Thursday, May 30, 2013

Best of the Rest for May

I started doing these posts last month when I picked out the best five cards that I picked up in trades or purchased that did not appear in a blog post.  The cards pictured here might have been throw-ins with other cards or they might have been something that was picked up quickly and cheaply.  So, let's do a quick run down:

1999 Upper Deck PowerDeck Tony Gwynn

The PowerDeck cards were pretty unique.  You do not see a lot of CD Rom cards floating around, but the concept was short lived.  I think I had a bunch of these back in the day, but I either traded them off or sold them.  This card was a whole $0.99.  I am not going to stick it in my computer for fear that the software of yesteryear would somehow mess up my computer.  

2013 Bowman Hometown Flags Trevor Rosenthal

Little more straightforward on this card.  This is the second year in a row that Bowman has added a flag variation to their base set.  I believe that 1997 was the first year that Bowman put the flags on cards.  Over the years they have used maps and goofy palm tree pictures to show where players reside.  I like this Rosenthal card since he is a Cardinal and a native of Missouri.  Might need to find a North Carolina card.  Seth Maness?  

2001 Topps Traded Royce Clayton

From a current Cardinal to a former Cardinal.  Royce Clayton was the Cardinals shortstop for two and a half seasons before he was traded to the Rangers.  He was originally acquired by the Cardinals from the Giants and would be giving the starting shortstop job in 1996 over one Osborne Earl Smith.  Clayton would eventually become sort of a journeyman shortstop and later star in the movie Moneyball as Miguel Tejada.  Really.  

2013 Topps Museum Jarrod Parker Dual Jersey Autograph

I have put up several Museum Collection cards over the past few weeks, but did not post this card.  Jarrod Parker is not the best baseball player, but this card is exactly why I cannot stand sticker autographs.  I have 90% of a Jarrod Parker autograph, but someone else apparently has the other 10% of the signature.  Bum deal.  

2008 Donruss Elite Collegiate Patches Mark Melancon Autograph

Decent player having a great season for the Pirates.  I have picked up a bunch of these Donruss patches over the years and always think it's cool to see a few of the Major League players in their college uniforms.  

2010 Topps Pro Debut Brett Wallace Jumbo Patch Card

I was kind of hard on the Brett Wallace card market earlier this month when I gave a break down of the highs and lows of the Astros first baseman's journey from well-thought of prospect to a light hitting after thought.  I guess that post helped me land a sweet piece of cardboard in the long run.  Shortly after my posting on the Wallace card I was approached by a collector trying to get rid of a nice Brett Wallace card.  I will not overreach or overpay for players whom I do not collect, but I always take time to listen.  You never know when you will see something interesting or something that is a nice unique add to the collection.  Both of those things can be said about today's card.

2010 Topps Pro Debut Brett Wallace Jumbo Patch Card

Now, I do not care whether you are a huge Brett Wallace fan or not.  This is a really cool card.  The patch piece on the card is from Wallace's Future's Game jersey which he is wearing in the picture on the lefthand side of the card.  A little closer look at the Future's Game jersey's from the 2010 event shows that the star is from the edge of the USA logo, the grey in the background belongs to the leg of the Arch, and the white patch on the right side of the card is the leg of the letter U.

Overall, a really cool addition to the collection given that the card pictures Wallace as a Cardinals prospect and that the card also features a patch from the Future's Game that was played in Busch Stadium.  This at least the third really cool patch card that I have picked up during the past year that was connected with the 2009 All-Star game in St. Louis.  You can see the other two here and here.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2009 Upper Deck USA Baseball Tyler Lyons Autograph

The Cardinals are keeping me busy this season with all of the different players that they have had on their team.  Despite the injuries and frequently shuttles running between Busch Stadium and the team's AAA affiliate in Memphis, the club currently claims the best record in all of Major League Baseball.  The team's top rated farm system has provided plenty of depth and allowed the Cardinals to fill in for injured starters like Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia.  For card collectors, it has left some scrambling for new cards of new players.  Many Cardinals fans were anticipating the call ups of top pitching prospects Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha and have already had a chance to see Martinez and will see Wacha make his debut tomorrow afternoon against the Royals.  There have been a few other surprising names that have popped up for the team this year too which have required a little more digging to find cards of players.

2009 Upper Deck USA Baseball Tyler Lyons Autograph

One of the more surprising names that the Cardinals have brought up from their minor league system this year has been left-handed pitcher Tyler Lyons.  While he was not a top prospect in the system, Lyons pitched in college at Oklahoma State and also played for the USA College Baseball team.  The USA Baseball team practices and is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina just a few miles from my house.  They play several home games every summer at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and I usually attend one or two of the games, but I cannot remember if I saw Lyons pitch or not.  If I did I guess it was not memorable.  Anyway, through two starts Lyons has had two great outings and picked up two wins.  

Card wise, Lyons was a heavy signer in the 2009 Upper Deck USA Baseball set.  Sites like Ebay and COMC literally have fifteen to twenty autographed cards of Lyons and also a handful of jersey and baseball cards too.  The high quantity of cards makes the prices of the cards rather inexpensive.  In fact, the card above cost me less than $3 delivered.  While it is the most basic of all the Upper Deck Lyons autographs, nicer versions with jersey and patch pieces generally run no more than $10-$15.  Considering that the 2009 Upper Deck USA Baseball set includes some solid names and signatures this card might be a good pick up considering the relative inexpensive price tag.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2001 Donruss Studio Warning Track Mike Piazza Stadium Wall Card

The relic card phenomena probably went a little bit too far at some point during the late 90s and early 2000s.  I am aware that the small pieces of jersey and bat that once excited collectors have become stale and boring, but some card companies tried to get ahead of the curb by offering some rather creative relics.  In fact, I ran into a fellow collector with an interesting assortment of oddball relic cards.  Sounds a little bit strange, but most of the cards focus on relics that would be considered community property.  The most common of these cards are base and ball cards, but there are a few more creative ideas that card companies came up with a few years back.  This week I will take a little bit of time to share two of these cards.

