Saturday, December 15, 2018

Last Trades of the Year?

My collecting has slowed down a little bit.  I'm pretty busy at work right now and I always slow down a little bit around the holidays.  So this may be it for now.
The Kimbrel card was the first trade.  There is a little bit of a story behind it.  I was supposed to get the regular version instead of the Blue Chip version shown.  But after a couple of weeks of not getting my card, the other party sent me this one to replace it.  I still need the regular version.

The others were all a part of another deal.  Just some random inserts, most of which were on my wantlist. 

Boston has not been terribly active this offseason yet.  They have re-signed postseason heroes Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi.  Joe Kelly signed with the Dodgers and Ian Kinsler signed with the Padres.  The Red Sox still need to shore up their bullpen, including signing a closer.  I kind of hope they bring Andrew Miller back into the fold, if for no other reason than to finally get a Red Sox card.  It sounds more likely that someone like David Robertson will be the new closer.  We will see I guess.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Cardboard Proof Mookie was MVP

Here is the first card to celebrate the MVP season of Mookie Betts.  I have talked about his season at length, so it is probably not necessary to rehash it here.  Suffice to say, that two years after finishing second to Mike Trout, Mookie was finally able to capture MVP honors.  It is well-deserved.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Another Lin Update

It has been a little while, but I finally got a couple more Lin cards recently.
Up first is the 2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Black & White parallel.  This is the first time I have seen this parallel pop up.  It is serial-numbered to 50.  This is the eighth different variation of this card I have picked up so far.
And next is this card that looks mostly like the regular Topps Archives Snapshots card.  Until you turn it over and see this:
This is the Blank Back 1/1 from the Topps Vault.  I am not sure if these are official cards or not.  I recall a few weeks back, Kenny from Cervin' Up Cards commented about having one of these.  I had forgotten they even existed.  I looked back and apparently missed several of them over the last year or so.  So I figured I would jump on the next one to drop, which resulted in this one.  There is some minor embossing on the front too.

I am now up to 90 Tzu-Wei Lin cards.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2019 Hall of Fame Ballot

I never did a Hall of Fame post for 2018.  I could do one now, but that would be way late.  As such, I never got to give my thoughts on Johnny Damon's candidacy.  He was dropped off the ballot in his first year, which I did not expect.  I suppose if Kenny Lofton dropped off quickly, it is only natural that Damon also drop off, but I do not think it is deserved.  Damon received just eight votes despite having a .284/.352/.433 line with 2,490 hits, 56.4 WAR, and 408 stolen bases.  Now that Baines is in, Damon may get another look by one of the Eras Committees after he has been retired for 15 years.  Maybe there is another chance for him.  I do not think he SHOULD be elected, but I think a little more time to analyze his career would be helpful.
I also never discussed Jamie Moyer, another player who I think deserves a closer look.  Moyer also dropped off the ballot in his first year with just ten votes.  He had a very long career and had a record of 269-209 with a 4.25 ERA.  Despite his lofty win total, I also do not believe he should be elected.  His numbers are mostly due to his incredible longevity.
The other Red Sox on the ballot were: Roger Clemens (242 votes, 57.3%), Curt Schilling (216 votes, 51.2%), Manny Ramirez (93 votes, 22.0%), and Billy Wagner (47 votes, 11.1%).  I expect Clemens and Schilling to make it in soon, and Ramirez and Wagner to potentially make it in much later.

Here is the 2019 ballot:

RICK ANKIEL
Ankiel is the most likely player from the ballot to attempt a comeback yet.  He started his career as a fireballing pitcher for the Cardinals who developed a bad case of Steve Blass disease and resurrected his career as a slugging outfielder.  Still, his career numbers do not stand out at all and he never led the league in any category, and was never an All Star.
PLAYED WITH: Cardinals, Royals, Braves, Nationals, Astros, Mets
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Cardinals
PREDICTION: 0 votes.  

JASON BAY
A Rookie of the Year for the Pirates in 2004, a three-time All Star, and a Silver Slugger, Bay had a decent career, primarily during his time in Pittsburgh.  He was a standout for the Red Sox when he was acquired in the midseason deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers.  He had a great 2009 season with Boston, but fell off quickly after joining the Mets after that.  A career .266/.360/.481 line with 222 home runs and 754 RBIs just is not getting it done.
PLAYED WITH: Padres, Pirates, Red Sox, Mets
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Pirates
PREDICTION: 0 votes.

