Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Not to Buy

Thrilled by the idea of getting a box of cards for $5, I pounced on 2007 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster with much regret. I knew going in that there's a ton of Cardinals I still haven't picked up from this set and I was hoping to get at least one or two. There's only "30 Cards Inside!" and I'm not exactly sure why the packaging is so boastful of that fact. Instead of showing off the best cards as I'm normally apt to do, I'm going to switch it up this time and show you the worst cards in each pack. Enjoy?

Pack 1:
634 - Eric Milton (I had forgotten about Milton's existence, but he's keeping the Dodgers rotation together with scotch tape and pre-chewed gum.)
741 - Odalis Perez (Albert Pujols's favorite punching bag.)
711 - Matt Lindstrom (RC) ("Rookie card" of the Marlins somewhat-inept closer.)
572 - Brian Roberts Team Checklist

564 - Chris Gomez (Is this the only time UD's photographers could find Gomez on a baseball field? I'm guessing the guy in the helmet is the subject of the photo, but I really don't know for sure.)

Pack 2:
565 - Melvin Mora (Three Orioles in a row.)
666 - LaTroy Hawkins (The erractic Astros fill-in closer.)
535 - Tony Clark
641 - Ken Griffey Jr.

554 - Chris Woodward (I'm guessing they had to drag Woodward into the studio because he never got put into major league games?)

Pack 3:
983 - C.J. Wilson

597 - Juan Mateo (Mateo is so forgettable that I've never even heard of him, despite the fact that the Cards and Cubs meet something like 25 times a season and this set is only two years old.)
607 - Daryle Ward
673 - Todd Helton
981 - Brandon McCarthy
- ad

Pack 4:
919 - Matt Morris

1009 - Micah Bowie (Another studio shot, this of the legendary Micah Bowie. Bowie wasn't really a ballplayer - he just liked to be photographed in a comfortable setting.)
901 - Scott Cassidy
882 - Ryan Howard
- ad
917 - Kevin Correia

Pack 5:

842 - Miguel Cairo (Okay, okay, I'll break from form here. Normally Cairo would be a solid candidate for worst card, but this is a great photo. I love how the ball is just hanging in the air with the seams visible.)
938 - Jose Lopez (My Mariners-loving friend always tries to tell me that Jose Lopez is one of the best shortstops in the league.)
1020 - Nick Johnson Team Checklist (My Nick Johnson streak continues, sort of.)

ROY30 - AL Rookie of the Year Predictors Wild Card Entry (I don't even know what this means! This takes the "worst card" prize, hands down. There isn't even a player on this one.)
841 - Jorge Posada

Pack 6:
776 - Marlon Anderson
864 - Shannon Stewart
824 - Guillermo Mota
611 - Derrek Lee

775 - Mike Lieberthal (Don't you hate it when a guy spends his entire career with one team and then goes off to some other team for one last season? I do.)

No Cardinals in this one. If anyone has an extras from this set, please check my want lists and send me an e-mail.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Roll Out the Heritage

Hey, check it out. It's that Heritage set again that I seem to love writing about. I just completed a small Heritage-for-Heritage trade with Ed from Roll Out the Barrel. His Brewers are in a big battle for 1st place with my Cardinals. I figured that I'd show off a few cards in the stack that I got.

I'm not a Cleveland fan, but I do like seeing the multi-player cards where everyone is still on the team they're pictured in. I don't know what else to say about the Tribe, but I do like their retro-styled home uniforms that they've been wearing this season.

Mike Aviles has struggled this season. He played in the WBC, so I wonder if Royals fans are blaming it on that or something else. I could have sworn I had several of these cards in my collection, but my list and '08 Heritage binder said differently.

Juan Rivera has been decent so far this season from what I hear. I'm not sure what else to say about him or why I picked him out of the stack of cards above others like Mike Cameron and Taylor Teagarden. His card is one of the black backs that Ed sent. I'm glad that the 2009 Heritage cards don't have a variation gimmick like that.

