Dec 31, 2009

New Year´s Resolution Retrospective: 1981 Tug McGraw and Ron Reed



We do so resolve to institute better and more fair rules for the bullpen. First, there will be no sleeping after the fifth inning. Second, there will be choreographed numbers for the first pitching change during a game. Third, we will not put thumbtacks on the bullpen coach´s chair. And lastly, we will not use disco music anymore as a motivational tool for the youngsters.

Dec 30, 2009

New Year´s Resolution Retrospective: 1980 Bud Harrelson



I, Bud Harrelson do resolve to store less food in my mouth during a game. I love sunflower seeds, but it´s inefficient to spit sunflower seed shells while fielding a ground ball. The worst is when it´s raining and I get the droplets mixed in with the seeds. Nothing smells worse than that mixture. I think I should try alternating seeds and gum so that my eyes bounce less while hitting. Also, I would like to wish for a contract for the 1980 season. I have a good feeling for this year.

Dec 29, 2009

New Year´s Resolution Retrospective: 1981 Phillies Team Card



We, as a team, resolve to include our manager in day to day operations. He may be older than us, but that doesn´t mean he also would like to participate in team outings. A box in the corner during a team activity is not what team unity is about. We also resolve to all wear uniforms during team photos. This mixture of warm-ups and uniforms is jarring. Where are we from again? Lastly, we would all like to take our photo before practice to limit the number of hatheads.

Dec 23, 2009

Working out a holiday posting schedule



Unlike Alex Ochoa here, I do this in my head. I will be on a plane for a long time starting today and then not have access to a computer for the next week or so. Expect sporadic posting until the new year. To everyone who's reading this, wishing you a joyful holiday season!

Dec 22, 2009

Profile Derby Poll: The Beginnings of the Creation of a Blog HOF Ballot

I think I've finished with the first round of the non-HOFers with memorable careers (to me anyway) profilings. So, here's the poll question (see the sidebar): Which of these players deserves to be and/or have a shot at the Hall of Fame?

I haven't said that they all do or any do. But wouldn't it be a just world if we could shed more light on more great players' careers?

I think I would like to create a larger, more inclusive Veteran's Committee ballot with a larger electorate.

This will be step one for that. Every so often, a new poll with five new players will appear (which there will be a corresponding post for). The top 3 will make the blog VC ballot....definitely need an idea for a name.

Once enough names are collected, let's vote! All suggestions for names for future polls are welcome in the comments.

Once a poll is up, the profiles will begin as well to give you some basic information.

Any questions? Comments? Ideas?

See all previous profiles here

non-HOF Profile Derby #7: Bob Johnson




When you think of consistency and reliability, what do you think of? The taste of Coca-cola, the sun rising in the east, cereal and milk in the morning? I think of the performance on the baseball field of one Robert Lee "Indian Bob" Johnson (1933-1945)
Place on the WAR chart: Below Enos Slaughter and above Jimmy Collins and Harry Hooper.
Career Overview Stuck in the minors until the age of 27, he played with the Philadelphia Athletics (33-42), Washington Senators (43), and Boston Red Sox (44-45). He was an 8 time all-star and led the league in OBP,OPS, and OPS+ once. he was top ten in SLG 10 times and top ten in HR 11 times. He was one of the first to have 9 consecutive 20 HR seasons. He also had 8 100 RBI seasons. His most similar comparisons for his career were Brian Giles, Ellis Burks, and Moises Alou, but he fit more production into less years than all of them.

The Final Numbers: He hit .296/.393/.506 (138 OPS+) with 1239 R, 298 HR, 1283 RBI and a 1075/851 BB/K ratio over 13 seasons. His 162 game average for his career was 108 R, 25 HR, and 112 RBI.
Why He Should be Remembered: A strong performer on some weak teams in the post-Depression-World War II era, he really never had exposure during his playing career. Think of the underappreciated players over the years: (Brian Giles, Bobby Abreu, Mike Cameron spring to mind) who were all-star caliber players and for the majority of their careers were unrecognized. Well, Bob Johnson was there first. Plus, he actually was a Hall of Fame caliber player on the level of Chuck Klein and Joe Medwick (without the Triple Crown) and above the level of Earl Averill
HOF Balloting Performance:0.8% in 1948 and 0.5% in 1956
Some Known Cards 1939 Play Ball #97, 1934 Goudey #68

Dec 21, 2009

non-HOF Profile Derby #6: Tony Mullane


Next, a 19th century pitcher by the name of Tony Mullane, (1881-1894) who pitched without a glove

Place on the WAR chart: Below Bob Feller and Don Drysdale and above Carl Hubbell and Juan Marichal.
Career Overview:: It was a different time when Mr. Mullane played. He played before the era of the 60 foot 6 inch mound distance and plied his trade predominantly in a league which did not exist after 1890 (American Association). He was suspended from the league for the entire 1885 season because he tried to jump to the rival (yes, a 3rd major league) Union Association and did not re-sign with his original team (the St. Louis Browns). This would have been his 5th team in 5 years. Instead he signed with the Cincinnati Red Stockings after his suspension for the highest contract at the time ($5000). If not for this suspension, he would be a 300 game winner. His career ended after the pitching mound was moved back and he lost his control.
The Numbers: Just look at these W-L records/IP totals for these five years: 30-24/460, 35-15/460, 36-26/567, 33-27/529, 31-17/416. He led the league in Ks once, ERA+ once,shutouts twice, and wild pitches twice. He finished top 10 in the league in ERA 8 times. He had 189 BB in 1893 when the mound was adjusted back (2nd in the league to Amos Rusie and his 218 BB). Most similar statistically to HOFs Burleigh Grimes, Mickey Welch, and Red Ruffing.
Best Season: 1883 (age 24): He went 35-15 with a 2.19 ERA (160 ERA+) and 191 K (3rd in the league) in 460 IP.
The Final Numbers: Finished with a 284-220 W-L record with a 3.05 ERA (116 ERA+) along with 1803 K and 1408 BB. He also had 661 hits, tops among pitchers (he played everyday in the field when he wasn't pitching every other game)
Why He Should be Remembered: : Besides the aforementioned 4 consecutive 30 win seasons, he had two distinctive traits. He had the nickname "Apollo of the Box"(because he was handsome) and he was an ambidextrous pitcher and would often pitch with both hands in the same game. Now that's a way to stay durable! On a more negative note...his catcher was Fleetwood Walker when he played for Toledo in 1884 and he refused to take signals from him, helping to calcify the fact that black players were not welcome in the major leagues.
HOF Balloting Performance:Never went past screening on the new Veteran's Committee ballot
Known Cards:???

Dec 18, 2009

non-HOF Profile Derby #5: Reggie Smith



Next, an all-around outfielder by the name of Reggie Smith, (1966-1982)

Place on the WAR chart: Below Al Simmons and above Jackie Robinson and Goose Goslin.

Career Overview and Some Numbers:A switch hitting CF (RF after 30) with power and plate discipline. He played for Boston (66-73), St. Louis (74-76),Los Angeles (76-81), and San Francisco (82). He had decent contact ability with sufficient pop. He really wasn't a middle of the lineup hitter, but he did have that type of production in some of the seasons of his career. He also was a consistently above average fielder. He was a 7 time all-star and finished in the top 5 of the MVP balloting twice. He led the league in 2Bs twice, total bases once, OBP once, and OPS+ once. His most similar comparisons for his career were Fred Lynn and Shawn Green, the most similar comparisons for his prime were Andre Dawson and Dave Winfield.
Best Season: 1977, at the age of 32, when he hit .307/.427/.576 with a league leading 167 OPS+. He also had 104 R, 32 HR, 87 RBI and a 104/76 BB/K ratio (17% BB%).
The Final Numbers: Finished with more 1000 runs and RBIs and 321 HR. Hit .287/.366/.489 for his career, exceptional for a CF.

