Thursday, April 30, 2015

2006 Topps, Ned Yost

#600 Ned Yost

Remember when Topps reserved every 100th card in its set for the best players in the game? Well, it looks like they had discontinued that practice by 2006.

Here is a card that I got signed at Royals Fanfest last year. I have posted a handful of Ned Yost cards on here as a player, but this is the first one of him as a manager. When I got this card signed last year, I had no idea whatsoever that I was getting an autograph by the guy that was going to manage the Royals to the World Series and be the manager of the this year's American League All Star team.

But enough about Ned as a Royal. He was with the Brewers when this card came out, so I'll talk about his tenure with Milwaukee. Ned joined the Brewers for 2003 and guided them to a 68-94 record and finished last in the NL Central. The Brewers finished last the next year, too, with another 94 loss season. Things took an upswing in 2005 when the Brewers finished at .500. It was their first non-losing season since 1992. The team regressed a bit in 2006 before putting it together for a great run in 2007. The team finished 83-79 and ended up just two games back of the division leading Cubs.

The Brewers were poised to finally get over the top and make the playoffs in 2008, and they did just that. But, they did it without Ned, who, with a 83-67 record, got fired with twelve games left in the regular season. The Brewers were in a slump, having lost seven of eight, and the powers that be decided a change needed to be made. With the exception of the strike-shortened 1981 season, it is the only time a manager had been fired in August or later while his team was still in the playoff hunt.

Talk about getting Yosted (yes, that is a real word).

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2006 Topps, John Rodriguez

#491 John Rodriguez

Here is the fourth and final card of John Rodriguez that I have to post on here. I posted the first one two and a half years ago shortly after I got it, and this one, signed at a Wingnuts game. John was in his first of two seasons with the 'Nuts and they were two highly productive seasons at that.

In 2012, John hit .332 with 16 home runs and 81 RBI. He then nearly repeated those numbers the following year when he posted a .337 average with 19 home runs and 86 RBI. John was supposed to rejoin the team for the 2014 season, but it never materialized. I thought he was going to go back to the Atlantic League to be closer to his family, but he has no stats for 2014. So, it would seem that John may have retired.

Nonetheless, John made it to the Show. He spent parts of two seasons with the Cardinals and hit .298 with 7 home runs and 19 RBI. Most of his playing time came in the 2006 season, yet it doesn't seem like he got a card in a 2007 set.

John made the Cardinals postseason roster in each of his two seasons in the big leagues. He did not do too well in October, though, as he went 0-9 with 1 run and 2 RBI. He did get one World Series at-bat, but he struck out against Detroit's Fernando Rodney. It all worked out, though, as the Cardinals won the World Series and John got his ring.

Monday, April 27, 2015

2006 Topps, Jason Botts

#298 Jason Botts

Here is the third and final card that Jason Botts signed for me at a Wichita Wingnuts game last season. Jason played for Grand Prairie. You can see the first card here and the second one here.

I still have not heard or read any news about Jason playing this year. He is not back with the AirHogs and he is not playing in the Atlantic League or Mexico. So, if nothing else changes, Jason's career may very well be over.

On a totally unrelated note, I am officially going on a ballpark tour this summer. Though my buddy and I took our families to Wrigley last year, we haven't been on one of our officially sanctioned ballpark trips since we hit up Target Field, and a couple of minor league parks, in 2011. This summer, we are headed to some uncharted territory as we fly out to the Pacific Northwest to see Safeco Field and the Seattle Mariners. We are then driving south with stops in Hillsboro, Oregon (Hillsboro Hops) and Sacramento (Grizzlies) before making our final stop at AT&T ballpark to see the Giants play.

I will probably try to get some 'graphs at the first three stops. I don't think I want to deal with 'graphing AT&T on the weekend. I plan on getting to Seattle early enough to 'graph outside as the players arrive. Since I have obviously never been there, any tips to help me out would greatly be appreciated.

It is still a few months out, but I am pretty pumped up about it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

2006 Topps, Xavier Nady

#102 Xavier Nady

This is the third time I have posted a card of Xavier Nady on here, but the last two times were five years ago. Those two cards were Padrographs given to me by Rod. This one I got in-person in 2013 in Des Moines, Iowa when Xavier and his Omaha Storm Chasers were visiting the Iowa Cubs. Xavier was really good about signing, which you do not always get from a veteran Major Leaguer spending the year in AAA. But, he signed a bunch that day and signed all three cards that I had of him.

Though not as well traveled as Kenny Lofton, who I posted yesterday, Xavier did move around quite a bit. He started out with the Padres and spent parts of four seasons with them. That was his longest tenure with any franchise. Then it was off to the Mets for half a season before being dealt to the Pirates. He spent two seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to the Yankees. He then played for the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Nationals, and Giants in a three year span before spending 2013 in AAA. Last year, he made it back up to the big leagues for a bit with his original team, the Padres. It currently looks like Xavier is not playing this year, so he might have called it a career. The most recent news article on him that I can find is about him opting out of a contract with the Mariners last season.

