Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Top 5 Yankee TTM Returns of 2014

So yesterday I blogged about my top 5 non-Yankee returns (from minor leaguers and major leaguers). Today I'm going to be ranking my top 5 Yankees TTM returns (from minor leaguers and major leaguers).

Top Five Yankee MiLB Returns


1). Nick Goody ('10 EEE & Note) - NYY
That note cemented Goody as number one on this list.


2). Gosuke Katoh ('13 Bowman Draft paper & Chrome) - NYY
As a guy who had a similar upbringing to Katoh (minus the being good enough to be drafted in the second round of 2013 draft part) I really wish Katoh the best. 加藤選手頑張ってください!


3). Tyler Austin ('11 Pro Debut blue & '13 Bowman Chrome) - NYY
I tried Austin back in 2013 but it was a failure, so it was a pleasant surprise to see these come back.


4). Bryan Mitchell ('10 Bowman Chrome) - NYY
With Shane Greene and David Phelps now out of New York, Mitchell may have a shot to join the rotation in 2015.


5). Kyle Higashioka ('11 Topps Heritage Minors) - NYY
I'd love to see Higashioka bounce back and provide even more catching depth for the Yankees org.

Honorable Mentions: Taylor Garrison, Carmen Angelini and everybody else who signed for me :).

Top Five Yankees MLB Returns


1). Hiroki Kuroda
In case you didn't know Hiroki Kuroda is my favorite pitcher of all time.



2). Don Hood
Don Hood not only had a sweet inscription and signature, but he also sent along with that picture that was cut so it could fit in the envelope. That guaranteed him a top three spot on this list.


3). Don Larsen
From one Don to another, Don Larsen is my favorite pre-60's vintage Yankee TTM return ever.


4). David Robertson
It's sad to see another homegrown Yankee go but I wish Robertson the best with the White Sox.


5). David Phelps
From one David to another. Although he was traded to Miami, I loved rooting for Phelps during his time in the organization. I wish him the best in Miami.

Honorable Mentions: Bobby Richardson, Rollie Sheldon, John Olerud, Brian Cashman and everybody else that signed for me :).

So those were my top 5 favorite MLB and MilB Yankee TTM returns.
I'd like to thank all of the Yankees players who took the time to sign TTMs for me.
And I'd like to thank you (the reader) for stopping by. As always take care :).

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Top 5 Non-Yankee TTM Returns Of 2014

So 2014 is coming to a close and I thought I'd do a list of my top five non-Yankee TTM returns. Now for this one I'm going to be separating this into five returns from minor leaguers who aren't in the Yankees system (yet). And five major leaguers who aren't on the Yankees roster (yet).
I've got another special post for the Yankees ;).

Top 5 Non-Yankee MiLB TTM Returns


1). Julio Urias ('14 Bowman) - LAD
Julio Urias is the next big thing. Baseball America said so.


2). Clint Frazier ('13 Bowman Draft) - CLE
This was an absolutely phenomenal return at the start of the 2014 season :).


3). Austin Meadows ('13 Bowman Draft) - PIT
This was an absolutely phenomenal return at the end the 2014 season :).


4). Jonathan Gray ('13 Bowman Draft) - COL
This guy is going to be a beast.


5). Rinku Singh ('09 Tri-star) - PIT
As time has gone on I've really come to hate Million Dollar Arms for what it is (it's NOT about Singh or Patel I can tell you that much) but that doesn't change how awesome this return is.

Honorable Mentions:
Aaron Blair, Braden Shipley, Phil Ervin, Kyle Finnegan, Jason Kanzler, Bradley Zimmer, Jonathon Crawford, Brian Navarreto, Lewis Thorpe, Joey Gallo, and everybody else that signed for me :).

Top 5 Non-Yankee MLB TTM Returns


1). Clayton Kershaw ('13 OD) - LAD
You know, while I was creating this post I realized that I got a TTM autograph of Clayton Kershaw. I got a TTM autograph of Clayton Kershaw. I GOT A TTM AUTOGRAPH OF CLAYTON KERSHAW! I GOT A TTM AUTOGRAPH OF CLAYTON KERSHAW!   I GOT A TTM AUTOGRAPH OF THAT CLAYTON KERSHAW!
I GOT A TTM AUTOGRAPH OF  THE CLAYTON KERSHAW! 


