Grand Cards: November 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Respect for Raburn

I can't say that I blame you, what with all those defensive miscues and the fact that it is, you know, Ryan Raburn but hey, the guy deserves a baseball card, right?

I really shouldn't care, not being a Ryan Raburn fan myself. But in light of the news that he may be 2011's starting left fielder, something that isn't nearly as bad of an idea as it sounds I think that it's time that Ryan Raburn had exactly zero baseball cards made of him in 2010, unless you count this:

(Or this, or this)

See him? All tucked away down there?

Still, for a guy who played in 113 games in 2010 and 2009 (and 93 games in 2008) he's a deserves something more than ZERO baseball cards over those two years. Especially when you've got a bunch of this:

And the one that takes the cake...

Ugh. These three players played a combined 0 games for the Tigers in 2010.

I never thought I'd say this but, give me more Raburn!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some Recognition for Ajax

That's right, crack a smile.

Austin Jackson's snubbing in the AL Rookie of the Year voting didn't keep him from winning the most coveted award of all: the Topps Rookie Cup. For those not familiar, you might remember the rookie cup from iconic cards of iconic players such as this:

Or, um, this:

While there are risks inherent in creating an All Star Team of Rookies, as Topps does every year--namely that the majority of said rookies will end up as middling major leaguers--you can't argue that you need to have been a pretty darn good rookie to earn the award.

Although I have to believe there was a better pitcher than a 28-year old Mark Leiter that took the world by storm, going 9-7 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.

Like maybe this guy:


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Initial Reaction to Victor Martinez

I was in the middle of writing two papers for class when the Victor Martinez deal went down on Tuesday, but when I found out I tweeted a quick haiku on the matter:

Great Hitting Catcher
That won't catch for much longer.
Too many years. Meh.

I've since warmed a little bit more to the idea. For one, Victor Martinez will be a great addition to the ball club this year, and probably next. For two, he fill a big hole on this team (part time catcher) and has some versatility to spell Miguel Cabrera at first or play on a rotating basis at DH with Guillen.

The concern comes in with years 3 and 4, and my persistent fear that the Tigers are just setting them up for a Guillen/Sheffield situation, where the player sucks money from the team and hamstrings their roster flexibility.

Ultimately, I'm ok with the signing as long as it doesn't prevent them from signing Scherzer and Porcello down the road. If nothing else, VMart can fill the role off aging, offensively potent defensive liability player after Guillen leaves.

This confirms my statement from last week that the Tigers are building this team with a very defined window in mind. I'll let this idea marinate over Turkey and pie this evening, and try to spell it out tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not So Fast My Friend!

The danger of using checklists to craft a team set has reared its ugly head.

That, my friends, is a Marlins card. Did you think that if you saw Miguel Cabrera on a 2010 Topps checklist, it would be a Marlins card? Of course you didn't. And what happens? You end up with a Marlins card that you don't need, don't you?

Yeah. That's exactly what happens.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Little Birthday Treat

My birthday was earlier this week, and in addition to the wonderful evening and gift provided by my wife, I bought myself a little something to celebrate:

2009 Topps #TC1 Ty Cobb Stamp (#/95)

Ok, I didn't buy this as a birthday gift--I bought it because it is #2 on my "Big Ten Wantlist" and I hadn't seen one of these cards listed in over a year. I just so happened to have won it on my Birthday.

Anyway, it arrived yesterday, and while it's not quite as awesome as this card from the same year, it is a very cool concept that I like a lot.

Here's the back:

What can I say? I'm not a stamp collector, but these are well executed, attractive cards. Note to Topps: more of this kind of thing, please.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tigers Quick Hits

This is the time of year when little news tidbits fly all over the place like little gnats that you try to ignore or get past until one of them lands in your eye and you just can't ignore it any more and you need your significant other to lick it out, because apparently that's the best way to get a gnat out of your eye. True story.

So, in lieu of real, in-depth analysis and in light of the tid-bitty nature of all of these little news items and rumors, (which, by the way, I subconsciously prefer to spell "rumours," given the preference of my fingers to add that extra "u" every time I type it), I want to throw out some quick "Grand Scheme-style" thoughts on all the matters in hand.

