Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2006 Bowman, Edgar Martinez

#FG17 Edgar Martinez

Unfortunately, this is not an autograph of that Edgar Martinez.

This is from the career minor leaguer that happened to play for the Wichita Wingnuts in 2012. As you can see from the card, he used to be a legitimate prospect, having played in the 2006 Futures Game. That aspect was short-lived as he was out of affiliated baseball after the 2008 season.

I got this card signed prior to a 'Nuts game that season. When Edgar was signing the card, one of his teammates came over to see the card of him. He told that teammate that the picture was from "his Pedro Martinez days". They both got a good chuckle out of that. A few minutes later, that teammate came back over to see if I had any extras of the card. All that I had got signed that day. I offered one of those up, but he didn't want a signed one. I told him that I would get him later on in the year and I did just that. When I finally got Edgar his card, I had him sign my boy's glove that day and the kid still thinks that Edgar and I are buddies.

In 2005, Edgar posted a 1.89 ERA over stops at high-A and AA while striking out more than a batter an inning. The following year, his ERA was 2.61 in AA while his strikeouts dipped below the one per inning mark. He was bumped up to AAA for 2007 and he responded with a 5.16 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 68 innings. His ERA dipped down to 3.89 in AAA in 2008 as the Sox toyed with the idea of making him a starter. But, his strikeouts per inning dropped even more that season and they decided to cut ties.

Edgar joined the independent ranks the following season and pitched in three different leagues over the next four years. He has spent the past two seasons pitching in Mexico. He had a really good season for Oaxaca last year, posting a 1.49 ERA in 48.1 innings of work while striking out 44 with just 11 walks.

Monday, March 30, 2015

2006 Bowman, Brandon Jones

#BC159 Brandon Jones

Here is the first of what should amount to six posts about Brandon Jones. Brandon played in the American Association for a couple of years with the Kansas City T-Bones and I was able to get this card signed before a game against the Wingnuts last season.

I put all of my autographed cards in binders, sorted by year and brand. When I first started this blog in 2008, I started with my oldest cards and worked towards the newer ones. If I got any older cards signed, I would wait until I finished posting all of the cards from the year I was working on and then go back and show the older ones before I moved on to the next year. I still post in that order. In the seven plus years of doing this, I have got up to 2006. Yikes. I finished up my 2006 cards two and a half years ago and I have just now almost caught back up to move onto the next year.

At one point, I was a diligent poster and I honestly thought that I was going to run out of autographs at some point. That was probably back in 2010 when I was posting my 2003 cards. That was only a seven year gap between the actual year and the year of the cards I was posting. Considering I started this blog in 2008 with cards from 1960 (48 year gap), it is easy to see why I thought I would run out of cards to post. But then life caught up with me with a better job, a wife, and a kid, and I am unable to post like I used to. Now, it is 2015 and I am only inching closer to posting my 2007 cards. The gap has widened and I doubt that it will ever be any closer than it is right now. That is especially true considering I have about 150 signed cards from 2007 and about 225 from 2008. But, I am just too stuck in my ways. Sure it would be nice to post some cards of current, relevant players. But this blog was never about that and I guess it never will be.

To kind of make up for that, I finally broke down and started a Twitter account. I have been showing my TTMs on there and will be showing any 'graphs I get at games during the season. I am too lazy to make two separate accounts, so you might see some personal stuff on there, like the chicken tacos I made for dinner. But, it is all in good fun. So check me out @zmills40

Friday, March 27, 2015

2005 Upper Deck Origins, Roman Colon

#185 Roman Colon

Here is the second and final card that I had to beg Roman Colon to sign for me. The first one, and the story of how I got them, can be seen here.

To date, Roman has played in parts of six Major League seasons with three teams- the Braves, Tigers, and Royals. He's amassed 187.1 innings and has a 8-10 record with 1 save and a 5.19 ERA. He got the most work in a single season with the Royals in 2009. That year, he pitched in 43 games and threw 50.1 innings, posting a 2-3 record and a 4.83 ERA.

Roman has not pitched in the big leagues since 2012. He pitched for three different AAA teams in 2013, but did not pitch last year. Yet, somehow he is on the roster for the Royals AA team in Arkansas.

