Monday, June 28, 2010

Card of the Week: 2008 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Brad Hand Red Refractor Auto RC #1/5

Well, it looks like my O.C.D. finally got the best of me, and in one fell swoop I took this whole prospecting craze to the next level.

I took the plunge on this card last week while browsing eBay on a slow afternoon at work (always a bad idea). I've been hunting for an under the radar prospect to collect, and for no real reason, was drawn to Florida Marlins' farmhand Brad Hand (too many hands in one sentence). I put in an offer on the card that I didn't think the buyer would take, but lo and behold he did, and I found myself in possession of my lowest numbered card ever (#1/5).

Since that time, I've found myself closely following Hand's starts for the Jupiter Hammerheads (High Class A), despite the fact that he's still years away from the majors (still just 20-years-old). On the season, the young left-hander is 5-4 with a 3.10 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 87 innings. He's cut down on his walks and increased his strikeouts since last season and looks like a viable big league starter (and maybe an ace) down the line.

Will I be patient enough to hold onto the card until then? Only time will tell, but in the meanwhile, it's a great looking card and a fun way to spice up the collection.

Anyone else have an under the radar prospect they collect?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Box Break: 2008 UD Masterpieces (Nice Hits)

Another box break Bud?!? I know I've been on a wax busting spree lately (which won't likely end with the imminent release of A & G) but I've also had a good run of luck, and every knows you've got to play the hot hand. Besides, I didn't even buy this box, it was given to me by my thoughtful and beautiful girlfriend for our anniversary. She's very supportive of my habit and will even open packs with me on occasion. She picked out a winner with this box too--here's the goods:

Rod Carew Red Framed Parallel: I was really hoping to pull a red framed parallel of Ken Griffey Jr, but with 120 cards in the set, the odds were against me. So, even though I didn't get the Kid, I was more than happy to pull a card of a Hall of Famer and not say, Luke Hochevar (no offense Royals' fans).
Victor Martinez Navy Framed Parallel #30/125: This is the second time I've pulled a numbered Victor Martinez card from a box of Masterpieces. I guess there are worse players to pull, but he's not exactly on my most wanted list. Anyone collect Victor?

Joe Mauer Captured on Canvas Jersey: That's more like it! I'm always happy to pull a jersey card of one of my favorite players and it's even better when it's from one of my favorite sets. Although you can't see it in the scan this card features a small seam on the right of the swatch (eBay one of one?). This card is staying put in the personal collection for a long time.

Hanley Ramirez Strokes of Genius Autograph: With so many duds in the autograph checklist I didn't go into the box with high expectations, so I was certainly surprised to walk away with an on-card autograph of one of the game's best young players (even if he doesn't hustle). That makes it three-for-three for me with good autos out of Masterpieces (Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Kemp and now Hanley Ramirez) so this probably won't be my last box.

Overall Thoughts: This box finished the regular 1-90 base set and added a few of the SP's to the overall set (I'll post my needs soon). I was happy with my hits and definitely beat the odds with the Hanley auto. A great box and a great girlfriend. Who could ask for more?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Agony & Ecstasy of Cards: Gordon Beckham

About two months ago I pulled this beautiful card from a pack that I bought at a gas station (that's no typo--it was a gas station that sold baseball cards) and was thrilled.

Gordon Beckham was coming off a strong rookie season and looked to be one of the AL's rising stars at second base. If I had pulled this card during the summer or fall of 2009, it would have netted between $125-150, but unfortunately he started 2010 slowly and the card plummeted in value.

I figured it was just a sophomore slump and he would ride it out, the card was selling for $50 and there was seemingly no where to go but up-- just don't tell that to Gordon's batting average.

Well, it's been nothing but heartache every time I check the White Sox box score, hoping to see a strong game from Beckham. Tonight for example, Chicago scored nine runs on 16 hits, but G-Beck went 0-4 with a strikeout.

I need some Pepto-Bismol; my indigestion is out of control. Apparently, prospecting isn't for the faint of stomatch...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Box Break: 2009 Bowman Draft Picks (Dos Autos)

This is the second box that I bought from Atlanta Sports Cards with the money I made from the Jason Heyward Aflac Auto (I promise that's the last time I mention it for a while--although, I did sell for $500 so I feel I am allowed to gloat a little). After the stirring success I had with a box of 2008 Bowman Draft, I felt it was only fair that I gave the '09 variety a chance to shine. Well, my good luck continued with a great box, including two rookie autos and a bevy of refractors and numbered parallels. Here are the best cards from my box of 2009 Bowman Draft Picks:

Mike Minor Refractor Auto #494/500: Mike "Spike" Minor is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the minor leagues, with 101 punch outs in just 80 innings. Another in a long string of talented Atlanta pitching prospects, Minor was the #7 overall pick out of Vanderbilt last year after a storied college career. I would have been plenty happy if this was the only auto I pulled from the box, but...

