Thursday, March 31, 2016

2007 Upper Deck, Josh Hamilton

#630 Josh Hamilton

Here is the third and final card that I got signed by Josh Hamilton at a Rangers game in 2008. You can see the first card here and the second one here.

When I was making that trip to Texas, the only cards of Josh that I could find were two 2007 cards and an older card of him with the Devil Rays. I know for a fact that I had his 2008 Bowman card of him which showed him as a Ranger. But, I was unable to find that card. I, of course, found it a couple of weeks later which is usually the case for me when I cannot find a card I am looking for. Since I always take three cards per player, I try to mix up the teams as much as I can if the player has been around a bit. One Rays, Reds, and Rangers cards would have been perfect at the time, but I screwed that up, especially since the Rangers are the team that Josh is known for.

So far this year, Josh has missed all of Spring Training with an ailing knee. He had two operations on it last year and is still trying to work himself into game shape. As of right now, he is hoping to be back in early May.

When I went to Josh's MLB page, I did not recognize him. His profile picture on there has him sporting a three inch long goatee.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

2007 Upper Deck, Kyle Davies

#546 Kyle Davies

Here is one last card of Kyle Davies as a Brave. The last card of Davies I posted, an '07 Topps card, featured him with the Royals. At the trade deadline in 2007, the Royals obtained Davies in exchange for reliever, Octavio Dotel. Dotel would pitch in 7.2 innings with the Braves while Davies played in Kansas City into the 2011 season. For better or worse, I would say that the Royals got more out of that trade than Atlanta did, especially after missing the playoffs that season.

Royals GM, Dayton Moore, came over from the Braves organization and, through the years, has brought over a few former Braves. In the earlier years, there was Davies, Wilson Betemit, and Jeff Francoeur. It is kind of strange that Dayton has been with the Royals for a solid decade now, yet he is still bringing over reclamation projects from the Braves. Over the past two years, he has brought in Kris Medlen, Peter Moylan, and Mike Minor, with Minor and Medlen both coming off of Tommy John surgery. You would think that over that much time, he would have less ties to the Braves. But, being a small market team, I guess he just looks for any advantage he can get.

As for Davies' time with the Braves, he pitched there for two and a half seasons and went 14-21 with a 6.15 ERA. He wasn't much better with the bat as he hit .141 with two dingers and 9 RBI. His home runs came off of Aaron Sele and Randy Wolf.

I got this card signed by the Royals parking lot in 2008.

Friday, March 18, 2016

2007 Upper Deck, Felix Pie

#519 Felix Pie

Here is a card of former Cubs prospect, Felix Pie. I got this card, and two others, signed at an Orioles game in 2009 while Felix was playing for them.

I met up with Ryan, from The Great Orioles Autograph Project, at that game and he showed me the ropes of 'graphing at Camden Yards. We ended up by the Orioles dugout just before game time and that is when Felix entered the dugout from the clubhouse. I asked him to sign and he looked like he really didn't want to. But, he came over anyway and signed my three cards and not much more after that.

Ryan, by the way, just got back from Spring Training down in Florida and has a ton of autographs to show off. Check them out if you get a chance.

Felix's time with the Cubs was relatively short, but he sure got a ton of cards made of him during that time. He spent just parts of two seasons in Chicago and could never really get it going. Over 130 games, Felix hit just .223 with 3 home runs and 30 RBI and had more strikeouts than hits. After the 2008 season, the Cubs shipped him to Baltimore for Garrett Olson and a minor leaguer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

2007 Upper Deck, Kei Igawa

#502 Kei Igawa

Here is the third and final card that Kei Igawa signed for me in 2009. Kei was playing for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at the time and he signed the three cards for me while in the stands charting pitches. You can see the first card I posted here and the second one here.

Needless to say, but Kei's career in the States did not go as well as he, and the Yankees, had hoped. He managed to pitch in just 71.2 innings with the Yanks and those did not go well. In those 16 games (13 starts), Kei went 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA. He walked 37 while striking out just 53 and giving up 15 long balls.

Instead of pitching in Yankee Stadium, Kei spent most of his time in the U.S. pitching in PNC Field in Scranton. He spent the majority of five seasons pitching for the SWB Yankees and he did okay with them. He was 33-22 in AAA with a 3.81 ERA. Over 469.2 innings of work, he struck out 373 while walking 136.

After the failed experience with Major League Baseball, Kei went back to Japan and pitched three more seasons in their Pacific League before calling it a career.

Monday, March 14, 2016

2007 Upper Deck, Joe Randa

#404 Joe Randa

As of right now, this is the last card of Joe Randa that I have to show on here. Since he is frequent visitor at Royals Fanfest, that could change in the future. But, for now, this is the last one.

