A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Woodgrain GWYNNsday

If you watched the third game of the World Series, not only were you treated to a Royals win, but you also saw a tribute to Tony Gwynn, who passed away earlier this year.  While it has only been a few months, it seems like a lot longer to me.  Even though he had been out of the public eye for a while, knowing that he's gone still brings up some feelings.

Anyways, as I was digging through my Rad binder, I came across my few pages of relic cards, and I realized that I had a decent amount of Gwynn jersey relics.  I can't remember how many I have, but I think it's like four or maybe five (EDIT: It's four).

However, when it comes to relic cards, I prefer bat chips to jersey swatches, and not having a bat card of one of the best hitters of my youth who played for my team started to gnaw at me.  Gwynn autos have been selling at a premium since his death (vultures!), but I wasn't sure if bat relics had a similar going rate.

Well, this one was had for a very reasonable price, five bucks and change, shipped.  Can't say that I'm a fan of Gypsy Queen's design, and I'd prefer a younger Gwynn to a gray-in-the-goatee Gwynn, but beggars can't be choosers.  

This brings me to a total of five bat relic cards, and barring any unseen surges in productivity, my only bat relic of a Hall of Famer (no offense to Martin Prado, Cameron Maybin, Yonder Alonso, or George Foster).

God bless ya Tony.  We will always love you.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Topps Royals

I don't think it takes more than a few seconds of looking at this blog to know where my team loyalties lie.  Even though I'm rooting for the Royals to slay the Giants and win the World Series, I won't try to fool anyone into thinking that I know a great deal about their team.

From what I can tell, I like how they're built.  Speed, defense, a solid bullpen.  A lot of similarities between them and the Padres, actually.

Still, outside of a few players, Royals history is pretty much an unknown for me.  And that's fine.  I'm not really looking to expand my horizons.

Sometimes, I wonder how diverse the collections of other team collectors like myself are.  My non-Padre binder is pretty thin, and I only have a small handful of "sets".  The Royals aren't much more than a drop in the bucket

Without further ado, scanned for your viewing pleasure, here are all of the Royals cards in my collection that were printed by Topps.  I happened to have it scanned because the Topps twitter feed randomed off some boxes of cards to some followers who posted pictures of Giants or Royals cards that were Topps brand.    *Spoiler alert: I didn't win.

Well, there you go, a whopping NINE Topps cards with Royals on them.  I also have a few mini Royals from last year's Update Mini set (the ones with the cool 1971 design), but I didn't count them because they didn't fit in the scan, and they're smaller than regular cards, so they don't count as much.

All right, right off the bat, there's four Jeremy Guthrie cards.  He's one of my favorite non-Padres, but more for his personality than his playing (though he's done pretty well for KC in the playoffs).  He's funny and engaging on social media, and is a faithful Mormon who took a two year break from college baseball to serve as a missionary in Spain.  Pretty cool that he can speak the native language of all of his teammates besides Nori Aoki.

From there, we jump back a decade to the playing days of Benito Santiago.  Hard to imagine that he was ever a Royal, but here's the shiny cardboard proof.  Rewind another half decade and there's Leon "Bip" Roberts.  I have another Royal Bip that is way better than this one, but it's from the '96 Upper Deck set, not Topps.  Both of these reside in the Former/Future Friars section of one of my binders.

The Wally Joyner card from '93 Topps is the easy favorite in this group.  Great horizontal shot, gold foil… hard to find anything wrong with this one.  This is in my not-really-talked-about-much-since-I-haven't-finalized-the-specifics-yet One Page binder, where I have only one page of cards for some of my favorite players.  It was hard to whittle down the Joyner cards, but this one was an easy add in.

The last to are Tom Gordon and George Brett.  I have the Gordon because I have one card for each team in the '92 Topps set, which was the one that really got me into collecting.  I chose him because I always liked the nickname "Flash".  I also have all of the "Member's Choice" cards from… um, I can't remember what series of Topps Stadium Club, but one of the three.