Why He Should be Remembered: : Well, besides his talents also his attitude. In a losing effort in the 1977 WS, he hit .273/.385/.727. How many switch hitting CF with power do you remember (except for Mantle)?
HOF Balloting Performance:0.7% of the vote on the 1988 ballot
Rookie Card: 1967 Topps #314
Modern Cards: 2001 Topps Archives

Dec 17, 2009

Three Unknown Ex-Phillies Prospects

Here's a quick look at some old prospects from the Phillies organization. Really, it's an excuse to post a handful of cards that I received from Brian at Play at the Plate. These are all very cool and I've never seen most of these brands before.


Anderson Machado was a middle infielder with a great glove who made AA before his 20th birthday in 2000. He then was stuck in AA for almost 3 years, gaining plate discipline, but striking out too much. I was upset when the Phillies traded him to the Reds in 2004 for Todd Jones.




Jorge Padilla was the #13 Phillies prospect in 2004. His stock fell after an injury-plagued 2003 season and a disappointing 2002. After 2001, in A+ Clearwater, he was considered a toosy outfielder with speed. This was Michael Taylor before he developed. Padilla never did and left the organization after the 2005 season. He made his major league debut in 2009 with the Washington Nationals at the age of 29.



I never heard of Franklin Nunez. But I like the ticket stub embedded in the card. Fleer Authentix was there before Topps Ticket to Stardom.

Well, prospects are just what they are...young players with ability who have yet to harness it at the major league level if they get the opportunity. Receiving prospects for proven players has always been a dicey business, as has the other way around.

Dec 16, 2009

All Aboard the Trade Route

The deals have been finalized by MLB, the contracts have been attended to, and the dust has cleared. What hath the machinations of the wayward GM society wrought?
Summary
Phillies
Received: Roy Halladay (32), Phillippe Aumont(21), Tyson Gillies (20), JC Ramirez (21), $6 million
Relinquished: Cliff Lee (31), Kyle Drabek (22), Travis D'Arnaud (20), Michael Taylor (23)

Blue Jays
Received: Kyle Drabek (22), Travis D'Arnaud (20), Brett Wallace (23)
Relinquished: Roy Halladay (32), $6 million

Mariners
Received: Cliff Lee
relinquished: Phillippe Aumont(21), Tyson Gillies (20), JC Ramirez (21)

Athletics
Received: Michael Taylor (23)
Relinquished: Brett Wallace (23)

Breakdown

There were three driving factors to this parallel series of deals: Roy Halladay's wish for playing on a contender, Ruben Amaro's obsession with getting him dating from last summer, and cold, hard cash.

Let's start with the Blue Jays since the intent of the deal broke down simply for them. They needed to move Roy Halladay for something. He's approaching the last year of his contract in 2010 at $15.75 million. This is too much payroll for a team presumably in a "rebuilding/not expected to contend in 2010" phase. Halladay only would waive his no-trade clause (10/5 MLBer) for a contender. They were searching for a couple top tier prospects outside their division, and the Phillies were a suitable match.

Drabek fits because they lacked any elite RHP prospects, D'Arnaud fits because their only catching prospect is in AAA and they only have stopgaps on the major league roster, and Wallace (received from Oakland for Taylor) fits because he becomes the heir apparent to Lyle Overbay at 1B if his glove does not improve at 3B. Though it will be interesting to see if Toronto made the right decision by choosing Wallace over Taylor. In other words, which is more valuable: pure hitting ability or all-around skills? The Athletics made the move because they were already heavy in 1B/DH types of players on their roster and needed a potential-laden corner outfielder.

Essentially, Toronto decided to recieve prospects rather than receive draft picks in compensation when Halladay left as a free agent, a calculated move they really had no choice in making at this juncture.

Now, we reach the linchpin of these proceedings, the Phillies. They wanted to improve their pitching rotation badly and jumped at the chance to not only get an ace, but also to secure him through the 2013 season with a 3 year- $60 million extension with a vesting option for a 4th year. Toronto also threw in $6 million of his $15.75 million salary for 2010, meaning the Phillies are paying $9.75 million for Halladay's services in 2010. They also traded three highly regarded prospects to Toronto to receive him. Sounds normal so far.

Then, financial reality struck for 2010. Amaro seemed to have received a directive from ownership not to exceed a (substantial) $140 M payroll for the 2010 season. Halladay put them over the mark. The most expensive players (Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ibanez, Lidge) are all not going anywhere, and all have more than one year remaining on their contract. The most expensive players on the last years of their contract were Cliff Lee, Jaime Moyer, and (I believe) Joe Blanton. Of course, all are starters and moving one would definitely cut into the rotational depth at the least.

Moyer has no trade value, a coming off of injury 47 year old making $6.5 million in 2010. Blanton has some but is expensive in today's market compared to what he should make in 2010 (the estimate is approximately $7 M). Lee is a bargain at $9 M for 2010, but he will probably want to test the open market after the season.

The Phillies decide to trade Lee....somehow. They would rather gain back something now then draft picks later. I'm not sure myself of the complete rationalization. Seattle jumps on the train and offers three prospects for Lee (contingent upon Halladay signing the aforementioned extension). The Phillies accept, lose Lee's skills and place in the rotation along with ancillary loss of his salary and gain a supposed replenishment of their farm system.

For Seattle, they decided to force open their contender window as the Angels seem to be transitioning. They enhance their fielding and leadoff position with Chone Figgins and now add a legitimate ace to the fold to pair with Felix Hernandez. They then hope that they can sign Lee in the offseason.


Unanswered Questions
Did the Phillies give up too much for Halladay alone? These were 3 of the top 5 prospects in the system.
Why trade Lee now? This is the most baffling decision. Spring training hasn't happened yet. Things happen between now and July.
Was this the best offer for Lee out there? You would think the Phillies would pursue some more major-ready prospects than the 3 they received who have never played past class A.
If the major objective was to shed salary, why not trade Blanton for nothing (similar to that Abreu trade in 2006)?
Did Toronto do right by trading Taylor?
How ecstatic are Seattle fans today?

There are always questions about deals like this. I wish I could predict the future.

For analysis of the prospects, check out Phuture Phillies.

Dec 14, 2009

Trades and Rumors, 6 months later...Halladay edition

There's the rumblings of a deal in the works in which the Phillies end up with Roy Halladay for 3-4 years under contract as the end result. (Source: Jon Heyman on SI.com). The other principle involved in this probable 3 team deal seems to be 2009 playoff ace Cliff Lee, who is rumored to be headed to the Seattle Mariners.

I am in shock.

Stay tuned for analysis and implications for each team involved once the deal is finalized.

I am in shock.

Dec 11, 2009

Happy Card Day: 1972 Topps League Leaders

After purchasing the Steve Carlton league leader card from this year pictured here, I decided to indulge myself in as many as the league leader cards as possible from the set. The whimsy and greatness of 1972 Topps has already been espoused by more notable people such as Dinged Corners. Here are the cards I have so far for this subset.



