A place where Colorado Rockies baseball card collectors (all 3 of us) can waste some time reading about our favorite sport. The Rockies and their cards will be the primary focus, but I like to go off on tangents as well so anything and everything baseball related may be covered here.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rock Stars - First Base Results

Before moving onto arguably the weakest position on the Rock Star team, let's take a look at the results from arguably the strongest position.

Your votes
Todd Helton - 9 votes = 2 points
Andres Galarraga - 3 votes = 1 point
Jason Giambi - 0 votes = 0 points

Todd Helton - 59.9 WAR = 2 points
Andres Galarraga - 11.9 WAR = 1 point
Jason Giambi - 1.4 WAR = 0 points

My vote
Todd Helton = 2 points
Andres Galarraga = 1 point
Jason Giambi = 0 points

Total Score:
Todd Helton = 6 points (unanimous selection)
Andres Galarraga = 3 points
Jason Giambi = 0 points

The Rock Star first baseman is Todd Helton.
Not really a surprise here.  This spot might not change during my lifetime, which says a lot about Helton's impact.  Todd Helton is the Rockies and has nearly been in Denver as long as the franchise.  He is possibly going to be the first ever Rockies Hall of Famer (unless Larry Walker beats him to it which is looking doubtful at the moment).  Of course that happening would require voters forgiveness for Denver's altitude and the fact that half of Helton's games are played there which is also doubtful.  I wonder if park conditions were considered for Tom Seaver (Shea Stadium) or Sandy Koufax (Chavez Ravine).  I am not saying those two are not Hall of Famers by any means, far from it in fact.  I am just pointing out that their numbers possibly benefited from their playing in pitcher's parks as much as Rockies benefit from the hitter's park.  Who's to say?  All I can say is Todd Helton passes my eye test for a Hall of Fame first baseman.  Be back tomorrow with the choices for second base.  Happy New Year everyone and drive carefully tonight.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rock Stars - First Base

Let's continue building the ultimate Rockies team with the position that has seen the least amount of change in the history of the team, first base.  There have only been two full-time first basemen in the eighteen year history of the franchise.  I decided to narrow the focus of this position to just three players instead of five, but I will make up for the numbers when second base rolls around.  Here are the top first basemen in Rockies history in chronological order.

Andres Galarraga (1993-97)
Andres Galarraga was the first big-time Rockies free agent signing and became their first superstar.  He got the franchise off to a very buzz-worthy inaugural season with his chase of .400 which was realistic past the All Star Break in 1993 before finishing with a league leading .370 average.   In five seasons in Colorado, Galarraga posted a line of .316/.367/.577 with 172 home runs and 579 RBIs.  He was also in the top 10 in MVP voting in 4 of those 5 years to go along with 2 All Star selections.  Galarraga left via free agency for Atlanta following the 1997 season.

Todd Helton (1997-present)
After Galarraga bolted to the Braves, a spot was opened at first base.  That spot remains filled to this day.  Following his rookie season in which he mostly played in the outfield, Helton has been THE Rockie at first base.  In his 15 seasons in Colorado, Helton has put up a line of .323/.421/.550 with 347 homers and 1,308 RBIs.  He was narrowly defeated by Kerry Wood in the 1998 ROY vote and had the 2000 NL MVP stolen from him by an unnamed second baseman in SF.  Helton has also won three Gold Gloves and appeared in 5 All Star games.

Jason Giambi (2009-present)
Giambi joined the Rockies midway through the 2009 season and has been a very valuable pinch hitter and veteran clubhouse leader.  Of course the elephant in the room is his alleged steroid usage, but since all that occurred prior to his days in Colorado, it doesn't matter here.  In his 2 1/2 seasons in Colorado he has a line of .254/.375/.492 with 21 homers and 78 RBIs.  Defensively he is now a liability, which is why he is mostly a bench player near the end of his career.

Honorable Mention:  none (there weren't any more other than a couple of Sept. call ups)

There will be a poll which I will only have running until Saturday at 4PM Eastern time.  I need the time to get the results posted on Saturdays and the new position started on Sundays.  I figured first base would be the best time to have a short poll because it is obvious who is going to win.  The toughest about this position for me was which Todd Helton card should I use for the picture.  The biggest problem is at any other position Andres Galarraga would at the very least be in the discussion for the best ever, but here he is obviously a distant second.  I still welcome your votes and comments.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rock Stars - Catcher Results

Before we move on to first base and its obvious answer, let's track the voting for the competitive position of catcher.