This card may be from the ugliest set that came out in 2005. From what I can tell, the set recreates the Old Judge cards and one of the Play Ball sets. Both of the original sets were smaller than modern cards. Rather than making the cards the original size, Upper Deck made them standard size with massive green (and some other colors) borders. The Play Ball cards were bigger than the Old Judge, so the borders on those cards aren't as bad. But this card looks absolutely hideous.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

2005 Turkey Red, Joe Randa

#196 Joe Randa

Here is the latest installment in the long line of Joe Randa autographs. I got this card signed so that I could have a card of him as a Red signed.

Joe's tenure in Cincinnati was a typical Smiling Joe Randa season. He arrived there as a free agent for the 2005 season. Through 92 games, he was hitting .289 with 13 home runs, 26 doubles, and 48 RBI. The Reds then shipped him to San Diego prior to the trade deadline for Justin Germano and Travis Chick. In 56 games with the Padres, Joe hit .256 with 17 doubles, 4 home runs, and 20 RBI.

At thirty-six years of age, Joe had a really good 2005 season. His 43 doubles and 17 home runs were career highs for him. But, more importantly, he got his only taste of the postseason that year. The Padres ended up 82-80, but it was good enough to win a weak NL West by five games. They ended up getting swept by a strong Cardinals team in the NLDS, but Joe had a good showing, going 4-11 in the three games.

Joe would go on to play just one more season after that. I'll have a card of him as a Pirate coming up later this year, I hope. Actually, at my rate, it probably will not get posted until next year sometime.

I got this card signed at Royals Fanfest two years ago.

For as fun as the Turkey Red cards were, they were not a great card for autographs. The card stock was on point, but the pictures usually turned out too dark to make them a go-to for signatures.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

2005 Topps Total, Neal Cotts

#674 Neal Cotts

Here is the first of two cards that Neal Cotts signed for me outside of Kauffman Stadium at the end of the 2013 season. Neal was with the Rangers at the time and he signed them after hopping out of a cab before a Sunday day game.

This is not the first card of Neal Cotts that I have posted on here. I posted the first one in 2010 and that card can be seen here. Neal signed that card for me in 2009 while he was playing for the Iowa Cubs. When I posted that card, Neal was a member of the Pirates AAA team, but he was injured. In fact, he was messed up so bad that he missed the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons. But, he was back in 2012 and worked his way back to the Major Leagues in 2013.

He had a really good season that year. In 58 games, Neal pitched 57 innings and went 8-3 while posting a superb 1.11 ERA while striking out 65 batters. He regressed a bit last year and his ERA jumped up to 4.32 and he struck out less than a batter per inning.

The Rangers let Neal walk after the season and he is now in Spring Training with the Brewers.

I do not foresee this card ever getting signed by Shingo Takatsu.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

2005 Topps Total, Lance Cormier/Randy Choate

#607 Lance Cormier/Randy Choate

Back-to-back dual signed cards? I wish is was back-to-back-to-back-to-back since these two beauties are bookended by cards missing a signature.

This card pretty much has the same story as the last one I posted. Lance Cormier signed this card for me at a Royals game in 2009 while he was with the Rays. I posted the card with just his signature four years ago and it can be seen here.

After staring at this card with just Lance's signature on it for three years, I could not take it anymore. So, I sent the card to Randy to see if I could get him to finish it for me. When Lance signed the card, he was still a teammate of Randy's and he said that their lockers where side-by-side. When one of them got this card to sign in the mail, he would go ahead and have the other sign it too. I figured that was a pretty good indication that I would get the card back, so I sent it off. I am not sure why I waited three years to do it though. I sent this card to Randy when he was with the Dodgers and he had it back to me two and a half weeks later.

Randy has been pitching in the big leagues since 2000. He has played for the Yankess, Diamondbacks, Rays, Marlins, Dodgers, and Cardinals. He is beginning his third year as a Cardinal and will be forty years old at the end of the season. He had an off year last season, but put up some good numbers in 2013. That year, he was 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 35.1 innings of work. Randy is a left-handed specialist.

As of the end of the 2014 season, Randy has a career record of 15-14 with 6 saves and a 3.90 ERA.

Speaking of left-handed specialists, is LOOGY still used anymore? Ten or twelve years ago, I heard that term a lot. Now it seems like I have not heard it in years. It could be because I do not have cable, though.