Jared Mitchell Gold Refractor Auto #33/50: I was hoping to pull a colored refractor out of this box and was thrilled when I opened a pack and saw the golden edge shining on one of the cards. I was ecstatic when I realized that the gold refractor was also an autograph of White Sox top prospect Jared Mitchell. A two-sport star at LSU, Chicago envisions Mitchell as their leadoff man of the future. I'm not quite patient enough to wait for that to happen, so I went ahead and sold this card for twice what I paid for the box. Yeah, I'm on a bit of a roll. Let's hope it continues on to 2010 A & G.

Overall Thoughts: With a strong rookie class (Mike Minor, Mike Trout, Mike Leake, Bobby Borchering, Drew Stanton, etc.) and a chance at multiple autos per box, 2009 Bowman Draft Picks is a great box to break for aspiring prospectors. The boxes have risen in price from around $55 to $75, so if you can find a box at the low end of that spectrum I would encourage you to go for it. Of course, I might be a little biased...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Few Million Card Giveaway Series II Cards

Topps Series II retail finally showed up in the Northwest--a nice reprieve from the Bowman binge I've been on recently. I grabbed three packs from Walmart and was lucky enough to pull two Million Card Giveaway Redemptions (in one pack strangely enough) and another card that I'll show later. I'm not patient enough for a run of old cards to show up so I redeemed them right away. Here's what I got:

2002 Topps Derek Bell: The one thing I remember about Derek Bell is that he was one funny looking dude. He did hit 134 career home runs, but that doesn't do much to distract from Bell's prize winning mustache or that honey dijon border. It's certainly up for trade--please take it.

1970 Topps George Mitterwald: That's more like it! Minnesota's original Joe Mauer is featured on a 1970 Topps card, my first from the iconic (?) set. Mitterwald was a defensive specialist who led the National League in caught stealing percentage at 50% in 1975. This card is probably headed over to Play at the Plate when I finally send away for it (some time I promise).

Thoughts: I can't complain about receiving two redemption cards in one pack, especially when one leads to a vintage card. I'm sure these won't be the last cards I redeem, especially with the chance at a Strasburg short print rookie. Stay tuned for more!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Out of the Blue Generosity from Wicked Ortega

I was happily surprised to find a package from Wicked Ortega in the mail the other day. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, he is one of the most generous people in the blogosphere, but it was still unexpected because I haven't sent any cards out in a long time (please read note at bottom of post if you've traded with me before). Here's a look at the great cards he sent me:
1997 Topps Gallery Edgar Martinez: I loved Edgar Martinez and Topps Gallery. Everyone loved Topps Gallery. Not everyone loves Topps Chicle. Your move Topps.

1995 Sportflix Ken Griffey Jr. Detonators: My Griffey collection has grown a bit stagnant so it was nice to get some new cards of the Kid. This was my favorite of the bunch; you can never go wrong with Sportflix and missiles on one card.

1989 Topps Traded Ken Griffey Jr. PSA 9 RC: WOW! I was shocked to see a rookie of Griffey in the package, and a graded rookie just made it that much sweeter. This card is definitely going on my Ken Griffey Jr. mantle above the fire.

2007 Sweetspot Ryan Rowland-Smith Rookie Auto: Despite his early season struggles (then again, who on the Mariners isn't struggling) I'm still a big fan of Aussie Ryan Rowland-Smith. He's a very down to earth guy and he even tweeted at me once, for what it's worth. This rookie auto is a nice addition to my M's collection, even if it is thick as a cinder block (I'm not even joking).

Thanks for the sweet cards Wicked! I'll have some Marlins headed your way soon!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Box Break: 2010 Bowman Retail Box (24 Packs)

I hadn't planned on buying an entire retail box of 2010 Bowman, but when after two blasters and half a box of cards yielded nary a single Strasburg, I let my stubborness get the best of me and took the plunge for the rest of the box. I just wanted to pull one Strasburg (I would have settled for a Bryce Harper) before calling it quits, and my Captain Ahab-esque obsession wouldn't let me leave empty headed. Here's what the box yielded:
Steve Lombardozzi Refractor #/777: Well, he plays for the Nationals and his name is Steve, but it's not quite the Steve we were looking for. Regular refractors are a tough pull in retail at 1:32 packs and, as always, are solid looking cards.

Ken Griffey Jr. Base Card: Probably the only non-rookie card I wanted from the set. I still don't believe that he's retired.

Zach Simons Retail-Only Autograph: Though the autograph is a beauty, there's not too much else to get excited about with this card. Simons is a 25-year-old pitcher in Double-A--Strasburg will be in the Hall of Fame by the time he is 25.

