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 :).

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Month-End TTM Roundup: 10/1-11/5

Received On: 10/6/2016

My first return this month came on the sixth (what a slow month), courtesy of current Kansas City Royal and World Series Champion, Christian Colon.
Christian Colon was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2010 MLB Player Draft. Despite that Colon was never high on too many prospect lists. Colon was seen by many during his time in the minors as a low ceiling, high floor guy who could turn into a solid everyday player at the big league level. Also, it doesn't help that he was overshadowed by those drafted before him and after him such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Bubba Starling. Colon did eventually make it to the big leagues in 2014 though. In the 2014 Wild Card Game Colon played a big part in helping the Royals advance to the ALDS by tying the game and eventually scoring the winning run. In the 2015 World Series he hit a pinch hit RBI single in Game 5 that helped the Royals win it all.
Colon's future going forward appears to be that of a utility guy on the bench. Defensively he's a solid defender at most of the infield positions.

Received On: 10/7/2016

Next up is Craig McMurtry.
Craig McMurtry was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 1980 MLB Player Draft. The righty pitcher enjoyed a very nice rookie season as a starter and went on to have a MLB career as a serviceable reliever. McMurtry had his best season as a rookie but injuries and ineffectiveness caused him to be removed from the Braves starting rotation and put into the bullpen. McMurtry also pitched for the Rangers and Astros during his career. He's currently the head coach of the Temple College baseball team.

Received On: 10/12/2016

Here is White Sox infielder, Tyler Saladino.
Tyler Saladino was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the seventh round of the 2010 MLB Player Draft. Saladino's never been an elite prospect but he was always seen as a very solid player who could at least be a major leaguer in some capacity. Saladino had some very great years in triple-A and was on the cusp of a big league call up a few years ago but injuries put a brief halt to that. Saladino eventually made his debut in 2015 and managed to stay in the big leagues for good in 2016, putting up a pretty decent season as an infielder.

Received On: 10/13/2016

Next up are two returns from Padres outfielder Auston Bousfield.
Auston Bousfield was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB Player Draft. The outfielder was drafted out of college and climbs the ranks in the San Diego organization very quickly. Bousfield managed to make it to triple-A before the end of the 2016 season and played with the El Paso Chihuahuas against the Scranton Wilkes Barre Railriders (Yankees affiliate!) for the Triple-A Championships. Scouting reports on Bousfield are a little dated but back in 2014 Fangraphs' Kiley McDaniel (current member of the Braves front office) projected for Bousfield to be a fourth outfielder much like Chris Denorfia. So Padres fans have that to look forward to.

Received On: 10/18/2016

Here's Detroit Tigers outfielder Tyler Collins.
Tyler Collins was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft. Collins didn't have to spend too much time in the minors before he made it to the big leagues in 2014. Since then the outfielder has been spending time between the big leagues and triple-A. Collins projects to be a fourth outfielder type who can do everything (hitting and fielding) rather adequately. Some Tigers fans might remember how earlier this year Collins flipped the bird at Tigers fans for booing him.

Received On: 10/21/2016

Here's Cubs righty Pierce Johnson.
Pierce Johnson was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the 2012 MLB Player Draft. Johnson was picked after Albert Almora using the compensation pick the Cubbies got for losing Aramis Ramirez to the Brewers the winter before. Armed with a low-to-mid 90's fastball, curveball, cutter and change up, Johnson has a ceiling of a middle of the rotation starter but his track record thus far has been a career derailed by injuries. Johnson made it to triple-A and his 2016 was a mix of unfortunate circumstances and pretty bad outings. But there is hope for the righty, for all we know he could at least play an important role in the Cubbies bullpen going forward.

Received On: 10/24/2016

Next up is Red righty, Jimmy Herget.
Jimmy Herget was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. The righty reliever had one heck of a season in high-A Daytona in 2016. Herget uses a fastball, slider, curveball and change up combination, and made opposing hitters look foolish en-route to his 24 saves. Originally scouts wondered whether the Reds would try Herget as a starter rather than as a reliever, but Herget projects to get to the big leagues quicker as a reliever and if 2016 is any indication he could be a really useful arm for the rebuilding Redlings going forward.

Received On: 10/26/2016

Here is former Yankee Rob Gardner.
Rob Gardner was originally signed by the Minnesota Twins as an amateur free agent back in 1963. But was taken shortly afterwards by the New York Mets in the 1963 First Year Draft (a now-defunct draft where teams were allowed to take minor leaguers from other teams for $15,000 and basically screwed over tons of players financially). Gardner was a lefty starter (later a reliever) who spent time pitching for a lot of teams in his 13 years as a professional. Gardner made his MLB debut with the Mets in 1965 and his career afterwards was spent being yo-yo'd up and down between quad-A and triple-A. Apparently Gardner was traded twice by the Yankees out of New York for two of the Alou brothers. Flipe Alou and later Matty Alou.

