28 February 2014

Rainbow in the Dark 10: 32 Josh Reddick Cards

I've slowed down quite a bit on adding anything new to my Josh Reddick 2013 Topps Super Rainbow, as I've got just about everything that is (relatively) easy to find as well as a lot of the rare stuff. It would be nice to get at least one of the # 1 / 1 cards from the rainbow, but those don't pop up too often. There is also at least one card out there I don't have that is numbered out of # / 10 and I think a couple # / 5's as well. Here are all 32 cards that I do have laid out in one big post.

Opening Day Base, Opening Day Toys 'R' Us Purple, Opening Day Blue, Series 1 Base

Series 1 Target Red, Series 1 Toys 'R' Us Purple, Series 1 Wal-Mart Blue, Series 1 Wal-Mart Blue No Foil

Series 1 Emerald, Series 1 Blue Sparkle, Series 1 Gold, Series 1 Factory Set Orange

Series 1 Camo, Series 1 Pink, Series 1 Sapphire Blue, Topps Chrome Base

Chrome Refractor, Chrome Purple, Chrome Orange, Chrome X-Fractor

Chrome Blue, Chrome Black, Chrome Sepia, Chrome Gold

Chrome Red, Chrome Camo, Chrome Atomic, Chrome Pink

Mini Base, Mini Gold, Mini Pink, Mini Black

Reddick has been making the rounds on the sports highlight reels over the last day or so as he had a couple of wall-climbing catches in Spring Training action. I think Fuji was the first blogger I read who posted this video.

26 February 2014

Pack of the Day 64: 48 Dadgum Packs of 2013 Topps Opening Day

I got a good price on a gravity-feed box of 2013 Topps Opening Day, with 48 packs of the stuff. I was hoping to get some of the higher-priced Blue parallels out of the way and maybe some other exciting card, maybe an autograph or SP photo variation. Well, I really struck out on the Blue parallels. Out of the 10 parallels I pulled from the box, I only got one that I needed for my set, the infamous and easy-to-dislike Alex Roid-riguez.

I did also pull one of the photo variations, a James Shields press conference photo. The card I really want from this set is the R.A. Dickey press conference photo variation. They don't seem to pop up very often at all, and the single copy on eBay at the moment has been there forever because the seller wants about 3.5x the maximum price I would want to spend on it.

So it was a pretty disappointing box of cards to open. I knew the odds weren't great that I would pull a lot of stuff I needed, but I thought I'd pull a few more Blue parallels from my list than I did. Oh well. This just kind of reinforces my need to not open packs of products whose base sets I have already completed. More on this topic later.

24 February 2014

I Got it at Sportlots 6: 1985 TCMA Ft. Myers Royals Office Staff

The 1985 Ft. Myers Royals set is kind of an interesting set. The Jim Moore card is probably the most 'blog-famous' card in the set, despite the fact that he was not an actual player or coach on the team. On the front of the card he is listed as the team's Travelling Secretary, and the back of the card adds the title of Seasoned Veteran to his job description.

But the 30-card set also features some other front-office staff, namely the MVP General Manager and two Assistant General Managers. I think I've shown most of these cards off online here a time or two, but my confession is that I took those images from the internet. This time I have actually purchased two lots of four Front Office employees from the 1985 TCMA Ft. Myers Royals card set.

What am I going to do with them? I don't know. It was just something I felt I had to do. Kind of like growing a mustache. It serves no real purpose, but sometimes I just have to grow one. The problem is that every time I see myself in the mirror or think about the mustache on my face I can no longer take myself seriously. Sometimes the ridiculousness of it incapacitates me with fits of laughter. Then I have to shave it off. These cards serve a similar purpose. Whenever I see them I laugh for a little bit at how silly they are, and then I put them away for a while until I am going through my card stacks again and happen to notice them one more time. The fact that I have two sets of them (plus one or two extra copies of Jim Moore) just makes it a little more silly.

22 February 2014

Workin' at the Card Shop 3: Rangers Ballpark and Duane's SportsCards

So I went on a tour of the Rangers' ballpark last week, which I mentioned in a blog post. Nothing too crazy happened, but it was still pretty neat to see. I was a little reluctant to even put this post up because my photographs didn't turn out all that great.

Here are the 2010 and 2011 American League Championship trophies they had in the upstairs lobby with all of the offices and conference rooms. I am told they are somewhat proud of these.