Alexis Oliveras/J.R. Murphy/Caleb Brewer Purple Refractors #/999: The purple refractors are a retail-only insert that are inserted 1:8 packs. While I didn't pull any big names, they're great looking cards and the addition of the serial number is a nice bonus. Hopefully, one of these youngsters turns into a solid major league player.

Stephen Strasburg Chrome Rookie: Alright! I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally pulled this card, knowing that my quest had finally come to an end. It's not perfectly centered, but it's certainly better than some of the other Strasburgs I've seen out of retail. Of course, after all this work I'm just going to put the card on eBay to make back some of my money, but at least I won't have to buy any more Bowman. Stubbornness is not cheap.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Box Break: 2003 Flair Hobby (5 Hits)

This is the first of two boxes that I bought with some of the greenbacks I scored from selling my Jason Heyward auto on eBay. 2003 Flair is a fun box to bust for around $30-40, especially considering that you get 5 hits, 1 numbered rookie and 1 serial numbered parallel for less than the price of 2 blasters. This is the second box of 2003 Flair I've busted and this particular one far outshines the one I opened in January. Here's the goods:

Lance Berkman/Jeff Bagwell Dual Power Tools Bat #23/200: Yes I cracked some jokes about the name "power tools", although from what I know both Berkman and Bagwell seem to be standup guys. It's nice pulling bat chips rather than the garden variety jersey swatches--the fact that it's a double is just icing on the cake.
Troy Glaus Diamond Cuts Jersey Gold #49/100: I really need to find an Angels collector to trade with. As a Mariners' fan I despise the team, yet that doesn't stop me from pulling Angels left and right. Am I the only person who enjoys meaningless parallels like this "gold" version? I love serial numbers.
Chipper Jones Diamond Cuts Jersey: I've always liked Chipper Jones. Perhaps it's because his real name is Larry but he goes by Chipper and my real name is Matthew but I go by Bud. The similarities don't end there: He was a first round draft choice, I got picked first one time in softball; he's a switch-hitter, I've been known to crush longballs from both sides of the plate in whiffleball, etc. It's like we're living the same life. He looks really tired in this picture. Chipper always looks tired. Is he the next player to become embroiled in a "Napgate" after Griffey Jr.?
Greg Maddux Diamond Cuts Jersey: This was a real Braves hot box, perhaps a bit ironic because I ordered these from Atlanta Sports Cards (very underrated site). Even more ironic is the fact that my brother pulled both Chipper and the Mad Dog from his box of 2003 Flair that he opened a few months back. I don't think that's actually ironic, but since no one actually uses the word correctly (I'm looking at you Alannis), I'll let it stand.
Pedro Martinez Sweet Swatch Oversized Jersey #155/1480: If you follow my life as closely as I do (I hope not) you'd realize that I pulled this exact oversized jersey card the last time I opened this box. I guess it's good because I was able to save my scanner some trouble, but otherwise I don't have much use for a giant Pedro swatch. In fact, I care about this card so little that I'm not even sure where the first one of these is. Maybe next box I'll walk away with a jumbo patch--or maybe just another Pedro.

Overall Thoughts: Though the base set is dull and there aren't any noteworthy rookies in the set, it's hard to complain about 5 jerseys/bat cards for $30-40. The game-used checklist is pretty strong and I was happy to walk away with three future Hall-of-Famers and six game-used pieces total. I'm sure I'll bust another box of this if I get the chance, and I highly recommend you do the same. Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Card of the Week: 2010 eTopps Stephen Strasburg

After Stephen Strasburg's electrifying debut last night, it wasn't a difficult choice to select him for the card of the week, even if this card won't be in my possession for more than a few hours (with the prices these things are going for on eBay there was no way I could hang on to it). I only paid $7 for this card and even if my auction ends now I will have made a 400% profit.

This is the first and likely last eTopps card I've ever purchased. I've tried to buy a few cards there before only to get shut out, so I was happily surprised when I snagged a Strasburg. Hopefully I can use the profits from this to buy a nice Griffey, or maybe just a Bowman blaster for a chance at another Strasburg.

Card collecting is really cyclical, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First Day Issue Says Goodbye to Griffey

It's been a tough day here in the Pacific Northwest.

The man who saved baseball in Seattle, the man who robbed more homeruns than I can count and the man whose smile could light up an airplane hanger is hanging up his cleats for the last time...and I think I'm still in denial about it.

Ken Griffey Jr. was one of the greatest players to ever play the game and I was fortunate enough to see him play in person a handful of times. He provided Mariners' fans with a lifetime of highlights and for that he will always have a special place in our hearts.

Goodbye Ken. I wish I could say more, but right now I just don't have the words. We'll never forget you and I'll never stop trying to track down every card every produced.

I guess today makes that goal a little easier...just don't tell that to my heart.