LANCE BERKMAN
A long-time great slugger for the Astros, Berkman's career was a lot better than I realized.  He was a six-time All Star with a line of .293/.406/.537 with 366 home runs and 1,234 RBIs.  His OPS+ was a very impressive 144.  He was not often one of the best players in the game, but his career numbers are impressive enough.
PLAYED WITH: Astros, Yankees, Cardinals, Rangers
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Astros
PREDICTION: Stays on ballot, barely.

BARRY BONDS
What is there to say?  He holds the all-time record for home runs in a season (73) and career (762).  He is an all-time great.  Only the steroids issue is keeping him out.
PLAYED WITH: Pirates, Giants
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Giants
PREDICTION: He will make more big strides, breaking 65%, but falling short of election.

ROGER CLEMENS
Like Bonds, should be a no-doubt Hall of Famer if not for the steroids issue.  Seven-time Cy Young Award Winner, 350+ wins, 4,672 strikeouts.
PLAYED WITH: Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Red Sox
PREDICTION: See Barry Bonds.  I do not expect him to be elected, but he might come close.

FREDDY GARCIA
I was not aware he pitched as long as he did.  A very good pitcher early in his career who led the league in ERA and innings in 2001 and was a two-time All Star.  He was largely inconsistent and injury-prone throughout his career.  156-108, 4.15 ERA.
PLAYED WITH: Mariners, White Sox, Phillies, Tigers, Yankees, Orioles, Braves
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Mariners
PREDICTION: 0 votes

JON GARLAND
Apparently won 18 games two years in a row in 2005 and 2006.  Led league in shutouts in 2005 and was elected to his only All Star game that season.  136-125 record, 4.37 ERA.
PLAYED WITH: White Sox, Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres, Rockies
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: White Sox
PREDICTION: 0 votes

TRAVIS HAFNER
Top slugger on good Indians teams from 2004-2007.  Led the league in slugging and OPS in 2006.  His peak was too short and was only a part-time player most of the rest of his career.  Still, he was a terrific hitter during his peak.  .273/.376/.498, 213 home runs, 731 RBIs.
PLAYED WITH: Rangers, Indians, Yankees
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Indians
PREDICTION: 0 votes

ROY HALLADAY
Halladay may get some sentimental votes after his untimely death in November of 2017.  Eight-time All Star and two-time Cy Young Award Winner who finished in the top five of the voting four additional times.  Career record of 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA and 2,117 strikeouts.
PLAYED WITH: Blue Jays, Phillies
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Blue Jays
PREDICTION: Decent shot of election this year, though more likely to wait a year.

TODD HELTON
Currently, the Rockies all-time Franchise Player.  Helton spent his entire career in Colorado and won a batting title in 2000, the first of five straight All Star appearances.  He will probably be penalized for playing in Colorado, but his career numbers stand up: .316/.414/.539 with 369 home runs and 1,406 RBIs.
PLAYED WITH: Rockies
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Rockies
PREDICTION: Not yet, but he might get in eventually.

ANDRUW JONES
Jones is a fascinating Hall of Fame debate.  There is no question he was headed to the Hall of Fame after his first ten or so years.  Unfortunately, his numbers fell off a cliff immediately thereafter and he was out of baseball by 35.  Still, he was a terrific defensive center fielder who hit .254/.337/.486 with 434 home runs and 1,289 RBIs.  
PLAYED WITH: Braves, Dodgers, Rangers, White Sox, Yankees
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Braves
PREDICTION: He will stay on the ballot, but has a long road ahead of him.

JEFF KENT
Kent is the career leader in home runs by a second-baseman (377) and was the NL MVP in 2000.  He is in his sixth year on the ballot and has not made much headway, which is slightly unfair but primarily due to voters only able to vote for 10 players and a stuffed ballot.
PLAYED WITH: Blue Jays, Mets, Indians, Giants, Astros, Dodgers
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Giants
PREDICTION: Kent will have to keep waiting.  Veterans' Committee is his best shot.

TED LILLY
I cannot really figure this one out.  He was a two-time All Star who led the league in starts in 2005 while winning 17 games.  He finished with a record of 130-113 with a 4.14 ERA.  
PLAYED WITH: Expos, Yankees, Athletics, Blue Jays, Cubs, Dodgers
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Cubs (snap judgment, no clue)
PREDICTION: Is it possible to receive negative votes?