The MVP of the league makes an appearance along with the superdurable Wood who both posted ERAs under 2. Wood was begining a string of 4 straight seasons with more than 320 innings and 5 straight with more than 42 starts.
Seaver was head and shoulders above the other pitchers and was angry about not winning the Cy Young.

Killebrew was the only hitter in the league to crack 100 RBIs in1971 with 119.

This was Torre's MVP year where he led the league in four categories and posted a 171 OPS+, though amazing, wasn't as good as Stargell's (185) or Aaron's (a career high 194 at the age of 37). By any measure, these were the three best hitters in the league in 1971.

On a side note, I would love to see a hit by pitches leader card for this year. Ron Hunt had 50! in 1971 without body armor. How many bruises can a baseball cause over a season? Now that is a question for the ages. Ron Hunt might have the answer.

Dec 10, 2009

The Folly of Being Ed Wade

Ed Wade, the current GM of the Houston Astros and former GM of the Philadelphia Phillies, has what one can almost call a magnetic thirst for the middle reliever. He has not ever resisted the urge to throw untold millions and swap other players for the right to have as many as these creatures of the 6th-8th inning on his roster as possible.

Ah, but a baseball team does not have infinite resources. Somewhere along the line, something must be sacrificed. And in years past with the Phillies along with the current Astros incarnation, that has been both roster and minors depth.

Ed Wade was once the assistant GM to the Phillies under Lee Thomas (If I remember correctly,his son was in my brother's bunk at day camp in the early '90s). Little did we know that, when he ascended to the role of GM in 1998, that the overpaying for a middle reliever would be his calling card.

Let's review the principal acts of carnage (only acts in which a middle reliever was the main target are listed, some will have comments).

You will notice a theme, most of the relievers he has acquired have been on the wrong side of 30 or even 35. In other words, he was paying too much for past performance in the prime for a roster spot which is so volatile performance-wise from year to year. He hasn't learned after nearly 10 years of being a MLB GM that this strategy does not work.


Trades
2001: Traded Paul Byrd to the Royals for Jose Santiago

2001: Traded Bruce Chen and Adam Walker to the Mets for Dennis Cook and Turk Wendell
Such high hopes there were in the summer of 2001. All that was needed was a bullpen. Enter Cook with a 5.5+ ERA and Wendell with a 7+ ERA blowing myriad numbers of games. Their collective WHIP was over 2.
2002: Traded Reggie Taylor to the Reds for Hector Mercado

2002: Traded Cliff Politte to the Blue Jays for Dan Plesac

2002: Traded Scott Rolen and Doug Nickle to the Cardinals for Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin, and Bud Smith
Bad trade all around. But THE Mike Timlin, a 36 year old (good) reliever on the last year of his contract, was considered a centerpiece. Not to mention the already injured Smith.

2003: Traded Frank Myette to the Pirates for Mike Williams
He was an all-star that season! With a 6+ ERA! Then he retired!

2004: Traded Ricky Ledee and Alfredo Simon to the Giants for Felix Rodriguez

2004: Traded Josh Hancock and Anderson Machado to the Reds for Todd Jones
The pairing of Roberto Hernandez and Todd Jones in the late innings sure allowed a lot of runs to score.

2005: Traded Placido Polanco to the Tigers for Ugueth Urbina
Um...prison.

2007: Traded Josh Anderson to the Braves for Oscar Villareal

Free Agent Signings

1998: Yorkis Perez
1999: Jim Poole, Jeff Brantley, Mike Jackson (signed for $3 million already injured and sat out the year)
2000: Jose Mesa (the only thing I liked about him was his red home glove and blue away glove), Rheal Cormier, Ricky Bottalico
2002: Terry Adams
2003: Tim Worrell(he had an undiagnosed psychological ailment, and then quit on the Phillies to force a trade to Arizona), Roberto Hernandez
2004: Aaron Fultz
2005:Aquilino Lopez
2007: Doug Brocail ($2.5 million for a 40 year old),
2008: Shawn Chacon (released after strangling Wade in an altercation)
2009: Brandon Lyon (3 years, $15 million)

Dec 9, 2009

non-HOF Profile Derby #4: Urban Shocker




Next, a fairly obscure Yankees and Browns pitcher, Urban Shocker, (1916-1928)

Place on the WAR chart: Below Waite Hoyt and above Lefty Gomez, both of whom were fairly close contemporaries of Shocker

Career Overview and Some Numbers: A starting pitcher with great control who some great years in the 1920s with the Browns and Yankees. He started his career late at the age of 25 with the Yankees, traded to the Browns in 1918, became a full-time starter for the Browns (1919-1924) and Yankees (1925-1927). Unfortunately, his life ended prematurely in 1928 when he fell grievously ill with pneumonia and died that September. His most similar comparisons were Lon Warneke and Art Nehf, the most similar modern comparisons were Jimmy Key and Dave McNally. Led the league in wins once, strikeouts once, BB/9 twice, and K/BB twice. Had 4 consecutive 20 win seasons at his peak (1920-1923).

The Final Numbers: He pitched to a .615 winning percentage (187-117 record) with a career 3.17 ERA (124 ERA+). Had 989 K in an extremely low K environment (greater than 3.5 K/9 was usually enough for top 10 in the league). Also pitched 28 shutouts. Best seasons were probably 1920 and 1922 when he had a greater than 140 ERA+.

Why He Should be Remembered: A key performer on the incredible 1922 St. Louis Browns who finished 2nd (1 game behind the Yankees). That team featured George Sisler who hit .420, Ken Williams with the first ever 30-30 season, and Urban Shocker who led that way with 24-7 record and 2.97 ERA (140 ERA+). He won a World Series ring with the 1927 Yankees, though he only appeared in the 1926 Fall Classic, in which the Cardinals beat the Yankees. One of the last pitchers to be able to legally throw a spitball.

HOF Balloting Performance: 1 vote in 1938, 1 vote in 1939, 2 votes in 1949, 4 votes in 1958.

Known Card: 1922 American Caramel. Others??

Dec 8, 2009

The Granderson Trade



What does Nolan Ryan have to do with this? Well, bear with me for a minute. It's a little bit of a stretch. Picture Nolan Ryan in 1971, a 24 year old pitcher with serious heat and (to understate things a little) a bit of a wild side (WHIP was 1.59 and BB/9 was 6.9). He was traded to the Angels for the form of a 29 year old veteran player, Jim Fregosi, who played up the middle of the diamond and just experienced a down year by his standards, to enhance productivity in the lineup and in the field (to replace Bob Aspromonte at 3B and spell Bud Harrelson at SS).

Doesn't this bear a little similarity to the main players of the deal from today? The Yankees received Curtis Granderson, a 29 year old veteran coming off a down year, to replace an apparent weakness in the lineup (Melky Cabrera/Brett Gardner in CF). The main haul for the Tigers was a 24 year old pitcher (Max Scherzer) with serious heat and upside with an ungainly WHIP (1.34 won't cut it for an ace). Daniel Schlereth also has untapped ability and has flamethrowing ability (13 K/9 split between AA and AAA in 2009).

The circumstances, of course, are different. This was a 3 team trade that happened compared to the 2 team trade all those years ago, but the principals are similar.

The Yankees can afford it, but Granderson is lacking one skill, and that is hitting LHP, so the Yankees traded for a virtual platoon player. It is conceivable that Granderson never matches his 2007/2008 peak. Of course, he could get a new-found appreciation for the short right field fence of the new Yankee stadium, a la Johnny Damon, and become a force in the 6th spot in the order. Fregosi never was the same player after his down year in 1971 except for a couple anomalous seasons.

