July 30, 2011
Gint-A-Cuff pack five. More coming soon!
270 – Kevin Youkilis – FAVE – (+4) - Red Sox – My favorite player. Well, at least right now in this system. More on that below!
216 – Jose Tabata – Pirates
84 – Gregory Infante – White Sox
124 – Chad Billingsley – Dodgers
41 – Carlos Santana – Indians
310 – Matt Kemp – Dodgers – SHORT PRINT + SOMEONE”S FAVE (+4)
WMF6 – Count St. German – World’s Most Mysterious Figures (+3)
HH38 – Andre Etheir – Hometown Heroes (+1)
REVISION : My Lester short print (in pack four) is also a GINTER CODE CARD (+3 added). I grabbed a scan from another place since my scanner is down and I just looked at the card in my binder and it’s very subtle. Please please trust me!
Pack Total – 12
Revision – 3
Running Total – 41
That’s eight points a pack. Is it enough?
Youkilis is my favorite player. Well, since there’s no Pat Neshek here or other quirky dude (Hayhurst would qualify but he’s not pictured as a player so I didn’t choose him). The issue is that my favorite players aren’t necessarily the ones that get in the A&G set.
Other than that, I’m watching Phil Coke hit everyone on the Angels team, so more later…
July 26, 2011
…and the Gint-A-Cuff scoring to go to DC for an interview….
…and then when I return to cook for the church BBQ and have another interview…
…and then have yet another interview…
Be back in a week or so!
July 24, 2011
Round 4 Gint-A-Cuff
I’ll get rolling soon..
227 – Lucas (De Camptown Ladies Sing This Song) Duda – Mets
221 – Mark Rogers – Brewers
215 – Andrew McCutchen – Pirates
183 – Mike Napoli – Rangers
320 – John Lester – Red Sox – SHORT PRINT! (+2 SP, +2 someone’s fave)
AOM7 – Chordates (+1)
HH26 – Torii Hunter Hometown Heroes
Mini – 332 – Luke Hochevar – SHORT PRINT (+3)
Pack Total – 9
Running Total – 26
Duda is going to force the Mets hand soon. Either Murphy, Davis or Duda have to go (or two of them…) and they can reap some talent.
Rogers? He’s got the disease of desk jockeys everywhere. CARPAL TUNNEL! Youch!
McCutchen is the one player the Pirates need to keep above anyone else if this season’s good times are to continue.
Napoli is one of the reasons that the Rangers are second in runs scored in the AL. Freed from being an everyday catcher, his bat is blossoming!
Lester is a bonafide ace. Bona fide. Ace.
Hunter’s OBP is down and his whiffs are way up. Next year could be ugly for Torii.
Can Hochevar be a league average pitcher? How sad is it that a #1 overall pick has to scuffle to a 0.0 WAR. I’ll have more on the 2006 draft some year, but the first round was either terrific or awful for everyone.
July 24, 2011
July 21, 2011
More Gint-A-Cuff Madness
Time for another pack, and with the scoring system revealed, I’ve updated the past posts as well.
101 – Peter Bourjous – Angels
140 – Felix Hernandez – M’s (+2)
27 – Dillon Gee – Mets. Any relation to Wendell Gee?
173 – Mariano Rivera – Yanks (-1)
22 – Michael Bourn – Astros
345 – Zack Greinke – Brewers (SHORT PRINT!) (+2)
PP4 – Igor – Portraits In Penultimacy Mini (+3)
FF6 – HMS Indefatigable – Floating Fortress Insert (+2)
Pack Total – 8
Running Total – 17
Bourjous is a great outfielder. He has to be to play between Wells and Hunter. What could derail his career is his lack of plate discipline. He’s one to watch.
Hernandez was someone’s favorite player; no big surprise there. The M’s are starting to sink. Their offense is reverting to the total suckitude of last season, and even Ichiro looks toasted (78 OPS+).
Gee looks like he’s going to be a good one. Gee, Davis, Thole, Niese and Beato are a good core for the Mets. Could they be on the upswing again?
Rivera gets a negative for being a Yankee. But maybe there should be dispensation. Besides 1995, his worst ERA+ was 144 (in 2007) and his worst WAR was 1.7 (in 2002). Yikes.
The Astros want to trade Pence. Maybe they should trade Bourn. I think his offense has plateaued and it wasn’t as all that and a bucket of chicken anyway. The Astros need so much help in so many places.