There were also a few Cardinals cards tossed in, including this Ozzie Masterpieces card. I'm pretty sure I've already scanned this card to put up here, so I thought I'd show the back. I'm hoping there are some 2009 Ozzie Smith cards out there, but I haven't looked yet.


If you're still reading this, you've probably also noticed the new banner at the top of the blog. All of the credit/props/big ups go to my friend AJ. It was very cool of him to design it, and I feel like it fits the style of this place quite well.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Greene Watch: Day 47

I've considered retiring this little feature because the speculation surrounding what is wrong with Khalil Greene is just becoming sad. The Cardinals will probably make a decision on him (DL? DFA? Conversion to starting pitcher...?) at some point between now and tonight's 7:00 PDT game against the Giants, if that decision hasn't been made already, because Ryan Ludwick is due to come off the DL. Meanwhile, Tyler Greene got shipped back to Memphis and has become one of my favorite players in the organization for no apparent reason. The above picture is from Wednesday morning's Redbirds/Beavers game. I'll have more from that at a later time.

Again, the whole point of this was not to suggest that the Cardinals made a bad decision (although it certainly looks like that's what happened) but just that there were other options available. Using the fairly ineffective Izturis as a measuring stick, I wasn't sure that Khalil could do much better. I'm not rooting against him - he's a Cardinals and for all I know is not an unlikeable guy.

Cesar Izturis, 2008: 135 G, 414 AB, .263 BA, .628 OPS
Khalil Greene, 2009: 38 G, 105 AB, .200 BA, .582 OPS
Tyler Greene, 2009: 13 G, 38 AB, .263 BA, .800 OPS

Oh, it looks like the decision was already made...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Night Owl Strikes Again

The Cards broke out of their offensive slump last night with an 8-1 pummeling of the Brewers, so I was in a good enough mood after watching the game tape to post a bunch of Cardinals cards. Even though the Cards went on a 5 game winning streak last week, the offense has basically been in a coma since the end of April. The only reason they've started winning again and competing for first place has been some incredible performances from their starting pitchers, which right now is giving me reason to believe this is one of the best starting groups they have had since I've been alive. Of course, like many things tied to the Cardinals fortunes this season, Chris Carpenter's health has a lot to do with how this will all turn out in the end.

Here's another in a seemingly (and hopefully) endless series of swaps with Night Owl Cards. I seem to get Dodgers cards more than any other team's (along with the Red Sox and Yankees, of course). If you aren't already a regular reader of Night Owl Cards, then you probably either stumbled here through a fit of drunken rage searching for Khalil Greene material or somehow thought this was a Hallmark fansite. Either way, you should check it out, because at the very least you'll learn some stuff that you didn't already know. It's kinda like the baseball card blog equivalent of Vin Scully broadcasts, only with the occasional American Idol post.

I lead off with perhaps my favorite photo in the bunch. Most Stadium Club sets look pretty amazing, and I really love the dirt spray captured on Brian Jordan's card. I don't know if Stadium Club is coming back for 2009, but if it does I hope that it makes more sense than last year and has no cards like Manny Ramirez's photoshopped card from last year.

I don't think I can go out on a limb yet and say that Skip Schumaker is my favorite current Cardinal, but like Greg Oden of the Blazers, I feel like I root harder for him than any other player right now. He has made the incredibly difficult transition to second base this season from the outfield and seems to be handling it pretty fairly. He's an all-out player who doesn't make any head-shaking mistakes and could really be an impact player in the future at 2B if he continues to get the chance.

Chris Carpenter has not allowed a run this season. That's all you need to know. Sure, he's only made four starts so far, but he isn't in the run-allowing business.

