Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Some Ice To Cool Me Down

The weather around here has been kind of weird. One day it's like 31 degrees celsius and the next it drops to 17 degrees celsius. But recently it's risen back to the high-20's and it doesn't look like it's going back down any time soon (after all it's summer).

So to help me cool off my good friend Stealing Home over at All Trade Bait All The Time recently sent me a nice assortment of cards, primarily of the hockey variety.

Of course I gotta start with Yu Darvish though. Darvish has been on SH's bad side since he first got to LA because he cost the Dodgers top prospect Willie Calhoun (who was also a favorite of SH's). It also didn't help that Darvish didn't do that great in the World Series. Plus Darvish made some provocative remarks about facing the Dodgers after joining the Cubs (although I personally think it's a PR stunt to give some fire to the Dodgers-Cubs games this year). If it weren't for Josh Reddick (who is the absolute worst) Darvish might be SH's least favorite ex-Dodger.

So naturally SH is a magnet for Yu cards. Works for me because and I'll gladly take them. I love Yu. I don't necessarily want him on my favorite team anymore, but he's someone I love watching as a third party.

Let's get to some hockey though. Love these old O-Pee-Chee cards from around the time helmets began being mandatory. I don't know half of these people but you've got to appreciate the old school mops.

It was really cool to get these because I consider these "Now With..." types of cards to be a defining feature of these OPC cards. There's a part of me that really appreciates these cards that are honest and just like "no, these aren't airbrushed or manipulated to depict the players with their new teams". Sega Card Gen after all didn't bother. On the other hand Bowman and Topps have supplied a bunch of hilaribad photoshop jobs throughout the years though so it's tough to say which one I prefer.

I personally found these two cards two be the best IMHO. You can never go wrong with a goaltender in goalie gear, and something about the full scope of what's going on the Mark Osborne photograph interests me. Like how the fans are dressed in the back and how the room itself looks in that lighting. Almost looks like a scene out of Slapshot.

Of course there were some super cool baseball cards in there too. But it's too freaking hot for that right now lol. So big thanks to Stealing Home for the awesome Rangers swag to cool me down.

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

Monday, May 28, 2018

Kei Nomoto

Kei Nomoto was drafted by the Chunichi Dragons in the first round of the 2008 NPB player draft. Drafted out of the industrial league, Nomoto had some experience and there was some hope that he could be an impactful player relatively quickly.

Well in 2009 he made his debut with the big league Dragons and actually did manage to put together a decent half of a season. In 2010 there were hopes that he could take the next step forward to be an everyday player but he unfortunately just couldn't hit that well. In 2011 it was becoming a lot more clearer that he was more of an org-guy who'd be yo-yo'd up and down between ichigun (big league) club and the nigun (minor league) club. Which would go on to be the case because after appearing in 78 games for the big league Dragons in 2011, he'd never play more than 50 for them in any of the following seasons (the rest were all spent in the minors).

Offensively he can't hit fastballs and he's even worse against anything that breaks. He has no power to speak of, and because he can't get on base he's never been able to fully capitalize on his above average speed.

Defensively he's pretty good. His speed helps him cover a lot of range in the outfield (although he's also played some first base in recent times too). His arm is serviceable.

At age 33 (he turns 34 this July), the end of the road may be coming for him. I know that my writeup straight up sounds like I'm making fun of the guy, but I think the guy probably had a lot of talent and potential that was never fully realized (the Dragons aren't necessarily known for developing players you feel me?). Unfortunate, but them's the breaks.

Plus at the end of the day I still enjoy this autograph. It's limited to 60 copies, how could I not?

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

Saturday, May 26, 2018


He's just so fucking good.

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

Friday, May 25, 2018

Is This a Jinx?

For a while now I've had this quasi-rule (of thumb) that whenever I blog about something I'm going to do, I never do it. That's usually the case because this blog holds no leverage over me or my free will. I could declare anything for my goals at the beginning of the year and I'd probably break them all by day three (and I have).

My most recent "I'm going to do this" thing was to wait until Mats Zuccarello gets traded from the New York Rangers to acquire his autograph.

Now Zuuc being traded wasn't exactly a sure thing, but with the Rangers in the midst of a rebuild and everything, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the veterans still on the Rangers roster (not named Henrik Lundqvist) wind up being traded around the NHL Draft.

Still, I saw an opportunity for an autograph at a decent price and put in a bid, thinking I'd be sniped at the last minute.

Well, whether it's because of the timing (the Rangers season had just ended like two weeks before the auction closed) or because Zuccarello's autographs just aren't huge draws, I won

It's a sticker autograph, but it's a thin card and in a market dominated by thick jersey autographs (which are admittedly cool), it's nice to get something I can just stuff into an ordinary binder page without worrying about it warping.

So right now I have an autograph of a center and two wingers on the Rangers that I really like. All I need are two defensemen (something the Rangers need too) and a Henrik Lundqvist autograph and I can finally participate in the skate around (the hockey equivalent of my bat blog around where you made a starting six).

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Broken Down By Baseball Cards

Prior to yesterday I had roughly nine scheduled posts ready to go. Then I got a PWE from Gavin over at Baseball Card Breakdown, which threw a monkey wrench into the whole operation and made me move all of them back by having one of those cards that you need to just drop everything and blog about right away inside.

Okay I was wrong, there wasn't just ONE card inside that I dropped the other posts for, there were two.

BOOM x2!!!

Man, Gavin's really outdone himself here. When I first saw these I got super excited. So excited that I only noticed one (the Padres one) and tweeted about that before opening the rest of the envelope and seeing that there was another Yankees one too lmao.

These are magnificent. My favorite player on one my favorite sets/product lines ever. If I ever meet Torrens again you bet I'm going to get these signed. These are just so amazing. Only "issue" I have is that Gavin only gave Luis five/six stars. He's clearly an eight star player and deserves his rare foil parallel too.

