Thursday, April 30, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Gordon Edition

Last Season, Dee Gordon came back from a couple of down seasons and made a name for himself in the NL West not only as a base-stealer, but as a formidable hitter, the kind you'd want on your roster, the kind that would take you to the postseason.

So the Marlins figured it'd be a nice idea to trade for Gordon, as well as Dan Haren, and made a deal. So they got an elite second baseman for the next few years, and a guy who's been doing pretty well for himself over the past few weeks.

I mean, the Marlins are a bit underwhelming so far, as the Mets and Braves are sort of ruling the roost, and the Marlins are sitting in third, taking their time. I think people are expecting a mid-season boost, which I could definitely see happening (Stanton and Yelich are gonna catch fire, I imagine), and the fact that it's not happening NOOOOWWWW is a little disheartening.

Bottom line- this division is insane. The guys who were inches from a league title last year are currently in fourth. The Braves are in second. The only sane thing going on in the NL East right now is the Phillies are in last place, where they're supposed to be.

I think if the Marlins can pick up enough momentum in May or June, they could be a first place team for a while, and they could potentially make a playoff run. They do have the talent, their outfield is pretty nice, and thanks to Dee Gordon their infield has improved. They have what it takes. I dunno if it'll happen this year or whenever, but it's going to.

Coming Tonight (?)- He spent last year on the DL. Now he's back, part of a surging Tigers squad.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Custom Card of the Night: Travis Edition

I read in the magazines that of all the Toronto rookies, Dalton Pompey was the one that people thought would do some serious damage, perhaps even getting the ROY.

None of these magazines must have known about Devon Travis. Because, with the start he's had, he could take a ton of awards this season.

I don't know how it happened. He started the season not even on the bench, but as a starter. For a rookie, and not even a 'played-some-of-last-season', an actual, never-played-in-a-game-before rookie, that is a nice way to start- getting an Opening Day start as your rookie debut.

The guy's becoming one of the best things about the Blue Jays right now, because J-Bats isn't hitting, and D-Hutch isn't off to the greatest start. Travis is just hitting really well, and becoming the talk of the majors.

I don't know if Travis-mania is gonna last the whole season, but I hope he has a nice season, and I hope he has enough power to solidify himself not just in 2015, but potentially longer.

Coming Tomorrow- The Marlins aren't performing as well as a lot of people thought, but this guy is making a lot of progress, especially after his awesome season last year in LA.

Custom Card of the Day: AAAAAADDDRIIIAAANNNN Edition

If every month could have an MVP, then this guy would have nabbed this one for the NL weeks ago.

I've always known how damn good Adrian Gonzalez can be. Last few seasons in LA, he's been wonderful, hitting up a storm and playing some consistent first base. But he hadn't really gotten any of the huge numbers he'd achieved in Boston or San Diego...that is, until now. He started off the season on a hitting spree, knocking home runs and getting a high average.

Adrian has had a number of really nice seasons in a row, and his consistency is going a bit under the radar. He's got power, and he's got some decent defensive ability, and he is exceedingly reliable. I'd like to see him get a starting All Star nod this year, but the competition will be fierce.

Adrian is just a fun player, and I like it when really nice things happen to him.

Coming Tonight: The unknown that has been taking the AL East by storm.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Custom Card of the Night: Cueto Edition

(Most Likely to be Found in a Dime Box)

The Reds are kind of in a stuck situation this year. Their division is stacked with three really, really good teams (and also the Brewers), and they're sort of stuck on the bottom, collecting dust. This is one of those years where the Reds are kind of in the middle in a strong division, and this may not be one of those years where being in the middle will get them anywhere.

Good news is they still have Johnny Cueto, and he's still really good. Ever since he came to the team in 2008, he's had a few really nice seasons, racking up a nice amount of wins and strikeouts, and solidifying himself as one of the more important pieces on a roster that is beginning to form some clout. Him, Votto, Bruce and Phillips are some of the stepping stones on the team, the guys who have been here since the late 2000's, and have been holding the team together since then. Todd Frazier hasn't been there as long, but he's becoming just as useful.

Also, this is probably one of my favorite customs of the year so far. It feels like a card from the 90's in almost every way.

Coming Tomorrow- Meanwhile, in the west, a guy who has slowly stayed awesome ever since landing in LA FINALLY makes some headlines.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Custom Card of the Night: Tanaka Edition

I'm more than overjoyed that the Yankees are doing well this year. It took a little while, but not only have they started hitting, but their bullpen has also exceeded expectations. Hell, they even took control of the Miracle-for-a-Week Mets last week, taking the best 2 of 3 in their series.