Because our tour guide does graphic design for the team, we got to see that office. This is their break room, which is the roof of the building just behind the signs over center field. We were encouraged not to get near the edge for safety reasons, so I didn't get the best picture. The Cowboys' stadium is there in the distance. This is probably the one part of our tour that doesn't mirror the usual tour given to paying customers. Everything else was pretty typical as far as I can tell, going down into the tunnel underneath the stadium into the dugout and then out onto the field and then back out after walking around and seeing all of the clubs and shops and whatnot.

Our tour guide also gave us a game program from the stack on her shelf. Mine had Ian Kinsler on the cover, so I asked her if she had one with Derek Holland on it. Fortunately she did, but her husband made sure to mention that it was one that she had worked on and been unhappy with because the cover photo turned out a bit too yellow and never quite looked right. It looks okay to me.

We even saw this statue of Nolan Ryan. Apparently he is a pretty famous dude around these parts. Our tour guide said that sometimes she would complain to her husband about having a crappy day at work, and then in the same story tell him about something that Nolan Ryan said to her in the elevator or the hallway, and he would be frustrated because how can you have a bad day at work when you're sharing small talk in an elevator with Nolan Ryan? And I guess she was the first person Jurickson Profar told when he got his call up to the big club because she happened to be walking by as he was trying to call his mom on the phone.

We were supposed to get 1-1/2 days off between phases of training yesterday and today, but because of paperwork issues our half-day yesterday was wasted sitting in a classroom doing absolutely nothing, and we spent half of today waiting on the same documents. We still don't have them. Supposedly we will get them tomorrow as we move into the next phase of training, but I'm not holding my breath on it.

We did get out today in time for me to bum a ride from my roommate to the nearest card shop, Duane's SportsCards and Collectibles Mall. They had quite a bit of stuff there, but out of deference to my roommate, who is not a collector, I tried to move through pretty quickly. The prices were also a bit higher than I wanted to pay for most of the stuff, especially vintage and near-vintage in very rough condition. The going rate seemed to be about half of the high Beckett price, which is a benchmark that usually has no bearing on reality. Still, I found a few cards that I liked enough to go home with.

I stuck with a Texas theme, picking up four Nolan Ryan cards and two Hakeem Olajuwons. The card on the upper left is a 1989 Mother's Cookies card. I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the Mother's Cookies cards, and this one called out to me. Next up are a '92-'93 Stadium Club Beam Team and a '94-'95 Fleer Ultra Scoring Kings card of Hakeem Olajuwon. I may already have a copy of the Scoring Kings card. Its hard to say without going through my collection. But it's all shiny foil and colors, so it's pretty much a given that I am going to take it home with me.

I was hoping to pick up something from 1975 Topps, but the prices they had on that stuff was a little ridiculous. They had a really rough copy of Ryan's '74 Highlights subset card that I looked at, but the price on it was about 5x ridiculous and I put it down right quick. There were also a couple of Derek Holland autographs that I thought about picking up, but I decided that I ought to wait and see what the going rate was before dropping card shop autograph money on them.

What I did end up coming home with was a 1981 Topps Nolan Ryan, a 1981 O-Pee-Chee Nolan Ryan (Printed in Canada!), and a 1981 Fleer Nolan Ryan. They're pretty decent cards and I didn't overpay for them by too much. I also picked up a Jumbo Pack of 2014 Topps, from which I pulled absolutely nothing worth blogging about. I probably should have used that money to buy one of those Holland autographs. Oh well. I may go back near the end of this training cycle to do some deeper digging in the player and team boxes.

21 February 2014

Click Here to View Cart 2: Josh Reddick Factory Set Orange

This card was difficult to track down. Although it is numbered to a relatively high # 171 / 230, the orange-bordered cards from 2013 Topps were only packed 5 at a time into factory sets, so most of them are probably sitting unsold on store shelves and in warehouses, waiting for their chance to be wholesaled off in 2017. I know that there must be someone out there who buys factory sets, but I don't know who that might be.

This is the only copy of this card that I have seen offered up on the internet, and it was in the sketchy-looking webstore of some card dealer selling overpriced boxes of cards and a random selection of singles. Their shopping cart system showed a bit more for shipping than I wanted to pay, but I bought the card anyway because I needed it for my rainbow. In a nice surprise twist, whoever actually processed the order on the other side downgraded the shipping from Priority to First Class and cut the shipping by about 66 percent. So I paid less for this card than I anticipated, and I got to add one more card to my Josh Reddick 2013 Super Rainbow.

