Wednesday, February 28, 2018

In (A-)Rod We Trust: The Return

While looking for bad card backs for my custom sleeves post, I decided to look through my Alex Rodriguez collection for examples. I found some. But I also found some really neat and cool A-Rod cards in the process. I can't remember the last time I did one of these but here's another 13 for A-Rod.

Starting off strong with A-Rod signing for fans during Spring Training. I hope I can say that I had the honor of getting an in person A-Rod autograph one day.

Before Pepsi made commercials which underestimated the seriousness of current social issues, it allowed its logos to be used on baseball cards.

More product placement, this time from Nestle Ice Cream. Mmm, I could go for some Rocky Road right about now.

The days where people cared about TV personalities on sports programs are long gone. This is both a good and bad thing.

The metallic A-Rod head on the right there can be felt, it's not glossy at all. Also, this is A-Rod in his natural environment, shortstop.

While Jeter dives head-first into the stands like an idiot, A-Rod saves himself the embarrassment and catches balls in foul territory like a pro.

Look out Alex! The metal around you is melting!



Weird parallel corners will not box in A-Rod. He will not allow it.

Now here's a really cool card from A-Rod's amateur days. This three piece can literally be cut up into three pieces as they're perforated and made to be disconnected. I don't think the other two did anything, but at least they can say they were on a trading card with A-Rod once.

I love this card because it doesn't say anything about the player, the team, or anything about the sport. It just says I got a free download.

The free download was for a free song on iTunes. In 2007 this was still a novel thing as the mp3 generation was just starting to really take off. I wish baseball cards still came with free iTunes songs though, I have a wantlist!

The last card is the latest new addition to my collection.
A Classic brand card of A-Rod from his amateur days. I think this tinted color is supposed to be gold but it looks like piss. That said, A-Rod is golden.

So there were 13 random A-Rods. Will there be more to come? You bet ;).

As always thanks for stopping by and take care .

Monday, February 26, 2018

Random Yankees Thoughts Going Into The Season

It's the dawn of a new season. Time to blurt out some thoughts I have about the 2018 Yankees.


These first few thoughts will be recaps of what the Yankees did/didn't do this past winter and some of the storylines that plagued my Twitter feed for the entirety of the past three months

Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee

Did you folks see this? Did you even know it happened? I didn't. HOLY SHITBALLS! GIANCARLO STANTON IS A YANKEE.

Infield (Read: Second Base/Third Base) Depth

The other "need" people talked about this winter were regarding the the holes at second and third with the departures of Starlin Castro and Chase Headley. Castro was sent to Miami in the Stanton (who is a Yankee now!) trade. Headley was a salary dump onto the Padres that came at the cost of trading away Bryan Mitchell.

It's a good thing I waited until a week after spring training started to publish this post because a few days ago the Yankees traded for Brandon Drury in a three team trade. Yankees lost Nick Solak to the Rays and Taylor Widener to the D-Backs, but the Yankees gained a versatile super utility guy in Drury. Drury can play pretty much all of the infield spots (except catcher and SS) and can even play in the outfield in a pinch. This'll give the Yankees another plug to fill up roster holes.

Even after trading for Drury, I think the Yankees will still give their top third base prospect Miguel Andujar a shot to prove himself in Spring Training. The reports on him are really mixed. Some talent evaluators absolutely love him, others not so much. The consensus is that he can flat out hit, the question is if he can pick it at third. His defense was the primary reason the Yankees kept him down in triple-A for most of 2017. So no, he is not playing second. BUT he does have upside and projects to be the Yankees' third baseman of the future (at least as of late-February 2018). If I had to guess Andujar probably starts 2018 in triple-A but gets called up later because of some unforeseen circumstance forcing Drury to man second base.

As for who else will be at second base it's between Drury, Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes. I think Wade has the best shot to be there the most since his production in the minors speaks for itself. Don't let the super small sample size in 2017 fool you, he is good. He just needs consistent reps. Aaron Boone may just shuffle those three guys and use Drury at third whenever the other two stick at second.

Of course the other big candidate for second base is the Yankees' top prospect Gleyber Torres. Torres was shut down for half of last year due to Tommy John surgery but has since made his return to the diamond. Personally I think the Yankees'll test how rusty he in Spring Training before assigning him to triple-A to start the season. If he shows that he hasn't missed a step and has nothing more to learn in Scranton, he's probably a mid-season call up. That'll give the Yankees an extra year of control over Torres by manipulating his service time clock too.

