Monday, February 29, 2016
#FH-JS3 Josh Smoker
When I was pondering this post a couple of days ago, I thought it was going to be an short and easy one. I have had this card for a while and I was pretty sure that Josh had not played in the Majors yet and I was right. Since this card is about nine years old, I just assumed that Josh was out of baseball since he hasn't made it to the top yet. Turns out I was wrong there. Though he has yet to play ball above the AA level, and has only pitched in 21 innings of AA ball, Josh is still going strong. In fact, he is currently rated as the twenty-fourth best prospect in the Mets system.
A former first round pick by the Nationals, Josh pitched in their system for six seasons. He never got above high-A and was plagued with injuries that cost him much of the 2012 season. The Nats released him and he missed all of 2013. He pitched in the Frontier League in 2014 and did good enough to get signed by the Mets last season. With them, he pitched at three level, culminating in AA, and dominated at every stop. He pitched in 49 innings last season and went 3-0 with 6 saves, a 3.12 ERA, and 60 strikeouts. Not too bad for a guy out of the Frontier League.
This card was sent to me by Matt, from Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius, many years ago. Until recently, I assumed Josh was a position player because he was wearing Oakleys in the picture. I was a bit off on that one.
According to the Mets website, Josh can hit 98 mph on the radar gun and he is currently on their 40 man roster.
On a side note, I got my first TTMs from Spring Training back today. I got a card signed by White Sox number one prospect, Carson Fulmer, and a card by Nationals number eleven prospect, Blake Perkins.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
#21 Mike Moustakas
Here is the second Mike Moustakas card that I have posted on here. The first one was posted back in June when I was just getting started on my cards from 2007. Here I am nearly nine months later and I haven't even got to my 2007 Upper Deck cards yet. Five years ago, I thought that I was eventually going to run out of cards to post on here. While that is not ever going to be an issue, it is a little troubling that the newest cards I am posting are almost ten years old. But, that is the format I used when I started this blog and I am a little resistant to change. So, I guess it is going to stay that way for now. Luckily, pack issued minor league cards came back around that time and occasionally I will post a player that is relevant today, like Moose here.
I got this card signed in 2010 at a Northwest Arkansas Naturals game. The NWA Natties, as I call them, are the Royals AA team. My buddy and I stopped there on the way back from the Rickwood Classic and were barely able to get into the ballpark. The Natties play in Springdale, Arkansas which is around Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters. When we got to the game, it was sold out because Wal-Mart bought all of the seats for a huge corporate outing. Luckily, I was able to sweet talk the guy at the ticket booth to sell us two berm seats. Otherwise, it would have been a wasted trip to that portion of the Natural State.
The game sucked as the Natiies got blown out, but I got a decent about of cards signed and saw Moose hit a home run. So, it wasn't a total wash.
Since I posted that last card of Moose, he became an All Star and Wold Champion. Plus, he had career-highs in average (.284), home runs (22), and RBI (82). 2016 was good to him. I hope 2017 will be, too.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
#7 Clayton Mortensen
Here is a card of Clayton Mortensen that I got signed at an Omaha Storm Chasers game last season. Clayton was pitching for the Chasers at the time and he was nice enough to sign two cards for me prior to the game starting.
To date, Clayton has pitched in the Majors for five seasons with four clubs- the Cardinals, A's, Rockies, and Red Sox. Originally drafted by St. Louis, he pitched in just one Major League game for them before being traded to Oakland in the Matt Holliday deal. He then pitched in seven games for the A's before being dealt to Colorado. He pitched in a career-high 58.1 innings with the Rockies in 2011 before being traded to Boston. He then lasted two seasons with the Red Sox before being traded to the Royals. He has spent the past two seasons playing AAA for the Royals.
For his Major League career thus far, Clayton is 6-11 with a 4.68 ERA. His best season came with the Red Sox in 2012 when he appeared in a career-high 26 games and posted his best ERA of 3.21 while striking out 41 in 42 innings of work.
Clayton is pictured here with the Swing of the Quad Cities. Yes, that was the actual name of the team. Usually the Quad Cities River Bandits, the team changed its name for all of three seasons before changing it back to the River Bandits in 2008.