Postseason Awards I don't want to dwell on this. I really don't. But Austin Jackson kind of got screwed out of the AL Rookie of the Year award. I don't want to take anything from Neftali Feliz. He's an incredible pitcher who had an incredible season for a playoff team. But is that all that this is about any more? Jackson, the full time player who hadn't set foot on a MLB diamond before the season, was incredible and more than worthy of the award. Feliz, who pitched in 70 games this year, also pitched in 20 games last year or roughly 30% of an MLB season for a reliever. His 31 IP in 2009 left him 19 inning short of losing his rookie eligibility for 2010. If he were a starter, I'd understand, but as a relief pitcher I think that it is silly. Feliz was a second year player. He just was.

Just as a warning, Miguel Cabrera is going to lose the MVP too. Sure, he was the Most Valuable Player on a team that would have been in last place without him. He single handedly carried the team's offense for months. Then again, Josh Hamilton had an amazing season, and I can't say that I begrudge him the award. But he also had a resurgent Vlad Guerrero and Nelson Cruz around him. I'm pretty sure that the Rangers were just fine when he was hurt for 30 games too.


Budget The Tigers' Budget is probably around $100M. Why do I say that? Here are the $100M+ Payrolls in AL Central History (via Cot's Contracts):

2008 Tigers: 137,685,196
2010 Tigers: 133,995,400
2008 White Sox: 121,189,332
2009 Tigers: 115,085,145
2007 White Sox: 108,671,833
2010 White Sox: 103,080,000
2006 White Sox: 102,750,667

For the other three teams in the league, their respective highest payrolls:
2010 Twins: 97,659,167
2009 Indians: $81,579,166
2010 Royals: $74,985,2010

Detroit is the #2 Market in the Central. Logic says that it stands to have the #2 budget--with the Twins very close or slightly higher because of comparable market strength and a new stadium. To think that the Tigers will budget 20-30% higher than the next highest team is silliness. Of course, this discount's Mike Illitch's late-spring happy feet to make a move, but that shouldn't be budgeted in, for obvious reasons.

Recent Additions
You already know my thoughts on the Peralta/Inge contracts. I think that the Tigers have settled on an average/below average defensive left side of the infield, with an average offense. The contracts are perfectly reasonable, and do have upside (Peralta is only 28, let's remember), so I don't HATE what's going on. Considering there are no internal SS options, no free agent SS option and We're at least 2-3 years from a viable internal replacement at 3B, I guess this is just fine.

Yesterday, the Tigers signed Joaquin Benoit to a 3 year/$16.5M deal which is way to much for a middle reliever and oh my god they could have just kept Brandon Lyon around last year for less then that, but Benoit was LOCK DOWN last year, but that was really the only year of his career where that was true Also: Shoulder surgery. So anyway, this certainly improves a bullpen that was so-so last year and lost some role players. Also, I think that Phil Coke needs to be addressed.

Benoit is Phil Coke's replacement in the bullpen, because apparently the Tigers are going to put Phil Coke into the rotation. This is a bad idea. Why? Because Phil Coke was a kick-ass reliever. He also started to struggle down the stretch. I'm not going to say durability issue, but he certainly seems more valuable in the bullpen, especially in a bullpen that also includes Benoit and Valverde. Those three in the back-end of the bullpen would be dynamite.

Other Positions
Catcher: Alex Avila is the man, but a backup/platoon is needed
2B: Will Guillen be able to recover and play here? Sizemore? Rhymes? Santiago? Internal options abound, although none of them are particularly exciting. I'd like to see some defense please, especially with the left size as it is.
LF/RF: Question Marks, but plenty of options. Boesch, Raburn and Wells have MLB experience now. Expect one to win/share one position, and a free agent to take the other.

The Non-Position Positions
WHO IS STARTING FOR THIS TEAM?!?! Ok, let me tone down my urgency. Verlander is a legit #1. Scherzer is also damn good. A solid #2. Rick Porcello, still just a pup, is really more of a #4 starter right now. The Tigers can duct tape a rotation together with the best of Phil Coke, Armando Galarraga and Andy Oliver, if they really want to, but that seems like a mistake. A 2/3 caliber, left-handed starter would have been killer here, but with Ted Lilly and Jake Westbrook off the market, pickin's here are slim.

Still, I think that the Tigers need 1 decent free agent starter to compete this year.

