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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Best Donruss Set Countdown - #'s 24-21

Everybody is starting to get a look at the return of Donruss.  Will it be a long-lasting return like Bowman in 1989 or will it be a forgettable return like Fleer in 2006?  Who knows?  Right now I am skeptical of this being a long term return, but I am hopeful that Panini can bring Donruss back to glory.  Anyway, let's go ahead and start The Best Donruss Set Countdown with the bottom 4 sets of all time.  Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section.

24. 1996

PLUSES - To be honest with you, there is no such thing as a plus for this set.

MINUSES - The card number is in an odd location.  The photo on the back is very cumbersome and doesn't add that much to the overall package.  The worst thing is the platinum loin cloth on the front.  It is possibly the single worst design element ever added to a set by any company.

23. 1986

PLUSES - The front design really worked in 1986 when Max Headroom was all the rage.

MINUSES - It stopped working ever since Max Headroom has been all but forgotten which was around 1988.  The back of the card is upside down compared to all other Donruss sets of the time which really annoys me.
22. 1990

PLUSES - It is different which was a big plus at the time because Donruss was in a rut design-wise. 

MINUSES - The cursive writing is just too hard to read.  The odd paint splotches down the sides are quite ugly.  The red borders are okay, but just a bit too bright.
21. 1991

PLUSES - Green borders were a nice change of pace.  The logo-player name-position diagonal really looks good.

MINUSES - How many freaking colors are needed on the sidebars?  I have no clue what it is supposed to mean.  I really didn't like that Series 1 had blue borders and Series 2 had green borders.  It made them look like two different sets.

What do you think?  Did I grade a set a little too harshly?  Are there any sets that should have been in the bottom four instead?  Let me know.

Thanx for reading.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Complete Surprise from eBay

I wasn't planning on posting today since I am working on tomorrow's start to The Best Donruss Set Countdown, but I got a very strange package from eBay.  Let me start with the details of the purchase.  bought 2 serial numbered rookie cards from the 2004 Upper Deck Play Ball set for 75 cents shipped.  For this purchase, I fully expected to find the two cards in a PWE in a single or maybe two penny sleeves.  In other words, you get what you pay for in shipping.  What I actually got for that 75 cents amazed me.

First the cards arrived via UPS Ground in a bubble mailer.  Second, they were in sleeves, but not penny sleeves.  They were in those cool Ultra Pro sleeves with the black rubberized back.

So far here is what I got.

A couple of nice cards worth right around the 75 cents that I spent.  But that was not all that was included in the package.  I also got two unopened packs and one was just fantastic.

Take a guess which one was fantastic.  You are probably wrong, because the 1988 Fleer was miles better than the 2013 Series 2 pack.

Don't get me wrong, the 2013 pack was okay.  I got 4 needed cards including the David Freese above, which is always nice.

But the 1988 Fleer pack just blew it out of the water.  I got the two above cards in the pack.  The Gregg Jefferies card I will always be a fan of, because in 1988 he WAS Bryce Harper, Yasiel Puig, and Mike Trout all rolled into one.  At least in the card market he was.  This particular card was at one time going for around $5 each.  Remember that when you overpay for the next big thing.  And of course we all know what kind of monster Bo Jackson was in 1988.  BO KNOWS VALUE.  If that was all that was in the pack, then it was still a good day, but the following card made it wonderful.

This looks like an ordinary 1988 Fleer common.  There is just one problem...Jerry Browne was not a white guy.  This is what the normal 1988 Fleer Jerry Browne looks like.

That is actually the error card which shows Browne's teammate Bob Brower.  Here is Brower's 1988 Fleer card.

So it actually a pretty cool error card, but more importantly it is one of 3 error cards that I needed for my master 1988 Fleer set.  I could have bought this card several times on eBay for a couple of bucks, but I am glad I did not, because otherwise I wouldn't have got this cool story about it.  You just gotta love generous sellers.

Thanx for reading.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Trade Bait #03 - AL Serial Numbered Edition

As always if you see something you'd like to trade for, just leave a comment.