Luckily the backs (which are based on the 2009 SCG motif) rectify that minor error by listing him at eight stars there. Except for speed and power (LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS has 10 speed and 11 power), those other statistics are fairly accurate.

You know, I used to joke that Gavin's customs are better than Panini/Donruss' post-Topps-license-exclusivity cards, but after getting these I think that's more of an insult to Gavin's work than a complement. I mean, these cards are fabulous. Panini ain't got shit on these. Heck, not even Topps can compete.

Especially not against this one. You all know how much I talked shit about the rookie card Topps dished out for Topps last year. Well Gavin won't make the mistakes that the people at Topps made. He knows what's up. He knows that an exciting play at the plate (even if it is the post-Buster Posey type) makes for better cards. He also knows that these are exactly the types of quirky unique photographs the real Sega Card Gens would've opted for too (RIP SCG).

There were other cards in the PWE too but they're of the prospect variety and have been added to the huge Yankees prospect post I mentioned I started working on a while ago. This post is/was all about the Card Genified Torrens.

This is so fucking cool. I owe Gavin big time. I'll start by not calling him Garvin to tease him anymore.

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

Monday, May 21, 2018


In the hobby, prospecting is often used as a catch-all term for the act of hoarding baseball cards of a minor leaguer who shows lots of promise. Then selling off those cards for (ideally) more than what you spent on them. But what really goes into prospecting? Does it work? Can you really make money doing it? I've never done it myself but I can at least offer a small nothing of a post on how it kind of works based on second hand accounts.

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that this is NOT an instruction guide on how to go about prospecting/investing. Do not look at this post hoping for a set of steps to make you money. I am NOT an investment/financial advisor and will not be held liable for any losses you bring upon yourself. Prospect at your own risk.

So let’s start from the beginning.

What kind of cards do you hoard in order to #prospect?


Unless you’re dealing with the rare type of prospect who just signs for one product/company that's not the Bowman Chrome brand, you’re going to want to go after the Bowman Chrome autographs. Why? Well over the years these have earned the title and prestige of being the card people use as investments. A lot of the time they are the very first card of the prospect in a big league uniform (although they are likely badly photoshopped) and they tend to also be the very first certified autograph of that player. For a while there, their value was held up by how other options were often cards depicting the players in minor league uniforms (which hurts the value) or were cards that were unlicensed (which is worse). Eventually Chrome being king just became the status quo and it is kept and protected to this very day.

Keep in mind that even if you have an autographed card of a good prospect that was issued by Bowman, if it’s not Chrome, it’ll never going to be worth as much as you wish it would be. This is why other Bowman brands/titles like Sterling, Inception and Platinum as well as the insert autographs will NEVER be as worthwhile as Chrome. Chrome is king.

Anyway, you want to hoard as many of the Bowman Chrome prospect autographs as you can. Based on pre-sale info accumulated throughout the years, oversupply seems to be a problem with a lot of the Bowman Chromes, but the more of them you can acquire, the more well off you'll be. Getting the colored refractor autographs limited to a certain number of copies is even better.

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that this is NOT an instruction guide on how to go about prospecting/investing. Do not look at this post hoping for a set of steps to make you money. I am NOT an investment/financial advisor and will not be held liable for any losses you bring upon yourself. Prospect at your own risk.

How to buy?

So how should you go about buying these cards? Do you go after them individually on eBay? No. Well okay, you could but buying singles on eBay is a good way to really burn out your budget before you get to build a big enough inventory.

One way you can acquire them is to participate in as many group breaks as possible. Most online retailers organize group breaks where they open up cases upon cases of card products and people can pay ahead of the break to have all of the cards of a team or player (depending on what type of break it is) pulled from the break sent to them. So if you want, say, the first rounder of the Chicago Cubs from 2027 Bowman Draft, you enter as many group breaks as your budget will allow you to join where you can sign up for the Cubs or the player’s slots. Then pray that you manage to hit something good in the breaks you managed to join.

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that this is NOT an instruction guide on how to go about prospecting/investing. Do not look at this post hoping for a set of steps to make you money. I am NOT an investment/financial advisor and will not be held liable for any losses you bring upon yourself. Prospect at your own risk.

When To Buy?

The sooner the better. We live in the information age, most prospects will have every little detail of their development available on the internet in real time. So much so that a lot of the hardcore prospectors already have their eyes set on prospects before they're even drafted. Once a player starts getting higher in status, their prices will go up as well, so it's best to start early.

Obviously there is significant risk. Do you really want to pay hundreds of dollars on a player who may never even sniff the majors, let alone get on a 40 man roster? That is one of the many many questions you'll have to ask yourself before you invest hundreds upon thousands of your hard earned dollars into these cards over other investments like stocks and bonds.

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that this is NOT an instruction guide on how to go about prospecting/investing. Do not look at this post hoping for a set of steps to make you money. I am NOT an investment/financial advisor and will not be held liable for any losses you bring upon yourself. Prospect at your own risk.

What's A Decent Stock?

In a perfect world you want to have around 20+ Bowman Chrome base autographs, 5-20 refractor autographs that have triple digit serial numbers, 2-5 refractor autographs that have double digit serial numbers, and maybe around 1-3 refractor autographs that have single digit serial numbers. But we live in a crazy imperfect world so you may not end up with that kind of inventory. Bowman keeps pumping out new parallel refractors every year so I won't bother to list the parallels individually (sometimes they change the serial number limit anyway). The point is, grab as much as you can.

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that this is NOT an instruction guide on how to go about prospecting/investing. Do not look at this post hoping for a set of steps to make you money. I am NOT an investment/financial advisor and will not be held liable for any losses you bring upon yourself. Prospect at your own risk.

When To Sell?