There are other long shot candidates for the infield spots. One of my favorite players and PC (player collection) guys Thairo Estrada WAS one but it was recently reported that he got shot by a gun in a robbery and although he's fine and has been recuperating, the Yankees will take extra precaution with him.

There are also beleaguered MLBers Danny Espinosa and Jace Peterson but they're basically here to fill up an infield spot in triple-A. If they get any amount of big league action with the Yankees, something went horribly horribly wrong.

And for conversation's sake there's also Russell Wilson. Yes, THAT Russell Wilson who was traded to the Yankees because, why the fuck not? MiLB lists him as a second baseman so it counts. Even if he won't play any games for the Yankees.

Other Infield Depth

The first base situation was one of the Yankees' biggest headaches in 2017. Greg Bird was hurt, and the backups behind him either stunk or were also hurt. In 2018 all signs are pointing to the Yankees anointing Bird as their starting first baseman and hoping he can stay healthy. If he can't, I imagine Drury is going to have one more job to do. And maybe Stanton (who is now a Yankee) or Judge gets some 1B reps to both keep their bats in the lineup and to give them some rest.

Bird, when healthy, is really good. He's overshadowed by Judge, Stanton and Sanchez but he's another reason why the Yankees lineup is laced with power-hitting dinger mashers.

The only other real backup first base option is Tyler Austin, who will really have to show Yankees brass that he's worth keeping around this year. Austin's as injury prone as they come and flukey, but can be a good player if he ever gets to stay on the diamond. With the departures of Mike Ford (claimed by Seattle in the Rule 5 Draft) and Ji-Man Choi (free agency), the only real inhouse option after that is Chris Gttens. So yeah, it's imperative that Bird stays healthy.

The everyday catcher's job is all but Gary Sanchez's. He's the forgotten man, but he will not be denied. He's one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball. He is Gary. People will talk about his passed balls or whatever, but then shut up when he hits a monster dinger into the stands. He is Gary. Fear him. For he is Gary. Respect him. For he is Gary. Appreciate him. For he is Gary.

Austin Romine will be the backup catcher because the Yankees' only other catching options are Erik Kratz, Kyle Higashioka, Jorge Saez and Chance Numata. All of whom are somehow even worse than Romine. I miss Luis Torrens and Francisco Cervelli.

Shortstop is Mariekson "Didi" Gregoius's domain. End of story. Hopefully he doesn't get hurt this season.

Outfield Depth

With the addition of Stanton (who is now a Yankee), the Yankees basically have all of the outfielders ever. As it stands they have Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Stanton (who is now a Yankee), Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jake Cave and Billy McKinney to cover the three outfield spots and the two backup outfielder spots. And that's just the outfielders on the 40 man roster. Beyond them they also have Estevan Florial looking to build upon his meteoric rise up in 2017.

As great as it is to think about getting a starter by trading away some of this depth, I think it's important to remember that this depth will likely come in handy. I don't wish ill on anybody but the two large adult sons Judge and Stanton (who is now a Yankee), are giant men. As impressively athletic and durable as they are, if you asked me who I think is going to pull a hamstring this season on the Yankees, they're at the top. Look, all I'm saying is that you want to give them a little rest and have some backup just incase it gets ugly. Having someone like Frazier as a fifth or sixth outfielder is the ultimate luxury. It's easy to say "there's too many of them" when the pre-season is starting, but the cruel hands of fate always find a way to sort these things out.

Starting Rotation Depth

The Yankees didn't add that match starting pitching depth this past offseason and instead just kept the squad they had near the end of the 2017 season intact. On paper their starting pitching depth is fairly good. Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery is a perfectly acceptable rotation for a postseason contender. Behind them is depth that'll primarily come from the minors in the form of Luisa Cessa, Domingo German, Chance Adams, Domingo Acevedo and Justus Sheffield. There's also the extreme longshot/extra emergency option of guys like David Hale (journeyman signed to minor league deals who're stashed away in triple-A and will likely be released by June).

Of course one of the 10 commandments of baseball is that you can never have enough pitching. The Yankees were tied to free agent starters like Yu Darvish & Shohei Ohtani as well as popular trade candidates like Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer all winter long for that very reason.

