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.

Let’s All Pile On Adam Dunn…

Joe Posnanski, Rob Neyer and The Big Lead have recently written about Adam Dunn. And yes, let’s review:

1. He’s having an awful season.

2. His peripherals, though, are within reason for performance.

3. He did come back five days after an emergency appendectomy, which could have had long lasting issues.

4. If he was hitting home runs and batting about .250 or so, no one would give a rat’s patoot about his 100 whiffs.

It is a new era in baseball. Guys like Dunn, Jack Cust, Russ Branyan and Mark Reynolds may be on their way out. Those players aren’t aging well at all (though Reynolds is just 27 and has regained some of his mojo – OPS+ of 126) and may not be cut out for the speed, defense and pitching game that baseball is evolving back into.

(AND NO, IT AIN’T STEROIDS! There were about 43,137 other factors involved in the baseball offensive explosion, and I think the reduction in greenies have more to do with it than ‘roids.)

(All of you anti-Bonds-HOF pontificators can go soak…what he did was no better or worse than most everyone in the HOF did or would have done to be the best in the game. Gambling destroyed the game 100 times worse than steroids. Stop being so sanctimonious…that’s MY job!)

OK, with that rant done,  I think it’s luck and the appendectomy that’s messing with Dunn’s season. His BABIP (batting average for ball-in-play) is .262 this season, way down from .294 for his career. His isolated power is .143, way down from his career mark of .265.

What that says to me is that he’s hitting weaker sauce and it’s finding mitts instead of gaps or flying over fences. That also says the appendectomy may have taken its toll more than you’d think.

But what’s really amazing is:

1. He’s hitting  .019  against lefties with an OPS of  .193. Now he’s always had a problem against lefties – with an OPS of .797 instead of .931 against righties. But with his power you didn’t really want to sit him against lefties. I’d bat him around sixth or seventh. But this season? WOW! He’s 1-53 against them.

2. Ozzie has no choice to write him in the lineup. The problem with the expanded pitching staffs that shrink the bench  is that Ozzie really HAS to play Dunn. The bench guys are Castro (catcher), Vizquel (infielder), Teahen (corner guy AND a lefty to boot) and Lillibridge. He’s having a great first half, but odds are he’s going to plummet to Earth. He’s also in his age-27 year. As bad as he was in 2009, he’s that good in 2011, which means his 2010 may be what you can realistically expect from him. And that’s no Adam Dunn. That’s a 4-A players.

Oh, and Alexis Rios is also stinking up the joint as well, and so is Gordon Beckham. Juan Pierre is still Juan “Omar Moreno, Jr.” Pierre. Dunn’s not their only problem.

I would platoon Dunn with Lillibridge, for now, but that’s really not the best way to handle it on a long-term basis.

3. He’s still having a much better season than Tyler Colvin.

4. There are 16 players who qualify for the batting title that are having WORSE seasons than Dunn in OPS+. They are:

Chone Figgins, Miguel Tejada, Dan Uggla (!), Ian Desmond, Casey McGehee, Daric Barton, Rios, Pierre, Yuniesky Betancourt, Alcides Escobar, Hanley Ramirez (!), Beckham, Orlando Cabrera, Omar Infante (!), Cliff Pennington and Aaron Hill.

There are five players with lower WAR than Dunn:

Aubrey Huff, McGehee, Uggla, Chris Johnson, Raul Ibanez.

There are 19 players with lower WAR batting than Dunn:

Figgins, Uggla, Tejada, Desmond, Pierre, McGehee, Rios, Infante, Betancourt, Danny Valencia, Escobar, Alex Gonzalez, Cabrera, Barton, Hill, Carl Crawford, Pennington, Beckham, Kurt Suzuki.

Dunn’s not the worst, and he certainly has more upside the second half of the year than most of those guys.

It will be interesting to watch. I’m rooting for his next hit against a lefty. Of course, that may be in a beer league in 2018, but I can wait!