LOOGY stands for Left-handed One Out GuY

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2005 Topps Total, John Halama/Lenny DiNardo

#599 John Halama/Lenny DiNardo

Here is a card that I originally posted on here in 2010. That was about a year after I got Lenny DiNardo to sign the card while he was with the Royals. That card sat in my binder for three years before I decided to send it to John Halama to get completed. So, in late August 2012, I sent this card to him, care of the Atlantic League's Lancaster Barnstormers, with about two weeks left in their season. I started to think the card was a goner, but it eventually made it back home in the last week of October. And, as always, I am thrilled with the results. These puppies just do not look the same with only one signature on them. Just look at yesterday's post for proof of that.

John pitched in the Majors for nine seasons with seven clubs- the Astros, Mariners, A's, Devil Rays, Red Sox, Nationals, and Orioles. He played a season or less with all of those teams except the Mariners. With them, he logged four seasons and had three straight with double digit wins, including a career high of 14 in 2000. With Seattle, John was 41-31 with a 4.46 ERA. For his entire career, he was 56-48 with a 4.65 ERA.

John last appeared in the Majors in 2006. He joined the Atlantic League in 2007 and pitched there through 2012 with a few stops in AAA and Mexico. 2012 was his last season playing ball. Why I decided to wait until two weeks before John's career ended to write to him, I cannot explain. But, I am glad that I did it and did not wait a day later.

So far, this is the only TTM attempt that I have sent out to an independent league team.

Monday, March 16, 2015

2005 Topps Total, Yhency Brazoban

#588 Yhency Brazoban

Here is a card that I got signed last year at a Wingnuts game. Yhency started off the season with the Grand Prairie AirHogs and I was able to get this card signed at the 'Nuts home opener.

Yhency pitched in the Majors for parts of six seasons with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. He saw most of his playing time during the first two seasons with the Dodgers. He got into 31 games as a rookie in 2004 and posted a 6-2 record with a 2.48 ERA. The next season, he pitched in 74 games and went 4-10 with 21 saves and a 5.33 ERA. Though he pitched in the big leagues for parts of four more seasons, he never appeared in more than six games in a season after the 2005 campaign.

Yhency pitched his last game with the Dodgers in 2008. With LA, he was 10-12 with 21 saves and a 4.70 ERA

It would be cool to get this card signed by Steve Schmoll, too. However, I really do not see that happening as Steve has not pitched professionally since 2008.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2005 Topps Total, Jason Phillips

#321 Jason Phillips

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2012. Jason is the bullpen catcher for the Mariners and I was able to get this card signed after catching a bullpen session for Jason Vargas. I got the card signed by the dugout instead of the bullpen as both players were walking back to the clubhouse. Since it was Jason Vargas and Jason Phillips, I just yelled out for Jason since I wanted sigs from both of them. Both of them ignored my call, so I switched it up to Mr. Phillips since I figured I had a better shot at him over Vargas. It worked out and he came over and signed my two cards. He told me that they both heard me shout out Jason, but they weren't sure which one I meant. I wonder if Vargas would have actually came over it I shouted out Mr. Vargas instead of Phillips. Oh well. It was a slow day of 'graphing and I went with the safe bet since I had gotten Jason the previous season.

Jason's tenure with the Dodgers lasted just one season. He played in 121 games that season and he hit .238 with 10 home runs and 55 RBI. The Dodgers let him walk after the season and he joined Toronto for the 2006 season.

It is not too often that I get a card signed in blue Sharpie and wish that I had used black. But, this is one of those cards. He signed right over the Dodgers script on his jersey and it is a little tougher to make out the signature.

I posted the two cards that Jason signed for me in 2011 later that season. In one of the posts, I commented on Jason's eyewear that he was somewhat known for. He must have ditched those things when he got to LA and busted out these specs instead. I like the others much better, though.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2005 Topps Total, Vance Wilson

#166 Vance Wilson

Here is the first card in what is going to amount to about a week's worth of posts from 2005 Topps Total. I have said it before and I will say it again. I really miss Topps Total. That is mostly because I am an autograph collector and the new sets have really lost focus on cards of the back-up catchers and relief pitchers. Those are the guys that I go after at most Royals game that I 'graph because I mostly attend Sunday games when batting practice does not take place.

So here is a card of Vance Wilson that I got signed at Spring Training in 2013. Vance was the Royals high-A manager that season and I was able to get this card signed after the minor leaguers worked out the day that I was there. The Royals Spring Training set-up is excellent for 'graphing the minor league side. The Major Leaguers can completely avoid the fans, but the guys in the minors have to walk by them to leave the complex. And, to make 'graphing so much easier, the Royals minor leaguers have their names on the back of their jersey to make them easier to identify. That was how I was able to get this card signed. Vance walked right by me and I had no clue who he was. I turned around to see "WILSON" sprawled across the back of the jersey and I yelled out "Vance" just in case it happened to be a different Wilson. It wasn't and he turned around and signed this lone card for me.

