Grand Cards: April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

It Is Done.

The house is ours. Decompression ensues. Regular posting will resume at some point soon, although I'll be in Philadelphia this weekend doing the Broad Street Run. Assorted programming notes:

-Card #300 is in transit (hopefully) and will be here shortly (hopefully)
-Tomorrow is the deadline for claiming unclaimed WBC cards. SEND ME YOUR ADDRESSES PEOPLE!
-Goudey is ugly. I was going to buy a cheap team set but am hesitating. Who drew these?
-Posting may be sporadic for the next few weeks as I move from our apartment, where the only access is a narrow spiral staircase, to a house, where there is no spiral staircase. I'll do my best.
-Exciting news about the Cardboard Connection--details to be fleshed out in the days ahead.

That is all. I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Free Card Giveaway Update

The time has come. If you claimed any cards in my Topps WBC giveaway please send me an email with your Name, Address and the cards that you have claimed. Make your subject "Free Cards" for easy sorting.

Cards will likely be packed and sent early next week as I still need to buy stamps and envelopes, I want to give everybody time to read this message and respond and I am buying a house tomorrow, playing in a charity softball game all day Friday, running a 10 miler in Philadelphia this weekend and moving to the new house for the foreseeable future (welcome to the world's busiest week).

Also, if anybody would like the as-yet-unclaimed cards, feel free to claim them. If anybody with already claimed cards would like more, you can claim those too. I will cut off all Claims at the end of the day on Friday.

To reiterate an earlier message--do not worry about sending me a SASE for these cards, as many of you have offered. I simply can't handle the additional clutter and disorganization that those will bring. If you feel as though you must reciprocate, consider these cards as a trade for a player to be named later, and as you pull Grandersons and/or Tigers out of future packs you can shoot me an email and send them my way.

Meet Curtis Granderson This Weekend!

I'm not sure how this flew under my radar, but the Detroit Tigers will be part of a post-game autograph signing on Sunday, May 3. This comes straight from the Tigers' official blog by the way. As for the details: for the low, low price of $60 (!), Curtis will sign any non game-used item, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Detroit Tigers Foundation. Perhaps Curtis' cut will be going to his own foundation? That wouldn't surprise me. The signing will be limited to 250 autographs and autograph tickets will only be sold on the day of the game, at the stadium.

$60 is a pretty steep price, in my opinion. Back in my day, Curtis would show up after games at the Gibraltar Trade Center, and for $25 he'd sign until his hands were numb, and we had to walk 20 miles, uphill both ways, just to see him. However, for those of you heading to the games this weekend, keep this in mind, especially if you have a nice item you've been waiting to get signed--the money is going to a good cause, after all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Just In: 2008 Stadium Club Photographer's Proof Gold

The (brief) countdown continues: Here's number 299.

2008 Topps Stadium Club #6 Curtis Granderson: Photographer's Proof Gold

I've written about this card before and here happily present one of its rarer parallel versions. Unfortunately, I think that the "Photographer's Proof" portion detracts from the overall aesthetic of the card, by adding a bulky, opaque graphic on the side of the card. This Gold version is numbered to 50. Interestingly, I've been able to add both photographer's proof cards to my collection, but neither of the nicer looking base card (#/999) or the 1st Day Issue with its sparkling stamp on the front. Undoubtedly, the proof cards are rarer, but perhaps people are more willing to unload them because they don't look as nice? Wishful thinking, I'm afraid. People are more willing to unload the proof cards because they think that they're worth more, so they find their way on to eBay while the regular card sits in a box never to see the pages of my binder. Sigh.

That's it. We are one card away from the 300th unique Curtis Granderson card in my collection. I know what it is, and it is making its way through the mail as we speak. Any guesses from readers out there? Feel free to peruse my collection to help give you ideas of what might be on its way.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Is Josh Anderson Grandy part deux?

Brandon Inge thinks so, in a sense:

When asked on Sunday if Anderson reminded him of any other players, teammate Brandon Inge said yes.

“Grandy,” he replied.

Inge wasn’t referring to Curtis Granderson’s power. (Anderson doesn’t have that.) He was instead complimenting Anderson’s character and approach to baseball – virtues for which Granderson is widely known.

From the Detroit Free Press

Man, if the Tigers have somebody who is similar to Granderson from a character standpoint, not to mention the spark that his speed has provided, then they are a very lucky club indeed. Here's hoping that Anderson is able keep up the good work and become another positive presence in Detroit and a key contributor to the team.

Monday Fantasy Wrap: Week 3

Short and sweet this week because there aren't enough hours in the day...

MegaLeague: Last Week 14/20, 4/5 Division, 7-8-3

This team is really struggling offensively and but was salvaged by some dumb luck and excellent Sunday managing. The moment after Armando Galarraga was guaranteed his Quality Start, Andy Sonnanstine was immediately moved to the bench--securing my victory in the ERA category. The week ended as a 6-3 win after Alexei Ramirez notched a late-game stolen base and Nyjer Morgan got caught stealing for my opponent.

A Gold Star goes to Alexei Ramirez, who was not the best player on the team but had 3 Net SBs, and clinched that category for me singlehandedly. His 5 RBIs and team-leading .375 OBP for the week were a nice bonus.

No Thanks ToDioner Navarro who had a .150 OBP and contributed very little elsewhere on the week. His .197 OBP and 14 strikeouts on the season has landed him on the waiver wire. So long and good riddance.

Work League: Last week 1st Place, 20-7-1 (+2.5)

A top of the standings matchup as I faced the 2nd place team. I responded by getting completely demolished. A 10-4 loss falls squarely on the shoulders of poor performances all around. Although I will say, how can a team that gets 3 Quality Starts end up with ZERO wins? Ugh.

A Gold Star goes to Curtis Granderson, who took last week's criticism to heart and responded with 4 HRs, 1 SB and 20 TB to go with a .333 AVG and 1.241 OPS. Earlier this week I said that he had the recipe for breaking out of a slump. Looks like I was right.

No Thanks To Dan Taylor, Manager. Who wisely benched Scott Baker for his start at Boston before it was rained out. The next day, before the rescheduled game, Dan had a change of heart and started Baker instead. You sir, are an idiot. Baker's 11.57 ERA and 2.46 WHIP are your reward. Stupid.

Blog League: Last Week, 1st Place (+114)
A bit of a slowdown didn't unseat me from the top of the charts, although it is clear that a lot can change in this league from week to week. I am the first in the league to break 1000 points (1065), but my lead has been trimmed to 88.

A Gold Star goes to the aforementioned Curtis Granderson (38 points), Jason Bay (33) and Brandon Inge (31) who kept the offensive onslaught coming. Roy Halladay had two very good starts, but only one win. Still, his 25 point contribution was nothing to sneeze at.

No Thanks To Miguel Cabrera. The former Horse that carried this team on his back showed up with a measly 7 points--this is nearing bench-warming Kelly Shoppach territory, people--thanks to no power, few hits and a couple GIDPs. Given his torrid start, I'm willing to accept a down week, but this has to turnaround pronto.

So this week was a bit of a mixed bag. A win in the MegaLeague was nice to have, but all of my teams were a little off, basically treading water until better times arrive.

The Wrapup:
MegaLeague: 9th of 20 (2nd of 5 Division) 13-11-3
Work League: 3rd Place 24-17-1, 3.5 GB
Blog League: 1st Place, 1065 Points (+88)

Good luck with all your teams this week and take a lesson from my mistake with Scott Baker--be careful not to over manage.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Just In: 2008 Bowman Sterling #BS-CG and other miscellany

I was updating my sidebar after my last "This Just In" post and discovered that I now have 298 Unique Curtis Granderson cards in my collection. That's right, I am 3 away from big number 300. Let's make that 2. Card #298 in my collection has just arrived, and it may look a little familiar. Put on your sunglasses everyone:
2008 Bowman Sterling #BS-CG Curtis Granderson

This here is the non-refractor version of Curtis Granderson's lone 2008 Bowman Sterling card. This card started out as a redemption and I first laid eyes on it as a refractor:
2008 Bowman Sterling #BS-CG Curtis Granderson Refractor

Not surprisingly, the refractor is a little easier on the eyes. The regular card is like looking into a mirror, so that when you look at it straight on, it actually makes the card king of hard to read. Then, when you put it at an angle, the light refraction is such that the card looks really, really dark--almost black even.