This is also isn't to say that Scherzer or Schlereth can approach Ryan or even Justin Verlander in career accomplishments. Pitchers are notoriously fickle in their development. But isn't it interesting to at least speculate how history can repeat and the possibilities that exist with every trade?

(Sorry Diamondback fans, I see a pretty across the board downgrade from your team's end of the deal)

Dec 7, 2009

non-HOF Profile Derby #3: Jimmy Wynn


Next, a centerfielder with possibly the greatest nickname ever, Jimmy Wynn, The Toy Cannon (1963-1977)

Place on the WAR chart: Below Willie Keeler and above Dave Winfield

Career Overview and Some Numbers: A power-hitting centerfielder with a great plate discipline and patience. Jimmy Wynn may be an interesting test case for having a career primarily in a well-established pitcher's park (the Astrodome had a park factor below 100 for every year of his career) and wondering what could have been with the numbers. His home-road splits were almost even for his career. In fact, his OPS was 10% better at home, surprisingly. He was a 3 time all-star and led the league in walks twice. He was the leading power hitter on the 1974 pennant-winning Dodgers, culminating with a .571 OBP in the NLCS that year. By all accounts, he was an above-average fielder until the latter half of his career.

The Final Numbers: Finished with an impressive 128 OPS+ for his career, including six seasons over 140. (140 is Miguel Cabrera/Todd Helton/Gary Sheffield). Other relevant stats include 1105 R, 291 HR, and 964 RBI. His 1224 BB and 1427 K were both high for his era . Most similar players were Ron Gant and Mike Cameron, though neither really fit the skill profile. Most similar performance during prime was to Dale Murphy.

Why He Should be Remembered: A power hitting centerfielder in the 1960s was not a common sight (outside of the trio of superstars). He overcame a hostile hitting environment to put up all-star numbers over a fairly spectacular career that needs to be brought to light.

HOF Balloting Performance: No votes received on the huge 1983 HOF ballot. Was put through screening for the new Veteran's Committee in 2001.

Rookie Card: 1964 Topps#38

Other Key Cards: 2004 Upper Deck Yankee Classics Signature, 2003 Yankee Signature Series auto, 2006 Fleer Greats of the Game Nicknames auto

(image courtesy of www.vintagecardtraders.com)

Dec 5, 2009

non-HOF Profile Derby #2: Billy Pierce



Next, a pitcher from the White Sox, Billy Pierce.

Place on the WAR chart: Below Red Ruffing and above Early Wynn

Career Overview: Started as an 18 year old bonus baby with Detroit in 1945, became a full-time pither for the White Sox in 1949. Played until 1964 with the last three years with San Francisco. Had 2 20 win seasons. Led the league in wins once, losses once, ERA once, complete games three times, strikeouts once, and WHIP once. Was a 7 time all-star.

The Numbers: Consistently above average pitcher had a career 119 ERA+, 211-169 record with 3.27 ERA and 1999 K. Also pitched 38 shutouts in his career. His two 20 win seasons were good, but his best season was 1955 when he had a 1.97 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Most similar pitchers were Vida Blue and Luis Tiant. Most similar performance during prime was to Johnny Antonelli. Anyone have a scouting report about what his modern equivalent would be?

Why He Should be Remembered: Ace of the staff during the Al Lopez managed good Chicago White Sox temas during the mid-'50s, which couldn't break through the Yankee ceiling until the 1959 Go-Go Sox. Ironically, he had one of his worst seasons of his career that season. Was also a major contributor on the 1962 pennant winning Giants, forcing the exciting, decisive game 7 by outdueling Whitey Ford in game 6.

HOF Balloting Performance: Never received more than 2% of the votes with 5 years on the ballot from 1970-1974.

Rookie Card: 1951 Bowman #196

Other Key Cards: 2001 Topps Archive Reserve Refractor, no company issued game used or autos that I've seen, possibly a 1991 Topps Archives (1953 Reprint) Auto

(image courtesy of www.vintagecardtraders.com)

Dec 4, 2009

2007 Ultimate Collection Group Break Results

I participated in the 2007 Ultimate Collection group break (distributed by hit number) run at Saints of the Cheap Seats. It was very timely and the cards arrived as they are shown below.



Paul Konerko Ultimate Star Materials (unnumbered). It's a very grey card. The question is really why an unnumbered white swatch jersey set was inserted into a $40 per pack product.

Here's the base card (#d to 450). I was lucky enough to claim Jimmy Rollins. The base card's major design element seems to be the bar running down the middle of the card. I am also a terrible scanner and the card is missing an edge.
and lastly, I received a signed rookie auto of Fred Lewis (#d to 299). The auto is nice. What else can I say? Plus, he's a speedster on the major league roster. I like speed.

Thanks to Dan for running an enjoyable break.

Dec 3, 2009

Placido Polanco: Home Again??

Major Signing Alert

It has been reported today that Placido Polanco signed a 3 year $18 million contract to sign with the Phillies. This follows his exiling to make room for Chase Utley at 2B in 2005 (rather than moving David Bell). What are the Phillies losing or gaining by replacing Pedro Feliz with the newly-converted 2B.

Hitting: Polanco has a definitive profile as a hitter. Low walk rate, low K rate, high contact rate, low power, mostly high AVG. In 2009, he hit Was 2009 the beginning of a decline phase for him since he was 34 years old? The underlying numbers suggest that he was the almost the same player in 2009 and in 2008 when he hit. He will slot into the #2 or #6/7 slot in the order, probably pushing Victorino down.

Pedro Feliz also has a definitive profile. Low to middling AVG, middling to high power (declining recently), low contact rate, low walk rate. He has been remarkably consistent over his career, posting between a .694 and .709 OPS over the last 4 years. His power has declined significantly since coming to the Phillies, and though he almost set a career high in walk rate last year, his approach at the plate left something to be desired.

I'm not sure if Polanco is as free as a first pitch swinger as Feliz, though.

Advantage: Slight edge to Polanco


Fielding: Polanco has not played third base in a large number of games since 2002, and last played the position at all in 2005. He was surehanded at 2B, committing only 14 errors total over the last 4 years. He also had an above-average range-factor (getting to more balls in his zone than the average 2B). The concern would be the position adjustment mentality (though typically a shift to the left on the defensive spectrum is not a reach) and the strength and accuracy of his throwing arm.

Feliz was a good to great fielder at 3B. He had a better than average range factor and also had few errors for a third baseman. His arm was a major plus.

Advantage: Feliz because of his experience at the position

Contract: Polanco signed for $6 million per year for 3 years at age 34. Feliz played in 2008-2009 with the Phillies at $3 million and $5 million at ages 33 and 34. It would probably take a similar contract to resign him.

Summary: With a small increase in price, the Phillies signed a sure-handed defender who may possibly be an above-average hitter as well (assuming that luck played a role based on his BABIP for his 88 OPS+). Feliz is a good defender, but consistently has an OPS+ hovering around 80. All Feliz's value is in his defense, while Polanco's value is in his defense and batting average/high contact rate.

Verdict: The Phillies improved at 3B overall with the Polanco signing for 2010. It's hard to project him to maintain this performance past the next year because of his age. I don't think he was the best option/fit on the market for the team (Beltre, Figgins), but the low comparative pricetag coupled with the fact that they would not have to give up a draft pick probably solidified their decision. Hopefully, they use this apparent cost savings on bullpen help and another pitcher to slot into a starting role.

