Friday, July 31, 2009

Roll Out the Heritage

As I start to accumulate more and more cards from the 2009 Topps Heritage set, I'm starting to have a difficult time picturing how an all-horizontal card set will look in a binder typically set up for portrait-oriented cards. I recently got a surprise pack of 2008 and 2009 Heritage cards from Ed of Roll Out the Barrel to knock off some more wants from the old want lists.

I like this card a lot. Really, there's nothing to dislike about Carl Crawford. He's been around for quite awhile, is an excellent player, and doesn't seem to be prepared at all for the photo on the right.

This card is just terrible looking. Not only are the "master" and "mentor" photoshopped together, but Lincecum's photo was either taken years ago when he didn't have a waterfall flowing out of the back of his cap or they just decided to go all out and crop out his hair.

Is Washburn traded yet? Does it matter? As long as he isn't dealt to the NL Central, I don't really care. I can't wait for tonight to pass so I don't have to hear about him or Roy Halladay again for the rest of the season.

This picture was probably colorized, but it looks great nonetheless.

Thanks again to Ed, who hopefully has received my package by now. I'm always up for a trade, especially for Heritage cards, so feel free to drop me one of those electronic mail correspondences if you're interested.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Deadline Deals and Heritage Steals

I already touched on the Matt Holliday subject just hours before he was dealt to St. Louis for "The Future". It only took me a few hours to put my reservations about the trade aside and just go into full on "root for the new guys" mode. As a fan of the team, the obligation to root for anyone in a Cardinal uniform takes precedence over anything else. It also made me think of some of the past stars that the Cards had traded for at or near the deadline and whether or not they ended up being "rentals" or if they re-signed and stuck with the team. The Cardinals brass has said that the Holliday deal is not a rental situation and that they fully intend on re-signing him, but a lot has to happen to make that a reality.

Will Clark ended up being a rental but only because he retired. Larry Walker ended up spending one additional full season before retiring as a Cardinal himself. He eventually returned to the team as a part-time hitting instructor, and it would be nice to see him get a full-time job with the organization should he choose to go that route. Mark McGwire also came into the same situation, but everyone knows how that turned out.

I'll put all that aside for now and just hope that Matt Holliday fires his demonic agent and signs with the Cards for a reasonable amount of money. Tubby from Card Cluster sent along the Will Clark card as well as a metric ton (well, maybe not quite that much) of 2009 Topps Heritage cards.

It looks like almost every Mayo insert card pictures a player with a really awkward, forced smile.
I actually think it would be more interesting to get a baseball card of a U.S. Flag that had less than 50 stars, mostly because I'm not used to seeing anything else.

A ton of the cards were base cards from the set. I'll feature a few of the cards of players that I drafted for my fantasy teams since I am having trouble being decisive on what to talk about here.

Denard Span has been a solid contributor this year. I can't really say I've been surprised or disappointed by his season so far. He seemed to be a fairly easy draft choice since many just hadn't heard of him even after his strong rookie campaign.

Billingsley has been about as good as can be expected, though he's run into a few rough outings of late. I'm not sure how LA's starting rotation stacks up against the rest of the potential NL playoff teams this season, which could make things interesting. The batting order is certainly deadly, though.

Oh, Erik Bedard, why did I swear up and down not to draft you only to end up with you on my team anyway. Bedard always seems to rack up decent numbers, albeit usually with high pitch counts per innings pitched, but he also loves the disabled list.

I strongly dislike high strikeout power hitters who don't do a ton of other impressive things at the plate. When you weigh the good with the bad, he still ends up as one of the best first basemen in the league not named Albert Pujols, but he makes my eyes roll whenever I see him come to bat.

I didn't know a lot about Pelfrey and I know enough about him now to regret my decision on taking him.

I didn't actually draft Mark DeRosa, but I did spend a #2 waiver position selection on him. Basically, that means that I gave a significant potential future move to get him. I guess it's the fantasy equivalent of the draft picks-for-two-months-of-All-Star-guy trade. But DeRosa has been a huge contributor for the Cards since coming off the DL and I have no regrets.

Thanks again to Tubby. Check out Card Cluster when you get a chance and send some Mike Piazza cards his way.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ginter Blaster #1

Here's the first of probably many blaster's I'll buy of this stuff this summer, provided that they stay in stock at the local retail giant stores. I probably need to buy at least 3 more boxes before I entertain the idea of putting together a want list.

