Thursday, July 31, 2014

Top Ten Trade Deadline Deals 2014

Well, it's that time of year again.

If you're from Philadelphia, July 31st is a time for sorrow and disappointment. If you're from Detroit, it is a time to rejoice and be merry. And if you're a Boston Red Sox fan on this particular July 31st, it is a time for confusion and remorse...with one very big exception.

A lot of people were dealt this July 31st, as opposed to the last few deadlines, which were generally quiet. Here, some of them biggest stars in the game were dealt, and some of the biggest hearts in baseball were broken.

Let's go over the top ten deals made this deadline.

#10- Jarred Cosart and a few prospects to Miami. Jake Marsinick and a few prospects to Houston. Victor- Marlins, by a hair. How it helps Miami- Cosart will be a good fourth or fifth starter for a slowly rebuilding roster. How it helps Houston- Gives a few more prospects that might help in different areas.

#9- Gerardo Parra to Milwaukee, prospects to Arizona. Victor- Brewers. How it helps Milwaukee- Parra is another young outfield arm, and the Brewers are bursting with young power right now, especially with Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. How it helps Arizona- More help with rebuilding.

#8- Stephen Drew to the Bronx, Kelly Johnson to Boston. Victor- Yankees, I guess. How it helps the Yankees- Brian Roberts was a bit of a mistake for the Yankees. Drew will be a better bat for the second base position, and is a better choice to play everyday. How it helps Boston- It doesn't really, as Johnson was slumping big-time for us.

#7- Tommy Milone to Minnesota, Sam Fuld to Oakland. Victor- Very close, but I'm giving it to the Twins. How it helps Minnesota- The Twins have needed a surefire starting arm ever since Francisco Liriano left. Milone is not great, but he can definitely improve, and Minnesota is low-key enough for him to. How it helps Oakland- Sam Fuld is a nice bat, and he can bolster the lineup a bit.

#6- Justin Masterson to St. Louis, a prospect to Cleveland. Victor- Cardinals, sadly. How it helps St. Louis- Even though he's not as good as he was last year, Masterson is still a good arm, and will do fine in the Cardinals' rotation, which is swishing around this time of year. How it helps Cleveland- You never know. This James Ramsey kid could turn out to be really good.

#5- John Lackey and prospects to St. Louis, Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Boston. Victor- Actually, the Red Sox. How it helps Boston- Craig is an underrated power hitter, and can definitely fill some holes in the infield or outfield in Boston. Kelly could also help repair some of the damage caused by Boston trading away most of its pitching. How it helps St. Louis- Lackey doesn't have much left in the tank, but he could be a good enough 5th or 4th starter.

#4- Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington, a prospect to Cleveland. Victor- Nationals. How it helps Washington- the Nationals' infield was already strong enough, with LaRoche, Desmond, Rendon and Zimmerman all trading off and playing well. Throw another All Star in there and we could have one of the more legendary infields in recent history. How it helps Cleveland- they need to rebuild, so this may help.

#3- Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland, Dan Straily and prospects to Chicago. Victor- A's. How it helps Oakland- Gives more pitching help to a team that was already really needing some more of it. Samardzija is a great pitcher, and he's been playing pretty well for the A's so far. How it helps the Cubs- Keeps the youth movement flowing.

#2- Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox, Jonny Gomes and Jon Lester to Oakland. Victor- Red Sox. How it helps Boston. Ladies and gentlemen, the one really good thing the Red Sox did today. Cespedes is one of the best hitters in baseball, and he's won two Home Run Derbies in a row. He's raw power, and the Red Sox need some of that, because they're not doing well this season. This will definitely shift the balance of power in the AL East. How it helps Oakland- Lester will definitely buttress the A's rotation, and him and Samardzija will be a great one-two punch. Gomes will be terrific back where he started his comeback.

#1- David Price to the Tigers, Austin Jackson to the Mariners, Nick Franklin and Drew Smyly to the Rays. Victor- Obviously the Tigers. How it helps Detroit- One of the best pitchers in baseball just landed in the same rotation as some of the other best pitchers in baseball. You do the math. How it helps Seattle- Gives them an outfielder who seems to be doing things right. How it helps Tampa- Two young players can finally sprout here.

Overall, it was a great deadline for a lot of people.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Lester Edition

This man is the Boston pitching staff's last hope...which is why he's coming up several times on the lists of people who will likely be dealt before tomorrow's trade deadline.

This baffles me. Jon Lester has been pitching beautifully for Boston since 2007, and has been their main arm ever since Josh Beckett left in 2012. So...why would they give him up? He's done nothing but good things for the team.