Masahiro Tanaka is thankfully back to his old tricks, striking out batters and being one of the nastiest, and most effective, pitchers in the league. I am so glad we got him, and I am so glad he's gotten back to what he was doing last season, before half the rotation decided altogether to get injured.

I feel like Tanaka is going to end up being the new Sabathia, top of the rotation, sheer power and speed, nasty stuff. Hopefully he'll be at his best for a little more than Sabathia is.

I have no idea if he's gonna top last season, how much he's gonna build over the next few months. I'd love to see him get a Cy Young, even if Yankees usually get beat by Felix Hernandez for those things (will never forgive him). I'd love to see him completely dominate a full season, rather than half a season. I'd love to see Tanaka do a lot of things, but I'm just gonna let him surprise me.

Coming Tomorrow- I've been posting a lot of Reds for some reason. Weird. Here's another one.

Custom Card of the Day: Carpenter Edition

I think that ever since Pujols left, they've been trying to find someone who could capture the same amount of star-power for that amount of time in St. Louis. Like, they tried it with Beltran, and it worked for like, a year or two, and then he left and joined the Yankees. And they've been trying it with Holliday, but I don't see him as a household name, like he was with the Rockies. And Wainwright can't stay healthy.

Matt Carpenter is looking like he's gonna be that big star on this roster, and it's about time. Not only has he been consistently good for the past few seasons, but he's gotten off to a GREAT start in 2015, giving a nice supply of hits and average to boost a somehow-still-strong Cardinals lineup. And I'm really happy for him, because he's a nice young player, and he's building his way up without hitting a ton of home runs, and without completely dominating one part of the stats.

Plus, he's getting relatively close to that 'star power' zone in St. Louis, especially now that Wainwright's out for the season. They need somebody big to root for, and Carpenter looks like that team-captain-sort of player, the guy you trust.

I just wish he wasn't on the Cardinals, but you can't win 'em all.

Coming Tonight: Hideo Nomo comes up a lot as one of the greatest Japanese players we've ever had over here. Hideki Matsui comes up a bit too. I think we may have a serious rival to their cases in the Bronx right now.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Custom Card of the Night: Oh, just go away already Edition


I believe we've gone in great detail about my hatred for David Freese on the blog. I think it was Freese's big hit in the 2011 World Series that sealed the deal for me, and the fact that he kept batting exceptionally well against teams I thoroughly enjoyed (like the 2011 Phillies, for example). And he just kept being really good for the Cardinals. Like, even when he was injured for a little bit, he came back and started hitting.

And I just wanted him to just stop, maybe get hit by a tank or something (close enough), and just have a down season or two. I didn't realize that was as simple as just trading him to the Angels. For the most part, in 2014, Freese was ineffective, and didn't make that much of an impact to the team's playoff run (Trout had it covered).

And I was content with that, and the fact that he was done being a big hitting star, and he was done infuriating me.

And then...and then...and gentlemen and then...

2015 comes along, and David Freese decides to become really good again. He's had a really nice start, hitting really well and bashing a few home runs to help with LA's modest start. And I'm already going 'aw, no...not again.' I guess I hate him slightly less, because he's not on the Cardinals anymore, but it's sort of like the Cody Ross kind of hatred- just because he moves a little doesn't mean the memories have been vanquished.

I mean, I guess I'll see how the rest of his season turns out, and see if it actually makes sense to still hate him after it's over.

Coming Tomorrow- I've been talking about Cardinals a lot lately. Here's their main attraction.

Custom Card of the Day: Russell Edition

I feel like the biggest stories out of Chicago this year are gonna be about the rookies. Between Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and even Carlos Rodon on the South Side, both Chicago teams are trying to capitalize on their farm systems, and the fact that their current rosters leave a lot to be desired, in order to improve their numbers.

So far, for the Cubs, it's working...slightly. I mean, the Cardinals are still on top, but we knew that was gonna happen. They're the Cardinals. If they have a shitty roster, then it can mean only one thing: we've magically traveled back to 1996. And trust me, I do NOT wanna learn the goddamned Macarena again.

(Sidenote- literally just found out that Wainwright might be out for the rest of the season, and that legitimately blows, because he's a great player, and because I kind of thought we were over the 'Wainwright gets injured and misses the season' hump.)

The Cubs are still in second place, which is not bad, even if the Pirates are basically right behind them. The Cubs have managed to use their youth movement to improve the overall heart of the team, and to take some much needed power waiting in the wings and USE IT. Addison Russell and Kris Byrant are working really well for them because they were both READY. Javier Baez may not have been ready last year, which is why he's back in the minors. Jorge Soler was ready last year, which is why he's mashing the hell out of the ball now.

The only weird thing is that Chris Coghlan has the most home runs out of everybody. I would not have called that.

