Thursday, July 19, 2018

Hand, We're Off to the Races


Apparently it only takes 12 hours for the trade market to go from 'dormant' to 'the stock market frenzy at the end of Trading Places'.

After the Machado deal essentially opened up the floodgates on the trade deadline deals, we got the OTHER big ticket piece, Brad Hand, sealed up in a trade, this time to the most logical destination for a successful reliever in 2018: Cleveland.

Cleveland's bullpen has been extraordinarily bad this year. Like, 2017 Phillies bad. Their only successful reliever so far has been Oliver Perez, which means actual great players like Dan Otero, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller have been having down seasons, so they NEED good, new blood in there. So, getting Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, two guys who've been doing quite well for San Diego so far this year, is a great deal. Both will bolster the bullpen, and Hand may take over from Allen as closer if they get particularly fed up with him.

They did have to give up Francisco Mejia for him, and he's their big catching prospect, but seeing as Yan Gomes is having a career year, and they haven't really found a place to put him, it sort of works out. Mejia could eventually take over for Austin Hedges, who's an alright catcher but isn't exactly starting catcher material.

But yeah- sound trade all around. No real qualms here. Helps both teams. Ensures that the Padres are gonna be stacked in like 2 years. Bring on some more trades.

Another Blaster of 2018 Topps Big League

It's inoffensive, it's new, it's cheap, so I got more.

I'm not head-over-heels in love with this set, but its simplicity, and its mid-2000s-esque feel, has won me over, and it's definitely worth buying more of.

Pack 1-
336- CAL RIPKEN JR.
382- Adeiny Hechavarria
340- Jim Palmer. ORIOLES LEGENDS HOT-PACK
296- German Marquez
56- Wil Myers
115- Dexter Fowler. Dupe
27- Patrick Corbin. Dupe
360- Landmarks card of McCovey Cove in AT&T Park. I love this subset.
390- Jedd Gyorko. Hey, remember where I ripped 2 blasters of ZERO CARDINALS? I wish I was there.
322- Leaders Gold Parallel

Pack 2-
332- Roger Clemens. I still don't think steroid abusers belong in Legends portions of current sets
176- Lucas Duda
116- Walker Buehler rookie. Hey, that's a nice one. I don't know what he'll be doing once he gets off the DL though. Rotation's pretty crowded
13- Chris Archer
150- MIKE TROUT
187- Matt Kemp, Comeback Player of the Year. Dupe though
184- Lorenzo Cain. Dupe
42- Hector Neris. ...why does HE get a base card? Nobody in Philly likes him.
132- Kevin Kiermaier
368- GLEYBER TORRES Gold Parallel. NICE ONE! VERY NICE INDEED!

Pack 3-
358- Ballpark Landmarks of THE GREEN MONSTER. VERY NICE.
92- Eric Hosmer
105- NEWLY-TRADED MANNY MACHADO. I'm gonna miss seeing him in Baltimore.
39- Dansby Swanson. Dupe
241- Justin Turner. Dupe
167- Jack Flaherty. Dupe
113- RHYS HOSKINS RC. Hell of a performance in the Home Run Derby
30- Andrew Miller
1- ALL RISE Aaron Judge Nicknames subset. I approve of this one
328- Leaders Gold Parallel

Pack 4-
320- Leaders
158- Chris Davis. I guess he's Baltimore's flagship guy now? Good gosh.
17- Eric Thames. This card looks awesome.
211- Kendrys Morales
291- Brian Anderson
88- Russell Martin
230- Adrian Beltre
239- Jon Gray and his uncontrollable strikeouts
MINISTERS OF MASH insert of Bryce Harper. After the HRD, that's warranted
86- Ken Giles Gold Parallel

Pack 5-
380- Dylan Bundy
310- Leaders
99- Jose Abreu
232- Marco Estrada
276- Andrew Benintendi. NICE SHOT HERE
110- Richard Urena
148- Dustin Pedroia
201- Cole Hamels
270- Jose Iglesias
37- JD MARTINEZ Gold Parallel

Blue Pack-
78- Brad Ziegler
86- Ken Giles. Dupe
301- Leaders
295- Zack Cozart


Wellllll, not quite as noteworthy as the first blaster, but this is still a charming-ass product, and has some definite high-points to it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Dodgers Don't Need a Shortstop...and yet...


[puts R.E.M's 'Everybody Hurts' on in the background]

...So.