2009 Upper Deck/Icons Future Foundations Fausto Carmona - Indians   #'d 326/999

2006 Upper Deck Gold Rafael Betancourt - Indians  #'d 023/299

2010 Topps Gold Jose Valverde - Astros  #'d 0944/2010

Thanx for reading.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rating the Rookie Cups - 2010

This week we will be focusing on a relatively modern team, the 2009 team, which means I won't have career numbers for comparison.  There are four things about this team that stand out and none of them stand out in a good way.  The first is the short printing of rookie cup cards.  I consider the cards without cups, just as valid as the SPs, and I am not going to waste money to get the actual cup version.  If I, as a Rookie Cup collector, will not spend the money chasing them, then Topps should see it as a bad idea.  Secondly, it is the first appearance of a Photoshopped All Star Team member.  Chris Getz was traded after winning the award, so I am counting his appearance on the team as a member of the White Sox.  Thirdly, in my opinion it is the most poorly chosen Rookie All Star Team of all time, with only 2 out of 10 selections that I agree with, but I will get into that a little later.  Lastly, and most egregiously, is the first appearance of the "tin cup."  These silver cups are so bad that I didn't even include them on my header.  I would rather forget they existed at all.  Happily, Topps realized what a mistake these godawful cups were and discontinued their use after just one year.  Now that I completely whetted your appetite for mediocrity, I am confident we can delve into the mess that was the 2009 Topps Rookie All Star Team.

Omir Santos - New York (NL) - C -                 (Rookie)   4   (Career)  ?
Travis Ishikawa - San Francisco - 1B -              (Rookie)   3   (Career)  ?
Chris Getz - Chicago (AL) - 2B -                      (Rookie)   3   (Career)  ?

Gordon Beckham - Chicago (AL) - 3B -           (Rookie)   5   (Career) ?
Elvis Andrus - Texas - SS -                               (Rookie)   6   (Career)  ?

Chris Coghlan - Florida - OF -                           (Rookie)   4   (Career)  ?
Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh - OF -             (Rookie)   6   (Career)  ?
Nolan Reimold - Baltimore - OF -                      (Rookie)   5   (Career)  ?

Tommy Hanson - Atlanta - RHP -                   (Rookie)   5   (Career)  ?
J.A. Happ - Philadelphia - LHP -                    (Rookie)   6   (Career)  ?

Strongest Team Members (in 2009) - J.A. Happ, Elvis Andrus, Andrew McCutchen

Strongest Team Members (as of 2013) - Andrew McCutchen, Elvis Andrus, Gordon Beckham

Weakest Team Members (in 2009) - Travis Ishikawa, Chris Getz, Omir Santos

Weakest Team Members (as of 2013) - Omir Santos, Travis Ishikawa, Chris Coghlan

Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 0 (although Santos was a Colorado minor leaguer in 2013)

Best Card (IMHO) - Andrew McCutchen (arriving from the dugout is very poetic)

Worst Card (IMHO) - Omir Santos (he looks like he is drawn instead of photographed and may be since there are no defenders visible)

Overall Team Rating (1-10 compared to other RAST teams)    2

It's only been five years since this team was put together and 7 of the players have already turned into journeymen big league players at best.  The only thing saving this collection from a 1 is the presence of Andrew McCutchen (and Elvis Andrus to a lesser extent).  Take those two away and this team is in the running for worst Rookie All Star Team of all time.

Here are the players I feel should have been on this Rookie All Star Team.  This is based on rookie year data only.

Catcher - Matt Wieters - Baltimore
In 2009, it was Wieters by a fairly wide margin over Santos and Ryan Hanigan of the Reds.  I realize that Matt Wieters is not signed by Topps, but neither was Charles Johnson when he was selected in 1996.

First Baseman - Garrett Jones - Pittsburgh
Normally in this section I am an advocate over the player with a full season over the player with a half season.  However in this case, the half season of Jones was so much better than the full season of Ishikawa that it would almost be silly to argue otherwise.

Second Baseman - Ryan Roberts - Arizona
Roberts is one of my least favorite players of the past few years, but I am still convinced that he was the best rookie second baseman in 2009.  He was better than Getz in all major stats excluding steals and RBIs including all three major averages (BA, OBP, SLG). 

Third Baseman - Casey McGehee - Milwaukee
This was actually a tough battle between Beckham and McGehee, but McGehee was just slightly better than Beckham in just about everything.  This choice was not as bad as the others, but was still incorrect regardless. 

Shortstop - Elvis Andrus - Texas
Finally, we come to one that Topps got right.  It would have been nearly impossible to get this one wrong though because Andrus' only competition was half seasons from Paul Janish of the Reds and Everth Cabrera of the Padres among others.

Outfield - Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh, Seth Smith - Colorado, Colby Rasmus - St. Louis
There were a ton of decent rookie outfielders in 2009.  There were actually 15 players that appeared in over half of their team's games that qualified as a rookie outfielder.  To make matters worse, none of them would qualify as a "slam dunk" choice either.  In the end, I went with McCutchen, Smith, and Rasmus in that order over the likes of 2009 NL Rookie of the Year Coghlan, Reimold, Arizona's Gerardo Parra, Mitch Maier of the Royals, and Dexter Fowler of the Rockies among others. 

