Thursday, May 30, 2019

2008 Topps, Brandon McCarthy

#156 Brandon McCarthy

Here is a card that I got signed by Brandon McCarthy at a Rangers game in 2008. At the time, my grandparents were living in southern Texas and I went to visit them in early September. Since it was still baseball season and a fairly long drive, I took my time getting there and back by stopping at some ballgames. For that trip, I believe I caught games for the Round Rock Express, San Antonio Mission, Grand Prairie AirHogs, and the Texas Rangers. Brandon signed this card for me at the Rangers game.

Brandon pitched in the Majors for thirteen seasons and it looks like he called it a career after last year. Over that time, he pitched with the White Sox, Rangers, A's, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Dodgers, and Braves. He finished with a 69-75 record and a 4.20 ERA.

It looks like the toughest part of Brandon's career was staying healthy. Minus a full season out of the the Sox pen in 2006, he only pitched in 30 games once in his career. Coincidentally, that was the only season that he ever reached double digits in wins. Once he became a full time starter in 2007, he only averaged 17 starts a season.

Brandon had his best season in 2011 with the A's. That year, he finished the season 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA and a career-high 123 strikeouts. The crazy part is that he missed all of the 2010 season to a shoulder injury, but came back in 2011 and threw five complete games with one being a shutout. Had his team given him some run support that season, he probably would have had only one complete game (the shutout). Three of the complete games were on the road with the A's losing, so Brandon only had to toss eight innings to get credit for it. The fifth complete game was in Kansas City where Brandon took the mound in the ninth inning of a tie game before losing on a sac fly with one out. So, that was an 8.1 inning shutout. For his five shutouts, he was 1-4 and his offense averaged 1.8 runs a game while being outscored by two runs over the five contests.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

2008 Topps, Jamey Carroll

#137 Jamey Carroll

I have finally made it up to 2008 Topps. Prior to this year, it probably would have taken me at least four months to post the sixty or so cards from the set that I have got signed. But, now that I am (usually) only giving a player one post before lumping them into "Rest Of" set round-up, I should be able to get through this set in about a month.

So, here is the first card I have to post. It is a card of Jamey Carroll that I got signed at an Astros pre-season game in 2009. That spring, I had to head down to the Houston area for a cousin's wedding. The Astros had just wrapped up Spring Training in Florida and were home for two games against the Indians before the regular season started. They also hosted Fanfest during one of those games, so it worked out really well as I was able to get a lot of free Astros alumni autos while taking in a meaningless game. Jamey was playing for the Indians at the time and this was the only card I had of him to get signed.

Jamey wrapped up his twelve year career after the 2013 season. Over that time, he played with the Expos/Nationals, Rockies, Indians, Dodgers, Twins, and Royals. He was a career .272 hitter that had 13 home runs and 265 RBI. His best season was probably with the Rockies in 2006 when he hit .300 with 5 homers and 36 runs driven in.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Rest of 2008 Stadium Club

#137 Brandon Jones
#139 Jayson Nix

This is it from the resurrected 2008 Stadium Club set. I have just three cards signed- one from a pack and two in-person sigs. Both of the in-person autos were obtained in Wichita's now extinct Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

Brandon Jones- It has been four years since I posted a card of Brandon Jones. The former Braves prospect played in only five games in 2007, but he somehow got a decent amount of cards in 2008 sets. He played with the Braves for parts of three seasons and he hit .257 with 1 homer and 22 RBI over 51 games. His one home run was off of Ervin Santana. Brandon signed this card for me at a Winguts game in 2014 while he was a member of the Kansas City T-Bones.

Jayson Nix- I posted my first Jayson Nix card just six months ago when I finally got around to posting cards from 2008. In both initial posts of Jones and Nix, I talk about how I once thought I was going to run out of autographs for this blog. Silly me. Anyways, I got this card signed at a Kansas Stars game in 2016 when the team made their NBC World Series debut.

