Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Prospects will break your heart

Yesterday, Baseball America released their pre-season Top 100 prospect list. Despite graduating guys like Clint Frazier to the Big Leagues and trading away James Kaprielian, Dustin Fowler, Jorge Guzman, and Jorge Mateo, the Yankees still landed six prospects in the top 100:

6. SS Gleyber Torres
38. OF Estevan Florial
41. LHP Justus Sheffield
59. 3B Miguel Andujar
77. RHP Albert Abreu
81. RHP Chance Adams

What’s interesting here is that at least four of them could help the Yankees in 2018 (Torres, Sheffield, Andujar, and Adams), while Florial and Abreu are a little further off.

As exciting as that is, it’s hard not to be reminded that prospects will, without fail, break your heart. I’d love for each of the six guys mentioned above to be All-Stars, but that’s just now how life in baseball works. If the Yankees get one All-Star (Torres?) and a few solid major league contributors from this list, it’s successful. Heck, one All-Star alone is successful.

That’s not to poo poo on these guys or rain on their parades. I hope they all develop into something. But looking back over the course of this blog from its start in 2011, I can count handfuls of guys I was excited about. Looking back, it’s hard to image that excitement now.

Each of these guys were highly regarded at one point or another, especially through the early stages of this blog. Some were probably built up a little too much as a result of a poor farm system for a few years.

That’s not to say any of these guys are bad players. They just didn’t make it (or haven’t yet), like many others who came before them. Montero was huge prospect ranked right alongside Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Banuelos was the little lefty that could that ran into injury problems. Mason Williams had a few cups of coffee. Bichette came out of the gates strong but never could replicate that early success. Refsnyder hit in the minors but never got regular opportunities in the Majors.

It seems like forever ago that these guys were the next big thing, and I’m curious what I’ll be writing about the six guys on this year's Top 100 list in another six years.

Monday, January 22, 2018

6 1/3 innings, no decision

I've always been fascinated by the Topps relic cards that have an MLB authentication hologram on them. This started a few years ago with Topps Strata.

I feel like this should be standard for all relics.

Since I've always wanted one, I recently came across a seller who listed a few for fairly cheap. My choice was between Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury. Tough choice...not!
I snagged the Tanaka, of course. I was surprised to find that the card was actually flat and had an acetate window over it. I didn't expect that. I expected to be able to touch the jersey, but I guess it's so someone can't take the sticker off and place it somewhere else.

I traced the authentication hologram back to his April 23, 2015 start at Detroit. It was his fourth start of the season.

Tanaka's final line: 6 1/3 innings, 3 hits, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks. Pretty typical Tanaka start. The Yankees won 2-1, but he was awarded a no decision. Dellin Betances earned the win, while Andrew Miller nailed down the save.

Pretty cool to be able to trace it back!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sure, I'll take some Tino RCs

I've exchanged a few emails about cards with a collector named Alex who happened to stumble on my blog. I know I'm probably not very skilled at search engine optimization, so he must've been deep into the internet to find this little corner.

In our conversations, Alex has shown to be an expert in minor league cards, having collected those sets for over 30 years. He even gave me a few pointers on some Tino Martinez minor league cards.

Speaking of Tino, Alex was kind enough to send me a package of Tinos he had laying around. While neither are new to my collection, I'm never one to say no, especially when one of them is Tino's 1988 Topps Traded USA RC.
I guess in 2018 this wouldn't really be considered his RC, but I always will look at it this way.
Alex also threw in some 1990 Upper Deck rookies as well.

Thanks, Alex!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The scanned folder is empty

This is an unsual time for me.

With the three cards featured in this post, my scanned folder is empty. Zilch. No cards waiting to be written about (aka "showed and telled" because let's be honest, that's what my posts are).

This won't be the case for long. I have a few purchases currently en route. I have a bunch of cards from my childhood waiting to be scanned and discussed. I have an organization project which I'm actually making progress on. But for now, it's a funny feeling to look in the folder and see zero cards left.

So what do we have? Three of the last cards from my COMC Black Friday order.

At this time last year, Gary Sanchez cards were all the rage. While he's still a tremendous player, he's getting overshadowed by a few of his teammates, and his card prices have fallen into a much more manageable range, especially for base cards and non-rare inserts. Here are two that set me back a dime or so a piece, which was impossible to say last off-season.
The last is one of the many Tyler Austin cards featuring RC logos in 2017. This season is pretty much make or break for Austin. He'll play most of it at age 26, but really needs to 1. stay healthy and 2. HIT! in order to find meaningful at bats this season. I'm still a fan of his, but I also know the Yankees aren't going to wait around forever for him to contribute.
I like him a lot, and hope he finds a niche with the team, as he seems like a very good dude that is well-liked. He also just got engaged, so congrats to him!

And with that, the folder is empty. For now.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Fortune Teller

It's funny, but lately my kids have been getting into some older movies, namely The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. In an age of movies like Lego Ninjago and all of the various Pixar-type animated films, it's slightly refreshing to see.

The other day, The Wizard of Oz was on for the 100th time and I kept thinking that the scene where Dorothy meets Professor Marvel reminded me of a baseball card. But I couldn't figure it out.
Eventually, while working on my re-organization project, I came across a team bag of Sanchez cards, and this was on top.
That’s it! That's the card it reminded me of. There's a loose connection there, right? Even the colors are a bit similar to the movie scene.

If we look into the future this year, Sanchez is due for another big year at age 25, at least based on his 2018 ZiPS projection:

32 HRs, 97 RBIs, .350 wOBA, 118 RC+.

That will do just fine coming for the catcher spot. Heck, he missed a month last year and still hit 33 homers.

Hopefully the great Professor Marvel sees Sanchez continue to develop into one of the best hitting catchers in the game, and leading the Yankees back to the World Series.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018 Topps Yankees Project thoughts

In mid-January, I always get excited about the release of the Topps Series One Checklist. However, my reasoning is a little different from most. It entirely is based on my Topps Yankees Project and the continuation of it on a year-to-year basis.

A quick refresher on the Project. It consists of a signed Topps Yankees card for every year, 1951-2017. Each signature was acquired through the mail (TTM), and there are no repeat players. It is definitely one of the most meaningful parts of my collection.

Looking at the checklist, I think there is hope that I will be able to knock off 2018 during spring training. While there is no hope for the some of the players, I may send each Series One base card just to see what happens. You never know.

Here are the Yankees with a Series One base card, along with their signing habits:

Aaron Judge – Signed as a minor leaguer, but obviously will be virtually impossible this year.
Brett Gardner – Hasn’t signed in years.
CC Sabathia – Signs once in a while, but returns usually take a long time
Chase Headley – Reliable signer and he’s not currently part of my project! Here’s a past success.
Clint Frazier – Signed early in his career, but likely not anymore.
Dellin Betances – Signed early in his career, but haven’t seen a success from him in a few years.
Gary Sanchez – Doesn’t sign.
Luis Severino - Doesn’t sign.
Masahiro Tanaka – Doesn’t sign.
Miguel Andujar – He signs periodically, but I’ve never gotten him.
Starlin Castro – Doesn’t sign.
Todd Frazier – Signed a lot early in his career and more sporadic of late. I saw a few off-season successes.

My best bests are going to be Andujar, Cooper, Headley, and perhaps Todd Frazier. And if I can’t get any of these guys, there’s always Series Two!