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, March 31, 2012

Contest Winnings from the Baseball Dad Himself

Friend of the Quarry, Jack (better known as Baseball Dad) held a contest over at his blog All Tribe Baseball.  It was a guess the number of duplicates contest and surprisingly I was the closest.  I almost never win guessing games, but I got lucky this time.  My winnings for this contest was cards unsurprisingly.  Here is what I got for being a lucky guesser.

This card was the star of the package.  It is a dual purple relic of Larry Walker and Todd Helton from 2001 SPx Update.  It is actually the 2nd copy of this card that I have gotten from another blogger.  I got the same card from Dennis of Too Many Grandersons Verlanders over a year ago.  It's still good that this card came because that one had a couple of small creases near the swatches.  This one is aesthetically more beautiful.

Here is nice card of Charlie Hayes from the futuristically named set Sportflix 2000.  The set was put out in 1994, so it was futuristic back then anyway.  Ahh the days of being scared to death of the Y2K bug, don't you miss them?  The Howard Johnson is from 1994 Stadium Club Team Series and actually gives me an idea for a new feature which I will debut soon. 

Next up we have a pair of starters from the mid 90s.  Bret Saberhagen was one of the many chances the Rockies took on a formerly great starting pitcher that didn't really pay off.  In Saberhagen's case, injury was the main culprit rather than the pre-humidor Coors.  Thomson was a 7th round pick in the Rockies 2nd draft ever in 1993.  Tossing out 1999, Thomson was a very effective pitcher for the Rox and later on for several other teams. 

Up next is a pair of Vinny Castillas.  The first is from Donruss' attempt at cashing in on the Finest craze 1997 Donruss Preferred.  It may look like a bronze parallel, but it is actually a base card.  Each card in the base set was either bronze, silver, or gold depending on rarity (I think).  The second card I absolutely love.  It is a magazine pull out card from 1999 Sports Illustrated for Kids.  This is one of those cards that I would have never gotten because I didn't know about it. 

We couldn't have my card winnings without a Todd Helton.  It is a 2002 Upper Deck Diamond Connection base card which (sort of) finishes the team set for me.  I still need several SPs and jerseys which were numbered along with the base cards.  The middle card is a 2002 Donruss Fan Club Mike Hampton from a subset called Fan Club Favorites.  The only fan clubs that Mike Hampton was a favorite of were Rockie opponents.  The final card is from 2003 Donruss Estrellas and is of Lanzador (pitcher) Jason Jennings.  Counting the unopened pack which garnered me two Rockies, Jack has now sent me 75% of this team set.

My favorite item from this package isn't even a card.  It is a foldout schedule of the 2004 Rockies.  Granted that was not a particularly good season for Todd and the Todd-lers, but it is still a great new part of my Rockies collection.  What a beautiful photo.

Thanks a lot Jack.  As always, I will keep my eye out for any Indians that you might like.  Unfortunately, the Indians (along with the Twins and Cubs) just never seem to find their way into packs I open.  Oh well, at least I know I'll have a great place to send them should I ever get any.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Best Topps Set Countdown #'s 55-51

I got several comments from you guys in part 1 of this countdown.  Most of the comments were regarding the "Why isn't set x in your bottom five?"  I will respond to that with, there are 61 total sets and there are some that people hate that can't be in everyone's bottom five.  My age has a little to do with my slight bias here as well.  A lot of you would be putting some of the overproduction era sets at the bottom of your lists and that's fine, but they were the current sets when I started collecting so I have a little bit of a bias to some of them.  I tried to be somewhat objective with this, but pure objectivity is just an utter myth anyway.  No matter how hard you try, you cannot completely be objective about anything, especially something you love.  Okay, that's enough with the quoting of my anthropology professors.  Let's move on with the next five in the countdown.

#55 1957

PLUSES - First modern sized Topps card set.  Generally good photography.  I like the card number inside the baseball.  Stats are easy to read with the blue on white.

MINUSES -Very boring design (or lack thereof).  The Yellow/white color combo shown above isn't too bad, but the blue/red combo is horrible. 

#54 1969

PLUSES - I like the name/position bubble on the front.  It gives the needed info without impeding the photo.  I also like the nice use of the Topps logo with the card number inside the "T cradle."

MINUSES - Most photos were the exact same as the 1968 set.  The front design is too similar to the 1967 set.  The color of the back leaves a lot to be desired.  Overall, the set just looks like it was phoned in.

