Grand Cards: The Grand Scheme Is Keeping An Eye Out

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Grand Scheme Is Keeping An Eye Out

Gotcha, sucka Sometimes, despite my best efforts to be all-inclusive in creating the Tigers Galleries there are some cards that just can't be found. Yet all is not lost. I try to keep an eye out periodically to wrangle in some of the cards that slipped through my grasp. Here are a couple that just popped up for me:

2009 Allen & Ginter #AGA-MCA Miguel Cabrera

2010 Topps #ITN-64 Granderson "N"

2009 Topps Sterling Ty Cobb Cut Auto/Relic (1/1)

Oh, what's that? I haven't posted a Topps Sterling gallery yet? Hmm...I guess you'll just have to wait and see the rest of the goodies then. By the way, that Cobb sold for over $7,000. I don't know what happened, because it is back up there and relisted for $4,500. Faulty buyer? Failed shill bidding?

Also it would be really nice if I actually had any of those cards, instead of just had pictures of them. Someday...

The Secret Juice I'm not sure if you heard, but MLB is going to start testing for HGH after a British rugby player was busted for the drug. That's all well and good, except for one thing.
As the professor quoted at the end of the article notes, this test has been around for several years, and they've caught one dude with it. Does that not suggest to baseball -- and anyone else with half a brain -- that the test is prone to giving false negatives? I mean, it's not like it's reasonable to think that one random British prop is the only guy on the stuff. But hey, if the Daily News is pumping up a single positive, why shouldn't Major League Baseball and everyone else go all-in? Sheesh.
Actually, let's make that two things and note that this part should have definitely come first. The economist in me is screaming for this to gain acceptance by the mainstream media.
After several more conversations with John and following up on his leads I believe that there are no performance-enhancing benefits from using HGH in baseball. There is no documented evidence that HGH improves performance. While studies are sparse due to ethical limits, what studies have been done show that while growth hormone may promote muscle growth that it does not increase strength. This is quite different from anabolic steroids for which there exists evidence of improved strength. Of course, future research may change this, but right now I see little reason to contradict what is out there.
Props goes out to JC Bradbury of the excellent, if sporadic Sabernomics blog. for beating this drum since 2007 at least. HGH doesn't work as a performance enhancer. There is zero evidence to support that it helps in any way. So while MLB and fans and media and everyone freaks out about "what's to be done with this HGH?" the reality is ignored. It's not a big deal. In fact, Bradbury argues that players are only using it (and may be using it more, recently) simply because it is a big deal so they think it works. One solution he suggests is removing the impression that it has any positive effects at all by making it legal. Of course, the dangerous side effects are a perfectly good reason to make it illegal, and can you imagine the PR nightmare?

Still, spread the word. HGH doesn't work. On to other things, then...

Nasty ...What if, what if, what if, what if...
"The ball is flying out of his hand," manager Jim Leyland said. "I watched him throw and asked one of my coaches, 'How does a human being hit that?'

"It's exploding up there.

"I'm holding my breath it holds up because that stuff is nasty. There is no shortage of velocity. That I can promise you."

Zumaya, healthy? Please?

Now batting, the centerfielder... It's springtime, which means that managers are trying to downplay controversy, the media is trying to create drama and fans rollercoaster around with super-heated opinions about things without knowing anything about anything. Ahh, baseball. Among the issues--or non-issues--in Spring Training, is where a certain Curtis Granderson will play in the field. No such controversy exists, says the skipper:
But Granderson’s our center fielder. He’s an above average center fielder and that’s why we acquired him. But to be quite honest if somebody asked, ‘Hey, but is it possible Brett Gardner might be a better center fielder?’ Our defensive metrics on Brett Gardner made him one of the elite center fielders in the game. I’m not saying he’s the top but he’s close to it.
Look at that praise glow! That Granderson is above average. But look at Gardner! He's incredible! I sure hope he can hold down left field. If there is a better way to fuel the fire of controversy by issuing a denial, I'd like to see it.

Also, while we're on the topic of calling Curtis Granderson a good but unspectacular Center Fielder, to this I say: Bah! I'm going to name three things and you tell me what they mean:

1. Magglio Ordonez
2. Carlos Guillen/Gary Sheffield/Marcus Thames
3. Comerica Park

Anybody? Guesses? 1. Is WAY slow and defensively deficient in Right Field. 2. Are WAY slow and defensively deficient in Left Field. 3. Has the worst solar orientation of any Major League ballpark, by an almost ridiculous amount. Nobody has mentioned this other than infrequent comments from people who have played Center Field at Comerica (Ichiro, Torii Hunter, you know, your average shlubs) and have struggled. This is no joke. There is a reason that baseball stadiums are oriented the way they are, in general. You start screwing with things to get fancy downtown views and things get screwed up. In Detroit that makes Comerica a super-glare hellhole up the middle. If I have the time/energy I'll do a more complete post about this in the future, but for now I'll leave it with a not-outlandish prediction: If Granderson plays center field full-time for the Yankees this year, he will win a Gold Glove. Mark it.

Part Deux? I know. I know that we're not supposed to make comparisons between Granderson and newcomer Austin Jackson. It isn't fair to the kid, He needs to be his own player, etc. But Come On:
Ajax looks exactly like Curtis Granderson in that picture. It's not even close.

Right where you belong
"Mostly DH," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday morning.
That is where Carlos Guillen will be playing this season. That is where he belongs. That is where he will perform the best and help the team most. Case closed, Guillen happy, everybody smiles.

Who you gonna call? Scenario: I'm an baseball player who's skills are on the decline, but have done enough in the recent past that I could probably convince a team to pick me up. Sure, I know that the wheels are about to fall off any minute and that I will be instantly transformed into a relatively useless "player" with an albatross of a guaranteed contract. I know this. So who do I call to give me some advice?
Shortly before Johnny Damon signed with the Tigers, he sought the insight of his friend Dontrelle Willis.

Willis, the Tigers left-hander, praised the club to Damon.

“He just gave me a call, and I gave him my honest opinion about how I felt about this organization,” Willis said. “Even though I haven’t played well for the organization, I still spoke highly of it.
I was like "yeah man, this place is great. They'll give you all sorts of money no questions asked and then you can just hope for the best". Once Johnny told me that he thought he was on his last legs I told him that Detroit is the place to be.

Of course, this is all just in jest and not true at all (nervous laughter).

Misc. The Fien-atics will have to find another man. How ambitious is Mike Ilitch? Is this the move that predicates pizza-owned sports domination in Detroit? NYTimes speaks kindly of Johnny who, like everyone throughout history looks excellent in Tigers threads. Which is good, considering he wants to end his career in Detroit There are two ways to do that. Please don't choose the Jarrod Washburn approach.