Friday, January 19, 2018

Fortune Teller

It's funny, but lately my kids have been getting into some older movies, namely The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. In an age of movies like Lego Ninjago and all of the various Pixar-type animated films, it's slightly refreshing to see.

The other day, The Wizard of Oz was on for the 100th time and I kept thinking that the scene where Dorothy meets Professor Marvel reminded me of a baseball card. But I couldn't figure it out.
Eventually, while working on my re-organization project, I came across a team bag of Sanchez cards, and this was on top.
That’s it! That's the card it reminded me of. There's a loose connection there, right? Even the colors are a bit similar to the movie scene.

If we look into the future this year, Sanchez is due for another big year at age 25, at least based on his 2018 ZiPS projection:

32 HRs, 97 RBIs, .350 wOBA, 118 RC+.

That will do just fine coming for the catcher spot. Heck, he missed a month last year and still hit 33 homers.

Hopefully the great Professor Marvel sees Sanchez continue to develop into one of the best hitting catchers in the game, and leading the Yankees back to the World Series.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018 Topps Yankees Project thoughts

In mid-January, I always get excited about the release of the Topps Series One Checklist. However, my reasoning is a little different from most. It entirely is based on my Topps Yankees Project and the continuation of it on a year-to-year basis.

A quick refresher on the Project. It consists of a signed Topps Yankees card for every year, 1951-2017. Each signature was acquired through the mail (TTM), and there are no repeat players. It is definitely one of the most meaningful parts of my collection.

Looking at the checklist, I think there is hope that I will be able to knock off 2018 during spring training. While there is no hope for the some of the players, I may send each Series One base card just to see what happens. You never know.

Here are the Yankees with a Series One base card, along with their signing habits:

Aaron Judge – Signed as a minor leaguer, but obviously will be virtually impossible this year.
Brett Gardner – Hasn’t signed in years.
CC Sabathia – Signs once in a while, but returns usually take a long time
Chase Headley – Reliable signer and he’s not currently part of my project! Here’s a past success.
Clint Frazier – Signed early in his career, but likely not anymore.
Dellin Betances – Signed early in his career, but haven’t seen a success from him in a few years.
Gary Sanchez – Doesn’t sign.
Luis Severino - Doesn’t sign.
Masahiro Tanaka – Doesn’t sign.
Miguel Andujar – He signs periodically, but I’ve never gotten him.
Starlin Castro – Doesn’t sign.
Todd Frazier – Signed a lot early in his career and more sporadic of late. I saw a few off-season successes.

My best bests are going to be Andujar, Cooper, Headley, and perhaps Todd Frazier. And if I can’t get any of these guys, there’s always Series Two!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Diamond, diamonds everywhere

Recently, my wife just celebrated a milestone birthday. Wanting to mark the occasion, I splurged on a pair of diamond stud earrings for her. It was definitely more than I tend to spend on any gift, but she means the world to me and I wanted to make this particular birthday a little more special.

As you probably know, diamonds are not cheap. But my Jeter autograph can wait.

To hold me over, I satisfied my diamond fix as well in the form of 1999 Upper Deck Black Diamond.
This is a “double diamond” parallel, so my wife and I both got a pair of diamonds, you might say. It is numbered to 3000.

In 1999, Upper Deck was spitting out sets at a ridiculous rate (I count 19 different), so some were pretty forgettable. While Black Diamond seemingly never caught fire, I think the made some decent looking cards. The problem is that between these, Ovation, HoloGRFX, Ionix, none really were overly memorable and meshed together a little bit, looking back.

Still, for a player collector, the 90s were an awesome time because of sheer quantity of sets from each manufacturer. Throw some parallels like this on top of that, and I’ll be chasing Tino cards forever.

And I’m ok with that.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Judge RC for Joey

I recently told a former colleague of mine that a pre-bedtime ritual for myself and my six-year-old are for him to take a stack of cards and read me the stats on the back.

A few days later, I got a text from this same person saying he remembered me saying that Joey likes to look at cards, and that he had a few packs in his office gathering dust. He asked for my address and said he'd send them along.

On Friday they arrived.

There were two clear cellophane packs of 2017 Topps with six cards each, a pack of 2017 Donruss football, and a pack of 1990-91 Skybox basketball (which were already opened).

I didn't expect the baseball packs to contain much given they were a sampler of some sorts. I have no idea where they might have been given out.

I opened the first pack, and as you'd expect, not much there. However, all usable cards for our nightly stat sessions.

In the second pack, tucked in the middle was this:
Nice! One of the 2017 card of the year: the Aaron Judge Topps flagship rookie card. Cool! I pulled it aside and put it in a top loader within Joey's cards in my collection. He'll get it back one day, of course.
I don't know much about 2017 football cards, but I think this was the best card in the football pack. Watson was having a great season before tearing his ACL.
In the opened basketball pack, I did get one card to add to Joey's HOF collection. It's funny, but I definitely busted a box of these as a kid, as 1990-91 Skybox and Hoops were both like $10 a box later in the '90s. Basketball equivalent of baseball junk wax, I guess.

All-in-all, not bad, and definitely appreciate the cards from my former colleague.

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.