Friday, December 31, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Warner Madrigal

#817 Warner Madrigal

If you thought you knew who Warner Madrigal is and are thrown off by this card, don't worry. This is the same Warner Madrigal that pitches for the Rangers. It just so happens that he began his pro career as an outfielder.

Warner was signed by the Angels in 2001 and he made his professional debut in the States in 2003 at the age of nineteen. He hit .369 in his debut season while playing Rookie ball in the Pioneer League. That was the highlight of Warner's batting stats and his average dropped every year after that for the next three seasons. By 2006, Warner was hitting .235 in the Midwest League. It was during that season that the Angels decided to convert him to a pitcher.

They sent him to the Arizona League to work on his stuff and Warner posted a 3.75 ERA in 11 innings. He was back in the Midwest League in 2007 and he posted a 2.07 ERA while recording 20 saves. Then the Angels released him.

That worked out great for the Rangers as they picked him up and assigned him to their AA team in Frisco. He blew through the Texas League and did good enough at AAA to get promoted to the big club in time to make 31 Major League appearances. He pitched in 36 innings that year and posted a 4.75 ERA with an 0-2 record and 1 save. Not bad for a guy that had been cut by a A team the previous season.

Warner spent most of 2009 in AAA and he did well there. But, it looks like he got called up to the Rangers about three different times and he did not have the same success there. He finished his 2009 Major League campaign with no record and a 9.75 ERA in only 12.2 innings of work.

I got this card signed this past summer in Springdale, Arkansas while Warner was making a rehab appearance for the Frisco Roughriders. It seems that 2010 was a rehab year for him since he did not make a single Major League appearance. But, he appears to be playing winter ball in the Dominican, so maybe he will be ready for the Majors again next season.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Adam Greenberg

#789 Adam Greenberg

If you have never heard of Adam Greenberg, than you are in for a treat. Adam has the distinction of being one of the two players in the history of the game to be hit by a pitch in their only Major League plate appearance without ever taking the field. The other player was the Phillies Fred Van Dusen in 1955 and I do not know what ever happened to him. But, I do know what happened to Adam and it isn't a pretty story.

Adam's Major League hit by pitch was a 92 mile an hour fastball to the back of the head. It occurred in July of 2005 and it gave him a mild concussion. While he no longer suffers any symptoms of the beaning, he still has a hard time digging in at the plate and getting ready to hit (according to his manager this past season via this ESPN article). But the good news is that Adam is still playing ball and looking for another shot at the Major Leagues.

Prior to his Major League plate appearance, Adam was a prospect for the Cubs that had been called up from AA. By the following season, Adam had been released by the Cubs after hitting under .180 in just over a hundred at-bats at AA and AAA. He was picked up by the Dodgers and he spent the remainder of the season playing for their AA team and he ending up hitting .228 for them. He moved on to the Royals AA team in 2007 and he hit .266 in 132 games. The Royals released him after the season and he played for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League to start the 2008 season. He did good enough there to be picked up by the Angels and assigned to their AA squad. He finished the '09 campaign with them batting .271.

Unfortunately, that was Adam's last season playing affiliated ball. Since then, he has spent the past two seasons playing for the Bluefish. He only hit .245 in his first season there, but he was able to raise his average to .258 this past season.

The good news is that Adam is still playing ball and is trying to get another shot at the Majors. He will be thirty when this next season starts, so his window is starting to close. But, I wish him the best of luck.

I was fortunate to get this card signed for me by Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff, at an Atlantic League game in 2009.

I got to see Adam play a couple of times as a member of the Wichita Wranglers in 2007. At the time, I knew that I had seen a card of him (this one), but I had no idea of the story he had. Too bad I hadn't got back into autographs a year earlier.

Also, I like the sleeveless Cubs jersey on this card. It's just too bad that the team didn't wear them. Like Alberto Callaspo from a couple of days ago, this is probably just a photo-shopped minor league picture.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Kevin Richardson

#787 Kevin Richardson

Here is the second and final Kevin Richardson card that I got signed in Oklahoma City in 2008. Kevin was playing for the Rangers AAA team at the time, the Oklahoma Redhawks, and he signed this card for me by the dugout just prior to the start of the game. The first card that he signed for me can be seen here.