But yeah, I like Addison Russell, and I like the Cubs, and hopefully they'll keep powering through and stay a powerful presence in the NL for a while.

Coming Tonight: A few years ago this guy was Public Enemy #1 here on Mint Condition. Now...he's still pretty nasty, but I don't hate him as much.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Posey Edition

Buster Posey has played in six seasons. In three of them, he's won a World Series ring, in one he's won a Rookie of the Year, and in one he's won an MVP.

Your luck cannot get any better than that.

I mean, I was worried back in 2011 that Buster wouldn't be as good after his play at the plate injury, which made him miss most of the season, but now he's proven himself consistent and formidable, even in odd seasons. He helped carry his team to a World Series last year, and he's become one of the most reliable catchers in the NL, possibly in baseball.

Only sucky thing is his team's in last.

Maybe it's the division, filled with strong teams like LA and San Diego, promising youth-filled rosters, like Colorado, and fifty pounds of human excrement (and Paul Goldschmidt), like Phoenix. Maybe it's the fact that people like Mike Morse, Pablo Sandoval and Marco Scutaro, guys who helped them get to a few rings, are gone. Maybe it's the fact that it's an odd year.

Either way, no matter where the Giants finish, I think Buster Posey is gonna have a nice season.

Coming Tomorrow- I've done one well-hyped Chicago rookie. Now I'll do the other.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Custom Card of the Night: Hunter Edition

Torii Hunter was one of the guys who was big when I got into the hobby. He was loved, he was a perennial All Star, and he was one of the guys that made the Twins a nice team in the mid-2000's. Him, Shannon Stewart, Michael Cuddyer and Johan Santana made up this really nice team of young talent, and while they never really won any pennants, they had some nice seasons, before everybody promptly left in 2008. Santana went to the Mets, Stewart went to the A's, and Hunter went to the Angels, where he, unlike the others, would continue to have a really nice career.

Two years ago, when he joined the Tigers, he had a phenomenal year, hitting homers left and right like he was a Twin again, and I was so happy for him. Last year was pretty nice too, if not as, but he was still playing really well, even into his late 40's.

I'm really happy he's back with the Twins, even if the Twins are looking at a last-place finish this year in the AL Central. He's coming back for the fans, because he knows he doesn't have that many great seasons left, and he wants to just have a nice time, back home, before he retires. That's a great attitude.

I don't think Hunter's a Hall of Famer, but he was a fun player, with a lot of nice seasons. He definitely made it nice for Twins fans to go to games.

Coming Tomorrow- The catcher for the defending NL champions. Again.

...And, for a week, the home of the Braves

There is one question on the minds of the general public this season, and that is "What the hell is going on in the NL East?"

The two teams everyone picked to do well are tanking, and two of the teams people thought would tank are doing well. The Braves, the team so hopeless than they squeezed their last two non-Freeman stars out of the team LITERALLY ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE SEASON, are in second, aided by a ragtag group of roster additions that nobody else wanted. A.J. Pierzynski is having some nice games, two years after basically giving up. Jason Grilli, the guy who had a comeback season in 2013, is finally having another comeback season. Jonny Gomes, Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin are all doing a serviceable job of filling in for people performing their services on better teams.

I don't know how this worked, but for a week the Braves were unstoppable, winning their first few games and taking the east by storm. Now, everybody knows that if you set yourself up big on day one, the world's gonna come crashing down by day 162. But, while the Braves aren't in first anymore, thanks to the Mets, they're still in second.

Which is kind of mind blowing. Teams like the Nationals and Marlins are still doing worse than the Braves. Jason Grilli has the second-most saves in the NL, behind the guy who's closing games for the Mets. Hell, the Braves are doing better than the division-defending Giants, the Pirates, and yes, the Nationals. With the exception of those rascally Cardinals, every team that made the playoffs last year in the NL has less wins than the Braves.

I know this won't last too long, but it's fun when teams as counted-out as the Braves can do really well for a little while. It's pretty satisfying.

Coming Tonight- For around ten seasons, he was the star of an up-and-down Twins roster. Then he left. Now, he's back home, for one last go around for the team he loves.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Perez Edition

You see, there's a picture that deserves a caption. Is he rescuing an insect? Is he trying to eat an insect? Discuss.

I don't know how it happened, but Salvador Perez very quickly became one of the best catchers in the AL. I dunno what is was. One year he was in a few upper-end sets, and I was like, 'yeah, I guess he's okay', and pretty soon he's an All Star, and everybody's talking about him. And he was in the World Series last year, smacking the living daylights out of Tim Hudson and such.

I mean, I think maybe he gained a huge bat over time, or maybe it was the kind of thing where everybody else got good, and he got good by osmosis. But, I don't wanna go into too much detail. Bottom line is he's awesome now, he rocks, and I respect that.