2001 Donruss Studio Warning Track Mike Piazza

First up for my oddball relic cards is this awesome 2001 Donruss Studio Warning Track Mike Piazza Stadium Wall card.  Sounds pretty cool and unique, but these cards are pretty easy to find and there is a slight flaw with these cards.  Reading the small print on the left-hand side of the wall relic and you will see the words Three Rivers Stadium.  (Sigh).  Pretty lame giving out a communal piece of baseball property, but worse that it is not even from a stadium that Piazza played in as a home player.  If the wall piece came from Shea Stadium or Dodger Stadium it would be a little bit cooler.  Digging a little bit deeper into the Donruss catalogue for the 2001 calendar year you can find sets with bench cards and all sorts of other fixtures from Three Rivers Stadium.

On a positive note, while Piazza was never a Pirate, he did have an incredible career playing at Three Rivers Stadium.  In 42 games played in the Stadium Piazza put up 15 home runs, 45 RBIs, a .380 batting average, and an OPS of 1.131.  Not too shabby.  I am going to be on the look out for a McGwire bench card from Three Rivers, but in the meantime I guess I have finally added a wall relic card to my collection.

Monday, May 27, 2013

2004 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Miguel Cabrera Autograph

It's hard to find anything that is the least bit affordable these days when looking for cards of Miguel Cabrera.  He was never a really cheap player to collect and then after winning the Triple Crown last year his cards started pushing even higher than they had been in previous years.  Last year I actually made an effort to pick up a few Miguel Cabrera cards throughout the season.  At first I could find an autographed card of Cabrera pretty easily and pick up the card for less than $20 in trade or cash.  By the end of the year common autographs of Cabrera were selling for no less than $30 and premium autographs sold between $75-$100.

This year has made Cabrera cards insane.  It seems like the average Cabrera autograph has gone up by another ten dollars since the beginning of this season with Cabrera looking like a threat to possibly repeat as both a Triple Crown winner and the American League MVP.  For example, one of the cheapest and most overproduced autographs sets of the last decade was the 2004 Upper Deck Etchings set.  Cheap stickers, cheap cards, and completely overproduced.  There are usually a minimum of 1,000 cards of each autographed player produced.  So, what did the last Cabrera copy sell for on Ebay?  $40. Base Topps autograph for $60.  Imagine what card shops are charging....

I am happy to say that I picked up my first Cabrera autograph of the 2013 season and I managed to snag it for less than $30.  Better yet is the fact that it is a Sweet Spot card, always a cool set, and the autograph is legible and fade free.

2004 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Miguel Cabrera Autograph

The foil on the bottom right hand corner has started to flake off in two spots, but it's still a really good card to grab for the price I paid and given the fact that the market for Cabrera cards is likely to climb through the summer if he can stay near the top of the leader boards in the three triple crown categories and be among the favorites for the American League MVP.  I will go ahead and file this card away for awhile, but I am guessing I will come out ahead on this very shortly.

2013 Topps Museum Collection Yoenis Cespedes Autograph

I have waiting to add a Yoenis Cespedes autograph to my collection for awhile, but the prices of his rookie cards were pretty high last year given the fact that he is an older "rookie".  Meaning that his performance last year .292/.356/.505 with 23 home runs is going to be about the level he performs at going forward with his career in Oakland.  Last year his cards were generally treated in the same category as some of the elite prospects in baseball.  For example, last year I was once offered a Cespedes autograph card for the same price as a Taveras card.  I am happy with my decision to wait it out for this card.

2013 Topps Museum Collection Yoenis Cespedes Autograph 

While the price of a Cespedes card has fallen from north of $50 to the $20 range, it's still a pretty good card to pick up at it's current price.  Before even playing a game in the Majors, Cespedes was hyped as a superstar in waiting and fans of numerous teams hoped that their team would get involved in signing the Cuban baseball star.  Of course, there was this awesome workout video too showing Cespedes putting up 1300 pounds on a leg press machine while working out with former Packers running back Ahman Green.

Cespedes is likely to always have some sort of following as many international players often do which will mean that his cards will never be total bargains.  A quick look at a player like Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez will provide a good reference point.  El Duque was an older rookie whose cards initially had a good deal of value, but cooled after a few years in the Majors.  Despite the fact that he was basically a middle of the rotation starter, his cards still sell and often do so above El Duque's actual on the field performance.  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

1997 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Gregg Jefferies/Scott Rolen Autograph

In retrospect, I could think of many reasons why a Cardinals fan would put Scott Rolen and Gregg Jefferies on the same baseball card none of which are really great reason to remember a baseball player.  Gregg Jefferies came up with the Mets in the late 80s as a can't miss wonder prospect.  You know the kind that never fail and end up in the Hall of Fame shortly after their careers end.  Rolen came up in the mid 90s and was seem by Phillies fans as the next Mike Schmidt.  Both ended up on the Cardinals during the prime of their career making this card, though both are pictured on the Phillies, a cool collectible for Cardinals fans.