Mark Mulder gives just about every Cardinal fan a lump in his/her throat. I still think the trade made sense at the time. The Cards were dealing from a position of strength - starting pitching- and Danny Haren was a flaky swingman who had potential but hadn't proven much of anything. Mulder was awesome at the time. Mulder had one great season before his career went spiralling downwards and Haren blasted off. It didn't work out, but it seems like established star players have a better future success rate than unproven prospects. Of course, I wouldn't make the trade again if I was in Walt Jocketty's shoes.

Rick Ankiel came off the DL last weekend unexpectedly, and then proceeded to spend the next two games on the bench after a start. I hope he's okay and not being rushed back before he's capable. I keep thinking of Mike Matheny, even though there's been no media reports of concussion complications - everything's been shoulder-related. This card was a nice surprise after I bought a blaster of 2008 SP Authentic awhile back and was decently impressed with the set.

This one will undoubtedly go straight to Erin. Yadi is leading all NL catchers in all-star votes in the first tally of results. He's finally getting some recognition. I will be very upset if he does not make the team. He might not be the hitter that Brian McCann or even Russell Martin is, but he is definitely an important hitter in the Cards lineup and he has no equal defensively right now.

Floating heads! Current Cardinal coaches! I kind of hate these cards, but since they are SPs in the 2009 Heritage set that I plan on collecting, I really need them.

Delmer Ennis circa 1957. I have to gasp whenever I see a card from the 1950s (!) in a package. It doesn't happen often, but I definitely encourage it. Ennis had spent his entire career with the Phillies up until this year. This would ordinarily be a great candidate for airbrushing, but did Topps do that back in the '50s? The logo on his hat looks enormous, the lettering and swoosh underneath on his uniform top does not look very Cardinals-like and I'm pretty sure his stirrups are wrong as well. I am certainly not an expert on '50s uniforms, though, so I would like to invite any comments on the matter.

This is hilarious. I had read about Pacific making Christmas ornament style cards, but I had never seen any in person until I got this package. There were two others in the lot, but I think I am going to save them until the holiday for fun.

Aaron Miles hasn't quite had the success he had as a Cardinal early in his first Cubs season. I can't say I feel bad about that, because he didn't exactly go out with a parade.

I planned on not understanding what Topps Attax is and sticking by that plan, so I won't even tell you what this card means. Since it contains Yadi, it will also go into Erin's collection. I won't discourage others from sending me Cardinals "Attax" cards or anything, but I will continue to switch my brain to the "ignore" setting whenever this concept comes up.

This is a good looking card. Not everyone wants to part with their Pujols cards, so I am always extra-appreciative at receiving them.

There's been a little bit of buzz about Jess Todd this season. He's recently made the switch from starter to reliever. I don't blame Topps for knowing who he is or anything, but it makes me think of "Mitch" Mitchell Boggs and "Russ" Martin when I see this card. Topps used to always use "Rock" Raines and "Doc" Gooden on cards when other companies would use the more familiar and proper names for those players. I guess that was their attempt at being edgy. Anyway, this is definitely cool because it's my first Jess(e) Todd card.

Going back to that awesome rotation. Does anyone feel intimidated going into a game with Kyle Lohse starting? And yet, Lohse has been extremely valuable since St. Louis first grabbed him just before the 2008 season started.

Both of these guys have had interesting career paths.

I was also lucky enough to receive a small stack of 2008 Topps Heritage cards. This seemed like one of the best looking cards in the bunch.

I am trying to collect all Turkey Red inserts this year. Actually, I want to own every Turkey Red card ever, but that's not going to happen. There's a printing flaw (white blotch) in the uppper left-hand corner of the card and I actually like it. It makes the wannabe vintage card feel more... vintage or something.

Lastly, and unrepresented here, there was a healthy stack of 1985 Fleer cards. I am eventually going to talk about this set in a future post. In the meantime, I will invite anyone out there that is reading this to send me any of your unwanted 1985 Fleer cards.

