Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Woof (Preview)

Recently I conducted my third trade with a collector from my motherland (Japan) this year. I got their package first a good THREE days after the person said they sent theirs out (TFW international Japanese shipping is faster than domestic American shipping).

I usually don't blog about trade packages until after the other person has confirmed to me that they got theirs, but I just needed to say that this package gave me a giant wallop that sent me crashing through the walls.


See what I mean? Us Japanese collectors are some of the most generous collectors you'll ever meet.

Stay tuned.

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Velo At Last

Last night I went to my second Staten Island Yankees game.


Why? Because it was a Monday. Baseball games have significantly less crowds when you go during Monday-Thursday (even during the summer) and as such the experience is so much more enjoyable.

As usual let's start with the autographs!


First up is an in person signature of one of the many (and I do mean many) up and coming pitching prospects currently in the Yankees farmsystem, Roansy Contreras.
Contreras was the crown jewel of the Yankees' international free agent haul in 2016. Even though the Yankees were still limited to only giving out $300k bonuses, he stilled signed with the Yankees for that amount in spite of being one of the best international amateur free agents (likely because he and the Yankees already had a verbal contract in place from when he was 14, which is normal in baseball). Contreras has a low-90's fastball and a curveball, both of which he's used to great effect because in his last outing (on Sunday actually), he was downright dominant. The rise of Contreras and other such lower level pitchers in the Yankees organization is exactly why the system is so deep when it comes to pitching talent.


Next up is infielder Jesus Bastidas.
Jesus Bastidas was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted international free agent back in 2015 out of Venezuela. He was the only player the Yankees signed for the full $300k amount that year (he got even more than Estevan Florial and Luis Medina) due to how he projects to be a very serviceable shortstop with steady hands and an advanced bat (for his age). Bastidas has primarily been hitting leadoff or second for the Yankees this season, even down in these lower levels that means that he's seen as one of the better hitters on the team. Looking forward to seeing what Bastidas can do this season for sure.
Bastidas had a double in this game, proving that signing for me will boost your performance.


Another infielder (primarily 3B), Andres Chaparro.
Andres Chaparro was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted international free agent back in 2015 out of Venezuela. Chaparro was originally a catcher but he was converted into a third baseman. Chaparro has a ton of power, an insane amount for a catcher, a fair amount for a third baseman, he even had a two HR game once in Pulaski. The question is if he can stay at third (most scouts agree that he is too #thicc).
Chaparro got the most hits out of everybody in the line up BTW (he went 2-for-3). Proving that signing for me will boost your performance.


Here are a couple of autographs courtesy of Abel Duarte.
Abel Duarte was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted international free agent back in 2013 out of the Dominican Republic. The 6'1" righty was originally a starter but in 2016 it became clear that he and his fastball would be better served in a relief role. Which somehow worked itself out in a 6-1 record (Win-Loss records in the minors are dumb but still, WTF?) in 2017. Good for Abel I guess. Here in 2018 he's up with the Staten Island Yankees as a reliever. His first appearance didn't go as great as he'd hoped, but there's still plenty of time for him to show that his 2017 wasn't a fluke.


This isn't for me (and isn't included in the official count). But I just wanted to take some time to thank Seth Beer for taking the time to sign and inscribe this photograph for one of my friends over in Japan. Beer was the Astros' first rounder this year and he's been destroying the NYPL since he started playing with Tri-City. What a beast.
TBH I didn't think I had a shot at this one because first rounders that aren't drafted by the Yankees tend to shy away from signing but Beer was super cool and signed one thing for most of the people who were there (which was a lot since I think there were like a dozen folks there for Beer alone, they all later came to the Yankees side hoping to get like a dozen copies of Matt Sauer's Bowman cards signed, losers). Thanks Seth, my friend in Japan was super hyped when he saw this.


Last but definitely not least is Juan De Paula. Who didn't give me an autograph so to speak, but gave me an inscription. I love getting certified cards personalized. Now they're officially MINE suckers! De Paula was so confused when I asked him for an inscription but he went along with it lmao. Gracias Juan!

De Paula was also the starter for the game and personalizing for me proved to be key because he had one heck of a game.