Your votes:
Joe Girardi - 6 votes = 4 points
Chris Iannetta - 5 votes = 3 points
Charles Johnson - 4 votes = 2 points
Brent Mayne - 1 vote = .5 points
Jeff Reed - 1 vote = .5 points

Chris Iannetta - 7.1 WAR  =  4 points
Jeff Reed - 4.1 WAR  =  3 points
Charles Johnson - 2.0 WAR  = 2 points
Brent Mayne - 1.5 WAR  = 1 point
Joe Girardi - 1.1 WAR  = 0 points

My vote:
Jeff Reed = 4 points
Chris Iannetta = 3 points
Brent Mayne = 2 points
Joe Girardi = 1 point
Charles Johnson = 0 points

Total Score:
Chris Iannetta = 10 points
Jeff Reed = 7.5 points
Joe Girardi = 5 points
Charles Johnson = 4 points
Brent Mayne = 3.5 points

The Rock Star catcher is Chris Iannetta.
First of all, I would thank you guys for the 17 total votes, a record for my site on any poll.  It makes the process worth it.  Secondly, I am ready for five years down the line when hopefully Wilin Rosario has eclipsed Iannetta for the top spot on this list.  Iannetta is a good player and was a very good Rockie, but he also is the main reason I do not judge OBP as a great factor in a good player.  He has a career OBP of .357 (which looks good), but a career batting average of.235 (which doesn't).  On the surface, getting on base 35% of the time is a good thing, but you have to factor in that due to his low average he batted 8th a lot.  This meant pitchers often pitched around him to get to the pitcher's spot.  Unfortunately, I think this will be exposed in the AL with Angels.  But it doesn't matter if I am right or wrong, because according to all the numbers, Chris Iannetta is the best catcher in Colorado Rockies history.

I'll be back a little later with the foregone conclusion that is first base.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo

Let me start off by stating that I LOVE playing with the English language.  It is one of the reason why I decided to start blogging in the first place.  The title of this post refers to a grammatically correct sentence created by a college professor from the University of Buffalo.  It uses the three meanings of the word buffalo to state that bison from upstate New York bully different bison from upstate New York who in turn do the same thing for infinity.  You may be asking yourself  'What the hell does this have to do with baseball cards?' right now.  With that I will answer, see a psychiatrist you shouldn't be talking to your computer screen.

Actually, this does have something to do with baseball cards and my blog specifically.  I wanted to use a neat little story to introduce my most wanted list, The Quarry Quarry.  The Quarry (me) Quarry (an abundant need) shows the list of my 10 most wanted cards.  I added the list a couple of weeks ago with no fanfare and no real idea of introducing it, but I figured why not use the English language that inspired the title to introduce it.

The 10 cards on the list feature one of the needed cards for my "One of Every Rockie" collection.  Unlike most card needs lists, the actual card listed is just a suggestion.  It is one specific card for the player in question, but I need ANY card of that player listed as a Rockie.  For example, if you don't have the 2003 Fleer Tradition Gary Bennett, but you do have a 2003 Topps Gary Bennett, I need that too and it will work.  I have already tracked down 2 Quarries, Mark Ellis and Butch Huskey, and I will be keeping a tally at the bottom of the list until I get my collection complete.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mountains to Climb in 2012

I had a very successful 2011 with regards to my card collecting endeavors.  As I recently showed, I hit nearly every one of my Mountains to Climb in 2011.  The great thing about a new year (yeah I am a little early) is I get set some new goals for the upcoming future.  I never really have been much of a written goal setter in life, but I find myself really attracted to the process with cards.  I am going to try and set at least one goal for every section of my collection.


1. Complete the Rockies team set in every flagship Topps set (1993-2012).
This is going to be my biggest goal this year.  If I want to consider myself a team collector, I MUST have a complete Topps team set for all 20 sets that have featured Rockies. 

Perceived toughness - 2/10   Perceived cost - 1/10

2. Have 100 cards of 15 different Rockies players.
This one should prove do-able.  Currently, I have over 100 Rockies cards of three different players and my #15 guy is at 39.  It will not be guaranteed easy, but it should be completeable.

Perceived toughness - 6/10   Perceived cost - 5/10

3. Successfully complete a full rainbow with one of my 1/1s.
I have three 1/1 cards (1 Ubaldo Jimenez, 1 Brian Fuentes, 1 Christian Friedrich) for the Rockies which fall into a rainbow collection.  I want at least one of these rainbows completed by 2013, but it won't be easy because the easiest of the three still require tracking down a card #'d to 25.