This season, I don't know if the Royals are gonna be as big as they were in 2014. Before their series with the Yankees, the Tigers showed some serious potential, and have some of the best bats in the AL. If they rebound big time, they could be dangerous come September. It's between them and the Royals, I think, unless the White Sox want to get in on it.

Either way, Salvador Perez is gonna hit big and get another AS nod.

Coming Tomorrow- For a week, the Braves were one of the biggest teams in baseball. Then they returned to reality. Also returning to reality- their closer.

Custom Card of the Day: Samardzija Edition

Yeah, be thankful it's not one of those 70's uniforms. To be honest, I'm really thankful they decided to go back to the black pinstripe ones they used to do.

I honestly never thought of Jeff Samardzija becoming a legitimate star until, well, he became one. He broke sort-of-big in 2013, when Matt Garza was on the downslope, and the Cubs didn't have a whole hell of a lot of pitching. So, he emerged from the bullpen and pitched some really nice games.

And then last year, he proceeded to nail down great teams with strikeouts, not wins, and make himself a name as a tough, tough pitcher. He got so big last year that the A's traded for him, and he was able to pitch (one game) into the postseason.

That's the thing about Samardzija. He can be legitimate, and he can be really good, but the odds need to be in his favor. This season he's on a good team, not great but good, but there's enough run support that he can get some much needed wins. Plus, the division can be tough, but I can see him striking out the Tigers a few times. It's not hard. V-Mart's especially easy to strike out.

I just think he'll have a really nice season, and the Sale-Samardzija combo is gonna kill AL Central batters.

Coming Tonight- Another guy who broke big in 2013, now the catcher for the defending AL champs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What if A-Rod was one of us...

It takes a lot for someone to be loved and hated within a span of seven days.

Before the season, Yankees fans are all like 'WE HATE A-ROD, HE SHOULD GO AWAY, GO BACK TO BANGING MODELS, NEVER COME BACK.' Now, they're all like 'OH, WELL DON'T GO!"

I mean, nobody else in the league is as vexing as Alex Rodriguez right now. One one hand, he took steroids, and has been sort of ostracized from the MLB, basically treated as a non-factor, counted out by basically everybody. Remember when y'all were giving him MVPs? That wasn't that long ago, guys. It feels like he's just kinda there, really.

But, on the other hand, A-Rod can still hit the ball. And the dude's apparently learned his lesson, he's not taking roids anymore, but still, he's hit about 5 or 6 home runs so far, which, for anyone other than Nelson Cruz, is a lot. So, now Yankee fans are sort of back on his side, steroids aside. True, he's bad, he's a crappy dude, but he's hitting well, and not too many other Yankees are doing that right now. Like, Tex will have some good games, and Ellsbury is gonna eventually hit some, but A-Rod is coming alive for the first time in a WHILE, and people are taking notice.

I dunno how this is gonna factor into the rest of the season, because this may not last. The guy's gonna be 40, and his best years are definitely behind him. On the other hand, now that he's a DH, he has a lot less pressure on him, and he's just being trusted to hit, it'll be easier for him to just get back to hitting home runs.

I still don't know what I feel about A-Rod, but I imagine I'll figure it out eventually.

Coming Tomorrow- In a span of two seasons, this man has gone from pitching in pitching in Chicago. But he's being trusted a lot more, and the stakes are a lot higher now.

Custom Card of the Day: Votto Edition

Well, this guy's having a hell of a week, isn't he?

In just a few days, Joey Votto has captured the Home Run title (again, this is just for the first week), and is cruising right along with his Reds. This is a great sign, because last season was not a great one for Votto or the Reds. Votto and his compatriot Jay Bruce were injured on-and-off throughout 2014, and the Reds suffered. Now that both are back, the bats are coming back alive, especially considering that Marlon Byrd is with them now.

The downside is that this is a tough year to be the Cincinnati Reds. You see, in this division are four other teams that could be pretty big this year. Aside from the Cardinals, there are the underdog Pirates, the slowly rebuilding Cubs, and the usually unpredictable Brewers. The Reds might be fighting a losing battle, and they might not have as many wins as Bryan Price had f-bombs tonight.

Still, it's nice to know that people like Joey Votto can hit really well, especially now.

Coming Tonight: We love him. We love him not. We love him. We love him not. He comes back and hits up a storm in his first games since 2013. We love him.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Custom Card of the Night: Lind Edition

Gotta love throwbacks.