In all De Paula threw five innings of scoreless ball. The radar-gun in the stadium started working again and according to that his fastball was sitting in the 89-92 mph range and topped out at 96 mph. His curveball was around 74 mph and his changeup was around 84 mph. His changeup wasn't fooling hitters too much but his curveball did get a let of swings and misses and boy where some of them nasty. Down in these lower levels pitchers are still refining their pitches but man, those breaking balls were a thing of beauty.

Unfortunately I decided to leave early again and it happened to coincide with when De Paula left too (5 innings in under two hours, baseball is fast again!). When I left the game it was a 0-0 tie, but when I got home it became a 1-5 loss for the Yankees. Drew Finley (who I like) gave up a hit-less run and the other relievers did much worse. Man, better luck next time.

Not much else to note, except that I filmed one of the prettiest sunsets ever courtesy of the NYC Bay Area.


Also I picked up a few programs. The inside of which is your usual minor league baseball program filled with fun activities for kids, advertisements...


...and my favorite section, an update on some of the top prospects currently in other parts of the farmsystem (arranged in alphabetical order). This is something super great and I wish the Yankees Magazine would do this too instead of brief blurbs on how each team individually is doing.


Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how I got to talk with Robert Pimpsner (one of the people behind the great Yankees prospecting site PinstripedProspects) and he told me that he had finished picking out photographs for the annual Staten Island Yankees team set. Oooh boy, nothing gets me more excited than minor league team sets. NOTHING. When I asked him for an autograph he kinda passed. I'll ask him again as the season goes on lol.

I suppose I'll end this post on a bit of self-indulgent note by saying that I managed to get every last player I wanted. Contreras, Bastidas, Chaparro and Duarte were the ones I wanted to knock out now because I wasn't able to last time. I was 50/50 on if I could get the inscription from De Paula or the autograph AND inscription from Beer but being the super cool dudes they are, I got them too. With this I've completed my initial stock of players in SI that I had cards of. Barring some mid-season callup of guys like Clarke Schmidt or Anthony Seigler, I probably won't have much else to get signed until the team sets are released.

Of course I'm addicted to ink (autograph ink, not tattoos), so you know I'll be looking to get signatures somehow. Especially since there are still a dozen other players on the roster too. We'll see what happens I suppose.

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

2018 IP Auto Count: 12
2018 Auto'd Inscription Count: 1

Monday, June 25, 2018

Stickers!

In this hobby it's pretty easy to get caught up in the "BIG SICK HITS" and all that stuff, but every now and then it's nice to take a step back and appreciate the little things that make this hobby super great. I was given a big reminder of this through the power of...


...stickers!

I'm not sure how many of you are watching the World Cup since the US isn't involved, but it's been a pretty fun tournament so far. I'm especially rooting for Team Japan (the motherland!).

But what makes these stickers so special?

Well the fact that they're World Cup Stickers makes them pretty cool in my opinion. Stickers are always going to be cool and the fact that these are of world class athletes is even better (I think we take that for granted a lot because getting cards of athletes who're the best in the world doesn't seem to wow us by the 10th trade package).


There's also this pretty special video I found on Twitter via Yahoo Canada Sports. If you have four minutes to spare I'd highly recommend watching it, it's a joy.

The gist of the video is the pure fun the people in it are having through the power of collecting stickers. Opening them, collecting them with fellow collectors, making friends through the hobby both locally and internationally, etc... It encompasses a lot the best parts of the hobby for me. It really does. No completed sets purchased with one click on eBay, no need for some super limited autograph to feel elated, just pure drive to finish the set in one of the most social ways possible.

Now unfortunately I'm not as passionate about these stickers (nor do I know anyone who is based on my blogroll feed), but I can appreciate the shared sentiments I feel through the video. I'm sure some of you can too. I don't see myself completing any binders of this but seeing as how these packs were like a $1 each at Walgreens I thought to at least try a pack.


These come at five stickers per package and the wrapper proudly states that these are from Italy (which is Panini's actual headquarters). I find that awesome.

I don't know a whole lot about football, but since I'm a Team Japan supporter I hope I can get a player on Team Japan.


Okay I guess it wasn't meant to be. Truth be told I don't know any of these guys. I don't know any football players (this applies to both popular sports named football).

Still, I liked the video a lot and the fact that these were able to give others joy is special to me. If anybody wants any of the stickers here feel free to ask.

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

Loose 2018 Trade Speculation Thoughts

So the Yankees need some starting pitching help (surprise, surprise). For the next month and a half the baseball world can probably expect a lot of pieces coming out about the Yankees being tied to a lot of pitchers on bad/starting-to-fall-out-of-contention teams.