#53 1979

PLUSES - Nice large photos without much interference.  The Baseball Dates was a nice idea for the card back.  This is the only set with the old-school Topps logo on the front. (not so much a plus, just a factoid)

MINUSES - Like many 70s sets, coloration is not team-colored and clashes in most cases.  I don't like the ribbon team name plate.  The team name is larger than the player name which is a bit odd.  The green back is sort of hard to read.

#52 1998

PLUSES - I like the team colored name plate on the front.  Generally a nice look to the front of the card.

MINUSES - The team name is way too small on the front and make it difficult to read.  The back of the card is horrible.  Small, badly-placed card number.  The coloration of the name makes it hard to read.  The photo causes the stats to be squished. 

#51 1976

PLUSES - All needed info is on the front and is located well.  The generic player is kind of kitschy and works with this set.  The best part of the set is the card number being located on the bat/ball combination.

MINUSES -  When the best part of a card is the card number, it is usually not a good thing.  The photography is generally boring (the shown card is the rare exception).  70s coloration strikes again.  Stats are extremely hard to read with the brown on green color palette.  Overall just a boring set.

There's the next five in the countdown.  I originally had the 1957 set several spots lower, but I didn't get the 57s to scan until this past Wednesday so I bumped it up a little bit.  On a redo, I would put it at #58.  

Other than 1990 and 1994, what are other sets did you expect to see by now?  Are you surprised at any of my choices for bottom 11? 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The 2nd Annual Quarry MLB Season Predictions

It's that time of year again.  The time when fans of every team (well except Houston, sorry Sam) feels their team has a chance to win the World Series.  It's also the time of the year when idiots in the media put on their prognostication caps and tell us what is going to happen before it happens.  I guess technically since I have been publishing this blog, I am an idiot in the media.  So, let's get started with what I think will happen with the baseball season.

NL East - predicted
1. Philadelphia
2. Miami (WC1)
3. Atlanta (WC2)
4. Washington
5. New York

I think this will be a very tough division for Philly to win especially without Ryan Howard, but ultimately I think they will be a little bit stronger than the rest of the division.  I am also picking both wild cards to come out of this division.  Does anyone know if the wild card winner still won't be able to play their division winner now?  It won't matter if the WCs are from the same division, but if they are different which should happen most of the time it may get a bit trickier. 

NL Central - predicted
1. St. Louis
2. Cincinnati
3. Pittsburgh
4. Milwaukee
5. Chicago
6. Houston

This division is hard to pick for the exact opposite reason as the East.  To me, every team has major flaws.  I went with the Cardinals to repeat without Pujols just because of the Reds losing their closer for the year.  I could see first place in this division with 84 wins, so maybe Pittsburgh could put it all together this year.  I think the Astros will be better than last year, but still may get the #1 pick (I think #3 though) two years in a row.

NL West - predicted
1. Colorado
2. Arizona
3. San Francisco
4. Los Angeles
5. San Diego

Here is my home division.  Every year since 1992 that the NCAA bracket was put out and Kentucky was higher than a 6 seed, I picked them to win it all.  I pick my favorite and then fill in the blanks with the rest.  I have always picked baseball the same way, primarily because I don't want to root against my team.  I will pick the Rockies to win the West every single year whether it makes sense or not for that reason.  This year it might not be THAT farfetched though.  Much like the Central there is no runaway great team in the West, because each of the five teams have flaws.  If the division ended up with San Diego winning and Colorado in 5th, it wouldn't be that surprising and vice versa because all 5 teams are fairly close.

NL AWARD WINNERS - predicted
MVP - Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
Cy Young - Cole Hamels, Philadelphia
ROY - Drew Pomeranz, Colorado
Comeback Player - Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Biggest Disappointment (tie) - Gio Gonzalez, Washington; Trevor Cahill, Arizona

I was close to picking Tulo for MVP and I do think he will win at least one before it's over with, but McCutchen is the biggest star in Pittsburgh since Bonds and Bonilla.  I picked Hamels last year also, and since he was the closest I got to getting one right, I figured I would try again.  Rookie of the Year is always the toughest award to predict because you never know how potential will translate to the majors.  I picked Pomeranz, but Yonder Alonso in San Diego and Anthony Rizzo in Chicago could win as well.  If Wainwright pitches all year injury-free he is practically guaranteed the Comeback Player of the Year award.  Former Oakland pitchers seldom show it elsewhere.  Only Tim Hudson has done anything since leaving the pitcher's Mecca.  I think both big trade acquisitions will be big disappointments particularly Gonzalez.

