Sunday, December 4, 2016

Month-End TTM Roundup: 11/7-12/3

I'm starting to really like these monthly TTM posts as opposed to my weekly ones. So much easier to write.

Received On: 11/7/2016

My first return for this post's span of time comes from former top Yankees prospect Eric Milton.
Eric Milton was drafted by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 1996 MLB Player Draft. Milton earned a number of accolades in the minors. According to Baseball America, Milton was the eight best Yankees prospect in 1997, the number one Yankees prospect in 1998 and the 25th best prospect in the minors in 1998. It was easy to see why thanks to Milton's four-seamer, slider, curveball and change up combination. The post-Jeter Yankees prospects have a notorious rep for being flameouts but (outside of Cano and Gardner) Milton probably came the closest to reaching his ceiling. Milton was traded in early 1998 to the Twins in the Chuck Knoblauch trade and was immediately brought up and asked to throw 172.1 innings in his rookie season. Different times man. Milton would enjoy some success in Minnesota as a starter and had his best season in 2001 when he was selected to the All Star Game and recorded a career high fWAR of 3.2.

Milton also threw a no-hitter in 1999 against the Angels. One that appears to be a no hitter against one of the worst lineups to ever be no hit ever. Still, that's more than what a lot of other Yankees pitching prospects ever did (*cough* Brien Taylor *cough*).

Received On: 11/15/2016

Next up is Toronto Blue Jays infielder-turned-outfielder Lane Thomas.
Lane Thomas was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 5th round of the 2014 MLB Player Draft. Thomas was originally drafted as an infielder who was seen as a diamond in the rough with lots of potential. Unfortunately 2015 proved to be a massive roadblock in Thomas' development, as he struggled in short season ball and A-Ball. 2016 was much of the same sans a shift from the infield to the outfield (primarily centerfield). There is still hope for the outfielder as his swing pre-draft was seen as one that could generate power and hit with consistency. Good luck Thomas.

Received On: 11/16/2016

Here's former Yankees slugger, Steve Balboni.
Steve Balboni was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1978 MLB Player Draft. "Bye Bye" Balboni spent a few years in the farm system before being promoted to the big leagues in 1981, during his time in the minors "Bones" Balboni primarily did two things. Hit dingers and strike out. Eventually he went to the Royals and left his mark on MLB history by being one of the best sluggers the Royals have ever had. His single season HR record of 36 dingers remains a franchise best for the Royals. And Balboni was also a key member of the 1985 World Series Championship Royals team. Bye Bye Bones also spent time with the Mariners and Rangers.

Received On: 11/18/2016

Next up is top Braves pitching prospect, Kolby Allard.
Kolby Allard was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. Allard is currently one of the best pitching prospects in the Braves farmsystem (and that's saying a lot since they have nothing but pitchers), thanks to the strength of his fastball and curveball. His changeup is still a work in progress but if it pans out, Allard could be a very nice number 2 or 3 starter.

Received On: 11/18/2016

Rockies infielder Brian Mundell.
Brian Mundell was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 7th round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. The first baseman's key attribute is his power. In a joke ballpark like Coors Field he could probably hit dingers with ease. Originally a catcher as an amateur, the Rox have since tried Mundell out as a first baseman where he is still getting used to fielding and getting his footing in, but it's not like there's anybody in his way right now so hey, if he continues to hit (as he's done so far) he's got a great shot to make an impact in the big leagues.

Received On: 11/18/2016

Former major league infielder Greg Gagne, not the wrestler.
Greg Gagne was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the fifth round of the 1979 MLB Player Draft. However like most Yankees farmhands at the time, Gagne was traded away (to the Twins). Gagne spent 10 of his 15 seasons with the Twins and he enjoyed a fair bit of success as the team's shortstop. Even winning two World Series rings with the club in 1987 and 1991. Gagne also played with the Royals and Dodgers before retiring.

Received On: 11/19/2016

Here is former big league pitcher, Ken Schrom.
Ken Schrom was originally drafted by the California Angels in the 17th round of the 1976 MLB Player Draft. The right hander was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays prior to his MLB debut and he went on to enjoy a seven year career that even had an All Star Game appearance on his resume. Schrom had a very solid career as a major league caliber starter but injuries unfortunately did his career in. He hung up the spikes for good after 1987. Schrom still remained active in baseball by being involved with several minor league teams in some capacity. Mr. Schrom is currently the president of the Corpus Christi Hooks (the double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros).

Schrom wrote this on the SASE sent back to me. And I appreciate these little gestures of kindness (like Schrom responding at all) whenever players choose to do these things. All of them.