This card would have came out looking better if Clayton hadn't signed over the dark area on the bottom of the card. But, he also signed a horizontal card that was with this one, so he must have been tilted and did not feel like coming out of it. Hence the sideways signature.
Monday, February 22, 2016
#75 Travis Denker
Here is the second card that I have posted on here of Travis Denker. This one was obtained late in the 2014 season at a Wingnuts game. Travis was playing for Laredo at the time. I posted the last card this past April and it can be seen here.
When I posted that last card, Travis was playing in Mexico. He played for the Reynosa Broncos all season and hit .264 with 10 home runs and 70 RBI. After the season in Mexico was over, he rejoined Laredo and helped them down the stretch. He played in 20 games for them and hit .361 with 4 home runs and 15 RBI. He helped the Lemurs clinch the Am-Ass wild card spot en route to an eventual league championship.
The two cards from this set that I posted are the only two I own. Based off of the two cards, I am not a big fan of this set. There is just way too much border on these cards and not enough picture. I get that the set was meant for the randomly inserted autographs, but they could have mixed up the look of the autos and the base cards better. As far as I can tell, the only difference between the two, besides that signature, is the lack of a team logo on the bottom of the signed card. That is where the signature is. Either way, this set could have done a little better. But, that was in Tristar's early years while it was trying to figure everything out. Too bad they did not last long enough to figure it out.
On a side note, right now you can pick up a Nick Adenhart autograph from this set on COMC for about four bucks.
Saturday, February 20, 2016
#30 Van Pope
He is a card from the former Braves prospect, Van Pope. I got Van to sign two cards for me in 2011 at an Amarillo Sox game while he was with the Sox. I posted the first card later that season and it can be seen here.
Van had a very good season in 2011, hitting .299 with 10 home runs and 61 RBI. Unfortunately, nothing big came out of it and he was back with Amarillo the next season. He had an off year that season and hit .281 with just 2 home runs and 24 RBI in 53 games. Van called it a career after that season.
About a month ago, I was watching "The Great Food Truck Race" on Netflix when the trucks stopped in Amarillo for a challenge. They had to set up shop outside of the Sox ballpark for a challenge and Van was actually in the episode presenting the winning team with a key to help them out later on in the city. I was probably one of only a handful of people to see that episode and exclaim to my wife "hey, I have his autograph!".
Thursday, February 18, 2016
#414 Mike Jacobs
There is nothing quite like a card that looks like a 1958 Florida Marlins card to bring back a bit of nostalgia. While I love the Topps Heritage sets because of the cardstock and how well they come out looking signed, there are obviously a few drawbacks. But, to Topps credit, I think this card looks good. If there was a team in the 1950s sporting teal on their uniform, their '58 Topps card probably would have looked pretty similar to this.
This is the third card of Mike Jacobs that I have posted on here. The first one was posted over four years ago and the last one was posted in September. The signature on this card was obtained at Royals Fanfest in 2009.
To my surprise, Mike spent all of last season playing in Mexico. I know he hasn't appeared in a Major League game since 2012, but I figured someone would want a guy on their AAA team that could mash right-handed pitching. In 2014, Mike hit .299 with 19 home runs and 99 RBI for the D-Backs top minor league affiliate.
Though Mike only played with the Royals for one season, I really liked him. He might have struggled against lefties, but he was a great guy that was always willing to sign for fans. For me, I will take a .228 hitter with some pop, that is fan-friendly, over a .300 hitter, that is a dick, any day.
Monday, February 15, 2016
#364 Eliezer Alfonzo
Here is a card that I got signed at a Colorado Sky Sox game in 2011. Eliezer was playing for the Sky Sox at the time and was nice enough to sign two cards for me. I posted the first card about three and a half years ago and it can be seen here.
When I posted that card, it appeared that Eliezer's time in affiliated ball might have come to an end as he had just finished up a season in Mexico. But, he was back in the Pacific Coast League the next season with the Albuquerque Isotopes. That gig, though, lasted only 19 games where he hit .284. The rest of the season, and all of 2014, were spent back in Mexico.
It seems like Elizier's playing days are pretty much over as he did not play last summer. He continues to play in the Venezuelan Winter League, though, so there is always a chance. But, those chances are getting slimmer for a thirty-seven year old catcher.