19 February 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 46: NASCAR Quad Relic

Here is a card that I've been chasing for a while. It's a 2010 Press Pass Showcase Quad Relic. It is numbered # 18 / 45 and features pieces of sheet metal from all of my favorite drivers (and Jeff Gordon, too, who is no slouch). Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart all get plain one-color swatches with a little bit of wear and tear on them, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets a three-color piece of sheet metal. The card design is pretty nice, and overall this is just an awesome piece of cardboard. I'd like to get one of the quad-autograph cards featuring these same folks, but that carries a price tag of 20x-40x more than I paid for this card.

17 February 2014

Rainbow in the Dark 9: Reddick Atomic Topps Chrome

Here is a pretty rare card for my Josh Reddick 2013 Super Rainbow. I've got one more card still to show individually, and then I have a post set up containing all 32 variations I have of this card. There are still some  # / 5's and # 1 / 1's out there somewhere, but I am not extremely serious about chasing those unless they fall in my lap. There may even be a # / 10 out there that I am missing. I really should make a list.

These Atomic Refractors sure do scan well. They look pretty good in person, but these are probably one of the few Refractor designs that scan as nicely as they look in-hand.

The example I got is numbered # 07 / 10. I hope that Reddick can have a good season this year. Yahoo! posted a player note saying that Reddick did a lot of working out this offseason and put on 15 pounds of muscle, so hopefully he can make enough contact with the ball to hit a zillion home runs. Unfortunately, another player in my fantasy baseball league picked him up off of waivers shortly after that player note ran, so I won't be able to snap him up if he gets off to a good start.

15 February 2014

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

We are finally (kind of) getting a day off from training here in Texas, so Sunday will be a good day for me. I say kind of because we have 140 questions worth of homework to finish before heading back to class on Monday. We've been doing 12-14 hours per day in the classroom plus about an hour of transit time per day, so I haven't been able to do much here.

My roommate has a friend whose wife does PR work for the Texas Rangers, and he has arranged for us to tour their ballpark tomorrow afternoon, which is just down the road from the hotel we're staying in because the barracks are under renovation. I hope I will be able to get a couple of pictures on my phone. I'm sure that any exciting developments will be mentioned here on the blog. Even if the tour doesn't go any more in-depth than the usual tours offered to paying customers, at least I'll save the $14 cost of the ticket.

What eBay Hath Wrought 45: Final Card in 2013 Archives Gold

This was the last card I needed to complete my Gold parallel set of 2013 Topps Archives. It is numbered # 059 / 199. This set was a pain in the butt to complete. I don't know if the set was worth the cost it took to put it together, but it sure does look good in the binder pages. I wonder how many of the 199 potential complete sets have been put together? I saw a pretty big lot on eBay a while back, but I can't imagine the number of sets out there that have been put together is higher than 5 or 10. I guess Griffey is a pretty good card to finish the set out with.

13 February 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 44: Josh Reddick On the Rise Autograph

I added to my Josh Reddick player collection with a 2013 Topps Tier One On the Rise Autographs card. It's a decent card as far as looks go, although the foiling that touches the corners has a tendency to lift off the card. It's been a little while since I looked at this card in person, but I believe the bottom right corner on this one has a fairly prominent flap of the foil hanging off of it. But for $3.99 shipped I'll take it. It's numbered # 107 / 399, so there are plenty of them to go around.

I didn't pick Reddick up in my recent fantasy baseball draft. They say he is a good candidate to make some progress this year, but I still don't know if he'll play his way into being rosterable in fantasy leagues. His batting average is pretty low. He did put up some good numbers in 2012. I guess we'll see how he starts the year out. There doesn't seem to be a big rush at the moment to claim him from the waiver wire.

12 February 2014

Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Lineup

It's that exciting time of year, when Fantasy Baseball opens up at Yahoo!, and I have completed my first draft of the season. Here is the draft-day lineup for CuCoo for Coco Crisp. No, I don't like the spelling of CuCoo, but there was a character limit on team names. My 2014 projections are taken from FantasyPros.com. They make a composite projected line out of several projections from different sources for each player. I don't necessarily agree with their numbers, but they are close enough for me.

