Tuesday, December 06, 2016

2016 Topps Holiday Walmart Box break

I had to make a pit stop at a random Walmart to see if any of these were on the shelves - I'd been thinking about these for the past few weeks, so I picked up a couple of boxes to see what these holiday themed cards were all about.

The 200-card base set mirrors selected cards from the Topps flagship set as well as from the Update Series - I don't know if Topps needed another release that parallels their flagship set, but these boxes were probably designed to be a relatively inexpensive [$20] holiday themed trading card product.

I busted one of the boxes I bought and it seemed pretty straightforward - I pulled 94 different base set cards with five Metallic Snowflake parallels and one hit [each box comes with either a relic or an autograph].

Pack one
#HMW143 Adam Wainwright
#HMW166 Roberto Osuna
#HMW6 Starling Marte
#HMW189 Brandon Belt
#HMW105 Dellin Betances

#HMW141 Mookie Betts - Metallic Snowflake parallel
#HMW67 Mallex Smith
#HMW177 Chris Sale
#HMW147 Michael Wacha
#HMW14 Andrelton Simmons

Pack two
#HMW181 Nolan Arenado
#HMW63 Ryan Howard
#HMW133 Michael Brantley
#HMW37 Raisel Iglesias
#HMW103 Jason Hammel
#HMW91 Prince Fielder
#HMW104 Xander Bogaerts
#HMW80 Josh Donaldson
#HMW5 C.C. Sabathia
#HMW125 Gregory Polanco

Pack three
#HMW146 Addison Russell
#HMW109 Russell Martin
#HMW41 Jake Odorizzi
#HMW69 Zack Greinke

#HMW150 Yasiel Puig - Metallic Snowflake parallel
#HMW142 Michael Pineda
#HMW188 Robinson Cano
#HMW31 Corey Kluber
#HMW167 Craig Kimbrel
#HMW2 Jose Berrios

Pack four
#HMW178 Matt Duffy
#HMW117 Trayce Thompson
#HMW101 Eric Hosmer    
#HMW57 Michael Conforto
#HMW99 Miguel Cabrera
#HMW184 Javier Baez
#HMW108 R.A. Dickey
#HMW45 Aaron Nola
#HMW21 Matt Andriese
#HMW32 Adeiny Hechavarria

Pack five
#HMW34 Michael Fulmer
#HMW17 Jacoby Ellsbury
#HMW94 Albert Almora
#HMW112 Bartolo Colon

#HMW62 Aledmys Diaz - Metallic Snowflake parallel
#HMW15 Adam Jones
#HMW92 Elvis Andrus
#HMW196 Kenley Jansen
#HMW19 Joe Panik
#HMW199 Yoenis Cespedes

Pack six
#HMW48 Andrew McCutchen
#HMW122 Joc Pederson
#HMW39 Anthony Rizzo
#HMW148 Francisco Lindor
#HMW54 Melvin Upton Jr. 

#A-MD Matt Duffy - autograph serial #’d 047/200; even if it's just a more common player, finding an autograph was nice since they seem to be harder pulls than the relics.
#HMW28 Jackie Bradley Jr. 
#HMW86 Matt Harvey
#HMW51 Luis Severino
#HMW155 Nomar Mazara

Pack seven
#HMW61 Brandon Crawford
#HMW43 Masahiro Tanaka
#HMW24 Manny Machado
#HMW174 Martin Prado
#HMW29 Nelson Cruz

#HMW192 Joey Votto - Metallic Snowflake parallel
#HMW9 Justin Upton
#HMW3 Paul Goldschmidt
#HMW85 Neil Walker
#HMW98 Jason Kipnis

Pack eight
#HMW153 Adrian Gonzalez
#HMW87 Steven Matz
#HMW84 Ian Desmond
#HMW111 Daniel Murphy
#HMW172 Blake Snell
#HMW66 Marco Estrada
#HMW176 Ryan Braun
#HMW118 Adrian Beltre
#HMW13 Aroldis Chapman
#HMW65 Mark Teixeira

Pack nine
#HMW10 Brett Gardner
#HMW22 Byung-Ho Park
#HMW82 Justin Verlander
#HMW129 Corey Seager

#HMW107 Joe Mauer - Metallic Snowflake parallel
#HMW145 Odubel Herrera
#HMW169 Jed Lowrie
#HMW114 Yu Darvish
#HMW136 Trevor Story
#HMW119 Yunel Escobar

Pack 10
#HMW116 Sonny Gray
#HMW183 Yadier Molina
#HMW25 Noah Syndergaard
#HMW198 David Wright
#HMW100 Carlos Martinez
#HMW140 Yovani Gallardo
#HMW47 Johnny Cueto
#HMW182 Starlin Castro
#HMW76 David Ortiz
#HMW7 George Springer

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Hunting for some star on star cameos

1987 Classic Bret Saberhagen #116 - a quick glance at this card shows Cal Ripken Jr. playing behind the one-time Kansas City Royals' ace of the 1980s and I figure the image used was from the 1987 All-Star game in Oakland.