I mean it. Whenever I get to a custom of a dude wearing a throwback, it's so much fun. I get to match up the design with the uniform, and plus, there's that nostalgia factor. It's not an everyday uniform, and it really pops out. The 80's Brewers ones are great for that, mainly because I'm not a huge fan of the Brewers' current uniforms. That dark navy and bland gold are kind of...blah. They don't stand out. I mean, they could be the Brewers' late 90's dude, but they're not great. I'd love to see them go back to their 80's stuff.

Topps, in their Opening Day release, did a whole insert set devoted to throwbacks. They had a ton of variety, throwing in some negro league uniforms, and going all the way down to the 80's Brewers and Angels. I really liked that set, and I got a few of them (through JustCommons, because I'm not gonna pay 99 cents for a meaningless product, inserts or no). I think I might have gotten one of the Brewers, but it might have been Carlos Gomez, or someone like that.

Adam Lind was dealt for because he's a bat, and the Brewers could sure use another one of those. His only problem is that he's a career DH, and he was never used as an everyday 1st Baseman in Toronto. I think he's gonna have an okay season, unless something spectacular happens.

Coming Tomorrow- Speaking of power-hitting NL Central first basemen...yeah, y'all know who's next, I think.

One Does Not Simply Make a Kris Bryant Rookie Card...

There. I made a Kris Bryant custom. That's gotta please somebody, right?

I might as well take this opportunity to address something serious, because thanks to college I haven't had a shit ton of time to actually address card industry issues.

So I'm going to. And it involves Kris Bryant.

In 2010, when Stephen Strasburg made his debut, Topps engineered a wild goose chase of trying to get his rookie card, culminating in "breaking their own transmogrifyer" (tm dayf), and adding a 661st cart to the base set (you know, before they had to leave #7 empty).

In 2012, when Bryce Harper made his debut, Topps made just as big a deal about him, ultra SPing all of his rookie cards, and giving the same #661 treatment they gave to Strasburg. And then promptly made SP'd rookie cards of Harper in LITERALLY EVERY OTHER PRODUCT THEY RELEASED THAT YEAR. EVEN ARCHIVES.

So, three years later, on the heels of the debut of ANOTHER rookie superstar, Topps prepared a full game plan that they were preparing for the day that Kris Bryant debuted, which was last friday, detailing everything they were gonna do, including adding Bryant to Series 2, gimmicking him into Bowman, and a bunch of other things that I clearly do not remember right now. They didn't say whether Bryant's series 2 release would be the tacked on #662, like Strasburg and Harper, but knowing Topps, it'll probably end up like that.

I just want to point out the BIG ROOKIE SUPERSTAR prior to Strasburg didn't get up-played as much as the next three did. His name, for any of you who remember, was Daisuke Matsuzaka. And he got a card in the 2007 base set, and that was it. In fact, there was still a card #661 in 2007 Topps, but that's because Topps couldn't simply just make an ordinary card of the guy that was about to break Hank Aaron's record.

Now, the BIG ROOKIE SUPERSTAR before that? Yeah, his rookie was gimmicked so hard that people couldn't complete the 2006 base set. (For anyone who doesn't know, that was Alex Gordon, and his rookie card was SSP'd for Series 2, infuriating literally every collector in the biz). But other than that, there aren't a ton of short-printing of HUGE rookies before that. Upper Deck or Donruss would do the thing in their premium sets where they'd short-print the rookies, but that's not the same thing- Topps would put ONE rookie on such a pedestal that it'd be impossible to find their cards.

So...back to Kris Bryant.

I want to think that Topps has learned something. Thanks to the emergence of Panini, Topps has gone back to putting out quality sets, like Stadium Club, High Tek, and 2015 Topps, and Heritage. Hell, even Gypsy Queen looks pretty nice this year. So I really don't want them to immediately snap back to their old tricks with this Kris Bryant thing. He's a big rookie, yeah we know, but we want to FIND his cards, so we can hang onto them in the event that he gets good. That's how our folks did it in the past. THIS is just making it harder for everyone, and leaving the company with most of the big rookie cards, which is not how this is supposed to work.

I hope we eventually get some more details on what they're doing with Bryant in Series 2, because I'd actually like a copy of his card, without having to try too hard.

(By the way, I wanna get back to more 'issue' posts like this one. If I can, I'm gonna try to get 1 issue post and 1 'custom' post per day, possibly more than one custom, because I just made a TON last night. Hopefully you're gonna see a lot of content on the blog this month.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Molina Edition

I am just full of great shots this season. This is another killer one.

I still think Yadier Molina is the best catcher in the NL. Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy come very, very close, but even after his injury-laden season last year, I still think Molina comes out on top. The guy was a wonderful catcher when I started collecting in 2007, and he hasn't once stopped performing to the best of his ability.