The Dodgers...didn't need Manny Machado. At least not as a franchise piece for a time longer than November 2018. They didn't need him for the reason that a lot of the other teams, like my hometown Philadelphia Phillies, needed him, which was as a boost to the next level of competition. The Dodgers didn't really need a boost. They're already one of the best teams in baseball, which has been cemented by the return of half the team from injuries, as well as the come-up of Max Muncy, and the return of Matt Kemp to fame and glory.

The Dodgers didn't need Manny Machado to simply compete. They needed him to win the World Series this year. Right now. This was a 'screw the future' kind of move for the Dodgers. A gamble. Sort of like the move that got them Yu Darvish last year, in exchange for a few players that haven't exactly blossomed for the Rangers. However, the Dodgers couldn't lock up Darvish (which, in hindsight, was a good idea), and they returned to the point they're at now...where they need to try the exact same move again, only this time at shortstop.

You can tell this is a 'right now' kind of move, because the Dodgers already have a shortstop. A rather good one. Corey Seager. But he's injured right now, and will be until next year. They also have a guy who's rather good at playing shortstop covering the position right now. Chris Taylor. But, to the Dodgers' credit, Taylor can play like 5 different positions, and it's better than giving a starting position to Enrique Hernandez.

So, this wasn't a desperate need for the Dodgers. And yet this movie still makes sense, as it's a one-upmanship move, a show of superiority over teams that have been borderline good in their division. It's a move that says they're ready to compete for this fall.

And it's also a move that destroys any chance of underdog classification they had going into the playoffs. So I'll continue to root for the team that actually might wrap Machado up for more than 4 months. Go Phils.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Your 2018 All-Star Game Starting Lineups

A routine on the blog. Every year, I don't just say 'Happy All-Star Game day'. No, I roll out the starting lineups like it's my damn business. As if you're in the stadium, which I wish I was right now.

Without further ado, HERE ARE YOUR 2018 ALL-STAR GAME STARTING LINEUPS!

FIRST, THE AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STARS

Leading off for the AL, the right fielder, from the Boston Red Sox...MOOKIE...BETTS.

Batting second, playing second base tonight, from the WORLD CHAMPION HOUSTON ASTROS....JOSE ALTUVE!

Third tonight for the AL, the centerfielder...from the Los Angeles Angels...MIKE...TROUT!

Batting cleanup for the AL, the designated hitter, from the Boston Red Sox...J.D. MARTINEZ!

Batting fifth, the third baseman, from the Cleveland Indians...JOSE RAMIREZ!

Batting sixth tonight, and playing left field...from the New York Yankees....AARON...JUDGE!

Batting seventh, the shortstop...at the moment, from the Baltimore Orioles....MANNY MACHADO!!


[Phillies and Dodgers fans begin brawling in the stands. Renegade Baltimore fans cheer, as it is Washington after all]

In the eighth spot tonight, the first baseman, from the Chicago White Sox....JOSE ABREU!

Batting ninth, and catching this evening, from the Kansas City Royals...SALVADOR PEREZ!

And pitching tonight for the American league, from the Boston Red Sox...CHRIS...SALE!

And now...the NATIONAL LEAGUE STARTING LINEUPS!

First, leading off tonight for the NL, the second baseman, from the Chicago Cubs...JAVIER BAEZ!

Batting second, and starting at third base tonight, from the Colorado Rockies...NOLAN ARENADO!

In the third spot, acting as the designated hitter tonight for the NL, from the Arizona Diamondbacks...PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT!

Batting cleanup for the NL, the first baseman, from the Atlanta Braves...FREDDIE FREEMAN!

Batting fifth tonight, the left fielder, from the Los Angeles Dodgers...MATT KEMP!

...AND BATTING SIXTH TONIGHT-
[the crowd already is going apeshit]
THE CENTERFIELDER, FROM YOOOOUR WASHINGTON NATIONALS. BRYCE....HARPER!
[PANDAEMONIUM]

[Applause eventually dies down]

At seventh in the lineup tonight, the right fielder, from the Atlanta Braves...NICK MARKAKIS!

Batting eighth tonight, playing shortstop, from the San Francisco Giants...BRANDON CRAWFORD!

Batting ninth, and catching this evening, from the Chicago Cubs...WILLSON CONTRERAS!


And starting on the mound tonight for the NL...FROM YOUR WASHINGTON NATIONALS, THE REIGNING CY YOUNG CHAMPION... MAX....SCHERZER!!!!
[More immense cheering from the audience]

Those are your lineups. Let's hope for a fun little game tonight.

Nostalgic Box Break: 1991 Stadium Club Series 2 (Part Two)


A little while ago, I posted 9 packs from a box of 1991 Stadium Club I posted a while ago. It was a fun, nostalgic look at the early machinations of the set, even if the photography wasn't always at STADIUM CLUB levels of awesomeness.