Pack 1:
293 - Ian Snell
219 - Nate McLouth

225 - David Price (RC) (Has Price taken over the world yet? No? Okay, we'll check back later.)
309 - Kosuke Fukudome (SP)

132 - Anna Tunnicliffe Mini Black Border (These look a lot nicer this year as they did something with the border instead of just making it a solid black. Tunnicliffe apparently won a gold medal in a sailing event in last summer's Olympics.)
NP33 - Hanley Ramirez National Pride (Since these inserts are one-per-pack and there's also always a mini, that leaves you with just four base cards per retail pack. Hopefully I won't end up with a lot of doubles this year.)

Pack 2:
205 - Ryan Braun
235 - Roy Oswalt (The Astros and their second half surges are really annoying.)

AGHS14 - Ichiro Suzuki Baseball Highlights Sketches (I like these cards, probably because of their similarity to the unfortunately defunct UD Masterpieces sets. This also means that there are only 3 base cards in this pack.)
348 - Justin Masterson Mini A&G Back (SP)

NP34 - Nick Markakis National Pride

Pack 3:
78 - Eric Byrnes (It's a good looking card, but he's too obnoxious to show here.)

157 - Jason Motte (RC)
272 - Brad Nelson (RC)
322 - Chris Volstad (SP)

LMT9 - Minotaur Creatures of Legend, Myth & Terror (Minotaur!!! There's no way you'd mess with him.)
NP35 - Manny Ramirez National Pride (Perhaps Manny should have a card in the above insert set.)

Pack 4:
50 - Pat Neshek (The answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, apparently.)
74 - Matt Tuiasosopo (RC) (The only reason I know how to pronounce this guy's name is because I watch a lot of Pac-10 football.)

AGR-RJB - Ryan Braun Framed Relic (Not bad for a blaster! I wonder if I can close my eyes and turn this into a Cardinal, though...)

NH32 - Winston Churchill National Heroes (Yes, kids, you can actually get edumacated through the picture cards.)
NP36 - Yovani Gallardo National Pride (Some call him Yo. Probably my least hated Brewer.)
- Crack the Code ad (Too bad it was cracked before the stuff even hit stores near me.)

Pack 5:
206 - Miguel Tejada
276 - Michael Phelps (The autograph list on the side of the box is pretty hilarious, because it actually says "Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps")

289 - Milky Way (If you're gonna collect one galaxy, this is the one to get.)
331 - Jeff Samardzija (SP) (I still don't know why I drafted this guy this year.)

HHB20 - Cold Fusion World's Biggest Hoaxes, Hoodwinks & Bamboozles (Wait, cold fusion isn't real? So much middle school science wasted...)
NP37 - Johan Santana National Pride

Pack 6:
159 - Denard Span
111 - Jason Giambi
34 - Ryan Dempster
168 - Adrian Gonzalez (If the Padres trade him, well... let's just say it would be painful to be a Padres fan right about now.)

93 - David DeJesus Mini

NP38 - Mariano Rivera National Pride

Pack 7:
179 - Trevor Hoffman (This is definitely the Brewers Box.)
265 - Paul Konerko
54 - Carlos Guillen (It seems like there's fewer horizontal cards this year, but this is one.)

301 - Jonathan Sanchez (SP) (AKA that no-hitter guy.)
275 - Vladimir Guerrero Mini

NP39 - Shin-Soo Choo National Pride

Pack 8:
103 - Aaron Harang
79 - Electron (Is there a greater subatomic particle than the electron? There definitely needs to be a SportsCenter Top 10 Subatomic Particles segment.)
213 - Stephanie Brown Trafton (She's a discus throwing champion.)

342 - Sitting Bull (SP)
323 - Derek Jeter (SP) Mini (So, this card is kind of mangled. I wonder if it's worth sending in to Topps.)

NP51 - Albert Pujols National Pride (Great way to end the box!)

I have to be really careful with my baseball card budget here, but I really want more of this stuff. I wonder if I could sleep at night if I bought a hobby box.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Matt Holliday Revisited

Has it already been a year? I posted about the pending MLB trading deadline last season around this time in this blog's infancy and it seems that little has changed.

"The pending trading deadline and the deals that go with it seem to be the hot topic these days."

This is true. Felipe Lopez, Adam LaRoche, Julio Lugo and Chris Duncan have already been moved in recent days. The Pirates seem to be content on moving everyone with a swashbucklin' uniform in his locker. The Cardinals just completed what seemed like a glorified scouting trip wrapped in the guise of a rainout makeup game last night during a visit to mopey Washington, DC. Roy Halladay, Scott Kazmir and Adrian Gonzalez have been popular names to come up in trade topics in the past 24 hours.

"The Cardinals were among the teams thought to be interested in the services of Matt Holliday, who of course was the anchor of the Rockies terrific stretch run to the World Series last year. The guy should have been the NL MVP for 2007 and certainly would have had my vote."