The Options
Everyone knows the big players on the free agent market: Carl Crawford, Victor Martinez, Adam Dunn and Jason Werth. The Tigers, at one time or another, have been connected to all four. Some are saying that the Tigers will make a play for two of the four. My thoughts player-by-player:

-Victor Martinez is a 2 day-a-week catcher at most. He is bad defensively. He is an excellent hitter, but would mostly need to DH. As a DH the value just isn't there. A 3-4 year contract for big bucks would be a big mistake here.

-Adam Dunn is an OBP machine. He would be an absolutely phenomenal addition to the Tigers lineup in the 3 hole. I'll also bet you a million dollars that if the Tigers signed him he would bat 5. He has a low batting average a strikes out a lot. People will get frustrated. Also, he is a DH only (realistically), and the Tigers have killed themselves with an overabundance of this type of player. Still, I'd take him for 3 years at $12/14M per. He's that good and the Tigers have the budget space.

-Jason Werth is beloved by everyone except me, apparently. I don't know why, but I've never like Jason Werth. I just don't buy that he is worth a huge contract for 4+ years. He's a late bloomer, sure, but has been a NL-only hitter in a hitter friendly ballpark surrounded by the likes of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. He age is a detriment. Would I complain if the Tigers signed him? No. But I don't think that he is worth what he will sign for.

-Carl Crawford. Please sign Carl Crawford. I've been saying these for three years, back when there were rumors that the Tigers would trade for him. Most recently, I declared the season over in July and said that the Tigers should not make any rash deadline decisions that would jeopardize their chance to sign him. He is 29. He is awesome. He is worth every penny.

The Window
I think that I'm going to make a whole post out of this, but the Tigers have a window in which they need to win. That window starts in 2011 and probably peaks from 2012-2014. We're going to call it the Cabrera era. The CabrERA. Yes. Spend now to win now because that is what the team is designed to do. Let me spell it out for you:

Cabrera, Jackson, Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello. If you add 1-2 free agents to fill out that window then you are there.

Crazy other ideas, quickly
-Magglio Ordonez. I'd like to see him back, but only if you can get one of the other big hitters, or can't get any of them. $8M/season is ok with me.

-Carlos Guillen is your DH this year. Isn't he? Why eat that contract?

-Jarrod Washburn. I'm not kidding. Tigers fans' heads just exploded, I know. I think that the team should take a flyer on Jarrod Washburn, who said recently that he was thinking about coming back. His short time in Detroit aside, he is a good pitcher, has been for a long time, and is exactly the #3-caliber left handed starter they need. Might cost $2M. Totally worth it--just ask Aubrey Huff if it makes sense to write off a player after three months.

-Jim Thome has been talked as a cheap DH replacement. I love the idea, but only if you can get Crawford (or maybe Werth). In fact, the Tigers should sign him and just sit him on a bench just so he can't hurt them playing for the White Sox or Twins. Hmm...better sign Carl Pavano too.

-Is Zach Greinke a legitimate trade option? What would you give up to get him? I think in this "win-now" window (Greinke signed through 2012), that a package that reads something like Justin Turner and/or Daniel Fields isn't crazy. One in the hand...

I'm sure that I'll expand on some of these ideas over the course of the next few days/weeks. There is a lot going on in Tigertown, and that the team is dangling on a precipice where the right move(s) will set them on a championship track for the next 3-5 years. The wrong one will be a repeat of the disaster that reads 2007-2010.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


So, does this mobile blogging app work?

If so, I may have just found a happy medium between my extensive, if sporadic, blog posts and my occasional twittering.  Some sort of quick hitting blog posts that I just haven't had the ability to write as normal.

For example: Ajax getting screwed on ROY, free agent talks, roster decisions and other time-sensitive notes.

Stay tuned.  Up first, Miguel Cabrera --spoiler alert--not winning MVP later this week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tigers Gallery & Review: 2010 Topps 206

Two posts in one day, what is this 2009?  Happy weekend everyone.  Also, Did you know that all the 2010 Tigers Galleries can be found right over here? Did you?

Only two months late (again), Topps 206 is little more than a watered down version of the ever-popular Allen & Ginter set. I benefited from a 206 case break hosted by A Cardboard Problem in which I fared very well. Here are the Tigers from the set in their full glory, my comments after the jump.

