Friday, May 18, 2018

Gray Whales Galore

So I got a package from Johnny over at Johnny's Trading Spot like most of you. He's sent me several minor league Yankees cards (usually from the 90's and early 2000's) but never on this scale.

Look at that giant stack. For all of the flack the 80's gets for being overproduced, the 90's deserve to have some shit flung their way too.

Still, I appreciated the package because there were several cards I needed. But I'll be the first to admit that it was hard to blog about this.

You see, Johnny sent me a HUGE haul of Yankees prospect cards last year too. I actually had an extremely long post about ALL of the prospects sent to me from Johnny (and a few sent to me from Fuji too) in the works last year. I had written it across the span of eight (yes, EIGHT!) months. I looked at a minimum of three sources per player, I watched hours upon hours of footage, and even tried seeing if the players had any social media presence. But one November afternoon a very stupid and clumsy Zippy deleted that entire 24,783 word blogpost by accident. BLARG! This is why any research papers you ever write should be saved on a Google Docs file on an online server. You should also have a backup on standby.

I've felt super shitty ever since. Every time I try writing another post again, I'm left with shame.
That said, Johnny sent me these cards to (presumably) cheer me up and make my days brighter, not to make me feel like a failure every time I think about them. So I have actually started working on a new post about the cards he (and Fuji) sent me last year. I didn't spend those hours scanning for nothing! I'm not sure if I'll go in depth with the scouting reports again (what's the point when they're all flameouts?), but I'll at least put in effort and see what happens.

So in the meantime, let me just blog about the cards Johnny sent me THIS year (earlier this week actually). I could go into super detail about the players' pasts (remember my Sterling Hitchcock post?) but I'd burn myself out in an instant if I did that, so I'm going with something a bit more minimalist.

Let's begin with my favorite(?) 2000's prospect, Shelley Duncan. Duncan had power and nothing else. But he managed to carve out a nice career for himself regardless. Since Duncan was a dude whose cards came primarily in 2002/03, all of his cards are key gray whales. So I was super pumped to get this from Johnny.

Given my affinity for Yankees catching prospects, Dioner Navarro may have probably been my favorite if I was a prospector in 2003. What makes me like Navarro even more is that for all of the mocking Bob Walk The Plank sends my way about former Yankees catchers going to Pittsburgh, Navarro has never gone to Pittsburgh, throwing a monkey wrench into that narrative. HA! Thanks Dioner (also note that Jesus Montero and John Ryan Murphy have also yet to play for Pittsburgh).
Anyway, Dioner Navarro is another unofficial PC guy, I can't get enough of his Yankees era cards.

The packages from Johnny featured a lot of cool oddballs, but I found this Kevin Maas interesting. Because even though it says autograph series, there is no autograph. There's a facsimile autograph on the back but that doesn't count.

These are the first ever Crown shaped Pacific inserts to enter my collection and my goodness are they great. I can see why The Lost Collector always geeks out over cool Pacific diecuts from the 90's.

No journey into the past is complete without a brick of Nick Johnson cards. He could hit, but he couldn't stay healthy enough to hit.

And right after the Johnson era was the Drew Henson era. Another player who never panned out.

More prospects who failed/didn't do much.

I'll admit that writing about Yankees prospects of the past is really disheartening when you realize that it's just failure after failure. The only real successful prospects the Yankees had in the 2000's were Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chien Ming Wang and Francisco Cervelli. Maybe even Ian Kennedy, George Kontos, Dioner Navarro and Mark Melancon if you choose to expand to prospects who found success elsewhere.
That said, it is pretty interesting to see just how far the Yankees have come since then.

Here in 2018 the farmsystem is absolutely loaded with high end pitching talent across all levels. And lots of promising bats scattered about everywhere. It's insane. There's a new exciting fireballer in the lower minors popping up everyday now.

And that's in spite of missing out on the modern day Babe Ruth.

So big thanks to Johnny for another giant stack of prospects from the dark ages. Several gray whales were speared and drained of their oil. Which will now be used to power the machine that writes the post about the prospects you sent me last year.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts

So one of the posts I never got around to publishing before the season began was my preview of all 30 clubs. In a lot of ways it's probably good that that post never came out because I really phoned it in on half of the league (ie the rebuilding/tanking teams). But sometimes I wish I had published it just so I could claim to the one who made various bold statements.