Perceived toughness - 7/10   Perceived cost - 6/10

4. Start player collections for Rockies managers: Don Baylor, Jim Leyland, Buddy Bell, Clint Hurdle, Jim Tracy

I really wanted to get an under-appreciated player collection or two started and I kicked around several names including Dave Parker, Mark McLemore, Sal Fasano, and Ramon Ortiz.  While I may do that in the future, for 2012 I am going to work on former (and hopefully soon to be former) Rockies managers in their playing careers.  Obviously some of these (Baylor, Bell) will be bigger than others (Leyland with just 3 minor league cards).  I may put their managers and/or coaches cards in with them as well, but I am not real sure yet.

Perceived toughness - 2/10   Perceived cost - 1/10


5. Start and get to (at least) 75% complete of 1974 Topps set.
I really wanted to begin a 1970s set this year.  My first two choices were 1977 and 1973.  These were chosen by Night Owl and Crinkly Wrappers respectively (trade with them, they are great guys).  While I could still collect them since they did make more than one set, I figured I would blaze my own trail with another of my favorites.  I currently own 2 (yes 2) cards from the set, Willie Stargell and Bill Russell, so this will be quite a challenge.

Perceived toughness - 8/10   Perceived cost - 8/10

6. Complete Rookie Cup collection from 1980-2012.
I was debating this goal and whether to include the entire run or a partial.  I went partial because I don't think I will be able to fully complete the whole run with all the other goals on this list.  I decided to make it 1980-present mainly because of the Ozzie Smith I still need to track down in 1979.  This should prove no problem, but there could be a few tricky ones in there as well.

Perceived toughness - 4/10   Perceived cost - 2/10

7. Get Tony Delk collection to over 150 cards.
After getting my Jamal Mashburn collection over 500 in 2011, I wanted to bump up another of my Kentucky players as well.  Tony Delk is probably my second favorite former Wildcat after Mash.  I am currently sitting at 126 out of a possible 298 that I know of.  150 will give me a nice 50% and could be accomplished.

Perceived toughness - 2/10   Perceived cost - 1/10

8. Finish the following sets: 1984 Topps, 1986 Fleer, 1987 Donruss, 1988 Fleer, 1989 Donruss, 1991 Donruss, 1992 Donruss, 1992 Score, 2005 Topps Rookie Cup base set, 2008 Topps Heritage
The only major blemish on my 2011 Mountains to Climb was my set collecting.  As I looked back at the goal, I realized I wasn't very specific also which made for a bit of a struggle when checking to see if I made my goal.  These are the 10 sets which I am fairly close to finishing and want lists will be listed in the right sidebar soon.

Perceived toughness - 5/10   Perceived cost - 3/10


9. Get to 500 total posts by the end of the year.
I really intend to maintain an active presence throughout the year, so barring unforeseen circumstances, this won't be a problem.  Nonetheless, I still want it written down because sometimes I might need that little nudge when I am getting a bit lethargic with my writing.

Perceived toughness - 1/10   Perceived cost - 0/10

10. Hold 4 group breaks throughout the year.
One of my favorite blog activities last year was holding less expensive, older group breaks.  I pulled some really great cards for some people (Hey Potch) and was able to knock out some needs of my own.  I want to do this again if I can get enough support from you guys, which shouldn't be a huge problem. 

Perceived toughness - 2/10   Perceived cost - 1/10

Will 2012 prove to be as big of a success card-wise for me as 2011?  I hope so, but I also think these goal are a little bit tougher than 2011's as well, especially since one of them was to have fun.  Even if I can only hit a few of these, I guarantee you I will have a ball doing it.

Rockies Sign Free Agent Casey Blake...Now there are Four Current Rockies Older than Me

The Rockies finally remembered that there are bases in the infield that need to be covered by signing veteran free agent third baseman Casey Blake.  Blake was signed to a one year deal that could be worth $3 million dollars.  The contract is non-guaranteed.  Blake is a former Dodger (among other teams) and had really good years in 2009 and 2010.  He should step in as, at the very least, a competitor for the starting third base job. 

