Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Top 5 Yankee TTM Returns of 2014

So yesterday I blogged about my top 5 non-Yankee returns (from minor leaguers and major leaguers). Today I'm going to be ranking my top 5 Yankees TTM returns (from minor leaguers and major leaguers).

Top Five Yankee MiLB Returns


1). Nick Goody ('10 EEE & Note) - NYY
That note cemented Goody as number one on this list.


2). Gosuke Katoh ('13 Bowman Draft paper & Chrome) - NYY
As a guy who had a similar upbringing to Katoh (minus the being good enough to be drafted in the second round of 2013 draft part) I really wish Katoh the best. 加藤選手頑張ってください!


3). Tyler Austin ('11 Pro Debut blue & '13 Bowman Chrome) - NYY
I tried Austin back in 2013 but it was a failure, so it was a pleasant surprise to see these come back.


4). Bryan Mitchell ('10 Bowman Chrome) - NYY
With Shane Greene and David Phelps now out of New York, Mitchell may have a shot to join the rotation in 2015.


5). Kyle Higashioka ('11 Topps Heritage Minors) - NYY
I'd love to see Higashioka bounce back and provide even more catching depth for the Yankees org.

Honorable Mentions: Taylor Garrison, Carmen Angelini and everybody else who signed for me :).

Top Five Yankees MLB Returns


1). Hiroki Kuroda
In case you didn't know Hiroki Kuroda is my favorite pitcher of all time.



2). Don Hood
Don Hood not only had a sweet inscription and signature, but he also sent along with that picture that was cut so it could fit in the envelope. That guaranteed him a top three spot on this list.


3). Don Larsen
From one Don to another, Don Larsen is my favorite pre-60's vintage Yankee TTM return ever.


4). David Robertson
It's sad to see another homegrown Yankee go but I wish Robertson the best with the White Sox.


5). David Phelps
From one David to another. Although he was traded to Miami, I loved rooting for Phelps during his time in the organization. I wish him the best in Miami.

Honorable Mentions: Bobby Richardson, Rollie Sheldon, John Olerud, Brian Cashman and everybody else that signed for me :).

So those were my top 5 favorite MLB and MilB Yankee TTM returns.
I'd like to thank all of the Yankees players who took the time to sign TTMs for me.
And I'd like to thank you (the reader) for stopping by. As always take care :).

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Top 5 Non-Yankee TTM Returns Of 2014

So 2014 is coming to a close and I thought I'd do a list of my top five non-Yankee TTM returns. Now for this one I'm going to be separating this into five returns from minor leaguers who aren't in the Yankees system (yet). And five major leaguers who aren't on the Yankees roster (yet).
I've got another special post for the Yankees ;).

Top 5 Non-Yankee MiLB TTM Returns


1). Julio Urias ('14 Bowman) - LAD
Julio Urias is the next big thing. Baseball America said so.


2). Clint Frazier ('13 Bowman Draft) - CLE
This was an absolutely phenomenal return at the start of the 2014 season :).


3). Austin Meadows ('13 Bowman Draft) - PIT
This was an absolutely phenomenal return at the end the 2014 season :).


4). Jonathan Gray ('13 Bowman Draft) - COL
This guy is going to be a beast.


5). Rinku Singh ('09 Tri-star) - PIT
As time has gone on I've really come to hate Million Dollar Arms for what it is (it's NOT about Singh or Patel I can tell you that much) but that doesn't change how awesome this return is.

Honorable Mentions:
Aaron Blair, Braden Shipley, Phil Ervin, Kyle Finnegan, Jason Kanzler, Bradley Zimmer, Jonathon Crawford, Brian Navarreto, Lewis Thorpe, Joey Gallo, and everybody else that signed for me :).

Top 5 Non-Yankee MLB TTM Returns


1). Clayton Kershaw ('13 OD) - LAD
You know, while I was creating this post I realized that I got a TTM autograph of Clayton Kershaw. I got a TTM autograph of Clayton Kershaw. I GOT A TTM AUTOGRAPH OF CLAYTON KERSHAW! I GOT A TTM AUTOGRAPH OF CLAYTON KERSHAW!   I GOT A TTM AUTOGRAPH OF THAT CLAYTON KERSHAW!
I GOT A TTM AUTOGRAPH OF  THE CLAYTON KERSHAW! 


2). Corey Kluber ('13 Topps) - CLE
Boy Kluber sure had himself an awesome 2014 season. It's probably because he signed this TTM for me.


3). Junichi Tazawa ('10 FCB Baltimore National Mini) - BOS
I love this return.


4). Koji Uehara ('10 Topps) - BOS/BAL
I love this return.


5). Tommy Kahnle ('13 Bowman Chrome refractor) - COL/NYY
I know what some of you are thinking. "Hey, that's a Yankee!" Well Kahnle was a Yankee until the 2013-14 offseason when he was selected by the Rockies in the Rule 5 Draft and he managed to stay on the Rockies for all of 2014. Plus he signed this card me after he had made his debut as a Rockie.

Honorable Mentions: Justin Masterson, Chase Headley, Chuck Taylor and everybody else that signed for me :).