DEREK LOWE
Lowe is one of a handful of pitchers who saved 40 games one season and won 20 games in another season.  He was a two-time All Star and finished third in the Cy Young race in 2002.  He led the league in wins once, losses once, starts four times, and innings once.  He was a good, but seldom great pitcher.
PLAYED WITH: Mariners, Red Sox, Dodgers, Braves, Indians, Yankees, Rangers
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE:  Red Sox
PREDICTION: 0 votes

EDGAR MARTINEZ
The award given to the best designated hitter each season is named after him.  Need I say more?  Okay, he was a two-time batting champion, was an All Star seven times, and finished with a line of .312/.418/.515.  
PLAYED WITH: Mariners
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Mariners
PREDICTION:  He finally gets in this year, his last on the ballot.

FRED MCGRIFF
McGriff had a long consistent career which unfortunately did not really turn a lot of heads because of his position.  He led the league in home runs twice, OPS once, and was a five-time All Star.  He never really stayed in one place for long, hurting his visibility a little.  Finished with a line of .284/.377/.509 with 493 home runs and 1,550 RBIs.
PLAYED WITH: Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Devil Rays, Cubs, Dodgers
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Blue Jays, maybe?  Braves, possibly?  I think it might be a toss-up between those two.
PREDICTION: With Baines getting in, McGriff will get elected eventually.  Probably not until he appears on a Veterans' Committee ballot though.

MIKE MUSSINA
Mussina was an incredibly consistent and durable starting pitcher who finished in the top five in Cy Young voting six times and was an All Star five times.  He led the league in wins once and shutouts once.  He finished with a 270-153 record with a 3.68 ERA and 2,813 strikeouts.  
PLAYED WITH: Orioles, Yankees
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Orioles, by a sliver.
PREDICTION: Could sneak in this year. 

DARREN OLIVER
I have no idea what argument could be made for him to be on the ballot.  As a starter, he never won more than 14 games.  He was a pretty decent lefty reliever, but was never a closer.  Instead, he was merely good as a middle reliever.  Career record of 118-98 with a 4.51 ERA and 1,259 strikeouts.
PLAYED WITH: Rangers, Cardinals, Red Sox, Rockies, Marlins, Astros, Mets, Angels, Blue Jays
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Rangers, due solely to amount of time spent there
PREDICTION: 0 votes

ROY OSWALT
Oswalt is kind of lost in the shuffle with the great starters on the ballot.  He was a three-time All Star and two-time 20 game winner who finished in the top five of the Cy Young balloting five times.  Injuries wrecked his career though and he finished with a record of 163-102 with a 3.36 ERA and 1,852 strikeouts.
PLAYED WITH: Astros, Phillies, Rangers, Rockies
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Astros
PREDICTION: Probably sticks on the ballot, but never elected.

ANDY PETTITTE
Pettitte likely benefited from being on the right teams at the right time.  He was a very good pitcher who finished his career with a record of 256-153.  His 3.85 career ERA is not overly impressive, and it is only slightly higher than his 3.74 career FIP.  He was an All Star just three times in his career.  He won 19 games in the postseason, which is a record, but that has more to do with being in the postseason so many times (he also lost 11 games and had a 3.81 ERA in the postseason).  He also has the stigma of being named in the Mitchell Report.
PLAYED WITH: Yankees, Astros
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Yankees
PREDICTION: There are a lot of pitchers who should be inducted before Pettitte starts to get consideration.  I do not see him getting voted in, but maybe by the Veterans' Committee.

JUAN PIERRE
Pierre did a lot of things well to help his teams, but his primary skill was speed.  He was not particularly adept at getting on base, but did rack up a lot of hits (2,217 over 14 seasons).  His career line left a lot to be desired (.295/.343/.361).  He stole a lot of bases, leading the league three times, but also led the league in caught stealing seven times.  His career total was 614.  
PLAYED WITH: Rockies, Marlins, Cubs, Dodgers, White Sox, Phillies
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Marlins
PREDICTION: Old school voters give him some courtesy votes but he drops off the ballot.

PLACIDO POLANCO
I have no clue.  He apparently has really high career fielding percentages at second (.993) and third (.983), and he won three Gold Gloves.  He could hit a little and had a career slash line of .297/.343/.397 with 2,192 hits, but was only an All Star twice.  He was mostly a singles hitter, and hit just 104 total home runs and 348 doubles.
PLAYED WITH: Cardinals, Phillies, Tigers, Marlins
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Phillies
PREDICTION: Apparently someone voted for him.  That seems like all he will get.  

MANNY RAMIREZ
Unlike a number of the other players being kept out because of PEDs, Ramirez was suspended for testing positive.  Twice.  That's disappointing because Ramirez's offensive numbers are eye-popping: .312/.411/.585 for an OPS of .996, 555 home runs, 1,831 RBIs.  Those numbers are insane.
PLAYED WITH: Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, White Sox, Rays
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Red Sox, by a sliver.
PREDICTION: It is going to take a long time, but Ramirez will eventually be enshrined.