Next up is 2008 Topps. I probably have about sixty cards from the set signed. But, the majority of those cards are going to be repeats, so I should be able to get through the set in about a dozen posts. It might take me a full month to do twelve posts, but we will make it through.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

2008 Stadium Club, Brent Lillibridge

#157 Brent Lillibridge

Here is a card that I pulled out of a blaster in late 2009. I guess I was really wanting to open some packs at the time and there wasn't anything new out. So, I found a year old blaster at Walmart for a reduced price and went that route. It worked out well for me as I got this card in it.

Brent spent parts of six seasons in the Majors with six different clubs. He made his debut with the Braves in 2008 before being dealt to the White Sox after the season. He then spent nearly four years in Chicago before they dealt him to the Red Sox in 2012. His tenure in Boston lasted exactly one month before they shipped him to Cleveland. He finished off the season with the Indians before signing with the Cubs for the 2013 season. He lasted in the Cubs organization for for half the season before they sold him to the Yankees. Though he played AAA ball in 2014, he never made it back up to the Major Leagues.

For his career, Brent played in 358 games and hit .205 with 19 home runs and 71 RBI. His best season was with the White Sox in 2011. That year, he played in a career-high 97 games and he hit .258 with 13 homers and 29 driven in.

Nearly three years after pulling this card, I would get Brent's autograph in-person. Actually, my oldest boy got it for me and then held the card against his Royals jersey and smeared it. So, this is one of the rare instances where I prefer a certified autograph over an in-person autograph.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

2008 SPx, Alex Gordon

#WM-GO Alex Gordon

Since this is the fifth card of Alex Gordon that I have posted on here, I would normally add him in a set round-up post. But, this is the only card from this set that I have signed, so Alex gets another stand alone post.

I bought this card to get signed at a Royals Fanfest, but I missed out on Alex that year. Luckily, I was able to get him by the Royals parking lot after their home opener in 2012. I miss the days when you could easily get autographs by the Royals parking lot.

I was pretty excited when I bought this card because it looked really cool online. I swore that it was a triple swatch with two bat pieces and one jersey piece. But, then it arrived and I was a little disappointed. There are no bat pieces on the card. It just has the one jersey swatch and room for two more relic pieces that are filled with some gold foil instead. That was kind of a bummer. But it was cheap and I got it signed, so it turned out well.

Alex had been playing some pretty bad baseball the last few years, but he has picked it up this season. Through 43 games this year, Alex is currently hitting .291 with 8 homers and 33 RBI. If he stays healthy and keeps driving in runs, he may get his first 100 RBI season of his career.

Speaking of his career, there was some talk of this season being his last. But, with him hitting the ball again, he has backed off the retirement talk a bit and is considering playing some more. If he keeps hitting, I am fine with that.

Friday, May 17, 2019

2008 Razor, Tanner Scheppers

#148 Tanner Scheppers

Here is a card that I bought off of COMC for a whopping $1.25. The only reason why I bought this card is because I had the pleasure of watching Tanner pitch in the American Association before he went to the Majors. While a couple of Wingnut players are currently playing in the Majors, I do not remember seeing them play in Wichita. But, I do remember Tanner pitching.

In 2008, Tanner was drafted in the second round by the Pirates. He and the Pirates could not agree to a contract before the deadline and Tanner re-entered the draft the following year. In order to stay fresh before the draft, Tanner signed with the St. Paul Saints. He pitched in four games with the Saints before getting drafted by the Rangers at the end of the first round. He signed that time around and his time in the American Association came to a close.

Tanner pitched in the Majors for parts of six seasons with the Rangers. During that time, he was 12-7 with 3 saves and a 4.23 ERA. His best season came in 2013 when he logged a career high 76.2 innings and responded with a 6-2 record with a save and a 1.99 ERA. That was his only Major League season with an ERA under 4.00.