Catcher - Carlos Santana - Round 8, Pick 90

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 134 - 75 R, 20 HR, 74 RBI, 3 SB, .268 AVG

2014 Projections - 74 R, 20 HR, 76 RBI, 4 SB, .254 AVG

This wasn't a bad pick for the Catcher slot, as most of the guys out there don't play as often as you'd like or they are severe liabilities in one or more categories. Santana's batting average isn't too awful and he won't hurt my team in the counting stats, especially compared to other catchers. The experts project him to do about what he did last year, which ranked 134th in Yahoo! leagues. I probably reached a bit drafting him this early, but this is such a tough position to fill that I felt validated in making the pick.

1st Base - Brandon Belt - Round 12, Pick 138

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 106 - 76 R, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 5 SB, .289 AVG

2014 Projections - 66 R, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 7 SB, .275 AVG

The way the draft was going for me, the best available players in the early rounds were outfielders, so at this point I was really in need of guys to put in the infield. Rounds 12-14 are where I got my 1B, 2B, and SS picks because I was scared of running out of guys. Belt doesn't hurt me anywhere and is a solid roster filler.

2nd Base - Daniel Murphy - Round 13, Pick 151

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 42 - 92 R, 13 HR, 78 RBI, 23 SB, .286 AVG

2014 Projections - 74 R, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 14 SB, .279 AVG

Same as Belt, Murphy was the most solid all-around guy on the board at his position. The experts aren't projecting him to be as good this year as he was last year, but even if he splits the difference between last year's performance and the projections, I still think I got away with a good pick here, especially given the minefield that 2B can be after the first couple guys come off the board. Even if I am paying for a career year, the price wasn't all that high.

3rd Base - Adrian Beltre - Round 2, Pick 18

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 15 - 88 R, 30 HR, 92 RBI, 1 SB, .315 AVG

2014 Projections - 83 R, 28 HR, 95 RBI, 2 SB, .297 AVG

This was a decent pick-up in the second round of my draft, I think. Some places have Beltre ranked as a late first-rounder, and I felt fortunate that he fell to me with the 18th pick. He may not have the high ceiling that a lot of guys in the first couple rounds have, but he is unlikely to be a bust. Now that I typed that he will probably nurse a lingering groin or wrist injury all year and put up horrible numbers.

Shortstop - Jed Lowrie - Round 17, Pick 199

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 99 - 80 R, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 1 SB, .290 AVG

2014 Projections - 67 R, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 3 SB, .261 AVG

Again, this is a guy who had a career year last year and put up some decent numbers. But he just cracked the top 100 players in the Yahoo! game last year and I got him this year a full 100 picks after that ranking. He can still regress a little bit and be a profitable pick for me. It helps that he doesn't play for one of the big-name teams. You'll notice a lot of guys on my fantasy rosters who play for smaller markets because the Yankees and Dodgers of the world have a big-market price tag attached to them, even in fantasy baseball drafts. Lowrie is actually the second SS I drafted, but I plan on platooning him with my other SS to hybridize my starts at the position with some speed and power potential. Sometimes at a weak roster position you can find a couple of guys who do different things well and split your available games between them to build up numbers across the board. Unless you keep picking the wrong days to start a guy and wind up with all the good numbers sitting on your bench. Lowrie is an injury risk, but last year he showed that he can be pretty good when he's healthy.

Outfield - Adam Jones - Round 1, Pick 7

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 7 - 100 R, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 14 SB, .285 AVG

2014 Projections - 83 R, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 12 SB, .278 AVG

I wasn't sure who would be available to me in the middle of the first round, and Jones was the best guy left. I actually thought about drafting Adrian Beltre here, but he fell to me in the second round anyway. Jones offers a very nice combination of power and speed, although again he is projected to take a step back this year. I am hoping he will deliver numbers close to last year's performance and be a solid first-round selection for me. Not a lot of guys will give you 30 home runs, and out of those guys only a few will steal any bases. A lot of the big bats also hurt your batting average, too, although those guys tend to fall to the later rounds.