Nevertheless, he did play in 193 Major League games with the Giants, Padres, Mariners, and Rockies. Over parts of six seasons, he hit .240 with 17 home runs and 67 RBI.
Sunday, February 14, 2016
#237 James Shields
Here is a card that I got signed before a Royals day game in 2010 while James was still with Tampa Bay. It just happened to be the Royals annual Bark in the Park game where fans are encouraged to bring their dogs. At Kauffman Stadium, the fans get to parade their pooches around the warning track prior to the start of the game. James and a few other Rays pitchers were on the field getting their work in when the parade started. Once that happened, they were essentially stuck out there, so they just watched the show like everyone else. Afterwards, James came over to sign and I asked him if the Rays did a Bark in the Park. He wasn't sure, but he knew that there was rays there everyday, referring to the ray petting tank at Tropicana Field.
James pitched for Tampa Bay for seven seasons, going 87-73 for them along the way with a 3.89 ERA. He hit double digit wins for them every season except his first one and made his lone All Star team as a Ray in 2011. That season, he logged 249.1 innings while tossing 11 complete games with 4 shutouts. He struck out a career-high 225 batters while going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA, also a career best.
Prior to the 2013 season, James was dealt to Kansas City with Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson for Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery, and Jake Odorizzi. Considering that Wade Davis is the dominant beast that he is, I would say that the Royals fared much better in that trade.
Unfortunately, my time of nearly posting daily has come to an end. Tomorrow, it is back to the bump and grind of the 48 hour work week. I really enjoyed having the time to pump out a bunch of posts over the past five weeks, but that will be grinding to a halt. Hopefully, I will be able to get two to three posts done in a week. We will just have to wait and see.
Saturday, February 13, 2016
#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
#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
#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
#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
#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
#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
#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.
Friday, February 5, 2016
#DD11 Alex Gordon/Billy Butler
Here is my favorite signed card from the set and favorite signed card from 2007 for that matter. Some cards that are signed by multiple people can take some time to complete or require a lot of help. While I had a little help on this one from my dad, it really didn't take too long to finish off.
Alex Gordon signed this card first when I was at a Twins game in 2009. I went up there for the final regular season series in the Metrodome and did a little 'graphing during Royals batting practice. To my surprise, Alex signed that day and got this card started. Then, about four months later, my dad was able to finish it off by getting Billy at Royals Fanfest. It could not have worked out much better than that.
While I am not sure how many cards I have signed by more than one player, I know that it is not a lot. It has got to be under ten. But, it is pretty awesome that this is the second one that my dad was able to finish off for me. Earlier in that 2009 season, he was able to add Kevin Seitzer's signature to his '87 Fleer rookie card. Even though he had an easier time getting Butler at Fanfest, I still appreciate it just the same.
I just posted Billy's card from this set a few days ago. It is amazing how much different the two signatures look on the two cards. That just goes to show the difference between the rushed ballpark sig and the more relaxed signing atmosphere sig. Plus, when the first one was signed, it was in my book. My book holds three cards and I'm willing to bet the other two cards were not horizontal cards. So, there was probably an issue with him rotating the book, too.
It is funny looking at this card and realizing that Alex broke into the Majors as a third baseman and Billy as an outfielder.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
#214 Kevin Hooper
This is, I believe, the sixth and final card of Kevin Hooper that I have to post on here. At least it is the final card until I eventually get into the Wingnuts team sets in the very distant future. This card, like most of my Hooper cards, was signed before a Wingnuts game, the team he managed for seven seasons.
While I am sure that there are a couple cards of Hoop out there that I don't have, I will not be able to get them signed because he is moving on. After seven seasons as the manager of the 'Nuts, Hoop found a position in affiliated ball. He will now be joining the Padres as their minor league infield coordinator.
Hoop played for the inaugural 'Nuts team before moving to the dugout the following season. In his time as the skipper of the 'Nuts, he led the team to a 422-270 record with five straight division titles and one championship. He was also named Manager of the Year three times.
While it is sad to see him go, I hope that he does well and moves up the ranks of the affiliated coaching ladder. Now, the Wingnuts need to find a new manager with some Major League service time so I can get some autographs from him.