I wish all of the teams had their minor league players wear their names on the back of the jerseys. It was a pain in the ass when I 'graphed the Dodger's minor league complex and I didn't even bother with the Rockies.

For some reason, this was the only card I of Vance that I could come up with for that trip. He has a few cards out but they are mostly from the years I was in college and not collecting cards. He is currently the manager of the Royals AA team in Springdale, Arkansas. A buddy and I are thinking about making a little road trip down there this year, so I will need to acquire a few more cards of him before that trip comes.

Friday, March 13, 2015

2005 Topps, Brian Lawrence

#112 Brain Lawrence

Here is the second card of Brian Lawrence that I have ever posted on here. The first one was posted way back in 2010. It was given to me by Rod, from Padrographs. This one, on the other hand, I got in-person at Spring Training last year. Brain was the pitching coach for the Cub's Boise Hawks last year. The Cubs no longer have Boise as an affiliation, but Brian has the same role with their new team, the South Bend Cubs.

When I posted the previous card of Brian, he was a free agent after pitching for the Marlins AAA team in New Orleans. Brian got picked up by the Angels the following season, 2011, and he pitched for their AAA team in Salt Lake City. He went 2-5 with a 8.07 ERA over 7 starts before getting released. He retired from playing after that season.

Brian became a pitching coach the following season, starting out with the Normanl CornBelters of the Frontier League. He then coached for the Lake Elsinore Storm before joining the Cubs minor league coaching staff last season.

The two Brian Lawrence cards that I have posted on here have slightly varied signatures. I know when and where this card was signed. I cannot say that for the previous card. It is entirely possible that that card was signed way back in 2004 and Brian's signature has changed a bit over the past decade. I would say that is probably the case after looking at some Brian Lawrence autos on COMC from 2003.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2005 Leaf, Lincoln Holdzkom

#232 Lincoln Holdzkom

Here is the third and final card that Lincoln Holdzkom signed for me before a Wingnuts game in 2013. The first one can be seen here and the second one can be seen here.

Over those first two posts, I talked about Lincoln's tenure in affiliated ball. That all came to an end after fourteen games with the Altoona Curve in 2009. At that point, it looked like Lincoln had retired. But then the Wichita Wingnuts came knocking at the door in 2013 and he decided to give it one more try.

With the 'Nuts, he pitched in 40 games and threw 38.2 innings. He went 2-4 with a save and posted a 3.72 ERA. He struck out 30 while walking 20. Then, he called it a career.

For his career, Lincoln was 18-29 with 22 saves and a 3.04 ERA.

On an unrelated note, I got two autographs in the mail today. I only sent out about six cards to Spring Training this year, so it was nice to get a third of those back today. I now have two signed cards from the 2015 Topps set.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

2005 Donruss Champions, Joey Gathright

#181 Joey Gathright

Here is the second card of Joey Gathright that I have ever posted on here. Joey spent some time with the Royals, so I have a few sigs from him. But this one I picked up a little more recently. In 2013, Joey was playing for the other Kansas City team, the American Association's T-Bones. He signed three cards for me before a game in Wichita that summer.

Joey last played for the Royals in 2008 and all of my prior autographs from him were obtained that season. Back then, all his signatures looked like his initials. I was shocked when I got these cards signed in Wichita and he had more of an actual signature. I was not expecting that. Here is the first card I posted of him in 2011 to compare.

Joey played for the Devil Rays from 2004 til a mid-season trade in 2006. In his two and a half seasons in Tampa Bay, Joey hit .244 with 65 runs, 27 RBI, and 38 stolen bases. The Rays sent him to Kansas City for JP Howell. JP pitched for the Rays through 2012, so I would say that trade worked out great for them.

Two bat cards in one week? I doubt that will ever happen again.

Apparently, Joey notified the public yesterday, via Facebook, that he has officially retired from baseball.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

2005 Bowman Heritage, Cesar Carrillo

#336 Cesar Carrillo

Here is a card of Cesar Carrillo that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnut playoff game last season. Cesar was playing for the Laredo Lemurs and he signed the card prior to game three in the first round series.