So those were my personal top 5 non-Yankee TTMs I got in 2014. I'd like to thank everybody who sent me a TTM return in 2014.
And I'd like to thank you (the readers) for stopping by. As always take care :).

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weekend TTM Roundup: 12/15-12/20

It's been a while since I did one of these. How did these go again?

Received On: 12/18/2014

My first TTM return in a while came from Matt Stites.
Matt Stites was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft. He was quite the prospect during his time with the Padres, as his scouting reports became ubiquitous with "a reliever with a ton of upside." With what Jim Callas referred to as a plus fastball and plus slider, Stites was basically a machine.
Then in 2013 he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Ian Kennedy trade. After joining the Diamondbacks he put up very nice results in the minors and called up. He eventually made his MLB debut on June 19th. Stites ended up pitching to a 66 ERA+ and 5.47 FIP during his 37 game stint (not too great). Control issues may have been the cause of Stites' struggles but he did throw in the high-90's so there is something to work with. The 2015 Diamondbacks bullpen could be a bit too crowded to include Stites again, but a little more time to refine his breaking pitches in the minors probably won't hurt. Here's to hoping the righty reliever bounces back and shows everyone the dominant reliever the D-Backs front office (at the time) thought they were getting.
BTW, see that card saver that the Stites is in? I didn't send that. Which means that Mr. Stites got that card saver (somehow) and sent it to me like that to protect the card. Is that cool or what?

So that was my only TTM return this week.
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

2014 TTM Count: 232

Sources:
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/stitema01.shtml
*http://arizonasports.com/42/1652546/Getting-to-know-new-Arizona-Diamondbacks-prospect-Matt-Stites
*http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=12165&position=P
*http://insidethezona.com/2014/09/command-lapses-rule-matt-stites-2015-bullpen/

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Parallel-Insanity

So with the release of 2014 Bowman Draft and Bowman's horrible decision to include Luis Torrens, I now have a new rainbow to chase. And boy is it fugly.


In 2014 Bowman Draft, Luis Torrens has the following...

Paper Rainbow:
Base
Red
Blue
Black
Asia-Exclusive Black
Green
Silver Ice
Red Ice
Purple Ice
White Ice
Orange Ice
Four different printing plates.

Chrome Rainbow:
Base
Refractor
Super-Jumbo Refractor (WTF?)
Blue
Black
Green
Blue Wave
Red Wave
Silver Wave
Black Wave
Gold
Orange
Purple
Red
Superfractor
Four different printing plates.

If my math is correct (and it usually isn't) then that's a total of 34 different colored cards I'd theoretically need to get from this one product. THIRTY-FOUR!

Now I'm one who's usually willing to forgive parallels because having parallels in moderation can be a good thing since it stimulates a good chase. But this is a bit too excessive for even me.
I mean, of the 34 different parallels I listed up there:
*Eleven of them are 1/1's.
Eight printing plates, a 1/1 Black paper parallel, the White Ice paper parallel and of course the superfractor.

*Seven of them are exclusive to certain types of boxes/continents.
The black paper, black refractors and white ice parallels are exclusive to hobby boxes.
The orange ice paper parallels are exclusive to the jumbo boxes.
The green paper parallels and "super-jumbo refractors" are exclusive to the super jumbo boxes.
The Asia-exclusive black paper parallels are only found in 2014 Bowman Draft Asia Edition.

*Two of them are pretty much the same
The black 1/1 paper parallel and the Asia-exlusive black paper parallel are pretty much the same except that one has 1/1 stamped on the back.

Now those three bulletpoints alone are scary. But here's the scariest part, it could've been worse. A LOT worse. Looking through just the Chrome parallels I can name at least six parallels Bowman could've included to drive collectors even more insane.

Actually no, that's not the scariest part. The scariest part is that all of these parallels are for recently drafted minor leaguers in the 2014 Bowman Draft set. Even though I'm a prospect head, I can't imagine anybody sane actually willing to invest so much time and money into players that have yet to reach the majors and whose value only comes from "potential." (Note, families and close friends of the card subjects do not count).


Now, I understand why Topps/Bowman does this. They need certain parallels to be exclusive to certain kinds of boxes so they can move more units. What's the point in buying a box that's three times more expensive if the contents are the same? They need a gimmick to help out sales on their new Super Jumbo boxes while also making sure hobby boxes and regular jumbo boxes keep selling. But knowing that doesn't help. In fact I dare say that it makes it worse.


Looking at that giant list again I'm suddenly reminded of Night Owl's post about the impossible Puig checklist. He mentioned how Yasiel Puig had 42 different cards in 2013 Topps Update. And yes that's quite a task but keep in mind that those 42 cards can be divided into four different entities, US46 (and its parallels), US250 (and its parallels & short print variations), US330 (and its parallels), and finally inserts (and one autograph). This time you've got 34 different variations for basically one card. And if you're going after a player with an autograph (the autographs have 34 parallels too) or an insert in this set (inserts have parallels too) or an insert autograph you're probably going need to track down nearly 100 different cards when it's all said and done.