MY THOUGHTS:  This is basically akin to trading Mark Ellis for Casey Blake since LA signed Ellis earlier in the offseason.  I like this move a lot, because firstly since the contract is non-guaranteed if Blake can't hack it, it's not an albatross for the year like Ty Wigginton last year.  Second and more importantly, Blake is precisely the type of third baseman Colorado needed to find.  He's older, has produced in the past, and can be easily discarded should Nolan Arenado tear up big league pitching in Spring Training.  This will probably also finally put the Martin Prado / Seth Smith rumors to rest, unless the Rockies plan on trying to trade or release some combo of Young, Nelson, Herrera, LeMahieu to make room for him at second.  I am very happy this morning that the 2012 team is starting to take shape.

BTW:  Don't forget to vote at the top of the right sidebar for the catcher for the Rock Stars team if you haven't already.  Thanx for reading.

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Mountains to Climb - A Review

One thing I simultaneously love and hate about the month of December is the abundance of retrospectives from the prior 11 months.  I do love looking back and taking stock of how things went, but sometimes it does get a bit much.  I have proven that myself in the past week with my entry in the Blog Bat Around regarding the best of 2011 in cards.  This December offers me a chance to actually score myself on my hobby.  When I started this blog way back in January of this year, I set a list of goals or Mountains to Climb this year.  Now is the time to look back and see how I did or score my hobby.

1. Get one card of every Rockie in a Rockie uniform.
This is one of those unreachable goals, because of the abundance of players that never had a Rockies card made.   Of the 412 players that had played in a Rockies game, I now have a Rockies card of 229 of them.  Since I made my goal 28 new players joined the club and I already have 14 of them, so I currently have 243 out of 440 Rockies.  Currently, the maximum I can get is 302, so with that number in mind I have 80% of the Rockies currently available.

Score: 8/10

2. Finish off twelve of my partial sets this year.
This is probably going to be my weakest score because I didn't really work that hard on sets this year with a couple of exceptions.  Since the goal was for partial sets, I won't count any sets starting with 2011 obviously.  I finished 1990 Topps, 1993 Topps, 1988 Donruss.  That's about it.  So I finished three, although I did get a lot closer with a few others.

Score: 3/10

3. Complete 50 trades with fellow bloggers / readers.
This is my favorite part of blogging.  I honestly stopped counting around the time of my break in August, but I had already passed 50 at that point.  If I were to estimate I would guess the number is close to 100 if not over.  You guys are great.

Score: 10/10

4. Organize a Rookie Cup card collection from my vast doubles.
Done and done.  I am so glad I completed this one because this was my primary use for the Diamond Giveaway site.  I was not collecting any older sets and my team started in 1993 so I needed to find something to collect with all the codes I received this year.  The Rookie Cups worked very well.  In fact it worked so well that I could conceivably finish this collection in 2012.

Score: 10/10

5. Have 200 posts on this blog.
I was rolling toward doubling this goal in midsummer while I was hosting group breaks, but then came my fall disappearance and it looked like I was going to fall short.  Then, earlier this month I posted about a minor trade the Rockies made and at the time I didn't even realize it was #200.  I am thrilled I made it and maybe next year even more.

Score: 10/10

6. Get enough supplies for organization.
This goal is a little difficult to quantify, but I think I will try.  I purchased a case (12) of albums and a case (1000) of pages in summer.  Then in September/October, I actually had a lot of time to kill so I got myself organized.  Most of my Rockies are bindered up and all are organized as I explained here.  I still need to organize my trade stuff ao not a perfect score, but I think this was a passing grade.

Score: 8/10

7. Start and finish the 2011 Topps Heritage set.
This is the goal that I am proudest of.  There are a lot of great bloggers out there that still have wantlists for this set, which really drives home the point to me of how difficult a Heritage set is to completeI worked very hard on this set and actually completed in way back in late May.  I couldn't have done it without you guys, well I could've but it would have been a helluva lot more expensive.  Thanx loads.

Score: 10/10

8. Get my Jamal Mashburn collection over 500.
When I first got back into collecting in 2006, baseball was not on the top of my list.  Honestly, it wasn't even on the list.  My reason for getting back into cards was to collect NBA cards of former Kentucky basketball playersI have a pretty big collection of every former Wildcat star from the Joe B. Hall / Eddie Sutton / Rick Pitino era at UK ranging from Sam Bowie and Rex Chapman through Tayshaun Prince and Rajon Rondo.  My biggest single player collection is by far Jamal Mashburn.  My collection now sits at 502, goal achieved.