After making his Major League debut in 2009, Kevin had an up and down 2010. He only played in 63 games in '10 and a third of them were at the AA level. At the AAA level, Kevin only hit .235 which is only slightly lower than his career minor league average. Even though Kevin didn't hit spectacuilarly last season, it is still kind of amazing that he didn't play for the Rangers at some point considering that they used five different backstops throughout the course of the year.

According to Kevin's minor league page, he is currently a free agent.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Alberto Callaspo

#784 Alberto Callaspo

Here is the second of three Alberto Callaspo cards that I got signed by the Royals parking lot in 2009. If I remember correctly, I got these cards signed on the day I drove three hours to Kansas City just to stand around the parking lot for another three hours before realizing that it was too cold to go to the game that night. Sadly, that was not the last time I did that. But the next time I did, I had no intention of staying for the game.

I mentioned in my first Callaspo post that he is a great hitter, but he really struggles defensively. He spent most of 2009 playing second base and he had 17 errors at that position. In 2010, he primarliy played third base and he recorded only 10 errors there. But, his fielding percentage was worse at third than at second the previous year because he had fewer chances.

If Alberto is going to stick in a Major League infield, it is going to have to be at third base. For a small and wirey guy, Alberto is slow. He is not going to steal any bases and he has horrible range in the middle infield. Another problem he had at second was turning double plays. He would catch the ball fine and make a great turn, and then the ball would fly behind him when he was transferring it to his throwing hand. This had to have happened at least ten times in 2009, and since the out is recorded and double-plays are not automatic, an error is not awarded on the play. But, he still cost his defense outs by not being able to turn a routine double-play. Ultimately, if Alberto expects to be in a Major League lineup constently, it is going to have to happen as a third baseman or maybe even as a left fielder.

I was surprised to see that Topps used this photo on this card. This photo is an airbrushed version of Bert's (as Trey Hillman loved to call him) 2003 Cedar Rapids Kernals minor league card. I had no idea that Topps did that before. I always thought they used their own pictures.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Brandon Duckworth

#711 Brandon Duckworth

I believe that this is the third and final Brandon Duckworth card that I have to post on here. Usually when I have three signed cards of a player, that means that I got them signed at one setting since my autograph book holds three cards per page. But that is not the case with Brandon. I have three signed cards of him and each one was signed by itself on seperate occasions. The first one was signed at the Royals inaugural Fanfest (which is looking pretty bleak this year without Greinke and DeJesus) in 2008 and the second one was signed by the Royals parking lot in 2008 while Brandon was talking on his cell phone. To be honest, I have no idea when I got this card signed but I would imagine it would have been signed by the Royals parking lot in 2008.

Actually, I think I do know when Brandon signed this card for me. It was in September of 2008 and it was by the Royals parking lot when he was talking on his cell phone. You can read all about that experience in the second Duckworth post. I seem to have confused my second Duckworth signing with my third. But, I do know that this was the last card I got signed by him because the first two cards were Phillies cards and I wanted to get an Astros card signed before it was too late.

Maybe I have too many signed cards if I am already having problems remembering which ones I have got signed where.

This is probably the first time that I have posted back to back Astros cards since I did my catch-up from 'Stosfest.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Brad Ausmus

#663 Brad Ausmus

Here is a quick little Christmas Eve post. This is another card of Brad Ausmus and this one came from the same person that sent me the first one I posted just over a month ago- Paul, from Paul's Random Stuff. The cards did not come in the same package, though this one was in the same Christmas package as yesterdays Scott Hairston autograph. Again, I would assume that Paul got this one signed through the mail, but I have been wrong before (like yesterday, for instance).

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and if I get bored tomorrow, I may post another card. If not, I'll be back on Sunday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Scott Hairston

#659 Scott Hairston

Here is a card that I got in a random package about fifty weeks ago. The package was from Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff, and in it included about twenty new autographs for my collection, as well as a few Royals cards.

Scott is the brother of Jerry, Jr. and they are the sons of former big leaguer, Jerry Hairston, Sr. For some reason, though, I can never remember which brother is which. And to make things more complicated for myself, both of them were members of the Padres last season.