Base Set

#11 Brandon Inge

#58 Justin Verlander

#77 Scott Sizemore

#88 Jeremy Bonderman

#163 Max Scherzer

#165 Ty Cobb

#166 Austin Jackson

#207 Carlos Guillen

#220 Rick Porcello

#264 Al Kaline

#269 Miguel Cabrera

#290 Magglio Ordonez

#311 Rick Porcello SP

#388 Austin Jackson SP

Autographs Best part of the set, just like last year--There is a Rick Porcello redemption that I will add when it gets to me in the mail. Update 1/24/2011--the Porcello is here!

#TA-CT Clete Thomas

#TA-MS Max Scherzer

#TA-SS Scott Sizemore

#TA-RP Ryan Perry

#TA-RPO Rick Porcello

Relics Also A Strong Suit, Not sure if the Cabrera Dual Relic exists

#TR-JD Johnny Damon

#TR-MC Miguel Cabrera

#MBR14 Cabrera/Fielder

#DR-MC Miguel Cabrera?

Insert-Type Things This are kind of like quasi-parallels, but are numbered differently

#T2C21 Ty Cobb Gold (#/50)

NNO Ty Cobb Silk (#/50)

#T2C45 Miguel Cabrera Gold (#/50)

NNO Miguel Cabrera Silk (#/50)

Other Stuff Mostly impossible cut signatures that I don't have pictures of. Also, Stamp:
2010 Topps 206 #SR-9 Ty Cobb

A Repurposing

In 2009 I was the winner of my fantasy baseball division. The prize, aside from some much needed cash, was a framed display of my team in baseball card form. The cards slid perfectly in back, and the matting was custom cut to accommodate the appropriate number of vertical and horizontal 2009 Topps cards. At the bottom was a little plaque declaring my team the winner.

For more than a year this hung proudly next to my desk in my office. It attracted a good deal of attention from "What is that" to "You won with that team?" at which point I would remind them that Adam Lind had a huge year and Brad Bergeson was in impact rookie, and don't forget about Heath Bell before trailing off and realizing the impossibility of my team that year. Then I'd say something that extolled my greatness as a manager which is all that counts anyway, except, it turns out that totally isn't true.

Anyway, last week we shifted our office around and I was treated to a double-wide cube in a more desirable location (WINDOWS!), and with the reconfiguration, there just wasn't a good place for the frame to go. So home it went.

And as much as I like staring at Alexei Ramirez and Gerald Laird and Rick Porcello base cards, I'm a person who actually collects baseball cards and it struck me as silly that I wasn't using the frame to actually showcase cards that I really like. Problem solved:

Behold, all of my framed autograph cards from Allen & Ginter and Topps 206. This happened to work out perfectly (at least until my Rick Porcello Redemption is shipped from Topps, or if I can miraculously get a 2010 A&G Cabrera), but even if things change over the next couple years, I can always swap out one of my Three Ryan Perry cards, or multiple Scherzers or Grandersons or Clete Thomas, if I want. I'm very happy with how this turned out and especially thrilled that I have a safe place for my prized possession (the Miguel Cabrera on top). The Horizontal slots presented a bit of a problem, but wanting to keep the aesthetic intact, I think that the two A&G Rip Cards fit the bill pretty well.

So there it is. My new little showcase piece that will hang above my desk at home.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remorse of an Opportunist

A week ago today, baseball fans across the country were surprised with bad news: Sparky Anderson, the legendary manager of the Tigers and Reds, was extremely ill and in hospice care at his home in California. Now we Tigers fans are supposed to know how this goes. We're only six months removed from the death of Ernie Harwell, after all. But certainly, we were spoiled. Ernie was diagnosed with an incurable disease and spent his last year in the public eye, where we could all comfortably say goodbye.

Sparky offered no such luxury. On Tuesday he was sick. On Wednesday he was gone.

Meanwhile, just hours after the first announcement, and less than 24 hours from the second, I did something.

I bought an autographed Sparky Anderson ball. I knew that once he died the price was going to rise--this is what happened with George Kell and Mark Fidrych earlier this year. Before you know it the balls are out of stock, or insanely expensive.

So I jumped the gun, before prices could pre-emptively rise, and before Sparky could pass. The sad part is that for months--over a year, actually--I have had an old game-used baseball from Tiger Stadium sitting on my desk, next to a letter written to Sparky asking him to sign it. I just never got around to sending it. Which leaves me resorting to feeling like a sleazeball, by doing nothing more than not get exploited by the actual sleazeballs who would jack up prices when Sparky died.