All of this trade talk is fun and all but honestly a bit underwhelming.

Mainly because the trade options are pretty lackluster.


If you asked me who the best realistic pitcher on the market (as it stands right now) is, I'd say J.A. Happ. That's not a knock on Happ, but it is a sign of just how bad the trade market is for starting pitchers.

Andrew Stoeten (one of my favorite baseball writers who covers the Blue Jays for The Athletic), brought up a good point on his podcast the other day that the market is so weak because the teams that were in rebuild mode from day one have virtually nothing to offer. Mainly because they never bothered to invest in assets that would actually make them a good team in the first place. Or at least an asset that they could flip at the deadline.

Like, remember in 2012 when the Cubs picked up Paul Maholm on a one year deal? The Cubs signed him to a short term deal knowing they were going to be bad, with the intention of flipping him. Maholm wasn't a flashy name that was going to make whoever traded for him an instant World Series favorite, but every contender always needs more pitching and he would've been perfectly serviceable in a pinch. The Cubs capitalized on Maholm (who had a good first half with the Cubs too) and got themselves Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman for Maholm (and Reed Johnson). Even though he never quite panned out like many thought he could, at the time Vizcaino was still a top pitching prospect that a rebuilding club like the Cubs was thrilled to bring into the fold.

But there is no Paul Maholm this year. The closest is JA Happ and that's only because Happ just happens to be in the last year of his three year contract.

Like do the Rangers, Marlins, Reds, Padres, White Sox, Royals, Tigers, Twins (they're done), Pirates, Athletics, Orioles and Rays have anybody immediately available that would actually be worth it? Not really.


Cole Hamels is basically the only other name that's been tied to the Yankees because the Rangers suck so much ass. The thing is that Hamels isn't that great this year. His walks are up and so is his home run rate. Is he going to be worth Clint Frazier or whoever Jon Daniels asks Brian Cashman for? Some may disagree but IMHO, that's a big fat nope.

The other names are pie in the sky pitchers who're going to cost a fortune because they're also supposed to be in the rebuilding teams' long term plans too.

Michael Fulmer is going to cost way more that he's worth.

Carlos Rodon has a history of getting hurt, and he's still going to cost a lot.

Luis Castillo is pitching poorly but will still cost a ton because he's an integral part of the Reds rotation going forward.

Jose Berrios, well the Twins ain't moving him for shit unless they're given a king's ransom amped up to level 11.

Sean Manaea would cost a fortune.

Tyson Ross is going to cost some serious prospect capital and he'll probably fall on the DL before doing anything meaningful.

And no I will not entertain the possibility that the Yankees get a starter from the Mets.


The Yankees could easily trade for any of these guys if they wanted to, they've got the pieces. But they're all overpriced. Happ is a lefty who is battle tested in the AL East, it should be a no brainer.

But it isn't just starting pitching the Yankees need. They could use some bullpen help.
The Yankees are benefitting greatly from Chad Green building upon his great 2017, Dellin Betances regaining his 2014-16 form and Jonathan Holder emerging as someone who can hold, but they also have an ineffective LOOGY in Chasen Shreve who isn't cutting it, and they're not getting much else from their either reliever either (who's been AJ Cole who just went on the DL). They don't particularly need a lefty specialist but someone who can present a bit more stability as the seventh man in the bullpen would be nice. Maybe Tommy Kahnle can be that once he regains his 2017-form but it's looking more and more like the Yankees want to keep him down in triple-A a bit longer to manipulate his service time.

Come playoff time the Yankees can get a big boost from having someone like Domingo German (assuming he isn't shut down for the year after reaching a certain amount of innings) or really whoever was the fifth starter be in the pen, but until then getting more relievers in the Bronx (and more importantly out of Boston or Houston) is key.


When it comes to high end relievers, there are two big names. Raisel Iglesias of the Cincinnati Reds and Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres. Both are very good and under control. Two things that make them very valuable to their teams and expensive for potential bidders. Good relievers are a luxury for rebuilding clubs, the teams don't HAVE to trade them, but they don't necessary need them either.