Score: 10/10

9. Find and work on a set I like from 1996-2005.
This goal was one of the harder ones.  Like I said earlier I stepped back a bit from set collecting and focused on my Rockies.  I did find one set that I thought would be an interesting long-term collecting project in this box break from May.  Yes, I think the 2005 Topps Rookie Cup master set would be a very difficult project to undertake, but if I wanted easy I would buy a 1999 factory set and be done with it.  I want a challenge.  Aside from that one box, I didn't work any more on this set, so I will score myself accordingly.

Score: 6/10 (since I got 60%+ of the base set complete)

10. Continue having fun with this great hobby.
As great as it is to complete goals, if collecting cards wasn't a fun thing to do I don't think any of us would be doing this.  Even when I stepped away from the blog I continued with my collection and reading everyone else's blogs.  After having tried my hand at several "adult" hobbies (not dirty, just things adults are supposed to interested in), I was dying a slow death from boredomI decided to come back to my "kid's" hobby and I am thrilled and I don't care whether anyone thinks I am too old for it or what have you.  This is MY hobby (well OUR hobby) and WE LOVE IT!

Score: 10/10

Final Thoughts
I actually did much better with this project that I ever thought I would.  Finishing Heritage turned out to be much easier than I thought in January since there was no High Numbers this year, but it was still hard.   The only one I really didn't complete proved to not be that important to me this year.  It would still be nice to finish off 87 Donruss and a few others, but as long as I have my Rockies collection going strong I am a happy camper.

Final Score:  85/100
Happiness galore.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rock Stars - Catcher

Last week I told you guys about this new feature, so I won't bore you with repeating myself over and over and over and over again.  Okay, so maybe I will repeat myself a little.  This week is going to be difficult because it will cover arguably one of the weaker positions in the history of the Rockies, catcher.  I whittled down every catcher in Rockies history, from the first (Joe Girardi) through the many failed prospects (Ben Petrick, J.D. Closser) to the most recent (Wilin Rosario), down to a top 5.  Although some of these guys had far more successful careers in other locations, only their time in purple should be considered for Rock Star purposes.  Here are my top five catchers in chronological order.

Joe Girardi (1993-95)
He is mainly known for his managing prowess today, but Girardi was selected by the Rox from the Cubs in the 1993 expansion draft.  Joe Girardi was the the starting catcher in the first Rockies game and served as the main catcher for his three years in Denver.  Girardi had a line of .274/.323/.371 with 15 home runs and 120 RBIs for the Rockies.  Defensively, Joe threw out 30.6% of stolen base attempts, but also had 21 errors in his 304 games.  After the 1995 season, Girardi was traded to the Yankees for useful reliever Mike DeJean.

Jeff Reed (1996-99)
Reed may be considered somewhat of a surprise choice as one of the top catchers in Rockies history because in his four year tour he never served as the Opening Day starter for the Rockies.  However, in each of those four years he ended the year as the most effective catcher on the roster.  Reed had a line of .286/.373/.456 with 36 home runs and 134 RBIs in his 3 1/2 years with the team.  Behind the plate, Reed also threw out 30.6% of baserunners and had 27 errors in 365 games.  Reed was surprisingly released midway through the 1999 season while at the top of the catching depth chart.

Brent Mayne (2000-01)
Veteran catcher Brent Mayne, a former #1 pick of the Royals, was brought in as a free agent in 2000 to bring a bit of stability back to catcher following the tumultuous 1999 season.  The move was fairly successful, but very short-lived.  Mayne was only in Colorado for a season and a half, but in that time posted a pretty good line of .311/.382/.404 with 6 homers and 84 RBIs.  Defensively, he was also very good throwing out 32.4% of baserunners with only 7 errors in 166 games.  He was also the winning pitcher in a 12 inning game vs. the Braves for a career record of 1-0.  In one of the worst trades in Colorado history, Mayne was traded to Kansas City midway through the 2001 season for Mac Suzuki and Sal Fasano (who I must start a player collection for). 

Charles Johnson (2003-04)
Along with Preston Wilson, Charles Johnson was part of the Marlins trade package for expensive disappointment Mike Hampton and Juan Pierre.  Although he was past his prime, Johnson still had two fairly good seasons in Denver with a line of .233/.334/.443 with 33 homers and 108 RBIs.  Despite his four prior Gold Gloves, defensively Johnson was not that great with a 29.7% caught stealing rate and 11 errors in 217 games.  Just before Opening Day 2005, he was traded along with future Brewer Chris Narveson to Boston for Byung-Hyun Kim.