I dunno, it baffles me. Boston should hang onto Jon Lester. They already dealt Doubront, and it looks like Lackey is on the way out as well. If they lose Lester, they will have nothing.

And to be at that point a year after winning a world sad.

EDIT- Well, at least they have Yoenis Cespedes...

Coming Tomorrow- Depends on a lot of things.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Greinke Edition

Right now the NL West is working like a see saw. One week it goes LA's way. One week it goes San Francisco's way. And it's getting even more heated as the season goes on, because it's becoming evident that both teams want it.

Zack Greinke certainly wants it, because he got close enough to it last year while having a generally good season. This season he's playing beautifully, and he's just as good as Clayton Kershaw, giving the Dodgers three surefire arms along with Hyun-Jin Ryu.

I'm pulling for the Dodgers, because I think they're a fun team, and I think they're playing a lot better than the Giants. Also, I think there are 75 more Dodgers bloggers than Giants bloggers, so the blogosphere seems to be on my side.

Coming Tomorrow- Meanwhile, in Chicago, a fan-favorite rises to the top at the very bottom.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Byrd Edition

I am very tired tonight, so I really don't have much to say about Marlon Byrd, the only person on the Phils who is currently hitting. Because if I do say something, he will likely land on another team by the end of the week.

So I'll say this- Marlon Byrd's finally having a nice season in Philly, ten seasons after leaving. And for that reason I'm glad he came back.

Coming Tomorrow- Kershaw's right hand man.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Molina Edition

For the latter half of the 2000's, there were always two NL catchers that I'd constantly mix up, and it was Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Why? Because they'd constantly trade off in the NL as the all star catcher. It was like they'd take turns. McCann'd take it one year, and Molina'd take it the next year, and maybe for variety's sake they'd throw in Buster Posey.

Of course, this year Brian McCann landed in the AL. So Molina had the whole league to himself.

I'm gonna be honest. I used to hate Molina a lot more than I do now.  He's sort of grown on me, and I really don't hate him as much as i hate the rest of his team. I do think he deserved to start the All Star Game, and was kind of sad when he got injured and Jonathan Lucroy had to take over.

Either way, he's a great player, and one of the few Cardinals I do not hate.

Coming Tomorrow- A major force for the Phillies...who'll likely be on another team by Thursday.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Price Edition

I think that the number one question that's floating around the MLB this month is 'Will David Price be traded?', followed closely by 'Can't Chris Berman Just Shut Up Already?'.

And it's a valid question. David Price is one of the most dominant, powerful pitchers in the MLB. He's had several really good seasons, and 2014 is no exception. Yet since his contract is running thin, there's a mystery as to whether Price will stick with the Tampa Bay Rays for the remainder of the season.

A lot of people are adamant that the Rays would never let such a major pitcher leave, and that they'd have to hold onto a piece that big. To those people, I suggest to look here and here.

At this point, it's a coin toss. One side says he sticks around, one side says he leaves. And remember, last year it was looking like Asdrubal Cabrera was on the verge of being traded. And he's still in Cleveland. So for David Price, it could go either way.

However, being that there's still a possibility he might be moved, I'm going to list some teams that I'd rather not trade for David Price.

  • Red Sox. This one goes without saying, because I'd rather not hate Price more than I already do. This may happen because Boston's pitching has decayed a bit, but it may not happen because Price has lost already this year.
  • Dodgers. There comes a point where every GM has to come up for air and say enough. Ned Colletti has yet to reach this point. The bottom line is that, as much as I respect the Dodgers, they have enough, and I don't think they can handle all that pitching talent AND Price.
  • Cardinals. Same as Red Sox. Also, the Cardinals have enough young pitchers that they don't really need Price, other than for the sole purpose of cock-blocking every other team that actually NEEDS Price. Speaking of cock-blocking...
  • Angels. While this is one of the years where the Angels' rotation is actually lightweight, the Angels would be swooping in at the last minute. Plus, if this happens, the Wild Card is a foregone conclusion for them, and I'd like for the Yankees to grab that one.
  • Rangers. This one I absolutely fear, because it makes sense. The Rangers are in need of pitching because half their rotation's injured. Price is enough to give them a boost for 2014 without hindering them in the long run. If this happens, then it'll leave the Astros in the corner by themselves. And I severely wish this would be avoided.
  • Tigers. This would turn a playoff team into a foregone conclusion for the World Series. And I'd prefer that if it didn't happen.
He could just stick with the Rays, and that I'm fine with. But...expect hell if any of those teams grabs him.