AL East - predicted
1. Tampa Bay
2. Toronto
3. New York
4. Boston
5. Baltimore

This is probably the toughest division to pick because of the three usual powers plus a strong up-and-coming team in Toronto.  I think any of the top 3 could win the division, but Boston will probably have a bit of a fall off from last year, probably around 84 wins or so.  But in this stacked division 84 wins equals 4th place.  Tampa is my pick for best record in the league.  Baltimore in 5th is arguably the most confident pick I have from any division with maybe one exception.

AL Central - predicted
1. Detroit
2. Kansas City (WC2)
3. Minnesota
4. Cleveland
5. Chicago

This division should also prove to be a three horse race but Detroit is just too talented to not win this division.  The Royals might be a year away, but I said last year I would pick them this year and I am a man of my word (unfortunately that word is usually wrong).  Minnesota should have a nice bounce back year if Morneau and Mauer can stay healthy.  Cleveland is fairly unpredictable, but I don't see them with more than 72 wins or so.  The White Sox are in complete rebuild mode and should be very, very bad.  I think they will be the 2nd worst team in the majors an thus the #2 pick.

AL West - predicted
1. Los Angeles
2. Texas (WC1)
3. Seattle
4. Oakland

The Angels really spent the money, didn't they?  It should pay off, for now, with a division title but I think they will be very bad in five years.  I see the Rangers challenging all year before coming up a bit short in the end.  The bottom two teams I am fairly confident with.  Seattle is young and improving, but I think they are still a year or two away from seriously competing for the division title.  I mentioned the one exception earlier...this is it.  Oakland will be last in this division and have the worst record in the majors.  Heck, they already do have the worst record in the bigs at 0-1.  It's going to get much worse for the Moneyball team.

AL Award Winners - predicted
MVP - Albert Pujols, Los Angeles
Cy Young - David Price, Tampa Bay
ROY - Matt Moore, Tampa Bay
Comeback Player - Adam Dunn, Chicago
Biggest Disappointment - Bobby Valentine, Boston

Admittedly the Pujols pick is not really going out on a limb like with the NL, but I think he will win it.  David Price is due for a Cy Young and will probably win more than just one in his career.  There are a few good challengers in the AL for ROY including Yu Darvish, Jarrod Parker, and Jesus Montero.  But I'm going with the odds on favorite in Matt Moore.  After a historically awful season last year for Chicago, Dunn could hit .220/25/85 and still win this award in a walk.  Bobby Valentine is possibly one of the most overrated managers in the history of baseball and I don't see him lasting long in Boston.

Playoffs - predicted

Wild Card
Texas over KC
Atlanta over Miami

Division Round
Colorado over Atlanta
Philly over St. Louis
Tampa Bay over Texas
Detroit over LA

Championship Series
Philly over Colorado
Detroit over Tampa Bay

World Series
Detroit over Philly

WS MVP - Justin Verlander, Detroit

I think this is the year where it will not pay to be the wild cards.  The extra game will force WC teams to use their #1 starters in the one game playoff and they won't be ready for the DS.  I thought I was going to pick the Rockies to win it all, but even I don't think that will happen this year.  I do believe that this will be the year that the American League takes back the title whether it be the Tigers or whomever.  In a way, I kind of hope Detroit does win because that city needs a bit of a boost and there's no way in hell I will ever pick the Lions to win over my Bears.

Will I do as well as last year?  Much like Adam Dunn, it can't get much worse for me.  I picked Joe Mauer as MVP and he only hit 3 more home runs than me last year.  I am just excited that we finally get baseball back after a long winter lay off.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rockies Release Casey Blake...What the Dodgers Wouldn't Give Up Carlos Santana Again?

After a rough spring hitting just .150 for the Rockies, veteran third baseman Casey Blake was released today.  He was signed in the offseason as a potential stopgap to Nolan Arenado (who was sent down earlier this week to AA), but it just never clicked with the Rockies.  Third base will now be a battle between utilitymen Chris Nelson, Jonathan Herrera, Jordan Pacheco, and newcomers Brendan Harris and Brandon Wood.

MY THOUGHTS:  I am disappointed because I thought the Blake signing was one of the better free agent grabs of the offseason for the Rockies, but it was warranted.   Former first round pick Chris Nelson is probably the favorite to win the job, although there is some discussion of Michael Cuddyer moving to third with hot hitting Tyler Colvin getting the third outfield job next to Fowler and CarGo.  Both Pacheco and Herrera are both hitting well in Spring Training as well.  I hope Herrera doesn't win the job, because he hit lights out in 2011 Spring Training and won the 2B job, then promptly forgot how to hit once the season started.  I would really like to see Nelson get the job, because he has not really had a chance to prove himself at the major league level in a full time job.