The design on the card is decent, although it suffers from the Granderson-as-Raquel Welch don't swing your arms when you walk impersonation, but it is all fine. Man it is shiny though. Too shiny. Topps does not have that technology perfected--the same thing happened with 2008 Co-Signers. When you can see what the person taking the picture is wearing, you need to dial down the reflection factor a bit. Still, a nice card to add next to its rainbow counterpart, with a few more refractors (Gold and Black) to chase down.


There are still plenty of good cards available. Please leave a comment if you would like some. If you have already claimed a few and want more, you can do that too.

Many of you have told me that you'll send me an SASE or some cash and of course, those are wonderful offers that in 99% of scenarios I would accept. However, I am in the process of moving--a process that will take bits and pieces of the next few weeks. So, I'd rather eat a few bucks sending out these cards than risk losing envelopes in transition or keeping track of who is paying and who isn't. In the next few days I will ask you all for your addresses and then you can sit back and wait for your cards to show up.

HOWEVER, for those of you who feel bad not reciprocating, you can do this: Consider these free cards as a trade for "a player to be named later." You can browse through my wantlist. You can feast your eyes on my Curtis Granderson collection. Or, when you buy new cards and pull some Tigers or Grandersons, you can shoot me an email to see if I need it and send it my way in the future. Sound good? Consider your collective consciences cleared.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Free Cards!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a semi-scathing post about Topps' inexcusable mix-up on their 2009 Fernando Rodney cards in the team set. You may have read about it here. Well, after I wrote the post The Drizz mentioned that he had just written a letter to Topps. Deciding to use my powers for good instead of evil, I did the same.

How surprised was I then, when I got this response within 24 hours:


Thank you for your inquiry.

We apologize for the inconvenience. Please accept a free box of 2009 Topps World Baseball Classic Cards with Fernando Rodney in it as compensation for out mistake. Please send your full name and address so we can mail this out to you.

We appreciate your continued support of Topps and hope you will continue to buy our products.

Well that was unexpected! My letter was pretty straightforward, I thought: You screwed up. You were lazy about it. Fix it if you can. Don't do it again. Nowhere in there was there any sort of demand to make things right or the need for compensation. I wrote back with my address and thanked them for their generosity. Topps gets a big kudos and pat on the back for their excellent customer service and quick reaction on this.

But something didn't feel quite right.
Please accept a free box of 2009 Topps World Baseball Classic Cards with Fernando Rodney in it as compensation for out mistake.
Hmm...have you seen this? It's a checklist for the Topps World Baseball Classic 55-card set. Reading through it, the absence of Fernando Rodney may stick out to you. I was already acutely aware of his absence before this all came up, as I browsed it for Detroit Tigers and found only two: Miguel Cabrera and Minor-Leaguer Fu-Te Ni.

Now, I know how these checklists work, sometimes they make last minute changes and some cards get substituted in for others. So, I waited until they came.

Poor Fernando. He's not in the set. A HUGE smile came across my face, in part because I was pretty sure that he wasn't in the set when it was offered to me, but mostly because I was holding the irony of this story in my hands.

After I accused Topps of laziness and unprofessionalism for making an unforgivable mistake surrounding a Fernando Rodney card, they offered me a set of cards, which they explicitly tell me includes Fernando Rodney, which it does not. I will not call out Topps a second time, except to point out the humor in the situation. They did a very generous and unnecessary thing in sending those cards and their heart was in the right place. I don't blame laziness here, but rather a fervent desire to try to assuage my distress (or buy it off, but who's counting). Tip of the cap and all that, I remain a happy Topps customer and will continue to complete my Detroit Tigers sets though them. But now I have all of these neat WBC cards that, if I know me, will probably sit in a box unenjoyed, especially since I'm moving next week.

So, to the readers of this blog: FREE CARDS!

That's right. I've pulled out the Cabrera and Ni cards for myselft (the two Tigers), but that leaves 53 cards available to whoever wants them (actually 52--the Jeter is heading over to Sooz). If you would like some, just leave a comment on this post with whatever card(s) you want. Please feel free to take more than one but I ask that you limit yourself to cards that you actually want or could use. Pass it on to other bloggers etc and help be share the love from Topps.

UPDATE: Apparently things do change from the initial checklist. Here's the full thing, that I just made by flipping through the set, including claimants.

1 Yu Darvish--Dan (Saints of the Cheap Seats)
2 Derek Jeter--Sooz
3 Ryan Braun--Mprigge
4 Michel Enriquez
5 Phillippe Aumont--The Hamiltonian
6 Yulieski Gourriel--Punk Rock Paint
7 Shinnosuke Abe--Kei
8 Hanley Ramirez--WickedOrtega
9 Daisuke Matsuzaka--Capt. Canuck
10 Justin Erasmus
11 Frank Catalanotto--hoss man
12 Travis Blackley
13 Alex Rodriguez--Flash
14 Brian McCann--Dayf
15 Arquimedes Nieto
16 Joakim Soria--zman40
17 Justin Morneau--GCRL
18 Geovany Soto--Greg (Lake Effect Cards)
19 Alex Liddi
20 Cheng-Min Peng--RoofGod
21 Luke Hughes
22 Manuel Corpas
23 Chipper Jones--Dayf
24 Drew Naylor
25 Jimmy Rollins--Dan (The Other World)
26 Kosuke Fukudome--Greg (Lake Effect Cards)
27 Jose Reyes--David Jacobs
28 David Wright--Tanguska
29 Ichiro--hoss man
30 Carlos Lee--David Jacobs
31 Joey Votto--FanofReds
32 Jim Young Lee
33 Jonathan Sanchez
34 Lenny DiNardo--zman40
35 Miguel Cabrera--Dan (GrandCards)
36 Rick Vandenhurk--WickedOrtega
37 David Ortiz--Capt. Canuck
38 Jason Bay--Capt. Canuck
39 Dylan Lindsay--zman40
40 Chris Denorfia--FanofReds
41 Bernie Williams--Flash
42 Akinori Iwamura
43 Pedro Martinez--GCRL
44 Gift Ngoepe--Dayf
45 Chenhao Li
46 Roy Oswalt--Houston Collector
47 Dustin Pedroia--Capt. Canuck
48 Tao Bu
49 Greg Halman
50 Adrian Gonzalez--Punk Rock Paint
51 Carlos Beltran--Kei
52 Pedro Lazo
53 Jorge Cantu--WickedOrtega
54 Kenji Johjima--RoofGod
55 Fu-Te Ni--Dan (GrandCards)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This Just In: 2009 Upper Deck Curtis Granderson Jersey (x2!)

In this year's Upper Deck release, there are a slew of game-used jersey cards that use the same basic designs but offer ever-increasing swatch quantities with ever-decreasing serial numbers. I picked up the first of these some time ago, and two more have just recently arrived.

2009 Upper Deck #GJ-GR Curtis Granderson Dual Swatch
2009 Upper Deck #GJ-GR Curtis Granderson Triple Swatch

I consider these to be the best iterations of this particular card. The single jersey, rather lamely, has a swatch in the letter "J" for jersey, with a printed "CG-" designed to kind of look like a jersey piece but not really to the left of it. In these cards, the swatches make so much more sense. "OF" and "DET" give a little bit of life to an otherwise plain piece of jersey and are nice to look at.