Chris Iannetta (2006-11)
Chris Iannetta was drafted in 4th round of the 2004 draft and is the only original Colorado draftee on this list.  Iannetta rocketed through the minors and joined the big league club in 2006 for a total of six seasons (three as the primary starter).  Offense was a big part of Iannetta's game with his line of .235/.357/.430 to go along with 63 HRs and 236 RBIs.  Iannetta's defense was lacking a bit, throwing out just 25.2% of base stealers, although he only had 14 errors in 458 games.  Chris was traded to the Angels this offseason for pitching prospect Tyler Chatwood.  Time will tell whether that trade is better than the Mayne trade (but it would be hard to be worse).

"Honorable" Mention: Kirt Manwaring, Jayhawk Owens, Ben Petrick

For one week, there will be a poll on the right hand sidebar for you to vote on the catcher for the Rock Star Team.  Once again, the voting will be 1/3 overall WAR, 1/3 reader vote, and 1/3 my choice.  I hope you guys vote in droves because I am enjoying writing this particular feature.  Next week I will discuss the most anticlimactic position of first base.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Blog Bat Around: The Best and Worst of 2011 in Cards

I guess it is my turn at the plate.  Since I am a relatively new acquisition, this will be my first plate appearance in a Blog Bat Around.  2011 was a rough year for me personally, but it will always be the year that I published my first ever blog.  I really enjoy writing about something as simple and fun as baseball cards.  Nowadays I am a team collector, but I will delve into my full set collecting past to answer the bat around question posed by future American-Japanese Ryan G.

The 2011 baseball card collecting season is finally over -- other than Bowman Sterling. What set or release stands out as your favorite from the year? What set or release brings your lunch back up in your throat?

2011 had many ups and downs as far as card releases go.  Some sets that people didn't like, I loved and some that the majority loved, I could do without.  I have always believed that you should start with the bad news so that the good news lifts you back up.  With that let's take a look at what I thought were the weakest offering of the 2011 baseball card season.

5. 2011 Topps Allen and Ginter base set

This will probably be my most controversial pick, but the cards above are precisely why I do not like Allen and Ginter.  I don't want these guys in a baseball card set, actually these three are not the biggest problem because they are at least sports-related.  The biggest problem for me is cards of people like the Iron Chef winner, Guy Fieri, and the weird looking moose guy.  Sure some people love this set with it's colorful gas cloud behind the picture, but it's doesn't work for me.

4. 2011 Topps Heritage Minors

As you will soon read, I love 2011 Heritage.  The biggest problem is that instead of an additional "High Number Series" or "Update" showing additional major league players, we get minor league prospects.  This isn't Bowman Heritage, it's Topps Heritage.  I was disgusted when I first learned that this would be the fall offering for Heritage instead of High Numbers.  Then I saw the cards and it was even worse with the over-tinted #'d parallels and no mention of major league affiliations.  Again some may have loved it, but not me.

3. Cognac and Hope Diamond Update parallels of Series 1 & 2

This is a BAD precedent to set.  Including in a new set parallels to an older set.  What is stopping Topps from giving us liquorfractors of 2008 Topps in the 2012 Series 1?  The cards look pretty cool, but I just don't like this practice.

2. 2011 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions

This is another set that has spring up on a couple of others "best of" lists.  I think it is HORRIBLE.  The Bill Walton at the piano card is my nominee for worst card of the year.  I always liked Mike Schmidt, but I didn't need a card of him looking like George's father from Seinfeld.  And Grant Hill shows off the millions of dollars
he made as an NBA superstar by purchasing a hoodie from Wal Mart for $3.99.  I am sorry if you like this set, but to me it is garbage.

1. 2011 Topps History of Topps insert set

2011 Topps Series 1 had SO many insert sets, but this one was by far the worst of the bunch that included one set that was an exact copy of a 2010 insert set.  I almost made this a dual #1 including the 60 years of Topps insert set, but then I realized this particular set deserved to stand alone at the bottom.  I am as big a history fan as just about anyone, but did we need a card that showed when Topps had an IPO?  Or when it moved across town (I thought Brooklyn was in NYC)?  Or the day a rich guy bought stock in the company?  Some of the cards weren't as bad, such as the first Topps Traded set or standardizing the size, but they weren't nearly good enough to save this from being the garbage set of the year.

Now that I have given many of you reasons to comment about how I know nothing about what a good set is.  Let's move on to what I loved about cards in 2011.