Group Break Swag from Juuust A Bit Outside...

I got into my first (but not my last) group break over at Juuust a Bit Outside last month.  Kyle was busting 4 boxes: 2004 Fleer Platinum, 2007 SP Authentic, 2011 Bowman Platinum, and 2012 Topps Heritage.  As far as needed cards go, I struck out on 3 of the 4 boxes.  I got several cards from the 2004, 2007, and 2011 boxes, but I already had them.  You might think at this point that this break greatly disappointed me, but you would be VERY wrong.  This is arguably the best break (definitely top 2) that I have ever been in and all I got was 8 needed cards.  Let's take a look at what nearly made me change my pants.

 Let's start off with a pair of throw in cards which I did need.  I have a good chunk of the Rockies from 2008 Upper Deck Documentary, but I think I still need over half for the team set.  I've said it before that set was fantastic in theory, but not very good in practice.  The Tulo from 2008 Upper Deck Spectrum finished out the team set for me, so it was especially appreciated.  This is the type of set that I think Upper Deck did very well, a smaller set with multiple parallels.  Although, I do miss their 1000+ card base sets as well.

Let's start with the non-short print Rockies that I picked up.  I can't stand the Rookie Star cards, mainly because of the multiple uses of the same player.  I understand that they wanted to use the same amount of cards as 1963 for rookies, but the 1963 set was 576 cards while Heritage is only 500.  They could have cut some and still been fine.  But enough complaining (for now anyway).  Next up is the first Rockies card of Guillermo Moscoso who came from Oakland in the Seth Smith trade.  I have not been too impressed with Moscoso in Spring Training and this might end up being his only Rockies card ever, much like Jose Lopez in 2011 Heritage.

Now we'll go onto the SPs.  I actually got more short prints than regular cards in this break.  It helps that Rockies make up nearly 10% of the final 75 cards in this set with 6 total SPs.  I am really liking the backgrounds in each of these three cards, especially the Chacin.  Getting 3 of the 6 Rockie short prints out of one break would have made this break worthwhile, but Kyle was not done yet.







This is the image swap short print Troy Tulowitzki relic hand-numbered 02/63.  This is one of the best pulls I have ever gotten in a break!  I am not one that normally cares about certain serial numbers and such, but I do like that this is Tulo's uniform number as well.  This card might get buried with me one day (NOTE: future grave robbers...I am just kidding).  I was speechless when I saw this card and I think this is the best card that came from the break.  Considering an Albert Pujols autograph #'d to 100 came out of the 2004 box, that is some high praise indeed.

I didn't do as good in JABO's Break #5 (which I will be showing off as soon as it comes in), but I did get a decent #'d hit of my non-Rockies team choice.  Rhubarbrunner you will want to pay attention to that post.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Best Topps Set Countdown #'s 61-56

I have been doing this blog for over a year now and I haven't really said specifically what I like in a set, other than the Rockies of course.  As most of you know I was a card collector long before the Rockies even existed.  So, I am not completely biased and have a decent eye for sets.  This countdown is strictly my opinion only, although differing opinions are more than welcome in the comments section.  What I am going to do over the next several Fridays is countdown the flagship Topps sets from worst to best.  I'm sure some others have done this in the past, and they probably did it better, but an extra opinion never hurt anyone.  I have at least one original card from most of the Topps set (I think I am missing maybe 4 or 5, but I will try to get them before they come up) so I will be scanning my own cards for those of you that may have missed a set or two. 

Let's start the countdown.

#61 1999

PLUSES - There is not much good that I have to say about this set.

MINUSES - Where to begin?  Let's start with the completely unreadable names and team name on the front.  It's just horrible.  Some of the cards in the set had the back in the opposite position as well making sets look weird in pages.  If 1999 was my first year collecting Topps cards, it would have also been my last.

#60 2000

PLUSES - It's not a complete train wreck like 1999.  Team colored nameplates and the small logo on the bottom left are a nice touch.

MINUSES - Vertical backs always make a set unappealing to me.  Although it does look good in a binder, the card number is in the wrong location for box storage.  The silver border is just not appealing and bordering on ugly.  The foil appears hard to read on some of the cards. 