A New Era In Smed’s Cards!

No, there will still be snark.

No, there still will be junk.

But now, it’s going to feature cards that are NOT doubles, and are part of my bindered (or will be in my bindered) collection.

There’s a good reason for that – my doubles are almost all gone (except for my grab bag friends – and I haven’t forgotten about you all…I just need to wait a skosh)

I recently received a couple of trade packages back from my Spring Cleaning Buds, from Potch Wheeler and the Wit of Dim. I foised a bunch of guys like Bill Scherrer and Wilbur Howard on them, and they gave me stuff from my want list. Sweet!

In fact, this card is from Dimwit. I would have scanned Potch’s classic 1976 Jesse Jefferson card, but I’ve already bindered that. It will make an appearance I’m sure. If there’s one 70′s player you can snark on, it’s Jefferson.

How can you snark on Cuddy, though?

He’s a fan favorite in Minnesota – ‘good in the room’ – and a team leader. He’s willing to step up and play in awkward positions (like second) for the good of the team.

But…he’s…

…how should I say this…

…lots of Twins fans will stone me, but…

…he’s….

…he’s…

NOTTHATGOOD!

He’s always been a poor defender. He just doesn’t have the range or arm for right. He was hide-your-eyes at third and doesn’t hit enough to play first, left, or DH. (Well, Delmon Young is hitting like Matt Tolbert this year, but Cuddy couldn’t hit well enough to play LF on a normal (read non-injury ravaged) team.)

(Side note about Delmon. Yes, he was hurt. But he’s 25 and supposedly healthy now, and his OBP AND his SLG are under .300! It’s like if Vlad Guerrero was suddenly transformed into Wilton…)

His offense has been generic. In Minnesota nice, he’s, “OK….”

His high RBI totals, and his MVP votes mask his ability, but I did the numbers.

In 2006, he had a 3.6 OWAR, but his fielding knocked him down to 2.1. That ranked as the ninth best RF in baseball that year. He was the fifth best offensive RF but you gotta play both sides of the ball, as it were.

In 2007, he had a 2.8 OWAR, but his fielding knocked him down to 1.9. That ranked as #15 in baseball that season for RF. Offensively, he was 11th.

In 2009, he had a 3.0 OWAR, but his fielding knocked him down all the way to 1.1. Offensively, he was the 11th best RF in baseball even though he got MVP votes (and didn’t even drive in 100 runs). Overall, he was the 18th best RF in baseball. But he was better than Elijah Dukes!

I know that stats aren’t the be-all and end-all, but they are a tool to evaluate players. And Cuddy hasn’t been worth the money they paid him, even if he has played second this year in a time of desperation.

Right now, nothing besides the entire American League opting to fold could save the Twins. But their playoff appearances papered over that their RF with the good counting stats wasn’t doing the job they thought he was.

 

 

 

I Gotta Clean House Here!

It seems like everyone is spring cleaning their collection, and that’s true with me.

I received generous packages from Crinkly Wrappers and Dawgbones.

I guess I won some contest with the Dawg since he sent me nice Neshek and Ramos autos. Woot! And Ted sent me enough 1993 Topps that I’m going to binder them. Double woot!

I have now separated my spreadsheets into bindered and non-bindered, and I am working on updating my want list to list the exact cards I need for each bindered set here. The non-bindered will be on the spreadsheets, and I have other sets that I want to start but not enough to track yet.

That leaves the rest – the relics, minis, autos, doubles, etc. that I don’t want. The sets that I have maybe 10-15 of that just don’t move me. Oh, did I say doubles? How about triples and quadruples? How about this?

The Dawg had a nice series on a 2007 Topps Update blaster he got, and I decided that I was going to ship him my doubles of 2007 Topps – Opening Day, Series 1 & 2, Updates, Inserts, etc.

What the pile is on the bed of my undisclosed location is the leftovers of Series 1 & 2 and updates AFTER I packed one of each double in a big ol’ box for him.