So, if his career really is done, here are his final numbers. 12 seasons, .268 average, 104 home runs, and 410 RBI. His best season was his 2008 season that was split between the Pirates and Yankees. That year he hit .305 with career highs in homers (25) and RBI (97).

Saturday, April 25, 2015

2006 Topps, Kenny Lofton

#97 Kenny Lofton

Here is the fifth and final card that I got signed by Kenny Lofton last year at the College World Series. Kenny signed at the Capitol One tent and, for some reason, there was a much smaller crowd there than at the main signing area at the AT&T tent. Because of that, I was able to go through the line three times. I could have gone through more, but I ran out of cards.

Here are the previous cards that I posted.

Minor League card




Even with the addition of this card of Kenny with the Phillies, I am still missing some of the teams he played on. I do not have signed cards of him as a Brave, White Sox, Giant, Pirate, Cub, Dodger, or Ranger. Kenny sure got around over the final few years of his career.

With the Phillies, in 2005, Kenny had a really good season. He hit .335 with 22 stolen bases. That was the second highest batting average he ever had for a season. His best average took place eleven seasons earlier while with Cleveland.

Kenny played in the playoffs every season except for one from 2001-2007. The one season he did not appear in the postseason was his year in Philadelphia.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

2006 SP Aunthenic, Tom Gregorio

#WBC-50 Tom Gregorio

Here is the second card that Tom Gregorio signed for me at a Royals game in 2013. Tom is the Angels bullpen catcher and he was nice enough to sign the cards for me on the way to the bullpen before the game. It was a slow day of 'graphing, so I was glad that spent a couple of bucks to buy the two cards of him from COMC. The first card I posted of him can be seen here.

This is the first World Baseball Classic card that I have ever posted on here. I have posted some Team USA cards before, but they were all from National or Olympic team sets. Come to think of it, I don't think I have any USA WBC cards signed. Off of the top of my head, I believe I only have two other WBC cards signed- one Canadian and another "Italian".

I was pretty excited when the WBC was first announced. I followed the 2006 event pretty closely and I kept tabs on the 2009 edition. But, I barely noticed the last installment in 2013. I watched a couple preliminary games with the new teams like Isreal and Spain, but I didn't follow the actual tournament at all. Even more surprisingly was the fact that there were very few cards out for the event. Topps did put out a Tribute set for the event, but I don't know if they were only available as a set, online, or hobby only. I just know that I never even knew of the set until I saw some singles on COMC a year later.

As for my personal interest in the event, I think it has waned for a couple of reasons. The first is because the US does so poorly in it. But, more importantly, is the timing of the games. They play them way to early and, as a result, have stupid pitch count restrictions. Many players, especially pitchers, balk at playing because they are not ready to play at that high of a level in the first week of March. Because of that, it is not the best players a country has to offer representing them. It is the best players who are willing to play, which is not the same.

The WBC is a great concept, but it definitely needs some tweaking to become the premier global event it is intended to be.

Despite the rant about the WBC, I do like this card. Take away the "Future Watch" strip along the side and you have a really simple, yet great looking, card set.

Monday, April 20, 2015

2006 Fleer, Scott Feldman

#292 Scott Feldman

Here is a card that I got signed outside of Kauffman Stadium in 2013. Scott was playing for the Orioles at the time and he signed this card for me after arriving to the ballpark in a cab. He actually signed three cards that day. I had gotten him about five years before that and he only signed one, so I was pretty happy to get three from him in 2013.

Scott has been pitching in the Majors since 2005 and spent most of the time with the Rangers, though he also played with the Cubs, O's, and is currently an Astro. He pitched out of the bullpen during his first three years before becoming a starter in 2008. In 2009, he had a great year, winning 17 games and striking out 113, both career highs.

Last year was his first season in Houston and he did really well. Though he was just 8-12 for a young Astros team, he did record a 3.74 ERA and had his second 100 strikeout season. So far this year, Scott is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA. After a rough second start where he allowed 7 earned runs in 5 innings, he settled down yesterday and yielded just 2 runs over 6 innings to record his first win of the year.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2006 Choice International League Top Prospects, Pat Neshek

#19 Pat Neshek

Back in January, I sent Pat Neshek his 2014 Topps All Star card and three other extra signed cards that I had laying around. Pat signed the card for me and sent me three minor league cards of himself that he had signed. This is one of those cards.

This is a cool card since it commemorates the top prospects in the International League. I like is since that I live in the Midwest, it is hard for me to see International League games. In fact, I have only been to one International League game. To contrast that, I have been to about seven Pacific Coast League games.

Pat had a stellar year in the IL in 2006. He went 6-2 with 14 saves and a 1.95 ERA. He made his big league debut that same season and put up similar numbers- 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA.

Since I am so far behind on posting cards, it is fun to actually post a card of a current player and to see what he is up to right now. Currently, Pat has no record in five outings with the Astros. He has given up 2 runs in 5 innings of work, good for a 3.60 ERA. That ERA is a little high for him, but it is still early.