Well, that's it.  Like I said, I have a handful of other Royals cards as well, but the rest are from other brands.  Hopefully this post will give them a little mojo to go ahead and take Game 7, since, as I typed this post, they were leading the Giants pretty handily in Game 6.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Old Mixup


I get it.

In the fast-paced, gotta-have-it-first world that we live in, you want to be the first to have something.  Blah, blah, blah, microwaves, twitter, short attention spans.

It makes sense that card companies, in their earnest to be the first to have "that" card of the player in the new uniform, resort to using photoshop.

Seems like it's cheating a little bit, but there are whole sets (Bowman) that lean heavily on their trickery to get people to pounce on cards of players who haven't sniffed the big leagues yet.

This post, however, is most (if not all) of the Padres cards I have that are "on the fence".  Cards that could be claimed by the Padres or one of the other 29 teams.

Like the card of Padres center fielder Mike Cameron in a throwback Mets jersey, they're a little mixed up.

Three "Mets" cards in a row.  I motioned to scroll over to baseball-reference.com to see if Wally Whitehurst and Tony Fernandez were traded for each other, but judging by the Traded 10-26-92 signage under the nameplate, I'll go ahead and assume so.  I really liked Wally Whitehurst during his Padres days, but for Tony Fernandez?  Ouch.

Here's some with different uniforms on, but the design claims that they're Padres.  Chris Young was named as the Comeback Player of the Year by Sporting News.  That's pretty rad.  And there's Reggie Sanders, wearing more red on his uniform than any Padres in recent history (though they did have it on their Pacific Coast League uniforms in the 50s, I think.

Were it not for the faint glimpse of the first two letters on his jersey, this Robert Fick card could pass for a Nationals card, like it says in the bottom corner.  But this Padre fan knows better.  Man, if you just take a glimpse at his last name while flipping through binder pages, it sure doesn't look like a word that you would want to use on the front of a card.

This makes absolutely no sense to me.  The Padres acquired Adrian Gonzalez from the Rangers before the 2006 season.  He actually came over with Chris Young.  Talk about a rip off!  One of the few times the Padres have "won" a trade.  But back to this card.  Why do we have an image of Gonzo's new team while the card still says he plays for his old team?

This won't be the last Adrian mix up we see in this post.

While I love the Cameron card at the top, I think I'd have to say that these are my favorite "mix up" cards.  When Kevin Brown didn't resign with the Padres after their '98 World Series appearance, I was pretty mad at him, especially because he signed with the Dodgers.  I decided that he was a jerk, and from what I've read, I might not be too far off on that judgement.  However, as an adult, I can look back and appreciate what he did for the '98 Padres, easily the best team in the history of the franchise.  I didn't have cable as a kid, but instead listened to all the games on the radio.  Going back on YouTube to watch him pitch in Game 2 of the NLCS, the dude was lights out.

Rickey Henderson is an amazing athlete.  That he was able to play at the level that he did for so long is incredible.  I'm fortunate that he had a couple of stints with the Padres.  I kind of forget that he bounced around towards the end of his career, and if it weren't for this card, would've never remembered that he played for the Mariners.

This is, perhaps, the king of "mix up" cards, since Adrian Gonzalez has never even played for the Brewers.  This is instead, a case of Topps laziness/oversight, and probably coupled with the fact that the Padres have uniforms that are basically identical to the Brewers.  What's frustrating is that the Brewers and Padres had some great looking uniforms in the 80s, but they now are two of the most boring in all sports.  If I had a dollar for every time I came across a Brewers card that was labeled "Padres" in an eBay search… well, I'd have a wallet full of dollar bills.  It doesn't happen with any other team.

I know that some collectors feel conflicted about cards of their team that "aren't really their team's cards", but I can't get enough of these.  While flipping through my Miscellaneous Padres binders, it gives me a little variety, which is fun (though, to be honest, the range of uniform colors for the Padres from the 70s-present is enough of a variety on their own).

