Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mail Catchup!

Hey guys, Drew back here! For the second day in a row, we have a snow day here in "upstate" New York, which has been nice for me as I'm trying desperately to get somewhat organized before the holidays. I think it's about time I get some of these cards off my desk and loaded into binders, so take a look at some of what I've gotten in from my buddies William, Scott, and Andrew over the past few months!

We'll kick things off with William, who; although I've had a hard time keeping in good touch with this year, still treats me better than anyone else in this hobby. I can't begin to express my gratitude for his friendship and I always appreciate the random care packages! He always catches me up on the products I don't buy (which is basically every product at this point) and sends me the Yankees, and once again he came in clutch and really helped me out. I really like the Panini Cooperstown product and I like how they chose some pictures that aren't used as commonly. It's a nicely designed product and maybe one day I'll buy a pack or two!

I always have checked out Allen & Ginter, so it really says something about my interest in investing in packs that I hadn't bought a single pack this year. The Berra & Cano's were really appreciated, as well as the Jeter insert! It's going to be weird remembering Cano isn't a Yankee anymore but I'm still going to recognize and honor the 9 great years he put towards the Yankee organization and highlight him in my collection.

He also sent me all of the Topps Update Yankees he pulled, which was awesome of him too! I hardly opened any of the flagship product this year, and I actually really liked it. I've been spending my hobby money elsewhere, such as improving my Mickey Mantle 16x20 project and I've also had to allocate that money towards real world stuff such as gas and food. I've always enjoyed the update product though, because I'm the type of fan that really enjoys seeing how GM's can upgrade their teams and a majority of the cards in this set are the small names that Brian Cashman needed to make the most out of what was a pretty bad 2012 season. Lyle Overbay was solid all season, however Kevin Youkilis was injured most of the year. You win some, and you lose some, I guess.

Andrew surprised me one day with a PWE containing this sweet Mariano Rivera 2013 Bowman purple refractor numbered out of 199! I really appreciated that he went out of his way to give me this card for nothing other than being a good friend. Everyone go give his blog some love if you haven't already!

But that wasn't all that Andrew had to offer. I also recently participated in his group break of a box of Topps Update, and I ended up with the Yankees and Mets. I got all of the big base cards from each team including the Mariano Rivera inserts, the Home Run Derby cards, the Harvey card, and the Wheeler rookie card!  

On top of that, I got a few nice inserts, my favorite easily being the Mariano green parallel. While this past year wasn't very good for the baseball team, honoring Mo's legacy did make the season somewhat more of a success than it would've been! I also really like the Mussina "Chasing History" insert. I really hope he does well on the Hall of Fame ballot this year, because I think if he can survive the heavy classes of the next few years, he'll eventually get in.

Last but certainly not least, I made my first trade in the past century with my good friend Scott over at Mr. Baseball. He and I have made some trades in the past, but nothing major was ever moved between us, until now. I finally gave up my David Ortiz Stadium Club auto in exchange for all of these goodies, because while it held a significant memory in my hobby experience, it fit much better in Scott's Ortiz PC. I got a bunch of nice inserts in the deal, including the Jeter red parallel and the Cano silver ice out of Bowman. 

In addition to the inserts, I managed to pick up this Andy Pettitte relic with a pinstripe out of 2008 Upper Deck Timeline. Many people overlook the fact that Andy didn't play his entire career in New York, but he had some of his best seasons for Houston in the mid 2000's. He capped off his brilliant career last year, and he'll certainly be missed in the Yankees rotation next season. However, as Pettitte exits, enter a possible new era, as this guy could be vying for a spot next year:

Numbered out of 199 from 2011 Topps Chrome, the newest big addition to my collection is this Michael Pineda blue refractor autograph! Pineda has a ton of potential, some of which he's already shown in the majors during his rookie season. He played very little last season, all in the minors where he was recovering from his shoulder surgery he underwent. He currently has an opportunity to take a spot in next year's rotation, but Yankee fans haven't gotten their hopes up. He's still only 24, so there's a lot of time left before considering the near 2011 Rookie of the Year a dud. If he ends up working out, I'll be very proud to have this card, but if he doesn't, that's part of the risk you have to take with cards like these.

So, I want to thank all three of you for everything, you all went out of your way to improve my collection and it means a lot to me!

See Ya!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thoughts on Cano

Hey guys, Drew back here. In case you haven't heard, Jay-Z brought my favorite player away from New York and all the way to Seattle. Yeah, you heard that right. It's unbelievable to me that a man who lives for New York took away one of the Yankees' finest pieces without putting a lot of effort into the negotiation. Alicia Keys brags on Jay-Z's classic "Empire State of Mind": "New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of". Mr. Carter obviously is infatuated with everything about the Bronx, but I guess he dropped that love when he went and took Robinson Cano as far from the Big Apple as possible. Hopefully Robby likes seafood and rainy days, because while Seattle is a beautiful city, there is no place like New York.