San Diego reportedly asked for Rafael Devers from Boston if the Red Sox wanted Hand. Before you go laugh at the Padres, just know that all negotiations begin by asking high and then gradually lowering what you'd take down to a level you'd find acceptable that the other party can also agree too. I'm sure every trade discussion Billy Eppler ever has starts with Mike Trout and then works itself down immediately. I'm also pretty sure what the Padres (and Reds) want is basically the modern equivalent of the packages the Yankees got when they traded Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Americans and Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs. Two high caliber top-100 prospects along with a third/fourth complementary piece with upside of their own. AJ Preller seems like the type of madman who'd promise to keep paying for Hand's contract if it meant he could squeeze another high caliber talent into the trade somehow too.

The Yankees have the pieces to get them if they wanted to too, but there are other trade candidates out there. Those are probably going to be more realistic and the names the Astros and Red Sox look to go after more than the two big names.

Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Darren O'Day, Keone Kela, Nate Jones and Sergio Romo stand out as names that will draw a lot of interest. The Orioles pretty much have to trade all of the assets they should've have traded two years ago or risk losing them for jack shit. The Rangers are in the weird position where they could be good again before Kela is due to leave, but keeping a reliever in the midst of a rebuild when you're presented with a good offer for them is a dumb thing I don't see the Rangers doing. Jones is under control but the White Sox won't need a good bullpen for a while so they could just sell high on him. Romo's been a part of the Rays' interesting starting reliever experiment, but he could be used a bit more conventionally on a team that thinks he might be able to help.

My lowkey pick for an intriguing relief option is Ryan Tepera (also of the Blue Jays). He's arb eligible next season but still under team control until 2022. His walk rate is bad and will lower his price, but his strike-out rate is pretty nice so there is something to work with there. If he's like the fourth-to-sixth best arm in your pen (which he would be in the Yankees pen) your team is in good shape.

The asking price for these tier-B type of relievers is probably going to be like what the Nationals had to pay to get Kelvin Herrera. Two-to-three prospects (none of whom are particularly highly rated) and the team acquiring the reliever has to take on a significant chunk of the remaining salary too. You'd think that rebuilding teams would pay the player they trade away's salary to get a bigger return in a trade, but I guess owners want to pocket the savings for themselves instead.


As you can see, I'm pushing hard for a Yankees-Blue Jays trade. Yeah there's some awkwardness about trading within the division but honestly, who cares? If a trade with the Jays later leads in the Yankees winning the World Series then it's a total success. And in the same trade ideally the player(s) sent to Toronto do really well and are a thorn in the rest of the ALE's side for years to come (en route to even more 85-win third place finishes). It's a win-win. Clint Frazier for JA Happ straight up. Right here, right now.

And no I do not think the Jays having qualms about "helping the Yankees" because a Happ trade (a rental trade) could only help themselves. They're getting assets (assets they're taking away from a rival that could've been used for other types of upgrades) for a player they were about to lose to free agency anyway. As for if they're worried fans won't like trading with the Yankees, the way the Jays kept Vlad Guerrero Jr. down when he was destroying the baseball for the first few months of the season is proof enough that they do not give a rat's ass about what the fans think.

So bye Clint, good luck in Toronto. Hello Happ, work some of your 7 IP, 6 K magic on that feeble Red Sox lineup.

*Note, I think a more realistic package for Happ is something like Dillon Tate and Tyler Wade, and maybe a third piece depending on who picks up the rest of the salary owed to Happ this season*

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Loose Draft Thoughts

So The Lost Collector's comments about how flawed the MLB Draft is inspired me to write of my own on the topic. I should probably save this post until next year's draft but you know what, this is #FreeContent so I'm going to post it up whenever I'm out of blogging material (which is now lol).

The MLB Draft isn't the big sports media spectacle that MLB wishes it was. And quite frankly I think everyone has accepted that it never will be.

TLC brought up a good point that lack of prior exposure is a reason why so many people aren't interested. There are literally thousands upon thousands of high school/college baseball players across the US and Canada. Being able to see all of them before the draft like you can with basketball/football/hockey is impossible. Not when they're all so spread out and at various baseball powerhouses across the country. Plus there's the fact that baseball at it's highest level is unpopular, what makes you think the public will watch it at it's lowest levels unless every channel that's not ESPN 2 gets blacked out? Actually even then I think people would just turn off the TV and play with their phones.

There's also the fact that even despite all of the scouting reports and the hype, these players are largely going to disappear into the minors for a good 2-5 years. The draft for other sports are different, in that the road to the highest levels are much much quicker and as such the players are more important and impactful in the short term.