Received On: 11/29/2016

A pleasant surprise from Royals first base prospect, Ryan O'Hearn.
Ryan O'Hearn was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB Player Draft. O'Hearn's raw power and hitting ability has earned him a spot atop several Royals prospect rankings. With an approach that primarily focuses on hitting dingers, striking out and walking, it's tempting to call O'Hearn's ceiling Adam Dunn. Which, wouldn't be a bad thing by any means. O'Hearn is a first baseman who can also play corner outfield spots if needed. Hmm, sounds like Adam Dunn too.

Received On: 12/1/2016

Here's an awesome return from Rays prospect Ryan Boldt.
Ryan Boldt was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the second round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Ryan Boldt has been on prospect radars since he was in high school but injuries pretty much ruined his draft stock and he opted for college. Boldt projects to be a steady contact hitter with some nice power. Defensively he's solid in the outfield with a good arm and good range.
One funny thing about Boldt is that Panini made a card for him as a Red Sock (Boston drafted him for the heck of it back in 2013) even though he didn't sign with them. I sent Boldt that Panini card and got the Hudson Valley card back instead.

Received On: 12/1/2016

Here's Oakland A's prospect Zack Erwin.
Zack Erwin was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the fourth round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. He was traded not long afterwards to Oakland in the Brett Lawrie deal. Erwin came to the A's org as a high-floor prospect who could have potentially been a lefty fifth starter. Armed with a fastball, change up and curveball, Erwin's 2016 didn't go quite as well as many had hoped. But with his repertoire he could rebound in the future.

And those were my returns this past month. Big thanks to Mr. Milton, Thomas, Balboni, Allard, Mundell, Gagne, Schrom, O'Hearn, Boldt and Erwin for the awesome signatures.

And as always thank you (the readers) for stopping by :).

Take care.

2016 TTM Count: 273


Friday, November 25, 2016

What If?

Someone once asked me what would happen if Luis Torrens ever left the Yankees. Whether via trade or by some other unfortunate circumstance.

Last year my friend P-Town Tom lost a key PC player to the Rule 5 Draft, is it my turn now? Well with LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSS being Rule 5 Draft eligible today, I figure I'd see what would happen in a multitude of situations.

Best Case Scenario

Obviously the best case scenario is that Luis Torrens enjoys a long and fruitful career, all in pinstripes ala Jorge Posada. Is expecting a prospect who's yet to reach double-A to be like a HoF caliber catcher fair? Well if it's Luis Torrens of course it is!

In all seriousness though, I do know that this is the ideal situation because it's the one that might not happen. Which sucks. It's too early to say it won't happen (and I refuse to admit that it won't) but there are other ways things could go.

Worst Case Scenario

To be honest the worst case scenario would be him never even making it to the big leagues and flaming out. Not from a collector's perspective (the $aving$!), but from a fan's perspective. I'd at least like to say I saw Torrens in the big leagues. Even if it's not with the Yankees.

Other Teams?

Right so here's where the question of what would Torrens on other teams be like (to me) begins. My initial opinion would depend on which team Torrens ends up going to. If he's a member of a team I like, I won't mind. If he's a member of a team I usually don't acknowledge the existence of, it'll annoy me for like five seconds because I have to care about that team now. If he's a member of a team I don't like, well fuck.

Like for example...

Torrens on the Dodgers? I approve very highly. Just watch as the master backstop turns the sad collection of bowlers that Dodgers fans' reluctantly call a "bullpen" into a collection of Mariano Riveras.

Torrens on the Rockies? Ugh, if Torrens ends up being as great as I think he will then he'll be in trade rumors every summer and winter for what will feel like a hundred years. What a nightmare.

Torrens on the Red Sox? Blarg! Forget what I said about the Rockies, this is the real nightmare.

Right so how about the teams that will likely try to claim Torrens during the Rule 5?

Well I keep hearing the Angels. They stink, Billy Eppler was Cashman's right hand man meaning he knows about Torrens, they're bad enough to actually keep Torrens on the 40 man all season and actually have that be an improvement, etc...

There's also the Braves. They need a catcher (they were in on McCann) and they do have ex-Yankees scouts from when Torrens was first entering the system. They need somebody to catch their future 25-man roster of primarily pitchers.

Ultimately he could go to any of the 29 teams. Having one of the premier catching prospects in the game is a big gain for any team regardless of how he's barely played above rookie ball.

