Monday, September 26, 2016

Going Back to 1994

One of my most frequent trading partners is Kevin M, who runs the Trading Bases group.  It is more of an open ended type of deal.  I will find a few nice Mets cards for him at a show, while he seems to send a 100 count box of Cardinals my way every month or so.  I may not need them all, but I still like going through the box.  I received the latest box on Saturday.  It had a very 1994 feel to it.

It might be the kid in me, but I have always liked Sportflics.  The "magic motion"  cards are just fun to play with.  These 1994 cards cut my team wantlist down to 3. 

1994 Finest may not have the hype of the 1993 set, but they are still nice cards.  I do not believe the refractors were as limited as the 1993 version, but they are still tough to distinguish since Topps did not not them on the back. 

These are my first cards from the 1994 Upper Deck Minor League and Classic Best sets.  Alan Benes was the only one of the 4 who reached the majors. 

More minor league cards from 1994, these from Fleer Excel.  I was shocked to see the team set has 22 cards.  Not many big leaguers from the bunch other than Benes and TJ Mathews.  Mathews was a reliever who is better know for being part of the Mark McGwire trade.

1994 Bowman Best was a strange set.  Some cards had a blue background, some had red.  Nice to get an Ozzie insert from 1994 Upper Deck.  I did not feel like scanning the 2016 Topps card by itself.  I am still 4 or 5 cards short of completing that set.  Hope to get that done before Update comes out.

Not all cards I needed where from 1994.  Along with the 2016 Topps base card, I received these 2 Topps Chrome parallels.  I was not too excited about the Oh signing last winter, but he has turned out to be a very good reliever.  He took the closer's job around the all star break and has not slowed down.  I hope Matheny does not overuse him so he will be efffective next year.  Hazelbaker was a career minor leaguer before getting a shot this year.  He provides speed and power off the bench, but his strikeout rate will keep him from an everyday job.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Feeling Blue

I am sure most collectors are aware of the Topps Now program where you can buy a card featuring a so called notable event from the previous day.  Collectors can also buy wall art that looks like various cards or complete sets.  A new twist this year is the Topps Chrome Sapphire Set.  For the low price of $1500, you get 700 base cards along with 2 1/1s and a handful of other numbered cards.  Topps produced 250 sets, but it will be interesting to see how many of them are sold.  I am guessing quite a few will be left over and be part of a Black Friday sale.

Singles have been popping up on EBAY for a while now.  Last week I ran across a seller who listed all 21 Cardinal cards in the set with $3.50 flat rate shipping no matter how many auctions you won.  I sat at my computer Friday night and placed bids on some of the cheaper cards.  I won a total of 14 auctions. 
Leake and Garcia started out as 2/5 of the Cardinals starting rotation this year.  Garcia has been sent to the bullpen after a number of bad starts, while Leake is still hanging on.  If the Cardinals sneak into the playoff, it will be interesting to see if he would be the 4th starter or if Luke Weaver would get the nod.

Both Rosenthal and Wacha have returned from the DL in the last few weeks to hopefully provide more reliable bullpen arms.  That remains to be seen.

Lynn and Walden have missed the entire season with injures.  Lynn had Tommy John surgery, while Walden has not recovered from a mysterious should injury from 2015.  He is the last remaining piece of the Jason Heyward-Shelby Miller trade.  That one did not work out well for either team, although at least the Braves dumped Miller for a nice handful of prospects.

Yet 2 more pitchers from the lot.  Martinez has become the most effective starter this year, while Siegrist is good at times, but suffers from fatigue and dead arm at times.  Matheny needs to scale back his use of Siegrist if he plans to have him around for many years.

The Cardinals signed Tejada in lat spring training once Peralta was placed on the DL with a thumb injury.  He never did hit and was released before the All Star break.  Jhonny has since returned, but it a shell of his former self and has been moved to third base.

Adams and Pham both have lots of potential, but cannot seem to stay healthy.  Pham hurt his oblique during his first at bat of the season and never got regular at bats to get in a groove.  Adams hurt his shoulder and lost playing time when Brandon Moss when on a home run binge, but is starting to see more playing time.  I would love to see how well he does with 500 at bats in a season.

Finally 2 Matts that make up the core of the team.  Holliday is showing his age, but still had good power numbers until a Cubs pitcher broke a bone in his hand.  It would not break my heart to see some retaliation this weekend against someone like Rizzo who hangs over the plate.  Carpenter has should see another 20 home run season while batting lead off most of the season.  He has also spent some time on the DL.

11 of the cards I won for the $0.75 starting bid, while the Pham was $1.06 and Carpenter and Martinez were $1.56.  Total including shipping was $15.93.  I will try buy the last 7 cards to complete the team set, but with Molina, Picostty, and Wainwright left it will be more costly.  I will say the cards are beautiful in hand, but wish they were numbered. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

A So Sa Kinda Mailday

No the title is not a typo, just a bad play on words.  Keeping up with my kids' after school activities has limited my hobby time the last few weeks, but I did manage to win an EBAY auction for a Cardinals auto that I have been watching for about a year now. 

Sosa is the Cardinals 7th ranked prospect.  He spent the first half of the year in low A Peoria where he was a mid season all star.  In late July he was promoted to Palm Beach  where he only played 9 games before ending the year on the DL.  Sosa has a good chance of staying at shortstop unless he fills out more as he gets older (he just turned 20 in March). 

