Tuesday, May 31, 2016

TTM Success: Brady Lail

In my last post, I mentioned that I bought a Brady Lail 2016 Bowman certified auto because I hadn’t gotten him TTM yet. I scheduled it for Saturday and headed out of town on Friday.

I got home from work Friday and ran inside to quickly change into shorts and t-shirt before hitting the road. I noticed two small, SASE waiting for me. So I had to quickly open them before I left. The first contained this:
Yep, two Brady Lail autos – a 2016 Bowman and a custom from the Rookies App. I made the custom before Bowman came out, so I figured I’d send anyways. It was also funny because I was oogling at Zippy Zappy’s Lail TTM just before mine arrived.

I went from zero Lail autos to three in a matter of days. Collecting can be funny sometimes.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Harvard? I went to Lail

Brady Lail has steadily become one of the Yankees best pitching prospects. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 18th round of 2012 Draft out of the baseball hotbed know as the state of Utah.

He's had a very steady climb up the organizational ladder, piling up some very nice numbers along the way. Last year, he threw 148 innings across three levels, going 10-6 with a 2.91 ERA. This year, he's pitching well once again, and is now in AAA, where he is 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 4 starts.

He doesn't strike out a lot of guys, but still finds a way to get them out with good command. It'll be interesting to see if he gets a spot start at some point, although there are a few guys lined up ahead of right now. Ideally he'll pitch the rest of the year in AAA and be given the chance to win a rotation spot next spring.

I was excited to see he was included in Bowman this year and was given an autograph. I haven't been able to get him TTM, so a certified auto will have to do.

Friday, May 27, 2016


The number 756 means a lot in baseball. It's one more than Hank Aaron's former (depending on who you ask) HR record. For years, it was "can so-and-so hit 756?" You just knew what the number was. I won't lie, I had to go look up what Bonds finished with - 762. It hasn't been nearly as ingrained in our heads as baseball fans as 755 and 756 were, and for obvious reasons.

But to me, 756 now means the number of Tinos I have. I know this number will come and go, but here are the latest that got me to this magical number.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

SuperTraders #12: Sports Cards From The Dollar Store

I haven't had the opportunity to trade with Douglas of Sports Cards From The Dollar Store yet, so this is a great benefit of the #SuperTraders group.  I look forward to sending Douglas a whole bunch of Mets cards. He also collects Raptors...hmmm, maybe I have an old Damon Stoudamire RC around somewhere!

Regardless, Douglas sent me a great PWE of Yanks. I love these Hometown Heroes cards, so I was pumped to get a few of them.
I think at the time (this arrived awhile ago), this was my first look at 2016 Donruss.
I appreciated this Tanaka rookie card too. He was HUGE as a rook before he got hurt. I'll never forget watching him pitch while I was in the hospital the day my daughter was born. He shut down the Cubs on 4/16/14 - 8 innings, 2 hits, no runs, 1 walk, 10 Ks. Dominant.
I already sent this card off to James Pazos in hopes of getting a TTM autograph, although from what I understand is that he isn't much of an autographer signer via the mail. Still, you never know!
Lastly, a Knick made it into the package! I don't think I had any Kenyon Martin Knicks cards, so this was welcome. Also - don't Panini cards just look better with logos?
Douglas, thank you! I'll send you a package soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pitcher with a glass arm

Did any of you read those Matt Christopher sports novels growing up? "Novels" may be a bit of a stretch, but they were sports chapter books that were around a 4th or 5th grade reading level. I probably read most of them, even for sports I didn't particularly like or follow.
I remember a couple of my favorites were Johnny Long Legs, Catcher With A Glass Arm, and The Kid Who Only Hit Homers. There was also one called Ice Magic, where a couple of boys found an old electronic hockey game that ended up predicting their games. Good stuff!
Catcher With a Glass Arm was about a boy named Jody who had the yips. He couldn't throw. He ends up being benched and feeling pretty down on himself. In a shocking turn of events, Jody has a chance to play later in the season and - SPOILER ALERT - leads his team to victory.
While Pitcher With a Glass Arm is probably better suited for my favorite prospect, Ty Hensley (who we just learned needs his second TJ surgery), I felt like it was fitting with the pickup of this Leaf Trinity Pure James Kaprielian auto, hand-numbered 02/25. As you can likely see, the card is made of GLASS. It's super thick too. I'm tempted to buy a cheap one of these - not of a Yankee! - to see if they actually shatter. I assume they do. Does anyone know? Has anyone ever dropped one?