RHP - Rick Porcello - Detroit
Here is another position where there was no dearth of candidates.  I went with Porcello over Hanson despite Hanson's superior ERA because of his pitching nearly 50 more innings than Hanson.  Other candidates were 2009 AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey of Oakland, Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann, and Randy Wells of the Cubs.

LHP - Ricky Romero - Toronto
There were actually three solid candidates for this slot in 2009: Happ, Romero, and Brett Anderson of Oakland.  I think Romero was just a bit better than the other two in the major categories.  Although a reasonable argument could be made for any of these three.


Previous Question:

What team has had the most members of the Topps Rookie All Star team in the 21st Century (2001 Topps - 2014 Topps)?


Atlanta Braves  9
Rafael Furcal - 2001
Damian Moss - 2003
Adam LaRoche - 2005
Brian McCann - 2006
Jeff Francoeur - 2006
Tommy Hanson - 2010
Jason Heyward - 2011
Craig Kimbrel - 2012
Evan Gattis - 2014

There are a few others with 8, but Atlanta stands alone as the team with the most decorated rookies in the 21st century.


What card number(s) has played host to the most Rookie Cup cards?


The 1986 team appearing on 1987 Topps.

Thanx for reading.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Best Donruss Set Countdown - Prelude

Two years ago, I had a countdown of the best Topps Sets of all time, in my opinion of course.  Here in 2014 we are having a revival of another flagship card set, Donruss.  I figured it would be the perfect time to have a countdown of the best Donruss sets of all time.  I am just going to focus on the flagship Donruss set of each year and ignoring offshoots such as Diamond Kings, Leaf, and Studio.  There are 24 Donruss sets (including the 2014 set) and I will do the countdown showing 4 per week for 6 weeks followed by a recap.  I am going to keep it short today because I am light on time, but I will be beginning this countdown next week with #24.  I hope to see as much feedback as I got for the Topps countdown.

Thanx for reading.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday Trade Bait #02 - Autograph Edition

Last week I put up some relic cards on the old trade block.  They helped to facilitate a couple of deals, including one with a new (to me) trader.  This week I am going to focus on autographs.  These will probably appeal more to the team collector than player collectors because there are no big names (although there are 2 Rookie of the Year winners here), but they could fit into a team collection very nicely.

As always if you see something you'd like to trade for, just leave a comment.

1996 Leaf Signature Series Ariel Prieto - Athletics

 2007 SP/Rookie Edition #193 Rocky Cherry - Cubs       CLAIMED

Thanx for reading.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rating the Rookie Cups - 1990

It's time to dust off Rating the Rookie Cups once again.  I am going to try and make this a regular Sunday feature, with emphasis on the word try.  For those of you that have not seen Rating the Rookie Cups before, I will be examining Topps' All Star Rookie teams and seeing how Topps did with their choices and whether or not I would have made different choices for the team.  You can click the link on the left sidebar and check out the first 9 years, or I will just make it easier and let you click right here.

This week I will be focusing on the 1989 Topps Rookie All Star Team which was shown with trophies in 1990 Topps set.  This team is interesting for several reasons.  The main thing that is interesting to me is that one of the Rookies of the Year is not on the team.  Reliever Gregg Olson of the Orioles was the 1989 AL Rookie of the Year, but he was beaten out by runner up Tom Gordon.  It is also the only Rookie All Star Team with members from both New York teams and both Chicago teams.  Just one of those odd but true facts.  Let's take a look at the RAST from one of the most colorful sets in Topps history.

Bob Geren - New York (AL) - C -                    (Rookie)   2   (Career)  1
Carlos Martinez - Chicago (AL) - 1B -              (Rookie)   4   (Career)  2
Gregg Jefferies - New York (NL) - 2B -            (Rookie)   5   (Career)  5

Craig Worthington - Baltimore - 3B -            (Rookie)   5   (Career)  2
Gary Sheffield - Milwaukee - SS -                (Rookie)   3   (Career)  8

Greg Briley - Seattle - OF -                              (Rookie)   4   (Career)  3
Ken Griffey Jr. - Seattle- OF -                          (Rookie)   6   (Career)  9
Jerome Walton - Chicago (NL) - OF -              (Rookie)   4   (Career)  3

Tom Gordon - Kansas City - RHP -             (Rookie)   8   (Career)  6
Jim Abbott - California - LHP -                    (Rookie)   6   (Career)  5

Strongest Team Members (in 1989) - Tom Gordon, Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Abbott

Strongest Team Members (as of 2013) - Ken Griffey Jr., Gary Sheffield, Tom Gordon