Scott had a rough season this past summer. He played in 104 games for them, but hit a measly .210 in 295 at-bats. He only had 10 home runs after hitting 17 each in the previous two seasons. Scott hasn't reached free agency yet, but I believe that he is arbitration eligible. After this past season, he should just take whatever the Padres offer him.

I do not know how Paul got this card signed, but I would be willing to bet that he got signed through the mail. This is the second Scott Hairston card that has been given me by fellow bloggers. It may be another year before I get to posting the first one.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Joy of a Completed Page, 1987 Fleer

Here is a little change of pace. I have been meaning to post this page for over a month now and here it finally is.

Here is the tally.

Game: 5.5 [2.5 at Kauffman Stadium (Jacoby, Salas, Seitzer), 2 at Minute Maid Park (Willis and Skinner), 1 at Franklin Covey Field (Salt Lake City; Venable)]
TTM: 1 (Moyer)
Signing: 1 (Tartabull)
Willie Wison Classic: 1 (Wilson)
The Great Orioles Autograph Project: 0.5 John Stefaro and Thank You Ryan!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Damian Rolls

#657 Damian Rolls

Here is the third and final Damian Rolls card that I got signed at a Kansas City T-Bones game in 2009. You can see the first one here and the second one here.

Damian's Major League career spanned parts of five seasons and all were spent with the Devil Rays. His biggest year was probably 2003 when he had career highs in games played (107), at-bats (373), hits (95), runs (43), doubles (20), home runs (7), and RBI (46). But, in 2004, Damian could not get it going and he spent the entire season in a prolonged slump. He ended the season batting only .162 and the D-Rays released him after the season. That was the last time Damian played in the Major Leagues.

For his career, Damian was a .248 hitter with 53 extra base hits and 73 RBI. He played every position at the big league level except for shortstop, pitcher, and catcher.

I like how Damian is listed as an outfielder on this card, yet he is clearly playing infield in the picture.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Jarrod Washburn

#470 Jarrod Washburn

I had no idea that Jarrod Washburn had retired. I was looking over his stats prior to writing this and I thought it was strange that Baseball Almanac did not have his 2010 stats up yet. So, I visited Wikipedia and it was there that I found that Jarrod became a free agent after 2009 and no one signed him. According to the site, Jarrod's retirement was announced in an interview in May by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh school paper. That seems like a strange outlet for announcing your retirement. No wonder I never heard about it.

I got this card signed at a Royals game in September of 2008. Jarrod was with the Mariners at the time and I was able to get this card signed by the visiting team's dugout. Jarrod signed two out of the three cards I had of him.

Jarrod mever made an All Star team, but he had some good seasons over his twelve year career. His best year was the 2002 season, the year he and the Angels won the World Series. He finished that season with an 18-6 record, a 3.16 ERA, and 139 strikeouts, all career highs (wins, ERA, and Ks). Unfortnately for Jarrod, his great season didn't extend into the Fall Classic, where he went 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA. But, he still got his ring.

Last season, Jarrod was pitching well when he was traded by the Mariners to the Tigers at the trade deadline. With Seattle, Jarrod was 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA over 20 starts. Things turned for the worse after the trade and he went 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA over 8 starts. Maybe some teams thought he was pitching hurt in Detroit and that is why they stayed away from him during the offseason. I can't think of any other reason not to sign a left-handed veteran pitcher.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Ron Mahay

#399 Ron Mahay

Ron Mahay has pitched in the Major Leagues for each of the past fourteen seasons, yet this is one of only two Major League cards issued of him. The other card is an '05 Topps Total and he has to share the card with another Rangers reliever. The reason there supposedly are not more cards available of him is because Ron was a replacement player in 1995 and he therefore is not a member of the player's association.

That explanation would make sense to me, but there is one problem. Here is a list of strike-breakers that went on to make it to the Major Leagues. There are quite a few obscure names on the list, but there are a few that stand out too. Take Kevin Millar, Shane Spancer, and Kerry Ligtenberg for example. While none of them have a ton of cards available, there are over twenty Millar cards and about ten cards each of Spencer and Ligtenberg.