1997 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Scott Rolen Autograph 

Rolen is probably the more recognizable face on this card was a great young player when this card was issued.  Rolen spent his first half dozen seasons in Philadelphia where he won a few Gold Gloves and became one of the most feared offensive third baseman in the game.  He eventually had some differences with the management of the Phillies and was traded to the Cardinals in 2002 for Placido Polanco.  Rolen would continue to be recognized as the best all-around third baseman in the National League and probably could have won an MVP in 2004 if two other Cardinals players (Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols) had not all had career years the same season.  In 2005, Rolen collided with the legendary Hee Seop Choi wrecking his shoulder and cutting short the prime years of Rolen's career.

The decreased production eventually led Rolen into a little squable with Tony LaRussa which led to his trade to the Blue Jays.  Rolen ended his career as a candidate for the Hall of Very Good Players and a nice contributor to some Reds teams the last two years.  While he helped the Cardinals win the 2006 World Series, he will always be remembered for his exit from the Cardinals (and the Phillies) more than some of the better moments in his career.  My favorite was always his 2004 NLCS home run off of Roger Clemens in Game 7.

1997 Topps Stadium Co-Signers Gregg Jefferies Autograph 

The other half of the card features Gregg Jefferies.  After a few years of not living up to his potential with the Mets, the team shipped him off to the Royals in exchange for Bret Saberhagen.  After one season with the Royals the team traded him to the Cardinals where he batted over .320 twice and made two National League All-Star teams.  Besides hitting .300 Jefferies excelled at throwing batting helmets and yelling frequently at anyone and everyone.  Great player, not a model of sportsmanship.   At the end of the 1994 season, Jefferies became a free agent and signed with the Phillies.  At the time the Cardinals were a low budget team, but according to almost everyone involved, the team actually tried to sign Gregg Jefferies.  Jefferies departure from the Cardinals allowed Topps to put together this fabulous card of a former top prospect, with what was at the time of the card's production, one of the current best prospects.  

Cardinals fans were not really happy that Jefferies bolted the team to sign with the Phillies, but he did not exactly play up to his contract with the Phillies.  The Cardinals took the money they saved on not signing Jefferies and picked up two-time American League All-Star, and St. Louis native, Scott Cooper and former Reds and Phillies ace Danny Jackson.  Neither player lived up to their contract with the Cardinals either.  

While these players are a little bit dubious in the eyes of Cardinals fans they were both above average players who made some good contributions to their teams during their time in St. Louis.  Rolen might be in the Hall of Fame if it were not for running into Hee Seop Choi.  Jefferies gave fans in St. Louis an All-Star player to watch during two of the leanest seasons in Cardinals history.  Not all Cardinals fans would love this card, but I am happy to give it a home.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

2013 Topps Museum Collection Prince Fielder Quad Jersey

I picked up another great pair of Topps Museum cards for my collection yesterday by adding a quad jersey card of Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder and an autograph of former Durham Bull Alex Cobb.  First the Fielder.  The quad jersey cards are a staple of Museum Collection sets and they come in a couple different forms.  My card is the most basic form of the quad jersey cards with just four pieces of plain jersey and no signature.  Still a much nicer card than a basic jersey card.

2013 Topps Museum Collection Prince Fielder Quad Jersey 

I know that many people pay attention to what Miguel Cabrera is doing, but Prince Fielder is having a great year so far too with a line of .276/.408/.506.  Add in the fact that he's on pace for another 30 home run season and also over 120 RBIs and Prince could have a pretty special season.  I picked up a few Prince Fielder cards last year during his first year in Detroit and might have to add a few more to my collection this year.  

2013 Topps Museum Collection Alex Cobb Patch/Jersey Autograph

My second Museum card belongs to former Durham Bulls, and current Rays starter, Alex Cobb.  While Cobb is not a top of the rotation starter he's a solid Major League starting pitcher.  In fact, this season he's had a pretty good year posting a 5-2 record with 54 strikeouts in 9 starts.  This card was really inexpensive for a hit card from a high end product and I like the patch piece of the left.  I believe that the blue stitching on the bottom of the window is the mountain on the Majestic logo meaning that the patch piece above is the bottom of the ray patch.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Complete Set: 2000 Fleer Gamers

There is a reason that several of the card companies from the card boom of the late 90s and early 2000s are bankrupt and out of business.  The main reason was probably the fact that the companies competed with each other, but also with themselves.  There is only so much money that collectors spend on cards each year, as much as we would all love an unlimited budget, and Fleer, Donruss, Upper Deck, and Topps pumped out an overabundance of products.  There were products that were definite hits and a few flops along the way too.  There were also a few card products that flew under the radar.  The Fleer Gamers set is one of those sets that has gotten a little bit better and stronger with age.

2000 Fleer Gamers Jose Canseco 

First, the base set is nothing that great.  It's pretty typical of a Fleer release from this era and that is all I can really say about the design.  There are 120 total cards in the set, so it's not too difficult to track down the complete set with a box and a little help.  In fact, the box prices are one of the best things about this set.  Back in 2000, this set was one of way too many released by Fleer.  Of course, it was deemed a flop and many shops and Ebay sellers have boxes of Fleer Gamers on the cheap.  With a mediocre base set why would one care to roll the dice on a $30-$40 box of wax?  Inserts, Relics, and Autographs. 

2000 Fleer Gamers Cal Ripken Cal To Greatness 

Let's start with the inserts.  They are not very Fleer like in some regards.  There are die-cuts that look more like something that Pacific would put out on the market, but if nothing else there is the stand-by Cal Ripken insert set which yields two to three cards per box.  The Cal to Greatness set is pretty popular and the cards in the set hover around $5 on Ebay.  Three of these cards alone can pay for half of your box before you pull anything else.

