Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Diving Catch Tops This Stadium Club Stack

While I'm still missing a few Braves from 2016 Stadium Club, I'm off to a good start.

Love these Braves uniforms. This is the second card of Ender with the stars on the Braves script on the front of the jersey. The other is 2016 Gypsy Queen. Anyone seen any other cards with this uniform?

Speaking of Ender Inciarte, I hope he's in the team's long-term plans. He's been fun to watch in center field this season. I know the Braves suddenly have too many outfielders with Mallex Smith in the mix next year and the newly acquired Kemp. I also know the Braves are trying to extract as much value from every player, but please hold on to Ender!

Speaking of getting value, the Braves were able to unload Aybar on the Tigers, essentially in return for a catching prospect. This is fine with me as we get a first look at Dansby Swanson in Atlanta.

Nice angle on this card of the Mad Dog. 

Julio returned from the disabled list the other night for a tough assignment against the Nationals. He has a potentially better match-up against the Diamondbacks this week to get back on track.

Unique shot of Freeman here going after a foul ball. 

And the best of the bunch of course is not a Brave. It seems more and more likely that Mookie will get good consideration for the AL MVP. He and Altuve seem to be the front-runners.

The two best photos here are the horizontal shots. This tends to be the case for these sets in general, from what I've seen.

What is your favorite card from 2016 Stadium Club?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Andruw Jones and 'The Catch'

Thursday night the Braves gave away an Andruw Jones 'The Catch' bobblehead, referencing an off the wall catch Andruw made against Astros in 1999. He robbed Bill Spiers with this grab. 

Here's the bobblehead, and even though I couldn't make it to the game, I may try to pick one of these up on ebay. Too cool.

Sadly I've shown off my only Andruw Jones at the wall cards in a previous post, and my Andruw Jones wall relic card in another. I'm sure no one minds seeing them again.

Maybe my favorite Andruw Jones card, from 1999 Ultra. What a shot there with Andruw on top of the wall.

Piece of the wall. Can't beat unique relics like this. You could definitely argue for Andruw being in the Hall of Fame, in addition to the Wall of Fame.

And now for some cards I haven't shown before on this blog. 1998 Collector's Choice was the first full box of baseball cards I opened. I've still got a ton of these in a box somewhere, along with many of the Starquest inserts. 

I never played MLB Showdown, but seems like something I would have enjoyed. I am definitely a stats guy and I also enjoy card and board games. 

There's a Sports Illustrated Kids card of Jones jumping at the wall which would have fit perfectly into this post. I'll have to add that one to my wantlist.

I have several Braves from this Upper Deck Vintage set. Need to see how else I am missing so I can complete a team set.

I've talked about how much I like 2005 Ultra baseball before. This Andruw is one of my favorites. Great sliding shot here. He had four straight seasons of stealing 20+ bases early in his career but didn't accomplish this past his fifth major league season. 2004 was the lone year in a five year stretch where he wasn't an all-star. He followed it up with his best offensive season in 2005 though, with 51 home runs and 128 RBIs, finishing as the runner-up for the NL MVP, behind Albert Pujols.

Watching the Braves and Nationals last night, Chip Carey and Joe Simpson talked about how they might have underappreciated Andruw Jones during his time in Atlanta. He provided gold glove level defense for most of his career and averaged 30+ home runs a year for a ten year period. They mentioned this stat in particular, and that he was overlooked because hitting 30 home runs wasn't as big a deal during that stretch. I would have to agree.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Topps Series 2 Stack

Anyone else having trouble keeping up with all the recent sets? The Braves are on a winning streak and I wanted to pick up my first cards of some of the current players.

Adonis Garcia has come on strong in July, raising his batting average by over 30 points to about .270. During the month he had a 10 game hitting streak and 9 multi-hit games. 

Arodys Vizcaino started the year as the closer, registering 10 saves with limited opportunities, but struggled a bit before going on the DL mid-July. He struggled Thursday night in his return.

Beckham hit well through May before going on the DL, but he hasn't hit well since returning in early July, hitting just 9 for 68 from July 15th through August 8th. 