He's so good that even as a noted hater of the Cardinals, I don't hate him. I save most of my hatred for Matt Carpenter these days. Molina actually warrants a lot of respect, because he's definitely getting up there, and he's still catching most of the week, and doing pretty damn well at it, too.

I have no idea what the Cardinals are going to do this seas-oh, yeah, I do. They're gonna have a quiet summer, and then get really good towards the end, make it to the playoffs and narrowly miss the World Series. That's what they do every damn year. Even if they have a slightly depleted squad this year, they're probably still gonna make the playoffs, though the Cubs and Pirates are gonna make it close.

Coming Tomorrow- A sweet throwback of a newly relocated slugger.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Beckham Edition

(First of all, I adore this shot)

Well, glad to finally see this guy in an MLB uniform. I was worried for a second back there, that he'd be a bust, but turns out he's finally getting some MLB play, thanks to the departure of Ben Zobrist, who I kind of thought would never leave.

For anyone who doesn't know Tim Beckham's deal, he was drafted #1 overall in 2008, and promptly stayed in the minors for the next six years. He just never had the right amount of stuff to make it, and toiled around in single-A or whatever, until he suddenly had a nice hitting streak a few years ago. Since then he's been on a mission to make it to the show, and now he's finally there, albeit in a bit of a down season for the Rays, without Zobrist or Price, or possibly Longoria (thanks for an injury).

I feel like Beckham has enough talent, now, to make a real impact this season. I dunno if he'll be the absolute best rookie this year, but he's gonna have some nice stuff, I think, even if the Rays end up in last.

Coming Tonight (?)- I dislike this team, but I can respect their catcher. Who doesn't?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Custom Card of the Nighy: Chutley Edition

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. This season, I'm experiencing the Yankees without Derek Jeter. But, for as far back as I can remember, I can barely recall a Philadelphia Phillies team without Chase Utley. I mean, Polanco was juuuust finishing up at 2nd when I got into baseball. So...still.

Chase Utley has had one or two injury-plagued seasons, but every other year he's been wonderful, and is still getting All Star nods, even as he rounds the last leg of his career. I'm really glad that he's stuck around, because Ryan Howard is not the star he was, and Jimmy Rollins is in LA now, so at least Utley can still be the ever-present star player that he was.

It's a little tougher this season, because this is a depleted Phillies squad, employing former household names like Grady Sizemore and Jeff Francouer, and relying on only a few bats. It's not looking like a clinch is gonna happen this season, but on the plus side there are individual performances to look forward to, like Ben Revere, Cole Hamels, and yeah, even Chase Utley.

Even though people won't be watching Phillies games for the promise, maybe they'll watch it for Chase Utley.

Coming Tomorrow- This guy was a former #1 pick who everyone thought was a bust...until he finally made his way up the system...this year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Santana Edition

First of all, I know that's not necessarily the right position. I know he plays third, but for the sake of this custom, he's a first baseman.

i've always had a lot of respect for the Indians, even though the last few years the team's been a little inconsistent. I feel like adding players like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn wasn't the greatest idea, because their homegrown (or...home-traded) players have really become great. I know that Brantley and Santana were netted in trades, but they're still significant pieces.

Carlos Santana has become one of the more powerful hitters on the team, right after switching from catcher to first baseman. I think the move may have helped him, because it paved the way for someone like Yan Gomes to fill (and get injured), so that Santana could spend more time hitting. This is why Victor Martinez, the last really good catcher to play for the Indians, is a DH now- he wanted to hone his batting skills rather than his defense.

I don't know if the Indians are going to be too great this year, because the Royals and Tigers look like they're gonna dominate. But I think Santana will at least get some good hits in.

Coming Tomorrow- When you're shortstop leaves for LA, and your first baseman...stops being's nice to know your second baseman is still one of the best in baseball.

Custom Card of the Day: Panik Edition

(See what you can do with atmosphere if you just tilt the shot sideways a tad?)

Marco Scutaro came to the Giants a journeyman, a backup, a utility guy with no real purpose or settlement. He ended up staying for a two and a half seasons, being relied upon as a veteran and as an expert. Unfortunately, by the time 2014 rolled around, he'd had injuries and wasn't as reliable as he was when he joined the team. So, sadly, Scutaro was released before the season.

And he was released because the Giants did not panic, and got a backup. An appropriately named backup, named Joe Panik.

In his rookie season, Panik made a case for a permanent starter-ship in San Francisco, by having a great defensive season, getting in a lot of hits, and getting himself a lot of fans. By the end of the season, the fans didn't especially miss Scutaro, and they really enjoyed what Panik was giving to the game.

Panik does have a lot of pressure to succeed, especially considering that history has proven the Giants don't do especially well in odd-numbered years. I imagine he's gonna stay relevant, if he stays healthy. Him, Crawford and Belt are a great combo, and McGehee is warming up, I think.