Dec 2, 2009

non-HOF Profile Derby #1: Ted Simmons


First,a player from the modern era....Ted Simmons
Career Overview: Ted "Simba" Simmons was principally a power-hitting catcher from 1968-1983, then became a DH/1B for the remainder of his career ending in 1988. His reputation in his prime (I'm guessing) was a middle of the order run producer who did not excel at defense.

There was a 10 year stretch (1971-1980) where Ted Simmons could probably be considered anywhere from the 1st-5th best catcher in the game for a given season (Bench, Carter, Fisk, Munson, Torre were his prinicipal contemporaries). He was an 8 time all-star and a one-time silver slugger winner. He did not lead the league in any major categories, but interestingly led the league twice in intentional walks (1976 and 1977).

The Numbers: Statistically, his offensive numbers and career path mirror most closely to a mixture of Ivan Rodriguez, Gary Carter, and Joe Torre. His most similar batters that were catchers in his career were Torre, Fisk, and Carter. He caught 1771 games as a catcher with a .285 AVG, 248 HR, and 1389 RBI. He also sported (is this verb used in any other context?) a 117 OPS+ for his career and 855/694 BB/K ratio.

Why Should He Be Remembered: He was a HOF talent who had to be compared to the incomparable Bench. He was one of the few bright spots on the 1970s Cardinals. Catchers don't always get a fair shake in the baseball collective memory.

Rookie Card: 1971 Topps #117

Other Key Cards: Still searching for modern-day relics and autos. Anyone know?

HOF Balloting Performance: Was on the ballot one year in 1994, received 15 votes (less than the 5% threshold) and dropped from the ballot. Will possibly be eligible for the Veteran's Committee ballot in 2011.

Dec 1, 2009

Profile Derby of those left behind (non-HOF edition): Introduction

Like a lot of baseball fans, I'm fairly obsessed with the Hall of Fame balloting which occurs every January. Most fascinating to me is how writers come down on some pretty wild-eyed horses trying to defend their selections. (Anyone ever read Woody Paige's article from a couple of years ago saying he voted for someone, maybe Goose Gossage, because they were once nice during an interview?). T

There's another side that gets overlooked. Who are those who are left behind, and therefore are less remembered, than others that reach the Hall of Fame? The players will be presented generally by WAR (wins above replacement)with a focus on interesting position players who finished in the top 150 all-time of WAR and pitchers who finished in the top 100 all-time of WAR. All lists were furnished by BaseballProjection.com.

PLayers considered were those who are no longer on a ballot of any kind (Veterans Committee, BBWAA), and had careers either surprisingly better than remembered or hardly remembered at all.

It's December...and there are still blue skies in CA



Just thought that someone would like to know.

Santana seems to be enjoying hurling the 'ol sphere and stitches around.

Nov 28, 2009

Phillies Project Update: Carlton and Schmidt Cards

I'm approaching the pinnacle of my pursuit for Steve Carlton cards (check the sidebar to see what I am looking for, it's not much). With Mike Schmidt, on the other hand, I have just begun the search. I'm still compiling the list. The two stars of the '70s and '80s create an interesting contrast in card images and personality. Carlton, the taciturn, standing tall and Schmidt, the communicative (post-playing days) sprawling on the diamond to stop another liner.

I'm always looking for non-mainstream releases and post-playing career cards of these players.

Here are my latest acquisitions.


1971 Pitching leaders (or really victory leaders). Fergie Jenkins led the way with 24 wins. Seaver, Downing, and Carlton tied with 20 wins. The next season, Carlton was traded from the Cardinals to the Phillies for Rick Wise (nothing like a no-hitter to boost your value)

1979 Kelloggs 3-D Carlton. He's staring right at you. Even if you look away, he will not.

A standard 1977 Topps card. Check out the maroon warm-up jacket. I'm not sure if I miss that uniform or not based on my childhood conditioning.

1983 or 1984 Topps Ralston Purina Mike Schmidt. I realize licensing is a major issue these days, but why not lend your name to other avenues for small sets to distribute cards. I miss the cards in cereal boxes and at gas stations (or in this case, dog food).

Until next time...

Nov 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!



I just really didn't like Travis Lee when he was in Philly.

Nov 23, 2009

1993 Triple Play Nicknames



I love insert sets from the beginning of their common use in card releases. They were so simple...and yet so desirable.....unattainable, and yet unescapable.

Triple Play was Donruss's foray into the kids market. Nicknames was a great idea (probably done previously) to give further identity to well-known players. The concept continued in other sets like 1996 Leaf Signature Notable Nicknames and even 2006 Fleer Greats of the Game.

Let's examine the nickname groupings (outside of Ryno for Ryne Sandberg) pictured above)

These three were given nicknames that you could call the players by. I mean, Gooden's Topps card called him Doc. Griffey was the only Junior (not counting Junior Felix), and Ozzie Smith was aptly called the Wizard of Oz.

Here are the two word nicknames. One given by exposure and probably himself (Prime Time), one because the nickname is too awesome (Big Hurt), and one because his last name was similar to a cartoon character (Crime Dog).

The last set are the nicknames for the Texans with a sense of excitement and with its pronouncement, knowing you had good odds to see something sensational in a ballgame.

What were some other of your favorite nicknames from this era, before, or beyond?

Nov 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to a Cleanup Hitter


(Card comes from a trade with Play at the Plate)

Ryan Howard turned 30 yesterday, meaning he's no longer a baseball young disciple with unfulfilled potential. He's already established as a legitimate baseball superstar. Let's examine his career chronologically.

2001: Drafted by the Phillies in the 5th round in the June Draft out of Missouri State University. Immediately thought that if he wanted to be drafted by a team in a city with horrible winter, it should be a team that finished above .500 more than once in the last 15 years. Set out on quest to swing heaviest bat in minor leagues.

2002: Struck out 145 times in 135 games at Single-A Lakewood. Decided he did not like riding the bus to the games, so decided to hit 19 HRs as well...all walk-offs... to beat the traffic back home.

2003: Enjoys the FL sunshine in Clearwater to the tune of 23 HRs and a .514 SLG. Teammates show him no respect by not letting him run all the way around the bases (only 67 runs despite .374 OBP) and smearing shaving cream on his face as he sleeps. Responds with the classic hot foot to every offender.

2004: Decides PA is good for him when he hits 48 HRs split between Reading and Scranton. Meets Billy Wagner for one game in Reading and decides he doesn't like him. Begins the only known burn book featuring Jim Thome, otherwise known as the nicest guy in baseball.

2005: Has to listen to trade rumors involving Kip Wells during the offseason. Elected ROY in the NL after opportunity to play surfaces, hitting 22 HR and .924 OPS in 88 games. Celebrates by running up the art museum steps 2005 times.

2006: MVP! MVP!

2007: Phillies clinch NL East division title despite his 199 strikeouts (47 HR and 136 RBI). Experiences first champagne spray, and loves it so much, creates the option in his home jacuzzi.

2008: Practices fielding during spring training with oven mitts to soften hands. Powers the Phillies to World Series title! Enjoys the championship parade, has Chase Utley's speech set as his ringtone.

2009: Continues stellar play in the field, helping lead Phillies to NL pennant (45 HR, 141 RBI, 140 OPS+). Decides to boycott cheesecake and pastrami after World Series.