Thanks to the value re-packs at Target, that’s a metric ton o’ cards.

This is where you come in.

Now, don’t think that some unlucky winner is going to get the 5 copies of the Kason Gabbard card I scanned here. That’s not the point. I don’t want to be heartless or cruel. But I do want to move a lot of my cards.

Here’s the scoop. Pay attention.

Most all of you have a team you collect, even if you’re a set collector.

Most of you prize parallels, relics, etc. from those teams.

Most of you have a lot of the base sets of those teams but use doubles for many other reasons.

In a few days I’ll create a page to sign up for a team. This will be after I get my online want list changed.

You sign up for a team, you’ll get all of the relics, minis, parallels, odds and ends, and a generous collection of doubles from some base sets I’m collecting – with no doubles in your package, UNLESS you say it’s OK.

There will also be a sign up for any and all non-team cards (mostly A&G or Goodwin Champs). In that as well you’ll get all of the doubles from the team sets.

What is the catch you say? All you need to do is send me cards off my want list and kick in a bit for postage. How much and how many cards? We shall see after I split them up.

I will reveal more later – what I do know is that there are some mighty fine goodies lurking about for someone. There is one printing plate, a couple of nice signatures, and some nice parallels. Oh, and about 19 Randy Messenger 2007 Topps Update cards.

Stay tuned for further details on this station. We now return you to The Fishin’ Musician already in progress…

Blue In My Phillies Uniform?

Sure the Phils had the baby blue double knits in the 70′s. Who didn’t? I know what you’re thinking, though. The Phils just added a blue spring training / BP  jersey to enhance merch sales.

But the Phillies haven’t always been red. Yes, since WWII they have been predominately red. But they have had other colors in their history.

Way back in the early days, they had blue and / or black trim and socks. Many clubs that weren’t dictated by sock colors (see Cardinals, Browns, etc.) changed team colors early in their history. And for a time in the 30′s and early 40′s they had a lot of blue accents (hat, undershirt, socks) to go with the red on the jersey.

In 1942 and 1943, they went to black and white uniforms. 1944 though was a different story. The new owner of the Phillies, Bob Carpenter, Jr.  (brought in after Billy Cox was found to be betting on his team – which was illegal, of course, and rather idiotic since the Phils stank) decided to erase the “Phillies” stink and changed the name, unofficially, to Blue Jays.

The unis in 1944 and 1945 were blue / white or blue / gray.

The denizens of Philadelphia, of course, did not cotton to the change. Soon, the “Blue Jays” name was dispensed with and in 1946, the Phillies red came back into vogue.

So Madson’s uniform at least has SOME historical grounding.

I said…some.

 

 

Is This A Major League Photo, Or The Senior Photo At Rancho Cotate High?

Go Cougars!

In the 2007 Topps base sets (including Bowman) there seemed to be a plethora of pictures posed in front of walls that reminded me of the out-buildings at high school fields.

(See Ben Sheets’ photo here)

To me, that’s like the last option for baseball cards. Even the team head-shots would be better.

Think about it – game action is probably best, then a photo actually on the field or in the dugout.

Here, it looks like they snapped Brandon’s photo at any random building on the 101 between Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

 

May 20, 2006

A day so glorious that the Tribune has an entire gallery on-line. Still!

Oh, and in case you don’t remember…

Barrett could hit, for the most part. (See above, heh…)

But as a catcher, he was a third baseman.

As a third baseman, he was a catcher.

His offensive WAR was 7.9. His defensive WAR was -7.6

And you have to be extra special bad to accumulate that negative WAR in fielding.

Still, you gotta admire his spunk. And while he was persona non-grata in Chicago after fighting with Carlos Zambrano, I think that fight needs to be taken in context with Zambrano and the Cubs recent histories.

A Sure Sign

If your action shot on your baseball card shows you bunting, and you’re not a pitcher, then it’s a sure sign that you…you’re not good.