Then I'm reminded of one more part of that Night Owl post. The very end where he reminisced on how there was a time when you could accumulate every card of a player with just one card. Now by the time I came into this hobby parallels were already engrained into the collecting world so I've never known a world where there weren't any parallels. In fact, what's pretty disappointing is that almost all of the players I chose to focus on have parallels.

*Luis Torrens - He has at least 34 parallels in this product alone
*Dellin Betaces - Just Rookies, Tri-Star & Upper Deck made a complete Betances collection impossible
*Hiroki Kuroda - His Hiroshima Carp era cards even have parallels!
*Jack Chesbro - Even Chesbro T206es have parallels (Piedmont backs, Sweet Caporal backs, etc...)

Okay at this point I'm just rambling about some minor #FirstWorldProblem that doesn't have an effect on the world in any way and I apologize for that. It's just that ever since I read that Night Owl post, there's been a small part of my brain going "man, it'd be nice to say I own every Luis/Dellin/Big Hirok/Cervelli card in this year's *insert product name here* with just one card." And these 34 new cards are basically Topps/Bowman's way of giving me the finger.

What's worse is that I'm sure they're not done here. Now that Torrens is on the map (in addition to the previous accolades he was recently picked as the ninth best prospect on Baseball Prospectus' top 10 Yankees prospects list) it's only a matter of time before he's inserted into products like Pro Debut and Heritage Minors, two products that also keep adding more parallels with every new edition.

So to all of you future player collectors out there, go for guys who aren't highly touted at all and yet managed to make it to the majors and stay there (like Shane Greene). Otherwise you'll have to track down 1000 of their pre-rookie cards and then 2000 more after they make it to the majors.
And to all you future team collectors out there. Just give up now and look for another hobby. It's better for your health (and wallet).

Anyway thanks for stopping by and tolerating my negativity (or not).
Take care everybody :).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wob Balked!

A while back I said I was going to stop doing trade posts because I'm too lazy (also because I no longer trade with people, I just Zap people and they surprise me back), but today I received a package from Bob Walk The Plank that's so great that that rule can be broken. Now Bob Walk The Plank has sent me a lot of great cards in these past few months that I've integrated into other planned posts but this latest one just demands to be seen immediately.
I mean take a look at this!


THAT, my friends, is Luis Torrens' black On Fire die-cut auto from 2014 Leaf Valiant. Why's it so special? Well...


It might be a little hard to see but this fine specimen is numbered THREE OUT OF FIVE!
Matt knows that Zippy goes Zappy for Torrens, and boy am I Zappy for this card. It's the second Torrens I have that's numbered to five and they're both numbered 3/5.

Matt, I don't know what you had to do get this (was it the eBay auction that only went for under $10 shipped?) and I have no idea how I'm going to pay you back. Well okay I have a few ideas. Or at least I did until I saw the other cards Matt sent along.

Yep, BWTP included those four A-Rod relics with the Torrenator. And they're all from special sets. The Topps 60 & Gypsy Queen relics are from 2011, the year I came into this hobby.
The ASG relic is from 2005 Topps, the very first pack of cards I ever got was 2005 Topps (series 2).
The Turkey Relic, well, I don't have any special ties to 2005 TR but the original Turkey Red featured some greats who played for the Highlanders, so there's that!

Thanks a lot for the great cards Matt, they're wonderful!

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Introducing The Torrenterion Collection

Recently I put up a new page on my blog that I like to call the Torrenterion Collection (aka my Luis Torrens Collection). I've gathered and posted all of my Luis Torrens PC pieces on the page. It's listed in chronological order from the Torrenators' first cards to his latest cards.
I would like to say, for the record, that even if you come across or come into possession of a Torrens card and you want to send it my way but already see it on that page, just send it to me anyway. I'll never say no to giving a good Torrenator a good home, my home.

Now onto some recent pickups.
As expected progress on my LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS 2013 Bowman Chrome rainbow stopped but I've slowly accumulated a few of his other cards in recent times.


Like this Gold Prismatic 1/1 auto from 2014 Leaf Metal Draft that I referred to as Omega Luis when the Wampa attacked.
As you can see it's Leaf's answer to the superfractor in the Bowman brand, right down to the way the card looks with those weird (yet cool) circle things that make the card shine. Literally.
Now even though this card is cool and all I do have two major problems with it. One is that it uses the same picture Panini used for the Torrenatrix's base card in 2013 Panini Perennial Prizm Draft. Second, this thing is called a "gold prismatic" refractor. See when I think of the word "prism" in the cardboard world I don't think of Leaf, I think of Panini. So the only conclusion I can draw from this is that Leaf is now trying to be the poor man's Panini, and that's not good (although it's very appropriate).

As you can see it is indeed a 1/1 and my third Torrens 1/1 in my collection.


Next is this die cut from 2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition. Torrens die cuts from EEE don't appear too often and the autographed versions are all redemptions that have yet to be "redeemed" (no way I'm wasting money on a code though, I'll wait until a live one pops up).


This one is Torrens' most recent non-licensed card. It's from the very ignored and very forgettable Leaf Valiant. Naturally there are like a billion different variations of Torrens alone that I don't have the time or money to chase. Ugh. Despite that I do like the way this card looks. You don't see too many die-cuts shaped like flames.