From a business standpoint though, it makes sense. The Yankees weren't budging from their original offer of 7 years and $170 million, and Seattle, fresh off a $2 billion TV deal, was willing to open their wallets for the star second baseman. After a supposed hiccup between Jay-Z and Mariners owner Howard Lincoln, the two sides eventually agreed to a 10 year, $240 million dollar deal. The move put Seattle back on the map for the first time since the times of Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez, and Ken Griffey Jr. While the move doesn't project them to now be a playoff caliber team, they supposedly aren't done. They've been linked to free agents Nelson Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo, and have expressed interest in trading top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker for a David Price or Matt Kemp. The Mariners finally have the money they needed to contend with Texas and Oakland (who seemingly gets it done without all the money). This move also makes Jay-Z look great, as he was only $60 million off from his original goal of a $300 million dollar move, which at first sounded absolutely ridiculous to anyone but him.

Sure, the move makes sense for a Seattle franchise that is struggling tremendously to put fans in their seats. However, they can't stop here, or else they will essentially throw $240 million out the window. They aren't paying $24 million a year for Cano's age 41 season, they're paying $240 million over 10 total years in order to bring Seattle its first World Series championship. If they don't win during this next decade, the contract will be a colossal failure. Cano is already 31 years old, and if they expect him to put up similar numbers to what he's produced for New York during his prime years, they're crazy. Take a look at similar moves, especially Albert Pujols, who got the exact same deal as Cano but was a year older at that time than Cano is now. Pujols was expected to bring Los Angeles back to the top, but now they're drowning in his enormous contract as his performance is making him look like more and more of an average player. Seattle has the money and prospects to build a winner now, but they have to keep in mind there are plenty of other elite teams out there, including the Yankees, whose signings have already made up for the loss of Cano. With just Cano leading the way in New York's lineup last season, the team struggled tremendously. However, with the money they would've used mostly towards Cano, they've already signed Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran, and seem to be far from done!

I'm not calling the Yankees geniuses for dumping Cano and his enormous contract off with the Mariners. I've never liked the way the Yankees have handled their roster. Since the days where they allowed players such as Jeter, Posada, Bernie, Pettitte, and Rivera to develop into All Stars, they've practically bought their whole team. Cano was one of the last remaining pieces that came straight out of their farm system, and he was in the midst of writing his script to being the next Yankee to take his career straight to the Hall of Fame. Instead, he chose to start a new chapter in Seattle that could make or break his chances to eventually be enshrined in Cooperstown. But in this day in age in baseball, the best business decision for New York was to let Cano walk. The Yankees certainly don't have to worry about money, however their revenues decrease significantly if they don't have a contending, playoff caliber team on the field, which was proven during their injury riddled 2012 season. With 3 potential All Stars now in the heart of the Yankees lineup, nothing could go wrong, right?

Wrong. Ellsbury is signed for 7 years and $153 million dollars, and he's faced numerous injuries over the past four years with Boston. McCann will most likely have to be moved to 1st base a few years into his 5 year contract, and you never know how Beltran's knees will hold up, especially in year 3 of his deal. The Yankees outfield now consists of tortoises Beltran, Wells, Soriano, and Ichiro, and hares Ellsbury and Gardner. At least one of those 6 is now expendable, Gardner easily having the most trade value. The Yankees believe that having two speed threats and top notch defenders would be a good thing, but I think their top priority should be finding a short term solution at either second or third base. I also believe New York needs to add a solid reliever that can close if needed such as Joaquin Benoit, or maybe even Grant Balfour. Nobody knows how David Robertson will fare stepping into Rivera's shoes, so having some dependability as backup will be key. I believe the rotation needs one more solid upgrade too, even despite their resigning of Hiroki Kuroda. I'm not confident enough in David Phelps to have him lock down one of their five rotation slots, but I'm willing to give Michael Pineda a shot at least in Spring Training to prove his worthiness. Without Cano, the Yankees should get by just fine, however, if they don't make the playoffs after all their spending it could significantly impact their financial situation as well. You're taking a gamble any time you go and add a big fish from free agency to your team, because besides for believing his talents will translate, you also have to hope he has the right mindset to get along with the players and become a leader. I think Cashman is choosing the right type of players for the team, specifically McCann, who draws a lot of leadership/talent comparisons to Thurman Munson.

While having Cano for the rest of his career would be a nice story, it was in the best interest of the Yankees organization to start off on a new foot, especially after the chaos that took place last season. The team wasn't awful, but it didn't offer a lot of hope towards current and future attempts at contention. The Mariners are right for giving Cano a chance to revitalize their organization, but only if they can add more pieces to surround him.