So, that just goes to show that the card companies can make the cards of the replacement players if they want to, they just have to sign a contract with the individual player. But in Ron Mahay's case, it appears that he is not worth the trouble. That is too bad because Ron is a dependable left-handed relief pitcher. As an autograph collector, it would make it a lot easier for me if there were more choices of Mahay cards. But instead, you have to search for this card which I ended up buying off of ebay for three bucks. Awesome.

I got this card signed by the Royals parking lot in April of 2009. I got it signed on the same day that I got yesterday's card signed.

On a side note, it appears that Topps is the only brand to have made cards of Mahay, Millar, Ligtenberg, and Spencer.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Mark DeRosa

#206 Mark DeRosa

Here is the second of three Mark DeRosa cards that he signed for me at a Royals game in April of 2009. Mark was playing for Cleveland at the time. The first card can be seen here.

I posted that first card in December of last year and, at the time, Mark was a free agent. Mark ended up signing with the Giants and he now has a World Series ring to his credit. But, other than that, 2010 was not a good season for Mark. He only appeared in 26 games early in the season for the Giants and he was hitting .194 when he hit the disabled list with numbness in the fingers of his left hand. It turned out that the wrist surgery that he had after the 2009 season had been a complete failure and a second season-ending procedure would be needed. So, that is how Mark DeRosa's season ended.

But, he still has one year left on his contract and it will be interesting to see how he does in 2011. It might even be more interesting to see how the Giants use him.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2004 Topps Total, John Buck

#109 John Buck

Here is a card that was signed by the Marlins newest backstop almost six years ago. My dad got this card signed for me at a Royals Caravan signing while I was deployed to Iraq. This was the same Caravan stop that Jeremy Affeldt appeared at and it was sprinkling when my dad left. Luckily, the Jeremy Affeldt card was on the top of the stack when my dad left and this card came out unharmed. [Edit: Actually, if you click on the card, you can see that it did get hit with rain. C'mon Dad!]

John Buck had a breakout season this past year for the Blue Jays. He hit .281 for them and that was the first time that he had ever hit over .250 in his career. He also hit the 20 home run mark for the first time and he made his first All Star team, thanks to an injury to Victor Martinez. Because of those numbers, the Marlins were willing to give him a three year/$18 million contract. Whether John will be able to repeat his 2010 numbers over the next three years is another question. But, I have enough signed cards of him that I will take a look at in whenever I post one.

This is the only signed card I have of John where he isn't wearing a Royals uniform. In case you didn't know, John never played for the Astros. He was on their AAA team when the Royals acquired him in the Carlos Beltran trade.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2004 Topps Total, Robin Ventura

#101 Robin Ventura

In 2007, my dad and I made our first trip to Omaha for the College World Series. It has since become a yearly tradition for us, but there is one lesson I learned in 2007 that I will never forget- don't go to the CWS without something for Robin Ventura to sign. That year, I got some signed 8x10s of Fred Lynn, Steve Carlton, and Ozzie Smith. All three of them signed at the AT&T booth and the 8x10s were provided. Robin also signed during the opening weekend, but he signed at the State Farm booth and they didn't have any 8x10s to sign. Since I didn't have anything worth signing with me, I skipped Robin. But every year since, I always have a couple of his cards with me just in case (since he is the color commentator for ESPN) and so far, I have this one card to show for it.

I got this card signed at the CWS in 2008. At the time, I didn't realize that there was an online list of all the people that would be signing at the CWS. So I dug out some cards of former players that were helping out with ESPN's coverage of the Super Regionals and I took them with me just in case. Well, Robin ended up signing that year at the AT&T booth and I was prepared. I have taken cards of Robin with me every year since, but this is still the only one that I have got signed.

If it wasn't for this card, I probably would not remember Robin ever playing for the Dodgers.

This is the second Robin Ventura card that I have posted on here. I posted the first one over two years ago and it can be seen here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2004 Topps Heritage, Todd Self

#339 Todd Self

Here is the second card of Todd Self that I have posted this month. The first one, which I got in Tulsa in 2008, can be seen here.

This autograph, on the other hand, was obtained a year later. I think that I only went to one Wichita Wingnut game in 2009 and it was against the St. Paul Saints. One of the main reasons I wanted to go to the game was to see Tanner Scheppers pitch for the Saints. But, I also wanted to get some autographs and I was surprised to see that Todd was on the Saints roster. He was a coach on the Astros AA team in '08, but he decided to try a comeback in '09. His comeback only lasted 41 games, but he did hit .319 with a .410 OBP.