With this card, I have now posted a card of Joe with each of the the five teams he played for. You can also see posts of him as a Royal, Tiger, Padre, and Red.

Joe's final season in the Major Leagues was spent in Pittsburgh in 2006. That season, he played in 86 games and hit .267 with 4 home runs and 28 RBI. For his career, Joe hit .284 with 123 homers and 739 RBI.

Joe's best season was probably with the Royals in 2000. That year, he hit .304 with 15 home runs and 106 RBI. He did have a really good year late in his career, as well. In 2005, he split the season with the Reds and the Padres. Though he hit just .267, he had career highs in doubles (43) and home runs (17).

I got this card signed at Royals Fanfest in 2009.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

2007 Upper Deck, Willie Bloomquist

#193 Willie Bloomquist

Here is the third card of Willie Bloomquist that I have posted on here. I posted his '07 Topps card back in November and a minor league card back in 2010. Those first two cards were signed at Royals Fanfest in 2009. This one, on the other hand, was obtained outside of Kauffman Stadium in 2009. There was a slight mist that day and that precipitation affected the outcome of the signature on this card. There are two spots where it got wet. One looks like it got hit with a drop and the other looks like the Sharpie ran through a wet spot. Luckily, it did not do too much damage as you have to look for it to see it.

When I posted that last card of Willie, I speculated that his career may be up after getting released from the Mariners last season. It appears that is actually the case after Willie announced his retirement last week on Twitter. It was a cool Tweet that showed Willie taking a swing in batting practice. He hit a dinger and walked out to a bat flip. It read "Make your last swing your BEST swing. Farewell @MLB. Thank you for 14 amazing seasons. It's been an incredible ride".

Saturday, March 12, 2016

2007 Upper Deck, Mark Teahen

#121 Mark Teahen

Here is a card of former Royal, Mark Teahen, that I got signed outside of Kauffman Stadium in 2008. If my records are correct, he signed two for me that day.

This is the second card of Mark that I have posted on here. I posted the first one, a Bowman card of him with the A's, in 2010 and it can be seen here.

In 2004, Mark was part of one of the worst trades in Royals history. Prior to the All Star game that season, the Royals dealt Carlos Beltran to the Astros in a three team trade with Oakland. Beltran was in the last year of his contract and the Royals knew they had no chance of resigning him. So, they made the deal and got Teahen and Mike Wood from the A's and John Buck from the Astros. While Teahen and Buck were very good players on a bad Royals team, neither one of them came near to being the player that Beltran was at the time. It also says something that Beltran is still playing while the guys the Royals got in return have been out of the game for at least one season. And Beltran is at least three years older than the other three guys.

But, that was how the Royals operated back then. Luckily, that has changed a little bit.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

2007 Upper Deck, Neal Cotts

#89 Neal Cotts

Here is the third card of Neal Cotts that I have posted on here. The first one, a card I got signed at an Iowa Cubs game in 2009, was posted about six years ago and it can be seen here. This card was signed at that same I-Cubs game. I then posted another card last year that I got signed at a Royals game. That one can be seen here. It looks like I have two more cards of Neal to post, one from each encounter. Those are cards from 2009, so they will probably get posted sometime around 2020.

Last season, Neal split the year between the Brewers and Twins. He started the season in Milwaukee and went 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA over 49.2 innings while striking out 49. He was then traded to the Twins in August to help their fizzling playoff chances. He had no record with the Twins and posted an ERA of 3.95 with 9 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.

If you notice on the left side of this card, Neal is listed as a Cub. That was one of the things I liked about Upper Deck. They did not feel the need to airbrush players into their current uniform. As you all know, Topps tends to overdue the airbrushing.

Neal is currently in camp with the Astros as a non-roster invitee.

Monday, March 7, 2016

2007 Upper Deck, Joaquin Arias

#47 Joaquin Arias

Here is the fourth and final card of Joaquin Arias that I have to post, for now. This one was signed in Omaha while Joaquin was playing for the Storm Chasers in 2011. The first card of him and the third card were both signed at that time. The second card was acquired in a trade with Night Owl sometime before that.

It is kind of funny that the last two cards of Joaquin were signed in 2011, almost five years ago. I put them in my album right next to each other because Ultra comes right before Upper Deck alphabetically. The Ultra card was the only card from that set that I have got signed and this card was the lowest numbered card from this set that I got signed. Since that time, I have not got another Ultra card or a lower numbered Upper Deck card signed from the 2007 sets. Either I am slacking or the sets just seem to lose relevance as time passes.