2). Corey Kluber ('13 Topps) - CLE
Boy Kluber sure had himself an awesome 2014 season. It's probably because he signed this TTM for me.


3). Junichi Tazawa ('10 FCB Baltimore National Mini) - BOS
I love this return.


4). Koji Uehara ('10 Topps) - BOS/BAL
I love this return.


5). Tommy Kahnle ('13 Bowman Chrome refractor) - COL/NYY
I know what some of you are thinking. "Hey, that's a Yankee!" Well Kahnle was a Yankee until the 2013-14 offseason when he was selected by the Rockies in the Rule 5 Draft and he managed to stay on the Rockies for all of 2014. Plus he signed this card me after he had made his debut as a Rockie.

Honorable Mentions: Justin Masterson, Chase Headley, Chuck Taylor and everybody else that signed for me :).

So those were my personal top 5 non-Yankee TTMs I got in 2014. I'd like to thank everybody who sent me a TTM return in 2014.
And I'd like to thank you (the readers) for stopping by. As always take care :).

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weekend TTM Roundup: 12/15-12/20

It's been a while since I did one of these. How did these go again?

Received On: 12/18/2014

My first TTM return in a while came from Matt Stites.
Matt Stites was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft. He was quite the prospect during his time with the Padres, as his scouting reports became ubiquitous with "a reliever with a ton of upside." With what Jim Callas referred to as a plus fastball and plus slider, Stites was basically a machine.
Then in 2013 he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Ian Kennedy trade. After joining the Diamondbacks he put up very nice results in the minors and called up. He eventually made his MLB debut on June 19th. Stites ended up pitching to a 66 ERA+ and 5.47 FIP during his 37 game stint (not too great). Control issues may have been the cause of Stites' struggles but he did throw in the high-90's so there is something to work with. The 2015 Diamondbacks bullpen could be a bit too crowded to include Stites again, but a little more time to refine his breaking pitches in the minors probably won't hurt. Here's to hoping the righty reliever bounces back and shows everyone the dominant reliever the D-Backs front office (at the time) thought they were getting.
BTW, see that card saver that the Stites is in? I didn't send that. Which means that Mr. Stites got that card saver (somehow) and sent it to me like that to protect the card. Is that cool or what?

So that was my only TTM return this week.
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

2014 TTM Count: 232

Sources:
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/stitema01.shtml
*http://arizonasports.com/42/1652546/Getting-to-know-new-Arizona-Diamondbacks-prospect-Matt-Stites
*http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=12165&position=P
*http://insidethezona.com/2014/09/command-lapses-rule-matt-stites-2015-bullpen/

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Parallel-Insanity

So with the release of 2014 Bowman Draft and Bowman's horrible decision to include Luis Torrens, I now have a new rainbow to chase. And boy is it fugly.


In 2014 Bowman Draft, Luis Torrens has the following...

Paper Rainbow:
Base
Red
Blue
Black
Asia-Exclusive Black
Green
Silver Ice
Red Ice
Purple Ice
White Ice
Orange Ice
Four different printing plates.

Chrome Rainbow:
Base
Refractor
Super-Jumbo Refractor (WTF?)
Blue
Black
Green
Blue Wave
Red Wave
Silver Wave
Black Wave
Gold
Orange
Purple
Red
Superfractor
Four different printing plates.

If my math is correct (and it usually isn't) then that's a total of 34 different colored cards I'd theoretically need to get from this one product. THIRTY-FOUR!

Now I'm one who's usually willing to forgive parallels because having parallels in moderation can be a good thing since it stimulates a good chase. But this is a bit too excessive for even me.
I mean, of the 34 different parallels I listed up there:
*Eleven of them are 1/1's.
Eight printing plates, a 1/1 Black paper parallel, the White Ice paper parallel and of course the superfractor.