It looks like Todd's playing career is officially over, but I have no idea if he is coaching or not.

I usually don't post on Wednesday, but I figure I would throw this quick one out there instead of doing two posts on Thursday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2004 Topps Heritage, Luis Rivas

#242 Luis Rivas

Here is the second of what may be three cards that I got signed by Luis Rivas in 2009 (if another Rivas card never appears on here, then I only got two cards signed by him). I got this card signed in Des Moines, Iowa while he was playing for the Iowa Cubs. The I-Cubbies happened to be playing a doubleheader that day and I was able to get this card signed between games. I posted the first card back in July and it can be seen here.

In my last Rivas post, I mentioned that he did not play affiliated ball this past season. Well, it appears that he didn't play any kind of ball at all this past season and it is quite possible that his career is over. But, I did get to see him play four times in his career. The first time I saw him play was the first time that I had heard of him and that was in Kansas City on Opening Day of 2002. He went 2-4 in that game with a run scored. He went 2-6 over the next two games I saw him play (another with the Twins that year and once with the Indians in '07). The final time I saw him was in Des Moines last summer and he went 1-7 in the doubleheader. So he started off strong, but he fell off as time wore on.

Monday, December 13, 2010

2004 Topps Cracker Jack, Bobby Abreu

#5 Bobby Abreu

Here is a card that I got signed in Kansas City in 2009. The Angels were in town that day and I got to the game early enough to get my spot by the dugout. My spot is the home plate side of the vistors dugout where there is an open space in the dugout where tarps are stored. It's a great place to get autographs (especially cards) and that is where I get sevety-five percent of my cards signed inside of Kauffman Stadium.

On the day Bobby signed my card, he was signing baseballs on the field. He was right in front of me, but he was fifteen feet away. I use a book to get my cards signed and one thing I do not do with it is throw it. The last thing I want is to throw it and have cards flying out and then have a security guard trying to pick them up for me off of the concrete.

So, I didn't think I was going to get anything signed by Bobby that day and then I got lucky. Someone threw him a ball to sign and he dropped it right down by my spot. Then he had to go down in the dugout to retrieve the ball and he continued to sign a few more autographs at my spot. He signed two out of three cards for me.

I was pretty happy to get this card signed as it is my only signed Cracker Jack card that I own. I was in basic training when these cards came out, but I was lucky enough that my dad had found some at Wal-Mart and he picked me up a few packs. I think that these are some great looking cards and I was gratefull to finally add a signed one to my collection.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2004 Topps Chrome, Dewon Brazelton

#392 Dewon Brazelton

Here is the second of three cards that Dewon signed for me at the T-Bones/Wingnuts preseason game back in April. The first one can be seen here.

It sounds like Dewon has had an interesting career. He had knee surgery and Tommy John surgery before completing high school. Because of that, he went undrafted out of high school and attended Middle Tennessee State instead. He set the MTSU school record for wins and strikeouts while there and he ended up getting drafted with the third overall selection in the 2001 draft.

He made his pro debut the following year with the Rays AA team, the Orlando Rays. He did good enough that season the got promoted to AAA for one start before getting a September call-up to the big league club. In his Major League debut, he gave up 5 runs in 6 innings against the Blue Jays and he took the loss. He fared much better in his second start by throwing 7 innings and only allowing 2 runs to the Yankees. I'm sure that Rays fan were pretty excited by the fast start that Dewon had.

Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to last. Dewon pitched in 52 more games for the Rays, over three seasons, before they traded him to San Diego. He pitched in 9 games for the Padres in 2006 before getting demoted and then released. In 2007, he pitched for the Royals AAA and the Pirates AA team. He didn't pitch at all in 2008 and 2009 was spent in the Atlantic League. He started out 2010 with the Kansas City T-Bones, but he must have been released before the season started. It would appear that Dewon's career may be over.

It seems that the major issue with Dewon may have been control. For his Major League career, Dewon tallied just 145 strikeouts compared to 151 walks. It is going to be hard to be successful with that bad of a strikeout to walk ratio.