Tanner pitched in Japan last year and it looks like is not playing right now. He could be injured or he might not have a team to play for. I do not know. I bet that the Saints would take him back, though.

Even though it does not mention a team anywhere on this card, I am chalking this up as a Pirate card because they drafted him in 2008.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

2008 Razor, Mike Montgomery

#84 Mike Montgomery

Back in the day, Mike Montgomery was a highly touted Royals prospect. That was the main reason that I got this card signed. In 2009, he was the Roylas minor league pitcher of the year. Because of that, he was at Royals Fanfest in 2010 when he signed this card.

Unfortunately, it never worked out for Mike when he was with the Royals. I heard a few different reasons for why that was, but the main one I heard was that the Royals deemed him uncoachable. He had a private pitching coach during his time as a Royal minor leaguer and he apparently valued his advice over any of the Royals coaches. So, prior to the 2013 season, the Royals packaged him in a deal with Wil Myers and sent them to the Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis. I would say that deal worked out well for the Royals.

Mike made his Major League debut with the Mariners in 2015. He has appeared in the Majors every year since then and even won a World Series with the Cubs in 2016. To date, he is 21-25 with 3 saves and a 3.64 ERA in 152 games with 56 of those being starts. He is having a rough start to this season, but has only pitched in five games so far. Through 7.2 innings of work, he currently is 1-0 with a 5.87 ERA and 5 strikeouts.

Monday, May 13, 2019

2008 Razor, Jordy Mercer

#82 Jordy Mercer

Here is another card that I got signed at the Wilmington Blue Rocks playoff game in 2009. Jordy was playing for the visiting Lynchburg Hillcats at the time and I was lucky that my buddy was able to get this card signed for me and that it came out looking this good. I mention that last part because it was kind of raining when he got this card signed and one of the cards Jordy signed got hit with a rain drop and kind of ruined the signature. The third card he signed looked like it might not have got prepped and got pelted with two rain drops. But, at least this one came out looking great!

Looking back at my lone trip to a baseball game in Delaware, I am kind of surprised by the percentage of autographs that I got that went on to appear in the Majors. Minus a couple of Rocks that I got for my Burlington Bees team set, I would guess that at least 85% of the players that signed for me that day at least appeared in the Major Leagues. That seems pretty good for an A ball game.

As for Jordy, he is currently playing for the Tigers, but is on the IL right now (I might never get used to saying/typing IL). This is his eighth season in the Majors and he has been rather consistent so far in his career. His numbers are a bit down right now, but he typically is good for a .255 average with about 10 homers and 50 RBI.

I am pretty sure that Jordy is pictured in his Oklahoma State uniform here, which means that I most likely saw him play in college. I went to a Wichita State game in 2007 where they hosted the Cowpokes, so there is a good chance that Jordy played in that game.

That is two posts in a row of current players. That is unheard of on here. Just wait until the next post when it makes it to three straight. Just for fun, if anyone actually makes it down this far in the post, leave a comment on who you think the next player is. Here is a hint- the card is from this set. There may be prizes involved just for making a guess.

Friday, May 10, 2019

2008 Razor, Eric Hosmer

#3 Eric Hosmer

Does anyone else remember this set? If it wasn't for the cards from it that I bought to get signed, I certainly would not. I never saw any packs of this stuff and have no idea how it was distributed. Since I have none, I am sure it wasn't something you could pick up at your local big box store. A quick peek at COMC makes it look like 2008 was the only year that the company did a mass released baseball set.

Here is the card of Eric Hosmer that I got signed in Burlington, Iowa in 2009. I was on my way to the Future's Game in St. Louis and decided to veer off to the north to take in a Burlington Bees game. The Bees were a Royals affiliate at the time and play in a beautiful little ballpark that was built in 1947.