Like I love Anthony Seigler's potential and think he could be a wonderful player. But he's a high school catcher which means that he's a good five years away from realistically getting an MLB callup. And that's assuming there are no major setbacks along the way. Your average Yankee fan isn't going to care about him right now unless they're considering getting him for their long term fantasy dynasty or keeper league.


I think it's fair to point out that the ONLY quasi-interesting part of the draft is wondering how the teams are going to manipulate the bonuses they dish out to maneuver through their draft pools. The teams all have a set amount of bonus money they can give to players. Some players are going to cost more than others (these are usually the guys you see drafted in the 2nd/3rd rounds) and as such, teams are going to look to save money on the picks that won't be that pricey (ie every college senior ever) in the later rounds so as to pool money into the high upside but also high sign-ability issue guy they really want's draft slot. Got it? No? Well I don't blame you.

This is why the draft is so unappealing to the average Joe. Or even a large chunk of baseball fans. Even hardcore baseball fans. Imagine you ask your friend who is super into prospects and the draft, "so what did you think of the Yankees draft haul?" and then their (or rather my) response is 'well it looks like after Seigler and Josh Breaux all of the other picks were "safe" low-cost picks in an effort to funnel money into Ryder Green's bonus pool'. Like I get that what the other guy wants to hear is that the Yankees got the next Mike Trout, but the reality is that what I just described is literally the ONLY thing that happened.

There are really three things that happen in the draft.
1). In the first three rounds you draft the best talent available
2). After the fourth round you start to see how you can manipulate bonuses to sign the really pricey high school/junior college kid you drafted in either the 2nd or 3rd round
3). By the rounds in the double digits it's all a giant crapshoot so it's nothing but more bonus pool manipulation and the token "we know we're not going to get this extremely talented player that is extremely committed to go to college, but we're just going to draft him anyway to establish a connection and hope that they'll remember us for when they're draft eligible again in two-three years" pick.

Boom, that's the whole draft. By day two the plan is set and you know who the key players are.


It also doesn't help that the broadcast for the first two rounds is complete ass.
If Rob Manfred has such a hard on for fixing the pace of play he should start with the pace of the draft broadcast. It took nearly five hours to get through the first two rounds (and the compensation picks and the competitive balance picks) on day one. FIVE FUCKING HOURS of having to listen to morons like Harold Reynolds blithering on about travel ball players they've never seen and spewing lazy player comps (player comps suck BTW, never trust them). The MLB Network sucks at analyzing major leaguers, what possible insight could they have on amateurs?

Also since we're in the age of Twitter, hearing Manfred or the team's reps say who they draft isn't really that up to date anyway. Like, I knew that the Yankees were going to take Seigler a good two minutes before Manfred announced it because information spreads faster on Twitter than it does elsewhere. This was largely the case for most of the first rounders (pro tip, use this awkward two minute span to pick up any cards you want of your favorite team's first rounder on eBay for cheap, because they'll shoot up in price real quick in a matter of minutes).


Speaking of the broadcast, I like Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo just fine and give them a lot of credit for being the two in charge of everything at MLB Pipeline including the draft, international amateur free agent signings and the prospects already in affiliated baseball, but that's a LOT of responsibilities placed on them. I mean I'm sure they get their information from scouts who spend a lot more time in concentrated assignments, but personally I'd rather the network not just rely on them but also get in touch with more people who specifically cover high school or college baseball on a national level. Heck, Baseball America has people like that on their payroll, call them!


Ultimately the only real charming thing about the MLB draft that makes it worth watching is just seeing the happy families and friends excited for the draftees. Look at how proud and happy Seigler's parents are there behind him. That's wonderful.

Personally I don't think you can "fix" the draft and make it more appealing. Being able to trade draft picks would be huge, but I doubt that that would be enough. With the way the system is set up now it's still just going to be "okay, we got these new draft picks, now we can manipulate the draft pools even more!"

Kudos to MLB for trying but, it's not meant to be.

So to recap:
*We're basically watching people enter indentured servitude where the team is going to manipulate their service time to make sure they enter free agency when their best years are behind them

*The MLB draft is all just a game of salary/bonus suppression

*Half of the MLB Network commentators don't know jack shit

*Expecting beat writers to know everything about the guy the team they cover drafted minutes ago is unrealistic

*Just follow smart prospect people on Twitter

So there are my thoughts on the draft. It's very long, boring and tedious, and the only interesting things are the transactions and the emotions the players feel. Which is basically baseball in a nutshell too.