Received On: 11/5/2016

Finishing off this monthlong TTM roundup is a pretty awesome one from former SI Yankee, Ty McFarland.
Ty McFarland was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 10th round of the 2014 MLB Player Draft. McFarland's pro career got off to a great start in 2014. Hitting well enough with solid defense that earned him NYPL All Star honors. However in 2015 he suffered back injuries that severely limited his playing time. Unfortunately he was released in 2016 (according to an insider at Pinstriped Prospects his injuries were back related and what David Wright is currently trying to recover from). He's currently an assistant baseball coach for Central Michigan University and he generously signed this for me.

And those were my returns for the month of October (and the first week of November). Can't say I'm surprised with how I barely got 10 returns, but it's to be expected in the offseason. I'm just happy some came back at all.

So big thanks to Mr. Colon, McMurtry, Saladino, Bousfield, Collins, Johnson, Herget, Gardner and McFarland for the awesome autographs.

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

Take care.

2016 TTM Count: 263


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Four Months of Baseball Card Sobriety

Right so I'm currently on a baseball card hiatus, which is convenient because I'm on my way to accomplishing my goal of six months of no baseball card purchases.

This past month was fairly easy to navigate through. I've seen offerings of recent products on eBay and Target and I'm always left so underwhelmed that I sometimes questioned why I even collected cards in the first place.

But then I realize that very few products that come out in October ever peaked my interest and just went about with the month.

While I'm on this hiatus some of you may be wondering how I've been getting by and passing time. Well for the most part time has gone towards my personal life and my academic life. I also got back into music (albeit briefly) to fill up the void somewhat.

I had quite a lot of fun writing that "What I've Been Listening To" post. I am working on a followup and hopefully I can share more acts I like for various reasons with the rest you (I'm also hoping that we can get more commentary from Tony).

During this time what's really filled the void was probably me being reintroduced to Yu-Gi-Oh! I've got several posts on this card game in the works but let me just say that it's been fun going back to this card game that was pretty significant to my childhood. As a kid I didn't know the rules. I just had a few cards that I thought were cool. Fast forward to now, I finally understand some of the rules and now have a deck that'd be annihilated in an instant in a legitimate tournament.

One of the posts I have in the works isn't so much about the card game (because I doubt my regular readers will care), but more about using what I know about the card collecting hobby in the realm of baseball cards and applying that to the other realm of trading card games made for table top gaming. In some ways there are a lot of similarities, but there are also a lot of differences too. I hope to get that post done and posted before the rest of the YGO posts actually.

So true to this post's title, I've now gone four months without any baseball card purchases. I still have a cardboard addiction but it's just taken on a different form. Yay?

So as for the few baseball card related things I actually did do this past month, here are some/all of them.

First things first, I did send out my first wave of year-end Zappings. Some of you may have seen some Zappings on your blogger feeds in recent times. You might be next (note, if your name is Gavin you are DEFINITELY next).

Second, I have kept up in the trading realm of the hobby. Not as much I used to but still enough that some packages and PWE's from friends like Johnny, Night Owl, P-Town Tom and Mark Hoyle have trickled in. Thanks all!

Third, I actually went to Topps HQ in downtown Manhattan.

Now I didn't go inside it because I didn't care enough to (also I doubt they offer tours), but I did like how this building just had the Topps logo on it atop the entrance doors.

Also the part above the Topps logo makes it appear as though it's inspired by the 2007 Topps motif.

The funny thing is that I've walked past this building numerous times. This is basically two or three blocks away from the Staten Island Ferry terminal. And yet it was just recently that I realized it was there. I mean I knew Topps HQ was in NYC, but downtown NYC? I wasn't expecting that.

And one final baseball card related thing I've seen are announcements of 2017 products. By now we've seen designs and everything for various products set to come next year. Everything that isn't a throwback set basically looks like Stadium Club now (all of you who wanted Stadium Club back congrats, now everything is Stadium Club).

The most notable development out of all of these was that Blake Rutherford is going to have his first Bowman (chrome) card in 2017. What does that mean? It means that Ruthorford's not going to be in Draft. Probably an insert (most likely a dual insert with Nick Solak or James Kaprelian). Which sucks. This means Yankees fans like me have to wait until next year for the first Bowman Chrome autograph of Blake Rutherford. But oh well. At least this means that there'll be less of an impulse to get his cards (if he has any) from Draft now.

So here we are. Four months of no baseball card purchases down, two more to go.

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