Kaprielian has been shelved for the last few weeks with an elbow injury, although he is the prized pitching prospect in the Yankees system and they are being conservative with him. He is expected back at some point in June. Prior to the injury, he was as good as you'd expect for a polished college arm who was taken in the first round, going 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA an 22Ks in 18 innings at high-A Tampa. Hopefully he comes back healthy and ready to go, and sees time in Trenton this year.

Sadly, Ty Hensley will miss another season and some of next year with his second Tommy John Surgery. It's heartbreaking news for a kid who has been through so much. He has thrown just 42 professional innings since being drafted in 2012, and it doesn't look like he'll be on the bump again anytime soon. Still, he's a favorite of mine, and I'll always collect his cards. Here are two newer ones I just got in a recent shipment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

TTM Success: Ronald Herrera

After 11 days, Yankees pitching prospect Ronald Herrera returned my Rookies App custom card signed. I'm excited to have this one back.

Herrera was acquired by the Yankees over the winter for spare part Jose Pirela. While not the sexiest of prospects, Herrera just turned 21 and has already logged 84 innings at AA, and even made a AAA spot start this season. He's well below the average age of AA, and just continues to advance despite not having the stuff of bigger pitching prospects. From what I read, he has good command and is very competitive. While he may never be a top of the rotation guy, he could end up being a use back of the rotation/spot starter/long relief guy as soon as next season. Still useful!

In late April, he threw a combined no-hitter with Jonathan Holder, tossing 8 no-hit innings. Pretty awesome!

Regardless, the Yanks turned a guy that might have been released into an intriguing prospect. Not a bad gamble, and so far, it's paying off.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

6 for 6.60

Michael Pineda's ERA through 8 starts is 6.60. That is crap. He's better than that, but for some reason, can't figure it out this season. It's baffling. He's still averaging a career high 10.3 K/9, but he's also letting up a career high 12 H/9. His FIP is 4.94, which is obviously a lot better than his ERA, but it's still way too high for a pitcher this good.

Maybe he won't figure it out. There are some damn good pitchers this year really struggling as well, including Matt Harvey and Sonny Gray. May it's just one of those years.

Anyways, to celebrate an ERA of 6.60, here are six Pinedas that are new to my collection. This 2015 Bowman's Best Orange Refractor is /25.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

TTM Success: Mike Fischlin

Former Yankees infielder Mike Fischlin signed and returned my two cards in 20 days. He has a very nice, readable signature, which I appreciate.
Fischlin was drafted by the Yankees in 1975, but never played for them until 1986. He was part of a 1977 trade with the Astros that netted the Yankees Cliff Johnson. He made his MLB debut that year and played a total of three years in Houston, then spent five more in Cleveland until finding his way to the Bronx.

Thanks you for the autographs, Mr. Fischlin!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Crease my a$$

Creases on vintage baseball cards don't bother me, especially when I can pick up a gem like this for the price of a pack of 2016 Topps.

Sure, I wish my cards weren't creased, but it's still cool to own cards that I wouldn't think I'd ever have. I remember flipping through card magazines as a kid, mentally taking pictures of these Hall of Famers on iconic card designs. These types of cards were for other people, not me. They were meant for the expensive glass display case at the card shop, not for my collection.

Yet, here it is, now sitting alongside other beat up Yankees, each one bringing a smile to my younger self, knowing that I have grabbed another card that once seemed like a pipe dream.

Will I ever upgrade these cards? Maybe. But that's for another day. In the meantime, I'm going to keep assembling this army of creased cardboard, because it's more fun to have them than not, no matter what condition they are in.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

TTM Success: Dietrich Enns

Whoa! A TTM success. This is a rare occurrence around these parts. My TTM requests seem to go in waves, as sometimes I am super motivated and sometimes I'm not. Well, I have been motivated lately, and have sent out a bunch.