That was the first time I ever got to see Hoz play, but it certainly was not the last time. I believe I saw him play one more minor league game after that before having the pleasure to watch him play 46 times as a member of the Royals. He was a key cog during the Royals second championship in 2015 and scored the tying run in game five of the Series that sent the game into extra innings. The Royals went on to win the Series in the 12th inning and Hoz's mad dash to home in the top of the ninth is still highly regarded in Royals lore. It is simply referred to as "The Slide".

Nowadays, Eric is out west playing for the Padres. Because of that, I may never seem him play again. For whatever reason, the Padres are the franchise that I have seen play the least amount of times. In my twenty-five years of attending Major League games, I have seen the Padres play twice. I saw them play in Denver in 1996 and in San Diego in 2008. They are one of just two teams (the Phillies being the other) that I have never seen play in Kansas City.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Rest of 2008 Playoff Contenders

#8 Byron Wiley
#32 Josh Vitters

That is it, just two posts from Playoff Contenders. There was just one new guy and two repeats.

I never bought any packs of this product. I just bought a few singles in the hope that I could get them signed. Overall, they are not bad cards to get autographed. The lack of a background helps out by making the auto that much easier to see.

But, one thing that I do not like about these cards is that they say "ROOKIE" in big font right across the front of the card. I think that just looks tacky and takes away from what is only an average looking card at best. Plus, and I know it is a small sample size, none of the three guys I posted were even rookies in 2008. Two are in their college unis and the other is maybe in a Spring Training uniform and sporting a snap back. The earliest any of the guys made the Majors and officially became a rookie was Chase d'Arnaud in 2011.

Byron Wiley- I got this card signed at a Wingnuts game in 2014. I believe Byron was playing for the Laredo Lemurs at the time. I like this card just because he is rocking his Kansas State digs in the photo, though it is not quite as cool as the card I linked to.

Josh Vitters- This card was signed at the same time as the last two cards of him I posted- at the 2009 Futures Game. Those were all the cards I had of him at the time, but I would eventually run into him a couple of years later and add two more signed cards by him to the collection.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

2008 Playoff Contenders, Chase d'Arnaud

#65 Chase d'Arnaud

This is a card that I got signed at a Wilmington Blue Rocks game in 2009. Chase was playing for the visiting Lynchburg Hillcats at the time. The game I attended was a Carolina League playoff game that almost got rained out. They got the game in, but pregame was a little soggy which made the 'graphing rough. That day, I 'graphed the home team and I entrusted a buddy to get the Hillcats for me. I guess I didn't stress to him enough to not bother getting the players to sign if it was raining because he got me a few smeared autos. This one, however, came out unscathed and looks rather nice.

To date, Chase has played parts of seven seasons in the Majors with the Pirates, Phillies, Braves, Red Sox, Padres, and Giants. Over that time, he is a .222 hitter with 5 home runs and 40 RBI over 236 games. His best season was with the Braves in 2016 when he got into a career high 84 games and responded with a .245 average and a home run with 21 runs driven in.

Chase is currently playing for the Rangers AAA affiliate in Nashville and is off to a rough start. Through 17 games, he is hitting just .193. Considering that he played in the Majors as recently as last year, there is still time for him to get it going and get called up again.

Monday, May 6, 2019

2008 PCL Top Prospects, Wladimir Balentien

#33 Wladimir Balentien

Here is the third and final card from this prospect set that I have been able to get signed. This one was signed at a Rangers game in 2008. Seattle was in town and I was able to get Wladimir on three cards cards while the Mariners took batting practice. I posted one card already and that one can be seen here.

At the time, I didn't know anything about Wladimir. But, I had a few cards of him, so I figured that he must have been an up and comer and I was excited that I got his autograph. Unfortunately, he never thrived in Major League baseball. He played his last game in the Majors in 2009 and batted .221 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI in 170 games.

In 2011, he went to Japan to play and he is a stud over there. He signed with the Yakult Swallows and is still playing with that team this season. In his first two seasons in Japan, he hit 31 home runs each year. Then, in 2013, he went off and knocked 60 bombs, breaking the Japanese single season record of 55. Since that year, he has had 30+ home runs every year minus what I am assuming was an injury plagued 2015.