I was going to put this card in my 'bonus babies,' though Saberhagen was a star in his own right - so this is an add to my star on star cameos collection.

1994 Donruss Will Clark #33 - looks like 'Will the Thrill' scurries past second base with Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg right by the bag.

1994 Donruss Ozzie Smith #35 - I like this card because it features two eventual Hall of Famers, though in the early 1990s, I probably thought of Biggio as just another player who was moved from catcher to second base to prolong his athleticism and longevity.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Featured autograph - Ryan Howard

I’ve wanted a Howard auto since I’ve really had only a couple of chances not to end up getting his autograph over the last 10 years - I tend to look at Howard as a slugger who put up some nice power numbers and was a face of a franchise that won the 2008 World Series.

As is, Howard has probably been considered one of the worst MLB players relative to the contract he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010 - while he still had occasional pop in his bat, his ability to hit otherwise has disappeared [primarily dealing with defensive shifts and his inability to hit lefties].

At first base, Howard seemed to be more of a big oaf with no defensive value - if advanced metrics are to be believed for all the counting numbers he has put up, has only been worth 14.9 WAR [according to Baseball Reference] over the course of his career.

The random certified autograph card features a sticker - I’ll flip a coin to see if I put this in my Rookie of the Year [2004 National League] collection or my MVP [2006 National League] collection.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

2016 Topps Archives 65th Ann. breaks

I’d be hard pressed to spend $20 on random blaster boxes at any given time, but I had to make another Walmart trip - to see if they had the 2016 Topps Holiday Mega Boxes or these on the shelves somewhere.

I picked up the three Archives 65th Anniversary boxes I saw, with each box [$25] containing one pack of 16 cards with a guaranteed autograph - I was hoping things might work out for my $80 impulse buys, but after the fact, something still hurts with the results rather typical as far as the guaranteed autograph cards I pulled.

The basic cards look like cheap reprints but I don't think that's any different any other Topps Archives releases from the past few years or so - where the cards are on thin card stock and there is just something fake about handling and looking at the cards up close as opposed to cards that truly mimic the original cards.

Box 1
#A65-JC Jose Cruz
#A65-CS Curt Simmons
#A65-EM Eddie Mathews
#A65-NR Nolan Ryan
#A65-KG Ken Griffey Jr.
#A65-OS Ozzie Smith

#A65-R-MS Miguel Sano - Rookie Short Print variation

#A65-CS Curt Simmons - autograph
#A-65-VL Vernon Law
#A-65-BD Bucky Dent
#A-65-BW Billy Williams
#A-65-BM Bill Mazeroski
#A-65-DM Don Mattingly
#A-65-JB Johnny Bench
#A-65-FH Frank Howard
#A-65-WM Willie Mays

Box 2
#A65-BH Bryce Harper
#A65-CK Clayton Kershaw
#A65-I Ichiro
#A65-JCO Jeff Conine
#A65-FVI Fernando Vina
#A65-JRI Jose Rijo
#A-65S-JR Jackie Robinson - Base Short Print variation

#A65-VL Vern Law - autograph
#A65-SL Sparky Lyle
#A65-RF Rollie Fingers
#A65-TF Tito Francona
#A-65-RC Roberto Clemente
#A-65-VL Vernon Law
#A-65-BD Bucky Dent
#A-65-JR Jackie Robinson
#A-65-RCA Rod Carew

Box three
#A65-AP A.J. Pollock
#A65-KB Kris Bryant
#A65-BH Bryce Harper
#A65-CK Clayton Kershaw
#A65-I Ichiro
#A65-JCO Jeff Conine
#A65-FVI Fernando Vina
#A65-JRI Jose Rijo

#BD-M Millie - Bull Durham insert / ‘buyback’ from 2016 Topps Archives

#A65-JC Jose Cruz - autograph
#A65-RF Rollie Fingers
#A65-TF Tito Francona
#A-65-RC Roberto Clemente
#A-65-VL Vernon Law
#A-65-BD Bucky Dent
#A-65-JR Jackie Robinson

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

2016 Topps retail factory set pick-up

I wanted to stop at a Walmart to see if there was any exclusive 2016 Topps Holiday Mega Boxes or 2016 Topps Archives Baseball 65th Anniversary Edition [about $25 for a box featuring a pack of cards with an autograph] in stock - unfortunately the Walmart closest to me on the way home has never had a card section and it's been the case for the past 10 years when I've gone there to look for cards.

I was hoping to find a card section near the counters but literally the only thing I found was a 2016 Topps factory set [about $60] - with a commemorative Mike Trout stamp relic card.

The retail factory sets piqued my interest at Target when I saw one of the Ichiro bonus cards featured a yen relic - I was tried to read up on the different factory sets and found out there were these Trout stamp cards.