Outfield - Hunter Pence - Round 5, Pick 55

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 9 - 91 R, 27 HR, 99 RBI, 22 SB, .283 AVG

2014 Projections - 82 R, 21 HR, 92 RBI, 12 SB, .272 AVG

I didn't intend to pick so many outfielders early in the draft, but I felt a little out of sync during the draft. This guy finished in the top ten players overall last year, so when Pence was still hanging around in the 5th round I grabbed him up. I am hoping that he can replicate most of last year's numbers. Again, I was chasing guys who could offer both power and speed and Pence has the ability to do that.

Outfield - Jay Bruce - Round 4, Pick 42

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 34 - 89 R, 30 HR, 109 RBI, 7 SB, .262 AVG

2014 Projections - 79 R, 30 HR, 92 RBI, 7 SB, .257 AVG

The glut of outfielders from rounds 1 through 7 continues with Jay Bruce. I was chasing home runs here, and Bruce produces stats in bulk. I picked him about where he should have gone in the draft, I think.

Utility - Josh Donaldson - Round 9, Pick 103

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 31 - 89 R, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 5 SB, .301 AVG

2014 Projections - 75 R, 19 HR, 79 RBI, 7 SB, .271 AVG

Again I picked a guy who had a career year last year and will hopefully keep much of that production this year. I have a hard time prospecting on career years from guys who haven't done much yet in the bigs, and I think I got enough guys at a discount in this draft that some of them are likely to replicate their numbers from last season.

Utility - Alex Gordon - Round 7, Pick 79

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 70 - 90 R, 20 HR, 81 RBI, 11 SB, .265 AVG

2014 Projections - 86 R, 17 HR, 74 RBI, 10 SB, .273 AVG

I picked Alex Gordon right around where he was expected to go and right around where he finished in 2013. He's a pretty solid 20 HR / 10 SB guy who isn't going to hurt a team by lagging in runs or RBI. His batting average is average, but he's not going to hurt you much.

Bench - Nick Swisher - Round 20, Pick 234

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 211 - 74 R, 22 HR, 63 RBI, 1 SB, .246 AVG

2014 Projections - 75 R, 23, HR, 81 RBI, 2 SB, .254 AVG

This was a decent pick, I suppose. Guys who you pick in the 20th round aren't going to be great, but they can fill games and stand in for injured players. They can also be dropped if someone on waivers gets hot. He doesn't hurt a team too much aside from batting average and he doesn't steal bases, but he offers a good number of home runs, runs, and runs batted in, at least for a bench player.

Bench - Adam Lind - Round 19, Pick 223

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 121 - 67 R, 23 HR, 67 RBI, 1 SB, .288 AVG

2014 Projections - 64 R, 21 HR, 72 RBI, 2 SB, .265 AVG

Lind had about the same year statistically as Swisher, except that his batting average was 40 points higher. Again, I am hoping he can hit a few home runs while filling in a few games for other players who are injured or otherwise missing time.

Bench - Coco Crisp - Round 10, Pick 114

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 56 - 93 R, 22 HR, 66 RBI, 21 SB, .261 AVG

2014 Projections - 79 R, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 24 SB, .262 AVG

Of course a team with 'Coco Crisp' in its name is going to make sure he is on the roster. He is also a guy who went 22 / 21 last year in Home Runs and Steals. The experts don't think he will quite reach that level, but even 15 / 20 or 15 / 25 is pretty darn good. He's probably good enough to be a starter, but my outfield is pretty crowded. I will probably be rotating the hot hands in and out of the lineup. I seem to have picked a lot of A's this season. It wasn't entirely intentional, but I feel like I got some good value out of the Athletics I picked. I'll let other guys draft the old injured Yankees with big names and fat contracts.

Bench - Alexei Ramirez - Round 14, Pick 162

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 138 - 68 R, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 30 SB, .284 AVG

2014 Projections - 67 R, 9 HR, 55 RBI, 19 SB, .268 AVG

I picked Ramirez during a stretch where I was trying to fill out my infield spots between rounds 12-14. I also had been focusing on balanced guys with a lean toward power, so I wanted a guy who could boost my steals. He doesn't offer a whole lot outside of steals, but since Jed Lowrie fell in my lap and offers a bit more power with no speed, I plan to play them both about equally in the shortstop position and create a hybrid set of stats. Last year a 50 / 50 split would have gone 74 / 11 / 62 / 15 / .287. That doesn't really make for an elite set of stats, but it is decent. I am looking to my outfield to put this team over the top while hoping for the rest of my roster to keep up with their peers.