5. Cognac and Hope Diamond parallels of Update cards

After complaining a bit earlier, I would like to state that I do like these parallels when they are current.  Liquorfractors (kudos to Spankee for the best new card term of the year) and the Hope Diamonds (which need a cool nickname, how about icefractors) really added to this year's Update set.  I guess I am more excited about these because Colorado wasn't forgotten about in 2011 Update like in 2010 with their 4 cards.  Either way these had to be included on my "best of" list.

4. The Topps Diamond Giveaway

Sure it is basically a carbon copy of last year's Million Card Giveaway, but I missed the majority of that one.  I absolutely love this site, especially now that most of the bugs are out of the system.  I have yet to acquire any of the 3 Rockies DDCs, but I am still trying.  And the best part about this site is the major dent it put into my rookie cup collection.  Just think about it for a second, I (in effect) pulled out of a 2011 pack a 1960 Topps rookie card along with a lot of others.  Yeah I could have probably bought them from somewhere else for the price I paid to ship the cards from Topps, but where is the fun in that.  As of today I have completed 296 trades on the site with hopefully more to come.  I hope the Golden Giveaway is as much fun.

3. 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen 

I was initially read to hate Gypsy Queen, because as you read earlier I am not usually a fan of retro sets in general.  I was VERY pleasantly surprised by this offering.  The cards themselves look great with the stylish arched window design and the framed parallels (both bronze and green) are gorgeous.  I even liked the minis which is something I am not usually a fan of.  The most surprising great looking thing about this set is the printing plates.  Most of the time they are just a piece of metal that you vaguely recognize as that particular card.  Here they were framed with the color of the ink and looked really great.  I will show off my GQ plates once I get an operating scanner.  The ONLY reason this set isn't higher is because there were exactly 0 Rockies in the inserts, relics, and autographs.  That shouldn't happen to ANY team, let alone mine.

2. 2011 Topps Opening Day set

Most of the time I considered Opening Day to be at best redundant and at worst garbage.  This year's Opening Day set I consider superior to the flagship set.  The base set looked better without the foil and the blue parallels looked much better than the gold, black, or bedazzled parallels in the flagship.  However, the best part of Opening Day was the insert sets.  There was not one single insert set i the flagship that I liked, conversely there was not one insert set in Opening Day that I didn't LOVE.  From the glow-in-the-dark Stadium Lights set to a political insert that made sense in Presidential First Pitches to something for the kid in all of us like the Mascots, OD was just a thing of beauty this year.  Any other year and this set would have occupied the #1 spot.

1. 2011 Topps Heritage set

I had been looking forward to this set ever since I rejoined the hobby in 2006.  Was it perfect?  No, some of the head shot photography was not great and the overused gimmickry is getting old, but this set is still absolutely my favorite set that starts with 20--.  What added to the greatness was I did not like the previous two years of Heritage, because I think 1960 and 1961 were two the worst designs Topps had back then.  I completed this set through great trades with the blogging community and spending probably too much money on eBay for short prints (which are also getting old).  The wood design is just as good now as is was in the 1962 set.  I am really forward to the next few years of Heritage because the years 1962-65 were probably the best four year run Topps ever had.

If you have you own blog, post a Bat Around it's fun and makes you evaluate your hobby.  If you don't, no worries, just comment below with what you think was the best and worst of 2011.  Also feel free to call me moron or a Philistine for not liking A&G.  It won't change my mind, but don't you feel better now.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rockies Sign Free Agent Michael Cuddyer...Spankee now has a reason to collect a Rockie

The Rockies signed longtime Minnesota Twins right fielder? third baseman? second baseman? utilityman? Michael Cuddyer to a 3 year/$31.5 million deal.  Cuddyer does give a much needed punch to a Rockies lineup that was severely lacking in 2011.  He hit 20 homers and drove in 70 in Minnesota and averaged nearly 20 homers/year in his his longtime Twins career. 

MY THOUGHTS:  While it is nice to see the Rockies make their first big free agent splash since the Hampton/Neagle debacle of 2001, there is a lot of questions surrounding this deal. 
First, the money.  The Twins had already replaced Cuddyer with Josh Willingham, so why did the Rockies increase their offer by nearly 5 million dollars from the reported original 3/27 mil deal?  Apparently this deal is why Huston Street was traded for peanuts.
Second, the position.  Where is he going to play?  He played right field the most last year, but Carlos Gonzalez is playing there.  CarGo could shift to left with a Cuddyer/Smith platoon in right with Cuddyer also playing third when Smith is in the outfield.  The problem there is Cuddyer isn't very good defensively at third (or second or the outfield for that matter) and do you really want to pay over $10 miliion per year for a platoon outfielder.  This seems to make a Seth Smith trade almost inevitable.  Maybe I am still burned by last year's "big" signee Ty Wigginton, but this feel like the same kind of deal.  I really hope I am wrong in my assessment, but I think Colorado might be paying someone to take Cuddyer off their hands in a year or two.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rockies 2007 World Series Team Down to 3 Players Remaining