I was a bit nervous because I sent to several Yankees prospects, and it felt like right after I mailed them, each guy was promoted to the next level. I thought I was safe and a few weeks away from promotions, but a bunch of injuries sort of set the wheels in motion.

I sent to Dietrich Enns while he was in AA Trenton, and within a few days he had been called up to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I was bummed, thinking I missed him at that level. Luckily, this came back yesterday:
I must've jussst gotten it to him in time. I sent it to Trenton on 5/11, and by 5/15 he was making a start in Scranton. Luckily I live a few hours from Trenton, and I've found that if I send mail from Manhattan instead of my rinky dink NJ town, it gets there a little quicker. You might think this would be the opposite, but mail in NYC is pretty efficient. They can't let it pile up, so it comes in and goes out.

So I mailed it first thing on 5/11, which was a Wednesday. Then let's say it arrived to Trenton on  Friday, 5/13 (maaaaybe 5/12), so Enns either signed it on 5/13 or Saturday, 5/14. Then I assume later that day, or early the next day (5/15), he was on his way to pitch in Scranton that day, where he went 6 innings without allowing a run, striking out 6 and earning a W. The post-marked date was 5/16 from Trenton, so I'm going to say that the team mailed it out on 5/14, or made a post-office run this past Monday.

Either way, it's fun to live so close to most of the Yankee affiliates, as the expedited mail times really do help, as you see above. Also, I try to send to minor leaguers just before a homestand - just a tip for some of you newer TTMers.

I'm very excited to have this one back. Enns is a solid, yet underrated lefty pitching prospect. He has a 1.87 ERA in 83 career minor league games, 28 of which are starts. While he doesn't blow people away, guys just don't seem to hit him. He had a 0.61 ERA in 58 minor league innings last year. He consistently strikes out a batter per inning as well. He did undergo Tommy John Surgery a few years ago, but he's clearly come back as good as ever.

I'm looking forward to seeing him continue to climb the latter, and if he keeps pitching this well, he's definitely going to put himself in position for a spot start at some point later this summer.

Lastly, shout out to the Rookies App for the custom!

Monday, May 16, 2016

An ok relic of a bad pitcher

Sadly, that bad pitcher mentioned in the title is Michael Pineda, one of my PC guys.

Man, this guy just oozes with potential, but can't put it all together for whatever reason. He shows glimpses, and he was awesome in 2014, very good for the start of 2015, and since then, very, very bad. Notably, he's getting creamed in the first inning. Opponents are hitting .500 with 5 HRs off him in the first inning alone. That is...bad.

I still think with a good start or two he can turn it around, but he's he's definitely lost right now. His command just isn't there. He's already walked 13 guys, which may not seem like much, but he only walked 21 guys in 160 innings last year, and just 7 in 76 innings the year before. He's a guy that usually commands the plate, but he hasn't been himself.

I just keep waiting for that one start where he goes out and dominates and rolls from there. It could happen!

In the meantime, his stock is super low, which let's me pick up cards like the 2016 Gypsy Queen relic above for very cheap. This ran me like $1.50 shipped. There are still adorable sellers out there who think he is an ace and prices his cards like he is Clayton Kershaw, but I like the ones who start low thinking it's going to be a bidding war, yet I am the only pathetic, lonely bidder.

The design of these GQ relics are ok. Not a bad sized photo and the swatch works well within it's owm little box. Not the best, nor the worst relic card you'll see this year.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

9 years too late

It’s hard to believe it’s been nine years since Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy burst onto the scene for the Yankees. Those three had massive potential, and some was reached with the Yankees and some wasn’t. But it’s easy to forget just how exciting it was when these three were waiting in the wings.

We had heard about Phil Hughes for awhile, and he made his much anticipated debut on April 26, 2007. I was at the game. I was in my first job in NYC still, and when it was announced he was starting, I quickly grabbed tickets online and headed up to the game with a buddy. It was easy to do that in my young, single days. It takes a lot more planning now.