2000 Fleer Gamers Lumber Ray Lankford Bat Card

The relic cards look like your typical late 90s relic set, small relic, not so great player card that would sell on Ebay for $2.  Almost not worth buying when you include shipping, except Fleer actually did a few things right with this relic set that most sets in the card boom era failed miserably with.  First, the list of players included in the relic set (all bat pieces) includes plenty of Hall of Famers, but also a lot of solid players with little to no relic exposure.  I could use Ray Lankford as my example, of a player with no relic cards outside of this set, and an above average Major League resume.  There is also a relic card for ESPN announcer Chris Singleton which is also his only relic card.  Of course there are the usual suspects of good players, average players, with a few Hall of Famers sprinkled into the mix.  Which leads me to my second point.  

The set is named Lumbers, the relic cards are all bats (notice a theme) and yet the relic cards are only planted two per case, or one every box and a half.  If Topps put out a set like this there would be a bat card in every pack.  The result of short-printing unique relic cards is directly reflected by the price that collectors pay for these cards on the secondary market.  Excluding a $0.99 bat card of Royals prospect-flop Carlos Febles, almost every bat card from this set is over $5 on Ebay with star players over $10 and Hall of Famers north of that point.  But wait, there's more....

2000 Fleer Gamers Lumber Shawn Green Bat/Auto 

To make this set a little bit sweeter Fleer also put in signed (on-card) versions of the bat cards.  The autographs were seeded at about one per ten boxes, or one per case and a half.  Long odds for an autograph.  The checklist includes Derek Jeter and Robert Alomar as the Hall of Famers included, but also features Rafael Palmeiro, Paul Konerko, Sean Casey, and ARod.  The autographs tend to fetch a pretty good price with most commons reach at least $20 on the secondary market.

Overall, I am aware that the base set is not that appealing, but if you are looking to pick up a cheap box and find something cool (and enjoy opening some wax) then this is a great product to look into picking up.  Boxes are easy to find on Ebay and the right hit could add a great card to your collection, or give you a nice trade chip to pick up something else for your collection.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

2013 Topps Museum Collection Matt Kemp Jumbo Bat Card

I posted my first two Museum Collection cards of the year to my blog last night and have another great card to share this evening.  It might be too far to say that I collect Matt Kemp cards, but he is certainly a player that I enjoy watching and I have taken more than a passing interest in his cards over the years.  Last year his cards really took off at the beginning of the year before cooling off after a series of injuries limited the playing time of the Dodgers outfielder.

Kemp was a visible part of several different Topps set last year and this year has been no different.  I had not added any new blog-worthy 2013 Kemp cards to this point in the calendar year, so I was happy to land a really cool and unique card from the Museum Collection as my first.

2013 Topps Museum Collection Matt Kemp Jumbo Bat Card

Surprisingly I do not own many jumbo bat, or bat barrel cards in my collection.  I was surprised that this card was available as cheaply as I found it, so it was a no-brainer to pick it up.  The jumbo bat cards in this year's Museum Collection set have actually sold very well.  I've really been on the look out for a Jon Jay edition, but ended up with a few others in the process.  The bidding on these cards on Ebay has been heavy and trading for these cards has also demanded a steep price.  For example, I tried to trade for a Jon Jay jumbo bat this weekend as was asked for a little more than $50 for the card.  I also tried buying a card on Ebay, but the bidding went over $40.

For my time and money, this Kemp card was had for half the going rate of the Jon Jay cards I have been pursuing and I have added a much better card to my collection.  I actually really like looking at the larger pieces of the bat relics and might lean towards giving the jumbo bat cards the nod as my favorite cards in this year's Museum Collection release.  Maybe I will pick up a few more.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Topps Museum Bruce Sutter Triple Relic Autograph

In case you missed the beginnings of my blog last year, I have a rule about not opening high end wax products.  Terrible luck in the past, plus the ability to control my product hits through trades and purchases has led me done the path of letting others risk most of the danger.  I still get an itch once in awhile and will drop good money and a high end pack, but that is pretty rare.  My rule still does not mean that I will not dabble in the product once the cards have reached the secondary market.

Last year I really enjoyed the first release of the Topps Museum Collection and was excited to get my hands on a few cards this year.  Last week the product hit the shelves and I overcame the temptation of ripping a box or pack to wait out a few cards in trades and auctions.  My first pair of cards came in the mail this afternoon.  Big one first.

2013 Topps Museum Collection Bruce Sutter

Sutter was the last Cardinals player elected to the Hall of Fame and also had his jersey retired at the beginning of last season.  Sutter was one of the dominate relievers of his area and he was also noted for being one of the pioneers of the split finger fastball.  Sutter is a pretty easy autograph to find on the secondary market, but is mainly in a Cubs or Braves jersey on most of the cards.  While I do not like sticker autographs, especially on a high end product, this card was a little too nice to pass by.  Especially since it is my first Sutter autograph in a Cardinals uniform.  The red patch piece on the left-hand side of this card makes it a little bit sweeter.

2013 Topps Museum Collection Jaime Garcia

And I also picked up this jumbo Jaime Garcia jersey card.  It's been a bad day for Jaime, as it was just announced he is out for the season, so I will simply say that this is a pretty cool jumbo piece of his jersey.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Complete Set: 2013 Bowman

I completed another complete set, but this one was easy since it was just released a little over a week and half ago.  The Bowman set has been a hot commodity in recent years, but seems to have taken a step back this year.  Mainly due to the fact that the set seems to be lacking a marquee name.  There seem to still be a few strong cards in the set with good future potential, but there are not many here and now cards for case busters and high-end single card chasers to track down.  Still, Bowman is one of the staple products out on the market every year and is a must have for any tried and true set builder and collectors looking for some good long term investments in their collection. 