Fast forward one week:

It's beautiful, in that somber kind of way. It's the shaky, old, somewhat depressing signature of a man who really had no business doing this anymore. I mean, enjoy your life, Sparky. Don't waste your time signing a baseball for someone who was timing the announcement of your upcoming death so that he could pay a lower price. That's disgusting. Spend some time with your family or in the outdoors or something.

But from everything I've read over the last week, Sparky was the kind of guy who would take the time to sign a ball, or hold a conversation or write a letter, even when he really didn't have the time or energy to do so. And that's what we're left with. A shaky signature from a man who could have been doing anything else with his final days, but signed this ball instead.

I can't say that that doesn't make me a little sad.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tigers Gallery & Review: 2010 Topps Triple Threads

This is my first gallery post in some time, and it happens to be with my abusive relationship of a card partner--Topps Triple Threads. I suffered through making this because of a checklist more varied and dense than the Amazon rainforest. You know the drill: Card Porn first, words after the jump.

Note: I have tried to get an image of the "base" version of a card, where possible, but there are a million variations on every card and I couldn't always do it, hence the non-red splashes of color throughout.

Base Set Why even bother...

#12 Al Kaline

#22 Miguel Cabrera

#24 Ty Cobb

#67 Justin Verlander

#116 Hank Greenberg

#118 Mark Fidrych

#120 Johnny Damon

Rookie & Rising Stars

#126 Rick Porcello

#140 Austin Jackson

#141 Scott Sizemore


#TTR-40 Al Kaline

#TTR-41 Al Kaline

#TTR-42 Al Kaline

#TTR-79 Miguel Cabrera

#TTR-80 Miguel Cabrera

#TTR-81 Miguel Cabrera

#TTR-82 George Kell

#TTR-83 George Kell

#TTR-84 George Kell

#TTR-AK Al Kaline

#TTR-MC Miguel Cabrera

#TTRC-7 Cabrera/Teixeira /Morneau

#TTRC-38 Ivan Rodriguez

#TTRC-43 Kaline/Cobb/Kell

#TTRC-45 Teixeira/Cabrera /Rodriguez

#TTRC-48 Hernandez /Sabathia/Verlander

#TTRC-54 Verlander /Porcello/Bunning

#TTRL-3 Ty Cobb

#TTRL-11 Hank Greenberg

#TTRDC-3 Greenberg et al.

#TTRDC-6 Cabrera et al.

Autograph + Relics

#TTAR-118 Justin Verlander

#TTAR-119 Justin Verlander

#TTAR-120 Justin Verlander

#TTAR-121 Miguel Cabrera

#TTAR-122 Miguel Cabrera

#TTAR-123 Miguel Cabrera

#TTAR-139 Johnny Damon

#TTAR-140 Johnny Damon

#TTAR-141 Johnny Damon

#TTAR-148 George Kell

#TTAR-149 George Kell

#TTAR-150 George Kell

#TTAR-217 Al Kaline

#TTAR-218 Al Kaline

#TTAR-219 Al Kaline

#TTAR-GK George Kell

#TTAR-JD Johnny Damon

#TTAR-MC Miguel Cabrera

#TTARC-6 Longoria /Beckham/Cabrera

#TTARC-8 Porcello/Cabrera /Damon


#TTXXIV-7 Miguel Cabrera

#TTXXIVL-5 Ty Cobb

2009 All Star Game Patches These are purdy

#TTASP-16 Brandon Inge

#TTASP-39 Edwin Jackson

#TTASP-47 Justin Verlander

#TTASP-64 Curtis Granderson

Brandon Inge Logo Patch (1/1)

Justin Verlander Logo Patch (1/1)

Edwin Jackson Logo Patch (1/1)

Curtis Granderson Logo Patch (1/1)

Brandon Inge AS Laundry Tag (1/1)

Edwin Jackson AS Laundry Tag

Justin Verlander AS Laundry Tag

Curtis Granderson AS Laundry Tag (1/1)

Justin Verlander Sleeve Patch (1/1)

Justin Verlander AS Logoman (1/1)

More Jumbo Patches Jesus Christ it never ends...

#TTLP-AR4 Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera (Letter Patch)

Oh, and there are even more cards that don't easily fit into a category and I don't have pictures of that I am just leaving off of the gallery until I can find images. This is that kind of set.

More fun times after the jump!