How much has this offseason's roster turnover changed the face of the Rockies?  The headline says it all.  There are only three players remaining from the 2007 World Series team: Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, and Seth Smith.  That was only 4 years ago.  Of those three, Smith is possibly still to be traded this offseason as well.

The latest casualty is back up outfielder "extraordinaire" Ryan Spilborghs.  Spilly (along with Cole Garner) was unceremoniously non-tendered on Tuesday.  If you don't know what non-tendering means, don't feel bad because I didn't for the longest time.  Basically, it is akin to just flat out releasing an arbitration-eligible player without offering him a contract for the upcoming season.

I always liked Spilly, even though he always seemed to screw up every time I watched him in a game.  Something about him just makes you want to root for him.  There is still the possibility he would be brought back, but the crowded outfield is filled with CarGo, Fowler, Smith, Eric Young Jr., and newly acquired Tyler Colvin.  Not to mention prospects Charlie Blackmon and Tim Wheeler.  I hope Spilly moves on to an organization and thrives (except against the Rox of course).  He could fit in well as a platoon OF or maybe even a stopgap starter with a younger team (Astros?).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rock Stars by Position - Overview

With the stain on the game still fresh from yesterday's revelation about the "N.L. MVP," part of me didn't want to write about baseball today.  However, I decided today would actually be the perfect day to begin a new Quarry feature that will take us through the offseason and possibly beyond.  Every Sunday I will have a post dedicated to the best Rockies for each position in their history.  Sure there won't be as many choices as older teams like the Reds, Yankees and others, but you can't really compare stats of an outfielder in 1899 to an outfielder in 1999 (no matter what WAR says) because the game and training technology were so different. 

How am I going to judge?  I am going to take a play from the NFL and have a triumvirate of voting.  1/3 of the vote will be decided by WAR, no matter whether I like the stat or not it's not going away.  1/3 will be decided by my judgment because well it's my blog.  The final 1/3 will be decided by you the readers in a poll.  I figured once a week should give everyone that wants to vote time to vote.  The winner of the "balloting" will be joining the All-Rock Star Team.

I will begin next week with the choices for catcher.

What do you guys think?  Will this a good way to pass the time before the season starts?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

WOW! Ryan Braun tests positive for PEDs

What can you say about that?  This is big news for the card collecting world because Braun is collected by more than just team collectors.  I know of at least 4 guys that collect him hardcore.  Does this change your opinion of him? 

I wonder if he has to give back his MVP now.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ian Stewart Traded to the Cubs for (Surprisingly) More than a Bucket of Balls and a Potted Ivy

The Rockies continued their roster turnover by trading colossal 2011 disappointment Ian Stewart and former #1 pick Casey Weathers to the Cubs for colossal 2011 disappointment Tyler Colvin and former #2 pick D.J. LeMahieu.  Stewart, a first round pick in 2003, was interesting in Denver to say the least.  He hit 25 homers in 2009 and followed that with 18 in 2010 before his massive dropoff in 2011 to 0 home runs.  Weathers, a first round pick in 2007, sports a 96 MPH fastball that he basically has no control over (think Mitch Williams, but worse).

MY THOUGHTS:  This is a classic case of everyone involved needed a change of scenery.  Stewart was not in the future plans of the Rockies with Nolan Arenado possibly winning the 3B job this year and Weathers hasn't really been the same since he missed 2009 with Tommy John surgery.  Colvin had a bad year also hitting .150 and doesn't really seem like a fit with Rockies unless it is signaling another trade coming for Seth Smith.  The guy I am REALLY excited about is LeMahieu.  He could possibly win the starting 2B job and his numbers in the minors are pretty good.  He probably won't hit 20 home runs, but he could possibly be a .300 hitter in the big leagues.  This trade was originally proposed as a straight up Stewart for Colvin deal which I saw as a basic push, but with LeMahieu and Weathers added it shifts to a win for Colorado in my mind.

This almost makes up for the previous two trades this week.  If we can pry Jurrgens away for Smith, then I am a happy man.