Coming Tonight (?)- You know, a funny thing happens when all of the huge bats on your team leave or get injured...the responsibility falls on you. So, you can just move to third base to take less time on defense, and start mashing the hell out of the ball.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Altuve Edition

When the Astros swapped over the AL a few years ago, they had basically nothing. Their only good pitcher would be in Baltimore by the end of the season. Their DH was past his prime. Their shortstop would be in Oakland eventually. Their manager was far from spotless.

The only threat they had was Jose Altuve...which, as people are now beginning to realize, is a pretty big threat.

In 2014, Altuve topped the hits list, the Batting Average list, and became one of the best defensive infielders in the game, behind Robinson Cano. And slowly, people began to veer their eyes towards Houston like they hadn't since the 2005 season. There was actually some growth, some progress, SOMETHING, going on there, and Jose Altuve was the catalyst.

Now, like the Marlins with Stanton, the Astros have built their roster around Jose Altuve. Chris Carter, George Springer, even a returning Jed Lowrie. And, while it may not have any short-term consequences, this team could be very big in a few years, if their talent sticks around. Altuve could be the kind of person the Astros need to lock up, if they haven't already.

I'm expecting Altuve to have another huge season, even if the Astros end up in fourth or fifth again.

Coming Tomorrow- It's an odd numbered year, which usually means the Giants aren't going to do as well as they would in an even numbered year, but above all else, they should not panic. And neither should their second baseman.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Stanton Edition

We may be looking at a superstar here. In the past five seasons, Giancarlo Stanton has gone from a speedy little outfield prospect to one of the best pure hitters in baseball, racking up a ton of home runs, and becoming the unabashed star of the Marlins. Hell, he's become so good that the Marlins have built that team around him.

This season, the team got people like Dee Gordon, Martin Prado and Dan Haren, to beef up a roster that had been slowly growing as the decade went on. People like Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna have become fixtures on this team, alongside Stanton.

Now, people are saying that this could be a huge year for the Marlins. The only problem with this is that everybody but the Mets, really, have had a nice start. The Braves are up by five, somehow, and the other teams are just...sort of behind them. Even the Phillies are doing well. So, what could have been a clear-cut year may be a bit foggy. The Marlins will need to work for the long run, and maybe try to outlast some of those early-season dynasties.

And hopefully, Giancarlo Stanton will have another monstrous season, and possibly take home an MVP.

Coming Tonight (?)- Robinson Cano is gonna have to fight hard to get the starting All Star nod this year, and you can thank this guy, who's become one of the most fun players in the AL recently.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Pederson Edition

Last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers had five outfielders. All five of them were really good. Not too many teams can say that. Hell, the best outfielder on that team might have been the one that everyone had counted out at the beginning, Carl Crawford. But Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Scott Van Slyke were all important parts of the Dodgers.

Then, a week before the season ended, they let in one more. Joc Pederson.

When the season ended, the combination of Puig-Crawford-Ethier/Kemp was so strong that I was worried that someone as promising as Pederson would get traded. However, in his few games last season, he showed enough promise to stay on the roster, and be promoted to a starter. Matt Kemp was the one that left.

So, now the guy I was worried for is now one of the stronger pieces in LA. I love the fact that a lot of these guys are having a great start. Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Rollins, Kendrick, and Pederson. If these guys keep playing really well, the Dodgers could actually go the distance. I'd love for that to happen.

I just hope Joc Pederson proves to be more than a prospect, and plays like he's been playing the last few games.

Coming Tomorrow- If it hadn't been for Kershaw, this guy would have definitely been the MVP last year. This year, he's back in full force, and his team might be pretty good this year.

Custom Card of the Day: Norris Edition

Derek Norris can swim through land.

Derek Norris can speak braille.

Behind Derek Norris' beard, there is no chin; there is only another fist.

Derek Norris doesn't get wet. The water gets Derek Norris.

Superman wears Derek Norris underwear.

The Padres didn't trade for Derek Norris. Derek Norris traded for the Padres.

Derek Norris can catch fastballs without a mitt. He only uses one because he enjoys punishing leather.


In all seriousness, I really enjoy Derek Norris, and I like how he plays the game. I also appreciate his facial hair. He has that sort of je no sais badass about him.

Coming Tonight (?): He's the big LA rookie that everyone's talking about.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Price Edition

I have to admit that I was worried.

Last season, I was a bit concerned for David Price. He's had a ton of great seasons, and he's probably gonna go down as a Tampa Bay legend. But...after his first few games as a Tiger, I was worried he'd lost his stuff in the transaction. I was worried that he wouldn't get back up to the numbers he had back in 2012, or any of his huge seasons.