*Seven of them are exclusive to certain types of boxes/continents.
The black paper, black refractors and white ice parallels are exclusive to hobby boxes.
The orange ice paper parallels are exclusive to the jumbo boxes.
The green paper parallels and "super-jumbo refractors" are exclusive to the super jumbo boxes.
The Asia-exclusive black paper parallels are only found in 2014 Bowman Draft Asia Edition.

*Two of them are pretty much the same
The black 1/1 paper parallel and the Asia-exlusive black paper parallel are pretty much the same except that one has 1/1 stamped on the back.

Now those three bulletpoints alone are scary. But here's the scariest part, it could've been worse. A LOT worse. Looking through just the Chrome parallels I can name at least six parallels Bowman could've included to drive collectors even more insane.

Actually no, that's not the scariest part. The scariest part is that all of these parallels are for recently drafted minor leaguers in the 2014 Bowman Draft set. Even though I'm a prospect head, I can't imagine anybody sane actually willing to invest so much time and money into players that have yet to reach the majors and whose value only comes from "potential." (Note, families and close friends of the card subjects do not count).


Now, I understand why Topps/Bowman does this. They need certain parallels to be exclusive to certain kinds of boxes so they can move more units. What's the point in buying a box that's three times more expensive if the contents are the same? They need a gimmick to help out sales on their new Super Jumbo boxes while also making sure hobby boxes and regular jumbo boxes keep selling. But knowing that doesn't help. In fact I dare say that it makes it worse.


Looking at that giant list again I'm suddenly reminded of Night Owl's post about the impossible Puig checklist. He mentioned how Yasiel Puig had 42 different cards in 2013 Topps Update. And yes that's quite a task but keep in mind that those 42 cards can be divided into four different entities, US46 (and its parallels), US250 (and its parallels & short print variations), US330 (and its parallels), and finally inserts (and one autograph). This time you've got 34 different variations for basically one card. And if you're going after a player with an autograph (the autographs have 34 parallels too) or an insert in this set (inserts have parallels too) or an insert autograph you're probably going need to track down nearly 100 different cards when it's all said and done.

Then I'm reminded of one more part of that Night Owl post. The very end where he reminisced on how there was a time when you could accumulate every card of a player with just one card. Now by the time I came into this hobby parallels were already engrained into the collecting world so I've never known a world where there weren't any parallels. In fact, what's pretty disappointing is that almost all of the players I chose to focus on have parallels.

*Luis Torrens - He has at least 34 parallels in this product alone
*Dellin Betaces - Just Rookies, Tri-Star & Upper Deck made a complete Betances collection impossible
*Hiroki Kuroda - His Hiroshima Carp era cards even have parallels!
*Jack Chesbro - Even Chesbro T206es have parallels (Piedmont backs, Sweet Caporal backs, etc...)

Okay at this point I'm just rambling about some minor #FirstWorldProblem that doesn't have an effect on the world in any way and I apologize for that. It's just that ever since I read that Night Owl post, there's been a small part of my brain going "man, it'd be nice to say I own every Luis/Dellin/Big Hirok/Cervelli card in this year's *insert product name here* with just one card." And these 34 new cards are basically Topps/Bowman's way of giving me the finger.

What's worse is that I'm sure they're not done here. Now that Torrens is on the map (in addition to the previous accolades he was recently picked as the ninth best prospect on Baseball Prospectus' top 10 Yankees prospects list) it's only a matter of time before he's inserted into products like Pro Debut and Heritage Minors, two products that also keep adding more parallels with every new edition.

So to all of you future player collectors out there, go for guys who aren't highly touted at all and yet managed to make it to the majors and stay there (like Shane Greene). Otherwise you'll have to track down 1000 of their pre-rookie cards and then 2000 more after they make it to the majors.
And to all you future team collectors out there. Just give up now and look for another hobby. It's better for your health (and wallet).

Anyway thanks for stopping by and tolerating my negativity (or not).
Take care everybody :).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wob Balked!