Holliday is no longer an MVP caliber player after being separated from Coors Field. However, he has put up a respectable .832 OPS while adjusting to facing primarily AL pitching in AL parks. Even in the days of interleague play, adjusting to a new league for the first time is not always easy. I think Holliday is a better player than he has showed so far for Oakland, but clearly not nearly as good as he has performed in the friendly confines of Coors Field. The big story is that the Cardinals, particularly Tony LaRussa, remain interested.

"But like many small market teams are apt to do at this time of year, Holliday might get dumped off on a contender for prospects."

Holliday only has a couple of months and change left on his contract, so anyone looking to acquire him would probably have to look at the situation as a "rental". This won't dissuade people like Tony La Russa (or most managers, frankly) but it should give front office types great pause. Oakland is always up for a deal and seems to be out of contention, so I would be a little surprised to see Holliday remain in an Oakland uniform for the rest of the season even though they'd figure to get compensated in next year's draft if he left in the offseason.

"Cleveland is a mess, and so their Cy Young winner gets shipped out."

It happened to CC Sabathia last year and it could certainly happen again to Cliff Lee. Lee has been very strong of late after an inauspicious start and Cleveland is battling Kansas City for the bizarro world division title.

"Mark Teixeira, who I just assumed was named after his own franchise, became Brave Tex. What's next for him now, Red Tex? Bronx Tex? (Oh, wait, the Yankees don't do that anymore.)"


"I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't mention that my team has benefited greatly from these types of deals [in the past] so I suppose I can dream about Holliday patrolling left field at Busch later on this summer, as many others debate the ups and downs of mortgaging your future for a shot in the arm."

I'm not so sure that I'm dreaming anymore. I'd say it's more of an anxiety, now. The offering price seems to be top prospect Brett Wallace, who was picked in last year's draft and already has progressed to AAA with a decent chance of earning a late season callup. Is it worth it? I don't even know at this point. I don't think I will complain a lot either way. I can't fault a team in solid contention at the top of a very winnable division trying to fill a void (and it's a pretty huge void) right now in left field to Win Now. On the other hand, Wallace might not be a Major League defender, but he could be a franchise-leading bat.


I'll post my Allen & Ginter blaster, soon. In the mean time, I'm posting my first A&G pack of the season over at A Pack To Be Named Later. If you don't know what that is, go look it up and get lost in the awesomeness.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Trolling for Cardinals

I've received a number of packages over the last couple of weeks and I have to admit that I've been really slacking. I want to get to the Allen & Ginter blaster I picked up the other day, but first I thought I'd show off what I got from The Collective Troll recently.

The Troll busted up a 1987 Opening Day set and gave away all of the cards in teams (the way they were actually displayed in the original packages if I recall) and I was the lucky recipient of the Cardinals team set. I know I have several of these, but there's a good chance that I did not have the entire team set. These used to only be sold at department stores if I recall, and I was always jealous when I saw people that owned this set because I really liked the concept. Each card (sans the pitchers, I believe, which is weird) was printed for each player that started their team's first game that season. For many players it was a first look at that player on a baseball card in their new team's uniforms, with no airbrushing. Donruss rebranded the set as Baseball's Best for the next couple of years or so (the 1988 set was the "Halloween Set") before dropping the idea completely.

This Ryan Ludwick All-Star card is the last Cardinals card I needed to complete the 2008 base team set. And yes, I include Updates & Highlights when I talk about a set. The lines are so blurry these days and "traded sets" have always been an extension of the regular season's set to me anyway. I was very happy to receive this card.

Here's a Stan Musial insert that I also didn't have. I like this card a lot more than the George Bush card that I own from the same set.

Gibby! This is the Target version of his Legends of the Game insert from Series 1 '09 Topps if I'm not mistaken. I need to find some reliable checklists of the legends-type inserts and their retail giant-specific counterparts so I can tell what I really need to go after since Beckett is not very helpful (shocking, I know.)

I'll have to check my VHS tape storage boxes, but if I don't own the game commemorated on this card on tape here then I'll definitely be kicking myself.

Mmm... tasty high end cards. I won't buy 'em (at least until they're like a nickel a piece at some card show 10 years down the road), but I love getting 'em in the mail.

What a goofy looking card of Brian Jordan. He looks like he's about to get hit by a train and just realized it. Why does his card have the card number on the front?

Ah, I flipped it over and this happened. Guillen's side is much, much shinier in that mid-to-late-'90s METAL foil sort of way. This seemed to be a concept doomed to failure because you're just about guaranteed that several of the cards in the set are going to have opposing players on the flip side that are completely hated by the collector.