Thanks again to Night Owl, who always has a spot on my desk occupied with excess Dodgers cards.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why I Still Buy Repacks

I recently mentioned picking up a repack box primarily because it had an Allen & Ginter pack showing on the outside. Even though I am just 11 cards short of completing this set, I couldn't help but grab the box. Here's what was in the pack:

25 - Aramis Ramirez

151 - Orlando Cabrera

244 - Mark Teahen

56 - Nick Johnson Mini Bazooka Back 13/25 (This is so cool. I knew these were limited to 25 copies, but I had completely forgotten that they were hand-numbered. This is my first hand-numbered card I believe. I wouldn't have minded getting someone better than Nick Johnson, but I'm not complaining.)

98 - Kazuo Fukumori (RC)

300 - Ryan Howard

I believe I've picked up 3 jersey cards in repacks and now this. It made me look up 2008 A&G blasters on eBay just to see what they're going for now, and I found some lots of 6 for something like $60. I was really tempted, but I can't afford to spend that much on cards right now. And besides, I do have almost all of the base cards. But it's so tempting to splurge on a set like this. Of course, the 2009 set will be here before I know it.

By the way, I still haven't managed to find any Series 2 anything.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Beavers Pics

I had long circled the Portland Beavers once-every-other-year four game homestand against the Memphis Redbirds on my calendar (you know, the one in my head) and had planned on going to the game today as well as one other game. I ended up passing on the game, however, because it was a beautiful day in Portland and I was invited to play softball. Several hours and sunburns later, I'm confident I made the right choice. Since I'm too tired to scan any baseball cards for a proper blog post, I thought I'd show some of the pictures from the last Beavers game I attended, back on Mother's Day.

Here's John Lackey, rehabbing with the Salt Lake Bees. He's wondering how he ended up here in Portland. His next outing would be with the Angels, lasting all of two pitches.

Here's Will Venable and his high socks. He went 1 for 4.

Kyle Blanks is huge. Really huge. In this picture, he's only kinda huge.

Walter Silva was the Beavers starter, but he didn't stay in the game long enough to be eligible for the win even though he only allowed one hit.

Here's more John Lackey. This photo is awkward enough to be used on a baseball card. I won't claim rights or anything like that.

A better shot of Lackey, if only the stupid net wasn't in my way.

Bored pitchers in the Beavers bullpen, sponsored by Franz.

Here's our cheesy hand-operated scoreboard. I always like taking pictures of it for some reason. The Beavers went on to beat Lackey and the Bees 3-2. I don't understand how a team can change their nickname three times but essentially have the same mascot.

I have no idea why Family Ties was on the scoreboard in right field between innings.

In all seriousness, I've been busy working on trades quite a bit. I'll fire up the scanner soon as I've received several packages in recent days that I want to show off.

Friday, May 22, 2009

We Are Airbrushed

I previously mentioned my purchase of a few vintage Cardinals at 25 cents a pop last weekend. This is the first time I've ever owned any '70s Topps Traded cards. The early traded sets were, as I recally, basically test ideas to see if they'd fly. It wasn't until 1981 that they began to do the sets annually with a national distribution. Pete Falcone was fairly unremarkable in his major league career, winning 70 games and losing 90. His hand-drawn hat is pretty goofy, though, so at least he has that going for him.

Mike Anderson was a light-hitting outfielder whose mustache was far more impressive than his statistics. Now, compare Anderson's hat with Falcone's. It's clear that there wasn't just one "airbrush guy" on the Topps staff. For some reason every airbrushed logo looks completely different.

Moving on to 1977, here's a guy named Dave Rader. 1977 was his only season as a Cardinal, so I guess it's somewhat permissable that he ended up being airbrushed. He was coming off of a season where he only appeared in about half of his team's games.

I guess I'm on the fence about this Don Kessinger. The logo and the uniform look a little off to me. He had been on the Cards for a full year when the card came out, but that's never stopped Topps before. This could be the real deal, though, but I'm not completely convinced.