"When should I start selling my cards?" is the big question. My troll answer is that you can sell whenever you want to. But w
hat people really mean when they ask this question is, "when is the optimal time for me sell these cards in order to make a profit?"

The sad truth is that there is no perfect timing to start selling what you've got. Prospecting isn't the get rich quick scheme people think it is. Because the reality is that it's not very quick. Not if you're doing it thoroughly at least.

You're banking on the development of teenagers and early twenty-somethings. There will be ups and downs, and for all any of us know there could be no ups to speak of outside of the balance amount on your credit card. These things can take years unless you're dealing with wonderkin like Bryce Harper or Kris Bryant.

You need to periodically check in on how the prospect you've chosen to invest in is doing. Like maybe 3-4 times a week. Follow beat writers who cover the MiLB teams your player(s) play for on social media sites for any notable updates. Favorite the player(s') MiLB and Fangraphs pages to check for any spikes in performances. Keep track of what baseball publications like, Baseball America and have to say about the player(s). Yes, you will need to dish out money for the good subscriber only content.

You also need to periodically check what the cards you've got are going for on eBay. Yes eBay fluctuates and isn't always reliable, but when you have virtually zero alternatives, just go ahead and click on the "Sold Listings" box right now.

I guess there are moments when you can try selling off maybe a few of your base autographs when the player is still in the minors. If a player does something notable in the minors like perhaps hitting for the cycle or throwing a no-hitter, you may find that their value goes up a bit by a few dollars. If a player starts getting some hype and fans are just clamoring for their callup (like Gleyber Torres with the Yankees before his surgery), that's a good time to test how well some of your stock can move for too. There might also be the rare case where some super obsessed collector just offers you a fortune for your collection. Don't bet on it though. In every scenario, chances are you're just going to get a lot of disappointing low ball offers because people want something for nothing (just look at yourself when you assembled your own stock).

Maybe move some stuff when the players start getting promoted to the higher levels too. This isn't always the case but often when a prospect starts getting closer and closer to the big leagues, their value starts to tick up with more and more people starting to think he's the real deal.

Of course when the prospect is promoted to the big leagues is probably the best time to see what your stuff can go for. I don't recommend putting all of your inventory out at once, but maybe put some of it up and see what happens. The newness factor can drive prices up momentarily, and if they go on to have a monster MLB debut or have a monster first week or month in the MLB (ala Judge and Bellinger), you'll be getting some nice returns on your investments. Although don't get your hopes up.

After that you're probably left with a bit of your initial stock. Keep tabs on where the player's value is going and make your own calls on when to put the rest of them up (if you want to at all).

I guess I should also point out that trying to sell of things in desperation is a tough call to make. I often hear people giving up on a prospect after a poor season in the minors or a poor rookie season in the MLB. Some of the time they're correct to just cut bait and sell of what they have before the value really plummets. Other times, the player goes on to be a late bloomer or just really good and the value goes up even higher. The first example can be seen in guys like Jacob Turner. The latter example can be seen in guys like Jose Bautista.

If you've studied the player(s) for years like the steps until this point have demanded of you, you should be able to make a reasonable conclusion on how their talent level will or will not translate at the big league level. Even then it might not work out, but that's life and that's the risk you should have acknowledged you were taking on when you started this whole thing.

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that this is NOT an instruction guide on how to go about prospecting/investing. Do not look at this post hoping for a set of steps to make you money. I am NOT an investment/financial advisor and will not be held liable for any losses you bring upon yourself. Prospect at your own risk.

Reasonable Expectations For Your Returns

So assume this all goes well. After all of this work, all of this effort, all this money, all of this time, how much money can you expect to make? My best guess is, maybe a couple hundred.

Look, the sad truth is that you will not break the bank by prospecting. If you get super lucky with a superfractor or some Mike Trout-esque miracle you might make a grand and have enough to get yourself a new refrigerator, but it's not paying off your kids' college tuition, your college loans, your downpayment on the dream house, your mortgage, none of that.

It's important to keep in perspective that you're investing time and money into glossy rectangles. I know we all get a "the T206 Honus Wagner sold for millions!" article every other year but these aren't T206 Wagners, they're Bowman Chrome autograph cards with higher print runs and significantly less demand and no cultural significance to speak of.

Honestly I'd say "expect to lose money in the process" but I've heard that some people manage to break just even if they're shrewd enough. That said if we were to bring opportunity cost into the picture, then yeah you're losing a lot.

All in all, please take full precaution when thinking of going into prospecting. There's no guarantee for success and the higher the guarantee is, the more likely you're going to have to cough up the big bucks to keep up.

Also keep in mind that this was all just a mere glimpse of the prospecting world. I've never been a reseller so I have no idea what the journey is like, so the actual story the prospectors have to tell might differ from every individual. Actually I'm sure of that since every player is different after all.

So there you have it. Prospecting (as I see it) in a nutshell.

As always thanks for stopping by and,
DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that this is NOT an instruction guide on how to go about prospecting/investing. Do not look at this post hoping for a set of steps to make you money. I am NOT an investment/financial advisor and will not be held liable for any losses you bring upon yourself. Prospect at your own risk.

Take care.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Gray Whales Galore

So I got a package from Johnny over at Johnny's Trading Spot like most of you. He's sent me several minor league Yankees cards (usually from the 90's and early 2000's) but never on this scale.

Look at that giant stack. For all of the flack the 80's gets for being overproduced, the 90's deserve to have some shit flung their way too.

Still, I appreciated the package because there were several cards I needed. But I'll be the first to admit that it was hard to blog about this.