Now, there are two more of these cards--a quad swatch and a patch. Serial number wise, these are more rare, but I'm not sure that they're nearly as nice. The quad spells "GAME" (eh...I would have gone "TIGS," for non-fans, that is a common Tigers nickname). The patch card spells "PATCH" (oh, is that what that patch-looking thing is?) with the patch serving as the "T" and the "PA" and "CH" being printed on the card "CG-" style.

For the low low cost of these particular cards they are a nice little pickup and in my opinion are the most fun of this 5-card jersey subset. To me, they certainly beat out the blindingly-red Topps counterpart.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ultimate Checklist: 2002 Bowman Draft

Grand Gallery: This is just a two card set, so no need for a thumbnail gallery here. Enjoy the original "Ultimate Checklist" post that I wrote instead.

2002 is where you can find the official, hobby-recognized rookie cards of Curtis Granderson. Curtis was a 3rd round selection out of University of Illinois-Chicago in the 2002 draft and is one of many future stars featured in the aptly titled 2002 Bowman Draft. Fun fact time: This draft was the one featured in Moneyball and included such names as Prince Fielder, BJ Upton, Cole Hamels, Zach Grienke, Scott Kazmir and Matt Cain, among others.

Here is Curtis Granderson, fresh out of college, giving us his "All-Business" look in some sort of hip-retro Tigers batting practice zip-up and a hat that appears way too small for him.

2002 Bowman Draft #BDP71 Curtis Granderson

This set also features a rarer Gold Version, which has a Gold Foil signature instead of the regular black printed one. Speaking of which, notice the signatures here. First, he signs his name with a "Jr." and spells out his whole last name. Nowadays, you get the first name and then the "Gr" for his last name. Curtis actually explained his signature last month.

2002 Bowman Draft #BDP71 Curtis Granderson Gold

For every elite player, there is one particular rookie card (or one set) that is the must have. Bowman Draft is not that set. However, what it offers are reasonably priced Granderson rookie cards that use the same picture as their much-preferred Bowman Draft Chrome counterparts at a fraction of the cost. Surely, they are must haves for any Granderson collector, and a good pick up for anybody that wants a pre-stardom slice of Curtis.

How to break out of a slump

1. Lead off the game with a Home Run
2. Lead off the 3rd with a Home Run

Welcome back Curtis!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mail Day!

Time to check a few checks off the ol' checkbox. First a shiny new pair of Cobbs:

2009 Topps LG-4 Ty Cobb

2009 Topps LLP-5 Ty Cobb

The first one is part of the regular Legends of the Game insert set. The second is part of the Legends of the Game insert set from Walmart. I've got to say, I'm a bigger fan of the Walmart "Platinum" card. I like the color of the card, and the choice of the picture better. This card says, here is the greatest player to ever play the game, smiling before a game. It humanizes the legend. The mean, racist, bigoted legend.

Those two cards are of an old player on a new card. The next card in the package was a new player on an old (looking) card.
2009 Topps TR45 Miguel Cabrera Turkey Red

The Turkey Red inserts in 2009 Topps are awesome. This completes the two Tigers in the insert set, with the other being the one and only Curtis Granderson.

Last and sadly, least is this last Topps Rookie Debut card that I needed for my 2006 set.
2006 Topps RD-20 Jordan Tata

There were three Tigers in this subset. One, Joel Zumaya, was an impact player in 2006 who has battled injuries to get back to 103 MPH form. The next was Zach Miner, who has been a solid starter/reliever for the team and made the 2009 Opening Day starting rotation. The last was Jordan Tata. He made his rookie debut and then hasn't sniffed the bigs. He was released prior to the 2009 season.

So, yay! Two legends, a superstar in the making and whatever happens to superstars after 100,000,000 years and they turn black and implode on themselves and can't find the strikezone before they're released in spring training.


Can anybody not love Armando Galarraga?

This nice little piece popped up on the Tigers twitter feed this morning. What's not to love?
But he knows the tough road he traveled to reach his dreams, remembering the pitfalls of elbow injuries and Tommy John surgery that cost him two seasons, and the trials of being pushed aside in the Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers organizations.

"There is a Latin saying," said Galarraga, a native of Caracas, Venezuela. "It is: 'The same person who goes up, is the same person who goes down.' That means you are the same person through the ups and downs, and that you should stay with your goals."

I've started to develop a bit of an affinity for Armando Galarraga. Good story, great pitching, seemingly wonderful person and this:

An Armando Galarraga autograph of my very own, pulled from a blaster of 2008 Topps Chrome that I bought at Target. It was, and still remains, the only Detroit Tiger autograph or relic that I have ever pulled from a pack and understandably holds a special place in my heart.

Armando Galarraga and his 0.68 ERA face the Angels tonight as the Tigers try to continue a relatively successful west coast swing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

This Just In: 2008 Topps Curtis Granderson #TCH49

In the past, I've just been writing Mail Day! when I get new cards in the mail, but I thought that I'd reserve that for when I get trades with multiple cards, mystery packages or a few things on the same day. For my Curtis Granderson collection, I think I'll be using the "This Just In" Title. I either find it more fun, or have grown weary of typing "Mail Day!" or both. It also seems more appropriate for single cards like the one I'm going to feature here:

2008 Topps #TCH49 Curtis Granderson

This card comes from the very fun Trading Card History insert set from 2008 Topps. There are some real gems in the set, including a Magglio Ordonez that looks like my beloved Monte Irvin Rookie card (1951 Topps Red Back) among others.

Sadly, this Granderson is not among the highlights. It is a mimicry of a 1961 Golden Press Card shown here:

That's not the most exciting card design to be copying, but it could have been done. Yet mistakes were made.

1. Salmon colored bottom? I would have stuck with white, or off-white if going for the aged, vintage look
2. The Golden Press cards are all vintage-y, with that half-painted, half-photo look to them. Now that would have looked awesome
3. The Golden Press cards, based on a Google Image query, seem to be a little more action-y than this posed Granderson swing, even those that are in Spring Training. In fact, this Granderson picture looks pretty similar to something else...

Instead of a snazzy retro card of Curtis, we have a plain spring training photo (that we've already seen) with a salmon colored bottom. Alas, you can't win 'em all.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Monday Fantasy Wrap: Week 2

In what was an otherwise strong fantasy week, I was reminded of the harsh mistress that is the head-to-head league. In these, freak weather storms and other such acts of God conspire to sink your chances. Or, in a more common situation, some badass player has a terrible, terrible week and you lose your head to head matchup. The best team does not always win, but such is life.

MegaLeague: Last Week: 4-4-1 (T-10 out of 20, T-2 out of 5 in Division)

Who postpones a night game at 4pm? Well, the Cubs and Cardinals apparently. Now, I didn't read the news. Maybe there was a monsoon or some sort of local catastrophe, but that game screwed me big time. Why, might you ask? I had Ted Lilly starting and my opponent and I were tied with 3 Quality Stars apiece. We get a max of 6 starts per week and I chose Volstad and Lilly for my Sunday. Volstad blew it and my hopes shifted to Lilly. All the while, Rick Porcello shut down the Mariners from my bench. Managerially, I would have made the same decision every time, which is why I'm blaming the weather.

Week 2 becomes a narrow loss to a division rival of 3-4-2.

A Gold Star goes to my collective pitching staff of Lilly, Volstad, Armando Galarraga, Andy Sonnanstine, Jonathan Broxton, Heath Bell and JP Howell, who gave me 3 Quality Starts, a 1.46 ERA and 5 SV+HD, leading to utter dominance in the latter two categories. Michael Young and his 3 HR, 5 RBI and 2 Net SB (SBN) were a nice boost too.

No Thanks To: Alexei Ramirez. Before the season, I made two trades that brought over Adam Lind (and Mark DeRosa) and Alexei Ramirez. This week Alexei Ramirez repaid me with a .143 OBP, 1 RBI, and 3K. Sweet. Carlos Gomez didn't strike out but had a .182 OBP and -1 SBN to assist (had I not benched him today, an additional -1 SBN would have been tacked on). You two are like peas in a pod.