This is the second card of Pat that I have posted. The first one can be seen here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2006 Bowman Heritage, Justin Huber

#SG-JH Justin Huber

This is a card that I picked up from COMC for $1.95. Whenever I make a purchase from the site, I usually try to snag a cheap autograph to top off the sale. This was a nice one as it was on-card and of a Royal who never signed a card for me.

Justin is an Australian who played in the Majors for parts of five seasons with the Royals, Padres, and Twins. He never got any significant playing time as the most games he played in any season was 33 with the Padres in 2008. That just happened to be his best season as he had career highs in average (.246), home runs (2), and RBI (8). Those two home runs were the only two he ever hit and he got them off of two very good pitchers- Cliff Lee and Randy Johnson.

Justin finished his career a .224 hitter with those 2 home runs and 15 RBI.

I saw Justin play with the Royals seven times. At one game I was at, I even met his dad. He was fun to talk to. He said that he made the trip over about once a year to watch his son play. We talked about baseball in Australia and he told me it did not have much of a following, that it was basically a club sport. When I think of a club sport here in the States, I tend to think of rugby. And I have a hard time picturing a American club-playing rugby player making it to the highest level of rugby in the world. So maybe it is a little more advanced than that. After all, they now have their own winter league. Justin finished up his career there in 2013.

Justin is listed as a first baseman on this card, which is the position he played for the Royals in 2005. But his base card in the set lists him as a catcher, a position he never played in the Majors. He did catch in the minors, but it is strange that the two cards list different positions.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

2006 Bowman Heritage, Travis Denker

#BHP47 Travis Denker

This is a card that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnuts game last summer while Travis Denker was playing for the Laredo Lemurs. Since Wichita got moved to the South Division last year, I think I saw Laredo play three times. Because of that, I was able to get Travis to sign at a couple of games and I even ended up with one of his bats after the third game.

Travis was originally drafted by the Dodgers out of high school in the 21st round of the 2003 draft. In 2005, playing in the South Atlantic League, Travis had a great season where he hit .310 with 23 home runs. Because of that season, he got this card that I was able to get signed. He struggled a bit over the next few seasons and would not reach AA until 2008. By that time, he was with the Giants after being traded for Mark Sweeney the previous season.

Though he hit just .184 in 25 AA games, he got bumped up to AAA. His time there was short-lived before being called up to the Majors for two months that summer. He got into 24 games with the Giants and hit .243 with a home run and 3 RBI. He then finished the season at AAA. To date, that is the only big league experience for him.

After that season, he bounced around affiliated ball, never really sticking with a franchise. He even bounced around the various levels including a stint with the Dodgers high-A team in 2011. He last played affiliated ball with the Dodgers AA team in 2012. He was in the Atlantic League in 2013 before joining the American Association last year.

Travis is currently playing in Mexico. I hope that he ends up back in the Am-Ass at some point this year so that I can get my bat signed by him.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2006 Bowman Heritage, Jason Botts

#286 Jason Botts

Here is the second of three cards that Jason Botts signed for me at a Wingnuts game last season. Jason was playing for the Grand Prairie AirHogs. I posted the first card in January and that one can be seen here.

In the last post, I talked about Jason's Major League career, which spanned parts of four seasons with the Rangers. In June of 2008, Jason got released by the Rangers and he went to Japan to play. He was with the Nippon Ham Fighters for parts of two seasons and he hit .252 with 6 home runs in 66 games. In 2010, he was back stateside and he split the season with the Nats AAA team and in the Atlantic League. He would split 2011 with the Mets AAA team and the Atlantic League again and that was the last time Jason played affiliated baseball. Since then, he has bounced around the Atlantic League and Mexican League before arriving in the American Association last season. With the AirHogs, Jason hit .320 with 12 home runs and 68 RBI.

Jason is not listed on the AirHogs roster right now so I have no clue who he will be with this season or if he will even play at all.

Nevertheless, I still love his signature.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

2006 Bowman Heritage, Eric Chavez

#39 Eric Chavez

A few months back, I posted a card of Eric Chavez that I bought off of COMC for three bucks. I bought that card in 2013 just to add an autograph to my COMC purchase. Two months after buying that card, I went to Spring Training in Arizona and I got two cards signed by Eric before a game in Surprise. So, I basically bought the card for no reason, though it is a nice looking card. This is not the only time that has happened. The same thing happened with Jason Giambi.

Eric played for the A's for parts of thirteen seasons. He was a key component to the successful teams that the A's trotted out year after year in the 2000s. During that time, Eric hit 30 or more home runs twice and drove in a hundred runs or more four times. He did all of that while playing stellar defense, winning six Gold Gloves at the hot corner. Injuries slowed him down after the 2006 season, but he was able to bounce back from them and continue his career through last season before retiring.

During his time with the A's, Eric hit .267 with 230 home runs, 282 doubles, and drove in 787 runs. He got MVP votes in four seasons that he played and had a WAR of 34.8. Yet, Eric never made an All Star team during his career.

It looks like Eric got a job with the Yankees and is going to be a roving minor league scout/coach.