As it stands the only notable free agent starters left are guys with those pesky draft pick compensations hanging around their necks. Feel free to disagree but I personally would rather keep the 2nd and 5th round picks over the likes of Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb. It's not the first rounder anymore but those picks are still huge. I'd assume that the trade candidates are still on the table, but with Spring Training set to start things will get tricky.

As of this moment I think the Yankees stay with the rotation that got them one win away from the World Series last year, at least for the beginning of the season. By the trade deadline they should have a better idea on how their rotation is and how they can address changes to make it better. Keep in mind that they still have one of the most loaded farmsystems ever, they could still get a Fulmer if they needed to at the trade deadline as well. They've even set aside several millions for salary cap space to make room for a potential trade acquisition (note, remember that by the halfway point they'll only need to pay the player the remainder of the money owed to them for that season). By August we'll know if they do (they probably will).

Bullpen Depth

The Yankees didn't add much relief depth. They didn't particularly need to anyway. The pen last year was extremely good. Chad Green reinventing himself, Aroldis Chapman reuniting with the zone, the return of David Robertson helping to bridge the gap to Chapman, and ditto for Tommy Kahnle, all of these things helped. Of course relievers are extremely volatile so the key question will be how they fare this year. I'm sure last year was a fluke but a full healthy season from Adam Warren would really go a long way.

Obviously the big elephant in the room is how Dellin Betances will be this season. Last year was Betances' worst season as a big leaguer as some of the same issues troubling him in 2011 returned. Have they gone away? Will they return? I don't know. What I do know is that I'll keep making joke Betances trade proposals on Twitter all season long. I like Betances (he's a former PC guy), but I'm still holding out hope for a Betances-for-Walker Buehler trade.

The rest of the bullpen will be lined with inhouse guys like Jonathan Holder, Ben Heller, Chasen Shrieve and Giovanny Gallegos. Along with some of the aforementioned minor league starting rotation depth like Cessa, German, Acevedo, Adams, Sheffield and possibly even Albert Abreu.


Here is where we get to some of my predictions/expectations for the 2018 Yankees considering 2017, and basically every other season in MLB history

Token Injuries

It always happens. No matter how good or stacked any group is, injuries occur. Whether they're hamstring injuries that sideline pitchers for 4-6 weeks or season ending Tommy John surgeries, they happen. It's inevitable. Of course the obvious pick for the TJS candidate is Tanaka given his elbow risks, but I think it'll be someone else. I don't want it to be anybody, but the baseball Gods (and Gods in general) are cruel and care not for the wants/needs of mortals.

I see CC being sidelined with an ankle injury or something for a month, then returning and things going on as if nothing has changed. That's pretty much been CC since 2013 anyway.

On the hitter's side, oof, I feel like Stanton (who is now a Yankee) could blow out a muscle just by walking or lifting weights. How much can his body take? He's the type of guy who'll risk a season ending injury by charging down the first base line on an iffy grounder. That hustle is appreciated of course, but also nerve wracking. Usually the injuries strike positions that can be considered a "weakness" for a team (ex. first base for the Yankees in 2017) making things even worse, so I'll go with a second baseman missing some time. Although you could make just as big a case for a flukey catcher injury (likely to Gary Sanchez because Austin Romine stinks and therefore will somehow get much more playing time this year than necessary).

Token Regressions

The 2017 Yankees got as far as they did because they got great production out of several contributors. But as happens, there's always that one guy who was a stud the year before who turns into a dud the next. In 2017 that guy was Betances, who will it be in 2018?

A lot of people have Judge pegged to really regress. Possibly turn into a Mark Reynolds type. I don't think Judge will end up being THAT bad, but he definitely won't be the monster he was at the start/end of 2017. He'll probably be the solid outfielder that everyone (who bothered to look at Judge before he got famous) thought he was going to be, and that is still a very good player. If that's the worst fall-off a Yankee endures, that'll be great. Other candidates to fall off? Really, anybody can.

Expect it to be someone who needs to really good in order for the Yankees to succeed.

Token "Where Did He Come From?!"

It's not all doom and gloom though, there will be that one player who comes out of nowhere and turns in a really season (or part of a season). For hitters it's usually just the first month (April). Whether it's a minor league callup or a late bloomer who takes advantage of a non-roster invite, the Yankees have especially been lucky finding these types of players. In just the past few years they've had Matt Holliday, Yangervis Solarte, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay have good Aprils (before falling off of a cliff), as well as players like Raul Ibanez who went on to be a postseason legend for the Yankees. In a way Judge was both last year wasn't he? And Sanchez the year before. On the pitching side these hidden gems pop up in bullpens because relievers are volatile. Last year it was all about Chad Green turning into a force. This year?