Coming Tomorrow- The catcher for the Cardinals.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Custom Card of the Night: Scherzer Edition

Not enough can be said about the Detroit Tigers' rotation.

Okay, by that I mean the Detroit Tigers' rotation with the exception of Drew Smyly. Drew Smyly is the Steve Avery of this rotation. He comes fifth, and simply isn't as good as the rest of the gang.

Any other year it'd come down to Verlander and Scherzer. This year it's Scherzer and Porcello. That doesn't count out Verlander and Anibal Sanchez though, because both are having modest enough seasons. Max Scherzer is, once again, having a dynamite season, and Rick Porcello, who was basically a failed prospect a second ago, is also surging.

Will Scherzer repeat for the AL Cy Young. It'll be the first time a Jewish pitcher has won multiple Cy Young awards since Sandy Koufax. And as a half-Jew myself, I could use something like that. Again, it's looking like it's either Scherzer or Felix Hernandez for the Cy, which means it's two pitchers looking for their second, and while I'd like to once again bring up the fact that Felix didn't exactly deserve the first one, I'd still prefer it if Max Scherzer finished strong and got two in a row.

Unless somebody else comes into the race and takes it away.

Coming Tomorrow- A pitcher for the Rays. Whether he will still be pitching for the Rays by the end of the month is up for debate.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Local Card Shop: Randomness Prevails

My days are numbered.

Not on the blog, but in my hometown.

This is likely my last full week in my hometown, before three weeks of vacation, a few extra days back home, and college. I'm trying to take everything in for one last time, or at least the last time for a while. And one of those things was the card shop that I'd been frequenting ever since I got into the hobby. It wasn't going to be easy to walk in, grab cards, and go...and then not come back until likely a year from now. But it had to happen.

Well...I visited this card shop two days ago. It was sad, and it was sentimental, but it had to happen. And I got a good 120 cards that I felt like getting (all baseball).

Let's see what I got.

90's stuff:
As usual, the card shop had stocked its 10 cent bins with 1990's junk wax, which I'm always on the lookout for. More specifically, I'm looking for the Topps sets from the glossy-era, which is 1993-2005 (all the sets I don't have complete box sets for). Luckily, the guy had some assorted Topps, including those five 1995 Topps cards. The Thome is a CyberStats insert.

1997-1999 Topps. A few Bagwells. You'll notice a lot of Tony Gwynn cards in this 90's bunch. The guy had a lot of his stuff.

2000 Topps (these next two photos aren't 90's, but they fit the theme). It was nice to finally nab a card of McGriff on the Rays. That one had been eluding me for a while.

2001 Topps. A few more current stars, although 2/3rds of them are retired, and the other third is basically at the end.

Now, knowing me, you're probably wondering if I nabbed any stray Stadium Club singles. And the answer is yes, of course. This Alomar is just an example of the really nice photography the '94 release had.
Assorted early 90's Stadium Club. I think the Bagwell is pretty cool.

Two 1980's superstars on unfamiliar teams. Dawson is on a 1993 Ultra issue, with the Red Sox. Murray is on a 1996 Bowman card, with the Indians.

This was in 1995 Upper Deck, two years after Robin Yount's final season, yet still serving as a final tribute to his nice career, which I thought was pretty cool of UD to do. They also did final tributes for Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Ryne Sandberg, who would be back in baseball by the time the card came back.

Now...THIS is what we call a rarity.

Not Black Diamond. Black Diamond's pretty common. No, I'm talking about Randy Johnson in a Houston Astros uniform.

I didn't know that he was an Astro until far into his (future) Hall of Fame career. It was a bridge between his two landmark teams, his Mariners run and his Diamondbacks run. For the longest amount of time, I've always wanted a card of Johnson on the Astros. Thankfully, now I have one.

2000's Upper Deck:

The last time I went to this shop, this turned out to be a major pattern. I kept finding lots and lots of 2006, 2007 and 2008 Upper Deck cards peppered throughout, which was nice, because I collected those sets intermittently when they came out. This Johnny Damon was the only 2003 Upper Deck card I found.

The players on top are currently not employed by an MLB. The players on the bottom are. Two of them are playing for the Dodgers.

Mike Piazza isn't with the Padres in this shot, but the shot is so awesome that I really don't care.

This one's my favorite of the 2006 cards I got. This is a triumphant Thomas, finally getting a World Series trophy to call his very own, even if he was injured for most of the 2005 season. Really great shot, even though he's credited as an Athletic.

A trio of 2007 UD cards.

Upper Deck sure put out a lot of trophy cards back in the day.