(Note: Not everything presented here was true or based on any evidence)

Nov 19, 2009

World Series Post-Mortem

This was a lot more relevant two weeks ago when it happened, but I want to say it anyway. I finally was able to wear a red shirt again today...it's been hard because they were so close. Even so, what a great 2009 season!

I hate to say it, but congrats to the Yankees for winning the World Series. They played better in more games, and that was the difference. Also congrats to the Phillies for a season well-done (a full season wrap-up will come at some point later), I enjoyed and suffered through every agonizingly pleasurable minute of it.

Now for some superficial analysis.

First, Why did the Yankees beat the Phillies?

1. Mariano Rivera and game-shortening: The first and most obvious reason. The Yankees only had to get through the 7th inning with the lead. Rivera was usually shaky in the 8th, but in the 9th, he didn't allow anything. Slam the door shut, ballgame.

2. Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon: They both had OBPs above .400 and Damon fouled off more pitches than I care to remember. There was also that double steal in game 4 that I will not mention.

3. Hideki Matsui:6 RBI's in game 6, vastly superior to Ben Francisco as the extra hitter in the lineup at Yankee Stadium, World Series MVP.

4. Not trusting unreliable pitchers: The only pitchers who pitched more than 2 innings: Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Rivera, Marte, Chamberlain. They weren't all stellar appearances, but that's trusting the top of the pitching staff

5. Very few mental errors: Except for the failed Jeter bunt, I don't recall any significant errors by the Yankees. They also allowed zero unearned runs.

Second, Why did the Phillies lose to the Yankees

1. Lack of starting pitching depth: After Lee, there really wasn't anyone to fill the void. Martinez had one great performance, Blanton was his usual self in game 4, and Hamels flamed out.

2. Strange bullpen decisions: Chad Durbin pitched almost as much as Scott Eyre. No one was warming up for Lidge in game 4. JA Happ was used as a short man. THere was very little matching up going on by Manuel in this series after going overboard with it in the NLCS and NLDS.

3. Mental Errors: Utley gave up a run with an errant flip to 2nd instead of getting the sure out at first, the double steal in game 4, of course.

4. In-game batting strategy and approach: Facing Burnett was the prime example. Why was there no in-game adjustment in game 2? Something like 21 of 23 1st pitch strikes with 10 of the 1st 11 on fastballs. Victorino really was hacking up there and Feliz was a black hole in the lineup except for one game. Ryan Howard was turned into a flailer against the parade of lefties. If he never swings, he would walk 50% of the time.

5. Trust and loyalty over performance: Pull Hamels before he gives up 5 runs. Pull Pedro in game 6 after it is 2-1 when the game is still in striking distance in the 3rd inning to have Happ face Matsui (it didn't work later, but it was the right call). Lidge should have only faced righties, if that. Why didn't Ruiz move up in the order? Why didn't Rollins or Victorino move down? Manuel, sometimes you must separate the lefties.

There's more reasons out there, but it's tiring and depressing to think of them all. Now it's time to be positioned to reach the postseason in 2010. It's hot stove fever coming up!

Nov 17, 2009

Catching Up: 2008 Upper Deck Premier Group Break

I'm finally getting around to scanning cards again. It's a more time consuming exercise than I care to remember.

This is from yet another group break hosted by the esteemed Mr. I Am Joe Collector. This one happened, I believe, two months ago.

2008 Upper Deck Premier (as in awesome, not as in the first showing of a movie) is another high end brand with thick cards and attitude exemplified by Exquisite, UD Black, and the like. This was a break based on hit order with each slot getting a memorabilia or auto card. I also lucked into getting a base card.


Here is the card:

A Chase Utley/Delmon Young dual patch card numbered out of 25. The card is really striking. The dark marbleized background serves as the backdrop for the patches to take center stage. I'm thrilled because it's of one of my favorite players on my favorite team. The choice by Upper Deck to pair Utley with Delmon Young is puzzling since he is neither a second baseman, in the NL, or an all-star. He also wasn't on the Rays at the time of the 2008 World Series. It doesn't matter because Young's patch contribution completes the card vision.

Here's the base card of Jeff Francoeur. I really like base cards from these high end sets. They're almost like the forgotten collectible. Limited in number and really easy to discard.

I don't remember what other people received, so I can't comment on the intense goodness of the set in general. However, I am pleased with what I received in the break.

Nov 13, 2009

Friday Thoughts: Sets and Their Numbers

I have been primarily a set collector (I'm sure I've mentioned this before.) One of the principal aspects of putting together a set is collating the set. And how does one collate a set released by the card manufacturers? You collate them by number.

This is to say that each part of the set had an identity and the main way to distinguish a card's place in the collation was through the card number.

Embellishments of the card number also occur. When Topps began its Topps Traded run, the numbers were suffixed with a T. Score also suffixed theirs with a T and Fleer prefixed theirs with a U (for Update). This practice is still continued in certain sets to this day (witness: Topps Update and Highlights). These were only distinguishing numbers. Many insert sets continued this practice and still do presently.

The practice of numbering, then, is quite ubiquitous for all manner of sets. There are exceptions, though. One example (if I'm not mistaken) is the 2003 Bowman's Best set. The cards are numbered BB-player initials. This makes it feel as if it's not a set and instead, is a random collection. How would one collate this? By first initial? last name? ones without and without a middle initial? team? To me, it disrupts the natural order of collation.

Another common occurrence is with Relic and Auto sets; these are more understandable because, to an extent, the cards are more stand-alone. However, the initial don't always make sense either. RO for Rodriguez? or They are not a product unto themselves and are inserts.

However, even with insert sets, the trend is tiresome. My least favorite example is the 2009 Topps Legends of the Game insert set. The first series is numbered LG1-LG25, the second series is numbered by player initials or something, and the updates and highlights series is number LGU1-LGU25. Where's the continuity for sets with the same design continuity would allow for completeness. Topps Heritage High Numbers is a continuation of the first series in concept and numbering. I have no idea what Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects continues except schizophrenic order.

What are your thoughts on collation and numbering? Even if you're not a set collector, what identifiers do you look for in a card?

Nov 7, 2009

Rip Card Results

Remember that rip card I pulled from the Allen & Ginter box during Gint-a-Cuffs? Well, I finally got around to ripping the Yadier Molina open (without any precision whatsoever) and revealing the mini treasure inside.

The result is shown here:



a mini exclusive Carlos Beltran. The mini exclusive has a slightly darker color palette compared to the normal mini and the number of the card is greater than 350 on the back. It's a nice card overall.

My response, to say the least, was underwhelming. It could be worse. He's an all-star player at least. Of course, it had to be a Met. I was really looking forward to seeing a red auto or wood parallel or something less commonplace. Oh well, the anticipation ended.

One interesting aspect was that there was a black film over both sides of the card inside the rip card. I had no idea what was coming out; I tried in vain to peek with a flashlight. That doesn't work this year for those ripping open these cards.

Hopefully, some better luck next time. I was still psyched to pull the card out of my box.

And so the Allen and Ginter tale reaches it denouement.

Nov 2, 2009

These two cards make me happy...

...and the World Series did not yesterday. Brad Lidge...again. That's all I have to say besides I'm looking forward to games 5-7.

Quote of the night (from me) during the debacle: "Don't try to make me happy. I don't want to be happy."

Then I remembered there are cards of Phillies that could do the trick.