You see, Johnny sent me a HUGE haul of Yankees prospect cards last year too. I actually had an extremely long post about ALL of the prospects sent to me from Johnny (and a few sent to me from Fuji too) in the works last year. I had written it across the span of eight (yes, EIGHT!) months. I looked at a minimum of three sources per player, I watched hours upon hours of footage, and even tried seeing if the players had any social media presence. But one November afternoon a very stupid and clumsy Zippy deleted that entire 24,783 word blogpost by accident. BLARG! This is why any research papers you ever write should be saved on a Google Docs file on an online server. You should also have a backup on standby.

I've felt super shitty ever since. Every time I try writing another post again, I'm left with shame.
That said, Johnny sent me these cards to (presumably) cheer me up and make my days brighter, not to make me feel like a failure every time I think about them. So I have actually started working on a new post about the cards he (and Fuji) sent me last year. I didn't spend those hours scanning for nothing! I'm not sure if I'll go in depth with the scouting reports again (what's the point when they're all flameouts?), but I'll at least put in effort and see what happens.

So in the meantime, let me just blog about the cards Johnny sent me THIS year (earlier this week actually). I could go into super detail about the players' pasts (remember my Sterling Hitchcock post?) but I'd burn myself out in an instant if I did that, so I'm going with something a bit more minimalist.

Let's begin with my favorite(?) 2000's prospect, Shelley Duncan. Duncan had power and nothing else. But he managed to carve out a nice career for himself regardless. Since Duncan was a dude whose cards came primarily in 2002/03, all of his cards are key gray whales. So I was super pumped to get this from Johnny.

Given my affinity for Yankees catching prospects, Dioner Navarro may have probably been my favorite if I was a prospector in 2003. What makes me like Navarro even more is that for all of the mocking Bob Walk The Plank sends my way about former Yankees catchers going to Pittsburgh, Navarro has never gone to Pittsburgh, throwing a monkey wrench into that narrative. HA! Thanks Dioner (also note that Jesus Montero and John Ryan Murphy have also yet to play for Pittsburgh).
Anyway, Dioner Navarro is another unofficial PC guy, I can't get enough of his Yankees era cards.

The packages from Johnny featured a lot of cool oddballs, but I found this Kevin Maas interesting. Because even though it says autograph series, there is no autograph. There's a facsimile autograph on the back but that doesn't count.

These are the first ever Crown shaped Pacific inserts to enter my collection and my goodness are they great. I can see why The Lost Collector always geeks out over cool Pacific diecuts from the 90's.

No journey into the past is complete without a brick of Nick Johnson cards. He could hit, but he couldn't stay healthy enough to hit.

And right after the Johnson era was the Drew Henson era. Another player who never panned out.

More prospects who failed/didn't do much.

I'll admit that writing about Yankees prospects of the past is really disheartening when you realize that it's just failure after failure. The only real successful prospects the Yankees had in the 2000's were Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chien Ming Wang and Francisco Cervelli. Maybe even Ian Kennedy, George Kontos, Dioner Navarro and Mark Melancon if you choose to expand to prospects who found success elsewhere.
That said, it is pretty interesting to see just how far the Yankees have come since then.

Here in 2018 the farmsystem is absolutely loaded with high end pitching talent across all levels. And lots of promising bats scattered about everywhere. It's insane. There's a new exciting fireballer in the lower minors popping up everyday now.

And that's in spite of missing out on the modern day Babe Ruth.

So big thanks to Johnny for another giant stack of prospects from the dark ages. Several gray whales were speared and drained of their oil. Which will now be used to power the machine that writes the post about the prospects you sent me last year.

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

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts

So one of the posts I never got around to publishing before the season began was my preview of all 30 clubs. In a lot of ways it's probably good that that post never came out because I really phoned it in on half of the league (ie the rebuilding/tanking teams). But sometimes I wish I had published it just so I could claim to the one who made various bold statements.

My biggest take that I was unusually proud of in my scrapped post was that I thought the Oakland Athletics were going to be better than they appeared to be.

Now, let me be perfectly clear and say that that doesn't mean I had them pegged to be contenders for the division or the two wild cards. What that does mean though is that I think everybody wrote off the A's to be worse than they'd actually be.

I mean I get it. They're the faceless A's who don't have a bonafide superstar anymore, plus they play in a toilet bowl of a stadium.

That said, forget about their gaudy green uniforms or the terrible stadium or the fact that it's in Bay Area for a second. Just ignore the Oakland A's brand altogether and look at the players they've got on their major league roster.

You'll probably notice that the offense is a clear strength.

Khris Davis, Chad Pinder, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson have A LOT of power. It may not feel like it because their home run totals don't jump off of the page but they are capable of hitting dingers to orbit when opposing pitchers make a mistake.

Stephen Piscotty, Boog Powell, Marcus Semien (always one typo away from being spelled Semen), Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Lucroy have less power, but they make up for it by having insane on-base skills. Sidenote, my condolences to Piscotty and his family in light of recent events.

My point is that these are guys who are capable of smacking the ball to all parts of the field (and beyond it). It all adds up to a very good offense that'll deserve a lot of credit when people see that the A's weren't totally abysmal this season.

Also keep in mind that this season the young talent they're going to bring up at various points of the season are extremely talented and also eager to make an impact. Franklin Barreto quickly jumps out as a guy who will probably take a big league job and work his damnedest to never let it go.

Of course I'm also super eager to see what becomes of the former Yankees prospects sent to the A's after last year's Sonny Gray trade. Jorge Mateo is a legitimately good shortstop who could probably be a better hitter than Semien (almost typed Semen again) if he can cut down on the strikeouts. Dustin Fowler is a super good outfielder, and if it weren't for that fluke injury in his MLB debut, we'd all probably talking about how damn good he is.

Now of course, when people say that the A's aren't going to be contenders, they're not wrong. I mean I'm high on their offense but their pitching will clearly bring about their downfall.

Sean Manaea threw a no-hitter (against the Red Sox lololol), but beyond him there's... nothing.