I'd guess that Domingo German turning into a good reliever for the Yankees is something I can see happening. Even if he ends up being a spot starter here and there.

Token "Stop Giving This Player More Playing Time, He Sucks!"

Every year the team gives way too many chances to that one player who should've been cut in mid-May. In 2015 it was Stephen Drew. In 2017 it was Chris Carter. This year? I'm not sure. It's usually the types who get one year deals and are expected to be serviceable but the Yankees don't have that this year.

So I'll go with Austin Romine who is not very good. But because the Yankees have jackshit behind him in terms of catching depth, he's still here. No, his defense is not better than Sanchez's. For the record, I don't think it's a stretch to say that Romine is worse than Luis Torrens. Just throwing that out there.


Miscellaneous thoughts that didn't fit into the first two themes.

World Series Champions or Bust

This has been the motto for the Yankees forever but the last time anybody believed it was 2012. Well this season the expectations are back. After getting to Game 7 of the ALCS with a young core projected to do so much more and adding Stanton (who is now a Yankee), it's obvious that the Yankees are one of the teams that are in a good position to win it all. The best part is that this will likely be true next year too. And the next. And the next.

Dinger Record?

Everyone is anticipating the Yankees breaking the record for most home runs as a team or most home runs between two teammates. Can the 2018 Yankees do it? Yes. Will the 2018 Yankees do it? No.

Stanton (who is now a Yankee), Judge, Sanchez and Bird all have power for days. That's good. But expecting Stanton (who is now a Yankee) and Judge to hit 100+ dingers together is probably a bit much. Hitting a ball in MLB is tough, hitting it into the stands is even tougher. Personally I'd just be glad if Stanton (who is now a Yankee) and Judge managed to hit around 35-40 dingers apiece.

Plus for the team as a whole to beat that record, it'd require some key knocks from Drury, Gregorius, Gardner, Hicks, and literally everybody else. That's a lot to ask. Just be happy if the team hits dingers when they matter. Don't worry too much about any records. If the team breaks any, great. If they can't, well as long as the team wins it's no big deal.


Overall, I'm pretty optimistic about the 2018 Yankees. They'll live and die by the long ball, but who doesn't love massive dingers? There's no real clear weakness, but as the season starts one will emerge and give fans and beat writers something to talk about. When it does, I give Brian Cashman nothing but my full confidence that he'll right the ship, somehow. He always does.

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

Friday, February 23, 2018

The New Oldest Card In My Collection

Even though I've gotten the reputation as the prospector on our corner of the card-blogosphere, I do have an appreciation for ancient cards.

I'm not sure why but I've always gravitated towards the super ancient cards. The whole novelty of "this thing survived two World Wars and some of the worst economic crisis' the country has ever faced" and is now in the palm of my hands is a big factor. The fact that there's a distinct possibility that the card may not have always been in America and instead travelled the world and experienced life overseas makes it even more compelling. I mean chances are they didn't and they just sat in a box for 80 years, but it's fun to think about.

My love for the T206 tobacco cards should be well known. I started a whole "Bloggers Who Have A T206" Club three years ago after all. Back when these things were affordable and the no-names in poor condition could be had for under $10 (shipped) apiece. Back then I tried building the New York Highlanders team set, and even tried to give a boost to some of my blogger buddies' collections. Spoiler alert, I failed at both of those things. Still, I might return to the T206 world one day when the no-names return to reasonable price territory.

In the meantime, there is the undeniable fact that there are cards which predate the T206es. Some of the more notable ones are the really old N172 Old Judges or the 1888 N82 Allen & Ginters. Both of which are far too expensive for me.

While the allure of a 19th century card is no doubt appealing, I was focused more on just getting older than 1909-11. No offense to the Chesbro or the other T206es I have, but I've gotten tired of them being the oldest.

This is where Billy Kingsley of Cardboard History's post about his absolutely phenomenal COMC Christmas haul comes in. I was reading and staring in disbelief at the loads of wonderful cardboard he acquired. Out of all of the cards in Billy's post, the one that appealed to me was a 1901 Ogden's Cigarettes card of the H.M.S Powerful. I love old timey boats, whether they're steam tugs, canal boats or giant ocean liners.