MARIANO RIVERA
The greatest closer of all time so far.  652 career saves is the all-time record.  He was 82-60 with a 2.21 career ERA and 1,173 strikeouts.  
PLAYED WITH: Yankees
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Yankees
PREDICTION: One asshole will not vote for him, he will set a new record for highest vote percentage.

CURT SCHILLING
I really wish Schilling would just shut up.  Career record of 216-146 does not tell the whole story.  His career ERA of 3.46 and strikeout total of 3,116 with just 711 walks show how dominant he truly was.  He was on another level in the postseason with an 11-2 record and 2.23 ERA.  
PLAYED WITH: Orioles, Astros, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Red Sox
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: My heart says Red Sox, my gut says Phillies.  Could be Diamondbacks as well.  This one is a toss-up.
PREDICTION: He will not make it in this year, but it will happen soon.  He has been a little more reserved this year.

GARY SHEFFIELD
Sheffield was a terrific hitter who wore out his welcome almost everywhere he played.  His career numbers are impressive: .292/.393/.514, 509 home runs, 1,676 RBIs.  He admitted to unintentional use of PEDs during the BALCO investigation.
PLAYED WITH: Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers, Mets
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Marlins, maybe?
PREDICTION: He will stay on the ballot and will eventually be elected, but it will take some time.

SAMMY SOSA
The home runs are really the only argument Sosa has.  A deeper look at his stats shows that he has less of a case than Sheffield, Ramirez, or a number of other players on the ballot.  He had a career slash line of .273/.344/.534 but hit 609 home runs (including 60+ three times).  Steroid allegations have also tainted his career.
PLAYED WITH: Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Cubs
PREDICTION: He will stay on the ballot but will struggle to ever be elected.

MIGUEL TEJADA
For a few years, Miguel Tejada was one of the best players in the game.  That peaked with his MVP season in 2002.  He led the league in doubles twice and in RBIs once (a crazy 150 in 2004).  Unfortunately, other than his peak years, Tejada declined considerably.  His slash line of .285/.336/.456 with 307 home runs, and 1,302 RBIs are reasonably impressive for a shortstop.
PLAYED WITH: Athletics, Orioles, Astros, Padres, Giants, Royals
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Athletics
PREDICTION: He will probably stay on the ballot for a few years, but probably will never be inducted.  A better player longer, but not as high a peak as Nomar Garciaparra.

OMAR VIZQUEL
Like Polanco, the primary argument for Vizquel is due to defense.  However, to get into the Hall of Fame for defense, you have to be one of the greatest of all time.  Vizquel is not quite on the same level as Ozzie Smith, and he had a very weak bat.  He did win eleven Gold Gloves though.
PLAYED FOR: Mariners, Indians, Giants, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Indians
PREDICTION: He will likely build towards election over time.

BILLY WAGNER
Though his career was not as long and he did not rack up as many saves, Wagner was actually probably a better pitcher than Trevor Hoffman.  He was a seven-time All Star with a career 2.31 ERA and struck out 1,196 batters, while walking 300.  He saved 422 games. 
PLAYED FOR: Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, Braves
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Astros
PREDICTION: Eventual enshrinement, probably through the Veterans' Committee

LARRY WALKER
Probably one of the more underrated players on the ballot, his numbers certainly merit inclusion, but the perception is that he is more of a product of having spent so much time in Colorado.  He was a three-time batting champion, led the league in home runs once, and finished with a slash line of .313/.400/.565 with 383 home runs and 1,311 RBIs.
PLAYED WITH: Expos, Rockies, Cardinals
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Rockies
PREDICTION: Not this year, but probably soon.

VERNON WELLS
Wells was a remarkably inconsistent player who would either hit over .300 or under .270.  He was an All Star three times and also hit more than 30 home runs three times.  Unfortunately, his slash line was an underwhelming .270/.319/.459 and he hit 270 home runs and drove in 978 runs.  
PLAYED WITH: Blue Jays, Angels, Yankees
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Blue Jays
PREDICTION: 0 votes.

KEVIN YOUKILIS
Youkilis played just ten years in the Majors.  His first two were very limited, and he declined significantly quickly.  He was one of the best players in the game in 2008 and 2009, finishing third and sixth in the MVP race.  He won the Hank Aaron Award in 2008.  His final numbers were .281/.382/.478 with 150 home runs and 618 RBIs.
PLAYED WITH: Red Sox, White Sox, Yankees
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Red Sox
PREDICTION: 0 votes.