I mean I like Daniel Megedin just fine but I'm not sure he's number two in the rotation good. If he were a fourth or fifth starter I'd be perfectly content with that. But alas, the A's rotation is so thin that they're relying on Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson like it's still 2010.

AJ Puk probably wouldn't have been called up this season but it doesn't matter anyway since he's out with Tommy John surgery. Jesus Luzardo is a fun name to keep an eye on though for A's pitchers that might make an impact next season. After them you've got former Yankees first rounder James Kaprielian and former Dodgers first rounder Grant Holmes. Neither of which have really indicated that they're ready to pitch in 2018 yet, let alone the big leagues.

There are probably a bunch of other A's pitchers I'm missing but as far as I can tell their farmsystem is top heavy on position players and not so much on pitching, so I'm just gonna stop it at that.

As far as their bullpen goes they're relying on a bunch of relievers who were castoffs from other teams. I mean they're so-so relievers so the A's might manage to get some value out of them, but at the same time they'll probably give up a maddeningly high number of home runs and walks as relievers figuring things out tend to do.

All in all, I think the A's have a chance to be a pretty good middle of the pack team. The team that's not quite tanking/losing on purpose but also not contending either. Their offense is far too talented (and surprisingly deep) to lose 100 games. But their pitching is also far too inept and bad to allow them to win any more than 75 games.

We're not even at the halfway mark and they've shown themselves to be spoilers in key AL races. Like how they've managed to completely stop and steamroll any momentum the juggernaut Red Sox and world-beating Yankees had. They'll probably be a huge problem for teams like the Astros, Angels, Mariners, Blue Jays and Twins (they're done) too.

To put it another way, this team would probably be a decent contender if it were in the NL because that the drop off in quality when you go from the AL to the NL is absolutely huge.

So a little reassurance for our good friend Fuji, as his beloved A's are the winners of my prestigious "Likely Not Going To Be That Bad Award" in 2018. They'll still lose a lot but they won't be sub-.500 level terrible and hopefully some reinforcements for a brighter future start to pop up.

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

Monday, May 14, 2018

Clone Breaks: 2018 Bowman Blaster

Zippy Zappy is weak. Very weak. He caved into his urges and bought a blaster box of 2018 Bowman. A product that (regardless of year) he's always had a problem with because any prospect oriented product that includes veterans or anything beyond rookies is bullshit. But that is another rant for another day.

The fact remains that a blaster box was purchased and in spite of Zippy Zappy's shame, someone still has to record it on the books and salvage the break for anything worthwhile.

Captain Rex was assigned to scour the packs for not only Yankees padawans, but also any Dodgers prospects who are making their Bowman debuts, as well as the rookies Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo. Rex was also told to keep an eye out for Cubs prospect Adbert Alzolay.

So let's begin.

Pack 1.

Well the Miggy Andujar rookie was certainly a nice surprise, but the rest of the pack was pure garbage. Even the prospects were garbage because they're all repeaters and none of them are "1st Bowmans". Which is important when it comes to Bowman.

Pack 2.

Garbage. Juan Soto the player is phenomenal but this isn't his first Bowman so fuck this shit.

Pack 3.

A few rookies and a repeater card of DJ Peters make this an okay pack but a little part of me died while opening this pack. The fact that the serial numbered parallel I got was a Royal really did me in. Like, forget that it's Salvador Perez who is very much okay. Getting a Royal as a hit/parallel is (with very few exceptions) shit. Because the Royals are worthless. Honestly, who is ever happy to pull a Royal? No one. You might be okay with the Royals as a team in general, but as far as cards go, you're lying to yourself if you said you got excited over pulling a Royal. Not even Royals fans get excited about pulling Royals cards because even they'd prefer that they pull a nice card of a player on a big market team that's actually important so that they can flip that card (because it'll actually be worth something) and get themselves the worthless Royals hits/parallels for cheap. This is also assuming that Royals card collectors exist in the first place. Because who'd want to waste time and money on that shit?
And at the risk of coming off as a Royals (specifically) hater, let me be clear in saying that you can replace the Royals with any team with a market that's smaller than Seattle (especially the fucking Colorado Rockies) and my silly rant will still apply.

Alright, now that I've made myself look like a fool again. Let's move on.

Pack 4.

Holy shit, a First Bowman card! That makes this one of the best packs in the break so far!
The rookies are also really good names. The Clint Frazier insert is also very shiny, I'm impressed.

Pack 5.

The First Bowman Baez is the best card in the pack. Don't let the insert fool you into thinking those three are good names, Seattle's farmsystem is dogshit and those three will be the next prospects Seattle screws up one way or another.

Pack 6.

Yes, TWO First Bowmans! Also a well known blogosphere hero (c) with Gavin LaValley. You all know where that's going.

Pack 7.

Garbage. If you're an A's fan keep an eye on Jesus Luzardo though, he's fun.

Pack 8.

The last pack was hands down the best. It featured a rookie card of Shohei Ohtani (YES!), a Gary Slamchez base, and two First Bowman cards.

So all in all, this blaster was garbage. No Keibert Ruiz base cards. No Matt Sauer base cards. No Jeren Kendall base cards. Automatic F. The Ohtani was a nice consolidation prize and pulling a few Yankees was nice (I guess), but when that's the most I can say about this shit... I'll just end it here before making an even bigger fool of myself.

Hope you all enjoyed this little glimpse at Angry Zippy Zappy. Zippy Zappy loves the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, and big-to-quasi-big markets. He hates the Royals, Rockies, Marlins, Rays and small markets he can't get rid of. Because seriously, fuck them. He got so mad online that he even forgot he was supposed to write this in the context of a Clone Break, and has even started writing in the third person. Blah, whatever.

Sidenote, quick thank you and shout out to Laurens over at Card Buzz for the Matt Sauer First Bowman.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Week

If Twitter hashtags are to be believed, it's Teacher Appreciation Week.