Friday, October 24, 2014

Best Wishes - Bill McCool

One of my saved eBay searches is "Padres auto".  I'm not sure that I've ever breached the $5 threshold (including shipping) for an autographed card, but if I have, it's been a pretty rare occasion.

I'm not much for "in person" autographs (unless I was the one who obtained the auto).  I guess I just prefer the certified variety, although I suppose I'm not a big autograph collector to begin with.

However, when I saw this one for a few bucks I knew I had to get it.

"Best Wishes, Bill McCool"

Alright, while baseball has had some great names, I'd have to say that Bill McCool probably has one of the all time greats in Padre history.  I mean, I like to say Yangervis Solarte as much as the next guy, but "McCool"?  That's awesome.

Anyways, I'll go ahead and dedicate this card to Jeremy Guthrie and the Kansas City Royals.  The years in which I've been able to really root for a team in the World Series have been very few.  I chose them as my team to root for at the beginning of the playoffs, even though I didn't think anyone was getting past the Angels in the AL.

I mean, I'd probably be rooting for them even if I didn't like them, because I don't want the Giants to win.  I identify myself as a "National League guy", mostly because I don't like the designated hitter, but I've been a fan of the Padres so long that I've found reasons to hate almost every NL team.  Not hard to do that with a division rival, either.

So win tonight Kansas City!  Bill McCool wishes you nothing but the best!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

These Guys...


So, if you're like me, you're stupid.

Wait, hold on, you didn't let me finish.  If you're like me, you're stupid and when you buy a pack of baseball cards, you cling to the hope that a specific card that you want is actually going to be in there.  

Has that happened before?

Probably.

Maybe.

Not enough to actually justifying buying packs instead of cherry-picking cards online.  But how can a collector of cards (well, at least modern cards) resist the urge to rip a pack from time to time?  I can't, but have kept the pack purchases pretty limited.  Much better to choose the cards/players I want.

For example, that red foil parallel of Padres fan favorite Alexi Amarista above.  Amarista is a great utility guy to have off the bench, though he was pressed into the starting lineup due to various struggles with the Padres regulars.  He performed better than expected, but it'd be nice to have a real everyday guy at center and short.  But if you haven't witnessed it before, an Alexi Amarista home run is a beautiful thing.

I guess if we're talking about fan favorites, I'd be remiss not to talk about my favorite Padre since Tony Gwynn and Steve Finley: Chris Denorfia.  Unfortunately, Deno was traded to the Mariners at the trade deadline, but it may have solidified his spot on the Topps Update checklist, so I guess there was a silver lining.  As strange as it may be seeing Norf in a Mariners uniform, I'll probably have to get used to something new for next year: he's a free agent, and after having a down year with the Padres in 2014, he was flat out horrendous in Seattle, and I'd be surprised if they sign him in 2015, since he's a free agent this offseason.

Unlike Amarista, I think I'll continue the tradition of putting together the Denorfia Topps Update rainbow, something I've done since 2011.

Fortunately, the trade deadline wasn't all bad news for the Padres.  They found Chase Headley a new (though perhaps temporary) home in New York, and in exchange got a minor league arm and Yangervis Solarte (a name so long, it almost bleeds into the picture on the card).  Looking at the numbers after the trade, both fared about the same, though I might give Headley a very slight edge.  Solarte will be with the Padres for more than a few months, and the Yankees didn't make the playoffs, so I guess the Padres might've come out ahead.  Slightly.

In the one game I went to this season, we (my dad and my brothers) dressed up in brown robes like friars and made signs.  Mine said "SOLARTE POWER".  We didn't make it on the jumbotron.

Oh, did I forget to mention that even though this card doesn't have a fancy colored border, it's still extra special because it is a "photo variation".  Solarte got some extra special treatment in the Update set after a hot start.

Now that Denorfia is gone, Solarte is my new favorite position player on the Padres (Andrew Cashner is my overall favorite).  Of all the cards in Update, these were the three that I looked forward to getting the most.

