Monday, January 15, 2018

Another redemption replacement success

Over the past few years, I've had a few Ty Hensley redemptions that I've known aren't going to get fulfilled. Given Hensley has barely pitched over the last several seasons, I've realized that his outstanding redemptions are not a priority for Topps. I get it.

Previously, I requested a replacement for a Hensley autograph, and ended up with a Kyle Schwarber autograph as a replacement. Not bad. (Read about that here)

In September of 2016, I requested another replacement. The card I wanted was a 2014 Bowman Red Ice Autograph of Ty Hensley. It definitely would have been one of my best Hensley cards. However, there was no movement on it. I was always surprised by this because Ty was so accessible, but alas, nothing.

I decided that I wanted to decide my own fate instead of the redemption expiring and receiving a random card, so I decided to request a substitute. It was hard to do, but figured if it ever was fulfilled, I could buy it on eBay from someone else who waited it out. So I went online, selected "request substitute", and waited. And waited. And waited.

I called customer service several times, and the best answer I got was that I submitted it online and that takes longer than had I done it over the phone, which was weird. When is that ever the case? But after over a year, there was still zero movement.

Finally, last month I called again and spoke to Andy in customer service. He agreed it had been too long, and agreed to help fast track it. He even asked the team I collected, and said he had to assess the value, but would get back to me later that day. He was very helpful.

True to his word, I received an email from Andy late that day, offering the following replacement.
I jumped at it. While Hensley is an important part of my collection, I felt I wasn't going to do better than an on-card autograph of a 23-year-old pitcher on the Yankees who just finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting.
Andy also threw in two bonus autographs, and while I didn't need them, I appreciated the gesture. Andy went above and beyond, and I hope Topps realizes he helped me more in one day than several of previous reps did in one year.

I'd say that this was definitely a success, and while I still wish I had the Hensley, I think I made out just fine.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Still here

Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.

It was rumored for the past month that Clint Frazier had been on the trading block in a potential Garrit Cole deal. Obviously he ended up being traded to the Astros yesterday.

I'd have to think Frazier ended up being pulled off the table by Brian Cashman. While the Pirates got a solid haul of prospects, Frazier would have outranked all of them according to many analysts. Time will tell, of course, but many were surprised the Pirates didn't get "more." This is all subjective, of course.

Sure, the Yankees are still looking for pitching and may continue to dangle Frazier, but I'm in the the camp that thinks he's going to be an above average Big Leaguer, and hope the Yankees find a way to keep him and rotate him into their OF.

Plus, he's a fun personality. NY needs that.
I've been slowly acquiring more and more Frazier cards, including throwing in a few every COMC order. I prefer his Yankees issues, of course, but that hasn't stopped me from snagging some of his earlier Indians issues. An autograph is next on deck.

This post could all be for naught and Clint could be wrapped up in another deal heading into spring training, but I'm going to continue crossing my fingers and hoping he's part of the Yankees future.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gleyber's comin'

Last year at this time, it was tough to get a Gleyber Torres card. At least one of him on the Yankees. He made his way into 2016 Bowman Draft as a member of the Yanks, which I believe was his first non-Cubs issue.

While his cards are still selling for quite a bit given he plays for NY and is one of the top prospects in baseball, they aren't quite as tough to come by anymore given he's been included in more and more sets.

In fact, my COMC Black Friday order included three such cards from 2017:
First, 2017 Bowman. Pretty basic card, but I like it.
Slightly cooler and a bit louder is Bowman Platinum. It's shiny and I like the design, as I usually do for Platinum.
And my favorite Gleyber addition is easily this Bowman Chrome Talent Pipeline. When I first saw this card, I was expecting it to have Blake Rutherford or James Kaprielian on it - guys no longer in the Yankees system. Upon further inspection, I was happy to see it include current farmhands Justus Sheffield and Clint Frazier. That instantly made the card more appealing.

Hopefully Torres makes his ML Debut this season, and that he earns an official RC at some point. That would be very cool.

Friday, January 12, 2018

An ode to Jeff Nelson

I'll always be a Jeff Nelson fan.

First and foremost, he was an incredibly important bullpen cog during the Yankees title runs from 1996-2000. As we've seen by the free agent market the past few years, good relievers are tough to come by and are getting paid handsomely. Nelson was as solid as they came, and created an incredible set-up tandem with lefty Mike Stanton that served as the bridge to Mariano Rivera.

Second, he came to the Yankees in the Tino Martinez trade, so he'll always have that connection to my favorite player. I'm not quite sure why the Mariners threw in not one but TWO relievers (Jim Mecir being the other) in addition to Tino for Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock. Perhaps the prospects were so highly rated that they needed to? Or the M's needed to cut payroll that much? Nelson was just coming off of a season for the M's in which he went 7-3 with a 2.17 ERA in 78 innings. That's valuable!