While his debut was a little rocky (4.1 innings, 4 ERs, 5K), his next start was the defining one. He had a no-no going vs Texas, but pulled his hamstring in the 7th and was out until August. Who knows what could have happened had he not been injured that game. As for his time in NY, he did have some great moments, including a dominant 2009 in the bullpen as part of the World Series winning team, and then was in All-Star in 2010 while winning 18 games. He’s been a very serviceable pitcher in the big leagues, both with the Yankees and Twins, but he never quite lived up to his ace-in-the-wings billing. He left NY following the 2013 season.

Next came Joba. He flew through the Yankees minor league system in his first full season, and impressed enough that he was moved to the bullpen to help the big league club. That he did, making 19 utterly dominant appearances. This started a massive debate of whether he was a starter or reliever, jerking him back and forth between the rotation and the pen. It was stupid. I was always in favor of him being a starter, as he had four plus pitches that were sort of wasting away in the ‘pen. Most relievers are failed starters, and he never got a fair shot. He had a few ok years in the pen, and parted ways with NY after 7 seasons, same as Hughes.

Ian Kennedy was the last to make his debut in 2007, and he made three very good starts in September, enough to make the Yanks think he was a major part of their future in 2008. Things didn’t go as planned, as he had a shoulder injury in 2008 and then an aneurysm in 2009. Tough breaks. He was then shipped to Arizona as part of the Granderson-Scherzer-Austin Jackson-Edwin Jackson deal. He enjoyed success with the D-Backs, winning 21 games in 2011. He then went to San Diego, and finally signed with the Royals this off-season and is off to a good start.

When I fall in love with prospects, I always think back to these three. While it’s fun to hold onto your guys, in the vast majority of cases, they don’t live up to the hype. That doesn’t mean that are unsuccessful. I’d argue that all three of these guys have had very good careers. It just means that rarely do they live up to the HOF expectations placed on them while they are barely of legal age.

Regardless, a Joba Chamberlain autograph has always eluded me, and I found this cool one with Hughes for a great price. Ahh, what could have been!

Monday, May 9, 2016

SuperTraders #11: Jaybarkerfans Junk

I need to step up my SuperTraders game. I am moving houses in June/July though (again!), and I don’t want to lug unnecessary cards, so it will give me a good excuse to send out all my #SuperTraders packages.

The king of all SuperTraders, Jaybarkerfans Junk, sent another epic bomb. I don’t even know why the rest of us try, really. It’s impossible to keep up with him.

Wes’ packages always are well-rounded, and this last one was no different. From relics to newer cards to vintage to oddballs, he does it all.

I’ll start with the hits. Wes bought some 2016 Donruss, and clearly I was the beneficiary of the hits from his boxes. I love the Refsnyder below, mostly because it’s a generous jersey swatch. TWO WHOLE PINSTRIPES. I’m lucky to get one on some relics, but two is really cool. Add in an auto, and it’s a damn cool card.
Speaking of autos, this Luis Severino auto also fell out of Wes’ Donruss boxes. No complaints here. It has a nice, refractory-type foil.
A couple of hits from yesteryear. The Joba stripe is cool. I was collecting this relic set for awhile. I love the Ruben Sierra Bazooka Blast. First, I love cards/relics of guys who barely played for the Yanks. Two, he was a great story in NY. He was there in 1995-96 while he was closer to his prime and stardom, but was a bit a pain, and finally shipped out to Detroit for Big Daddy. When he came back in 2003-05, he was a lot more gracious, mature, and a better teammate. It was cool to see.
Moving on to the rest of the autos, here’s a nice batch. "Bubba Crosby will be our CFer." Haha, good one Cashman.
Wes always takes care of my PC guys. I needed these!
Topps Stars N Steel! I think this is the first one of the metal cards to arrive in a trade package. I’ll make a confession: I’ve already shipped this off to Mr. O’Neill in hopes that he signs it for me TTM. That would be pretty cool to have signed, right? I mean, I could also see it not making it through the post-office machines. It's a hunk of metal. Might have been too ambitious of me.
This is the least manly photo of Babe Ruth I’ve ever seen. I know he had a hard life growing up, but the dress couldn’t have helped his situation.
There was zero shortage of shiny. I needed my Ray-Bans to sort through these!
Oddball alert!

Wes, another dominant bubble mailer! Stay awesome, my friend.