MICHAEL YOUNG
Young was a seven-time All Star, primarily as a shortstop or second-baseman who had five straight 200 hit seasons (six total) and twice finished in the top ten for the AL MVP vote.  He led the league in hits twice and won a batting title.  He finished his career with a line of .300/.346/.441 with 185 home runs, 2,375 hits, and 1,030 RBIs.  If his career lasted a little longer, he might have a pretty good argument.
PLAYED WITH: Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers
IF ELECTED, HAT WOULD BE: Rangers
PREDICTION: He had a better career than I remembered, but I would be surprised if he stays on the ballot.

FINAL PREDICTIONS: Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina get elected.  Roy Halladay, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds are set up to be elected next year.  

IF I HAD A BALLOT: Bonds, Clemens, Halladay, Martinez, Mussina, Ramirez, Rivera, Schilling, Wagner, Walker

Monday, December 10, 2018

Lee Smith and Harold Baines Elected to Hall of Fame

Well, the Today's Game Hall of Fame election occurred Sunday and shockingly, two players were elected.

I kind of expected that Lee Smith was going to be elected and I have been hoping for that for some time.  He is not a slam-dunk Hall of Famer, but I think he was one of the best closers in the game for a significant period of time and he did hold the all-time saves record for quite awhile.  I am okay with his election.  Plus, he pitched for the Red Sox from 1988 into the 1990 season.  I am good with this election.  I expect Smith to wear a Cubs cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, with maybe the Cardinals as a dark horse selection.  His time in Boston was good, but did not last very long and he was mostly overshadowed by Dennis Eckersley among others.  I will do my Red Sox in Cooperstown post soon after he is officially sworn in.  Smith also played with the Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Reds, and Expos.

This one, I did not understand.  I forgot he was even on the ballot.  He was a very good hitter for a long period of time, but I am not sure he was ever an elite hitter.  I never considered him to be a Hall of Famer.  I even liked the guy quite a bit, but I never saw him as a future Hall of Famer.  I was genuinely shocked when I was watching the election results and heard them talking about him being elected.  I do not know if this is a travesty, but it is surely going to be one of the most controversial selections ever.  I expect Baines to wear a White Sox cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, with absolutely no question.  Baines also played for the Rangers, Athletics, Orioles, and Indians.

With Baines winning election, here is a list of eligible Red Sox favorites who I think have a better Hall of Fame case than Baines:

I think cases can be even be made for Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio, George Scott, Fred Lynn, and Johnny Damon.  I do think Clemens and Schilling will eventually be voted in, but Evans and Tiant are guys I really wish would get more consideration.  Evans in particular, as he racked up nearly twice the WAR than Baines in a similar amount of time and was an excellent hitter, if a late bloomer.

Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella, and George Steinbrenner were also on the ballot.  Of them, I would expect only Piniella and Steinbrenner to eventually make it in, but now that Baines is in, all bets are off. 

Congratulations to both Lee Smith and Harold Baines.  

Sunday, December 9, 2018

101 Red Sox (Scan Heavy)

I love it when I can work out a huge trade like this one.  I moved a pretty big card in my collection, but in return, I received 101 new Red Sox cards, all of which were on my wantlist.  Many of the cards were from the last couple of years, which is where I need quite a bit of help.  But there is some older stuff, and even some vintage.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Heritage and Chrome Trade

I was pretty excited for this trade.  This knocked off a couple of wantlist needs, and also gave me some extra cards of J.D. Martinez and Eduardo Nunez, two players I feel are underrepresented in my collection at this point in time.  I am sure Martinez will add plenty of cards next season, the fact that he signed so late in Spring Training kind of limited the number of cards produced of him.  Nunez on the other hand, is unlikely to have a lot of cards issued.
Well, we have the Heritage High Number Chrome parallel and three different Topps Update Chrome parallels of Martinez.  These were definitely highlights in this trade, but honestly, the Nunez cards are the primary reason I made the trade.  Of the Nunez cards, there is the Heritage short print and two Chrome parallels.  Nunez is an odd individual in the Heritage High Number set.  For some reason he has a short print and a regular base card.  I have no idea why.  It is not as if he has been a great player this season.  Weirder still is the fact that the Chrome cards are supposed to be parallels of the short print and have the same number, but the photo is actually the one that is on the base card.  I have no idea why.  And last but not least, I added another Devers card.