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Second International Trade (of 2018)

So I arranged a second international trade this month. This one with a Japanese collector with the handle @you_oh_. They're a Giants collector (specifically Pablo Sandoval) and we've been building up this trade for a good six months.

I sent them a bunch of junk wax Giants, some retail exclusive Giants and a few other things, and in return they sent back over a hundred cards of my favorite NPB team.


Blam!

This Takagi Morimichi autograph (that's numbered 37 of 90!) alone would've made this trade worth it but it wasn't the only card in the package. Not even close.


There was also this Takuya Kinoshita autograph (numbered 30/44). Kinoshita is a former PC-guy who I dropped pretty quickly lol. I like him, but when you're a catcher with the ceiling of a backup catcher it's hard to get excited about you.


The autographs weren't the only numbered cards though. Peep the super shiny star parallel above of Takamasa Suzuki. It's numbered 09/50!


A Yohei Oshima SMASH insert that scans like shit (spoilers, a lot of these Japanese parallels are cards that look super shiny in person but scan like I used a potato). It's numbered 12/30.


This is a pretty neat concept for a card. It's a photograph embedded into a card. It's numbered 188/200 and would make for a unique card if done right by Topps.


This is an even better concept for an insert, great players in the same franchise who've worn the same number. Unless you're the Yankees who retires or unofficially ghosts every number used by a great player, your team probably has a lot of super great players who just happened to share the same jersey number. I think that'd be a great idea for an insert in a Topps flagship set. This insert was numbered 093/200 BTW.


We now move onto the unnumbered inserts. Like this faux-auto dual insert of two (likely) former cheerleaders for the Chunichi Dragons.


This was interesting. This is a spherical insert that I'm guessing is some sort of modern card based on a menko-type of motiff. This one features Dragons legend Hiromitsu Inoue.


More cards that look really great and shiny in person but look like shit scanned.
I love the insert names too. Top Prospects is my kind of concept, Hot Blood is something that could only exist in Japan, and No Mercy is something I can see catching on in another Topps product that's so focused on #attitude you'd think it was from the 90's (like Topps Fire or some shit like that).


Of course the inserts and hits were nice but the real meat of the package was the 100+ base cards sent my way. This included a full completed base set of the 2017 BBM Chunichi Dragons set. Thanks to this I finally got my first Yota Kyoda rookie. After winning ROY honors in 2017, he's started the year off really slow but has managed to put up some okay results as of late. Hopefully he avoids the sophomore slump.


A sunset card of Dragons longtime slugger Masahiko "Three-Bags" Morino.


I loved this set because it is the first (and only) one to feature the pitchers that I coined as being "the big three". As in, the Dragons drafted these three with their first round picks in three consecutive drafts and were really banking on their success. My favorite of the bunch being Nomura. Nomura was DFA'd last winter, Ogasawara's having a rough 2018 and Yanagi isn't faring that much better. The Dragons suck at player development.


CALBEES!
Calbees are an underrated part of the Japanese baseball card game. These are cards that come free with potato chips. Why don't baseball cards come with potato chips in America huh? Answer me that Frito Lays!


So let's switch it up with some non-Dragons coolness. Like some numbered faux-autos, a CALBEE(!) Ohtani commemorating him throwing 163 kilometers per hour and a Matsui insert.


OH DAMN, I was not expecting to get a Masahiro Tanaka rookie card.


Much less two of them. This second one is to commemorate him being selected to the All Star Game (as a rookie) BTW.


Eyyy, a Tanak jersey relic. This one is numbered 172/200. It's dope. Jersey relics made by American companies suck because they're all mass produced and not worth caring about. Jersey relics made by Japanese companies rule because the print runs are much smaller and thus it actually means something to pull them.


Here's a first for my collection, a ball relic!
I've seen Topps and others make base relics, ticket stub relics and even dirt relics, but I don't think I've ever seen a ball relic. Or if I have this is still the first to fall into my clutches. I love touching the ball piece, it's so rubbery and bouncy. It's numbered 010/300 for extra coolness points BTW.


I'll end this post with an insert card that, surprise surprise, scans like shit.


Luckily I was sent a normal base version too. This is going to be for a future post for sure, but here's a preview...


