Saturday, January 31, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Cincinnati Reds (1999)
2000 Pacific Crown Collection #66Cameron was traded to Cincinnatti in 1998 for first baseman Paul Konerko.
Seattle Mariners (2000-2003)
2003 Topps #129 , 2003 Topps Opening Day #111
2006 Fleer #212In trying to find a card that had Mike Cameron in a Mets uniform, I came across this bad boy. For brevity's sake, I'll use this one and perform the "two-fer". In July of 2007 my submarine pulled into San Diego for a few days and I was able to watch then-Padre Greg Maddux pitch against his former team.
And finally, Mike Cameron found his way to Milwaukee.Reportedly, Cameron was instrumental in luring C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee last summer, so I have him to thank for that. This winter when his name was circling around as being trade fodder for some Yankees pitching I was bummed out, but happy to hear that he will be in a Brewers uniform once again this season. Cammy hit 25 homers in only 120 games, so if he stays healthy (and avoids any more "tainted" suplements) here's hoping he is able to do even more w/ an availbale 162 (not 137) games in 2009!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I have noticed that traffic to my blog has gone up slightly, and in trying to figure out why (since there has been only 1 confirmed reader, thank you Motherscratcher for you support) I realized that back during the summer olympics I had a "Olympic Girl of the Day" running thread, and one of the athletes I featured was Ana Ivanovic. Well, she was recently upset in the Australian Open yesterday and I have found that in running a quick google image search for her, my blog pops up. I was all excited to have another reader or two, but quickly realized that the baseball card market in the countries of Estonia and the Netherlands isn't what it is here.
At any rate, while I wait for some more ebay cards to arrive, here are a few cards that will hopefully show those eastern Europeans what card collecting is all about.
2003 Donruss Team Heroes #310 Andres Galarraga
Looks like Andres is trying to take care of business AND take care of the baserunner...
When Milwaukee decided to go after this guy last summer, I was a little concerned. I had seen this card and was afraid of what could happen. Bottom of the ninth, Brewers up by 1. Cubs are at bat with bases loaded and two outs, the count is full. Tavarez from the stretch. Looks at third, turns his head and eyes the runner at 1st. Gets the sign from Kendall, and deliv...wait! There seems to be something coming from his chest...
Yep, the alien chest baby thing from Total Recall suddenly burts from his torso, throwing off the pitch and it hits the dirt, bounces all the way to the backstop and the cubs plate two runners in a late comeback vitory over the Crew.
2006 Fleer Greats of the Game #63 Mark Fidrych
Following a promising pitching career at Preston High School, Napolean Dynamite headed pro and pitched for Detroit.
2005 Upper Deck Classics #34 Frank Howard
I got nothin.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The past few weeks have been very busy for the Brewers, as they look to follow up on last year's impressive performance with another playoff season. A number of players have said goodbye, and we've welcomed a few new faces to the clubhouse. The Brewers recieved a wonderful present from Santa this offseason, the anticipated departure of one-time closer Eric Gagne, along with his $10 Million price tag - which, as it turns out, amounted to $1 Million per save in 2008. Reminds one of Clemens' payscale with the Yankees a couple years back. Anyhow, goodbye to Gagne and hello to Trevor Hoffman, whose pay in '09 will be $6 mil with an additional $1.5 Mil in incentives. If he makes his career average number of saves in '09, that'll work out to about $187k per save, a much more affordable number for the Brewers. This, added to the departure of Ben Sheets and C.C. Sabathia frees up much more money for the Crew to throw into shoring up the pitching rotation, as well as retaining some of the young talent that got them to the playoffs last year.
Amoung these young players, Milwaukee has already restructured deals with Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, Seth McClung and Dave Bush. Yet to be addressed, however, would be the most important in my opinion - the contract for right fielder Corey Hart. Hart, as you may recall, was an All Star in 2008, and whom the Cubs' scouting director refered to as the "Best player on the Brewers' roster". How we've made it to January 21st without restructuring his deal is beyond me. You don't want a player to get a sour taste in his mouth because you get all the way to an arbitration hearing, especially a guy who is at the core of your franchise.
I decided to write today, most importantly, on the situation with Prince Fielder. Arguably the best young power hitter in the league, Prince will be entering his 4th full season as the Brewers' first baseman. He is not eligible for free agency until 2011, but more importantly to Milwaukee he is arbitration eligible this year, and this has proven to be an issue already. In 2008, Prince pulled in just under $700,000 salary. As we approach spring training, however, he is asking for nearly $8 million dollars, which would make him one of the highest paid players at the position league-wide. Milwaukee, looking to avoid going to arbitration with Fielder, countered with a $6 Million offer yesterday, and that is as much as we know at this point. Is he worth that much? Absolutely! Is he worth $8 Million, to a team whose entire payroll last season was around $80 Million? Not sure about that...so I decided to took at his stats, and compare him to a few other first basemen around the league.