This particular one is the orange parallel of these On Fire die-cut autographs. I decided to go after this particular one out of both desperation and because orange is the best color to go with when it comes to flames. Although I hate how this is numbered to 50. Not because it's numbered, exactly, but because when I think of orange chrome-y parallels, I think of them being numbered to 25 thanks to Bowman.
So thanks a lot of Leaf, first you try to be the poor man's Panini and then you don't even try to be the poor man's Bowman. I expect you to make up for your blunders by living up to your company name and including marijuana leaves in your future products. I'll have the Zig Zags ready.


I picked up this green die-cut because it was cheap. Even though it's green it's not numbered and apparently the base version of this die-cut auto insert. See this is why I no longer bother to keep up with parallels and just go after them at random.


Pulled in the very last pack of my 2014 Bowman Draft hobby box. This card is just so cool. I was really worried that Bowman was going to use a pic of Torrens that they already used before but instead we get this really awesome shot of Torrens in catching gear in presumably the GCL (hence the fences).

So anyway thanks again for stopping by to witness me just showing off my latest LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSS cards :).
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Salaries


They're so happy. For now.

In the past I've mentioned how major league baseball teams like to keep minor league baseball salaries very low and how a lot of players in the minors tend to get screwed over financially. I'm bringing this grim truth up again because Andrew Miller of Baseball Essential posted an absolutely great piece on MiLB wages. If you haven't read it yet I'd highly recommend it, even if you don't care about minor league baseball I'd still recommend it. It covers a lot of topics like from how difficult it is for a lot of minor leaguers to make ends meet, first hand accounts of having to secure places to live during the season and surviving the offseason, and it completely breaks the false perception many of us have of minor league baseball players and the life they lead.

Without giving too much away I wanted to share some highlights from the article that I found noteworthy and very interesting.
"Many players have to pick up a job in the off-season, or work at camps sponsored by the team, just to make some extra money to survive off of. The players are at the stadium upwards of 12 hours a day, which makes it difficult for them to pick up a second true job during the season."
Although most of us don't know or see it, a vast majority of minor leaguers really struggle to make ends meet. The article mentions that a LOT of minor leaguers get paid below the poverty line and earn less than what fast food workers make in a single year.
Now because their "day-job" won't keep food on the table or keep the roof over their heads, a lot of minor leaguers have to spend their offseason working extra jobs. I follow almost every minor league baseball player in the Yankees organization on Twitter and I've seen a bunch of players say that they're offering lessons during the offseason to kids. Most of whom are players who were drafted in the lower rounds of the draft.


I'd also like to point out that while these players were offering their services for money, some top draft picks drafted in the the first round were tweeting about the newest iPhone they got (this was around the iPhone 6/6+'s release day).
I bring it up because it shows the disparity between the players who get the huge signing bonuses and the rest of the draftees who don't.

"Besides a formal salary, the players also receive money for food, which restricts them to certain options."
This quote refers to $25 that teams give their players for food every week during the regular season and the article goes on to say that those "certain options" are limited to fast food and that eating fast food drives trainers nuts.
I found this particularly interesting because you'd think that teams would be a lot more cautious with the diets and eating habits their players have. I'm sure that every organization views their minor leaguers as nothing more than cattle assets (remember baseball is nothing more than a business) but I had assumed that, like any business, those organizations would keep their assets in the best shape possible so they have as much value as they can possible have. Guess not.
And yes I'm aware that you can still have a healthy diet with only $25 per week, but remember that these minor leaguers are getting paid peanuts and need to save as much money as possible, and I'm sure that that includes making sure that they leave as much of that $25 left unspent as possible.

"In an effort to combat the pay scale, in April 2014, a lawsuit filed on behalf of 20 players against Major League Baseball and Bud Selig was filed. The claim is that Major League Baseball is violating many state and federal labor laws, including investigation that the amount they receive annually from baseball is below the poverty line, which violates many federal laws as an employer."

Here's the big one to me.
According to this Forbes article from 2013, Major League Baseball is a $8 billion industry thanks to television revenue. And that value will continue to rise as more and more teams sign lucrative TV deals that give team owners more money in their pockets.
I find it somewhat baffling that despite all that revenue going to pretty much everybody (including the small market teams), minor league baseball players suffer the most and get the short stick. The players union doesn't cover the minor league players so they're left unprotected and left to fend for themselves against a system that's basically looking to screw them over in every conceivable way. Unfortunately I don't really see any changes being implemented to benefit the minor leaguers. Every corrupt system has a way of keeping itself corrupt.
I guess this is fitting in a way though, our society claims to care about the future and yet there are numerous flaws of our education system and nothing is really done about it. Symbolism!

Anyway, I'm sure that you could do a lot worse in life than being a minor league baseball player who didn't get a big signing bonus and is getting paid the minor league minimum (especially in today's economy), but at the same time I think it's interesting how we tend to think of athletes as being overpaid (because owners can never be overpaid or too rich right?) people that live fabulous lifestyles and yet there are those who are worse off than most of the collectors in the baseball card hobby.