Last season, the 'Nuts finally did something extra to showcase their brand around the ballpark. They did that by hanging banners around the concourse. While the banners are not extremely noticeable, they are better than nothing. Here is a banner that was hung commemorating Hoop's batting title in 2008.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
#188 Jose Ascanio
Here is a card that was given to me by Paul, from Paul's Random Stuff. I have no idea where he got it signed, but I do know that he had quite a few of them signed. At one point, I believe that I had three of these cards that were signed and they all came from Paul in different trade packs. I figured that Paul got them signed at an Atlantic League game at some point, but Jose never played in the Atlantic League. He never played in the Eastern League either, so my best guess is that Paul got this card signed through the mail.
Jose played in the Majors for parts of four seasons with three different teams- the Braves, Cubs, and Pirates. He was used exclusively out of the bullpen and went 1-3 with a 5.28 ERA over 43 games that spanned 46 innings. He struck out 41 and walked 21. His best season was with the Cubs in 2009. That year, he pitched 15.1 innings and posted a 3.52 ERA while striking out 18. At the trade deadline that season, he was shipped to Pittsburgh with Josh Harrison and Kevin Hart for Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow. Even though he did not have much success with the Pirates, I think the team fared well in that trade.
Jose pitched last season in Mexico.
Like yesterday's post of Edwin Bellorin, it appears that this card is the only one that Jose ever got from his time in the Major Leagues.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
#159 Edwin Bellorin
Here is the second card of Edwin Bellorin that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2011. On that day, I missed him coming out onto the field and ended up getting him by the clubhouses in left field after the game. Out there, there is a chain link fence separating fans from the clubhouse and the fence is probably at least eight feet tall. In order to get my cards to Ed, I ended up shoving them through a crevice at the bottom of the fence. Though it wasn't ideal, it got the job done.
The first card of Ed can be seen here.
Edwin's Major League service time spanned eight games over three seasons. Over those games, he started three, pinch hit twice, and was a defensive replacement in the other three. In those games, he had three hits in thirteen at-bats with one run and a walk and a strikeout. The Rockies were 6-2 in the games that Edwin played in.
In 2007, Edwin got into just three games and he had two at-bats. But, thanks to this set, he has a card commemorating him playing in the big leagues. That is why I love the idea of this set. Now if only they did not repeat the design from 2006.
Monday, February 1, 2016
#55 Billy Butler
Here is the second card of Billy Butler that I have posted on here. I posted a minor league relic card of him nine months ago and that one can be seen here. I got this card signed by Billy by the Royals parking lot after a game in 2008.
Billy was drafted by the Royals in the first round of the 2004 draft. He signed quickly and started raking minor league pitching immediately. He rose up the ladder about as fast as you can and by 2007, he was was in AAA. In 57 AAA games, Billy hit .291 (his worst average at any level to that point) with 10 doubles, 13 home runs, and 46 RBI. The Royals offense was sputtering, like they did most years that decade, and the brass had no choice but to bring the 21-year old up.
The one problem with Billy in the minor leagues was not his hitting. The Royals just could not find a position for him to man in the field. He was originally drafted as a third baseman and he lasted at that position for less than two seasons. Over 90 games at third, he committed 30 errors. So, the Royals moved him to the outfield and his fielding percentage got better with the lack of chances. But, it still wasn't pretty. By the time he got to Omaha in 2007, he had started playing some first base to mix in with left field. But, before he could get comfortable at any position, he got called up to the Majors and made his Major League debut in left field.
Luckily, he only played in six Major League games in left because he was atrocious. Watching him out there, you had no idea that he played that position in 165 minor league games. You just assumed he was out there for the very first time. He just made bad reads and took bad routes. The Royals then tried him at first base a bit and it was slightly less painful to watch. Eventually, he settled into the DH role, right where he belonged.
Even though he is almost exclusively a DH, Billy worked at first base every chance he had. Though he doesn't get many chances to man the position, he has worked his way up to being an average first baseman. And that is a huge improvement over his first season in the Majors.
Does my blog look different to any of you? Whenever I go directly to it, only the posts appear. There are no list of labels, no blog list, and no archive. My settings are set up fine and it shows up in my preview, but I do not see that stuff when I go to my page directly. Is anyone else having this problem? Any feedback would be appreciated.