Work League: Last Week: 10-3-1 (3rd out of 12)

Coming of a strong week, albeit against last year's cellar dweller (I was 11/12, thank you very much), this week I faced the 2nd place team, who I am statistically tied with but is in second because he has one fewer loss and two more ties.

So, how'd that turn out? Pretty well actually, to the tune of a 10-4 victory. Early offensive dominance gave way to a close win in a few categories (RBI: 45-41, SB: 9-8) but convincing margins in the other categories (R: 59-35, HR: 16-11, TB: 166-124, AVG: .329-.252, OPS: .962-.761) show that the best team clearly won. The pitching was less stellar, as I was dominated in Wins (1-5), Ks (29-57) and QS (2-4), but my 7 Saves, 3.41 ERA and 1.24 WHIP knotted the pitching categories at 3 apiece.

A Gold Star goes to Raul Ibanez, who gave me the following line:

7 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 24 TB, .550 AVG, 1.79 OPS

Cycle-hitting Orlando Hudson and Ryan Ludwick's 3 HR/10 RBI/21 TB performance are worth mention as well.

No Thanks To: Curtis Granderson. a .133 AVG and .266 OPS aren't helping anybody out buddy, and the 2 R, 1 RBI and 2 TB are all you can hope for from such a sad performance. Maybe calling you out ON A BLOG DEDICATED TO YOU, will light a bit of a fire.

Also not helping was alleged fantasy stud Hanley Ramirez, who batted .167 with 7 Total Bases. Killing me.

Blog League Last week: 430 Points (2nd Place, -19)

Wow. This was ugly. Oh, not for me, mind you, but the rest of the league that has to put up with me. It was a massacre. In my experience with fantasy baseball, success is fleeting and the season is oh, so long, so I'll enjoy this one.

My slim deficit heading into the week exploded into a 114 Point Lead.

A Gold Star goes to Ryan Ludwick (36 points) and Michael Young (35 points) who were rock-solid all week long.

No Thanks To Justin Verlander (3 Points) and Manny Parra (1 Point). Fellas, you were outscored by Curtis Granderson and he was awful (see above). Pull yourselves together.

So that's it for this week's fantasy wrap. This season has started off much better than years previous, with one glaring exception, and my overall standings at the end of week two are:

MegaLeague: 14/20, 4/5 Division, 7-8-3
Work League: 1st Place, 20-7-1 (+2.5)
Blog League: 1st Place, +114

Good luck with all of your teams this week, and be careful not to over manage

Where's the Topps? And other Topps Gold Mysteries

Last week, I acquired a slew of Topps Gold Tigers from 2007-2009. As I was putting them into binders and filling their cell on my wantlist I noticed something very odd. See if you can spot it:

Any guesses?

From straight on it is hard to tell (hence the angled pictures), but in the Marcus Thames card (top), the coating on the card that makes it "Gold" covers the colored bubbles that spell out Tigers. In the Armando Galarraga card (bottom) the Tigers Bubbles are spared the Gold treatment. The result is a nicer looking card where the blue and orange really pop, especially in the right light, while the Tigers bubbles on the Thames card can fade into the background.

For those of you without a checklist in front of you, the Thames card is in Series 2 (series 1 looks the same), and the Galarraga card is in Updates & Highlights, where all of its U&H brethren look the same.

Well, I thought that was kind of neat, so I started to flip back to older series. I don't have that many Gold cards pre-2007, but I have a few and found something strange there too. Can you spot it?

By the way, no wonder the Tigers were so bad for so long. Look at those prospects! Good Lord...

Anyway, these are some 2002 Topps Golds. Looking at the cards shown, that Mike Rivera card seems a little odd. Where's the Topps?


That card is from the regular series. All the other prospects cards are from the Traded Series. Now, the Raburn is from the regular series too, but is labeled a "Draft Pick." How about a regular card?

Craig Paquette has one too. Could it be that only Topps Gold Prospect cards from Series 1 and 2 have the light Topps imprint instead of the foil? Or, more importantly, could I have a rare 1/1 Mike Rivera Gold Prospect card that is undoubtedly worth hundreds of dollars? The possibilities are racing through my mind (now if only I could find that Mike Rivera supercollector).

Perhaps some other collectors can shed some light on the issue. I think we're looking for a counterpositive here so, what do your Topps Gold Prospects from Series 1 or Series 2 look like? Where's the Topps?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mail Day! of Hand Collated Tigers

Scott, of the excellent Hand Collated, sent me an excellent package recently that simultaneously:

-Added a card that I need from 2009 Topps
-Demolished my 1979 Tigers Wantlist
-Provided a card for me to photograph at the time of Mark Fidrych's tragic death

First, the newbee:

2009 Topps #TTT18 Miguel Cabrera Toppstown Gold

This is the hard to find Gold version of the Miguel Cabrera Toppstown card. I say "hard to find" because out of the 7 Topps blasters that I bought (1 for me, 6 for group breaks), it never once appeared. Meanwhile I got DOUBLES of Grady Sizemore, Ichiro and others. Come to think of it, I only pulled one regular Cabrera Toppstown from those boxes. Huh. Needless to say, I was very glad to give this a good home.

Next, a sampler:
1979 Topps Detroit Tigers

Here's a now-complete page of 1979 Topps that I couldn't have done without Scott's help. He sent me more than a dozen cards from that set, which slashed my wantlist down to only 9. Awesome! I have been focusing most of my efforts on 1980 and beyond, so it was fantastic to knock some of those pre-1980 cards off my list. Thanks Scott!

Now, Scott didn't specifically ask for anything in return when he generously sent these cards my way, but I plan on putting together a package for him nonetheless. The trick is, can I get something together more quickly than it took me to post about these cards? Not likely, with "qualifying life changing events" abound at the moment. Still, I will try. Maybe packing up the apartment will provide an opportunity to do some card spring cleaning. We'll see...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Parting Shots

I couldn't resist. This is recommended reading as well (H/T to Lake Effect Cards)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Remembering Mark Fidrych

Mark Fidrych came before my time. My parents remember him very very well and could tell the great stories that only people who experienced him first hand, on a summer night in Tiger Stadium could. However, they're visiting my sister in Italy and couldn't relay a nice story for me to tell. If you want a well done story, Mark Rosenberg did an excellent job this evening.

All my life people have told me about "The Bird"--what he was like, how good he was, how sad that his career was cut short. How great the Tigers could have been with Mark Fidrych for a whole career. I will never forget the only time I ever saw him, with all of these great stories already impressed in my mind. He was in front of a packed Tiger Stadium, walking to the mound. Once he got there he stooped down and with his hand made a little pile of dirt. The crowd went absolutely wild, and I could almost see what he must have looked like doing that in 1976. He scooped the dirt into a plastic bag to make his final appearance at Tiger Stadium on the day it closed in 1999. Memories of being choked up that night certainly hit me a little harder at the moment.

While I never saw Fidrych in person again, two years ago my family celebrated my Grandpa's 90th Birthday. The family patriarch, he has stories of going to Tigers games every year since the days of Ty Cobb, with the exception of when he was stationed for World War II. I won't even try to get into the stories that he has of Tigers games dating back to the '20s. However, the Tigers organization, made aware of his 90th birthday, sent him a fan appreciation basket for sticking with the team for all these years. In addition to some Hank Greenberg signed items (Jews in Detroit understand his impact...speaking of stories. Watch The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and you'll understand), a centerpiece of the box was a ball personalized by Mark Fidrych.

George, Happy 90th Birthday Mark Fidrych

"Oh Danny, remember Fidrych? He was something. The way he'd talk to himself out there like a crazy man and jump over lines. But boy was he great. Ruined his arm, but he was great."

"Yeah, I remember"

Which I did, strangely. All of the stories brought him to life for me, and will keep him alive as long as people tell them.

So long, Bird. We will never forget you, even those of us that never saw you play.

