Saturday, February 13, 2016

2007 Topps Heritage, Gil Meche

#127 Gil Meche

Here is the third card of Gil Meche that I have posted on here and the first one in five years. It is also the first one that shows him with the Royals.

When I posted the last card of Gil, it was prior to the 2011 season. He was entering into the final year of his five year/$55 million contract and he had a torn up shoulder. In that post, I talked about how much integrity he had for what he was trying to do. When he hurt his shoulder in 2010, he needed labrum surgery that would have cost him all of 2011. Rather than have the surgery and sit out the final year of his contract, he elected to pitch through the pain and discomfort out of the bullpen. So, he finished the 2010 season in the 'pen and planned on doing the same thing in 2011.

Then, during the offseason, Gil did something totally unexpected. He retired from baseball. Rather than cash in on one final payday, he walked away from the game he loved because wasn't the same pitcher that he was when the Royals signed him. Since he could not give it his all, he called it quits. Some people may say that he is a quitter for doing that, but I respect him for it. He could have ground his way through sixty innings of relief work that season and got paid heftily for it. But that was not what he was in Kansas City to do, so he turned down the money. You just don't see athletes do something like that any more.

So, Gil finished up his career with the Royals with a 29-39 record and a 4.27 ERA and 475 strikeouts. His best season with the club was in 2008 when he was 14-11 with a 3.98 ERA and 183 strikeouts.

I got this card signed by the Royals parking lot prior to a game in 2008.

Friday, February 12, 2016

2007 Topps Heritage, Gerald Laird

#117 Gerald Laird

Here is the second card that Gerald signed for me in 2008. Gerald was playing for the Rangers at the time and he signed for me during bating practice at Kauffman Stadium. I posted the first card back in October and it can be seen here.

2008 was my first year getting cards signed at ballparks, so I was a rookie then who mainly used black Sharpies. The black did not turn out that good on Gerald's '07 Topps card, but it sure looks good on this one. Blue would have looked good, too, but it's a little late for that.

Gerald spent two seasons with Detroit after being traded from the Rangers prior to the 2009 season. Playing in a career-high 135 games that season, Gerald hit just .225 with 4 home runs and 33 RBI. He saw less playing time the next season while hitting .207 with 5 homers and 25 RBI.

He joined St. Louis for the 2011 season as Yadier Molina's backup before rejoining the Tigers in 2012. He hit .282 in his return to Motown, the second best average he put up for his career.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

2007 Topps Heritage, Ryan Madson

#116 Ryan Madson

Here is one of my more recent signatures as I was able to get this card signed at a Royals game this past summer. Ryan was out on the field playing catch during pregame at the day game I attended and he was nice enough to come over and sign afterwards. He signed all three cards I had, though one got a little screwed up in the exchange.

Before this past season, Ryan last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2011. Because of that, I was a little skeptical when he got invited to Spring Training last year. I was then shocked that he made the team. But, he earned his way into the pen and he did a better job than anyone could have imagined him doing.

He ended up pitching 63.1 innings and posting a 1-2 record with 3 saves, a 2.13 ERA and 58 strikeouts. That ERA was the best of his career. At one point in early August, I thought the wheels were about to fall off when he gave up seven earned runs over two separate outings where he did not record an out. Though he had 1.2 innings of scoreless ball between those outings, his ERA rose from 1.69 to 2.64. I figured his arm was worn out after not pitching for four years. But he bounced back and allowed just two earned runs over the next twenty appearances. He was then a little shaky in the postseason before settling down in the World Series, where he pitched three scoreless innings while striking out five.

Overall, it was a great season for a player who's career was pretty much over two years ago. Plus, he was able to turn his success last season into a three year contract with the A's for $22 million. That is quite a turnaround.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2007 Topps Heritage, Ross Gload

#72 Ross Gload

Here is the second card of Ross Gload that I have posted on here. The first one, an '05 Topps card, was posted back in 2011 and it can be seen here. The two cards were signed at the same time in the Royals parking lot in 2008.

The last card of Ross showed him with the White Sox, the third team he played for in the Majors. Originally drafted by the Marlins in the 1997 draft, he played in their system for three seasons before being dealt to the Cubs for Henry Rodriguez in 2000. Ross made his Major League debut that year and hit .194 with a home run and 3 RBI in 31 at-bats that September.