So that was my second international trade this year. I know that I kind of glossed over a lot of things and didn't get into much detail. I wanted to but there was just so much stuff that it would've been impossible to condense it into one post. So expect multiple posts about some of these cards (and the players on them) at various times later.


Ha, this package was so dense and big that I almost didn't even mentioned the stack of Yankees sent my way. My favorite of them all being this Japan fractor of Tyler Austin. Love these things.

And that was my first trade with @you_oh_. 今回は楽しいトレードどうもありがとうございました!
Will this be my last international trade of 2018? I don't want to jinx anything but certain things are in motion right now...

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

今年初のマイナーの試合


みなさんこんにちは、また久しぶりに日本語で投稿することにしました。
今回は先日私が見に行ったマイナーの試合について語ります。


私に一番近いマイナーリーグの球団はヤンキースの傘下のスターテン・アイランド・ヤンキースです。こちらはshort season class-Aの球団でして6月の開始する普通より短いシーズンをプレイする球団です。先日(現地時間15日の金曜日)がシーズンの開幕戦でした。

まずは私が試合に行った最大の理由となるサインを紹介したいです。マイナーの試合では生オートを手に入れるのに絶好なチャンスためうまくいくと何十個も貰えることがあります(私の自己ベストは30個位)。


今年一番最初にサインをくださったのはヤンキースの外野プロスペクトのケイナン・スミス選手です。彼は昨年ヤンキースにドラフトで4巡目に指名された強打者です。もうすでにMLBの公式サイトの組織トッププロスペクトのリストにランク入りしている上どうやら他球団からトレードで要求されるようになってきたようです。まだマイナーの低いレベルにいるのにも関わらずこれほど注目度をあびているということはよほど期待できる人材として見て良いと思います。彼は左打の外野手でしてパワーがある上出塁率が悪くないと好評されています。


次のサインはノーラン・マルティネス選投手。マルティネスは2016年のドラフトで3巡目に指名された高校出身の投手。もう知っている方はご存知だと思いますがヤンキースは背の高い、回転数が多い、豪速球を投げられる投手が好みです。だから次から次も優秀な投手が出てきているのです笑。マルティネスは89-92mphあたりにストレードをなげられる上、球の回転数がヤンキースのスカウトに気に入られ、将来性がある投手です。この最後の二年間は怪我などであまり登板する事がなかったのですがまだ20でもないため段々体重とスタミナをこれから加えるだろうと予測されています。それに引き継いで球の速度もあがるという方針です。


次にサインをくださったのはエドワルド・トリアルバ選手です。彼は元々2015年にレッドソックスとプロ契約を結んだのですけどあの球団が不法にラテン系のアマチュアと契約の交渉を行っていたとバレて契約解除になったしまい、その後ヤンキースに入団した選手です。トッププロスペクトと言えるような選手ではありませんがわざわざヤンキースが彼に契約をオファーした時点でなにか良いものになれるチャンスがあると見ているでしょうね。最悪の場合はマイナーのロスターの穴埋め役でしょうがそれでもなかなか貴重な仕事なのです。


次のサインはエリック・ワガマン選手です。彼は2017年のドラフトでヤンキースが指名した打者のなかでは優れているほうです(彼の持つパワーのおかげで)。それでもファーストのみの選手であっても問題ではないと言えるほど打てるかは疑問です。


次のサインはドリュー・フィンリー投手です。彼は2015年のドラフトでヤンキースが4巡目に指名した投手です。以前はポーテンシャルがあふれる先発投手でしたが二年怪我などの影響で早めに彼のシーズンは終わってしまいまして、今年はリリーフ投手にコンバートしました。上手く行くかは疑問ですが試す価値はあります。


最後に貰ったサインはこの日の先発投手のマット・サウアー投手です。彼は昨年のドラフトでヤンキースが2巡に指名した投手でして一番あのドラフトで得た選手のなかで才能があると言われています(わざわざドラフトのボーナス金を殆ど彼のためにあれこれ手配したくらいですから)。彼もまた背の高い、90半ばmphの投球を投げられる右投げ投手です。チェンジアップとカーブもいまだにマスターしていませんがまだ19歳の彼は今後どんどん成長するのを期待されています。


そのサウアーは開幕戦の投手を託されファンの期待を裏切りませんでした。サウアー投手はブルックリン・サイクロンズ(クソメッツの傘下の球団)相手に6回も投げ安打を1つも許しませんでした。