Nine cards from Upper Deck 2008. A nice array of different shots and players.

Four sideways shots.

Thought this was pretty noteworthy. Upper Deck was nice enough to produce a Final Tribute for Schilling, who retired after missing the 2008 season. Class act.


Yeah, like usual, I racked up a ton of vintage stuff from the ten cent bins, including this 2008 A&G card of Tex in between his Rangers and Yankees years.

2007 and 2010 Topps Heritage. Surprisingly, these two years of Heritage aren't very well represented in my collection, though I do enjoy the 2007 release.

2005 and 2007 Bowman Heritage. Consequentially, I do own a lot of 2007 Bowman Heritage, which is kinda sad, because it's the last year that they did it, and it's a really nice line of products. The crispness of the art is what makes it so good.

A shiny brick card from the 2006 release. Good ol' Vladdie.

Six from 2005 Turkey Red, another favorite. The top three are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The bottom three will likely be joining them eventually.

Quite a bit of 2005 UD Classic, so I scooped up these guys. You don't see a lot of modern cards of a lot of these guys, especially Morris and Kell.

Two rookie cards that probably aren't worth much anymore, yet I scooped them up anyway, because it's not everyday you pay 10 cents for a Barry Zito rookie.

The last thing I want to show you is the array of numbered cards the guy had, especially for a 10 cent bin. First of all, this is a rookie card of Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy. AND it's numbered to 799. But I found a lot more than that.

Smoltz: #'d to 350
Dunn and Gagne: #'d to 499
Pierzynski, Roberts and Stewart: #'d to 200
Sexson, Hudson and Dye: #'d to 100.

And all for ten cents each. That is pretty nice.

Well, overall I say that this was a fitting send-off. I'm sure I'll be back eventually, but not until I'm back from a college break. I think these cards will tide me over though.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A little late, but still worthy of mention

That is what we all needed. Someone that can hit in the clutch and play third base really well. Well done, Chase Headley.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Check Your Headley

Welcome to the Yankees, Chase Headley. Your defensive play and nice hitting will definitely go over well in New York. Besides, we needed a sure thing at third base after the last few crapped out on us.

Well done, Cashman. Now, let's see some results.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Wilson Edition

I have a lot of customs from a while ago, so I'm going to get to posting them in heaps over the next week, before my usual string of vacations kicks in. So here's a CJ Wilson custom. So what if he's not really that relevant. He's a great pitcher, and he's really one of the best Angels pitchers out there right now, other than Garrett Richards and a comparatively-meh Jered Weaver.

Coming Tomorrow- It's been half the season, and I haven't made a single custom of any of the Yankees' non-Tanaka acquisitions. Well, tomorrow you're getting one.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Don't Make Me Hate the Hero

I'm going to begin this post about Derek Jeter by talking about one of my least favorite teachers.

In eighth grade, I had this history teacher. In terms of teaching, she was great. She was thorough, she was informative, and I got an A in her class. However, her personality infuriated me greatly. It's very, very hard to describe, but just picture someone who enjoys what they teach, yet always seems to not be very happy with the whole 'dealing with fourteen-year-olds' part. I'm not gonna go into detail about some of stuff I went through with her, but I am going to tell you about one. Thankfully, it's one that this teacher won't sue me for, because it's true, and non-incriminatory.

On one of the last days of eighth grade, she devoted a class period to have the students ask her just about anything about her, about high school, about life, etc. She said would answer every question honestly, and to her credit, she did. However, someone asked her if she had ever met anyone truly famous. And she answered 'well, as a matter of fact, a while ago I won a sweepstakes package, and I got to have dinner with Derek Jeter'.

In my head, an alarm sounded. Oh my gosh, this teacher I'd braved through a year of being with had spent time with one of my favorite players. And she shared food with him. So I was very quick to ask her what the great Derek Jeter was like.

And I think that she saw how interested I was in how Derek Jeter was as a person. Because she proceeded to tell the class how dissatisfied she was about her dinner with Derek Jeter. She said that he wasn't very interested to be there, and the conversation wasn't very enthralling, and that he just didn't seem very genuine.

Right there, my eighth grade teacher was breaking a cardinal rule in my eyes: She was trying to get the entire class, and especially me, to hate Derek Jeter. She was trying to turn me against my favorite player. And that was not cool.

In my eyes, nothing could make me hate Derek Jeter. But this teacher was trying. Now, all these years later, Derek Jeter's legacy could be facing a new spoiler, and that is overexposure.