This is a sideways 1975 Topps Wayne Twitchell. I have never heard of this gentleman before. He does however, have the maroon and powder blue uniforms of my youth and has just finished a followthrough without a ball in an empty stadium. Plus, this is abright and colorful and cheerful 1975 Topps card. I love this set (maybe not as much as others, but it is a groovy green and yellow smorgasbord of color explosion.


This is a 2005 Turkey Red...Red Dooin. A long-time Phillie, he missed being in their first postseason by one year, leaving after the 1914 season. Never a great player, he mostly played catcher. I was just taking a look at his fielding stats, and he had a 40 error/15 passed ball season. Was this common in his era? Did he not accept those new-fangled catcher's masks and shinguards as proper tools of ignorance? I'd like to picture him as one of the last to not wear anything except a glove and finger splints (I have no basis in fact for this claim). Plus, this is Turkey Red in the orginial form. Note the borders. Vintage.

I almost feel better now.
Cards courtesy of Stats on the Back

Oct 31, 2009

World Series Game 3 Live blog Inning 6

Inning 6

8:19 PM: Wow, Girardi and Happ are alums of Northwestern...and never met at school. I am shocked.
8:21 PM: Swisher HR...6-3 Yankees...um...I want candy???
8:27 PM: Jayson Werth is awesome...6-4 Yankees....that ball was launched.
8:30 PM: Ibanez does the left-handed sitdownprevalent for the Phils since the 2nd inning. Wake up people!
8:31 PM: Feliz is working the count....fans are excited for him...and he strikes out...his pitch recognition is awful.
8:33 PM: Eric Bruntlett's beard is thick...has he been hibernating?
8:35 PM: The answer: yes


I'm going to a Halloween party...the liveblog is over as I will now drown myself in sorrow.

World Series Game 3 Liveblog Inning 5

Inning 5

7:51 PM: Hamels...hello? 3 straight curve balls to Swisher results in a double.
7:52 PM: Cabrera imitates a fish after striking out.
7:53 PM: Single by Pettite to score Swisher. 3-3. Hamels, that's terrible, absolutely terrible.
7:56 PM: Double by Damon...scores two. 5-3 Yankees...Hamels, you're terrible.
8:00 PM: Bye-bye Hamels. That was awful! Here comes Happ to pitch to A-rod, 1st and 2nd, one out.
8:06 PM: Pettite was eating his jacket zipper in the dugout.
8:07 PM: Happ survives the 5th with some nice pitches.
8:11 PM: Nice jack o' lanterns of the team logos.
8:13 PM: Nice play by Teixeira to get Utley.
8:14 PM: Pettite needs a breather after sprinting 30 yards?
8:15 PM: Nothing, nothing, nothing.....

World Series Game 3 Liveblog Inning 4

Inning 4

7:28 PM: It's time for the talk to the coach segment. Mackanin (former Yankee scout)talking with Joe Buck, who can apparently talk about two things at once. One good thing is that there's less facial close ups during this segment.
7:29 PM: Joe Buck says Hemels hasn't allowed a hit. What a dunce. You don't ever say that...ever!
7:30 PM: Teixeira walks on a pitch in the zone. FoxTrax is always right...right?
7:33 PM: A World Series replay....it's an A-rod HR, correct call. 3-2 Phillies. Hamels, 7 HR allowed in the postseason, already??
7:36 PM: Hamels regrouped and didn't allow any more runners. That non-strike call on Teixeira still was bad.
7:41 PM: Error on A-rod. Feliz is safe. Slippery little ball.
7:43 PM: Pay attention to the game, FOX! Stop talking to other people in the middle of the action.
7:46 PM: A whole bunch of nothing for the Phillies this inning. Will Joe Buck ever mention the count for the batter out loud? The saga continues.

World Series Game 3 Liveblog Inning 3

Inning 3

7:13 PM: What's the name of the song that FOX uses for its playoff ads? It's stuck in my head all the time.
7:17 PM: 1-2-3 inning for Hamels in the 3rd. So far, so good. And Feliz can throw a 4 seam fastball. Who knew?
7:21 PM: Howard needs the Batman costume right now for the World Series.
7:23 PM: Pettite is still slow. I did not know that Werth was the nephew of Dick Schofield
7:24 PM: Very quick inning this time. The only question is "who or what is Avatar?"

World Series Game 3 Liveblog Inning 2

Inning 2
6:45 PM: A-Rod hit by pitch...first time on base in this series. Jorge Posada's bat is defective or he lost the ability to remove a donut from it.
6:48 PM: Whoa! A green Tug McGraw jersey!
6:49 PM: On replays on pitches so far, you only get a good view of the ump's rear.
6:50 PM: Runner does not get past first. As Utley demonstrates his running backward skills before allwowing Werth to catch the 3rd out on a Swisher pop-out.
6:54 PM: I think I want that bright red Phillies mask for Halloween.
6:56 PM: Perfect at-bat by Werth! 6 pitches and a deep homer! 1-0 Phillies!
6:57 PM: Ibanez falls for the same trick as Utley and Howard. Breaking ball away much?
6:58 PM: Pedro Feliz hits one off the wall for a double! Since when did he adopt an inside out swing?
7:00 PM: Close-up of Utley's nosehairs. Another FOX TV moment. Does Posada have fingernail polish?
7:02 PM: Hamels bunted for a base hit. Bases are full of ducks or Phillies or something with one out.
7:05 PM: The Phillies crowd is loud and present. Bases loaded walk for Rollins. 2-0 Phillies!
7:06 PM: Victorino gets the run home with a sacrifice fly. 3-0 Phillies! Damon didn't even attempt a throw.
7:10 PM: 2 runners left on by Utley, but Pettite's working hard.

World Series Game 3 Liveblog Inning 1

Inning 1
All times in PDT

6:17 PM: Hey, the game's started. There's a pitch to Jeter for a strike.
6:22 PM: Two groundouts and a strikeout for Hamels in the top of the 1st. His fastball jammed the hitters inside.
6:23 PM: FOX had strange Halloween music in between the top and bottom of the inning.
6:25 PM: Rollins with a hotshot off A-Rod's glove on the first pitch. Damon almost fell down.
6:26 PM: Two straight first pitch swings? Did they adjust based on last game?
6:27 PM: FOX just showed us the details of Rollins' stubble on his face.
6:31 PM: Three straight first pitch swings now. What do you think Pettite is saying to himself to his glove before every pitch?
6:33 PM: After all those throws, Rollins read Pettite perfectly to steal second. And then Pettite threw to Jeter for a pick-off when he wasn't even on second. Weird.
6:38 PM: Hamels doesn't even look ready in the dugout.
6:39 PM: Pettite is slow at pitching. Hamels looks bored. Joe Buck: "It's a good thing we gain an hour tonight."
6:42 PM: Howard and Utley strike out. One runner left in scoring position. It's hard to tell if Pettite is pitching well or using hypnosis

Stay Tuned....

It's World Series Game 3 tonight and because it's such a pivotal game, I'm going to attempt a semi-liveblog of the game with kneejerk reactions and other observations. Anticipated updating is once every inning on average. Hope to see you there for comments and more comments.

Oct 23, 2009

Exquisite

....definitely describes the accomplishment of the Phillies disposing the Dodgers and winning the NL pennant for the 2nd straight year. They are the first NL team to accomplish this since the 95-96 Braves. Of course, there is one step more to travel!

Well, Exquisite also is another term used by Upper Deck to name its high end line. Clocking in at a substantial price for packs, I would never buy any on my own, so I participated in a group break hosted by Jeff at the always willing to break a box I Am Joe Collector.