The Braves traded Bud Norris to the Dodgers after Norris strung together five solid starts.

This is probably my favorite card in this group of base cards. Peterson has become one of my favorite players on the squad this season. Jace has really bounced back after a demotion to the minors in May.

Marksberry's pitched 3.1 innings for the Braves this season and is currently on the DL. He's spent most of his time this season in AAA Gwinnett. He has a solid era there of 2.45 in 28 appearances. The Braves could use some bullpen help. The last few games the games have gotten out of hand once the starters have left the game.

I'm optimistic that Folty will be a strong member of the rotation for awhile. A theme I've noticed is when he doesn't get a strike call or has some bad luck he can let his frustration impact his game. But he's got the talent to be a good starter. 

Tyler Flowers has also been a surprise for me this year with above average hitting and ok defense. While none of the catchers on the team are the long-term solution, they have been fine to bridge the gap to... well we don't know who yet. This is the base version and the rainbow parallel.

A.J. has struggled offensively, but he's not the only one on this Braves team who has. 

I appreciate series 2 and update series about as much as series 1.  It's one of the few sets to get cards of some of these guys. Bring on more sets with longer checklists!

I picked up some inserts but will talk about those in a future post.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Logo-less Chrome, I mean Optic

What's one way to make Donruss better? Chrome it up. 2016 Donruss is a set I haven't picked up too many cards from. I'm not likely to bust many packs of Donruss Optic with some other new sets being available, but picking up singles of the Braves and a few others definitely interests me. I picked up a half dozen from Just Commons recently. 

Some base cards of the heart of the Braves order right now, who are suddenly playing much better and have won 10 out of 14 games as of Tuesday night. I will have to settle for a San Diego Kemp for now until he gets some Braves issues. Mookie was recently named AL player of the month for July.

And a few refractors, I mean Holos, the regular versions for Freeman and Betts, and an Orange parallel of Freeman #'d out of 199. The Orange Freeman is pretty sharp, although I wouldn't have identified it as Orange out of the pack necessarily.

Based on seeing these in person, I would imagine the Diamond King cards from Optic would look great. The Markakis will go on my wantlist.

Friday, August 5, 2016

2015 Finest Stack

Over the past week I've been catching up on sorting and putting my 2015 cards into binders. While I prefer the 2014 Finest design over 2015, some of the cards below are pretty slick.

Oftentimes cards like this fail to scan as well as I'd like, but these scanned nicely. You can even tell which cards are refractors. Here we've got the base card, followed by a Prism Refractor of Manny Machado. Adam Jones really picked things up offensively in the month of June.

Base, refractor, and black refractor of Julio Teheran. Maybe I should go after the whole set of parallels for him. Teheran is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite Braves. It's been fun to watch him pitch despite getting little to no run support.

And a base and black refractor of Freddie. 

I don't understand why the different parallels aren't labeled somewhere on the back. Pulling these from packs it'd be tough to tell what you have, especially if you've been out of the game awhile. I wouldn't know the difference between a prism parallel and a regular refractor. But overall, a solid design. Over the last several years, I rank them this way: 1) 2014 2) 2015 3) 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

2015 Archives Stack

Someone's playing catch-up. Posting about last year's Archives well after I posted about this year's set. In general bloggers seem to like 2016 Archives better than previous years.

A closeup of Julio. Glad the Braves decided to hold onto this guy. Some of the text on his card is hard to read because of the Braves uniform. Same thing on the Freeman and Chipper. Nice cards otherwise. Hoping Freeman sees some better pitches to hit now that Matt Kemp is in town.

A trio of Orioles. Eddie Murray is my favorite in this row. Fancy sideburns. Gausman is turning in a pretty solid season for the Orioles, who are right in the playoff race despite a pretty poor rotation overall.

Love this card of Hahn, a former Virginia Tech Hokie pitcher. He's been in AAA Nashville for a good portion of this season, but recently had a strong start for the A's. Hopefully he gets another opportunity for some consistent starts before the end of the season. He's proven he can be a reliable starting option over the last few seasons.