Justin Morneau, the 6-year veteran 1st baseman in Minnesota made $8.4 Million last year. Ryan Howard made $10 Million, and Boston's Kevin Youkilis made only $3 Million last season (before signing a 4-year, $41.5 Million contract this offseason). He earned it, though, and Boston has that kind of money to throw around. Milwaukee doesn't.
Let's start with awards - they kind of sum it all up in a nutshell. Justin Morneau has 2 All-Star appearances, and won the AL MVP in 2006. Ryan Howard has 1 All-Star appearance, was rookie of the year in '05, and was named NL MVP and MLB Player of the Year in 2006, along with winning the Hank Aaron Award that year as well. Kevin Youkilis has 1 All-Star appearance, won the AL Hank Aaron Award in '08, and even has a gold glove. Fielder himself has 1 All-Star appearance ('07) and won the Hank Aaron Award that year as well.
Even if we stopped there, we could see that Fielder wouldn't be worth $8 million, but when we start to look at individual stat categories, the evidence is overwhelming. Out of the 4 players, he doesn't lead a single category (major ones being hits, runs, HRs, RBI, AVG, OBP, etc). He does, however, tie Youkilis for the top base stealer of the 4 players (all of 3 SB's in'08). Here's a side-by-side comparision if you want to look at what I'm talking about.
So how does a guy who doesn't lead a stat category amoung his peers demand the same kind of money they make? Simple. His ego is as big as his belly. To him, it's not the paystub, but what the paystub "represents" according to an article on him from last year. Now, I'm not denying the kid's ability. He has the potential to become the best power hitter in the majors. He has a more-than-decent glove at 1st base, and has quite a strong baseball pedigree. His future, however, is in the American League, as his weight continues to go up (slightly under 270 lbs, as of this offseason) and without being addressed will surely lead to health problems (specifically knee and/or back ) in the near future.
The Brewers are still licking their Ben Sheets/Eric Gagne wounds, and are as a result, still gunshy of large contracts. They haven't had a great track record recently on high yielding returns from newly structured player contracts, and understandably so. It's entirely understandable why they are not giving Fielder the $8 Million he is asking for. Ben Sheets had a career high 13 wins last year...13!...in his 8th season. His paycheck? $12.5 Million. Eric Gagne, as previously discussed, had 10 saves last year. His paycheck? $10 Million. They were the two highest paid players on the roster in 2008, and yielded far less than they should have. Prince Fielder had an amazing year in 2007, but followed it up with a less than stellar follow up campaign in 2008. Had he been arbitration eligible following the '07 season, he'd have probably recieved the money he asked for Tuesday. After last year, though, the Brewers need to see a bit more consistent performance from him. His numbers from '07 to '08 went down in every single statistical category - except for strikeouts. Those, oddly enough, went up to nearly 23%.
The Brewers counter-offer to Fielder yesterday was $6 million, and we'll see what becomes of that. In my opinion, it's more than he is worth as a player. It is worth paying him that much money, however, when you look at the bigger picture. Like I said, he'll most likely end up in the American League sooner than later. He is under contract in Milwaukee for another 2 seasons. Should he stay healthy, he'll be commanding well over $10 million/year by that time, and your Boston's and New York's will be more than happy to pay for it. What does Milwaukee get in return? Some solid starting pitching, for one. Some farm hands, for another. With the money and compensation the Brewers recieve from the Prince Fielder trade sometime in the future, it won't be that hard to find a first baseman who can at LEAST get league average stats, allowing the Brewers to shore up the pitching rotation, and shoot for another postseason berth.
The underlying problem, however, is something that perhaps cannot be fixed. It's naive to think that a player will stay in one city for the duration of his career, those days are gone. Arbitration has allowed players to see that their rights are met and honored, no longer being sold or underpaid. As we have seen in the past, however, the precedent has been set that allows players like Fielder to reject his team's counteroffers long enough to see himself sitting across the arbitration table from the front office, at that point recieving a sum which in almost every case is closer to what the player wants than it is to what the owner wants.