Enough is Enough: RIP Mark Fidrych

Oh come on. I was driving home listening to ESPN Radio this afternoon and amidst hearing about Harry Kalas' tragic death this afternoon, the semi-hourly radio Sportscenter segment mentioned that Mark Fidrych was found dead at his farm today. ESPN the website confirms it.

So, for the second time in a month, this site is going black--this time for "The Bird"

This 1979 card is one of two Birds that I have (the other is 1980) and just ended up in my possession courtesy of Scott at Hand Collated. The envelope he sent is one of many that I haven't been able to post yet.

Fidrych was only 54.

For the sake of the game, no more deaths for awhile, OK? Let's stick with this "bad luck comes in threes" thing. The tragic death of Nick Adenhardt, the unexpected and hard hitting loss of Harry Kalas and the loss of one of Detroit's most animated sports alumni, at least while he was still playing.

With the loss of Kell earlier this year, the Tigers have really had it tough this year.

So RIP to The Bird, and all of the other wonderful baseball men that we've lost recently.

Ultimate Checklist: 2001

Baby Steps people.

I have many packages on my desk at home that need to be catalogued, photographed and posted. All of that will happen in due time, as I just got back home last night. However, in my concerted effort to actually post about baseball cards, I happy announce my triumphant return to the Ultimate Checklist.

I grappled over whether to do 2007 next or to start at the start. My decision was made easier by the fact that 2007's cards are numerous and confusing, whereas 2001-2006 are simple and straightforward. With things a little crazy now (launching new website at work, closing on our house in T-minus 17 days) simple and straightforward seemed the way to go.

So here is the full checklist for all Curtis Granderson cards released in 2001.

2001 Mankato Mashers #(No Number) Curtis Granderson

That is all.

This card has been highlighted here before, so forgive me for the redundancy. Baby steps.

2001 Mankato Mashers Curtis Granderson

With my path now chosen, the Ultimate Checklists beginning with 2002 will now follow, intermixed with regular posts as they were before.

Could Have Fooled Me

Apparently, Curtis Granderson isn't comfortable in center field at Comerica Park. Jason Beck has the rundown.

Well, you could have fooled me. Notwithstanding the excellent catch that he made the other day (big video in the Beck article), lest we forget this gem (link to video on page. Damn you MLB for not letting me embed) from 2007--one of the best catches that I've ever seen.

There is little doubt that he should have won a Gold Glove in 2007, and despite a step back last year, it seems like he is back to his old ways--comfortable or not.

Monday Fantasy Wrap: Week 1

Since it's the start of the season, I thought that this presented a good opportunity to summarize this week in my team's fantasy baseball team. I realize that it is possible that nobody will care, but since I have thoroughly frustrated my wife by obsessively conversing about my fantasy teams, I thought that this would be a good secondary outlet.
A primer:

I have a team in three leagues:

MegaLeague: 2008 Standings: 6th of 20
20 Teams, 18 Man Rosters, Head-to-Head, Keeper League, Auction Draft,

Hitting Categories:HR, RBI, K (- points), Net SB (SB-CS), OBP
Pitching CategoriesK, QS, ERA, SV+HD

This week's opponent was my college friend Butter. A slow start on my part portended a miserable outcome, but a mid-week rebound salvaged a tie. Final Score 4-4-1 (tonight's Cubs/Brewers game has no impact, unless Derrek Lee steals a base):

That should be good for a 4-way tie for 9th place, in a 20 team league. Meh.

A Gold Star goes to: Adam Lind 3 HR, 12 RBI, 4 K, 0 SBN, .419 OBP

No Thanks To: Derrek Lee, Carlos Gomez and Dioner Navarro, each of whom treated me to a sub-.200 OBP for the week, with only one HR and 5 RBI between them. Gomez's SBs did help me win a tie there, but his 9 K's left something to be desired.

Work League: 2008 Standings: 11th of 12
12 Teams, 25 Man Rosters, Head-to-Head, Keeper League, Standard Draft

Redemption time in my work league, as I enter my second season. My team was bad, bad, bad last year. Of course, it didn't hurt that I was playing the last place team this week, yet I performed more admirably than expected. A 10-3-1 victory came on the heels of an offensive onslaught that left me with the following line:

51 R, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 15 SB, 169 TB, .311 AVG, .956 OPS

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is an unstoppable force. And just so you don't claim stat inflation due to roster size, the offensive stats of my opponent were 27 R, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 2 SB, 88 TB, .217 AVG, .623 OPS. A 3-3-1 Tie in pitching statistics were the only blemish on the week, in a league that I expect to contend for right out of the gate.

A Gold Star goes to Miguel Cabrera 5 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB, 24 TB, .520 AVG and 1.546 OPS (!) with a special thanks to Alfonso Soriano for adding in a healthy dose of power and speed.

No Thanks To Mike Jacobs, who was drafted late purely for his power potential, and yielded 1 measly RBI to go with his .176 AVG and 5 TB. You hit 41 points lower than the next lowest on the team (Pablo Sandoval). Thanks dude.

Blog League New League
12 Teams, 24 Man Rosters, Points League, All-Season, Standard Draft

Ah, the league for blog-cred. I have never done a points league before, but am really starting to dig it. While head-to-head is all the rage, I miss the season long excursion of fantasy baseball (I used to do Rotisserie Leagues), I feel that it is a truer reflection of putting together a solid team. My team got off to a scorching start, and would have easily captured first place if not for a 50 point game by Aaron Harang (CG, SHO, 3 H) that allowed Legion of Doom to leapfrog me. Still, I like the way this team is put together, pitching questions aside (that's always the case, isn't it?) and I think that I'll be battling with teams at the top all summer long.

Ending week one, I stand with a hearty 430 Points, 19 behind the leader and 51 ahead of 3rd place. Not too shabby at all.

A Gold Star goes to Brandon Inge who rewarded me for having the foresight of drafting him with 39 Points. Fellow late round pick Randy Winn chipped in 32. When your worst starter is Lance Berkman and his 16 points, you know things will be alright. Roy Halladay (43 points) also came up big on the Pitching side of things.

No Thanks To Manny Parra (-7), Rick Porcello (-6), Jonathan Sanchez (-3) and Justin Verlander (-2) the combined negative points of each account for the entire deficit between me and the first place team. Thanks fellas.

Curtis Granderson

Finally, what would a post here be without recounting the week that was for Curtis Granderson? An 0 for Sunday hurt the cause a bit, but you can't complain too much about:

.241/.281/.483, 5 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB

Small sample size hurts the AVG/OBP/SLG, but the rest of those numbers look good.

That's it for this week's Monday Fantasy Wrap, good luck with all of your teams this week and be careful not to over manage.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Of Tickets and Schedules

Props to the Tigers for putting together some very nice designs in their team-issued items this year. I know that they've done this before, and that many other teams probably do the same thing, but I was taken by them. First, the schedules are a nice blue version of the 2009 Topps Design. Since there was no Granderson in the base set, imagine how pleased I was to see this:

Thank you very much to Roger, the owner and operator of the blog I Don't Know...3rd Base and a fixture on this site during the Topps Retail Box Breaks, who sent these my way out of the blue. Since he thoughtfully sent two, I can keep one intact and trim another one down to fit in a binder page. Thanks Roger!

The Official Detroit Tigers blog also highlights another card-related design--this year's season tickets. I didn't have a nice looking Opening Day ticket, but I did see the one for today's game, which featured Carlos Guillen. However, there is one that certainly caught my eye more than others:

Now, that would be a nice looking card. Granderson, honoring Jackie Robinson with a "42" jersey. Nice. Of course, 2009 is the 25th anniversary of the 1984 Championship Team, the Tigers' last World Series victory. As such, they are replicating the '84 Topps Design, which I've always really liked, but probably just because that was the design of the '84 team, and it was the year I was born. So, very nicely done Tigers on creating some well thought out and well designed Tickets and for including Granderson as one of the players that you'd feature on your schedule (how could you not...but still, good choice).