I thought it was funny when I looked up Dewon's page on Baseball Reference. Our good friend, the Collective Troll, is the sponsor of the page. That is pretty cool.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2004 Topps Chrome, Brayan Pena

#223 Brayan Pena

Here is a quick Brayan Pena post. I picked up this card from a few months ago for $1.49. I normally do not buy autographs of players that I have had sign in person, but I could not resist this card. The reason why I bought it was because of the signature. I posted the base version of this card a couple of weeks ago and that can be seen here. Just click on that link and check out the difference in the two signatures. They are worlds apart.

While the autograph on this card isn't readable or anything, it is much better looking than his current signature which is getting sloppier and sloppier. It's good to see that it hasn't always been that way.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2004 Topps, Austin Kearns

#AK Austin Kearns

Here is an autograph that I pulled out of a pack of 2004 Topps. It was most likely a retail pack, but to be honest, I do not remember how I got this card. For some reason, I always thought that this card was a 2002 card and I got it while I was in college. But it turns out that I was getting this card, the first autograph I pulled out of a pack of Topps, confused with my first game-used card that I got in college in 2002. Now I am not sure when I got this card. Oh well. I have it and that is what counts.

I do know that I was pretty excited when I pulled this card, though. For one, this is the only autograph that I have ever pulled out of the base Topps set. But the main reason I was excited was because I thought Austin was an up-and-coming star. He had 13 home runs as a 21 year old rookie in 2002 and 15 in '03. But, unfortunately for the Reds, the star status never hit Austin and he was out of Cincinnati by July of 2006.

Austin was traded to the Nationals that year and that ended up being one of Austin's best seasons. That was the only season that he had more than 20 home runs and 80 RBI. He stayed with the Nats through the 2009 season before he signed with Cleveland last year and was traded to the Yankees at the deadline. I believe that Austin is currently a free agent.

Overall, I really like this card. It is an on-card auto with a nice open spot to sign and a unique design. What more can I say?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2004 Topps, James Tomlin

#T213 James Tomlin

Here is a card that I got signed in Springdale, Arkansas this past summer. James was playing for the Frisco Roughriders at the time and I was able to get the card signed by Frisco's dugout. I had a hard time getting James' attention, and when I did, he started to look around like I was calling for someone else. When he came over to sign, I asked him if he wasn't used to being asked for autographs and he told me that he thought I trying to gcall for someone else.

James has had an interesting career. He was drafted out of high school by the Twins in 2000. Since then, he has played for four organizations at every level of affiliated minor league ball. But, he has spent the majority of his career playing at the AA level. Of his eleven seasons of pro ball, parts of six of them have been spent in AA. He finally got a taste of AAA this season for the first time and he only hit .143 in 47 at-bats. But for his career, James is a .281 hitter with 27 home runs.

When I look at James' stats and Tim Hutting's (see previous post) stats, I really don't see much of a difference. Yet, Tim has been playing independent ball for the past three seasons while James has played AA ball for the last four. Why isn't Tim in affiliated ball still? The only thing I can think of is that Tim was drafted out of college and James was drafted out of high school. With James being younger, maybe clubs are more willing to give him time to develop? That is the best guess that I can come up with.

2004 Topps, Tim Hutting

#T125 Tim Hutting

Here is the second of two Tim Hutting cards that I got signed at a Wingnuts game this past season. I posted the first one back in October and it can be seen here. The first one was a 2004 Bowman card. I can hardly beleive that I started my 2004 cards in October and I will not be finishing them until early January. At that pace, when I finally do get to my 2008 cards, it may take me a year to post them all.

There really isn't much to say about Tim that I didn't say in the first post, so this one is going to be short. But, I will try to get another card posted later on tonight.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2004 Topps, Jeff Cirillo

#585 Jeff Cirillo

So far, I think I have posted ten cards from 2004 Topps Series 1. Here is the one card from Series 2 that I have signed and it was given to me by Rod of Padrographs. Guess which series I collected in 2004.

Jeff played in the Major Leagues for fourteen years. He spent time with the Brewers, Rockies, Mariners, Padres, Twins, and Diamondbacks. He is probably best remembered for his time as a Brewer as he played for them for eight seasons and represented them at the All Star game in 1997. He made one more All Star team in 2000 as a member of the Rockies and that season may have been the best of his career. He finished that year with career highs in average (.326), RBI (115), runs (111), and doubles (53).