A while back I said I was going to stop doing trade posts because I'm too lazy (also because I no longer trade with people, I just Zap people and they surprise me back), but today I received a package from Bob Walk The Plank that's so great that that rule can be broken. Now Bob Walk The Plank has sent me a lot of great cards in these past few months that I've integrated into other planned posts but this latest one just demands to be seen immediately.
I mean take a look at this!


THAT, my friends, is Luis Torrens' black On Fire die-cut auto from 2014 Leaf Valiant. Why's it so special? Well...


It might be a little hard to see but this fine specimen is numbered THREE OUT OF FIVE!
Matt knows that Zippy goes Zappy for Torrens, and boy am I Zappy for this card. It's the second Torrens I have that's numbered to five and they're both numbered 3/5.

Matt, I don't know what you had to do get this (was it the eBay auction that only went for under $10 shipped?) and I have no idea how I'm going to pay you back. Well okay I have a few ideas. Or at least I did until I saw the other cards Matt sent along.

Yep, BWTP included those four A-Rod relics with the Torrenator. And they're all from special sets. The Topps 60 & Gypsy Queen relics are from 2011, the year I came into this hobby.
The ASG relic is from 2005 Topps, the very first pack of cards I ever got was 2005 Topps (series 2).
The Turkey Relic, well, I don't have any special ties to 2005 TR but the original Turkey Red featured some greats who played for the Highlanders, so there's that!

Thanks a lot for the great cards Matt, they're wonderful!

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Introducing The Torrenterion Collection

Recently I put up a new page on my blog that I like to call the Torrenterion Collection (aka my Luis Torrens Collection). I've gathered and posted all of my Luis Torrens PC pieces on the page. It's listed in chronological order from the Torrenators' first cards to his latest cards.
I would like to say, for the record, that even if you come across or come into possession of a Torrens card and you want to send it my way but already see it on that page, just send it to me anyway. I'll never say no to giving a good Torrenator a good home, my home.

Now onto some recent pickups.
As expected progress on my LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS 2013 Bowman Chrome rainbow stopped but I've slowly accumulated a few of his other cards in recent times.


Like this Gold Prismatic 1/1 auto from 2014 Leaf Metal Draft that I referred to as Omega Luis when the Wampa attacked.
As you can see it's Leaf's answer to the superfractor in the Bowman brand, right down to the way the card looks with those weird (yet cool) circle things that make the card shine. Literally.
Now even though this card is cool and all I do have two major problems with it. One is that it uses the same picture Panini used for the Torrenatrix's base card in 2013 Panini Perennial Prizm Draft. Second, this thing is called a "gold prismatic" refractor. See when I think of the word "prism" in the cardboard world I don't think of Leaf, I think of Panini. So the only conclusion I can draw from this is that Leaf is now trying to be the poor man's Panini, and that's not good (although it's very appropriate).

As you can see it is indeed a 1/1 and my third Torrens 1/1 in my collection.


Next is this die cut from 2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition. Torrens die cuts from EEE don't appear too often and the autographed versions are all redemptions that have yet to be "redeemed" (no way I'm wasting money on a code though, I'll wait until a live one pops up).


This one is Torrens' most recent non-licensed card. It's from the very ignored and very forgettable Leaf Valiant. Naturally there are like a billion different variations of Torrens alone that I don't have the time or money to chase. Ugh. Despite that I do like the way this card looks. You don't see too many die-cuts shaped like flames.

This particular one is the orange parallel of these On Fire die-cut autographs. I decided to go after this particular one out of both desperation and because orange is the best color to go with when it comes to flames. Although I hate how this is numbered to 50. Not because it's numbered, exactly, but because when I think of orange chrome-y parallels, I think of them being numbered to 25 thanks to Bowman.
So thanks a lot of Leaf, first you try to be the poor man's Panini and then you don't even try to be the poor man's Bowman. I expect you to make up for your blunders by living up to your company name and including marijuana leaves in your future products. I'll have the Zig Zags ready.


I picked up this green die-cut because it was cheap. Even though it's green it's not numbered and apparently the base version of this die-cut auto insert. See this is why I no longer bother to keep up with parallels and just go after them at random.