2013 Bowman Albert Pujols

The base Bowman set of veterans and assorted rookies is fairly lackluster this year.  I am not really too big into the design of the cards.  This feels like a slight variations on the 2012 Bowman set and is only really a step or two away from the 2011 set.  A bolder design would have definitely helped this set instead of a third year in a row with a white framed card.  The usual veterans are in the base set, but the real star of the show, like all recent Bowman sets, is the Prospects and Prospects Chrome cards.  

2013 Bowman Prospects Chrome Carlos Correa

The best card is the set probably belongs to Astros shortstop, and last year's number one overall draft pick, Carlos Correa.  His cards are not in the Bryce Harper zip code, but they will run you a pretty penny.  Twins outfielder Byron Buxton also seems to carry some value, but I have a feeling that he is a long way from the Majors and his cards will likely settle a little in the next year or two.  Not to say that he will not be a good player, but I think the excitement will cool off a bit after he spends a year or two in the low minors.  Without a clear stellar prospect to lean on this set will likely continue to be a disappointment to the collectors looking to cash in on the here and now of trading and selling their Bowman cards this summer.  This seems like a great set to find, put in a closet, and revisit in a few years.  This could be a dud, but then again it only takes one or two good cards to drive a set.  

My Favorite Card

2013 Bowman Avisail Garcia Autograph

There are still plenty of good autographs floating around in this year's Bowman set.  Why not pick a few and take a risk on picking up a card that is going to be something special in a few years?  For example, while this Avisail Garcia card is not his rookie, nor his first autograph, it is commonly selling and trading for less than $20.  At just 21, he probably does not really belong up in Detroit, but is playing there at the moment due to an injury to Austin Jackson.  The front office types around the Tigers seemed to think that a few hundred at-bats in Toledo would do Garcia well.  In his time in the International League this season Garcia is hitting better than .400 and has an OPS of almost 1.000.  At some point Leyland, hopefully, gets tired of running the usual cast of clowns out to left field and Garcia will get his chance.  At worst, you have a nice autograph of an everyday starting outfielder.   

Monday, May 20, 2013

2011 Topps Finest Brett Wallace Green Autograph

I took my time picking up a Brett Wallace autograph, but after a year and a half of's here.  I really needed one for my Cardinals autograph collection, but was unwilling to meet the demand up until now.

2011 Topps Finest Green Brett Wallace

For those who are indifferent about Brett Wallace, he is one of those perfect cautionary tale about sinking too much into a player before the succeeded in the majors.  Seems like the kind of thing to talk about right now with everyone running around going crazy about their new Bowman cards.

Brett Wallace was one of the top bats in college baseball during his senior season at Arizona State.  The Cardinals drafted him with the 13th pick in the 2008 draft.  Cardinals fans were excited about Wallace quickly advancing to the majors and holding down third base long term for the team.  Sure there were some whispers about him not transitioning well away from metal bats and his lack of conditioning, but there were plenty of Cardinals fans and card collectors who loved the Cardinals minor leaguer.

The first Wallace cards to appear on the market were his appearances in the Upper Deck USA Baseball set and the Razor Rookies set.  Both sets featured autographs of Wallace and were fairly steady movers for most of the 2008 and 2009 season in the range of $20-$30.  Wallace even appeared in the Futures Game in Busch Stadium during the summer of 2009.

The Futures Game appearance would be his only home game ever played for the Cardinals who would trade Wallace to the A's for Matt Holliday later in the summer.  Then he was traded to the Blue Jays and later to the Astros.  Collectors still were pretty sold on Wallace and his card fell slightly, but were still desirable commodities.

Wallace was called up to the bigs during the 2010 season and has been unable to hit for power, average, or get on base.  This season he has posted a line of .042/.115/.042.  Obviously the market for Wallace cards cannot get any lower at this point, hence the trade for the Finest card pictured above.

Big thanks to my brother in-law, Matt Seguin, for the chance to trade for this card.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

2013 Bowman Jake Odorizzi Autograph

I started working on my 2013 Bowman set a few days ago.  A little bit easier this year without the Bryce Harper, or whatever other fifteen second phenom, being included in the set.  Still I am trying to assemble the set mainly through lots which I have bought or picked up in trades.  Still busted a few packs for fun, but making life simple for myself at the moment until I am done reorganizing my card closet.  There are still some pretty attractive rookie cards included in this year's Bowman release and I will have a little bit more on the complete set later this week.

One of my must have cards in this year's Bowman release is the autograph of Rays prospect Jake Odorizzi.  I've picked up an autographed card of the talented right-hander, but really was hoping to see his signature in a Topps product this year and I got my wish with this great looking Bowman card.

2013 Bowman Jake Odorizzi Autograph

Odorizzi has already made a spot start in the majors for the Royals and will be making another spot start on Monday for the Rays.  David Price, whom he is replacing in the Rays rotation, should be back for his start next weekend.  However,  I would not be surprised, given the struggles of some of the Rays pitchers, if he stayed up in Tampa.  Although I would not mind seeing him start a few more games this season for the Bulls.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Complete Set: 1999 Skybox EX Century

Last week I posted an unfavorable assessment of the 2000 Skybox EX set and deemed it one of the worst baseball cards sets to occupy space in my collection.  While the 2000 issue of the EX line is terrible Fleer generally did a really good job with this product and I usually made a point to open a box or two every summer.  I posted a write up on my favorite product from the EX line, the 1998 Skybox EX-2001 set, during my 30 Year Top 50 countdown last year.  This week I decided to take a few minutes to assemble my 1999 Skybox EX Century set while I am working on my reorganization project.