He was an emotional leader out there, and it's easy to remember his sidearm motion then striking out a guy and doing a fist pump heading into the dugout. He also loved the 'ol fake-to-third-throw-to-first move. It even worked once!
After 2000, Nelson returned to Seattle and once again enjoyed success. However, his time in Pinstripes was not up! In the never ending search for middle-relief help in the mid-2000s, the Yankees once again brought Nelson back, this time trading away the much-hated Armando Benitez, who was never welcomed as a Yankee for obvious reasons dating back to 1998 when he drilled Tino Martinez in the back. So you trade away a hated player and bring back a loved former player? Done deal!

In 2007, Nelson signed a one-day contract with the Yankees and retired as a member of the organization.

I saw him on the subway platform once but didn't speak to him, as I was in the train and I saw him when the doors opened. The card featured at the top of this post is my first and only autograph of Nellie. He has a cool autograph that I hope he signs sidearm!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Wes sends Sal Fasano + other mega hits

Sal Fasano is the man.
So when this card was sandwiched between hit after hit after hit of the pre-Christmas package Wes of Willinghammer Rising sent me, I couldn't help but be thrilled. I wasn’t aware that Fasano had a Yankees card, as his time in Pinstripes lasted all of 57 plate appearances.  I love having a card of such a memorable player who made a short term stop on one of my teams.

I mentioned hit after hit, right? Because seriously, this package was loaded. One after another.
These next two cards were probably the highlights, but I don’t want to play favorites. Still, I was definitely floored when this Titanic Threads ARod jersey. Sure, it’s plain gray, but it’s basically about 50% of a jersey. That swatch is mammoth!
Equally cool is a terrific David Phelps from National Treaures. There’s a hint of patch on there if you look closely around the edges. There’s a beautiful on-card autograph too.

Two other jersey cards were in the package: A BIG MIKE and a Robin Ventura. Ventura is another short-term stop guy, although not nearly as short as Fasano.
Do you like ink? Because there was plenty of that too.
I know there are a lot of Yankees trade rumors right now, but I’m in the “keep Clint Frazier” camp. I know they have a bunch of OFers, but I still think he’s got a great chance to be a very good hitter.
While neither of these guys are Yankees anymore, they are super low-numbered.
High definition! There were two of these. They are VERY thick cards. I’m not exactly sure why they are as thick as a a pack of cards. The set is 2015 Bowman’s Best High-Def Refractor.
This ARod is from the limited edition 2011 factory set. I knew I didn't recognize the shot of him running down the baseline, as it's different than his base card.
There was some sweet vintage too! Love the Joe Sewell! These will go into my son’s HOF binder.
Lastly, I got a bit sad when I saw this card, for obvious reasons.
Man, Wes. You did it again. Thanks for an incredibly generous mailday.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Spending a little more wisely

I mentioned on Twitter, but on New Year’s Day my wife was running to Target. I was going to hand her a $20 bill and tell her to pick up a blaster of something, but then I decided not to. Instead, I went on eBay and dropped far less money on a card I actually wanted…a card I would have been thrilled to actually pull from a blaster, even though it can be had for about $5 shipped. I think it was a wise choice.
Honestly, if I bought a blaster and pulled a Yankees autograph, I’d be over the moon. The thing is, I could most likely buy that same autograph on eBay for substantially cheaper, as I just did. So what is it? Is it the fun of pulling it from the pack versus knowing what you’re getting?

On to the card. Last season, the Yankees drafted Clarke Schmidt with their first round pick. Schmidt had just knowingly had Tommy John surgery. With high-rated prospects left on the board, this pick surprised many.

The Yankees signed Schmidt to an under-slot bonus, and used the savings on two big arms in the 2nd and 3rd round. I’ve seen theories that the players they wanted to pick were all off the board, so they snagged Schmidt knowing they could sign him under-slot, and then used that money on guys who were going to be a bit tougher to sign. I can see that has a viable strategy, albeit a bit risky.

It's not like Schmidt is a slouch. He was dominating at South Carolina and was viewed as a borderline first rounder anyhow. They then went substantially over-slot to sign second rounder Matt Sauer, so essentially ended up with guys Baseball America ranked 32nd (Schmidt) and 28th (Sauer). Not bad.

Schmidt found his way into several sets toward the end of the season, and his autograph is in Bowman Draft, Bowman’s Best, and a handful of Panini products.

I’m happy to have add his autograph to my collection, and I’ll probably add a few others in case his prices soar and I’m priced out.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Winfield for the win

The COMC Black Friday sales gives me an excuse to do what I normally don't: browse without an agenda. Many card price are slashed so greatly that there are often tons of great deals, especially on cards you didn't even know exist.

Towards the end of my order, I find myself just looking to fill up my card even more, so I'll type in random searches. In this instance, I search for Yankees 2017 and sorted by memorabilia cards, hoping to find a cool relic or two at a great price.
This popped up for less than $2.50, and I figured it was worth it to add a dual-relic of a Hall of Famer. This particular card is from 2017 Panini Diamond Kings, a set I don't follow very closely. Sure, no logos and whatnot, but I like the design and the photo of Winfield getting ready to uncork one of his powerful swings.

I like that both jersey swatches are different too, although admittedly it's not specific to whether or not they are from Yankees uniforms.

Neat card, and hard to beat the price.