If you decide to read the article I linked (here it is again) and have your own thoughts and opinions on the matter let me know.
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Revisiting Profiles: John Frill


Alright, it is time to revisit John Frill.
Just who was John Frill?
How did his professional baseball career go?
What kind of pitches did Frill throw?
What was his life like before baseball?
What was his life like after baseball?

These are the questions I dared to ask when I decided to look up Frill The Thrill.

Much like Lefty Davis, a lot of information about John Frill has been lost over time. But lets try and uncover as much as we possibly can.
John Edmond Frill was born on April 3rd, 1879 in Reading, PA. Frill was a left-handed pitcher who batted right. By 1906 he had become a professional baseball player as he played for the Springfield Ponies in 1906. In 1907 he spent some time in East Liverpool but spent the end of the season with the Newark Sailors. Frill spent the following two seasons in Newark and was allegedly a star pitcher for the Sailors/Indians (I say allegedly because I haven't been able to confirm whether or not BR Bullpen's claims are accurate). On August 6th, 1909 John Frill was sold to the New York Highlanders for $2,500 (adjusted for inflation that's aprox. $63,225.45 today).

He started the 1910 season with the Highlanders and made his MLB debut on April 16th, 1910 against the Boston Red Sox. John Frill out dueled Frank Arellanes and the Highlanders won 4-2. The victory was also the first Highlanders win of the 1910 season. During the 1910 season John Frill appeared in 10 games for the Highlanders and started five of them. He struck out 27 batters while only walking five batters and pitched to a 1.85 FIP (per Baseball Reference). There aren't too many reports about John Frill's outings or his time with the Highlanders but if his 60 ERA+ and -0.9 bWAR are any indication then it's no surprise that the Highlanders sold him to the Jersey City Skeeters on July 13th, 1910.

Frill spent the rest of the 1910 season and the 1911 season with the Skeeters. In 1912 he returned to the majors twice, first as a member of the St. Louis Browns where he started three games but only lasted 4.1 innings between all three outings combined. He and his 20.77 ERA were picked up off the waiver wire by the Cincinnati Reds on August 5th, 1912 where he fared a little better, but his stint with the Reds would be his final one as a major league baseball player. After his time with the Reds he spent the next three seasons playing for the Buffalo Bisons, Jersey City Skeeters (again), Toronto Maple Leafs (haha), Syracuse Stars and the Albany Senators. Overall Frill was a solid pitcher in the minors but was sort of a AAAA guy during his stints in the majors.
According to a few sources John Frill was drafted by the US government in 1917 and fought in World War I in 1917 and possibly parts of 1918. On September 28th, 1918, John Frill died due to influenza at the age of 39 in Westerly, Rhode Island.

And that was all I was able to come up with (again I'm NOT as diligent as Thom over at the fantastic site Baseball History Daily so who knows what I might've been able to uncover if I had gone the extra distance and looked up old newspaper archives). But for a handful of Google searches I think I managed to answer close to four of the six questions I had. Of course the two I didn't answer were about his personal life before his playing days (and I guess his post-baseball life wasn't exactly answered very well either) and what he threw but I wasn't really expecting to find much about that sort of information ranyway so I'll just appreciate what I could get.

Hopefully you all enjoyed this post (I sure enjoyed digging up old bits of baseball knowledge again).
And as always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Sources:
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/f/frilljo01.shtml
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=frill-001joh
*https://baseballrevisited.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/baseball-and-the-saturday-evening-post-april-16-1910/
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/John_Frill
*http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=46057322
*https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8W4-MS7

*http://www.legendaryauctions.com/1910_11_m116_sporting_life_john_frill___300_subjec-lot90868.aspx
*http://sports.ha.com/itm/baseball-collectibles/photos/1913-buffalo-bisons-imperial-cabinet-photograph-thrilling-international-league-artifact-pictures-the-members-of-the-club-t/a/709-19607.s#Photo

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's Been Swell

These past few months have been some of the best for me as a collector. I started blogging and found a new way to yammer at strangers about nothing, I found several new team collectors I can dump my unwanted cards onto, and I've also gotten some of the best cards and support I could've ever hoped to get from this wonderful blogosphere.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. I'll be sure to remember all of the fun and excitement most of this whole run has brought me And I'd like to thank all of you who made it possible and as enjoyable as the experience could've been. Thank you.


I am of course talking about how my streak of consecutive weeks with a TTM return came to a halt this week. After what felt like an glorious infinite number of weeks where I got at least one TTM return in my mailbox, I didn't get one in the final week of November. But I suppose that is to be expected when one stops sending out TTM requests in mid-August. And even if my 2014 TTM haul ended with last week's Saltalamacchia return, I'd say that this run and this year in general was a huge success. Especially since one of my goals this year was to get more returns than I got in 2013 (which I did :)). Of course it's going to be hard to top this year come 2015 but thankfully I already have a stack of potential MiLB TTMs with more on the way when I get my hands on the soon to be released Bowman Draft and Elite Extra Edition (provided that Panini releases it). And I do genuinely want to thank all the players who signed for me and those of you who left positive comments on my TTM posts. It really means a lot to me since a lot of the posts were admittedly rushed and kind of air-mailed and yet you guys kept coming and left comments.