2007 was Jeff's final season in the Major Leagues, and that year, he got to do something that every position player dreams about. He got to pitch. On August 20th of that season, the D-Backs were losing to the Brewers 9-0. Rather than throw another pitcher into the fire, Bob Melvin sent Jeff to the hill in the ninth inning. While it wasn't a perfect ninth, it was a hitless one. Jeff made it through the inning without surrendering a run while walking two and striking out one. In case you are wondering who struck out against Jeff Cirillo, it was Craig Counsell (who led off the inning).

Monday, December 6, 2010

2004 Topps, Zack Grienke/Jimmy Gobble

#330 Jimmy Gobble/Zack Grienke

This is the first card that I got two signatures on and it only took me about five years to get them both. The first signature I got was Jimmy Gobble's and I got it at a Royals Caravan appearance at the local Buick dealership in 2004. This was the only card that I had of Jimmy, so it was better than getting just a Royals issued postcard signed. The funny part is that, at the time, I didn't have a clue who the Grienke kid on the top part of the card was.

Fast forward to 2009 and everyone found out who Zack Grienke was. That is the year that I got Zack to sign the card, but I got the card signed before the season began at Royals Fanfest. I usually take my autograph book with me to Fanfest in an attempt to get more than one card signed (I know, I'm a bad person). When I got to Grienke, I made sure to point to this card so I could get it completed. He signed this one and one other card for me that day. I tried to get more than one from him this past Fanfest, but he only signed one card for me. I guess you never really know what you are going to get from Zack (unless he's on the mound).

This will probably be the last time that I post a Zack Grienke card while he is still a member of the Royals. That kid sounds really anxious to get the hell out of KC.

As for the "Future Star" billing on this card, Zack became a star. Jimmy Gobble? Not so much.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2004 Topps. Todd Self

#322 Todd Self

When I did yesterdays post about Omar Falcon, I was thinking that today's post was going to be very similar to that one. Boy, was I wrong. It turns out that Todd Self played in 21 Major League games in 2005. I had no idea.

Anyway, I got this card signed at a Tulsa Drillers game in 2008. I was bored on Fourth of July weekend that year, so I decided to go to Tulsa since that was the closest ballpark to me that I hadn't been to (four hour drive). That was Todd's fist season of not playing ball and he was the fourth coach on the Astros AA team, the Corpus Christi Hooks. This is the only card that I got signed on that day, though I do have another signed card coming up when I ran into him a year later.

Todd got called up to the Astros in May of 2005. In his short tenure with the 'Stros, Todd got 45 at-bats and he hit .200 with 7 runs, 4 RBI, 2 doubles and 1 home run. His one home run came off of Russ Ortiz. He is listed as a first baseman on this card, but he only played outfield during his cup of coffee.

After 2005, Todd somehow managed to spend a majority of 2006 in the American Association. It always amazes me when a player goes from the Major Leagues one year to the independent leagues the next. You would think that player would at least be a great roster filler on any affiliated team. But, what do I know? In 2007, he was back in the Astros organization and he spent the whole year with the AA Hooks.

Todd made a comeback attempt in 2009, but I will save that story for the next Todd Self card.

I find it odd that every Major League card made of Todd came out in 2004. No cards were made of him after his Major League debut. That just seems wrong.

Since this is the last card to show that I got signed at Drillers Stadium in 2008, I might as well show some pictures of the ballpark. The park is no longer used by the Drillers, but I believe it is still standing.

The exterior isn't really much to look at. There is a horse track right beside the ballpark and you have to walk across a bridge over the track to get from the parking lot to the park.

The fences were kind of close to home with a distance of 390 to center and 349 to left-center.

But, the most unusual aspect of the ballpark was the use of aluminium. Everything in the ballpark was made out of aluminium. The seats were aluminium. The bleachers were alumnium. The upper deck was aluminium. Everything was aluminium. Whenever they do tear that ballpark down, someone is going to make a small fortune recycling it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Free Topps Million Card Giveawy Code

Somehow, I ended up with a pack of Topps Update tonight and it included a code card. I just paid to get my redeemed cards two days ago, so I don't want this card. If you want it, I will email the code to the first person to comment on this post.