Greinke has a 5.04 ERA, and has given up nine unearned runs. He’s got a negative WAR this year, though hits hits allowed is normal and his K/BB ratio is outstanding. What’s not outstanding is that about 1/2 of his hits allowed are extra base hits. Ouch!
Igor was always underrated. He probably did so much good but not when the camera was watching.
The HMS Indefatigable in this case refers to the first one, commissioned in 1784. That’s a great 18th century name. Pip, pip and all that.
So that’s three down. I gots them all opened and some scored, but I have a busy week again. Patience, of course, will be the key!
July 19, 2011
Know Your History!
A blog post I was reading (no names, because I’m nice) made an off-handed comment about some piece of history that was enclosed in a package of cards.
Now, it was quite the interesting piece of history, especially since it’s down the wheelhouse for me. It covers early baseball (though not quite my beloved 19th century, but close enough), intrigue, drama, characters that we’ll never see the like of again, and people with enough chutzpah to do whatever they wanted with no fear. (I bet they could say it properly too!)
So I had to post the oldest card I had in my collection (thanks to a grab bag box at my secondary LCS) to remind people NOT to dismiss anything about the history of the game. It adds to our knowledge base, and makes you realize that the issues in the game are remarkable similar, and the people inhabiting the game were very much like they are now.
A. Players would do anything to make more money.
B. Players would do anything to get a competitive edge.
C. Owners would do anything to make more money.
D. Owners would do anything to get a competitive edge.
E. Teams traded veterans to contenders to make room for young players.
F. Teams traded veterans to contenders to relieve payroll pressures.
G. Sports columnists were homers.
H. Sportswriters were dicks to players they didn’t like.
The only thing that’s different is that if a sportswriter liked a player, they probably went out drinking and chasing skirts together. So that wasn’t reported.
Right now, I’m reading Under Pallor, Under Shadow which is a fascinating account of the 1920 AL pennant race. It’s a follow-up, of sorts to two great books: Eight Men Out and The Pitch That Killed (my favorite baseball book EVER!)
What great characters:
1. You had the Indians, who lost their sentimental star player to a horrific death on the playing field to a player that was universally reviled. Think of Derek Jeter being brained by someone like Kevin Brown. But add to that a vicious fistfight involving three members of the team over the funeral services that knocked their star and manager out of the lineup for a week.
2. You had the Yankees with great star power but a lack of depth in key positions. Sounds familiar.
3. You had the White Sox, a team bifurcated into two cliques with little crossover that was only unified in hating their owner. A wily vet came to the team and was totally befuddled by the lack of any sort of camaraderie between the camps. The chatter that they threw the 1919 Series grew louder, and each loss that the Sox took that featured an error, misplay or mental lapse by the tainted players was put under scrutiny.
4. You had an ineffectual leader who was basically powerless to do anything in regards to discipline thanks to court fights and a loss of allies due to his bullying and petulance.
Oh, and they played baseball too. The pennant race was a doozy!
Know your history!
July 19, 2011
Pack 2 Revealed…
Well, I think we’re all waiting for the scoring system. And, I think the haters and nay-sayers are out there. They remind me of a great line spoken by Terry Jones on a Monty Python album on why he wants to remove the gannet from “Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds”.
“I don’t like them; they wet their nests..”
Anyway, it’s another meh pack. But things may be looking up later.
253 – Mike Minor – Braves
76 – Chase Headley – Padres (Shouldn’t that be Chase Headley, Esq.? or Chase Headley IV?)
5 – Aroldis Chapman – Reds
267 – Brett Sinkbeil – Marlins
158 – Billy Butler – Royals
87 – Colby Lewis – Rangers
296 – Derek Lowe – Braves – A&G BACK! (+2)
HH90 – Ryan Howard – Hometown Heroes (+1)
Running Score: 9
Notes: Yeah, it’s meh. But you take the good with the bad, and there are some stories here.
Minor – Remember Maddux / Smoltz / Glavine / Avery / Pete Smith? Yeah, the Braves are about ready to meet or exceed that. Hudson and Lowe will be expendable sooner or later. But if the Braves can keep Jurrjens, Hanson, Beachy, Minor, Tehran and / or Delgado healthy and on point, and in the organization, that’s going to be a formidable staff for years to come.