Cool stuff, indeed!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Miguel Cabrera Shows Up

In honor of Miguel Cabrera's HUGE Game in the Home Opener yesterday, I thought that I would show off a card that showed up in my mailbox last week. This card comes courtesy of the extreme generosity of The Drizz, who sent this card completely unsolicited and without expecting anything in return. Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.
2008 Topps #TB1 Miguel Cabrera (Target Back to School)

Yes folks, this is it. The hardest to find 2008 Topps Detroit Tigers card out there. I first learned about this card on Jaybee's excellent Topps Blog but never once saw it in any store, on eBay or anywhere else online. Unlike the Galarraga, and Clete Thomas cards from the set, which showed up rarely and sold for unusually high prices, this card was MIA. It could not be found.

To this day, I still haven't found one, excepting the one that showed up in my mailbox. With this, I now have a legitimate chance of completing the full 2008 Tigers set, with just some relatively attainable cards left to fill (and a few low numbered ones that I'm not going to chase). So again, thank you Drizz. I'm thrilled to see Miguel's carefree grin staring back at me when I open up the binder and view what was otherwise a disappointing 2008 team.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Opening Day Blast

I mean that in the dual sense of the word. It was a blast, and my God, I think that Miguel Cabrera hit one of the hardest hit line drive home runs that I've ever seen.

I love being back in Michigan for Opening Day. 2008 was the first time that I've missed opening day since the time my family was in Hawaii in 7th grade for Spring Break, so I was very glad to be back with the family, heading out to the game. Unfortunately, my wife was not among us this time, which kept it from being a perfect day, but it was still a ton of fun nonetheless.

No pictures, but a few notes:

The fountain formerly known as the General Motors fountain looks excellent. Kudos to Mike Illitch for doing the classy thing there. (yes this is a picture, but it is from the Tigers' official site)

Miguel Cabrera is a beast. Nobody can say that trading for him was a mistake, anyone who says so is a fool. The mistake was signing Willis to an unnecessary contract extension, but the trade was pure Gold.

Downtown Detroit is so close, but all of the projects that made Woodward look like it was just a step away have stalled. If you're in Detroit, go downtown for a game, or to Greektown, or the Detroit Breakfast House or Slow's (my favorite) for lunch or Dinner, the architecture and layout of the city is great, as long as you can get by without the frills.

The semi-demolished Tiger Stadium is AWESOME. This is the first time that I've seen it in person and I'm a big fan. Here's hoping that the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy can see this plan through because it would be a great attraction for the city.

The view from the Upper Deck at Comerica Park is really nice. I rarely sit there, although that's where I was for some of the ALDS and ALCS games in 2006, and the All Star game in 2005, but the Upper Deck seats between 1st and 3rd are really quite good. You get a birds-eye view of the action and an excellent view of the whole skyline.

The wind was wicked today. Not only did it chill me down, but it helped the ball carry. Granderson's double was a routine fly that I clapped for, thinking that it was a perfect Sac Fly. It carried another 40 ft. to the base of the wall and ended up a double. Awesome.

Armando Galarraga is the real deal. Maybe not an "ace" per se, but he is not the fraud that so many people have made him out to be.

So, that's it for now. Two Opening Days in a week and lots of fun was had by all. I'm thinking I may head to the Michigan Football Spring Game tomorrow, and perhaps over to an area hobby shop.

Speaking of which...even though I was born and raised here, I don't know of any hobby shops in the area. So, a question to the readers, if I want to swing by a place where I can pick up some Granderson or Tigers singles, where should I go? Is there anything close to Ann Arbor? In my day, I just bought cards at kmart, and then I was out of collecting, and then I got them of the internet and such.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Catholics Saved at Tigers Opening Day

There was a micro-uproar last week when it was discovered that the Tigers Home Opener was on Good Friday, and was scheduled for the holiest hours of the day at that. In fact, Billfer, who runs the Detroit Tigers Weblog, was quoted in the article and issued some very useful commentary about it the next day.

Well, the schedule hasn't changed, but Catholics making the game can rejoice. There will be fish fry meals available around Comerica Park so that they don't have to resort to warm pretzels and peanuts for sustenance. Kudos Tigers for making an nice change to accommodate your fans, while keeping the Opening Day Day-Game tradition alive.

Of course, the real question everybody wants to know is: Will there be Matzah?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Poor Fernando

Friend of the Blog Drizz posted this on the Detroit Sports Collectors Forum but I was so disturbed by it, that I thought I'd put up a post.

I would like to introduce all of you to Fernando Rodney.

Here he is on a 2006 Upper Deck card looking like, well, Fernando Rodney. He is pretty distinguishable. He is large. He wears a flat hat, cocked to the side. Oh, and he has this signature beard that makes him look like Thelonious Monk sometimes. Here he is again in 2008, on a Topps card this time.

Notice all of the characteristics that I've described thus far.

So what is wrong with this picture?

If you said "That is not Fernando Rodney" you're...half right.

Unintentional Errors happen on cards. The 2007 Topps card of "Fernando Rodney" has a picture of Roman Colon. Interestingly, there is a picture of the real Fernando Rodney on the back. Even though the Tigers were in the World Series in 2006 and Fernando Rodney was an 8th inning anchor in the bullpen, this is a forgivable mistake. Fine, Topps gets a free pass.

However, this scan that Drizz provided above highlights what is unforgivable:
1. The 2009 picture is of Roman Colon
2. Roman Colon hasn't pitched for the Tigers since 2007
3. The 2009 card featuring Roman Colon is OBVIOUSLY from the same game as the 2007 card (note the same background and angle)
4. You knew who Fernando Rodney was when you included him in the team set in 2008.

For shame Topps. This is lazy, pathetic and unfair to a key contributor to the Tigers and one of the nicest guys on the team. You might be able to get away with this in a team set (although not really, because anybody buying a team set knows what the players look like) but you better pull your stuff together and get these things cleaned up for Series 2. For all the crap he gets from Tigers fans, we still want Fernando in our Topps sets!

Ty Cobb Double-Take

With the baseball season starting up, things have been a bit hectic around here and envelopes have been piling up. So, I will be sorting through them and posting the contents over the course of the next few days. Also, although there has been a lot of talk about Detroit Tigers on here recently, this is still a blog about baseball cards. However, to me baseball cards are a historical record of the game and my favorite team, so there will continue to be occasional posts sans card, when the feeling strikes (although I try to work in the pictures where I can).

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an eBay auction that was getting very little love. It was for the 2009 Topps Ty Cobb SP, the only "base" card that I still need to complete my set (Still looking for some throwbacks though, in case anybody has extras!). For weeks, this card has been selling on eBay for $10+ which was a sum that I really didn't feel like paying. However, here was one auction sitting at $.99 and it was mine for the taking. The catch? It was shipping from Canada, and the shipping was $6. Oomph.

I did the math, realized that I would be paying $3 for shipping anyway, and put in a bid. A few hours later, I owned the rights to Mr. Cobb for $.99, a week and a half later this little beauty showed up in the mailbox.
2009 Topps #66b Ty Cobb

That card ended my week on an high note and kicked off a lovely trip to DC with my wife on Saturday to see the Cherry Blossoms (which hadn't kicked into full gear yet) and to go to the only place in the region that serves Bell's Oberon beer, Michigan's traditional sign of spring. While we were walking from the National Mall to the bar, guess who was hanging out at the National Archives?

Well what do you know about that!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Curtis Granderson: Twit

It turns out, that Granderson is posting on the Detroit Tigers Twitter account as well. His tag is CG28. Credit goes to Bless You Boys on this one again.

Both the Detroit Tigers twitter feed and Big League Stew--both of which will feature Granderson throughout the season--have been added to the sidebar under the "No Cards, No Less Fantastic" Category, for all who are interested.