To be honest, I kinda doubt Torrens' Yankees tenure will really end with the Rule 5 but crazier things have happened (seriously, look at the insane stuff that's happened this year, the Cubs fucking won a World Series title!), or I'm just in denial. Even so, this basically just means that if he gets taken away and stays with his new team, I can at least stop worrying about having to chase down new cards of his. Temporarily.

So whatever happens, well it happens. Because it won't change the past (or the fact that humans will go extinct before the year 3000 AD, and the sun will explode and destroy this planet in a few billion light years). Peace.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Monday, November 7, 2016


One of the things I like about trading is seeing what my trade partners think of the packages I send.

I mean I know that when you're on the receiving end of a pretty casual trade you generally don't think too negatively or critically of a trade/trade partner, but I like to get feedback on my trades. How my packages fared. Against past trades the partner had with me or past trades the partner had in general.

I don't mean to come across as a conceited asshole, but I do pride myself in being a trade partner known for being "generous." It means that I've been able to provide a favorable experience to another collector who took time out of their short mortal lives to engage in some sort of exchange with me.

Every now and then someone asks, jokingly, why I'm "generous" with my packages. I usually just laugh it off because I don't think I'm being too generous. But recently I engaged in a trade that at least provided a possible reason.

It's a Japanese thing.

Now please don't take that out of context. I don't mean to say that you need to be Japanese to be "generous." I'm practically the only Japanese guy on this section of the blogosphere (no offense Fuji) and I've found that everybody else here is just as generous as I am. But what I do mean is that it's the reason why I personally am generous.

In Japanese culture, presenting yourself as a nice person and giving a person or entity you're engaging in some sort of exchange/business with is extremely important. It's why the Japanese usually go above and beyond when they're hosting people from overseas who go to Japan for various occasions. Japanese hospitality (at it's best) is something that can't easily be matched and it always surprises many outside the culture of just how far the Japanese are willing to go in the name of being seen as pleasant or favorable.

I'll show you just what I mean in the form of baseball cards.

Recently I engaged in a trade with a Japanese collector known as Springer (yes, after George Springer). As their name suggests, they are an Astros fan. I was interested in a few Asia Black Bowman Chrome parallels they were able to pull from a box of 2015 Bowman Asia Edition. What I got back made what I sent (some retail only Astros and MiLB issued Astros) look like dogshit.

Let's start this Japanese hospitality showcase with the first thing we see and observe, the packaging.

The cards all came in this tin of 2016 Panini Immaculate Baseball. You know you're dealing with a legit collector when cards come in packages like this.

This is why I usually try and put some effort in how I send cards (if I can). Anyone can just stuff cards in team bags and ship them off. Admittedly I do get lazy and just do that sometimes, but it's why I save my wrappers and repack cards. It's why I create custom hobby boxes or PWE's on PED's (albeit only for The Lost Collector because the Yankees are the only team I have the appropriate amount of cards of to do such a thing). I want it to be different. I want to be more interesting. I strive to make you feel overwhelmed and as if you're in for something big right out of the gate. Unless I can't and just end up throwing a pretty cruddy and thin bubble mailer your way.

Right so let's actually go inside the tin.

There were eight large stuffed team bags filled with cards.

Over 100 cards at that. The bulk of these were the Asia Black refractors from 2015 Bowman and 2015 Bowman Draft. I was overwhelmed. I had just asked for Yankees (and a few other teams). Instead I got this behemoth. Springer-san sent a lot of these hoping I can use them for TTMs. I will. Some of these names were new to me too (just goes to show how I'm losing touch).

These were the four "base" black ref Yankees.
Kaprielian made his return to the mound last month as part of the Arizona Fall League. A healthy Kaprielian would make the Yankees' farm system the undisputed best in all of baseball.

Refsnyder's future with the Yankees is a question mark. He could go to a team that favors offense over defense (like the A's, who've reportedly had interest in Refsnyder before). Considering what the A's gave up Josh Donaldson for, who knows what the Yankees could get for Refsnyder.

I also got these two current Yankees in their old organization uniforms.

Domingo German came over in the Eovaldi-Prado (and others) trade. German is back on the 40 man roster. Making the 40 man roster crunch even more difficult for Cashman and co.

Dillon Tate came over in the Carlos Beltran trade. The fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft has struggled mightily this year. He's more of a high upside reclamation project. Tate was pitching in the Arizona Fall League until recently he was taken off the roster (his last outing was also a while ago).

My very first Asia Black refractor autograph! Of Jeff Degano at that.

These are very cool and I never thought I'd own one myself. But Springer-san told me that this was coming and I was very excited.