Headley – The only offensive player of note for the Padres also has one of the most stilted names out there. Chase Headley sounds like one of Neidermeyer’s minions. I don’t know what’s more amazing – that Harang is 7-2 with that group of offensive schmos or that Latos, Moseley, Richard and Stauffer haven’t strangled their teammates.
Chapman – Based on their runs scored vs. runs allowed the Reds should be 51-45. Chapman is under-achieving, and can’t throw strikes. Volquez, Wood and Arroyo are not good, bad. And the Reds should petition MLB to switch leagues and have a DH bat for Janish instead of the pitcher.
Sinkbeil – Old man Jack is 15-9 as the Marlins skipper, but that could be mere regression to the mean. Florida is now within striking distance of .500 even after their wretched stretch. And how has Sinkbeil contributed to this. Not at all. He was flat out released by Florida in spring training, yet here he is with an A&G card. I love the set, but I still think Topps’ checklist choices are made by dudes that huffed too many airbrush fumes in the 80′s. He’s now in Class A for the Pirates. Class A? At age 26? Well, he’ll always have this beautiful card.
Butler – The Royals are on to something. If they can keep Butler, Hosmer and Moustakas and learn that guys like Chris Getz can’t play major league baseball, they’ll be fine.
Lewis – Colby Lewis will give you 200 innings of league-average pitching. That’ll do, pitch, that’ll do.
Lowe – I said it here. Watch for falling stock.
Howard – He’s from St. Louis? My girlfriend is in St. Louis right now. Coincidence!
July 17, 2011
As I Write This Post…
Kelly Shoppach is the only person that stands between the Rays and total disaster. If he gets hurt or ejected, then the Rays have to put in Elliott Johnson behind the plate.
Elliott Johnson, backup infielder.
(It’s midnight in Minnesota, and the Rays and Red Sox are in the 14th tied at 0.)
July 17, 2011
You’d Have Put It In Your Spokes As Well…
He sent me a great bunch of cards on the back of his Grab Bag, and included were a bunch of 1979′s. Now, when I was a lad of 13 1/2, I bought a complete set of 1979 cards for $26 (I think). I sold them later for beer money after college. Now, I want ‘em back!
A lot of his 1979 cards seemed worn. That’s not a complaint at all. They will go into my binder and I’ll keep the most worn on my want list (with the appropriate tag), but cards from this era probably should be a bit worn. That meant that the kids were using them for all kinds of things, including using guys like Mike Lum, Vern Ruhle and Mr. Picciolo as noisemakers. They weren’t gathering dust in some old man’s binder waiting for a big payoff…
Moving along…Picciolo was probably my first introduction to advanced metrics. Yes, I had devoured the Baseball Encyclopedia by the time this card first entered by ecosystem. But I hadn’t really moved beyond the BA / HR / RBI mentality (even though I knew that a player on the Mariners or A’s would have to be amongst the greatest players ever to have 100 RBIs with that wretched lineup). Leon Roberts’ 92 RBI in 1978 for the M’s was remarkable considering he had to bat amongst five players with over 250 ABs that had an OPS+ of under 70. Mitchell Page’s 1978 mark for the A’s would have been about 120 RBI had he played for a team that didn’t employ guys like Rob Picciolo.
I think it was 1979. I know it was Monday Night Baseball or something like that; it was a national TV broadcast. And the A’s were on it, for some reason. Maybe it was the ‘rain game’. I know it was summer. Anyway, Picciolo came up to the plate and the yakker said something like “Picciolo has only drawn one walk all year.”
“That can’t be good,” I thought to myself. “I know a walk is as good as a hit – in fact – that’s all I CAN do against the 15-year olds. And the announcers always talk about how valuable Joe Morgan is because he walks 100 times a year.” (They really did, but only because he was Joe Morgan. They didn’t mention any one else who was patient.)
That innocuous observation stuck with me. So when Bill James came out with his Baseball Abstracts, I was a ready consumer, and willing to question analysis and convention. To this day, I think that’s the best case. It’s probably why I’ll never be a conservative (small ‘c’ you political junkies) because if you don’t take risks, take chances, or question conventional wisdom you will never grow and thrive, much less survive.