As you can you see below, I believe I made out pretty well, and am quite happy with the results. The reason I'm not posting this until now is because the last card was a redemption and just arrived in the mail last week.


First, is a base card (all non-parallel base cards are #d to 99) of Jonathan Papelbon. I'm not sure why products like this have a base set per se. It would nearly be impossible to collect, and the target audience of this product probably wouldn't want to anyway. The base card is just as thick as the autos or relics in this product (that is to say, really thick)

Here is an auto (#ed to 20)of Hector Gimenez, a former prospect, who I had never heard of previously. There are a number of rookie autos in this product, which may or may not lessen the overall appeal of the product, depending on the consumer.

This would be the highlight pull. Yes, it is two Yankees' autos. Yes, it is of pitchers who probably have little discernible chance to make an impact on the MLB scene. But it's my first ever 1 of 1. (I've never pulled a printing plate, parallel, or Topps Moments and Milestones anything). The card is extra-refractive and the foil behind the auto shines with a radiative light (ok, that's an exaggeration), but it is nice.

One problem with all these cards in general is that for such a high end product, the cards chip very easily. The last card came in the mail in that top loader from Upper Deck with that chip already on the card. It must be the dark border colors or something.

So there you have it, 2007 Exquisite.

Oct 21, 2009

The Night Rush: NLCS Game 5



One moment captured in the mind's eye.
One performance to overshadow all others.
One effort to get lost in time.

It is Cole Hamels's turn to enter the spotlight on this night. For on this night, in front of a roaring and passionate home crowd, is the night to make his mark upon the series and the playoffs writ large. For on this night, the lights will shine with an intensity only to be matched by the senses tumbling over another to embrace this spotlight. For on this night, the team of resilience will attempt to overcome the final blue obstacle.

After game 4 ended, Jimmy Rollins's line drive splitting the outfield and rolling for infinity to the fence, I was ecstatic. I actually screamed aloud with excitement, I could barely eat dinner, I could barely get to sleep. It is unbelievable how much one split-second for a team you root for can do to uplift the spirits. I was so excited I couldn't even sit down to write anything about it.

Game 5 will be a fierce competition, Cole Hamels. Be focused and flexible and agile. Recall last year, but most of all, be this year and this night. Let the changeups drop and the fastballs pop into their intended targets. Give yourself, your team, and your fans a night to remember.

Go Phils!

Oct 17, 2009

Redemption: NLCS Game 3




On Sunday, the Phillies and Dodgers will size each other up in potentially rainy Philadelphia to see who really has control of the series. Some will be looking to continue their stellar play on both sides (i.e. Howard, Ethier, Loney, Ruiz) while others will be looking for redemption.


One such player is Chase Utley. Usually one of the rocks of the Phillies' lineup, he has been 1 for 8 with one BB in the series. Small sample size of 2 games not withstanding, the real concern is the 2 errors and the nature of these errors. Both were on attempted DP turns and involved wild throws. The first one looked like he just couldn't get the ball out of his glove in a proper manner, but the second one (at a most key moment in the game) was just tossed wildly from first base. He is normally reliable fielder and this should not happen again.

Also, why do Phillies pitchers fall down while fielding bunts? Eyre did this against the Rockies and Park had this eventually fatal mistake against the Dodgers. Is it difficult to run off a mound to field a ball? Am I missing something?

To all those wanting redemption, in the postseason all it takes is one moment of one game to put behind any mistakes of the past. Short memories, boys, the Philly crowd is waiting to cheer you on the next 3 games.

Oct 14, 2009

Dodgers vs. Phillies: Crossing-Over

The Dodgers and Phillies have a varied history against one another. They have never really been natural or true rivals, but there have been periods where they have experienced bursts of intense conflict over 1-2 year periods. This is one of those short periods.

Let's compare the gentlemen who have donned the working pajamas of both teams.

Dodgers That Were Phillies

Randy Wolf (Phillie 1999-2006)
Then: Precocious lefthanded starter who had run-ins with Larry Bowa before settling in as a good starter with elbow problems.
Now: Possible ace of the staff, loving Dodger Stadium.
Jim Thome (Phillie 2003-2005)
Then: Middle of the lineup 40 HR lock who ended up getting hurt and then being replaced by Ryan Howard.
Now: Pinch hitter with back problems, but still dangerous.
Vincente Padilla (Phillie 2000-2005)
Then: Enigmatic talent from Curt Schilling trade with volatile personality and game scores.
Now: MLB-renowned headhunter who has decided not to lose since putting on a Dodger's uniform
Eric Milton (Phillie 2004)
Then:Won 16 games, allowed a lot of home runs. One almost no-hitter against the Cubs.
Now: Relief pitcher and spot starter,probably not on the roster.

Phillies That Were Dodgers


Jayson Werth (Dodger 2004-2005)
Then: Injury-prone catcher turned outfielder with shoulder injury.
Now: All-star outfielder with rockin' goatee.
Paul Bako (Dodger 2005)
Then: Back-up catcher who hardly plays.
Now: Back-up catcher who hardly plays.
Chan Ho Park (Dodger 1994-2001, 2008)
Then: Successful pitcher that had amazing home/road splits.
Now: Gone through a debacle of a contract with the Rangers, pulled from the rotation with the Phillies, became an acceptable relief pitcher....with a pulled hamstring.
Pedro Martinez (Dodger 1992-1993)
Then: Thin pitcher overshadowed by his older brother.
Now: An unknown quantity after a HOF career and a few injury-riddled seasons.

Oct 13, 2009

Winnings

Highlighted by one of the most exhilarating comebacks in Phillies playoff history, it was quite a heartstopping night. It seems all the remaining playoff teams have benefited from 9th inning comeback wins. It should be an interesting LCS round.

Because the Phillies won, I would like to showcase some contest winnings I've acquired semi-recently. The first is an autographed card of Virgil Trucks courtesy of the generous Crawford Cards. Because he's not a HOFer, pitchers with long careers like Trucks are sometimes left behind in the depths of baseball annals. Nevertheless, this is an awesome card of a memorable player.


The other contest winnings are from Voice of the Collector. For some inexplicable reason, I took a quiz on mentalfloss.com and guessed correctly all the listed Beckett values of the subjects of the quiz. I do admit to reading Beckett...in 1998. Which just goes to show how little the values of cards have changed over the years. Some fluid market pricing they have, eh? As a reward for my strange memory, he sent over this 5 card set of top prospects from the National. Oh, and if you have any of those 20th anniversary cards that Upper Deck inserted into packs this year, he would love to take them off your hands. I have not pulled any from a pack this year, but many of you definitely have.



The only one I'm unfamiliar with is David Cooper, otherwise it's a who's who of up and comers for this and next year.

Thank you both!

Oct 12, 2009

NLDS Game 4-It Comes





Left side of the infield unite.

May your gloves be quick and sticky and your movements be lithe and graceful. May you block groundballs with aplomb and snag popouts with ease. May you be unfazed by the purple and black masses of the stands and risk your limbs and appetite by reaching into their depths. May the double play bring smiles from the heavens and may you run down and tag advancing Rockies before they reach their destination.

May you work the count in a judicious manner and get on base at a frequency much higher than your season stats suggest. May you run the bases smartly, advancing beyond the normal expectations and avoiding the siren's call of an overzealous 3rd base coach. And may you score runs in abundance as numerous as the sands on the beach or the dust particles in my apartment.

The game is begun. It's time to perform. Go Phils!