Now with that I'd like to make this announcement.
I'll be sending most of out my year-end Holiday Zaps a little earlier than usual this year. Reason being that I'm going to be spending the holidays overseas and I'll be too busy to really send packages out during mid-December. I sent wave one of these Holiday Zaps out yesterday to ten different zip codes. Wave two is ready and will be shipped out on either Monday or Tuesday. I'm putting the finishing touches on wave three but I'm waiting on a few pieces to arrive from COMC so those of you in wave three might have to wait until the second or third week of December. Sorry.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Yankees' Insane International Free Agent Haul

Masahiro Tanaka

In early 2014 the Yankees made headlines for bringing in Masahiro Tanaka. However, Tanaka wasn't the only international free agent the Yankees brought in in 2014.

In early July the Yankees went HAM on the international prospect market and scooped up nine of the top 25 international prospects in the first day alone (they added their tenth recently). They later went on to sign a bunch of other guys too (several of which haven't even been reported yet). Here's a rough list of some of the players who have signed with the Yankees. I've typed the more highly touted players in bold.

Dermis Garcia
Nelson Gomez
Juan De Leon
Jonathan Amundaray
Wilkerman Garcia
Hyo-Jun Park
MIGUEL FLAMES
Antonio Arias
Diego Castillo
Frederick Cuevas
Servando Hernandez
Leobaldo Cabrera
Jason Lopez
Lisandro Blanco
Wander Hernandez
Raymundo Moreno
Alexander Vargas
Adolfo Morillo
Pablo Olivares
Bismar Nunez
Luis Pache
Danienger Perez
Gilmael Troya
Griffin Garabito
Yossty Vargas
Jose Polonia
Erick Mendez
Bryan Emery

Now obviously this move did come with it's fair share of repercussions. The Yankees only had a signing pool of roughly $2.2 million and will face extremely heavy penalties for whatever they spent over that amount. According to RAB they'll have to pay at least $12.31 million in taxes. And they will not be allowed to sign an international free agent to a signing bonus worth more than $300,000 from 2015 to 2017.


Despite that this was a bold and (IMO) very good move for the Yankees. Like any prospect these international free agents are gambles, but as the past few years have shown the Yankees are putting an increased emphasis on player development. Plus it's not like the Yankees are going to be able to get another top 10 first rounder in the draft any time soon so they might as well flex their financial muscle to scoop up top tier foreign talent. And yes, I'm painfully aware that the Yankees have had a pretty bad track record of developing players in recent years but they are improving. They've added layer after layer of depth in just these past two years and also took another minor league affiliate, the Pulaski Yankees, under their umbrella giving them a total of 10 minor league teams to work with for the foreseeable future.


And as many have noted this also showed how flawed the current system is. The Yankees spent a little under $30 million (and that's just what we know of) and nearly half of that went to penalties and taxes. The deep-pocketed Yankees can afford to do that, but small market teams like the Brewers couldn't possibly afford to pay those taxes. Hell, those teams can barely afford the players in the first place. Of course everybody has noticed these flaws and among the potential solutions there are currently plans for an international draft even though nearly every player (in the bigs) opposes it as the draft would likely take advantage of international draftees (like the MLB draft takes advantage of domestic draftees) with weird policies and whatnot. Whatever the MLB chooses to do, we can expect that their solution to this problem will undoubtedly just create more problems in the future (their track record for unexpected repercussions is impeccable).


In all the Yankees minor league system took huge steps forward in 2014. From top prospects improving their game, some previously unknowns having breakout years, to all of these new international additions, and to top it all off the new minor league club. Your average Yankee fan probably won't care, but these developments are huge and if lucky, the Yankees could benefit from them between 2017 to 2020 when the players have finally risen through the ranks and can make an impact on the big league club. Oh yes, that next dynasty is going to be here soon-ish.
Keep in mind though, there is still a month or so left here in 2014, there is still plenty of time for the Yankees to add one or two more names to their long list of foreign acquisitions (Yoan Moncada!).

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

Sources:
*http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24605276/yanks-game-international-free-agent-system-as-big-money-mlbers-underperform
*http://www.baseballamerica.com/international/top-30-international-prospects-signed/
*http://riveraveblues.com/2014/07/breaking-down-the-yankees-record-international-free-agent-haul-105870/
*http://riveraveblues.com/2014/07/2014-international-free-agency-open-thread-105514/
*http://sbb.scout.com/story/1417487
*http://riveraveblues.com/2014/07/international-signings-moreno-garabito-vargas-105895/

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cole World



A while back the Dime Box king overlord blogged about some cool cards he acquired that featured a lot of musicians. I was so intrigued that I decided to pull the trigger on a little something that was on my watch list. That something is this cool card of my favorite rapper, J. Cole (feat. Wale who's also a pretty good rapper IMO).
Growing up I was a pretty big fan of hip hop. Unfortunately when people think of hip hop they think of idiots reinforcing negative stereotypes and bragging about how much money they have and how much sex they have because in today's world it's only the negative aspects of a music genre that ever gets attention, but there is more to the genre than people (including a large number of hip hop fans) probably think.