Let's look at the backs:

Looking back at it, no Mariners fans will say that he was an "ideal trade deadline addition", as the Mariners, a surprise contender towards the end of the year, fizzled and missed the playoffs.  Still, he is a "positive clubhouse presence", and hits leftys well.  I'd love to see him back in San Diego next year, though it probably won't happen.

Saying that Alexi is "trustworthy" at six positions is probably a stretch (unless you are very trusting, which manager Bud Black is), but I like him best at short (not just a height joke).  He's 5'8", and the main reason I wanted to show any of the backs of these cards was to show that his "Little Ninja" moniker made it on a baseball card.

Not much to add here, except "Hey, he played for the Round Rock Express last year!"  Of course, last year was the first year since 2009 that I didn't go to a game.  Oh well.

Anyways, yeah, for this Padre fan, these are the guys that I get excited about collecting.  I'd love to have some flashy all star (or heck, even just a good old fashioned above average player) to root for, but these are my guys, and I like 'em.

On an unrelated note, this is my 700th post.  That's a nice round number, huh?

In terms of Padres stats, here's some 700s for you:

Only 12 players in Padres history have more than 700 hits (Gwynn, Templeton, Winfield, Richards, Headley, Giles, Gonzalez, Nevin, Kennedy, Klesko, Colbert, Santiago).
Only 2 players in Padres history have more than 700 strikeouts (Chase Headley and Nate Colbert).
Only Tony Gwynn has more than 700 runs or RBI or walks.

I'll let you know when I get to 3,134.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Heritage Minors


Well, if you're a fan of one of the 28 teams not in the World Series right now, you're probably looking forward to next season already.  I mean, like the overwhelming majority of baseball fans, I'm pulling for the Royals to win it, but I still spend more time thinking about my Padres.

For me, no set is more geared to thinking about the future than the Heritage Minors set.

Sure, Bowman has a bunch of hot, up and coming prospects, but it seems like Heritage has a few more players that will be making an impact sooner rather than later.

So, let's take a look at the Padres team set from this year's Heritage Minors set, starting with the Yeison Asencio relic above.  Pretty sure that deep blue jersey swatch isn't from a San Antonio Missions jersey, so that's… interesting.

Of the four minor league clubs that were included in the set, here are the two teams that only had one card.  Matt Wisler tore up A and AA ball, but wasn't quite as hot when he joined the AAA El Paso Chihuahuas.  Seemed to find a groove late in the season and seemed primed for a late season call up, but the call never came.  Look to see him compete for a starting rotation gig in Spring training.  This is the Chihuahuas first year of existence, and even though I'm not a big fan of the name (I thought that Aardvarks woulda been a cool name, as it was one of the finalists in the voting), this is a good looking card.

Hunter Renfroe is a hot Padres prospect that has a lot of raw power and looks to be a future fixture at a corner outfield position.  Seems like he's doing pretty well in the Arizona Fall League right now.  Go Storm!  Lake Elsinore is a great place to catch a game if you get the chance.

Here are two players that I got to see this year when I went down to San Antonio.  Austin Hedges is a pretty unanimous #1 prospect by everybody.  He's a great defensive catcher, calls a good game, and has got a cannon for an arm and a quick release.  The question continues to be his bat, and for that, I'm a little weary of getting too excited about having him be promoted.  Yeison Asencio won a single A batting title a few years ago, back when he was playing under a false name.  Not a highly ranked prospect, but has done well in both the games that I saw him play in.

Cory Spangenberg is probably my favorite of the Padres prospects.  He was a big surprise to get a September call up, even though he never played any AAA ball.  He did pretty well, coming up with some clutch hits and seems like he might not be quite the light hitter he was billed as.  I'm excited to see how he progresses from now til next season.  My first year at spring training, my brother Ammon and I both got him to sign a ball for us, so that was kinda cool as well.