I was determined to get a card of another ship from the 1901 Ogden Cigs set, but instead I found that the brand itself had a lot more to offer. As much as I loved the other cards from the Ogden set, I opted for this instead.


A 1901 Ogden's Cigarettes General Interest Series B card of the lovely Anna Held (no. 173).

Anna Held was a very popular stage actress back in the 1890's and was a prominent enough figure in pop culture back then to have her own Wikipedia article today. Born in Poland and raised in France, Held's career as an actress took off in Paris in the early 1890's. Apparently Held's performances were a bit risque, especially considering the time period. But in turn that really helped her gain attention from the public across most of Europe.

Held then came to America with her second husband Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. around 1897. She played a key role in the emergence of the Ziegfeld Follies show (based on the Folies Bergère shows in France) which was a popular broadway show in the first three decades of the 1900's. Held also performed various shows at a variety of theaters in NYC at the time.

Held appeared in one cinematic silent film titled Madame la Presidente in 1916. It was her only film role.

Unfortunately I can't footage of her from that movie, so instead here is some footage I found of her on YouTube. The expressiveness of 19th century stage actors is quite something.

Most of the sources I looked up said that she was never a critical darling. But her husband Ziegfeld pushed and promoted her to a point where she was a popular star regardless. Based on the aforementioned sources Ziegfeld sounds like a guy who'd make up rumors and start drama just for the sake of gaining attention and free publicity/promotion. A proud tradition that continues today in American pop culture.

Some other notable tidbits about her I found were that she was one of the first women ever to ride a bicycle, and she was once captured by the German army back in World War Two. Author Eve Golden wrote a biography on her life back in 2000, you can find it on Amazon if you're interested.
Also check out the Jewish Women's Archive and The Famous People pages on her as well, both provided some interesting factoids I couldn't fit into this post.

Here's the back of the card. With quite an understatement.

BTW, notice how the word favorite was written with a u there as "favourite".

Some of you may probably already know this but the Ogden's Cigarettes are actually a British brand. Thomas Ogden started his own tobacconist business back in 1860 and later decided to distribute cards with tobacco in the mid 1890's. Some of the Ogden sets' better known cards are geared towards football (soccer) and cricket, but they made sets for actresses, generals, politicians, philosophers, boats, and various other things that offer a fun glimpse into the 1800's.

So to recap, we have an old collectible card from 1901, that was originally made and released in Britain. And is probably the only British card in my collection (I don't count my Force Attax cards). It's definitely the only vintage European card in my collection.

I'm torn on how to store this card though. Part of me wants to store it in a mini toploader and then store that in my binder with the rest of my favorites. Another just wants to keep it nice and cozy inside this one touch for minis. The only problem with the one touch is that there's a bit of space so the card ends up going up and down the card. Ms. Held deserves better, but being binder pagemates with Emma Jasmine and J.T. Miller may not be her cup of tea either. Hmmm...

Ugh, what do you folks think?

Anyway thanks a bunch for stopping by. Big thanks to Billy Kingsley again for the awesome introduction to the world of vintage non-sports. A genre that I will definitely head back to in the future.

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Small Victories

Went to Chameleon Cards and Comics again.
Dug through their dime box (and their 50 cents each bins) again.
Here is my haul.

I'm going to start with the most expensive card I bought that day. This Clarke Schmidt Defining Moments insert that cost me 50 cents.
Clarke Schmidt was the Yankees' first round pick last year and came at a discount due to him requiring Tommy John surgery. The Yankees used the savings from the pick to give a higher bonus to their second rounder Matt Sauer.
Schmidt's got a lot of potential and it'll be interesting to see how he does when he returns from TJS.

That was my lone fifty cent purchase.
Before we start with the dime box goodies, let me just say that the following four prospects I'm going to show are basically some of the better names in the minors right now. If you ever have a chance to go through a dime box or a bargain bin and come across these names in a stack of random prospect, I'd recommend adding them onto your pile. Just keep in mind that 50 cents should be limit when you say "pass". If it works out you might be pleasantly surprised down the road.

Royce the not-5'9"!
A base card of the most recent first overall pick. Chances are vendors at a lot of places are charging anywhere between $1-3 on these base cards. That's a rip-off. Don't do it.