2004 Topps, Omar Falcon

#319 Omar Falcon

Here is another Padrograph from Rod. This one features Omar Falcon. Omar never got above A-ball as a Padre minor leaguer, yet he somehow ended up on an official Topps card. In 2003, the year before this card was released, Omar hit a whopping .189 in 143 at-bats between two A stops. Then, in 2004, someone at Topps thought it would be a great idea to make a card of this guy. It's a crazy world we live in, but congratulations to Omar Falcon for making it onto a Topps card. I'm a bit jealous.

Omar was drafted out of high school by the Padres in the third round of the 2000 draft. He played minor league ball through 2007 and he played for four different organizations in his career. In 2007, he got his first taste of the AA level and he went 1-16. He finished his career a .227 hitter with 42 home runs and 171 RBI.

I've got a couple more Omar Falcon-like first year cards coming up to finish off the 2004 set.

Friday, December 3, 2010

2004 Topps, Kyle Davies

#313 Kyle Davies

Here is the second former Brave/current Royal (as of now) that I have posted in the last two days. This one is of Kyle Davies and he doesn't appear to be wearing Adidas cleats. I got this card signed at a Royals game sometime in July of 2008. Kyle is a pretty good ballpark signer and I have had him sign on multiple occassions, so I don't really remember how or when I got this card signed. But, it might have been on the day that he and Brian Bannister were throwing curve balls to each other from 150 feet away.

This past season, Kyle pitched the most innings of his short career. He threw 183.2 innings while posting a record of 8-12 with a 5.34 ERA. He even recorded his first 100 strikeout season while finishing the year with 126.

The funny thing about Kyle and his tenure with the Royals is his Septembers. Kyle always has a mediocre (at best) season until September comes, and then he turns it up a notch. And every September (it wasn't really like that this past season, just the three before that), Kyle has Royals fans wondering if that is what Kyle is truly capable of. Then the next season starts and it is back to the regular Kyle Davies until September approaches. Then it repeats itself. Like I said, he didn't go through this routine this past season, so I think Royals fans have finally figured out what they have in Kyle Davies. And until the Royals highly touted farm system starts to produce Major League ready players, it is probably going to be more of the same for Kyle Davies and the Royals for 2011.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2004 Topps, Brayan Pena

#300 Brayan Pena

Here is a card of the former Brave and current Royal, Brayan Pena. I got this card signed at the first Royals game I attended in 2009. I got it signed by the Royals dugout after batting practice and that might have been the last time I 'graphed by the Royals dugout. This past season, the Royals changed their gate-opening times from two hours prior to gametime to one hour prior, so it is almost impossible to catch the Royals batting practice.

On the day I got this card signed, I thought Brayan ignored me when I asked him to sign. He was walking off the field with a couple of bats and his helmet when I asked him. He just kept on walking into the tunnel to the clubhouse, so I started to scan for the next target. The next thing I knew, Brayan popped back out of the tunnel after setting his bats down and signed my cards for me. It was a nice surprise.

Through six partial Major League seasons, Brayan has collected 450 at-bats. In those ABs, he has a .253 batting average with 25 doubles, 9 home runs, and 49 RBI. Those are alright numbers for a backup catcher. The only problem with that last sentence is the "catcher" part. Brayan looks like a capable Major League hitter. It's his catching I have issues with. There are some times watching him behind the plate that I wish the Royals still had Miguel Olivo back there and that is a scary thought.

Some people gave the Royals a lot of crap last year for sending Jason Kendall out to catch every single game. They wanted to see what Brayan could do. While I too got tired of seeing Kendall playing seven games a week, I do not think that Brayan would have been an upgrade defensively. Maybe the Royals already knew that Brayan wasn't a viable option behind the plate and they kept putting Kendall out there for a lack of options. Who knows? With Kendall out for the first part of 2011, it will be interesting to see what the Royals catching situation looks like when the season begins.

So far, every player I have posted from the '04 Topps set (whose cleats are visible) has been sporting a pair of Adidas cleats. Will the trend continue? Tune in tomorrow to find out.