Weakest Team Members (in 1989) - Bob Geren, Gary Sheffield, Carlos Martinez

Weakest Team Members (as of 2013) - Bob Geren, Carlos Martinez, Craig Worthington

Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 0

Best Card (IMHO) - Craig Worthington (I like it just a little bit more than the Sheffield)

Worst Card (IMHO) - Tom Gordon (it is a nice bright photo, but he is too sweaty)

Overall Team Rating (1-10 compared to other RAST teams)    4

Here we have two players with very strong resumes in potential Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr. and Gary Sheffield along with a few other solid careers in Jefferies, Gordon, and Abbott.  If you only looked at those five players, this team would rank quite a bit higher.  However, the weak links of the team have dragged this team down from a 7 or 8 to a 4. 


Here are the players I feel should have been on this Rookie All Star Team.  This is based on rookie year data only.

Catcher - Craig Biggio - Houston
This is one of the more outrageous omissions that I have covered here on Rating the Rookie Cups.  Biggio had a obviously stronger career than Geren, but he had a much stronger rookie year as well.  Biggio was so much stronger than Geren in virtually every statistic save batting average that it was almost a laughable comparison.

First Baseman - Randy Milligan - Baltimore
This is another one that should have been a no brainer selection, but wasn't.  Milligan was arguably the best rookie for ANY position let alone compared to the weak remainder of the first base crop including Martinez, and Tommy Gregg of the Braves. 

Second Baseman - Gregg Jefferies - New York (NL)
This was an easy choice as Jefferies easily stood out above his competition which included Mike Brumley of the Tigers and Lenny Harris, who spent the year with both the Reds and Dodgers.

Third Baseman - Craig Worthington - Baltimore
Craig Worthington actually had a fairly strong rookie year easily outpacing the likes of Carlos Martinez of the White Sox (who played 3B as well as 1B) and a half season of Seattle's Edgar Martinez.

Shortstop - Omar Vizquel - Seattle
This was a toughie because Vizquel was already a great defender, but his offense hadn't developed yet.  I chose Vizquel because Gary Sheffield was a bad defender (hence his move to the OF later on), but his offense hadn't developed yet either.  The other rookie shortstops of note in 1989 were Sheffield's Milwaukee teammate Bill Spiers and Alvaro Espinoza of the Yankees, but neither of them were credible threats.

Outfield - Greg Briley - Seattle, Ken Griffey Jr. - Seattle, Roberto Kelly - New York (AL)
The outfield was very interesting this year, not because of strength or weakness, but because of depth.  There were 9 players that could have conceivably been on this team.  In the end I chose them in the order of Griffey, Kelly, and Briley ahead of such names as 1989 NL Rookie of the Year Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith both of the Cubs, Baltimore's Mike Devereaux and Steve Finley, and half seasons of Cleveland's Albert Belle and Sammy Sosa of the Rangers and White Sox.

RHP - Tom Gordon - Kansas City
This was probably the strongest position of all in 1989.  Most people forget that before Gordon was a strong reliever he was a starter for several years with the Royals.  His rookie year record of 17-9 with a 3.64 ERA outpaced strong seasons by Kevin Brown of the Rangers and Bob Milacki of the Orioles.  Also under consideration were closers Mike Schooler of Seattle and 1989 AL Rookie of the Year Gregg Olson of the Orioles, but they weren't as good as Gordon in my opinion.

LHP - Jim Abbott - California
Jim Abbott is a beloved icon to most people in my age range so I am glad he didn't deserve replacement on this team.  The only other competition was Greg Hibbard of the White Sox and Abbott was a bit better than him.


Previous Question:

Which team went the longest (either from the beginning of the franchise or the 1960 beginning of the RAST) before having their first member of the Rookie All Star Team?  Hint: It lasted 8 years.

Pittsburgh Pirates 

The Pirates were obviously around when the Topps Rookie All Star Team made its debut in the 1960 set.  However, Pittsburgh did not have a single representative until Woodie Fryman made the team as the left-handed pitcher in the 1967 Topps set.


What team has had the most members of the Topps Rookie All Star team in the 21st Century (2001 Topps - 2014 Topps)?


The 2009 team appearing on 2010 Topps.

Thanx for reading.