My biggest take that I was unusually proud of in my scrapped post was that I thought the Oakland Athletics were going to be better than they appeared to be.

Now, let me be perfectly clear and say that that doesn't mean I had them pegged to be contenders for the division or the two wild cards. What that does mean though is that I think everybody wrote off the A's to be worse than they'd actually be.

I mean I get it. They're the faceless A's who don't have a bonafide superstar anymore, plus they play in a toilet bowl of a stadium.

That said, forget about their gaudy green uniforms or the terrible stadium or the fact that it's in Bay Area for a second. Just ignore the Oakland A's brand altogether and look at the players they've got on their major league roster.

You'll probably notice that the offense is a clear strength.

Khris Davis, Chad Pinder, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson have A LOT of power. It may not feel like it because their home run totals don't jump off of the page but they are capable of hitting dingers to orbit when opposing pitchers make a mistake.

Stephen Piscotty, Boog Powell, Marcus Semien (always one typo away from being spelled Semen), Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Lucroy have less power, but they make up for it by having insane on-base skills. Sidenote, my condolences to Piscotty and his family in light of recent events.

My point is that these are guys who are capable of smacking the ball to all parts of the field (and beyond it). It all adds up to a very good offense that'll deserve a lot of credit when people see that the A's weren't totally abysmal this season.

Also keep in mind that this season the young talent they're going to bring up at various points of the season are extremely talented and also eager to make an impact. Franklin Barreto quickly jumps out as a guy who will probably take a big league job and work his damnedest to never let it go.

Of course I'm also super eager to see what becomes of the former Yankees prospects sent to the A's after last year's Sonny Gray trade. Jorge Mateo is a legitimately good shortstop who could probably be a better hitter than Semien (almost typed Semen again) if he can cut down on the strikeouts. Dustin Fowler is a super good outfielder, and if it weren't for that fluke injury in his MLB debut, we'd all probably talking about how damn good he is.

Now of course, when people say that the A's aren't going to be contenders, they're not wrong. I mean I'm high on their offense but their pitching will clearly bring about their downfall.

Sean Manaea threw a no-hitter (against the Red Sox lololol), but beyond him there's... nothing.

I mean I like Daniel Megedin just fine but I'm not sure he's number two in the rotation good. If he were a fourth or fifth starter I'd be perfectly content with that. But alas, the A's rotation is so thin that they're relying on Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson like it's still 2010.

AJ Puk probably wouldn't have been called up this season but it doesn't matter anyway since he's out with Tommy John surgery. Jesus Luzardo is a fun name to keep an eye on though for A's pitchers that might make an impact next season. After them you've got former Yankees first rounder James Kaprielian and former Dodgers first rounder Grant Holmes. Neither of which have really indicated that they're ready to pitch in 2018 yet, let alone the big leagues.

There are probably a bunch of other A's pitchers I'm missing but as far as I can tell their farmsystem is top heavy on position players and not so much on pitching, so I'm just gonna stop it at that.

As far as their bullpen goes they're relying on a bunch of relievers who were castoffs from other teams. I mean they're so-so relievers so the A's might manage to get some value out of them, but at the same time they'll probably give up a maddeningly high number of home runs and walks as relievers figuring things out tend to do.

All in all, I think the A's have a chance to be a pretty good middle of the pack team. The team that's not quite tanking/losing on purpose but also not contending either. Their offense is far too talented (and surprisingly deep) to lose 100 games. But their pitching is also far too inept and bad to allow them to win any more than 75 games.

We're not even at the halfway mark and they've shown themselves to be spoilers in key AL races. Like how they've managed to completely stop and steamroll any momentum the juggernaut Red Sox and world-beating Yankees had. They'll probably be a huge problem for teams like the Astros, Angels, Mariners, Blue Jays and Twins (they're done) too.

To put it another way, this team would probably be a decent contender if it were in the NL because that the drop off in quality when you go from the AL to the NL is absolutely huge.