I posted a card of Cesar about four years ago and that card can be seen here. That card is from the same set as this one and even has the same number. I am not sure if one is a variation or if it is just Topps being Topps. I am tending to lean toward the second option.

Cesar pitched in three Major League games with the Padres in 2009. In that span, he went 1-2 with a 13.07 ERA over 10.1 innings. He struck out 4 and walked 12.

Since then, it has been a steady diet of minor league hitters. He pitched in the Astros and Tigers systems for a couple of years. He spent the past two seasons in the independent leagues, one in the Atlantic League and last year in the American Association. He did really well with the Lemurs last season by posting a 8-5 record with a 2.80 ERA. His ERA was the lowest mark that he had ever recorded in his professional career. Plus, he pitched his first, and only, shutout with Laredo.

I have no clue what is on tap for Cesar this year. Laredo does not have the most up to date website, so I am not sure if he will be back with them or not.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2005 Bowman Heritage, Trevor Bell

#244 Trevor Bell

Here is a card that I picked up a little over three years ago in a trade with The Angels, In Order. Tom is working on a signed set of 2006 Fleer Tradition and he swapped me this card for a Tim Hamulak card from the set.

Trevor pitched for the Angels for parts of three seasons, from 2009-2011. He started a few games with them, but mostly pitched out of the bullpen. During that time, he was 4-8 with a 5.21 ERA. He posted a career-best ERA of 3.41 over 19 outings in his final season with the club. But, it wasn't enough and they let him walk after that season.

He was picked up by Detroit for 2012, but he was cut during Spring Training. The Reds grabbed him after that and he has been pitching in their system since. He did resurface on the Majors last summer with them. He made just two appearances and they did not go too well. He pitched just .2 innings and gave up 5 runs on 5 hits and a pair of walks.

It would appear that Trevor is currently a free agent.

Monday, March 2, 2015

2005 Bowman, Mike Costanzo

#BDP89 Mike Costanzo

Here is another card that was sent to me by Ryan, from The Great Orioles Autograph Project, a few years back. When I first got this card, I had not heard of Mike Costanzo. So, I just figured it was another Bowman card of a guy that never made it. It turns out I was wrong.

Mike Costanzo played in 17 games for the Reds in 2012. He was used as a pinch hitter or defensive replacement in all but two of those games. In those games, he got 18 at-bats, but recorded just a single hit (.056). He drove in 2 runs, both on sac flies, and he walked twice while striking out 10 times.

After that, it was back to AAA for Mike. He finished up the season in Louisville before joining the Nationals organization via free agency. He lasted with them until getting released in July of 2013. The Reds picked him back up and he spent the past season and a half back in Louisville.

Mike's Major League page says he is signed right now, but I can find no evidence that backs that up. He is not listed on the Bats roster. After searching, without much luck, I came across an Italian baseball site. Mike played for Team Italy in the 2013 WBC and, according to the loose translation on the site, Mike is without a team right now. He sounds like an Atlantic League candidate to me.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2005 Bowman, Brett Hayes

#BDP59 Brett Hayes

Here is the second card that I got signed by Brett Hayes at Royals Fanfest last year. I posted the first one a couple of weeks ago and it can be seen here.

Brett was drafted by the Marlins in the second round of the 2005 draft out of Nevada. By 2007, he was in AA and he got his first taste of Major League action in 2009. In limited action that season, Brett hit .273 with a home run and 2 RBI in 14 games. He split 2010 between AAA and the Majors and finished with a .208 mark with the Fish. In 2011, he was on the Major League roster the entire year as John Buck's backup. He got into 64 games that season with about half of those being starts. To date, it is the only season where he did not play in the minors and he hit .231 with 5 home runs and 16 RBI. 2012 was his final season as a Marlin and he hit .202 in 39 games. After the season, he was picked up off of waivers by the Royals.

As a Marlin, Brett hit .217 with 8 home runs and 27 RBI in 144 games.

As a Royal in 2013, Brett was the third string catcher. Because of that, he spent most of the season in AAA. He had a monster year there and hit a career-high 17 home runs. He only got into 5 games at the Major League level, but he went 5-18 with four of his five hits being for extra bases. Because of his strong finish, and the departure of George Kottaras, Brett went into the 2014 season firmly implanted as Salvador Perez's back-up. Because of that, he was at Fanfest and I was able to get some cards signed by him.