Curtis Granderson: Blogger

I'm not sure how I missed this, but Curtis Granderson has a new blog on Big League Stew that he'll be contributing to throughout the season. Presumably, this replaces his ESPN blog from years past. His first post is now up and for those of you who have enjoyed reading his stuff in the past, you won't be disappointed.

Thanks to Bless You Boys for pointing me in this direction.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Dear Detroit Tigers, please don't make it so that my marathon posting touting the endless hope of a new season was all in vain.

I will not be one to perform game reviews on this site, but as I type this up I'm watching Blue Jay runs 10, 11 and 12 tick up on the gametracker on the side of my screen. The blessing and the curse of Baltimore and not getting these games on TV is that I don't have to put up with this massacre. As for Michigan State currently getting killed by UNC, it is not insult to injury. I am a Michigan fan. If the Tigers happen to come back in the ninth, I'll issue a retraction post, but for now:

Ugh. How about a checklist?

Verlander back to pre-2008 form
Adam Everett solidifying the left side defense
Potent offense and speed making up for bullpen shortfalls

No (It was just one game), No (really, an error in your first game, after all of this?), No (Nothing can make up for what Juan Rincon just did)

Of course, there is some silver lining (there always is).

Granderson reached base via walk in the team's first plate appearance.
Granderson had the team's first hit, home run, RBI and run of the season.
Brandon Inge showing the power he showed in 2006, and in Spring Training.
Hits distributed evenly throughout the lineup

This was just the first game of the season, and things will be fine. However, they couldn't have lost in a pitching duel or nail-biter? The beauty of games like this is that they're easier to forget.

On a final Granderson note, Bless You Boys and the Detroit Tigers Weblog alerted me to the fact that Granderson has started a pledge drive where you can choose to donate an amount for every run that he scores this season, will proceeds benefiting inner city schools. I was at Camden Yards catching the Orioles Home Opener and missed my opportunity for a free Granderson signed photograph by donating before the first pitch tonight, but the drive will be going all season. Details Here.

A great cause from Curtis, and if tonight is any indication, he will be scoring plenty of runs for this team. Optimism Ho! Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of the season.

If 06 was 09: The Upshot

First Pitch 7:15 Verlander v. Halladay (I really like those old AL East Rivals, its too bad the unbalanced schedule is so unbalanced). No turning back now folks, keep on reading to see why this season is going to be better than everyone thinks. Go Tigers!

Let's look at the lineups for a refresher

CF Granderson
2B Polanco
C Rodriguez
RF Ordonez
DH Young
1B Shelton
SS Guillen
LF Monroe
3B Inge

CF Granderson
2B Polanco
RF Ordonez
1B Cabrera
DH Guillen
C Laird
3B Inge
SS Everett
LF Anderson

These seem relatively comparable, no? Of the players in 2006 that are no longer on the roster, Shelton was just cut by the Mariners, Young is on the DL for the nationals, the ever-dangerous Monroe just made the Pirates as a reserve and Rodriguez will be catching in Houston--Rodriguez aside, these are replacement level players.

Of the additions, Cabrera is an upgrade over anybody from 2006, while the other three are offensive downgrades. On balance, it looks like a parallel shift, especially when you consider that Thames will see major at-bats throughout the season. This is a good lineup, and should result in a good team.

2008 Clouded the vision of many people. With expectations so high, the crash was especially memorable. The culprits were Pitching and Defense--the offense was fine. What we see now is a vastly improved Defense and plenty of pitching question marks. If the pitching doesn't improve, then the team will fail. If the pitching outperforms, the team will be in the playoffs. If the pitching is average, I think that the offense will be able to carry this team down to the wire.

Prediction: The Tigers will be in the hunt for a playoff spot up until the final week, at which point, the hot team will win out. This team has tremendous potential, it's just a matter of putting it all together.

I hope that you all enjoyed my rapid-fire look at the 2009 team and can see why the 2006 team came out of nowhere and how this team has the potential to do it all again. Go Tigers and I hope everyone had a Happy Opening Day!

If 06 was 09: The Bench

The 2006 Bench created some good depth for the Tigers but wasn't spectacular. There was a mix of speed, power and defensive replacements (Representative Bench Players--in case you can't tell, I was a bit rushed trying to get all of this together before Opening Day)

Ramon Santiago
Alexis Gomez
Omar Infante
Marcus Thames
Neifi Perez
Vance Wilson

Marcus Thames had the most impact during the year, while Santiago and Gomez each had great playoff performances and Wilson was an ideal backup catcher.

The 2009 Bench should do the same.


Nothing special here, except that Larish adds some young lefty pop to the lineup and we don't have to suffer Neifi Perez. With a good mix of speed, power and defense, the bench is fine. In my opinion, the bench was not a make or break in 2006, and it will not be in 2009.

If 06 was 09: Relief Pitchers

Take a deep breath Tigers Fans:

2006 Bullpen (Opening Day):
Jason Grilli, Fernando Rodney, Joel Zumaya, Bobby Seay, Jamie Walker, Chris Spurling, Jordan Tata.

On the DL at the time: Troy Percival, Todd Jones. Jones would come back to take over the closers role and perform admirably from 2006-2008

2009 Bullpen (Opening Day):
Fernando Rodney, Bobby Seay, Brandon Lyon, Juan Rincon, Nate Robertson, Ryan Perry, Eddie Bonine

On the DL: Joel Zumaya

(With this much new blood, my card selection is drastically weakened. Apologies.)

Let's take a look at the common factors:


2006 had shut-down lefty specialist Jamie Walker, Seay has tried to take over that role, with Robertson filling in as the other lefty. Obvious downgrade. (However, I do think that Robertson could be an outstanding reliever, I guess we'll see how that plays out)

Bonine=Spurling aka, an unknown and unremarkable relief pitcher.
Perry=Zumaya aka, a highly touted flamethrowing rookie able to dominate opposing hitters. There is little chance that Perry dominates in 2009 the way that Zumaya did in 2006, but if he does, ooh boy!

Rincon is seeking to resurrect his major league career and had a tremendous spring. Lyon was acquired as a free agent but appears to be on his way out. In this sense, Lyon is a less good version of Todd Jones (yikes), and Rincon doesn't have a direct comparison.

The 2006 Bullpen was exception for three reasons: Zumaya, Rodney, Jones. An argument could be made that Walker was a fourth reason. 2009 is missing a piece of that puzzle, there is no closer on this team. Rodney has flashes of brilliance, but he doesn't have the closer mentality that he needs. Perry, Rodney, Zumaya would be excellent, but for Zumaya's injury history and chance that he will never return to form. If Lyon could resurrect himself it could be a different story, but that's a big If.

For all the question marks in the starting rotation, the bullpen is even worse. On paper, there were question marks in 2006 too, (Who's this Zumaya fella, can Jones remain effective) and youth, and the team outperformed expectations. For that to happen, Seay needs to become Jamie Walker, Somebody needs to become Todd Jones, and Perry must become Zumaya. If that happens, Robertson, Rincon and Bonine are essentially equivalents of the no-name middle relievers on the roster in 2006. In fact, Rincon has a track record as an exceptional set-up man, for what its worth, and Lyon has been an effective closer.

I don't really know what to make out of it, but the bullpen is neither a strength or a weakness. With major turnover from the dismal 2008 bullpen (Goodbye: Dolsi, Farnsworth, Fossum, Grilli, Glover, Rapada, Beltran, Bazardo, Bautista, Cruceta all of whom were terrible at one point or another during the year), there is little reason to expect as bad a year as they had in 2008. At the same time, it is unreasonable to expect anything that resembles 2006. Put me at a league average bullpen and that's ok by me.

If 06 was 09: Starting Pitchers

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2006 Opening Day Pitching Rotation:

(Robertson, Verlander, Rogers, Bonderman, Maroth)

Here's what I see:
Grizzled Veteran looking to extend his career (Rogers)
Highly Touted Rookie with high upside but little professional experience (Verlander)
Young fireballer who hasn't quite lived up to Potential (Bonderman)
Mid-level Pitchers who are serviceable but generally unimpressive (Robertson, Maroth)

It is important to note that a mid-year injury to Maroth pushed Zach Miner into the rotation.