If walking wasn’t a skill, Picciolo should have had normal walk totals along the way. Nope. He drew 25 in 730 games. He was a -4.4 WAR in his career. As bad as his offense was (especially in 1979), he was worse on defense (-1.2 DWAR that season). And as bad as he was, he spent just 2 full seasons and 2 very partial seasons in the minors. So he had some people fooled in that era because he LOOKED like a decent major league infielder.
But the kids knew. At least the kid that had the card first that Spastik Moose finally got and then passed along to me so I can put it in my binder as a placeholder. He kept Dave Concepcion pristine. He let Picciolo exposed to the elements.
BTW: He actually drew three walks in 1979.
The first was July 4 against the Angels. The A’s lost 17-6.
That’s right, Picciolo went more than half a season (that was game 83 for the A’s – though Rob had played in just half of them due to some nagging injuries, I think) and 111 plate appearances before walking. The A’s were 9-31 when he played until that July day (where they went 9-32 with Picciolo in the game) and that can’t be a coincidence.
Anyway, Don Aase walked him in the bottom of the 3rd with one out and Tony Armas on first. On the next play Rickey! forced out Picciolo at second and the Angels doubled up Armas as he tried to score from second. Yes, you read that right. It was actually a close game until Mike Norris and Craig Minetto gave up 10 runs in the 8th.
The last walk was against the White Sox on September 14. The A’s beat the Pale Hose 8-3 and Ross Baumgarten walked Picciolo to lead off the third. Rickey! forced Rob at second, then Rickey! stole second and third and scored on a sac fly.
So that’s walk one and three. What about walk #2.
Remember when I posted about Alvaro Espinoza?
Keep that in mind.
The day was September 8, 1979. It was the bottom of the ninth. Rookie manager Tony LaRussa’s White Sox were matched against the hapless, hopeless, helpless A’s. Baumgarten had cruised through seven shutout innings but gave up a run in the eighth on a Jim Essian single. Mike Proly got the last out of the eighth and was left in to start the ninth. (This, of course, was before LaRussa had 217 relievers at his disposal.)
Jeff Newman hit a grounder to Kevin Bell at third that Bell booted. (See how bad this A’s team was. You had two career backup catchers in the game AT THE SAME TIME in Essian and Newman.) Derek Bryant pinch ran for him. Wayne Gross hits a single to right to bring up Picciolo.
Runners on the corners. No one out. Tie game.
What does LaRussa do?
He intentionally walks a man who had drawn only one walk all year to load the bases.
He intentionally walks a man who never walks to load the bases for a player who walked ALL THE TIME.
Yes, Rickey! drew a bases loaded walk off of Proly. All because Picciolo was walked intentionally.
“Geniuses” need to learn that hard way, I guess.
July 16, 2011
We Interrupt This Program For This Special Bulletin…
The Pittsburgh Freakin’ Pirates are in FIRST PLACE! In July!
I think I have pulled this card about 20 times in the 15 months I’ve been collecting, so it’s apropos to this announcement.
It’s apropos because Perez was given a card in the base set by Topps even though he had been waived by the Mets in August 2006 and was a minor league free agent before then.
Juan Perez signifies how horrific the Pirates were. They had no one else, really, except to give a card to a guy who went 0-1 with no saves in AAA despite pitching in 47 games (covering 70 innings). Say want you will about records, but pitchers with few decisions aren’t usually in the game when it’s decision time! Mainly because the managers don’t trust them.
And no, this wasn’t an Update card. This was second series base! Card 633. Topps had to give a base card to someone who pitched 3 1/3 innings even though they were released in series and didn’t try to go for 792 or 800 or the 1200 card Upper Deck set. Wowser.
But both Perez and the Pirates have had resurrections in 2011. The Pirates, as you know, are in FIRST PLACE as of this posting.
And now Juan Perez is back in the bigs. After washing out with the Pirates in 2007 and dealing with ineffectiveness and injuries, he’s up with the Phillies now and had just set an amazing record.
He had a perfect inning.
What? Yes, a perfect inning.
One inning. Three strikeouts. NINE PITCHES!
Against the Braves on July 8, Perez came in to pitch the 10th for the homestanding Phils.
Jason Heyward, the whiff.
Nate McLouth, the whiff (though it was a 2-3 putout, but still, the whiff).
Wilkin Ramirez, the whiff.
All of the strikeout pitches were swinging.
That’s some stuff there. Props to Perez and props to the Pirates.