I was sad to see Alex Wood traded as part of the deal to acquire Hector Olivera from the Dodgers. We saw how that played out for Atlanta. Looks like Alex Wood might be back from injury in September and used in a reliever role.

This Kershaw is probably the best card in this post. He sure has some great cards over the last few years, doesn't he?

I would like the Braves from this row if the top part of the border was red rather than purple. The Machado looks great! Both of the Braves are of course with other teams. Shelby Miller has not fared too well since leaving the Braves, making his trade look even more lopsided as of now.

I agree with the verdict that 2016 beats the 2015 version of Archives, as nice as a few of these 2015 cards look.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Fluor Fragments of the Farm

Yesterday I went through the prospects from last year's talented Greenville Drive squad. When I saw that the Drive were included in this Fragments of the Farm relic set from Topps Pro Debut last year, I had to pick up this ballpark seat card from Fluor Field, home of the Drive.

Fluor Field features a replica Green Monster in left field. You can see part of it in the photo on the card. It is 30 feet high as opposed to the 37 foot Green Monster in Fenway. Fluor Field was made to emulate the feel of Fenway Park. I feel lucky to be able to watch games at a quality ballpark!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

2015 Greenville Drive Team Set

Since moving to the upstate of South Carolina from Charlotte about three years ago, I've really enjoyed following the local minor league team, Greenville of the South Atlantic League. Last year's squad was filled with prospects, some of which are now with other organizations due to trades. I picked up a team set later in the 2015 season. Not sure any future single-A squad will have this many highly regarded prospects at one time again. Andrew Benintendi didn't get a card but played in 19 games for Greenville at the end of last season, and he's a top 10 prospect in all of baseball.

It's possible some of these guys may have been traded near the trade deadline since this post was written.

We'll start with the most notable, Yoan Moncada. He started off slow for Greenville but finished nicely and is having a great season, now in Double A Portland. He's listed as the #2 prospect in all of baseball on mlb.com. He's apparently learning third base which makes sense given Dustin Pedroia is locked in at second for the near future.

Chavis has power but has struggled to get on base, particularly during last season. He's doing better his second season in Greenville. The 2014 first round pick is still a top 10 Red Sox prospect.

Devers had a great season for Greenville in 2015 and has come on recently for single A Salem. He's got power and is still just 19 years old. He's the Red Sox third prospect behind Moncada and Benintendi.

Dubon was my personal favorite from last year's squad. He's a top 10 Red Sox prospect as well who plays middle infield positions. Great contact hitter and has speed. Could be a great utility guy down the road and is having a great season, now with double A Portland.

Guerra was traded to the Padres along with Manuel Margot for Craig Kimbrel. Guerra was listed as a top 100 prospect going into the season but has fallen off that list as he has struggled at the plate in 2016. He's still just 20 years old, though.

Michael Kopech recently hit 105 mph on his fastball. He's another first round pick from 2014 who's pitched well for single A Salem.

Longhi wasn't drafted as early as some of these other guys and doesn't have the hype around him, but he's had a great minor league career thus far. The card names him an outfielder, but he played first base for the Drive last season. 

You might have seen Aaron Wilkerson's name recently when he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers as part of the trade for Aaron Hill. He's pitched well at each level of the minors for the Red Sox since he was signed from independent league ball in 2004. 

And what can you say, Reedy Rip'It is an awesome mascot. Reedy is named after the Reedy River that runs through downtown Greenville.

While the 2016 Drive don't match up prospect-wise with last year's squad, it's exciting to see top picks and international prospects come through on their way up the minor league ladder.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Adding to the Crime Dog Stack

I've posted McGriff cards from my collection previously showing him in non-Braves uniforms. While some of his best years statistically were in Atlanta, he only spent four full seasons and part of another with the Braves out of his major league career spanning 19 years. While I certainly appreciate the Crime Dog in a Braves uniform, I'm not going to limit my collection to those years. 