Wladimir is in his ninth season with Yakult and is currently hitting .284 with 8 home runs and 29 RBI through 29 games. For his Japanese career, he is currently a .272 hitter with 263 homers and 699 runs driven in. Considering that he drove in 131 in a season twice, I honestly thought that he would have more RBI than that.

This is the first card that I have ever posted of a Rainier player. I have posted some Tacoma cards before, but those were from the early '90s when the team was called the Tigers. They switched to the Rainiers in 1995.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

2008 PCL Top Prospects, Mark Saccomanno

#27 Mark Saccomanno

Here is the card that I got signed the day I bought it. After seeing a couple of people getting cards from this set signed pregame, I went and bought the set during the game in the hopes that I could get some signed afterwards. This is the one card that I got signed after the game.

I bought this card and got it signed in August of 2008. Less than a month later, Mark would get called up to the Astros for a brief cup of coffee. He made it into ten games during his September call-up and went 2-10 with a double and home run. That .200 lifetime average and on-base percentage doesn't look too hot, but he makes up for it with a .600 slugging percentage.

As for the home run he hit, he got it in his first Major League at-bat. He pinch hit for the pitcher in the bottom of the fifth inning and hit the very first pitch he saw from Ian Snell for a dinger to put the 'Stros up 1-0. Houston tacked on two more runs that inning and pulled off a 3-2 victory. All three runs were scored with two outs.

Mark was back in Round Rock the next year. His numbers slacked off a bit from his '08 season and he never got called up again. The Astros released him after the season and the Marlins picked him up. He played one season in their organization and called it a career after the season ended.

Friday, May 3, 2019

2008 PCL Top Prospects, Sam Fuld

#5 Sam Fuld

In 2008, I found myself at a Round Rock Express game and I ended up picking up this Top Prospects set. My thinking was that I could probably get quite a few of them signed. It turns out that I could only get three signed in the eleven years I have had the set. I got one that day, one the next month, and one the next year. This is the one I got in 2009. Sam was playing for the Iowa Cubs still and I got him in Des Moines between games of a doubleheader.

Sam spent parts of eight seasons in the Majors with the Cubs, Rays, A's, and Twins. Over that time, he hit .227 with 12 home runs and 112 RBI. One of his best seasons was in 2014 and it was also his craziest. He started off the year with the A's, but got picked up off waivers by the Twins in late April. He stayed with Minnesota up to the trade deadline when he was traded back to the A's for Tommy Milone. So, the A's basically traded a decent pitcher for a player that they had designated for assignment three months earlier. You do not see that everyday.

Over the course of that 2014 campaign, Sam played in 113 games and had a career high 351 at-bats. He finished the season a .239 hitter with 4 homers and 36 RBI.

Sam hit just .197 for the A's in 2015 and retired after that season.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

2008 Just Minors

#27 Chris Getz
#46 Daniel Mayora
#60 Derrick Robinson

I only have three cards signed from this set and all three feature players that have been posted on here before. So, I get an easy day today.

Chris Getz- This card was signed at Royals Fanfest in 2013.

Daniel Mayora- I got this card signed at Dodgers Spring Training in 2014. To my surprise, Daniel is still playing ball. He is playing in Mexico, where he has played since 2017.

Derrick Robinson- Derrick signed this card for me in 2009 while he was a member of the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Derrick last played pro ball in 2017. In 2016, he played in the American Association and I was bummed that I could not find his 2013 Topps Update card to get signed at a game. It was in my collection, but missing in action.

I find it strange that this is a minor league set, but it really doesn't focus on the minor leagues. I know three cards is a small sample size, but only one of the three shows a definitive minor league uniform. While the other two could possibly be minor league unis, they could just as easily be Spring Training shots. The backs have no mention of the minor leagues and don't even tell you where the players played the previous season when the racked up the stats that are listed.