In a city like Milwaukee, this creates quite a problem. Fielder isn't the first and surely won't be the last player to grow from prospect to All-Star in the organization and leave for the almighty dollar. It's impossible for a team like Milwaukee with a league-lowest annual payroll to hold onto the high rollers for more than a season, at which time they will be forced to trade them or lose them to free agency, putting a Craig Counsell on the field and putting a couple more guys into the farm system in return. How do you fix this? A league-wide salary cap. That's a topic for a later time, however, and one that's not easily addressed.
As far as Prince Fielder goes, he's being selfish. I can't expect a guy to show any loyalty to the club that brought him up, gave him a chance, and allowed him to flourish and succeed. Like I said, those days are gone. But show some decency and understanding. It's obviously more important to Fielder to have a bigger paycheck, to "Get Paid", than it is to play on a team that is able to legitimately compete for a pennant year to year. We all understand that a billionaire doesn't get into the lucrative field of owning a professional sports franchise to show compassion or be showed compassion, and we should all expect our team's owner to throw more money into the salary coffers than is already there. Mark Attanasio has already done that, and he showed it last year by going after Gagne and Sabathia. But at what point do we have to draw the line, and at what point does an owner have to pull up the pants and not allow himself to be taken advantage of by premadonnas like Fielder? Sure, an extra $2 million is not going to affect Attanasio at all. To him, it's drop in the bucket. But if he does it for Fielder, he'll have to do it for everyone, and for an owner that has no historical or family ties to the franchise, this could spell doom for the fans. He's from California, so what's to stop him from selling the team because it's not yeilding a high enough profit for him? Absolutely nothing. Next thing we know, we have a new owner who has less money and less concern for the franchise, putting us right back into the situation we were in before Attanasio bought the team.
Fielder doesn't see it that way. As I said, it's more important for him to feed his ego and not be looked upon by other players as the guy who "isn't getting paid" than it is for him to play on a team in playoff contention every season.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Pete is the proprietor of this shop, and in my estimation he's a man of 65 years or so. He knows the name of everyone who steps foot into his store. He recieves a phone call and can tell you immediately whether or not he's got the card you're looking for...and he has millions of cards. To get folks into the store, he runs a fantasy baseball/football/basketball contest (depending on the season) where you pick a few players for the week and track their stats, the winner recieving a $10 credit on their next purchase. Slow economy being what it is, foot traffic has dwindled for this store and so I'm competing with 2 other people this weekend. Say a prayer for Larry Fitzgerald, Willie Parker, and Kurt Warner. Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.
He's a man with an Ivy League degree from Dartmouth, who worked for a number of years recruiting for the University in my old stomping grounds of the midwest, so we chat a while about Wisconsin and how cold it is there, how big the high school football kids are, and how I'm the only Brewers fan he knows. This is great, because nearly every card I go into his shop to find, I'm able to locate with little effort.
On to the cards...
2007 Topps Distinguished Service #DS23 Stan Musial
I'm a little bit of a dork when it comes to the military - both of my parents were in the military when I was young, and I've been serving this great nation of ours for the past six years. These cards are cool because they add to the baseball purest hatred of modern day card companies and the products they produce. As they did in '08 w/ the presidential candidate cards, Topps has a way with creating cards that people still want to collect. At least this one is loosely related to baseball, ya? This next one, however, nothing at all to do with baseball...
#DS28 George Bush
Actually, I take that back. His son (CURRENT president Bush) was a partner in the ownership of the Texas Rangers for a while...he also threw out a few first pitches, so I guess this one counts too. This next card, however, has absolutely NOTHING to do with baseball.
2006 Allen & Ginter #336 Pope Leo XIII
Although baseball had been around in United States in professional form for almost 20 years when Pope Leo XIII was elected to the Papal office in 1878, we have little reason to believe he had anthing to do with baseball. I just like the card.
Aside from the numerous Ryan Braun cards that I snatched up on this current trip, I also found two more Robin Yount cards to add to my Yount binder...
2008 Upper Deck Masterpeices #46 Robin Yount
I didn't know that UD gave Robin a card in the series last year. I was digging for the Ryan Braun and mouth went agape with awe when I saw it. Hmm...great painting? I find it very hard to critique the art of others, as I myself have very little artistic ability. But this looks absolutely nothing like him. To me, the player should be wearing a Cleveland Indians jersey and go by the name Jake Taylor. I wonder if Yount has seen this one yet. I assume there was no approval process when UD came out with this card. Here's how it may have gone, though...
UD: So, Mr. Yount, what do you think?
UD: What do you mean?
RY: This looks nothing like me. This looks like Tom Berenger.
