As you may or may not know, Chase Headley is no longer a Padre. He was traded to the Yankees yesterday for infielder Yangervis Solarte and pitcher Jose De Paula. The Padres were in Chicago getting ready to take on the Cubs, and when the deal was done, the Yankees got him out of Chi-Town and over to the Bronx, where he was able help the Yankees to a 2-1 win in his first game. It took 14 innings, but the Yankees had a walk off victory. Game winning RBI? Chase Headley.
I'm torn on Headley, because I'm not sure what he is. I went to Spring Training in 2012 and 2013, and Headley was the only Padre who signed autographs for us both times. And he was easily there longer than any other Padre, signing and taking pictures. Really down to earth, humble, personable guy.
He isn't a bad player, but his 2012 season, when he got MVP votes, won a Gold Glove, and led the league in RBI, may have led to more problems with the Padres organization. After that season, they tried to sign him to a long term deal. He wouldn't take it, and so, with two years left on his contract, it might've been prime time to trade him.
However, he got injured, or just sucked, and it looked more and more like the second half of 2012 (when he racked up RBI once the Padres were hopelessly out of the playoff race) was a fluke. Trade market died off.
From there, it was just "cross our fingers, hope that something works out" with him, which is rarely an effective strategy.
The Padres didn't handle the situation well, but they did also offer him money that he didn't take, so it seems that he wanted out of San Diego as well. So, I'm torn on him.
Anyways, I just so happen to have a card of one of the guys the Padres got in return from New York.
Solarte had a great start to this season, but has cooled off considerably (kind of the opposite of Headley, who is currently playing his best ball). He played in the Rangers system last year in Round Rock. I didn't go to any games last year, but I got this card from the discounted team set I bought on Opening Day this year. Cool to have now, I guess.
I actually think that I had a Heritage Minors card of De Paula, too, but traded it away to somebody. Oh well.
Anyways, in tribute to Chase, here are my top 5 favorite Chase Headley cards, in order. I won't count any of the 2013 Heritage rainbow that I've been working on, although I do really like all of those.
#5 - 2013 Topps Museum Collection
Throwback uniform, ball popping out onto the border. This is a good card. A little too fancy for my tastes, but still top 5 quality.
#4 - 2014 Pinnacle "Clear Vision"
Who needs an MLB license when Pinnacle is still making awesome inserts? If you don't have any of the "Clear Vision" cards, you should really fix that. The cloud part of the card is acetate and see through. That's cool. I think there are a bunch of variations of these, marked Single, Double, Triple, etc, which is less cool.
#3 - 2013 Topps Opening Day
A walkoff celebration shot! How can you not love this? Hard to recognize all the players in this shot, but I count more guys that are gone than are still here: Luke Gregerson, Edinson Volquez, Chase Headley, Mark Kotsay, and Huston Street. Still here: Carlos Quentin, Will Venable, Cameron Maybin, Everth Cabrera.
#2 - 2014 Topps Chrome (sepia)
I have a couple of variations of this same image/card that I considered, including the Topps Opening Day blue parallel and the black bordered parallel from Chrome. In the end, the high school kid with his first photo class wins out - I love the sepia. The second throwback uniform on the countdown doesn't hurt matters either.
#1 - 2014 Donruss "Diamond Kings" (stat line parallel)
This card is not shows the grand resurgence of the "Diamond Kings" (which, not being in the card collecting game until '91ish, I think look even better here), but also the main reason that people ever talk about Headley: that one year he hit a bunch of RBI. It's serial numbered to 115, which is cute, but I think I mostly love the use of two images of the player, neither of which has been beaten to death by being used in other cards. Panini takes two of the top five. Good on them.
A keen eye will notice that, of the 68 Headley cards that I have that qualified for this countdown, only cards from the last two years ('13 & '14) made the cut for the top 5. Not sure if this shows that the quality of your play increases the greatness of your cards, but I guess most of these are inserts, and the base cards are from "higher end" sets.
Anyways, tonight's game against the Cubs marks the beginning of the Yangervis Solarte era in Padres baseball. Which coincides with the beginning of the Jeff Francoeur era as well.
What a great time to be a Padre fan.