One of my favorite mix-tapes of all time

Back in 2010, there was a brief moment of time where it looked like a new generation of rappers had arrived and were going to bring some much needed thought, depth and passion back into the mainstream hip hop scene, and J. Cole was going to be one of the spearheads of the movement and establish himself as one of the biggest names in the industry.
Unfortunately things did not go that way. Jermaine Lamarr Cole's momentum pretty much vanished by the time his second album dropped/this card was released and the rest of the movement dissolved into a bunch of sell-outs, b-listers and guys that disappeared entirely (although Kendrick Lamar turned out okay). Now I could go on and explain why I think that happened but I'll spare you all from my college thesis on the matter. I'll just say that despite the "what ifs" and a few missteps, I'm still a big fan of J. Cole.

I love this back so much

Anyway I love the back of this cool oddball. With the important details above like which event these cards were being distributed at, and some of J. Cole's bio. And yes, J. Cole was in fact born in Germany (he was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina though). I thought it was really cool how they presented the albums J. Cole released like stats on a baseball card. And of course no one can front on that cute little cartoon on the lower left hand corner.
Between this and the cool team issued Phillies cards The Phillies Room is always blogging about, I think I can safely say that Philadelphia sure makes some great cards.

Now to finish out this post I was going to share my top five favorite J. Cole songs but I figure I'd just randomly share a few songs I really like by him. Also I'd like to mention that his next album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, is going to be released next month on December 9th. I can't wait!









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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Weekend TTM Roundup 11/10-11/15

Well this was a slow week. This week was so slow that I almost prepared a post on how my streak of consecutive weeks with a TTM return came to a halt but then I got one at the very last possible minute. On Saturday around lunchtime.

Received On: 11/15/2014

But oh what a return it was.
It was from Tyler Austin who was one of the seven prospects the Yankees sent over to the Arizona Fall League.
Tyler Austin first put himself on the map after a breakout 2012 but his 2013 was derailed by injuries and he found himself being overshadowed by newer, more promising prospects that have entered the system. In 2014 he managed to escape having another season being lost due to injuries and had himself a very good second half. Enough to put him back on a few radars.
Offensively Austin provides some pop and hits for a pretty high average. Defensively he's not great in right field but he's not terrible either.
Austin has played both the infield and outfield in his profession career so far. For all we know he could possibly offer some versatility between RF and 1st ala Nick Swisher.
Austin had himself a pretty great AFL-stint before it abruptly ended when he collided with Greg Bird and suffered what appeared to be a bone bruise. From what I've read it doesn't appear to be as serious as the wrist injury that slowed down Austin's progress in 2013.
Anyway if Austin being sent to the AFL is any indication, it appears as though the Yankees still see promise in Austin. At this point the Yankees' previous draft strategy of going after high risk high reward guys out of high school is gone and sooner or later Austin (as well as Williams and Heathcott to an extent) will just be remnants of that bygone era but I'm sure the Yankees will take anything they can still get from what's left. Hopefully Austin continues to progress and makes it to the bigs and doesn't have to suffer the fate of having the system pass him by.

Received On: 11/15/2014

I've heard stories of just how cool Austin is and finally experienced it first hand when I saw that he also signed the bonus card I sent to him as a gift for me.
Hopefully Austin makes a full recovery and sees some time in the bigs next year. After all, the Yankees have outfield issues that won't disappear even with Chris Young and Eury Perez in the mix.

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

2014 TTM Count: 228

Sources:
*http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2014/11/14/winter-league-notes-tyler-austin-resting-left-knee-injury/
*http://rollingthunder.mlblogs.com/2014/11/09/tyler-austin-carted-off-in-arizona-fall-league/
*http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2014/#list=nyy

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Heartbroken

As some of you may have heard, Francisco Cervelli (the guy this blog was named after) has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Justin Wilson.


Needless to say I'm pretty saddened by this. Cervelli is a fierce competitor with a great personality and immense passion for the game. He is an above average backup catcher (both offensively and defensively) and would probably even be a starter for terrible/mediocre teams. He was a homegrown product and was also a fan favorite amongst Yankees fans, which is quite an accomplishment given how most backup catchers are often completely ignored and how ignorant Yankee fans can be. In a way this move was sort of inevitable given how the Yankees had three catchers competing for the backup catcher job. But inevitable or not, it still hurts :'(.


In exchange for Cervelli the Yankees got reliever Justin Wilson. I already know I'll be biased against this guy regardless of how well he performs (and yes, I'm aware of Wilson's talent). Not just because he was traded for Cervelli but because he could also be a potential threat to the all-home grown Yankees bullpen. I don't want aliens from the 29 other farm systems in the bullpen anymore when the Yankees have the five-headed monster (and a few other guys) waiting in the wings.

So so long Cervelli, good luck in Pittsburgh. Hopefully you'll be reunited with fellow ex-Yankee Jose Tabata in Pittsburgh at various parts of the 2015 season.
And for those of you who are curious I will (sort of) continue to collect Cervelli. I don't hate the Pirates and wouldn't mind having his post-Yankees era cards in my collection. If Topps chooses to release a Cervelli card at all that is. Now that he's no longer with the big market Bankees and with the small market Pirates, it'll probably be a miracle if he gets a Topps Update card between now and when Cervelli hits free agency.