But then...we made it to 2015...and the old David Price returned, and started killing batters again.

This might be because he's out of my division, but I've gained a lot of respect for David Price. Right now he's pitching for a team who's lost their two best arms, one to injury and the other to Washington.  This could be a no-win situation, and here he is pitching some of the best stuff of his career, and making the Tigers relevant again. I'm very impressed with his stuff the past week. However, the past week is the past week--there's still a season to get to through all of this.

I think Price is gonna do great this year, possibly better than Verlander.

Coming Tomorrow- Last year, this guy went from being a nobody to being one of the most fun catchers in the being traded to the most prospering team in baseball.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Jones Edition

I could not be happier that Adam Jones has grown into a leadership role in Baltimore. I loved him when he came up, I loved him when he got all those All Star nods, and I still adore him. He's a great player, and he has the right attitude towards the game.

Part of me really wants the Orioles to well this year, even if I'm a Yankee fan. Something about the Royals-Orioles ALCS last year made me really pine for more underdog match ups. Plus, the Orioles have a nice team this year; with the exception of Nelson Cruz, all of the really big pieces stuck around, and they're all really good pieces.

Again, this lineup puts a lot of pressure on people like Chris Davis, and Jones, to hit consistently well, because not a ton of hitters are around, save for Delmon Young on a semi-regular basis. If they can master this, they'll have a nice season.

Coming Tomorrow- Last year he was the best pitcher in Tampa. Now he's the best pitcher in Detroit.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Lawrie Edition

The Athletics didn't...necessarily...NEED to swap their third baseman over to Toronto. Going into the offseason, i don't think that was a priority. It's not like they went in and said 'you know that third baseman we have that's one of the best players on the team? Let's trade him and get another third baseman." Like, that rarely works.

Okay, maybe it went alright when the Yankees traded Yangervis Solarte for Chase Headley.

...And I guess it went alright when the Blue Jays swapped Troy Glaus for Scott Rolen.

Okay, maybe it's a bit more common than I prefaced this post with. Bottom line- I didn't see the deal coming. I thought it would have been wiser for the A's to hold onto Donaldson, as he's, you know, THE BEST PLAYER ON THE TEAM. But, they sent him to Toronto for Brett Lawrie, which isn't as bad as, say, trading for Dioner Navarro or Josh Thole or something shitty like that.

Sorry, tangent. Where was I?

Brett Lawrie. Right. Brett Lawrie's really good.

Matter of fact, in the last few games, Lawrie has had some nice hits and has proved that he can definitely stick around, and hit for power. Lawrie, outside of his rookie season, didn't do a whole hell of a lot for the Jays. He was a good third baseman, and he hit, but he was overshadowed by Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and all of the other massive hitters on the team.

Now that he's in Oakland, there's a wider range. The hitters on this squad are either injured (see Crisp, Coco) or dormant (see Reddick, Josh). Lawrie can roll out some nice numbers and make a name for himself, which is kind of perfect. On the flip side, Josh Donaldson might not have a great year, as his roster is still pretty crowded.

I'm expecting Brett Lawrie to have a nice year, even if the A's don't.

Coming Tomorrow- The unofficial leader of a surprisingly-durable Orioles squad.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Custom Card of the Opening Day: Sandoval Edition

Well, it's finally that time of year. It's time for the Phillies to be trounced by a generally good team. I mean, that generally happens on Opening Day, doesn't it?

I'll give the Red Sox a ton of credit for what they did during the offseason. They took a depleted rotation and turned it into a very nice assortment of young arms, including Wade Miley and Rick Porcello. They took an aging infield and...wait, it's still aging, but Panda and HanRam are there anyway.

I mean, it's a risky move, filling the roster with a ton of contracts. The Padres are gonna likely find out that it's not always the best idea. The Red Sox did a lot less roster-packing than the Padres did. Like, they still kept the heart and soul of their team intact. People like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz are still sticking around, and will be for a little while longer. That may be why the Padres' deal-a-palooza may fail in the end, because the team had no central heart or leader to base around, and all of these additions are going to crowd the cell instead of supporting the nucleus.

But back to the Red Sox.

I have no idea how Pablo Sandoval in Boston is going to work. It's a clever idea, but the execution is going to be critical. He was an up-and-down player in SanFran who only flourished whenever he landed in the postseason, which, thankfully, was quite often. The result is gonna be interesting to say the least, and Sandoval may in fact end up being another Mo Vaughn. But, again, this is the beginning of the season, and all we know at this point is that the 2015 Championship Parade won't be happening in Philadelphia or Atlanta.

Coming Tomorrow- The A's are trying to rebuild, and their new third baseman is going to try to help with this.