Sosa autographed these 2 cards for me at a Peoria Chiefs game in early July.  His IP auto is very similar to his certified auto.  I would guess he is 2-3 years away from pushing for a job in the Majors unless he develops more power and shifts to third base. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Overjoyed, But Yet a Little Sad

If you are like me, sometime over the course of your day you browse EBAY for cards of your favorite team or player.  My first search is always Ray Lankford.  I have used the saved search before, but have gotten tired of seeing the same cards over and over.  Now I just search newly listed auctions, but even that has gotten a little more tedious since COMC started listing cards.  I would guess there is an average of 20-30 new Lankford items listed per day if you include searches with his name in the descpription. 

Last week I was lucky enough to come across a Lankford card I needed shortly after it had been listed with a Best Offer feature.  After a little back and forth, the seller came down about 20% from his asking price.  The card arrive a few days ago.

1998 Fleer Tradition Vintage '63 Classic

This is only the second new Lankford card I have gotten this year, so of course I was thrilled to get it.  You may noticed the top half of the front of the card shows some slight discoloration.  I did notice this in the auction listing, but was hoping it was just a bad scan or a lighting issue.  I should have asked the seller for better pictures because once the card arrived, the back showed a different story.  It almost appears like a coffee or tea stain is on the card.  I most likely would have still purchased the card, but might have asked for a larger discount.  This one did end about $15 cheaper than the last one that appeared about 3 years ago.  Since the card is 18 years old and numbered to 63, I will just be happy to mark it off my wantlist.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Bowman Kind of Trade Package

I received an unexpected trade package last week from Ron B.  I thought I had settled up with him by send a stack of 2016 Finest, but he felt the need to send more Cardinals my way.  All of them were inserts, with most being the Bowman variety.

This was the only card in the package that was not Bowman.  Topps hit a home run with these Chrome inserts.  They remind me of the Topps Gallery Gallery of Heroes inserts from the late 1990s. 

I am too lazy to research when Bowman started to include the Gold parallel in packs, but it was at least 2003 because the Naverson is from Bowman Draft of that year.  The earlier years were thicker cards that seemed to have problems with chipping. 

More Bowman Gold parallels from the past few years.  I sure hope Wong is not going down the same road as Colby Rasmus did with the Cardinals.  Both were first round draft picks that were expected to be key regulars for a long time.  Rasmus lasted about 3 years before being trade.  Wong signed a 5 year deal over the winter, but has seen his playing time dwindle with his low average and Jedd Gyorko hitting home runs every other game.  I still think Wong can be an above average player that hits .280 with 10 home runs and 20 steals if he gets more playing time and builds up his self confidence.

Bowman Heritage has used a variety of inserts over the years.  The Bo Hart is a Box Topper from 2003.  Like its Bowman Gold cousin, Bowman Heritage Mahogany parallels were thicker than the base cards.  The Rolen is from 2005.  The 2007 Heritage Rainbow Foil Eckstein is also a thicker card.  Eckstein was the 2006 World Series MVP, although I would argue Rolen had a better series. 

I am a much bigger fan of the Bowman Ice parallels than the Golds.  The colored parallels look even better.  Unlike Eckstein, I believe Freese was very deserving of his MVP honors in the 2011 World Series.  He just signed a 2 year extension with the Pirates.  I would be nice to see him end his career in St. Louis before it is all said and done. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Big Queens and Little Queens

My first trade package of this week came on Monday.  I traded a handful of 2016 Gypsy Queen blue frame cards for a handful of 2016 Gypsy Queen Cardinals.

The lone hanger pack of GQ that I bought this year did not contain any Cardinals, so these 6 are a good start for my team set.  I believe there are 18 Cardinals in the set counting the sps.  Maybe I will get this set done before the end of the year.

One reason I do not buy a lot of GQ is the mini cards.  I will however take any Cardinals I can trade for.  I now have 2 of the Molina card.  Anyone need it (Brady)?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bench Trade

School started yesterday for my 2 kids.  With summer activities coming to an end, I was hoping to have a little more free time for baseball cards and trading.  After our discussion at the dinner table, I fear my hobby time may decrease.  My 6th grader will be involved in band, choir, dance, basketball, and volleyball, while my 3rd grader is doing soccer and basketball.  My wife is a stickler when it comes to writing all activities on a calendar so we can keep our schedules organized.  I believe from now until the end of September we have 3 free nights at home not counting weekends.  Goodbye free time, hello gyms and practice fields.

Yesterday's mail did provide me with a small chance to escape to my card room.  I received a nice bubble mailer from fellow Cardinals fan Tom of The Bench trading site.  I keep a box of Cardinals duplicates that Tom hit pretty hard in exchange for a large stack of 2016 Finest another trader already has spoken for.  I did mange to get a handful of Cardinals I needed also.

Although Topps limited the availability of 2016 Finest to certain dealers, singles can still be found pretty easily.  Tom sent close to 75 Finest singles in his package.  I kept these 3 Cardinals for my team set.
While this may look like one card, these are 2 minis from 2016 Gypsy Queen.  I think I like the look of them better as one.  Maybe Topps can make a new insert for 2017 called Team Tandems.
Last week I received the entire 2016 Ginter team set from another trader, so this Wacha is going into the duplicate box.  Wacha is currently on the DL with another shoulder problem.  There is a strong possibility he may become a reliever if his shoulder cannot hold up to the 150+innings required to be a starter.