What’s worse is that for the 2006 season, Langerhans had 0 sac bunts. Oops.

 

Here’s How You Grip A Two-Seamer

Or is it a four-seamer? Or a split-finger? Hell, just throw the dang ball.

First, I want to give a get well soon for my internet friend Violet who, as she put it so delicately, has “ass cancer”. Or had, anyway she’s been through radiation and chemo and a bad breakup of a long-time partner and now is living on her own with a cat, a blog and maggots. For her, I picked a post of a player with a Boston uniform, since she has lived there before and we have communicated about a few things Boston in the past. Especially this song:

SIGNED A RECORD COMPANY CONTRACT!

I’ve been going through some rough times personally, professionally, and with my family. However, I thank my lucky stars that I don’t have ‘ass cancer’, though I wouldn’t wish it on anyone living or dead. And not just because it probably precludes a career in porn (with the current gonzo trends).

(Wait, is that TMI?)

Second, thanks big time to Thorzul. I gave him some Brewers (a mix of premiums, parallels, old school, and junk Brewers since I knew he was a Brewers fan and didn’t see a specific Brewers want list. So he has 17 1987 Topps Jaime Cocanower cards. What’s another one, eh?) and he did a number on some of my want lists that I am updating as we speak. Woot!

Now, onto Mr. Foulke, and the dilemma he posts. Not the fact that I’m not that good with pitch grips, but what to do for my team collecting friends.

Do I send this to my Red Sox friends? My Indians friends? Both? Neither?

My thoughts are always to send it anyway to either one, and if someone doesn’t want it then they can trade it or use it as cheap wallpaper, or blog fodder, or enviro-friendly kitty litter.

Though Indians collectors may not want it. Foulke signed as a free agent but retired in Spring Training. The next year, he came back with the A’s but only pitched 31 innings. But I think Red Sox fans will want this, big time, just for his role during the 2004 season.

Hell, they may have shrines for each player in some basements in New England. I think that’s where Marty from Scituate calls in to WEEI. “Ah, jeez, Papelbahn suuuucks!”

 

Terrmel Sledge – 2007 Topps

February 23, 2011

A Member Of The All-Name Team

It’s a shame now has taken his talents to the Yokohoma Bay Stars, since I don’t know if they appreciate what a great name Terrmel Sledge is. I wonder if they even call him “Sister” (too easy) or “Hammer” (again, too easy) or “Brenda’s Iron” (way too obscure).

(See below for Robyn Hitchcock and you’ll get that reference…)

I am quite pleased that Sledge has found a nice career in Japan, since baseball was not too kind for him here in the States.

Terrmel was a ROY candidate in 2004 for the Expos, but that was also his age 27 year.

But it wasn’t his fault he wasn’t up earlier. He was in the Expos chain.

It could have been possible in 2002 and probable in 2003 that Sledge could have been called up, however, the Expos weren’t allowed to add more payroll by calling up minor league players.

He was injured in 2005, then traded twice in the 05-06 off-season. Both were blockbusters – the Soriano deal sent him to Texas and then the Adrian Gonzalez deal sent him to San Diego. Ok, the last is a retrospective blockbuster. Steal, actually – Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young and Sledge for Adam Eaton (ouch), Akinori Otsuka (good but hurt) and a minor leaguer.

Sledge, for whatever reason, didn’t get much of a chance in San Diego in 2006 (but he still got a card). He was the fourth outfielder in 2007 but didn’t hit much. And then, the Bay Stars called and he answered.

Sledge may not have been a star, and some breaks went against him, but you know, I can forgive all of that.

Because Terrmel Sledge’s don’t come around that often. There’s been a few Jeters, some Rodriguezes, anda couple of Pujolses.** But no other Sledge.

That’s cool.

**NOTE: Jeter – Derek, Johnny, Shawn. Pujols – Albert, Luis. Rodriguez – Way too many.

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