試合中ランナーは一人許してしまいましたが、すぐピックオフプレーで始末しました。好投を見せてもらって私は結構楽しめました。残念ながら球場のスピードガンが故障していたため速度をはかることは出来ませんでした(次回は自分が持っていった方がいいと思います)。

7回にはチェイス・ホドソンというリリーフ投手(もうすでに彼のオート昨年貰っています)が登板して相手にヒット許してしまいノーヒットノーランが台無しになってしまいました。その後1点も失点してしまいましたがなんとか落ち着いて8回まで投げきれました。

一方ヤンキースの打線は点を稼ぐチャンスが何度もありましたが殆どいかせませんでした。ですが7回の裏にはやっと打線が投手らを援助できました。まずは二塁手のヘズス・バスティダスが塁にでたら、先ほどのスミス選手が二塁打を打ち、バスティダスがホームインし同点になりました。その後フレドリック・クエヴァス(彼のサインももう既に貰っています)がソロホームランを放ちヤンキースが2対1と逆転しました。

9回にはギャレット・マンデル投手(ご心配なく、もう彼のサインも持っています)が登板してサイクロンズの誰かに三塁打を許しましたが、大きな傷がなくピンチを成し遂げました。

試合の結果は2対1のヤンキースの勝利でした。この球団は打線より投手陣の力によって勝つような球団だという予測がありまして当たりました笑。今後も彼らはどうなるかが楽しみです。

その他の出来事や考え事


今年になってやっとヤンキースが観客を守る網を広げました。日本では安全用の網がフェールドを殆ど囲むのが普通ですがアメリカはかな遅れています(お金かかるものはやらない主義ですから)。私はずっと前からこうするべきだと思っていました。私だってファウルボールのライナーを食らった事が過去にありまして、あのような球が若い子供あるいは高齢者にでも直撃したら大問題になるだろうと恐れていました。嫌なハプニングが起こる前に球団が対策をとっておいてめでたしめでたし。一応ダグアウトではサインを少々とりにくくなってしまいましたが私はあそこらへんではサインを頼まないうえ、他のファンの安否のほうが大事なのでサインがとりにくくなっても全然気にしません(オートのコレクターとしてこう主張します)。


サインのコレクターとして毎年会うトラブルはこの球団のちゃんとしたロスターが最後の最後まで発表されないことです。本来でしたら事前に誰がいるか知っておきカードを用意するのが理想ですがこうしたショート・シーズンのリーグではそう上手く行かないのです。このレベルの選手の殆どは一番最近のドレフトで入団した大学生か、プロ三年目のラテン系の選手なのですが、ヤンキースはチャンスを与えたい優秀な選手が多すぎるためこのレベルに誰を送るのかを決めるのが大変だったそうです。そのため球団のスタッフだってチームの選手が全員揃うまで誰がいるのかはっきり分からないそうです。球団の色々な仕事を託されているインターンもご苦労様です。
まあ、最終的にはこのレベルだと選手が他のレベルのヤンキースのマイナーの球団に移ったり移されるが普通なので私のようなサインオタクではない限り気にしなくてもいいんですけどね笑。


オタクっぽい事と言えば、この試合でなんと3年も跨ぐボウマンカードにサインを貰いました。2016年版、2017年版と2018年版。こんな事で勝手に嬉しがっている私、笑。


因みに私は交通費を節約す為にスターテン島へ行くフェーリのターミナルまでマンハッタンのミッドタウンから歩きました。計2時間半もかかりましたが全6.5キロ(約)を歩きました。2ドル75セント(約275円)を節約する為にいい運動をできました。

変かもしれませんが私はフェリーを乗ることを毎度少し楽しみにしています。ニューヨークの港を拝見するのに絶好なチャンスの上、自由の女神なども見れます。あと私はフェリーから港を見ると少し心が落ち着くんですよね。こうした景色を見るとそうなるのでしょうけどね笑。


昼でも。


夜でも。

ニューヨークは日本やカリフォルニアなどと比べると遊べる場所はあまりないのですがこうした小さな楽しみ方は少しあります。

なにかこのブログポーストずいぶん長くなってしまいましたね。これほど皆さんの時間を使ってしまいましてすみません。

毎度ご覧になって頂いてありがとうございます。

ではお元気に:)。

2018年IP(In Person)オートのカウント:7個