On a personal note though, I'm going to miss the heck out of Robinson Cano. He's been my favorite player besides for the Core Four members for years now, and if you've been to my blog before, you'd know he's an enormous part of my collection. I'm currently not planning on parting ways with any of my Cano PC, and I'll continue to add to it, but probably to a lesser extent. He's still one of my favorite players, I mean you can't blame him for taking a contract worth $65 million more than the next best offer. Had he agreed with Seattle if they only offered $20-30 million more than the Yankees did, I'd be genuinely upset in him and probably would look to sell a majority of my collection of his. However, this deal was too enormous for him to pass up, even if it means being stuck in gloomy Seattle for the next decade (which won't happen anyway most likely- see Alex Rodriguez's Texas contract and Prince Fielder's Detroit deal). Cano was the first player I really followed from the very beginning, as he was an up and comer when I first started to follow baseball. I've been honored to watch him develop into the Hall of Fame caliber player he's become, and he's been a heck of a lot of fun to root for. I'll continue trying to be a fan of his, up until Seattle and New York face off in the playoffs. It's going to be fun.

I'm going to miss you Robby Cano, don't you know?

See Ya.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

October/November TTM Mailbag!

Hey guys, Drew back here! It sure has been a while since I've posted anything relevant to my collection, but I've really been busy trying to make the best of my senior year of high school. I finally see what is so enjoyable about high school, and unfortunately that has a lot to do with the recent decline of this blog. However, I still have been fairly active in the hobby, and I'd like to show off my TTM successes I've received since the middle of October. Enjoy!

Bert Campaneris: 1/1 in 59 Days (Received October 12th)

Campaneris is the newest autograph addition to my 1988 Pacific Legends mini set! "Campy" was a 6 time All Star and was known for being a speedy, versatile all around athlete. He was a key part of Oakland's dynasty in the 1970's, leading off and acting as a spark plug for the 1972, '73, and '74 champion Athletics teams! His 649 stolen bases rank him 14th all time in steals, and as a fun fact: Campaneris was the first player to play all 9 positions in a single game. On September 8th, 1965, he did it all, even including pitching with both hands depending on the handedness of the batter. He isn't of Hall of Fame caliber, but if there were a Hall of Very Good, he'd receive a lot of recognition!

Patrick Corbin: 1/1 in 68 Days (Received October 21st)

Patrick Corbin had a breakout season in 2013 for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he was named an All Star for the first time in his very young career. At the All Star break, he was 11-1 with a 2.35 ERA, and although his second half wasn't as dominant, he completed his first full season with a 14-8 record and a 3.41 ERA. I was really happy to see this one come back, as he nicely signed and inscribed his #46 on a 2013 Topps Heritage!

Grant Balfour: 2/2 in 68 Days (Received October 21st)

Grant Balfour became one of my favorite relievers in baseball this past season, as he simply dominated for my fantasy team. Known to show off his "Balfour Rage", Grant is one of the top remaining closers on the free agent market right now and I wouldn't mind seeing the Yankees add him to their arsenal. I don't think David Robertson is a bonified closer, but I can see him continuing to set up and eventually pass the ball on to this guy to finish off opponents. He was named an All Star for the first time in his career this year, and he set the Oakland record for consecutive saves, more than Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers. He signed both cards I sent him beautifully and bold in blue sharpie, and I couldn't be more pleased with this return. 

Archie Bradley: 1/1 in 103 Days (Received November 25th)

I didn't see this one coming at all when I got it back about a week ago. Archie Bradley is one of the game's top pitching prospects, and is living up to the expectations he had been given after being drafted 7th overall in 2011. He went 12-5 with a 1.97 ERA in 21 starts for Arizona's AA squad, and is now considered the top prospect in a highly touted Arizona farm system! He signed his Bowman card for me, and hopefully I'll be a lucky man to have this when he makes his mark on baseball! 

Edwin Jackson: 2/2 in 210 Days (Received November 29th)

Edwin Jackson has been an erratic pitcher throughout his career, but he has shown flashes of brilliance on the mound in his past and for what reason I'm glad to see the cards above back in my possession now bearing his autograph. He has a sloppy autograph, but it sort of fits his career. He's pitched for 8 teams in 11 years and now is under contract with the Cubs, for whom he went 8-18 with last year with an ERA upwards of 5. He's been inconsistent, sure, but he's shown that he has a higher ceiling he could never really maintain. He threw a no hitter against the Rays in 2009, but walked 8 batters in the game, therefore not making it as impressive as it could've been. Either way, I'm still excited to have these back!

Well I hope you all enjoyed what I had to show off, because that's all for now. Until next time, see ya!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Helping a Friend- Mickey Mantle For Sale!

Hey everyone, Drew back here. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine contacted me to see if I was interested in his 1969 Topps Mickey Mantle card. I can't spot the cash right now personally, but I was curious if anyone would be interested in it! He's looking for around $100 for the card, but he's willing to listen to offers! If you have interest in it, feel free to leave a comment below and we can see if we can work something out!

Thanks guys, I'll be back soon by the way.

See Ya!