I'm not in the education workforce but I know plenty of people who are. One of my exes is currently a teacher, I've got a few friends in the field too, many of my trading partners on here are known to be teachers, and a few of my friends on Twitter are also teachers. Further reinforcing the rule that you need to be a teacher or lawyer to be a baseball blogger (note, I hope I can break that mold one day if I manage to make it in the field I'm trying to enter).

Even though I'm not a teacher, I do have a general idea of what it takes to get to being a teacher and how the rewards greatly outweigh the benefits. Or at least they do in New York City. For any teachers out there feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but my limited understanding of the road to teaching is kind of like this...

You go through college majoring in education and one other subject, then near the end your college career you begin to log long hours of fieldwork (internships?) to get used to the grind of teaching on a daily basis and constantly coming up with lesson plans using the time you have when you're not teaching (which is basically whenever you're not sleeping).

Then you graduate with loads of debt on your shoulders along with a temporary teaching license. Then you're given a certain amount of time to go after a permanent one. The requirements for which include getting a masters and gaining several years worth of experience in a real school. All while likely getting paid jack shit. Good luck with that.

After that I'd assume you start looking for a school that'll actually hire you and possibly give you tenure/benefits/a pension etc... But chances are you're going to see that the only jobs available are charter schools with high turnover rates because those schools happen to be bad places to work. Then the rest of your career begins and you either leave teaching and opt for a more administrative role a few years in because of sheer burnout, or you stay behind because you're the weirdo who actually has an odd sense of pride, love and passion in what you do.

And after (hopefully?) decades of teaching, you'll grow old while probably still being in college loan debt with absolutely nothing in terms of post-retirement savings, and a pension that probably won't pay out when you want/need it to.

This is also omitting the stresses of the job itself which includes (but isn't limited to) having to deal with demon spawn, the parents of said demon spawn who really show that the apples don't fall far from the tree, the demands of an education system that relies far too much on standardized testing, shrinking budgets and the myriad of ways violence can erupt in a school-zone.

Hmm... now that I type all of this out, I think the picture I painted of the teaching profession is a lot more grim than it actually is. But this is my perception of what the teaching life is like based on a). what my ex went/is going through and b). articles on the Washington Post/New York Times/Atlantic that make teaching seem like one of the shittiest job ever.

What I can say as an undeniable fact is that I could never be a teacher. Not full time at least. I'd be the guy who'd just drudge through reluctantly for five years before giving up and publishing a book about child psychology hoping the royalties can pay for my morning coffee.

What is also an undeniable fact is that I have a huge appreciation for teachers who are really good at at what they do. Even moreso after I found out what had to go into them reaching the jobs they're in now. It is a tough ass job that's also extremely important, and I tip my hat off to those that choose to stay with it.

They deserve a lot more credit and respect than just during the span of a week, and they damn sure deserve a lot more in terms of wages and benefits. I'm not the first to utter that opinion and I won't be the last either because life is terrible.

Still though, shout outs to Fuji, Tom and everybody else in teaching. You're great.

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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

TTM Advice

So Tony Burbs called me the TTM king (of our corner of the blogosphere). As flattered as I was, I must make it known that I am not. Like, not by a long shot.

No, the real TTM King (at least in our corner) is The Lost Collector. He always has been and I'm fairly sure he always will be. He'll disagree and probably leave a comment saying he's not because he's too modest, but he really is.

His TTM-only autograph teams (yes, teams, as in plural) should be proof enough that the throne is his alone.

I think people mistakenly think I'm good enough to be a king because I get a relatively large volume of returns back but that's just an illusion. You see, I send returns out willy nilly in hopes of getting maybe a few of them back. But that's not what a king like TLC does. The true king spends his time, money and energy wisely. He waits for worthwhile shots and goes in when he's got the biggest/best opportunity.

Truth be told over the years he's beaten me to the punch on so many of the prospects I like that I'm honestly kind of jealous of him.

For example, I've sent multiple requests to Blake Rutherford, Donny Sands and Luis Torrens. I'm 0-for-7 on all of them. Meanwhile TLC has safely gotten returns from all three. Luis himself already qualifies TLC as King material.

Anyway. I originally wanted this post to be some type of TTM advice post but halfway through I realized that everything I could say has already been said before by TLC. Because he's the King. You can check out his handy dandy TTM guide here if you want to start in the TTM game.

So instead let me share with you all a pretty cool video by former Padre/Yankee/National/Oriole Matt Antonelli and his experiences with fanmail (TTMs) from his active playing days, and his post-retirement coaching/Youtube days now. It's always pretty cool to hear stories from the players' perspective on TTMs.

The gist of it is to make it as easy and simple for the player as possible. Having a SASE (stamped!), something to sign, something to sign with, all of that. Although I personally don't send pens (unless it's for a special/international case). I never knew that players were discouraged against signing index cards though, that struck me as interesting.

Sidenote, if anyone could hook me up with Antonelli's address I'd appreciate that.

See, I can't even find addresses. #NotKing

I guess I'll just finish off with my own generic advice of "don't be afraid to give it a shot at least once". Like, I actually just sent a request to Robinson Cano this year. Knowing full well that it'll never return. But at least I gave myself a chance at least once :P.

