally picked up boxes of these two products.  I pulled some really cool cards out of the boxes and also am enjoying the new Matt Carpenter autograph.  Overall, a good day at the local card shop.