People all around the country seem to generally respect Jeter, even if they hate the Yankees, which most of them do. But after the All Star Game, where the coverage of Jeter was greater than the coverage of Mike Trout, the game's MVP, people are beginning to turn on him. Jeter, when he ran out onto the field, was given a good 30 seconds of screentime before they announced the next player. Usually the gap is like 10 seconds.

Plus, when Jeter finally left the game, at the beginning of the fourth inning, FOX took 2 minutes out of, you know, the game, to record Jeter leaving the field, fiving every last coach and player, and sitting down. Even a Jeter worshipper like me can call that excessive.

In some cases, this is taking away from the legend. Some fans have been calling the attention that Jeter has been getting excessive, and people are losing respect for him because the cameras cannot stop circling him.

Look, if you're gonna blame anybody, don't blame the legend. Blame the people who can't stop talking about the legend. Blame Joe Buck. Blame Tim Kurkjian. Blame Chris Berman. They should get the blame. For a second there ESPN was talking about Jeter more than LeBron James. FOR A SECOND.

This is just another silly way to tarnish the reputation of a legend, who has played the game with class and dignity for nineteen seasons. He's not asking for the attention. It's not like Barry Bonds, whose goodbye tour was prodded out with obnoxiousness and overblown home run promises. This is Derek Jeter. He's one of the greatest shortstops of all time. People are going to talk about him quite a bit. That shouldn't damage his reputation, the amount of coverage he gets.

I don't want to hate Derek Jeter. This overexposure is too petty for people, or me, to lose respect for him over it. And for those who have gotten tired of Jeter: relax. It'll all be over soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Custom Card of the Night: Chapman Edition

I think we may be looking at the next great closing pitcher.

I mean, Craig Kimbrel is the one breaking all the records. He's the one leading the league in saves and everything every year. But in terms of sheer power and consistency, Aroldis Chapman is the one to watch. He's dominant, powerful, and still hits 100 mph on his ninth-inning pitches. The Reds are lucky to have someone that good.

They're also lucky that he rebounded so well to a hit to the face that sidelined him for a good month and a half back there. Not only is Chapman back, but he's better than he's ever been. Just look at his stuff during the All Star Game. Really, really nice.

Coming Tomorrow- He's a decent pitcher for the Angels who seems to be holding onto his stuff.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2014 All Star Game Starting Lineups

We did this last year, so we're doing it again. In honor of tonight's All Star Game, I'll be representing each starting player with a current custom. Some of them are new, some of them were released earlier this year.

We'll start with the AL:

Batting first for the American League, the shortstop, from the New York Yankees...DEREK...JETER!!
(Long, drawn out applause)

Batting second, the left-fielder, from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim...MIKE TROUT!
Batting third...the second baseman, from the Seattle Mariners...ROBINSON CANO!!
Batting cleanup, first baseman, from the Detroit Tigers...MIGUEL CABRERA!!
Batting fifth, the right fielder, from the Toronto Blue Jays...JOSE BAUTISTA!
Batting sixth...the designated hitter, from the Baltimore Orioles, NELSON CRUZ!
Batting seventh...the center fielder, from the Baltimore Orioles, ADAM JONES!!
Batting eighth...the third baseman, from the Oakland Athletics...JOSH DONALDSON!
Batting ninth, the catcher, from the Kansas City Royals...SALVADOR PEREZ!
And warming up in the bullpen, the starting pitcher for the AL, from the Seattle Mariners...FELIX HERNANDEZ!!

Now for the National League...

Leading off for the NL, the centerfielder, from the Pittsburgh Pirates...ANDREW MCCUTCHEN!!
Batting second, the right fielder, from the Los Angeles Dodgers...YASIEL PUIG!!
Batting third, the shortstop, from the Colorado Rockies...TROY TULOWITZKI!!
Batting cleanup, the first baseman, from the Arizona Diamondbacks...PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT!!
Batting fifth, tonight he is the Designated Hitter, from the Miami Marlins...GIANCARLO STANTON!!!
Batting sixth, the third baseman, from the Milwaukee Brewers...ARAMIS RAMIREZ!!
Batting seventh, the second baseman, from the Philadelphia Phillies...CHASE...UTLEY!!!
Batting eighth, the catcher, from the Milwaukee Brewers...JONATHAN LUCROY!
And batting ninth, the left fielder, from the Milwaukee Brewers...CARLOS GOMEZ!!
Warming up in the bullpen, and starting for the National League, from the St. Louis Cardinals...ADAM WAINWRIGHT!!!

Sure to be an excellent All Star Game. I'll be watching, adorned in a Jeter jersey, rooting for the captain one last time on this stage.