Oh, and I'm a sucker for San Antonio Missions cards because I love those jerseys.  I like how they incorporated the Alamo into the design.  If you haven't been there, it comes highly recommended if you are ever in the San Antonio area.  And I don't think I'm normally one to get excited about visiting historical sites.  Very cool place.

Here's a trio of Tincaps.  A little less to get excited about here, in my opinion.  Walker Weickel was a high draft pick a few years ago who has put up some brutal numbers in the minors thus far.  I guess he's only 20, so there's plenty of time for him to figure it out, but a ERA of 5.94 last year (5.44 career) doesn't seem promising.  Gotta love a cool catcher card of Dan Phillips, but seems like he'd be blocked by Hedges as far as playing for the Padres is concerned.  Max Fried is supposed to be the real deal, but has had Tommy John surgery, and based on the Padres luck, I'd be surprised to see him come back any time soon.

Oh, and the eBay seller who I got this from included this Phillips are of him sans logo.  Pretty generous, though these cards look horrendous.

Well, there you have it, all of the Padres include in the Heritage set this year.  I think there are a few autos/relics/shortprints, but here are the base cards.  I keep telling myself that sometime I'll get a hobby box of Heritage Minors and do a break, but… well, this wasn't the year, I guess.  Easy enough to pick on eBay anyways.

Any other Heritage Minors fans out there?

EDIT: I wrote this late at night and left out a few things that I had meant to include.
1) The Tincaps have the best uniforms in the Padres organization, but only because the Eugene Emeralds are now with the Cubs.  Love seeing their cards.
2) I wish that Trea Turner had been added to the checklist, but he was a draft pick this year, and I guess they didn't include those.
3) Walker Weickel's mustache is awesome.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Donruss


So yesterday, I posted my findings from my first foray into 2014 Topps Update.  However, a few days before finding it, I went to the Target near me and, after not seeing any Update, settled for a rack pack of Donruss Series Two.  While I'm not really a big fan of this year's Donruss design, the inserts look pretty cool.

I have a page worth of Padres Diamond Kings from the 80s/90s, with a Chase Headley from this year's set included.  I guess Jedd Gyorko was included in the Diamond Kings set for Series 2, but I didn't get that one.  I got somebody named Manny Machado.  Meh.

Let's take a look at a base card.  This one is salvageable because a) star power, b) even though it's photoshopped, it's obvious that this is the White Sox retro uniform, and c) RATED ROOKIE!!!

Even with a less than stellar design, there are still some cards that are at least worth looking at.

Inserts, huh?  Let's look at a few more.  "The Rookies" actually look pretty good in my opinion, even though they're closer to an actual 80s Donruss card than anything else you'll find.  While I'm not much of a fan of late 80s Donruss, I like seeing modern players in the design.  I like the idea with the Studio cards, especially with a brand like Panini who doesn't have a license.  I think I've seen a few other cards like this that I liked, but this one of Joey Bats doesn't move the needle too much for me.

As is usually the case, the big hit of the rack pack for me was a Padre.  But not just any Padre - my favorite current Padre.  While it wasn't anything fancy (just the base card), it turned out that it was very needed.  I already had all of the parallels (well, at least the ones that I'm aware of), but all I was lacking was the lousy base card.

Here are the aforementioned parallels.  The two on top are the gold and silver Press Proofs.  On the bottom are the Season and Career Stat Lines.  A 3.55 career ERA isn't anything spectacular, but after a pretty good season in 2014, that's been lowered to a 3.25 (3.06 overall as a Padre, after beginning his career as a Cub).  His WHIP in 2013 of 1.131 was also bested in 2014, down to 1.127.  I don't know enough about WHIP to know if that's substantial or not.

Overall, Donruss is more miss than hit with me.  I really liked last year's Pinnacle set and wanted to see how they'd change it this year, but it looks like it was not to be.  Still, I like to show Panini a little love in hopes that they keep on working to pick away at the Topps monopoly.