McGriff's first post-Atlanta stop was Tampa, where he played from 1998 to 2001 and then again in 2004. Definitely like the Devil Rays logo better than the current Rays. I guess a change was warranted after failing to win more than 70 games under the Devil Ray name. McGriff had his fifth and final all-star season in 2000.

Maybe my favorite card in this stack, McGriff spent the 2003 season with the Dodgers, playing in 86 games. He hit 13 home runs for the Dodgers, getting him within 10 home runs of 500 for his career. 

I missed out on the Bowman Heritage run. It looks like there are a few years of old Bowman that didn't get a modern set printed for them. Is this a brand that could be brought back?

Great design, great card. While he looks sharp in Dodger blue, can't beat a uniform with a tomahawk that didn't scan as well.

I recently learned that McGriff is in a front office role with the Braves as a special assistant to baseball operations. Maybe that will lead to a larger role with the organization as the team continues to build for the future.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Talked About So Much, but Still Underrated

Stadium Club photography is talked about all over the blogosphere and it's now the identifying feature of a modern Stadium Club set. While it's widely discussed, the photography is far and away better than any other set that I still think it's underrated.

I just picked up my first cards from 2016 Stadium Club the other day, but I realized I hadn't even posted about a stack of 2015 Stadium Club I picked up last year! 

Will the Braves rotation ever get back to where it was in the mid-90s? Seems unlikely, but they are trying with all the young pitchers the team is accumulating.

For the second year in a row, Adam Jones has a memorable card in Stadium Club. In 2014 it was flags with Jones running onto the field.

The All-Star, MVP candidate, and first-round pick and 'captain' of my fantasy baseball team this year.

I love a good sliding shot. First one I can remember featuring Freeman, although it's possible there's another out there.

 Another young pitcher having a solid year for a first place team. Notice the tongue.

My second-round pick for my fantasy baseball team, and my favorite player in the game today. These horizontal shots are great.

Definitely missing this guy this season. Erick Aybar has been pretty painful to watch.

Another of the more memorable cards from this Stadium Club release, I'm sure. Best pitcher in the game.

He may not be an 'ace' on every team, but he's our ace and all-star. He's also one of only three starters listed on the active roster as of Friday when this post was written. Sad times for the Atlanta rotation.

Wish I had thought of this card for a July 4th post. Perfect way to end things in this one. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Collecting Firsts

A recent ebay purchase marked some collecting firsts for me. Let's get go from the lesser firsts up to the major firsts.

Collecting First #1: First card from 2016 Stadium Club

Before I pick up any base cards from 2016 Stadium Club, I've actually added an insert to my collection. Couldn't be happier with the player, either. Betts has easily become the most exciting player for me to watch. And this is a strong insert offering from Topps.  This one reminds me of a mid-90's Fleer insert set of some sort, the font in particular. Take a look at this insert set from 1995-96 Fleer basketball. I know it's basketball, but the font on this Mookie reminds me of the player name font on that insert set, and others that are similar I'm sure. I'm only referencing basketball because during the mid-90s that was my main collecting focus.

Collecting First #2: First baseball autograph purchased on ebay

So far I've stuck to inserts for ebay purchases and the occasional game worn card, and honestly have tried to stay off of ebay altogether, but once I found one card I wanted, I looked for other cards to make the shipping worthwhile. While the Bordick doesn't fit a specific need for my collection, it's a sharp on-card auto of a player I enjoyed watching in the 90s. Reason enough for me to place a bid.

Collecting First #3: First autograph of a current Braves system player

I wish I could leave the word 'system' off this one, but Wisler was just demoted to AAA Gwinnett. Wisler will bounce back, I'm sure, after he gets back on track in the minors. Sharp card though with an on-card autograph.

Collecting First #4: First Ryan Klesko autograph

Definitely the most excited about this Klesko autograph from 2015 Archives. Really like the design and another on-card autograph. I was long overdue for a Klesko autograph to add to my biggest baseball player collection. 

A successful ebay purchase, indeed. Combined shipping makes for a whole lot better bidding experience.