I guess I wanted at least one of Trout stamp relic even though they just seem gimmicky - the common, unnumbered versions currently go for about $10-$15 each on eBay.

I thought about it for a moment and decided I might as well grab this set - the stamp relic card in this box was actually the Gold version serial #’d 38 of 50 and while it’s all silly to me, according to the Beckett story about all these Topps factory sets, the Gold versions are found in every 21 sets.

The last time I bought a Topps factory set was December of 2006 - when the bonus cards featured a Mickey Mantle ‘worn’ relic of some sort [not even related to him playing baseball].

That 2006 set is collecting dust on one and I never did bother to break that one open - I’m not likely to break this 2016 set open either, just keep it intact and hope the box / contents survive for quite a while.

Friday, November 18, 2016

2016 MLB award winners additions

I look forward to when the three big awards [Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player] are announced - it gives me an opportunity to add cards of another set of players to my award winners collection.

American League MVP Mike Trout - while his team finished 74-88 this past season, it's amazing to see the best player in the game excel the way he does in such a metronomic way.

Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts was hyped up as the favorite to win the MVP - but with teammates David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley and Xander Bogaerts all having fine offensive seasons in the Red Sox lineup, it was really going to harder to see Betts as 'the guy,' regardless of what the advanced metrics said.

National League MVP Kris Bryant - Daniel Murphy had as good of a chance of winning the MVP [the second baseman hit around .347, has a slugging percentage of .595 and an OPS+ of 157], but Bryant was part of the 'Bryzzo' power duo that kept the eventual World Series champs going all season long.

American League Cy Young Rick Porcello - he may not be better than a No. 3 starter, but after a rough debut season in Boston, Porcello stepped up his game, pitched a career high 223 innings and won 22 games.

The best part about Porcello winning the AL Cy Young award was reading about the first world outrage shown by supermodel Kate Upton - the girlfriend of the guy that got squeezed out of the award by his former teammate.

National League Cy Young Max Scherzer - I honestly don't know if I really sit down and watch as much baseball, but Scherzer might be that 'must watch' pitcher every time he takes the mound.

American League Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer - emerged as the second best pitcher on a Detroit Tigers starting staff that otherwise imploded with particularly bad performances from Anibal Sanchez and Jordan Zimmermann.

National League Rookie of the Year Corey Seager - in some respects, Seager is the personification of the ideal big leaguer [along with your Trouts and Bryants], even if he has just gone through his first full season.

Considered the No. 1 prospect entering the year, he was able to step in and play nearly 160 games at a premium position - with a seemingly consistent even keel approach.

With youth and potential on his side, Seager can only get better and may become the face of the franchise - even if has more an 'aw-shucks' kind of personality otherwise.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Angels could use off-season help

As a fan, I bang the drum for the Angels so I have something to look for as far as a big league team to collect - with the exception of all-world Mike Trout and Albert Pujols however, the Angels have really been hard to watch in recent seasons.

With the big league team presumably desperate to contend with Trout 'just' entering his prime years - the Angels need to fill some big holes sooner than never.

With injuries knocking out starting pitchers left and right for much of the year [and maybe through next year] -  the team was forced to start guys like the corpse of Tim Lincecum, Ghoulish Chacin, something called a 'Brett Oberholtzer' and Jeff Weaver.

Picking up a Jose Quintana or Chris Sale is totally unrealistic, but I can dream about that No. 1 or No. 2 guy the Angels have not had in recent seasons - the team would probably need to empty their barren farm system to get one of those guys and so be it, since there should be no particular minor leaguer the Angels must hold onto.

The obvious problem is every other team looking to get Quintana or Sale has a deeper set of prospects to trade off - maybe outfield prospect Jahmai Jones, a couple of pitchers [Nate Smith and/or Grayson Long] and money is just not going to get anything done.

As far as position players, the Angels need a second baseman and longtime Cincinnati Red Brandon Phillips may help - he is going to be 36, but he's a guy that has put up counting numbers with the bat and you take what you can get [hopefully his OPS+ gets a bit north of 100] if you can trot him out at second base for at least 130 games in 2017.

Finally the Angels probably need a competent veteran catcher - after Geovany Soto didn't play much due to injuries, Jett Bandy did emerge as a viable semi-regular option while Carlos Perez kind of plateaued as a strictly a backup guy with limited upside.

The Angels might need to go out and get Matt Wieters - he was never the great hitting all-around catcher people anticipated as he made his way to the Major Leagues, but if the 30-year old is healthy to play 120 games behind the plate, he probably does enough good things to be an asset.

Another option would be Brian McCann, who would give the Angels lineup a lefty hitter with pop to lengthen the lineup a little bit in addition to the usual Trout and Pujols power duo - maybe money and a prospect of some sort would get McCann to Anaheim.

A caveat is McCann is going to be 33, an age where many catchers seemingly crater with the bat - will the Angels be able to give McCann time at DH [Pujols] or first base [C.J. Cron] to get his bat into the lineup when he's not catching.