1999 Skybox EX-Century J.D. Drew

The 1999 Skybox EX-Century set was the last set of this line that seemed to fit in with the first two EX set issued in 1997 and 1998.  The 2000 set obviously strayed from the course and Fleer would not return to the original look and feel of the set again until the last EX set was issued during the summer of 2003.  Like all of the EX sets, the 1999 EX-Century set is relatively small at 120 cards.  The first 90 cards in the set are veterans and the last 30 cards in the set are younger players and prospects.  The usual cast of characters from the late 90s appear in the base veteran set of 90 players.  Name a team and think of their best three players and chances are that those are the cards in the set for that team.

1999 Skybox EX-Century Pat Burrell 

The "hot" card in the 1999 EX-Century belonged to Phillies prospect and Golden Spikes winner Pat "The Bat" Burrell.  The Phillies selected Burrell first overall in 1998 after they drafted and failed to sign J.D. Drew the previous season.  Burrell played his college baseball at Miami and was viewed by many as a can' miss prospect.  Of course, the usual suspects hyped up his cards and they were pretty popular for a short time.  The card above was the only card I was missing from the set last week, I am sure that I traded for something good back in 1999, and completed this set for less than $0.75.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

2011 Topps 60 Joey Votto Jersey/Autograph

There are cards that are pretty self explanatory.  A Joey Votto card is in that category.  He's a great player and has not signed much over the years keeping his autographs in high demand and high priced. There are some cheap options out on the secondary market, but if you are going to go for a big card than you might as well go for it.  I figured that this copy of a 2011 Topps 60 Joey Votto Jersey/Autograph would be a good addition to the collection.

2011 Topps 60 Joey Votto Jersey/Autograph

As a Cardinals fan there have been many rivals that have annoyed and been avoided in my collection.  For example, I will usually trade anything and everything from the mid 80s Mets teams.  Dwight Gooden.  Not a fan.  Same with Strawberry, Hernandez, and Carter.  Trade Bit.  There have also been plenty of Cardinals rivals over the years that I have respected and enjoyed watching.  The Bagwell and Biggio Astros teams of the late 90s and early 2000s come to mind as a team that butted up with the Cardinals every year, but I did not mind the players on the team.

Votto comes to mind as a player in the same category as the great Astros teams.  I am not a huge fan of Reds, especially Dusty Baker, but I really enjoy watching Votto.  I was fortunate enough to see Votto play for the Louisville Bats in AAA and was impressed with him as a hitter.  Votto's first two and half years in the majors were nice, but the last three have been great.  Basically, Votto is an on-base machine with a good glove and good power.  He's led the National League in walks the past two years and on-base percentage the past three.  In fact, he led the National League in walks despite only playing 111 games.  ESPN writer Jayson Stark compared his season, prior to injury, to Babe Ruth.

Since it's Friday and I have a few extra minutes I will go ahead and post a bonus card for this evening.  My newest Votto card is my second copy of his autograph in my collection.  I was able to pull a copy of his 2004 Bowman autograph out of a pack shortly after the set was released.

2004 Bowman Signs of the Future Joey Votto Autograph 

I've been posting a lot lately about different sets in my collection.  The Bowman sets are an annual addition to my collection, but I usually put the cards into a box and set them aside for a few years.  I try not to get too high or too low on players for a few years until they have some established value.  Every once in awhile I get something good to show off and I cannot complain about this pull almost a decade later.  The Bowman autographs from 2004 are not the nicest looking cards, but the autographs are on-card and are pretty highly sought after on the secondary market.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Complete Set: 2001 Topps HD

Second complete set of the week.  I am on a roll with my reorganizing project this week.  Today I am going to show off a set which I completed in part way back in 2001 which was a first for my collection.  I have never actually had the base for the 2001 Topps HD set until this week when I completed a trade to pick up a handful of commons to finish filling in the wholes in my set.  So, let's have a look at the set:

2001 Topps HD Derek Jeter

The 2001 Topps HD set is a 120 card set which features some heavy card stock and great photography.  The product was actually introduced in 2000 and ran for two years before Topps pulled the plug.  I believe that Topps intended for this set to be sort of a high end Stadium Club set, but I do not remember the boxes being that expensive (70ish range at the time of the release) and even today can be found cheaply on the secondary market.  There is a mix of rookies and veterans in the set, but there is no Ichiro and no Pujols, so for a 2001 set the rookies are not really that important.  

2001 Topps 20/20 Roberto Alomar

There were a few straight forward inserts in the Topps HD set including Images of Excellence and the 20/20 set pictured above.  The Images of Excellence set features Hall of Famers and the 20/20 set is a die cut featuring current players.  Both sets can be found cheaply on Ebay and have some great photography.  Worth a look.  

My Favorite Cards:

I usually pick a single card, but for the Topps HD set I could only narrow it down to a list of two.  Five or six years ago the list would have been longer and it was also tough for me to ignore the Images of Excellence Nolan Ryan card featuring a sweet picture of him in a rainbow Astros jersey.  So, I will go with the lesser of my two favorite cards first.  