Pulled in the very last pack of my 2014 Bowman Draft hobby box. This card is just so cool. I was really worried that Bowman was going to use a pic of Torrens that they already used before but instead we get this really awesome shot of Torrens in catching gear in presumably the GCL (hence the fences).

So anyway thanks again for stopping by to witness me just showing off my latest LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSS cards :).
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Salaries


They're so happy. For now.

In the past I've mentioned how major league baseball teams like to keep minor league baseball salaries very low and how a lot of players in the minors tend to get screwed over financially. I'm bringing this grim truth up again because Andrew Miller of Baseball Essential posted an absolutely great piece on MiLB wages. If you haven't read it yet I'd highly recommend it, even if you don't care about minor league baseball I'd still recommend it. It covers a lot of topics like from how difficult it is for a lot of minor leaguers to make ends meet, first hand accounts of having to secure places to live during the season and surviving the offseason, and it completely breaks the false perception many of us have of minor league baseball players and the life they lead.

Without giving too much away I wanted to share some highlights from the article that I found noteworthy and very interesting.
"Many players have to pick up a job in the off-season, or work at camps sponsored by the team, just to make some extra money to survive off of. The players are at the stadium upwards of 12 hours a day, which makes it difficult for them to pick up a second true job during the season."
Although most of us don't know or see it, a vast majority of minor leaguers really struggle to make ends meet. The article mentions that a LOT of minor leaguers get paid below the poverty line and earn less than what fast food workers make in a single year.
Now because their "day-job" won't keep food on the table or keep the roof over their heads, a lot of minor leaguers have to spend their offseason working extra jobs. I follow almost every minor league baseball player in the Yankees organization on Twitter and I've seen a bunch of players say that they're offering lessons during the offseason to kids. Most of whom are players who were drafted in the lower rounds of the draft.


I'd also like to point out that while these players were offering their services for money, some top draft picks drafted in the the first round were tweeting about the newest iPhone they got (this was around the iPhone 6/6+'s release day).
I bring it up because it shows the disparity between the players who get the huge signing bonuses and the rest of the draftees who don't.

"Besides a formal salary, the players also receive money for food, which restricts them to certain options."
This quote refers to $25 that teams give their players for food every week during the regular season and the article goes on to say that those "certain options" are limited to fast food and that eating fast food drives trainers nuts.
I found this particularly interesting because you'd think that teams would be a lot more cautious with the diets and eating habits their players have. I'm sure that every organization views their minor leaguers as nothing more than cattle assets (remember baseball is nothing more than a business) but I had assumed that, like any business, those organizations would keep their assets in the best shape possible so they have as much value as they can possible have. Guess not.
And yes I'm aware that you can still have a healthy diet with only $25 per week, but remember that these minor leaguers are getting paid peanuts and need to save as much money as possible, and I'm sure that that includes making sure that they leave as much of that $25 left unspent as possible.

"In an effort to combat the pay scale, in April 2014, a lawsuit filed on behalf of 20 players against Major League Baseball and Bud Selig was filed. The claim is that Major League Baseball is violating many state and federal labor laws, including investigation that the amount they receive annually from baseball is below the poverty line, which violates many federal laws as an employer."

Here's the big one to me.
According to this Forbes article from 2013, Major League Baseball is a $8 billion industry thanks to television revenue. And that value will continue to rise as more and more teams sign lucrative TV deals that give team owners more money in their pockets.
I find it somewhat baffling that despite all that revenue going to pretty much everybody (including the small market teams), minor league baseball players suffer the most and get the short stick. The players union doesn't cover the minor league players so they're left unprotected and left to fend for themselves against a system that's basically looking to screw them over in every conceivable way. Unfortunately I don't really see any changes being implemented to benefit the minor leaguers. Every corrupt system has a way of keeping itself corrupt.
I guess this is fitting in a way though, our society claims to care about the future and yet there are numerous flaws of our education system and nothing is really done about it. Symbolism!

Anyway, I'm sure that you could do a lot worse in life than being a minor league baseball player who didn't get a big signing bonus and is getting paid the minor league minimum (especially in today's economy), but at the same time I think it's interesting how we tend to think of athletes as being overpaid (because owners can never be overpaid or too rich right?) people that live fabulous lifestyles and yet there are those who are worse off than most of the collectors in the baseball card hobby.