It was back to the minors in 2001 and he stayed there all season, even after being selected off waivers by the Rockies in September. Prior to the 2002 season, Ross was part of a three team trade, ten player trade that involved such players as Todd Zeile and Jeremy Burnitz. He ended up with the Mets, but it was short-lived as they sold him back to the Rockies five days later. He ended up getting 31 at-bats with them that season and he hit .258 with a home run and 4 RBI.

He was traded to the White Sox during Spring Training the following season and spent the entire year in AAA. He made up for it the following year by spending the entire season in the Majors. In his first full season, he hit .321 with 7 home runs and 44 RBI. He had an off 2005 where he hit only .197 in the Majors and he spent a majority of the season in AAA. But, he bounced back in '06 and hit .327 over 156 at-bats.

Prior to the 2007 season, Ross was traded to the Royals for Andy Sisco. He finished his White Sox career a .308 hitter on the South Side, with 10 dingers and 67 RBI.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

2007 Topps Heritage, Mitch Maier

#39 Mitch Maier

Here is another card of Mitch Maier. The last one, posted three days ago, was signed at a Twins game in 2009. This one was signed a year earlier by the Royals parking lot. Those were the good ol' days when you could actually get signatures from the Royals parking lot.

Mitch last played in the Major Leagues in 2012 and played professionally through 2014, though that season was spent at AA. Last season, he transitioned into coaching with the Royals. Though he didn't have an official title, he bounced back and forth between the AA and AAA clubs helping them with hitting, outfield positioning, and coaching first base. I would assume he would be doing the same thing this year, but I saw a weird post on MLB Trade Rumors last month. On a minor league transactions post, it said that Mitch and the Royals have once again united and that it's not clear what role he will have as he coached last year, even though he still expressed a desire to play. It was a vague post that created more questions than answers. But, I would be willing to bet that he continues on the coaching path.

I think it is pretty funny that Topps lists Mitch's position as catcher. Originally drafted as a catcher in 2003, he gave up the position after one minor league season. The only positions Mitch ever saw time at in the Majors was outfield, first, and pitcher. He only pitched two innings and played first for two innings.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

2007 Topps Heritage, Wilson Betemit

#16 Wilson Betemit

Here is the third card of Wilson Betemit that I have posted on here. I posted the first one about five years ago and the second one three and a half years ago. The first one can be seen here and the second one here.

The first two cards showed Wilson as a Brave. Prior to the 2006 trade deadline, the Braves shipped Wilson to Los Angeles for Willy Aybar and Danys Baez. Before the trade, Wilson had played in 233 games and he hit .281 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI. With the Dodgers, he played in 139 games and he hit .236 with 19 home runs and 50 RBI. So, while his batting average slipped a bit, he certainly stepped up his power numbers a bit. Somehow, he even managed more home runs than doubles as a Dodger. He must have just been swinging for the fences as he had more strikeouts that hits, something that did not happen in Atlanta.

About a full year after being dealt to LA, the Dodgers traded Wilson to the Yankees for Scott Proctor.

I got this card signed by the Royals parking lot in 2010.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

2007 Topps Finest, Mitch Maier

#149 Mitch Maier

Here is a card that I got signed at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome last October. I asked Mitch to sign when he came in from batting practice and he told me that he would get me later. Usually, that means that you are out of luck, but that was not the case for Mitch. Right before the game started, Mitch was out on the field stretching and warming up. When he was done, he started to head back to the dugout, and, after a few yells his way, he finally heard me and came over to sign, just like he said he would.

Everyone always heard about how loud the Metrodome got. But, if you have never been there, it is hard to really appreciate the noisiness of the place. I found that out while I was trying to get Mitch to sign right before the game started. There was really nothing going on at that point, yet Mitch could barely hear me call to him. Everyone sitting in their seats talking to the people beside them was enough of a disturbance to prevent Mitch from hearing me call for him from twenty feet away.

When Mitch was signing for me, I asked him how he dealt with the noise at the Metrodome and Mitch played it off like it was nothing. He told me that it was loud everywhere and they just had to use hand signals to communicate in the outfield. Yeah, right.

I have never bought any packs of Topps Finest before, so this must have came from another blogger.