UD: Tom who?
RY: You know, the guy from that baseball movie, played cather. The Indians?
UD: Don't think I know that one.
RY: Come on, they even had Bob Uecker in it as the announcer, Cleveland Municipal Stadium was actually shot at County Stadium in Milwaukee. Hell, that movie had more to do with the Brewers than it did the Indians.
UD: You know, now that you mention it I think I have seen that one. Is that the one with Bernie Mac in it as well?
RY: No, that's Mr. 3000. This one had Wesley Snipes, and that guy from the All State commercial.
UD: Yogi Berra?
RY: No, that's Aflac. I'm talking about Dennis Haysbert.
UD: I thought he did the US Navy commercial voiceover work.
RY: No, that's Godsmack, the band.
UD: Not the music, the....
As you can imagine, the rest of the conversation stayed somewhat along these lines, neither side acoomplishing much. At the end of this one hour meeting, both sides were so tired that neither thought it important to look at the back of the card. As Thorzul went into depth discussing on his blog once, Robin Yount never did, in fact, win the AL Rookie of the Year award.
I decided to call the fine folks at Upper Deck this morning to find out who did this painting for the card. I spoke with Crystal in their sports card division, and she's going to have the project manager for the 2008 Masterpieces give me a call later today with the artist's name. I'll keep you posted.
1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack #202 Yount/Winfield HES
Besides the really tan mutant arm coming from Yount's side and shoulder, this card seems pretty standard, really. At first glance, I didn't really see that it was a double card, not only with regard to its subject, but it's thicker than normal. See, it's not actually a mutant arm, it's Yount ON TOP of Dave Winfield. Pretty tricky, folks. The card unfolds and becomes kind of a book card. Neato.
Still waiting on that phone call from Upper Deck...
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Let's start off with an example...
Here's a card I don't have, so this will be a good example. (1) Past Player (5) Non-standard card (1) Not '87-'89 Topps (1) Not in my collection. Alone, this card is worth 8 pts, not a bad start!
So, how can you enter this super cool contest? Why, follow these easy steps!
1. Leave a comment on this post with your name and favorite team.
2. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, including your name, mailing address, and favorite team. I'll reply to you with instructions on where to mail the cards.
3. Send off your cards!
All entries posted before 13 February will be entered in the contest and eligible for the grand prize, which will be announced at that time.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The danger with getting married is the give-and-take and walking that fine line between "wants" and "needs". What would have been a simple purchase 6 months ago has now turned into a game of chess...it's not the $1.99 that is the issue here, it's the principle. If I can buy a pack of cards whenever I want (or an XBOX 360 game for that matter, which by the way, is becoming more and more difficult for me to justify or explain) then the wife should be able to grab this or that whenever she desires. "Well, why don't you just pack a lunch instead of buying one downtown?" I ask, in hopes that the bread and deli meat in the fridge will help us whether the financial storm of recession. Well, it's the same guy who insists on brewing coffee at home and packing a lunch that wants to buy a pack of cards every time I'm at Target.
Do I need anymore baseball cards? Well, yes I do. I need a 1975 Topps Robin Yount RC. Will it help me in my life, assist me in working on my patience, my quickness to anger, my road rage? Nope. It won't help me save more money, waste more energy on worrying about things that are beyond my control. But it will fill that void in my Robin Yount card binder. And to me, that's the most important thing.
Moving on to the cards. I found a couple good ones in this pack, one that will help make quite a birthday gift for my sister in law as well.
#UH276 Corey Hart 2008 All Star
I can't tell you how many times I voted at mlb.com last summer to get my Brewers into the All Star game, and having Corey Hart win the vote-in final spot was sweet, sweet music to my summer classic ears. I will say, however, that the various ad campaigns last summer were a little, shall I say, lame? I think Corey had the best one of them all, though...
My sister in law is quite possibly the world's biggest Corey Hart fan, and with a little help from the local card shop this card will make for a nice wall plaque birthday gift.
#TCP41 Ken Griffey Jr. Target Exclusive Insert
Pretty cool card, and because I'm not looked at, touched, or purchased any cards since the baseball season ended, was interested to find out that this is one of the 2008 Topps UH cards available exclusively at Target...whether or not this proves to be worth any money, we shall see. I found one on eBay selling for $3, not a bad investment after all. I could use this line of thinking to convince my better half that I will have such luck in ALL of my pack purchases. And just imagine getting a whole BLASTER of cards...wow! I could make enough money for a spiffy date night out on the town!