Starting Pitcher 1 - Adam Wainwright - Round 3, Pick 31

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 10 - 241.2 IP, 19 W, 0 SV, 219 K, 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP

2014 Projections - 212.0 IP, 15 W, 0 SV, 189 K, 3.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

I try not to take pitchers too early, but the batters available in round three all had question marks for me, and Wainwright was the tenth-ranked player in the game last year. I decided to grab him as my staff ace. I think I did pretty well with this draft choice.

Starting Pitcher 2 - Hyun-jin Ryu - Round 11, Pick 127

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 85 - 192.0 IP, 14 W, 0 SV, 154 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

2014 Projections - 189.0 IP, 12 W, 0 SV, 154 K, 3.51 ERA, 1.22 WHIP

I tried to focus on batting early, as there always seems to be more variation among pitchers from year to year. One strategy you can use is to combine the innings of strong middle relief pitchers in your extra pitching slots. Relievers generally have pretty high strikeout rates and good ratios, and they will get a win here or there, so combining a few relievers worth of stats will net you the same or better numbers than a single starting pitcher after all the big arms are gone. Ryu's WHIP is kind of ugly and his strikeout rate is lower than I'd like, but I am hoping he will be solid this year. I probably overpaid for a big name after panicking because I didn't have much pitching on my roster at this point.

Starting Pitcher 3 - A.J. Burnett - Round 15, Pick 175

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 107 - 191.0 IP, 10 W, 0 SV, 209 K, 3.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

2014 Projections - 192.0 IP, 13 W, 0 SV, 186 K, 3.47 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

Burnett doesn't even have a contract at this point, but I think he is pretty close to signing with someone. He provides way too many strikeouts at the starting pitcher position to go undrafted in a fantasy league. His ratios don't impress, but I can live with that in the fifteenth round. He also wears my favorite jersey number, so there may be some favoritism on my roster.

Starting Pitcher 4 - R.A. Dickey - Round 16, Pick 186

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 256 - 224.2 IP, 14 W, 0 SV, 177 K, 4.21 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

2014 Projections - 205.0 IP, 13 W, 0 SV, 162 K, 4.06 ERA, 1.26 WHIP

Speaking of playing favorites, this guy shows up on my roster. Last year he had a few reasons for turning in a less-than-stellar performance. I don't know how good he will be this season, but I'm willing to gamble. If you take away his AL East starts last season, I think he was at about a 3.50 ERA and had a slightly higher strikeout rate. I may start this season out with him on the bench for his starts against the AL East.

Closer - Greg Holland - Round 6, Pick 66

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 36 - 67.0 IP, 2 W, 47 SV, 103 K, 1.21 ERA, 0.87 WHIP

2014 Projections - 67.0 IP, 4 W, 25 SV, 90 K, 2.22 ERA, 1.06 WHIP

I know that you shouldn't grab closers this early in the draft because there is so much turnover at that spot during the season, but at this point there was a bit of a run on saves and I wanted to have at least one guy with a pretty sure grip on the job. I tend to think he'll pull in a few more saves than the experts are projecting. I whiffed on most of the low-end closers in the later rounds, so I am kind of glad now that I reached and got Holland.

Relief Pitcher - Jesse Crain - Round 18, Pick 210

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 288 - 36.2 IP, 2 W, 0 SV, 46 K, 0.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

2014 Projections - 52.0 IP, 3 W, 17 SV, 58 K, 2.85 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

Crain is injured right now, but has started throwing again and projects to be the closer in Houston this year. If he winds up on the DL again or doesn't win the closing job then I will probably pick someone else up from waivers without losing too much sleep over it.

Relief Pitcher - Tyler Clippard - Round 21, Pick 247

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 146 - 71.0 IP, 6 W, 0 SV, 73 K, 2.41 ERA, 0.86 WHIP

2014 Projections - 70.0 IP, 4 W, 3 SV, 75 K, 3.13 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

Here is a pretty elite setup guy. Given the right circumstances he could step into the closer role at some point, but I picked him mostly because he can give me a lot of strikeouts and good ratios while pitching a little under half the innings that you might get from a frontline starter. In rounds 21-23 I picked a few relievers who had good stats on their own, but who also had a decent shot at taking over the closer role at some point in 2014.