So yeah, TLC is the king of the TTM Kingdom (on the blogosphere) and I'm one of the lesser knights at the round table. Considering how the position comes with free healthcare, a decent pension plan and paternity leave if I ever needed it, I'm not complaining.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Month-End TTM Roundup: 04/03-05/05

Received On: 04/03/2018

My first return this period came from Benny Distefano.
Benny Distefano was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 1982 MLB Player Draft. Distefano made his MLB debut in 1984 and spent parts of the the years following that with the big league Pirates. Distefano was actually with the Chunichi Dragons in 1990 and hopes were high that he could provide some pop for the ballclub. He made a big first impression by hitting a home run in his first NPB at-bat but he struggled mightily after that. Distefano is largely remembered nowadays for being the last lefthanded catcher (Distefano played all over the field), and possibly for breaking up Mets-era David Cone's no-hit bid. Distefano has since taken up coaching and was even a coach for the local Brooklyn Cyclones not too long ago.
Sidenote, I asked Distefano to add a "Chunichi Dragons 1990" inscription and he generously did so. Thanks Mr. Distefano!

Received On: 04/09/2018

Next up is a return from Dallas Stars goaltender, Ben Bishop.
Ben Bishop was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the third round of the 2005 NHL Player Draft. In the 2008-09 season Bishop made his NHL debut in October and went on to the team's backup goaltender for the next few seasons. Bishop was later traded to the Ottawa Senators before being traded again to the Tampa Bay Lightning where he left his mark on the franchise. With Tampa Bishop become the main goaltender and played enough to accumulate enough playing time to set new franchise records like the most saves in franchise history and the most games played by a goaltender in franchise history. Bishop was even an NHL All Star in 2016. In early 2017 he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings and was later traded to the Dallas Stars before the 2017-18 season started.

Received On: 04/11/2018

Next up is a return from Islanders defenceman, Ryan Pulock.
Ryan Pulock was drafted by the New York Islanders in the first round of the 2013 NHL Player Draft. The Pulock was in the minors for a few years before making his NHL debut in the 2015-16 season. After that he was kept in the minors again before rejoining the team for good this season. Overall he hasn't put up the numbers some had hoped for but most attribute that to inconsistent playing time and a small sample size. This season Pulock got a few more reps at the big league level and managed to put together a nice season. It'd be nice if he could keep it going and develop further into a really good defenseman for the post- (future Ranger)-Tavares Islanders.

Received On: 04/14/2018

Here's a return from Sabres centre, Zemgus Girgensons.
Zemgus Girgensons hails from Latvia and was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the 2012 NHL Player Draft. After a nice amateur career his professional career started off on a slow start but he eventually managed to make his NHL debut in the 2013-14 season. Girgensons was selected to the 2015 NHL All Star Game during the 2015-16 NHL season. This season Girgensons shifted to being a winger as Jack Eichel got top line billing. That might be his position going forward.

Received On: 08/16/2018

Next up is one of several returns I got back to kick off the 2018 Minor League Baseball season.
Starting with a return from Yankees slugging prospect, Steven Sensley.
Sensley was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 12th round of the 2017 MLB Player Draft. The lefty hitting 6'1" outfielder has power for days and a keen eye for balls he knows he can absolute mash. Sensley has a very patient approach and isn't scared to make the pitchers pitch more until he see's a pitch he likes. In a very crowded outfield depth chart, Sensley is set to join it very soon.

Received On: 04/16/2018

Here is Yankees outfield prospect Frederick Cuevas.
Cuevas is another outfield prospect who was signed by the New York Yankees as an international free agent back in 2014. The outfielder (primarily left field) is a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none type of player. He hits for contact, he has good speed, he has nice range, he has a good arm, he has line drive power. He doesn't have a standout skill but in turn he can be a very versatile player. I wish him nothing but the best because even on that card you can see that he's just thrilled to be here. His facial expression is so pure and happy, I love it.

Also you noticed how he signed the front twice right? He also signed the back. Lol, thanks Frederick!

Received On: 04/16/2018

Here is Yankees righty Matthew Wivinis.
Matthew Wivinis was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the New York Yankees in 2016 out of indy ball. Wivinis is armed with a fastball that is said to have sink and cut action, as well as an above average slider (per The Baseball Draft Report), but now works in relief and has put up the results to show that he's worth giving more looks at. Which is impressive. The Yankees have been finding a lot of intriguing relief options at these lower levels out of indy ball and Wivinis seems to one of the newest. He'll probably be pushed a bit aggressively this year as he's already 24 and will likely be tested at higher levels sooner rather than later.

Received On: 04/16/2018

Next up is Yankees righty Daniel Ramos.
Daniel Ramos was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted international free agent back in 2013. A very nice prospect for those in the know, his career got off to a slow start due to injuries but he's worked hard to make up for it by coming straight to the US after like one start in the DSL. Armed with a low-90's fastball, a curveball and a work-in-progress changeup (per Pinstriped Prospects), whether or not he can stay a starter depends on the development of that changeup. So far the results have been mixed but sky's the limit.

Received On: 04/16/2018

Ending the streak of Yankees is Pirates southpaw, Brandon Waddell.
Brandon Waddell was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. After zooming up the ranks very quickly in the early stages of his career, it looked like Waddell was going to make an impact on the Buccos very soon. But he hit a roadblock around the time he started facing tougher competition in double-A. Armed with a fastball, slider and changeup, he has the ceiling of a back of the rotation starter. His fastball doesn't really have the velocity (as of this post anyway) to allow him to be a super effective reliever so the key to his long term success is really unlocking his slider and changeup and learning to fool hitters.

Received On: 04/19/2018

Next up is a return from Jason Spezza.
Jason Spezza was originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the 2001 NHL Player Draft. He'd been a top prospect for years before the draft but after his professional career started he spent a couple of more seasons down in the minors and then made his NHL debut in the 2002-03 season. Spezza then went on to have several great years with the Senators. Earning All Star Game honors twice in the process. Spezza was later traded to the Dallas Stars prior to the 2014-15 NHL season. The 2018-19 season will be the last one on the extension he signed with the Stars so it'll be interesting to see where he goes (if he moves at all) in the future.