Also, before I forget, I looked at the feedback I got from you guys yesterday and I've gone and renamed my blog.
Everybody, I welcome you all to the not-really new and barely improved, Torren' Up Cards :). Grammatically it doesn't make sense but much like the classic 80's hit Take One Me, it sounds great doesn't it? Hopefully I'll be able to use this name a lot longer.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :). Also appreciate the players you like on your team while they're still there, you never know when they'll be out the door. #RIPCervelli

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Torren' Up Cards

So now that the baseball year is mainly over (the Arizona Fall League, and various winter leagues in Latin America are still going on) everybody and their grandmothers are doing year-in review posts for their favorite players/teams/farm systems etc... and I was going to do one as well, but gave up halfway through the post.
So instead I'll talk about one thing that's made me very happy recently. The "emergence" of Luis Torrens.


By that I don't mean that Luis Torrens finally became a good player. No that happened a long time ago. What I mean is that LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS has started getting more praise amongst prospectors doing those year-in-review posts. I mentioned a while back that he was picked as the fourth best prospect in the New York-Penn League by Baseball America. I forgot to mention that he's currently the tenth best prospect in the Yankees organization on MLB.com's list. And now I'm going to bring up that he was also ranked ninth on Baseball America's Top 10 Yankees prospect list.
It's pretty surprising to see that it took this long for people to take notice of his greatness considering how he was basically the best international free-agent prospect the Yankees brought in in 2013. In terms of buzz he was, at best, one of the names people threw in when they wanted to illustrate how deep the Yankees' catching depth was. I guess everybody was too busy calling the Yankees farm system one of the most depleted and worst systems in the majors to care. Still, better late than never. Or more accurately it's better that Luis gets praise after I've acquired most of his cards while he's still undervalued hehe ;).

Now I said I wasn't going to do a recap, but I figure I'd do a brief one for LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS to at least explain why he's started to get attention.
Torrens' 2014 season didn't exactly begin on a high note. He was aggressively moved up to Charleston but looked a bit overmatched and shoulder injuries got him sent down to Staten Island on a rehab assignment. He spent a few games in the GCL and then stayed in Staten Island for the rest of the year. And in all honesty the NYPL was a more appropriate level for the catcher who had just turned 18, despite the fact that that's still well below the average age in the NYPL. He thrived in Staten Island and was easily the team's best player and had the highest ceiling out of everybody on the team. During his time as a Baby Bomber (48 games) he had a 20-game hitting streak and was batting a little below .400 which earned him a nod to the 2014 NYPL All Star Game. He cooled off a bit and finished the season with a .339 wOBA and 115 wRC+ (SI Yankee stats only from fangraphs) which means that his overall offensive production was above average and he created roughly 15% more runs than the average player in the league. His .135 ISO was a pretty nice stat as well that at least backed up the reports about how Torrens' bat has some pop in it, something that scouts questioned back in 2013.


Torrens himself said that defense was a big priority in 2014 and all reports indicate that he did take huge steps forward behind the plate. A vast majority of scouts have raved about his defense even though he's only been a full time catcher for two years. Baseball America even picked him as the best defensive catcher in the Yankees org this year. According to Baseball Reference he gunned down 39% of would-be base stealers throughout the year (Charleston & Staten Island combined). And although his stint in Charleston wasn't exactly a bright one he did have a 1.000 fielding percentage and did not commit a single error. Of course those don't really mean anything given the small sample size but I just wanted to share those very pretty numbers. His fielding percentage as a Staten Island Yankee was a very good .992 BTW.


Overall Torrens did slow down during the final stretch (most likely due to fatigue) which most scouts were expecting since he hasn't filled out yet. Much like last year scouts will observe how much more strength Torrens can add to prepare himself for longer, more physically demanding seasons as a catcher. However his progress in 2014 indicates that his bat is coming along and he's at least proven that he does have a future behind the plate.


Oh and for those of you who don't know Torrens was originally an infielder (I think some referred to him as David Wright-lite) before the Yankees converted him into a catcher after signing him. Hence why he still works on his defense (especially blocking pitches and reducing passed balls).


Torrens will most likely start 2015 in either Charleston or Tampa. A lot of professional scouts say that he'll probably be in Charleston with a promotion to Tampa later in the season, but when I last spoke to Torrens about where he plans on going next he said he has his sights set on Tampa. And who knows, the Yankees might aggressively push Torrens again if he has a great spring.

While I admit that it's usually best to take minor league numbers and praise with a grain of salt (especially when it comes to the lower levels of the minors like the NYPL), I don't care. I'm all for calling Luis Torrens Posada's heir and saying that he'll join Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada in the proud lineage of great Yankees catchers. I'm calling it right now. He will succeed where Dioner Navarro, Francisco Cervelli (*tear*), Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, John Ryan Murphy and Gary Sanchez (too early?) all failed.


With that I'd like to ask you all this question. Should I just go ahead and rename this blog Torren' Up Cards?


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