2001 Topps HD Rick Ankiel

Why were there Rick Ankiel cards after 2001, but before 2007?  Definitely a player with a few too many cards floating around, but after his stellar rookie season Ankiel was deserving of seeing a few cards.  I always really liked this Topps HD card which did a great job of capturing Ankiel in the middle of his wind up.  It was fun to watch Ankiel pitch for a year and half, strike out more than a batter an inning, and generally dominate his competition until his famed meltdown in the 2000 NL Divisional Series.  Luckily, Topps actually put a second cool Ankiel card in this set which also needed a little bit of time on my blog.  

2001 Topps HD Rick Ankiel Clear Autographs

Interesting that Ankiel got a sweet autographed card with a picture of him hitting long before he became a full time position player, but this is my favorite card in this set.  One of my first undertakings as a collector of autographs was to put together a complete master set of autographs and game used relics for a set.  I tried a few unsuccessfully during the 2000 calendar year, but first managed the feat with this set.  There are actually very few autographs and relics in the set.  More importantly, after buying one box of this product I pulled the best autograph in the set (at the time) belonging to Marlins prospect Adrian Gonzalez.  The other three autographs, Ankiel, Todd Helton, and Mark Quinn were pretty easy to find.  The relics too.  Most of the relics are younger players with a Steve Finley and Jeremy Burnitz sprinkled in to the mix.  Not a very difficult set to complete, but a great first stepping stone for my collection.  The autographs are on transparent cards with on-card autos.  The relics are also on clear cards.  

2001 Topps HD Ramon Hernandez Jersey Card

Unfortunately, I broke apart my relics set at some point in 2007 for a few trades.  I have not really attempted to reassemble the set, but might post that as a challenge for myself in the next week or two.  It would be fun for old times sake.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2007 UD Premier Ozzie Smith Premier Patches

I spent a little working on my second copy of a 2007 UD Premier Ozzie Smith Patch card.  Last April I picked up a copy of this card in a trade.  At the time I was really excited and considered the card one of my cooler Ozzie cards.  My newest version of this card is equally as sweet as the first.  Well, close.

Just like my first copy, this card is serial numbered out of 78 and features three pieces of patch from a game used Ozzie Smith jersey.  While my first copy has some sweet Cardinals patches, this card has three pieces of Padres jersey.  The first two patch pieces are clearly from the Padres road uniforms from the early eighties.  The background, or polyester, is brown with yellow patches outlined in orange.  The bottom piece is a little hard to tell, but there is a tiny piece of orange on the left hand side of the L.  The seller could not decided if the third piece was a Padres patch, or possibly a piece from the bat on the front of the Cardinals uniform.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

2011 Bowman Hak Ju Lee Futures Game Jersey

A quick post tonight on the Rays shortstop of the future.  Entering this season one of the most exciting players on the Durham Bulls roster, in my opinion, was shortstop Hak Ju Lee.  I picked up an autograph from Lee a few weeks back and did a write up on the hot shortstop prospect.  Unfortunately, Lee has been diagnosed with a torn ligament in his knee and will be out for the remainder of the season.   This Bowman card represents the second big Lee card that I have picked up this spring.  There was also a small one that I posted this past weekend.

2011 Bowman Hak Ju Lee Futures Game Jersey

I was able to trade for this Lee card and was extremely happy to pick up a copy of this Bowman card.  I've used the phrase "dry" in previous posts to describe cards and sets that seem to disappear from the secondary market and rarely make an appearance.  I have been looking for this card since January and have found the market to be extremely dry.  I have seen one copy of this card on COMC and have never seen it on Ebay during the past five months.  Honestly, I know that Bowman puts out a set of Futures Jersey Cards every year and that the cards appear in the regular Bowman set, Bowman Sterling, and sometimes a few other sets.  The 2011 Bowman set was no different, but the triple relics cards in the Bowman base were extremely popular and are generally off the market and in private collections.  There are lots of great names in the set including Mike Trout and Shelby Miller.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Complete Set: 2000 Pacific Aurora

I am now a weeks into my reorganization project and I have started to pull together a few complete sets.   Slowly, I am going to get a few posted over the next few weeks, but I am going to not repeat anything that I already put on my 30 Year Top 50 countdown from late last year.  That group of sets is intact and I have generally kept most of those cards separate from the general stash of baseball cards.  So, here's my third complete post set of the year and my first since the reorganization project began.

I actually stumbled into sorting out my 2000 Pacific Aurora cards this weekend while helping a regular trade partner find a copy of a really cool Ken Griffey Jr. card.  More on that card later.  I went ahead and sorted out the whole set while I was looking for that one card.  The late 90s and early 2000s Pacific sets are generally all the same, but each has it's own wrinkle which makes it unique in some way.  Aurora actually started out in 1998 as a retail product which was advertised as a per pack insert.  Most of the inserts were missable, but the set slowly evolved over it's three year run into its final run in 2000.

2000 Pacific Aurora Will Clark

The cards in the 2000 Pacific Aurora set are all horizontal and feature a large player picture with a colored background and a small circular black and white photograph in the top right-hand corner.  Like all Pacific sets the Aurora set was mainly driven by parallel cards and insert cards.  The most common of which was the pinstripe variations which were a one per pack card.