Today, as it's the ASG break and I've got time, we've got 9 more packs. Here we go:

 Pack 10-
Needs: 12/12
Hall of Famers: 1/12
Borderline Hall of Famers: 1/12
Steroid Abusers: 1/12

 Very nice dugout shot of Sam Horn, with a good emphasis on the reds and lighter colors. The Rob Deer's a nice one too, coming off his best home run hitting years.

 Jack Clark in Boston...forgettable from a baseball standpoint, but we sure got a lot of cards of it. Also, a fairly pedestrian card of Mark McGwire, even if he was still riding high on his youth numbers.

The real main event in this set, a rookie card of the legendary Astros slugger, Jeff Bagwell. Yes, it may be a staple of 10 cent bins, rather than a rookie card behemoth like other Topps rookies had been, but it's still an amusing, and important, card, as it's Topps' attempt at answering Upper Deck's use of Ken Griffey Jr. as a rookie selling point. And while this may work...it doesn't work quite as well.

 Pack 11-
Needs: 5/12
Dupes: 7/12 (Ugh)
Hall of Famers: 1/12
Steroid Abusers: 1/12

 Again, relatively nice photos from this set, emphasizing colors and shadows, as well as showcasing this on wider photography and different cardstock. Compared to the more tame 1991 Topps, this was revolutionary.

An early, yet still career-indicative, card of Tom Glavine, as well as an early-Texas-era card of Rafael Palmeiro. The latter is still trying to play. [Embarrassed sigh]

 Pack 12-
Dupes- 1/12
Needs: 11/12
Team Legends: 2/12
Guys Who Stayed With One Team for Most of the 90s: 2/12

 Ramon Martinez' very long arm kept things going for LA, even letting another Martinez go to Montreal. Meanwhile, Greg Swindell shows off the cool early-90s Indians jerseys (that they should totally bring back as throwbacks one of these days)

 Two smiling faces in unfamiliar uniforms: Pedro Guerrero's out of LA, and Juan Samuel's out of Philly. And yet they're so happy.

Two 90s stars- Ray Lankford, soon to carry the Cardinals on his back, and Ivan Calderon, approaching another ASG start.

 Pack 13-
Dupes: 6/12
Needs: 6/12
Hall of Famers: 1/12
Guys With Awesome Nicknames: 1/12
 HARD HITTIN...MARK WHITEN. Now that's just awesome.
And Junior Felix and his sturdy little batting helmet running around in those old 90s Angels uniforms.
Two guys who stuck with one team for the whole decade. Kevin Appier, premier starter for Kansas City, and John Smoltz, Hall of Fame fireballer for the Braves.

 Pack 14-
Needs: 8/12
Dupes: 4/12
Borderline Hall of Famers: 2/12

 Ed Nunez looking pretty classy against a black backdrop, and Mitch Webster with a really nice sideways shot in Pittsburgh.

 Two enemies of the 2001 World Series. Knoblauch lost, while Gonzalez came in with the series-winning homer.

Danny Darwin being interviewed, being asked if...he's the guy from off the Beagle, while Albert Belle hits one of his zillion home runs.

 Pack 15-
Needs: 11/12
Dupes: 1/12
Hall of Famers: 1/12
Guys Looking Pensive: 2/12
Guys Looking Confused: 1/12
 Steve Olin, pre-accident, hurling like hell. Rene Gonzales just looks really concerned, as if he knows.
 Terry Steinbach and Dave Gallagher look loose, surly. Roger McDowell looks like somebody from the Mets just shouted out his name as he's giving autos to kids.

Tony Pena's excited to be still catching. Jack Morris, in his lone, excellent season in Minnesota, sees a bit perturbed to be out of a Tigers uniform.

 Pack 16-
Dupes: 6/12
Needs: 6/12
Guys From Teams That Wear Primarily Blue: 4/12

 Not a lot to write home about in this pack, so here's Candy Maldonado and Jeff Montgomery, summing up most of 1990.

 Pack 17-
Dupes: 7/12
Needs: 5/12
Future Yankees: 2/12

Gene "No, I'm Not Dennis Eckersley" Nelson, and John Olerud in his early years of excellence.

 Pack 18-
Needs: 8/12
Dupes: 4/12
Former Yankees: 1/12

 Just a pair of smiley Reds- Charlton and Reed- post WS win.

Mo Vaughn, right before going on a tear for the remainder of the decade, looking youthful, next to Willie Randolph, in one of his last few seasons, as a Brewer, still hitting well.

We're halfway through the box, so I'll try and post another quarter of this thing in a few days.