Received On: 04/21/2018

Next up is a return from Anderson Severino.
Anderson Severino was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted international free agent back in 2013. The southpaw is armed with a fastball that's primarily in the low 90's but can reach 96 mph at times. He also has a really good curveball that is his go to pitch. I always joke about Severino being the next (Luis) Severino, but there is a part of me that legitimately wants to see an all Severino team. And I'm going to assemble that team.

Received On: 04/21/2018

Here's a return from Yusniel Diaz.
I already wrote an entire ode to him a while back so here's the TL;DR version of that post. He's an outfielder who can make contact and put the ball in play. He's got the arm to be a serviceable centerfielder or rightfielder. The knocks against him are mainly how he doesn't have a ton of power or speed. But he's still a good prospect worth watching if you're a Dodgers fan getting worried about Yasiel Puig or Matt Kemp (hahaha) leaving as free agents.

Received On: 04/26/2018

Next up is Predators captain, Ryan Johansen.
Ryan Johansen was originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2010 NHL Player Draft. After a pretty remarkable amateur career Johansen made his NHL debut in 2011 and has been a fixture at center in the NHL since the 2012-13 season. Johansen had several notable moments with the Blue Jackets like an All Star Game appearance, but eventually he was traded to the Nashville Predators in a trade for Seth Jones. A few years after that Johansen signed an extension and the largest contract given out in Nashville's history (eight years, $64 million). Good for him. Hopefully the Predators can make a deep playoff push this season.

Received On: 04/28/2018

Next up are a couple of returns from Jordan Staal.
Jordan Staal was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round (second overall) of the 2006 NHL Player Draft. Staal made his NHL debut with the Penguins in the 2006-07 season and had several nice moments with the team, like a Stanley Cup Championship in 2009. Staal was eventually traded to the Carolina Hurricans in 2012 and he's been with them since. Staal is one of four brothers to make it to the NHL. Along with Eric Stall, Marc Staal and Jared Staal.

Received On: 04/28/2018

Here's a return from Reds prospect, T.J. Friedl.
TJ Frield was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Cincinnati Reds in 2016. So far that has turned out to be a great and shrewd move by the Reds because Friedl has managed to make a name for himself as a top prospect in spite of not getting drafted. Friedl's main attributes are his speed and contact ability, both of which gets high praise from scouts. If all goes well he could be a very good fourth outfielder in the big leagues.

Received On: 04/30/2018

Here is a return from Marc-Édouard Vlasic.
Vlasic was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the 2005 NHL Player Draft. A top prospect in the QMJHL, the defenseman made his NHL debut in the 2006-2007 season and has stayed with the Sharks since. Vlasic has been a part of numerous parts of the Sharks' postseason run in the years he's spent with the club, hopefully this year he can be part of the club that wins it all.

Received On: 04/30/2018

Next up is a return from Jonas Brodin.
Jonas Brodin was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2011 NHL Player Draft. A defenseman out of Sweden, Brodin made his NHL debut in the 2012-13. He was named to the All Rookie Team that year and has been a key productive defender for the Wild since, especially alongside Ryan Suter and Matthew Dumba.

Received On: 04/30/2018

Here's another Wild, Jared Spurgeon.
Spurgeon was originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Player Draft. But he didn't sign with the team and ended up signing on with the Minnesota Wild and has been part of their team since. Unfortunately he suffered a pretty serious injury near the end of the regular season but managed to come back to see some postseason action this year before the Wild were eliminated by the Jets.

Received On: 05/02/2018

Here's a return from Islander Johnny Boychuk.
Boychuk was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the 2002 NHL Player Draft. After a pretty lengthly and notable minor league career he finally made his NHL debut with Colorado in the 2007-08 season. He was then traded to the Boston Bruins and after toiling in the minors for a bit he finally stuck around with the big league club. In the 2013-14 offseason he was traded to the New York Islanders and has been a serviceable defenseman for the team since.

Received On: 05/04/2018

Here is 16-year NHL veteral, Radim Vrbata.
A native of Czechoslovakia, Vrbata was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the seventh round of the 1999 NHL Player Draft. Two years later he made his NHL debut with the Avalanche and spent some time with the club before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, only to be flipped to the Chicago Blackhawks immediately afterwards. Vrbata's Blackhawks tenure was pretty short and he found himself having a revival year with the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2007-08 season. Vrbata then signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning but only spent about a year with them due to various reasons. Vrbata eventually went back to Phoenix before signing with the Vancouver Canucks in 2014. After that signed with the Coyotes again, and then the Florida Panthers before deciding to end his career after the 2017-18 season. Leaving behind a pretty good career where he holds the record for the most shootout goals in the NHL.

Received On: 05/04/2018

Here's a return from Astros righty Peter Solomon.
Solomon was drafted by the Houston Astros in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB Player Draft. Solomon is armed with a low-90's fastball, a curveball and a slider, and has the potential to be a really effective middle of the rotation starter. Harnessing control of his offerings will be key for his development, but the Astros might have lucked out on potential first round talent in the fourth round last year.

Received On: 05/05/2018

My last return this period came from Daulton Varsho.
Daulton Varsho was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second round of the 2017 MLB Player Draft. Varsho is a very good hitter with good contact, power and some speed to make himself a threat on the basepaths too. Defensively he's a work in progress catcher but hopes are high that he can stay behind the plate. He's got the arm strength to handle catching duties. Daulton is the son of former big leaguer Gary Varsho and was named after the late Darren Daulton (who was Gary's teammate in the big leagues).

And those were my returns this past period. Big thanks to Mr. Distefano, Bishop, Pulock, Girgensons, Sensley, Cuevas, Wivinis, Ramos, Waddell, Spezza, Severino, Diaz, Johansen, Staal, Friedl, Vlasic, Brodin, Spurgeon, Boychuk, Vrbata, Solomon and Varsho for the awesome autographs.

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

Take care.

2018 TTM Count: 53