The American Shohei Ohtani/two way player experiment.
Brendan McKay's cards command extremely high prices on the market right now. This insert alone usually goes for a dollar on eBay. A WHOLE DOLLAR. There is also another Defining Moments insert where he is batting, luckily for collectors focused on uniqueness, neither are short printed.

Nick Senzel here is the seventh best prospect in the minors according to Baseball America also has him at the seventh best prospect on their list. He's the seventh best again on Fangraphs too (7-7-7, jackpot!). Keith Law had him as the ninth best prospect (combo breaker!). Yeah, if you find him in a dime box, nab him.

Ronald Acuna's meteoric rise through the Barves system has been nothing short of extraordinary. Acuna is one of the top three prospects in all of baseball, whether he's one or two depends on who you ask. Acuna's 20 years old and yet he's already made it to triple-A. Whether or not he makes the big league club this year remains to be seen (he doesn't have to be added to the 40 man roster just yet), but he is an exciting name for sure.

Thus ends the "OMG, how are these guys in this dime box?!" segment.

I'm pretty sure I was able to acquire a good chunk of the base card set thanks to the dime box at Chameleon. So this time I snatched a Cubs team set for P-Town Tom and swooped in on some nice refractors. Anytime you can get a shiny Yankee, a Met and a Red Sock for a dime each in New York is a good time. I also picked up the rest because I know folks who could really use them.

This McCutchen was a find I made a while ago but I figure I'd add it since it was a dime box pull from the same box/store. There was a big stack of these Bowman Heritage minis inside and lo and behold there was this Cutch sandwiched in between Landon Powell and Eddy Martinez. I've since had Collecting Cutch confirm that I got a great deal (I can probably make back like 1000% of my investment if I chose to sell it on eBay). So it's been CC approved.

Dime boxes are where King Nick still reigns supreme, but hopefully I'm making a good enough case to sit with the rest of his mightiest knights at the mandatory royal picnic next summer.

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Woof, what a way to start the second half of season four.

(This post is in reference to the newest episode of Star Wars Rebels, "Jedi Night")

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

Monday, February 19, 2018

General Baseball Thoughts

Spring Training is starting up. It's exciting and yet lackluster at the same time.

Anyway, I figure I'd do some posts on some of the dumb thoughts/ramblings I have about baseball and the Yankees going into the season. The Yankees-centered post will come another day. In the meantime here are my ramblings about baseball in general.

Words Have Meaning

Baseball tends to rehash tropes and narratives every fucking season as if the last 100+ MLB seasons never happened.

There's a lot of them but the one I always hear at this time of the year is "If this team can stay healthy, it has a shot at a postseason spot." Mets beat writers have been saying this for the entirety of the Noah Syndergaard era.

I'm sure my baseball savy readers already know this, but that is basically just a nice way of saying "the good players on this team are going to get hurt and this team will stink because of it." The fact of the matter is that no team is ever at 100% in anything. No team is ever 100% healthy or even 100% hurt.

For that matter, when they say "if the team can stay healthy" they really only mean the three-to-six players who actually matter. For the Mets it'd be pretty much all of their starting pitchers. Baseball is a team sport yes, but losing something of Jacob deGrom's caliber and having to replace him with an inhouse guy of a less caliber like Robert Gsellman will negatively impact the team. No offense to Gsellman but he's no deGrom, and a clear downgrade.

It's especially annoying to fans since most of the teams who find themselves in positions like this have cheap owners who will flat out refuse to add an upgrade until it's absolutely necessary. Even then, if it costs more than the major league minimum, it still might not be worth it to them.

If the most you can say about your favorite team is that they can be good if they could stay healthy, just give up on them contending now and wonder if they'll be bad enough to get a top 10 draft pick in 2019.

The Salary Cap

All of the moves teams like the Yankees and Dodgers did and didn't make this offseason were made with the salary cap in mind. Now MLB calls it the luxury tax but it's basically a de facto salary cap. The cap complicating NY/LA's efforts to sign someone sounds like something I'd expect from hockey analysis when discussing the Rangers/Kings, not the two biggest and most important teams in baseball.

The union really managed to screw themselves into a bad CBA deal (like many others I blame Tony Clark as well as other high ranking union officials) and now have backed themselves into a spot where now they'll have to fight for a salary floor. Will they get it? Not sure. It'll probably take an annoying amount of time for anything to get done. Especially if the threat of a labor strike turns serious.

Win or Lose, Profit!