Friday, February 14, 2014

RTP #39 Featuring Special Guest Wes from Jaybarkerfan's Junk

Since I have re-entered the trading market, it only stands to reason that I should resurrect my Rockie Trading Post series.  The normal setting for these posts will be multiple traders, just because it's not really my forte writing trade posts.  Night Owl and Dimebox Nick can write a trade post and make it read like a George Orwell novel that you just can't put down.  I don't have that kind of talent, so I will be normally be combining them into supersized posts.  However, in this case, the amount of cards that Wes sent me are a supersized post in and of itself.  I didn't take a photo of the enormous stack of cards that Wes sent, but another blogger took a photo of his stack from Wes.  Basically, just picture Rockies instead of Giants (something we all should do anyway) and you know how much I received from Wes.  There were a lot of doubles for me, but I don't care one bit because Wes added a lot to my collection.  Let's take a look at some of the newest Rockies to enter the Quarry.

Let's start off with our "Todd Helton Card of the Post" which is a card that I was shocked that I did not have, the 2007 Fleer base card.  I have no telling how many doubles, triples, and quadruples from this disappointing final set with the Fleer name, but somehow the Todd Helton card avoided me completely.  This one finished the team set for me and that is always a good thing.

One thing that has been around for a long time is gold parallels.  The top three are from Score's Gold Rush parallel from the mid 90's which I have always preferred to any other 90's parallel.  The Brent Mayne is actually the first Rockie that I have from Topps' inaugural gold parallel in the 2001 set.  The Scutaro of course is one of the "cascading urine" parallels from 2012 Topps.

Here we have a pair of Blake Street Bombers in their late 90s glory.  The Vinny Castilla 1998 Invincible Gems of the Diamond was one the few Pacific base cards that I still needed.  I am down to needing only 10 more from completing that company's entire base run.  The Dante Bichette is one of the hard to track down early chrome refractors.  Somewhere there is someone with a large hoard of Topps Chrome refractors from the 90s just sitting in their attic.  I hope they hit the market soon.

Here are a couple of parallels featuring still active former Rockies.  The Dexter Fowler is a purple from last year's Chrome set.  I actually didn't know about these purple refractors and didn't have them on my checklists until I saw this one.  Thank you for that.  The Matt Holliday is a rare parallel from the old Bowman Heritage line.  It is a black parallel #'d to only 52. 

Let's turn our focus to current Rockies.  Of course that will inevitably lead us to Troy Tulowitzki.  There are two recent inserts that had both been really difficult to track down (for a reasonable price anyway).  The first is one of the die cuts from 2013 Topps Chrome.  I'm not sure which of the three sets it is from without looking at the card number.  To me that says you have too many die cut inserts in this set.  The 1982 Topps throwback "In Action" insert is from the original revival of Topps Archives in 2012.  That is a set line that I would happily trade for a revival of Topps Total.

Here we have the potential future stars of the Rockies.  Tyler Matzek's card is from 2011 Topps Pro Debut.  He is actually the only Rockies player in that set that has not made an impact in the majors as of yet.  Of course the Rockies only had 4 players (Brothers, Arenado, and Rosario are the others) in that entire set, so it's not that odd.  Speaking of Arenado, here is his 2013 Topps Update chrome parallel.  I love parallels, but I absolutely HATE partial set parallels.  There are 11 Rockies in 2013 Topps Update, but only 2 of them are chromed and they have different card numbers as well.  It is very annoying.

Let's finish up the non-hit section of this post with what I like to call "Good Justin/Bad Justin"  Good Justin who represents things like purple refractors, gold parallels, and the final card in a team set is from 2004 Upper Deck Vintage.  It is the only Upper Deck Vintage set that did not directly steal their design from Topps...this one seems to have been stolen from Fleer.  Bad Justin, who represents things like partial parallels, cards with urine waterfalls, and redundant die cut insert sets, is from the 2004 flagship Upper Deck set.  I think you may see these guys again, because I intend to incorporate these two cards into a new review system for sets.

These two relics and one auto added to my Mountain to Climb in 2014.  The 2005 Donruss Champions Juan Uribe is my first relic for him and brings me up to 28 unique Rockie player relics leaving me 22 short of my goal and the 2009 Upper Deck Garrett Atkins is my tenth relic of his and 141st overall Rockies relic leaving me 59 short of that goal.  The Kevin Ritz auto is from 1996 Leaf Signature which was one of the first certified autograph sets.  Ritz is my 44th unique Rockies player certified autograph leaving me only 6 short of completing that goal.  Finally, the 2004 Bowman Sterling Chris Nelson is both an autograph and a relic although I only count it as an autograph for my goal purpose.  Nellie brings my total number of Rockies autos up to 76 and leaves me 24 short of that goal.

I can't thank Wes enough for this package.  Even though I only needed about 5-10% of the cards that Wes sent me, it was so much fun going through them that it didn't matter how may I needed.  If there are any Rockies collectors out there that would also like to benefit from Wes's generosity.  I am more than happy to pay it forward.  Just give me a holler.

Thanx for reading.