These are numbered to 35 and make the lives of super collectors very difficult.

And that concludes the Yankees portion of the black refractor showcase. I just wanted to look at other significant black refs that were in the lot.

Like these four Dodgers (because the Dodgers are significant).

Jose De Leon's made it to the big leagues this year. Going forward Dodgers fans can expect a solid middle-to-back-end of the rotation starter with lots of strikeouts, lots of fly balls and a few fly balls that turn into home runs.

Julio Urias also made his MLB debut this year. His ceiling is much higher.

Alex Verdugo had an okay year. Still has a promising bat and strong arm.

Grant Holmes is now with the A's.

Carlos Rodon has solidified himself as a big leaguer. Rodon came up through the White Sox system in approximately five seconds because the White Sox can do that (just look at Chris Sale). Rodon figures to be really important for the White Sox going forward. That's exactly why he's already in trade rumors and inspiring many to think he might be a Yankee next year.

There were more black refractors but they're either TTM fodder or fun surprises for many of you in future Zappings.

Here are all eight of the black wave refractors that were sent my way. These are very shiny and impressive.

I understand that these have autographed versions too (because of course they do).

These are the red-black paper parallels. Here you can see Touki Toussaint who the D-Backs gave away to get rid of Bronson Arroyo's contract, Aaron Judge leading a barrage of cards I didn't bother scanning individually, and future Yankee Carson Fulmer at the top left.

So yeah. I kind of did a disservice by shrinking 100+ cards into a few scans but I didn't want to spoil the surprise too much.

Anyway Springer-san also sent along more goodies with these refractors.

This trio of Orange Shimmer refractors from 2016 Bowman Chrome.

Appropriate for the tin all of these cards came in, there was this incredible pinstripe jersey relic of #GREGBIRD from 2016 Panini Immaculate. As you can see it's numbered 43/49. Oof, I owe Springer-san big time.

Serial numbered Yankees legends.

Now we get to the last, but fun portion. Japanese baseball cards. This is a very cool pinstripe relic of Tetsuto Yamada of the Yakult Swallows.

Limited to 100 copies (100!). I imagine that these small print runs are due to how, unlike Topps, BBM doesn't print out so many cards that, once accumulated, it could fill up all of Lake Erie.

This isn't from BBM. It's actually a Bikkuriman sticker (stickers that come with chocolate wafer treats). The two depicted are Hanshin Tigers stars Kanemoto and Toritani. This sticker is really really shiny.

Former Rakuten Eagle (and current Mariner) Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma is who I call the middle-incomer's Hiroki Kuroda. He's less consistent that Big Hirok, but he is durable.

This one is numbered to JUST 75 copies!

Mr. Three-Run Home Run!

This is a very shiny (too shiny for my scanner to handle) insert of Chunichi Dragons (my team!) legend Masahiko Morino. His nickname was "Mr. Three-Run Home Run" for a while because his home runs tended to be three-run dingers most of the time. Morino has spent his entire career with the Chunichi Dragons (ever since they drafted him in the second round back in 1996!). He continues to serve as the face of the franchise but unfortunately his time as an active player may be coming to a close very soon.

This Morino is numbered to 150. If American inserts were numbered to 150 I'm sure the hobby would be a lot different.

This is a very cool 2014 BBM Genesis card of Motonobu Tanishige. Tanishige enjoyed a 27 year long career as a player in Japan (27!). I quite like the designs of these Genesis cards. They're always very slick. Even if they almost never resemble an actually field where people play baseball.

This fine specimen of the former catcher-manager is numbered 50.

Finishing off this epic package are these two rookie cards of Japanese pitching phenom Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani's seen as one of the best non MLB affiliated baseball players in the world thanks to his fastball (and his bat too I suppose). Ohtani was recently a key part of the Fighters' victory in the Nippon Series (the NPB equivalent of the World Series) over Big Hirok's Hiroshima Carp.

When Ohtani comes to the US remains to be seen but I'd wager that it's not this year (although he'd get all of the money in this lousy free agent market). Personally I want him to go to the Dodgers so he can continue hitting (albeit in small doses). Sure his ceiling as a hitter is probably Seth Smith but, that's better than most of the automatic outs pitchers the NL trots out to the plate.

And that was my latest trade with a Japanese collector. Woof. I was not expecting such a large package. My additional package for Springer-san will have to really up the ante. No more messing around.

After all, I am part of this culture (somewhat).

Big thanks to Springer-san for the awesome stuff.

And as always thanks for stopping by and take care :).