Relief Pitcher - Darren O'Day - Round 22, Pick 258

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 198 - 62.0 IP, 5 W, 2 SV, 59 K, 2.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

2014 Projections - 60.0 IP, 4 W, 4 SV, 57 K, 3.26 ERA, 1.14 WHIP

I picked O'Day up for many of the same reasons discussed in Clippard's entry, but I have since swapped him out for another starting pitcher, Marco Estrada, who had a pretty good stat line last year and will hopefully do well again this year. There will be plenty of roster churn on my roster this year, and O'Day might even show up on my team again before the season is over.

Relief Pitcher - Edward Mujica - Round 23, Pick 271

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 136 - 64.2 IP, 2 W, 37 SV, 46 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.01 WHIP

2014 Projections - 65.0 IP, 4 W, 2 SV, 52 K, 3.59 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

Mujica had a pretty good line last year, but he is now blocked out of the closer role in Boston for the moment. I don't know if he strikes out enough batters to stay on my team in a setup role. I might wind up swapping him back out for O'Day.

And that's my first drafted team of the season. I think my batters are pretty good, although there are some question marks and my infield especially could struggle. I am not comfortable with my pitching staff outside of the top few guys, especially when it comes to ratios. I can see myself tweaking the rotation quite a bit as the season goes on.

11 February 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 43: Josh Reddick Museum Collection

I like these Museum Collection cards. They seem well-designed and are a little less manic than some of the Triple Threads cards that you see. I have a couple of other quad-relic cards in my collection, but this is the first one I've added with a patch piece among the relics. This Josh Reddick 2013 Museum Collection Primary Pieces card is numbered # 18 / 25. 

It looks like it comes from the shoulder patch on the A's uniforms. To me it seems like the patch piece on the card most closely matches the rear leg on the elephant. It adds a little pizzazz to the card over the usual bland uni-color swatches. 

09 February 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 42: R.A. Dickey Finest Gold Parallel

This is another one of those auctions where I bid the starting price and wound up getting the card. For under $3 I got this Gold parallel of R.A. Dickey from 2013 Topps Finest, numbered # 41 / 50. I can't decide how I feel about the design of this set. It seems like there isn't a whole lot going on as far as design work goes. Maybe I am wrong and a huge amount of work has gone into getting the balance of the cards right, but it looks like something you could whip up in about fifteen minutes with some cutting, pasting, and dragging of boxes.

The best-looking (to me) cards from this set are the 1993 throwback inserts. They come straight out of that era with their bright colors and WordArt. The 1993 Finest (68 cards) and the 1993 Finest All-Star (32 cards) combine to make a much better 100-card checklist than the base set. That 1993 throwback set would be fun to put together, but it looks like commons run $2-3 apiece, with most players falling in the $5-8 range and the usual collection of superstars commanding upwards of $25-30 each.

As a little experiment I went to COMC and added up all of the 1993 Finest and 1993 Finest All-Star cards that they had in stock to see what such a conglomerate set might cost to put together. It's not very scientific, but it's probably a decent ballpark figure. Getting good deals on some of the key cards in the set would go a long way toward reducing the cost, but some cards you will have to shell out for no matter what.

COMC had 46 / 68 cards from the Finest insert set with a total of $216.83, or $4.71 per card. Extending that out to 68 cards makes $319.64 for the whole set. There was a decent mix of high-dollar cards and some of the cards were on sale. For the purposes of my back-of-the-envelope math it all washes out in the end.

The Finest All-Star set had a higher cost per card, with 23 / 32 cards in stock for a total of $196.18 and an average per card of $8.52. Extended out, that makes $272.94 for the complete set. The additional few dollars per card over the other set seemed to be borne out by the checklist. There was again a good mix of superstars and relative scrubs, with seemingly appropriate prices across the board.

Together, that comes out to $592.58 for all 100 cards in the two sets, which breaks down to $5.92 per card depending on how you like to round. It would be a good-looking set, but that's a fair amount of scratch. You can get the base 2013 Finest set all day on eBay for $20. Someone actually went to the trouble of completing the 100-card 1993 Finest and 1993 Finest All-Stars throwback set that I've been theorizing about here. It's listed on eBay right now with a Buy It Now price of $1500. That's quite a markup.

In all likelihood I will probably just ignore this year's Finest offering aside from a couple of singles like the Dickey featured here. There are a couple of Josh Reddick cards I wanted to pick up as well.