2000 Pacific Aurora Pinstripe Craig Biggio

The rest of the parallels in the set are the typical colored foil parallels with different print runs for the different color of foil.  While this set does not seem to stand out in any way or shape from other Pacific sets the aforementioned Ken Griffey Jr card is one of my favorites and one of the best examples of a card company properly handling a star player changing teams.  Last fall I posted an entry about my thoughts on the common practice of airbrushing.  The executive summary is that I do not like the idea and card companies should find a better way to handle players changing teams.  Which leads me to:

Favorite Card in the Set

2000 Pacific Aurora Ken Griffey Jr. 

2000 Pacific Aurora Ken Griffey Jr.

What team doesn't hold a press conference these days when they trade or sign a new player?  Pacific managed to put out two versions of the Ken Griffey Jr. card (#133) in the 2000 Aurora set by snapping a few pictures of the future Hall of Famer trying on his Reds jersey at the presser introducing him after his trade from the Mariners.  What's not to love about the two cards?  There is no airbrushing on these two cards and Pacific managed to capture Griffey in both his old Mariners uni and also with his brand new Reds digs.  Well played by Pacific and a great idea for a current card company to follow at some point in the near future.  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Whole Kitchen Sink Highlights Part 1

What do you do with all the little cards that you pick up?  I am not really big into the photo albums and I do not have enough time or posts within the framework of my week to post all of the cards that I trade for or buy on the cheap.  The other day I was working on a trade for a 2011 Bowman Adron Chambers autograph.  I needed the card for my Cardinals autograph collection since Chambers was apart of the 2011 World Series champions.  I looked for the card when the 2011 Bowman set was first released, but left the card alone when it drifted north of $5.  Chambers is basically a minor league player and there is only so much that I am willing to spend on this card.  Fortunately, I was able to pick up the card and give up a pair of mid 90s inserts.

2011 Bowman Adron Chambers Autograph 

A few days ago my trade partner asked me why I had not made a post about the Adron Chambers card.  Honestly, I do not have the time to post all of the cards that I trade for in a given week.  Extremely happy to own the card and I do not regret the trade for a second, but time is one of the biggest limitation to my blog.  I am not much into the photo album or posting every card into the photo albums on my Twitter and Facebook pages.  Sometimes, I will snap a picture and Tweet out a few things that I pick up, but not many.  So, here's what I am going to do:  Once a month I am going to make a post showing the best of the rest.  It still will probably not show everything that walks into my front door, but it's a start.  I am thinking a the 5 best will make my monthly Whole Kitchen Sink Highlights.  Adron Chambers will be a bonus.  So, this is the premier edition:

1.  2012 Topps Pro Debut Gold Hak Ju Lee Jersey

2.  2010 Topps Pro Debut Mike Montgomery Autograph

3.  2009 UD Signature Stars Alexei Ramirez Autograph

4. 2012 Bowman Kez Carter Autograph

5. 2011 Bowman Chrome Brock Holt Autograph

Saturday, May 11, 2013

2013 Topps Silver Slate Chris Carpenter Autograph

The last few years Topps has put out a few wrapper redemptions with their base Topps release in the spring. This year was no different.  I was happy to see that Topps managed to include a Chris Carpenter autograph in the mix of wrapper redemption cards  and set out to either redeem one myslef, or find someone else who did and trade for it.  I had to take the latter.  I have had the card sitting here for awhile, but I have not posted it.  It's a really cool card and I was excited to pick it up, but seeing the card in person bothered me just a little bit.  Just something about the look of the card was off.  Normally a really good Cardinals hit, or autograph is posted within 24 hours, but not this one.

2013 Topps Silver Slate Chris Carpenter Autograph 

Earlier this spring I did a write up on all of the different Chris Carpenter autographs floating around out in the world.  The vast majority of the cards are Upper Deck issues with low print runs from the mid 2000s.  I did leave one thing out of my write up which was the limited appearance that Carpenter made in the 2009 Topps Unique set.  Carpenter has a few one of one pieces in the set, laundry tags, uniform buttons, etc.  He also has a dual autograph with Zach Greinke which is limited to 25.  I am not sure what the total print run on the cards from the Topps Unique set, but it's under 50.

So, here's where I am going and here's what is off about this Chris Carpenter card.  The Silver Slate autographs issued by Topps this spring are an inventory dump of sorts on old autographs.  Carpenter did not sign any cards for the 2013 Topps set.  Not that I know for sure, but here's a little history on the autograph stickers used by Topps.

2007 Topps Anthony Reyes Autograph 

Topps initially started heavy use of sticker autographs in their base sets, and other sets too, in the mid 2000s.  The first few years of cards issued with sticker autographs featured large silver stickers with the words Topps Certified written across the top of the sticker and Autograph Issue written across the bottom.  Just like my 2007 Topps Anthony Reyes autograph above.  The stickers stood out on some cards, especially cards with white backgrounds and I am pretty sure that most collectors did not really dig the stickers.  So, Topps improved their product.

2012 Topps Jordan Pacheco Autograph

Starting in 2011 Topps changed over to clear stickers which helped blend the autographs into the cards a little bit better.  For example, the Jordan Pacheco autograph above is an action shot with the sticker applied over the bottom of the card.  However, with the clear sticker you can still see the bottom of Pacheco.  The lines on the sticker are much more subtle, but it is still clearly a sticker autograph.

Now, a quick glance at some Silver Slate autograph on other websites like Ebay will show that not all of the Silver Slate autographs are actually silver slates.  In fact, the majority of the cards in the set are stickers issued by Topps after 2011.  I have only been able to find four cards with a silver sticker autograph: Carpenter, Lester and Votto (similar autograph history with Topps-nothing recent), and Johnny Podres who died in 2008.  The other dozen or so cards in the set are all signed on the clear stickers.  

While I am always up for picking up a Chris Carpenter autograph, I am not sure how I feel about picking up a card that was clearly issued to clear out a bunch of old autographs.  I guess Topps needed to do something with the old autograph stickers, but perhaps they could have found something better to do than issue them with a new set of autographs where the old silver stickers stand out like sore thumbs.  Same with the Gary Carter autographs.