The 2009 Opening Day Rotation:

(Verlander, Miner, Jackson, Porcello, Galarraga)

Highly Touted Rookie with high upside but little professional experience (Porcello)
Not Mine (*Sigh*) From Los Gatos at the Detroit Sports Collectors Forum

Young fireballer who hasn't quite lived up to potential (Jackson)
Mid-level Pitchers who are serviceable but generally unimpressive (Miner)

and, some new categories:
Legitimate Ace looking to rebound after an off-year (Verlander)
Surprising diamond in the rough looking to follow up on a tremendous Rookie Campaign (Galarraga).


That 2006 rotation should not have been as good as it was. It required a decline-free year from Kenny Rogers an apparent breakout year from Nate Robertson and playoff Heroics from both of them. In 2006, every pitcher in the rotation had the best year of their respective careers. In 2008, every pitcher had their worst. Robertson currently finds himself in the bullpen and has been awful. Maroth is out of baseball. Bonderman is recovering from injury, and has been replaced by Miner.

2006 featured 1 new acquisition and 1 rookie sensation
2009 stands to do the same, with Jackson and Porcello in place of Rogers and Verlander.

Here's the upside: There is more talent in the 2009 rotation than there was on the 2006 rotation. The downside, is that so much of that potential hasn't been tapped yet. If Galarraga can live up to 2008, Porcello can break out Verlander-style and Jackson can be Bonderman-esque, then this team will be good. Really good. However, if Galarraga's 2008 was an anomaly (as many suspect), Porcello pitches like a rookie--good, but not great--and Jackson pitches like Jackson has in the past, then the team will be mediocre. Verlander will be fine.

Question marks abound. But you know what? Looking at that 2006 rotation, there was no reason to expect that team to be as good as it was. With the revamped defense, I don't see how this rotation can be as bad as they were last year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a mid-season pick up for a Lefty if they're in the hunt. Wait and be surprised people, there are some good arms on this club.

Maybe its just me, but I thing that starting rotation will be All Right (! Credit to my lovely wife for that one)

If 06 was 09: DH

Posting at 1:05, the traditional afternoon start time. Why are the Tigers playing a night game? Why is the Home Opener on a Friday?

Eerie similarities in the DH Position.

In 2006, the Tigers started the season with Dmitri Young as the DH.

He was jettisoned for Marcus Thames. In 2009, the Tigers intended to start with Gary Sheffield as the DH. He was jettisoned for Marcus Thames.

The DH position was unusual for the Tigers in 2006, unlike many other teams (including the 2007 and 2008 teams) they did not have a traditional DH, an Ortiz/Thome/Hafner type if you will. Instead, in traditional national league style, they had a high power low average player on the bench, whom they moved into a DH role. Think Matt Stairs for the Phillies (ironically, Matt Stairs was on the Tigers at the end of 2006 and had a few huge hits that helped them win a playoff spot). This was Marcus Thames in 2006 and it appears as though it will be Marcus Thames in 2009, with a bunch of Guillen mixed in.

What does this mean? The team continues to have a good, but not great DH. If it is Thames than it is a major power threat. If it is Guillen, then they have a very good gap to gap hitter capable of getting on base and scoring. Neither option is something to complain about. Gary Sheffield, the Tigers' DH in 2007 and 2008 was very, very productive when he was healthy. I actually think that he will continue to be productive in 2009 with the Mets. The man is a tremendous talent and a valuable weapon. However, with Guillen serving as the DH, it is actually an upgrade. With Thames, we're probably looking at a downgrade. On balance, it is a parallel shift on what you could expect with a reasonably healthy, but old Gary Sheffield.

Comparing 2006 to 2005, it seemed like the team was facing a downgrade as well, after losing one of the team's most recognized and dangerous players. However, it actually added flexibilty to the roster and the younger team went out there with something to prove. Sound familiar?

The Breakdown:
Defense: Nope
Offense: 2009
Upgrade: 2009

DH looks better in 2009, because Carlos Guillen's production has been moved to that slot. That is better than the rag-tag DH position in 2006, which held its own very well. Using the position to provide rotating rest to Ordonez and Cabrera will help the team stay fresh and able to make a sustained playoff push.

The Comparison So Far:

Offensively, this 2009 team is should be very good. Not as good as people expected them to be in 2008 (1000 runs? Please.), but probably as good as they actually were in 2008, which was good for 4th in the American League in Runs Scored. The trick is those two other things, "Pitching" and "Defense". Looking at the starters, the Defense is drastically improved, with the left side of the infield looking rock-solid and with more speed in the outfield. Pitching? Well that is what is coming up next...

If 06 was 09: Rightfield

Look at Maggs without the hair!

Rightfield, like Second Base, presents the case of a productive player that has moved past his peak. Like with Placido Polanco before, we turn our sights on Magglio Ordonez.

In 2006, Ordonez was coming off an injury plagued season in which he played well when healthy, but it was uncertain whether he would return to the form that he had shown with the White Sox. In 2006, fully mended, he did this (If anybody knows how to embed videos from MLB, please let me know).

His 2007 and 2008 seasons have actually been better than his 2006 campaign, and Tiger fans have now come to expect .300/20/100 out of him, something that he seems to have no trouble producing. The question is, can he keep it up? Maggs isn't getting any younger, but we're yet to see a marked decline in his production. A full season out of him in 2006 was a huge boost to the club, that production is now expected from him.

Breaking it down:
Defense: Push
Offense: Push (may be in decline, but was better in '07 and '08 than he was in '06)
Upgrade: 2006

If the team is going to turn itself around, it won't be because of Magglio. Despite the impact he can make, he represented a huge jump in production from 2005 to 2006, something that the team can't hope to replicate in 2009. Still, his bat is potent and he should have no trouble filling the role that the Tigers need him to fill.

If 06 was 09: Centerfield

Happy Opening Day everyone! I'll be down at Camden Yards today but I enjoy the breakdown of the Tigers up until first pitch tonight!

Centerfield is the home of the one and only Curtis Granderson, and while that should leave itself open for a lengthy post, I'll try to keep it brief.

In 2005 the starting Centerfielder for the Tigers was Nook Logan. They finished in last place. Nook is currently on the (last place) Nationals. In 2006 the starting Centerfielder was Curtis Granderson. The team went to the World Series. Granderson batted .294 with 2 HR and 5 RBIs and scored 3 Runs in the ALDS. In the ALCS he batted .333 with 1 HR and 2 RBIs, scoring 4 Runs. The Tigers cruised through both series. They proceeded to get swept in the World Series. Granderson batted .095 and scored 1 run.

Granderson is the catalyst of this team. I've said it since 2006. As Granderson goes, so go the Tigers. Suffice to say, starting 2008 on the DL with a broken hand was a bad omen.

Granderson had a very solid 2006 in his first full season in the majors and 2009 should be even better. While his power and speed has stayed relatively equal, his walks have increased, and strikeouts decreased dramatically. His defense was unimpressive in 2008 (after a stellar 2006/2007) and has been a point of emphasis in the spring. There is no reason to believe that he won't have an excellent defensive season, especially now that he won't need to handicap himself to accommodate sub-par left and right fielders.

In all, the 2009 version of Granderson is one of this team's horses, while 2006 was a bonus. Breaking it down:

Offensive: 2009
Defensive: Push
Upgrade: 2006

I believe that Curtis Granderson was the single greatest factor in pushing the Tigers into the playoffs in 2006. He was a substantial upgrade over the previous centerfield options and was an unexpected bright spot in the lineup. In 2009 it is expected that he was remain in that role, but unlike 2006, he will not be the reason that the Tigers go from worst to first, that will need to come from somewhere else.