You know things have gotten weird when the incentives to compete/win aren't nearly as big as they should be compared to doing nothing/losing on purpose for the sake of rebuilding. We are now in an age where the performance of a team doesn't really matter in terms of making a profit off of the said team. Attendance/ticket sales and the like that were big indicators of revenue in the past aren't that relevant anymore (now they're probably just indicators of popularity). Not with lucrative TV deals worth billions funneling money into teams more than ever before.

Instead of seeing winning as the "ultimate goal of the team" I think it's a lot more realistic to think of winning is a nice little bonus that only serves to boost the value of a rich person's asset. An asset that's already inflated thanks to the real estate each baseball team comes with (prime real estate in the Bronx, Queens, downtown Los Angeles, northern Chicago, downtown Toronto, etc...).

If a team wins, great, the asset went from being worth $2 billion to $2+ billion, as well as a few extra hundreds of millions in earned revenue thanks to postseason TV baseball money.

If a team loses, super, as long as the payroll is lower than what the Dodgers still owes Hector Olivera there's a significantly lower chance of ending up at a loss. Attendance likely dropped, possibly enough that some of the revenue-sharing dollars head your way. Another set of millions to pocket. All while trying to sell the promise of winning later.

Even beyond money, the incentives for losing from a baseball standpoint are significant. The more games you lose, the higher up in the draft you can pick. The higher the draft pick, the more bonus pool allowances you get to use to dish out bonuses to draftees. Also suppose the rebuild did work out like it did for the Royals, Astros and Cubs? Sidenote, it won't for all the 14-16 clubs still rebuilding this year.

I know there are more incentives for winning and losing, but my point is that the incentives for losing are already big enough that it's difficult for cynical assholes like me to ever think any team sincerely wants to be good (not that I ever really thought that way TBH). Not when they can make a lot of money while doing nothing/less than nothing.

The Slow Offseason

Even though Spring Training is among us it still feels like it's mid December doesn't it? Well the free agents still yet to sign are a part of that. This offseason was so long/drawn out that it nearly took until pitchers and catchers reporting for Yu Darvish to sign a contract. Eric Hosmer managed to get lucky and sign a eight year deal with San Diego right when position players were set to report. PetCo will absolutely murder his power numbers but at least he can play in a beautiful park in a beautiful city on a forever bad team. The only free agents who moved quickly were the relievers after the Bryan Shaw signing pretty much set and kick-started the market. Not long aftewards Addison Reed and the other high impact relievers were snatched up. Those that remained like the John Axfords of the world opted for minor league deals.
Now there's been a lot of speculation as to why this offseason was slow, and I personally think it's a mix of a lot of things. And no, collusion is not any of them.

The most obvious is that the free agent offerings and trade offerings were very weak. This has been true for the last few years but it felt especially so this year. You were going to find someone willing to break the bank for past free agents like Max Scherzer, but for Arrieta or Darvish? Probably not. The fact of the matter is that every team looks and values players the same way now. They all have teams of evaluators with sabermetrics and advanced statistics (and some old school analysis thrown in every now and then) backing them, and since everybody is seeing the same thing, nobody is going to really rush off and say 'we need player-x!" more than anyone else. Especially not in a market where Lance Lynn of all people is considered a top free agent starter.
On the trading front names like Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer are intriguing but how much will they realistically cost? Rentals like Manny Machado aren't even worth considering until well into the season.

Teams are more cost efficient now, they're run by people with MBA's from elite business schools. The teams are companies and the goal of every company is make a profit by any means necessary. That includes reducing costs. The cost of labor is the biggest (duh), but also the most delicate one. Luckily for baseball players their jobs haven't been taken over by automation. Not yet anyway. I'm sure Silicon Valley is on it. Although much like the Average Joe, they're starting to have their tenure/job security in their late 30's disappear too.

So yeah, those are my theories on why this offseason was so slow. Everybody using the same evaluation methods, lackluster options on both the free agent and trade markets, and business management majors.

And these were my thoughts in general. In all of their poorly constructed glory. I probably went a bit too hard on ownership groups in this post. Ever since the Steinbrenners VS A-Rod ordeal I have admittedly gone that way, even though at the end of the day this conflict is between millionaires and billionaires fighting over money which I could only ever dream of seeing, let alone having. But then again, I am pro labor so *shrugs*.

Ugh, I need to stop thinking about baseball so much. But not before I finish writing my thoughts on just the Yankees.

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