#59 1970

PLUSES - I like the script name on the front.  That is the main reason I have always liked Fleer Ultra as well.  The back coloration works well together and is fairly easy to read. 

MINUSES - The original silver/gray border still does not look appealing.  Most of the photography is somewhat lackluster.   Just boring overall.

#58 2010

PLUSES - Team colored backgrounds on both the front and back. 

MINUSES - Once again, hard to read foil names.  The wave sort of takes away from the photo, especially on the back.  This set is ranked this low primarily due to the treatment of the Rockies because the name logo is absolutely horrible on this set.

#57 2002

PLUSES - The ribbons with the logo and the name are sort of cool.  Both the number and text on the back are easily readable.

MINUSES - The god-awful color of the border (what is that orange? brown? rust?).  A lot of unnecessary material taking of too much space on the back.

#56 1996

PLUSES - Overall pretty good photography.  The logo on the front is always a plus with me.  I sort of like the little winged font on the player name on the back

MINUSES - Stats on the back are way too small.  The mashed head on the front has ALWAYS been a bad idea, even more so when it is the exact same photo.  The back is way too busy with all the different colors.

It sort of suck to start with the worst because there are so many negatives, but you do have build a little suspense for #1.  As you can see, the last half of the 90s and the first half of the 2000s weren't good and the other years in that area should be showing up in short order.  Next week #'s 55-51.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Group Break Swag from the Dimwit (March Edition)

One of the two breaks that I try to get in every month is with Sam of The Daily Dimwit.  Rarely does one of Sam's breaks go poorly for my Rockies.  Unfortunately, this was one of those rare occasions.  I only got 9 Rockies total and 4 of them were dupes.  Considering that with the sets involved, I only had maybe 8 total cards before the break...4 dupes ain't good.  You can't win them all and I did get 5 new cards of my Rockies.  Here are all nine cards for my Rockies.

These 3 were the highlight of the break for me Rockie-wise.  Sam actually decided to include this 2003 Playoff Portraits in this break because of a trade with me that included a relic from this set.  It really does look and feel very nice.  The cards are textured just like a canvas, you can actually feel the brushstrokes.  A very nice set.

Here we have from 2004 Upper Deck Diamond Collection Pro Sigs, the Rockies non-SP team set.  I didn't have the Walker, but I had the other two.  I still need several SPs and all the parallels from this set.

The other two boxes in this break were 2003 Topps 205 and 2003 Upper Deck Standing O.  Above is the Rockies entire haul from both boxes combined.  Ugh.  The even worse news is that the Jennings mini is the only card I needed.  The cherry on top is the Helton die cut is the only card from Standing O that I had before the break and it stayed that way.  So like I said, my Rockies did horrible.

However, with my second team, the Cubs, I did relatively well.  I picked them up in a trade with Ryan H of O No Another Orioles Blog for my randomized team, the Blue Jays.  I didn't get a "hit," but I did get some interesting cards and a couple of SPs.

The Ryne Sandberg from the Playoff Portraits box is probably my favorite card from the break.  It's absolutely dead on.  The middle card is one of those instances where it kind of sucks to be a fan of a team created within your lifetime.  It is a George "Peaches" Graham from the 2003 205 set.  Graham played half year for the Cubs in 1911 after being traded from the Boston Rustlers.  The Rustlers was one of the many former nicknames of the team now known as the Atlanta Braves.  I can't learn that much history from a team created in 1993, because I was there.  The Sammy Sosa is a silver signature parallel for the UDDCPS set.

Here is smattering of Cubs that I collected for one person in particular.  Jon from Community Gum is a big-time collector of both Kerry Wood and Greg Maddux and is one of my better trading buddies.  Jon if you read this, you have dibs on these six.

It wouldn't a 2003 set without an abundance of Mark "The Bird" Prior (yes I know that's not his nickname, but his career mirrored Fidrych).  I ended up with both the base Prior with the modern logo and the SP with a what looks like roadkill logo.  The Sosa is just a base mini, but doesn't he look douchey with the shades tilted on his hat.

I'll end this with a trio of SP rookies.  In the early 2000s, many sets had short-printed rookies.  If a player took off, like Pujols or Ichiro the card became worth a mint.  Most of the time you end up paying like $2 for someone you never heard of like these three.  Actually that's not true, I have heard of Todd Wellemeyer but you get the point. 

All of these Cubs (and many others I didn't show) are for trade, but like I said Jon has dibs on the Woods and Maddux. 

Thanks for the break, Sam, and I am looking forward to the Trade Bait Draft tomorrow night.