After playing for the Giants for the past four seasons, Joaquin is currently in camp with the Diamondbacks. So far, he is 2-5 with a run this spring.

For his career, thus far, Joaquin is a .265 hitter with 7 home runs and 95 RBI. All of the dingers and most of the RBI came while playing for the Giants. Besides the Rangers and Giants, he had a brief stint with the Mets in 2010. Joaquin's best season was 2012. He had career highs in games and at-bats and responded with a .270 average with 5 home runs and 34 RBI.

2007 Ultra, Joaquin Arias

#237 Joaquin Arias

Here is the second of three cards that were signed by Joaquin Arias at an Omaha Storm Chasers game in 2011. Joaquin was playing for the Chasers at time and he signed the cards before hitting the field.

By the time this card came out, Fleer, as we knew it, was gone. The company basically filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and the name was purchased by Upper Deck for just over $6 million. Upper Deck put out some sets under the Fleer name in 2006 and '07 before killing off the brand for good in 2008. This set was one of the last ones made by Upper Deck.

By Ultra standards, this set looks like it could have been put out by Fleer. I have a hard time telling many of the Ultra sets apart because they all look so similar. They were usually a borderless card with some kind of foily name on the bottom portion of the card. This set certainly fits that description. This card is from the rookie subset and that is why it has the crazy-colored background. The normal cards from the set where not like that.

I will have another Joaquin Arias card posted later on today. It is not often that I have back-to-back posts for the same guy. But, today happens to be one of those days and I'm am going to knock them out at the same time.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

2007 Turkey Red, Jamie Vermilyea

#132 Jamie Vermilyea

Here is the third and final card of Jamie Vermilyea that I got signed at a Wingnuts game last season. Jamie was the pitching coach for the Winnipeg Goldeyes and he signed the cards for me prior to the start of the game. The first card can be seen here and the second here.

I was a little surprised that I was able to round of three cards of Jamie from 2007. He only pitched in two games in 2006, and for his career for that matter. Yet, Topps put out of card of him in this set, Topps base, and Topps '52, all of which I got signed. They even made a card of him in their Bowman set. But other players that made their debut in 2006 were just relegated to the '52 rookie set. I wonder why they gave a few extra for Jamie and his six innings of work.

The 2007 Turkey Red set is a little different for Turkey Red, but I like it. For starters, the pictures are a little brighter than the first few sets. They look a little better that way and they turn out better when signed. The big difference, though, is the gold border. All of the previous Turkey Red sets had grey borders and they were a little tough to differentiate between the different years. Add in the super-small print of the copyright on the back and the task became even more difficult. Luckily, with this set, that was not an issue.

It appears that Jamie will not be with the Goldeyes this upcoming season. Right now, their manager, Rick Forney, is listed as the manager/pitching coach.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

2007 Turkey Red, Billy Butler

#45 Billy Butler

Here is the third card of Billy Butler that I have posted on here. I got this one signed by the Royals parking lot in 2008. I am not sure who sent me this card, but I do know that it was from a fellow blogger.

This card cracks me up just because it shows Billy bunting on it. I have only seen Billy attempt to bunt in a game one time and it was not pretty. It was early in his Major League career and you could tell bunting was not something he worked on in the minors. If I remember correctly, he stabbed at the first two pitches, without any luck, before having to swing away. For his career, Billy has zero sacrifice bunts. But, he does have five stolen bases.

For those of you that are not Royals or A's fans, here is a fun fact for you. Billy's nickname is Country Breakfast. True story.

I just realized that this set does not list positions on them. I guess I will get to pick his position for the label and it is not going to be outfield like it was on the last card of Billy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

2007 Turkey Red, Barry Zito

#41 Barry Zito

Here is the second card of Barry Zito that I have posted on here. The first card was a TTM that I received in 2005. I posted that card about five years ago and it can be seen here. This one, on the other hand, is the first of three that Barry signed for me last season while playing for the Nashville Sounds.

Last season, Barry signed a minor league contract with the A's and nearly spent the entire season playing for Nashville. My family went to see the Sounds take on the Storm Chaser in Omaha over Labor Day weekend and I was looking forward to getting some cards signed by Barry. He had just come off the disabled list and pitched in relief the night before we were there. It was early September and the A's had already chosen most of their September call-ups and Barry was not one of them. Because of that, I thought his outing the night before was going to be his last time pitching professionally. When he signed for me, I thanked him for all he had done for the game and congratulated him on his outing the night before, a perfect inning with a strikeout.

Luckily, the Oakland brass came to their senses and let Barry go out as an Athletic. While he did not fare well in three appearances the last week of the season, it was the right thing to do. He even got to start a game against the Giants and former teammate, Tim Hudson.