If the mustaches haven't all come off already, current Cardinals players should take note: This is how you wear facial hair. And I like the interesting placement of the Cards logo and how it fits underneath the right-hand bird on the bat.

Thanks again to Mr. Troll, who has assured himself as a permanent home for any interesting Rays that I get.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2002 Upper Deck Series 2, Part 3

Alright, let's get right into it. Here's the inevitable conclusion.

Pack 17:
656 - Delino DeShields (Another in the long line of former Cardinals and Cubs.)
630 - Lance Berkman (A hated current Astro. I'm not sad that he was not an All-Star this year.)
685 - Vic Darensbourg
659 - Jason Bere
729 - Albert Pujols Year of the Record 130 RBI (Not bad for a rookie.)
684 - Preston Wilson

715 - Adam Dunn
536 - Adrian Burnside Star Rookie

Pack 18:
587 - Jay Gibbons

561 - Brandon Lyon (It seems like everyone has played for the Blue Jays at some point early in their career.)
567 - Jason Tyner
573 - Brady Anderson (Master of the anomalous monster HR season.)
635 - Morgan Ensberg

653 - Jason Isringhausen
712 - Armando Rios
539 - Colin Young Star Rookie (I suppose it's a little late to mention this at this point, but I've only heard of about 25% of these "Star Rookies" that I am getting at the end of each pack.)

Pack 19:
586 - Geronimo Gil
560 - Josh Phelps
641 - Albie Lopez

615 - Eddie Guardado (There needs to be more retro uni cards.)
562 - Luke Prokopec
676 - Brad Wilkerson

736 - Luis Gonzalez Season Highlights Checklist (I should make a caption contest out of this card.)
502 - Rodrigo Rosario Star Rookie (Okay, I'll bite. He started two games for the Astros in 2003 and then apparently fell of the face of the earth.)

Pack 20:
673 - Lee Stevens
647 - Glendon Rusch
706 - Vicente Padilla (Padilla's kind of settled in as a mainstay in the Rangers rotation.)
658 - Chris Stynes

720 - Larry Walker
558 - Mike Sirotka (Seriously, how many Jays cards are in this set?)
611 - Mike Rivera
511 - Brandon Backe Star Rookie (Backe is too easy of a target.)

Pack 21:
693 - Shawn Estes

667 - Eric Karros
641 - Albie Lopez (Argh, doubles!)
615 - Eddie Guardado
589 - Ivan Rodriguez (Hall of Famer who fell in with the wrong crowd this season.)

JC - Jeff Cirillo Game Jersey 263/350 (Oh man... if only this was, er, someone else. Cool pinstripe on the jersey piece, though.)

Ahh, it's from a Rockies uniform. Makes more sense now.

510 - Francis Beltran Star Rookie

Pack 22:
707 - Kip Wells
681 - J.T. Snow
722 - Todd Zeile

696 - Ray Lankford (I love Ray Lankford in any uniform.)
692 - Edgardo Alfonzo

734 - Rickey Henderson Year of the Record 2248 Runs Scored (I like seeing Rickey in a Padres uniform, because it reminds me of the fact that he spent the first few weeks of the season as a Portland Beaver, although he never played in Portland because the stadium was still being worked on.)
625 - Rondell White
512 - Doug Devore Star Rookie

Pack 23:
724 - Jason Jennings
589 - Ivan Rodriguez (Again.)

563 - Felipe Lopez (Seriously, has everyone played for the Jays at one point?! Lopez is now a Brewer, which bothers me because I think he'll help them a lot, and I'm sure he won't mind hitting the ball around against the Cards after they didn't make any attempt to sign him in the offseason.)
554 - Scott Hatteberg
616 - Matt LeCroy
689 - Scott Strickland

SS7 - Sammy Sosa Superstar Summit (I don't even know what to make of this card. I'm just glad that there are no Cardinals in the little bubbles on the side so I don't have to make the uncomfortable decision of deciding if this card is worthy of placing in my Cardinals collection.)
523 - Deivis Santos Star Rookie

Pack 24:

621 - Paul Konerko
595 - Jason Varitek (This is from before the Red Sox popularity explosion.)
680 - Kirk Rueter
654 - Moises Alou (Huge hitter.)
588 - Carl Everett (Huge headcase. Doesn't believe in a lot of, um, things.)
657 - Todd Hundley

737 - Derek Jeter Season Highlights Checklist
520 - Ron Calloway Star Rookie

And there we have it. I'm not sure what the odds are supposed to be on the Cirillo jersey, since the box and pack wrappers just mention their existence but not the odds. If anyone is interested in any of these cards, please let me know. I have a few wantlists on the sidebar, but I'm certainly not difficult to please.