If you decide to read the article I linked (here it is again) and have your own thoughts and opinions on the matter let me know.
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Revisiting Profiles: John Frill


Alright, it is time to revisit John Frill.
Just who was John Frill?
How did his professional baseball career go?
What kind of pitches did Frill throw?
What was his life like before baseball?
What was his life like after baseball?

These are the questions I dared to ask when I decided to look up Frill The Thrill.

Much like Lefty Davis, a lot of information about John Frill has been lost over time. But lets try and uncover as much as we possibly can.
John Edmond Frill was born on April 3rd, 1879 in Reading, PA. Frill was a left-handed pitcher who batted right. By 1906 he had become a professional baseball player as he played for the Springfield Ponies in 1906. In 1907 he spent some time in East Liverpool but spent the end of the season with the Newark Sailors. Frill spent the following two seasons in Newark and was allegedly a star pitcher for the Sailors/Indians (I say allegedly because I haven't been able to confirm whether or not BR Bullpen's claims are accurate). On August 6th, 1909 John Frill was sold to the New York Highlanders for $2,500 (adjusted for inflation that's aprox. $63,225.45 today).

He started the 1910 season with the Highlanders and made his MLB debut on April 16th, 1910 against the Boston Red Sox. John Frill out dueled Frank Arellanes and the Highlanders won 4-2. The victory was also the first Highlanders win of the 1910 season. During the 1910 season John Frill appeared in 10 games for the Highlanders and started five of them. He struck out 27 batters while only walking five batters and pitched to a 1.85 FIP (per Baseball Reference). There aren't too many reports about John Frill's outings or his time with the Highlanders but if his 60 ERA+ and -0.9 bWAR are any indication then it's no surprise that the Highlanders sold him to the Jersey City Skeeters on July 13th, 1910.

Frill spent the rest of the 1910 season and the 1911 season with the Skeeters. In 1912 he returned to the majors twice, first as a member of the St. Louis Browns where he started three games but only lasted 4.1 innings between all three outings combined. He and his 20.77 ERA were picked up off the waiver wire by the Cincinnati Reds on August 5th, 1912 where he fared a little better, but his stint with the Reds would be his final one as a major league baseball player. After his time with the Reds he spent the next three seasons playing for the Buffalo Bisons, Jersey City Skeeters (again), Toronto Maple Leafs (haha), Syracuse Stars and the Albany Senators. Overall Frill was a solid pitcher in the minors but was sort of a AAAA guy during his stints in the majors.
According to a few sources John Frill was drafted by the US government in 1917 and fought in World War I in 1917 and possibly parts of 1918. On September 28th, 1918, John Frill died due to influenza at the age of 39 in Westerly, Rhode Island.

And that was all I was able to come up with (again I'm NOT as diligent as Thom over at the fantastic site Baseball History Daily so who knows what I might've been able to uncover if I had gone the extra distance and looked up old newspaper archives). But for a handful of Google searches I think I managed to answer close to four of the six questions I had. Of course the two I didn't answer were about his personal life before his playing days (and I guess his post-baseball life wasn't exactly answered very well either) and what he threw but I wasn't really expecting to find much about that sort of information ranyway so I'll just appreciate what I could get.

Hopefully you all enjoyed this post (I sure enjoyed digging up old bits of baseball knowledge again).
And as always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Sources:
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/f/frilljo01.shtml
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=frill-001joh
*https://baseballrevisited.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/baseball-and-the-saturday-evening-post-april-16-1910/
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/John_Frill
*http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=46057322
*https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8W4-MS7

*http://www.legendaryauctions.com/1910_11_m116_sporting_life_john_frill___300_subjec-lot90868.aspx
*http://sports.ha.com/itm/baseball-collectibles/photos/1913-buffalo-bisons-imperial-cabinet-photograph-thrilling-international-league-artifact-pictures-the-members-of-the-club-t/a/709-19607.s#Photo