So a little reassurance for our good friend Fuji, as his beloved A's are the winners of my prestigious "Likely Not Going To Be That Bad Award" in 2018. They'll still lose a lot but they won't be sub-.500 level terrible and hopefully some reinforcements for a brighter future start to pop up.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Monday, May 14, 2018

Clone Breaks: 2018 Bowman Blaster

Zippy Zappy is weak. Very weak. He caved into his urges and bought a blaster box of 2018 Bowman. A product that (regardless of year) he's always had a problem with because any prospect oriented product that includes veterans or anything beyond rookies is bullshit. But that is another rant for another day.

The fact remains that a blaster box was purchased and in spite of Zippy Zappy's shame, someone still has to record it on the books and salvage the break for anything worthwhile.

Captain Rex was assigned to scour the packs for not only Yankees padawans, but also any Dodgers prospects who are making their Bowman debuts, as well as the rookies Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo. Rex was also told to keep an eye out for Cubs prospect Adbert Alzolay.

So let's begin.

Pack 1.

Well the Miggy Andujar rookie was certainly a nice surprise, but the rest of the pack was pure garbage. Even the prospects were garbage because they're all repeaters and none of them are "1st Bowmans". Which is important when it comes to Bowman.

Pack 2.

Garbage. Juan Soto the player is phenomenal but this isn't his first Bowman so fuck this shit.

Pack 3.

A few rookies and a repeater card of DJ Peters make this an okay pack but a little part of me died while opening this pack. The fact that the serial numbered parallel I got was a Royal really did me in. Like, forget that it's Salvador Perez who is very much okay. Getting a Royal as a hit/parallel is (with very few exceptions) shit. Because the Royals are worthless. Honestly, who is ever happy to pull a Royal? No one. You might be okay with the Royals as a team in general, but as far as cards go, you're lying to yourself if you said you got excited over pulling a Royal. Not even Royals fans get excited about pulling Royals cards because even they'd prefer that they pull a nice card of a player on a big market team that's actually important so that they can flip that card (because it'll actually be worth something) and get themselves the worthless Royals hits/parallels for cheap. This is also assuming that Royals card collectors exist in the first place. Because who'd want to waste time and money on that shit?
And at the risk of coming off as a Royals (specifically) hater, let me be clear in saying that you can replace the Royals with any team with a market that's smaller than Seattle (especially the fucking Colorado Rockies) and my silly rant will still apply.

Alright, now that I've made myself look like a fool again. Let's move on.

Pack 4.

Holy shit, a First Bowman card! That makes this one of the best packs in the break so far!
The rookies are also really good names. The Clint Frazier insert is also very shiny, I'm impressed.

Pack 5.

The First Bowman Baez is the best card in the pack. Don't let the insert fool you into thinking those three are good names, Seattle's farmsystem is dogshit and those three will be the next prospects Seattle screws up one way or another.

Pack 6.

Yes, TWO First Bowmans! Also a well known blogosphere hero (c) with Gavin LaValley. You all know where that's going.

Pack 7.

Garbage. If you're an A's fan keep an eye on Jesus Luzardo though, he's fun.

Pack 8.

The last pack was hands down the best. It featured a rookie card of Shohei Ohtani (YES!), a Gary Slamchez base, and two First Bowman cards.

So all in all, this blaster was garbage. No Keibert Ruiz base cards. No Matt Sauer base cards. No Jeren Kendall base cards. Automatic F. The Ohtani was a nice consolidation prize and pulling a few Yankees was nice (I guess), but when that's the most I can say about this shit... I'll just end it here before making an even bigger fool of myself.

Hope you all enjoyed this little glimpse at Angry Zippy Zappy. Zippy Zappy loves the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, and big-to-quasi-big markets. He hates the Royals, Rockies, Marlins, Rays and small markets he can't get rid of. Because seriously, fuck them. He got so mad online that he even forgot he was supposed to write this in the context of a Clone Break, and has even started writing in the third person. Blah, whatever.

Sidenote, quick thank you and shout out to Laurens over at Card Buzz for the Matt Sauer First Bowman.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.