Baseball Cards

The Dodgers’ Outfield – One Man Out

Posted on April 9th, 2014 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards

According to just about everyone who is anyone in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the early season favorite to win the pennant and head to the World Series. With the highest payroll in baseball and a long list of star players both in the field and on the mound, the Dodgers aren’t exactly a surprise pick. In fact, it will be a surprise if they don’t contend strongly come playoff time.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games in Southern California. One of manager Don Mattingly’s biggest issues is how to divide up playing time among four very capable outfield options. In a league with no DH, Mattingly doesn’t have the option of keeping the odd man out happy by getting him at bats in the DH slot when not in the lineup.

The four outfielders in question are Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier. All four of the players are very well paid, and would be starters on just about every team in the league. In addition to that logjam, the Dodgers havepuigkempstar prospect Joc Pederson waiting in the wings to get his chance as well. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

Previously, this issue has been solved by the poor health of superstar Matt Kemp. When healthy, Kemp is the best of the four players, but his health has been fickle in recent years. He is back in action now, and if he is able to perform like his old self, will be safe bet to land in the lineup on a nearly daily basis.

With Puig, the issues have been more behavioral than performance or health related. Puig has had a series of minor incidents like speeding tickets and tardiness that have left him in the dog house from time to time. Also, on the field errors like overthrowing the cutoff man and getting picked off on the base paths have taken attention off of his amazing natural talent.

Crawford has had his own health issues, and Ethier has been hit and miss with the bat over the last couple seasons. Both players can be strong contributors when right, and sitting either is a hard pill to swallow considering their large salaries.

So what can Don Mattingly do? Is a trade inevitable?

While there might be a trade coming down the road, Mattingly can probably make do for the time being just by rotating these four players around. For one thing, the injury history of Kemp makes him a good candidate for a rest every few days. If Ethier doesn’t hit up to his previous level, it will make it a little easier for Mattingly to justify his time on the bench. Also, Crawford has been in the league for many years now and could also benefit from some rest on his legs throughout the course of a long season.

To be sure, the Dodgers are loaded with talent. Whether they choose to hang on to all four of these outfielders, or if they trade one to address another area of weakness is yet to be seen. Either way, it seems like a good bet that the Dodgers will be playing into October this season.

Don Mattingly to Remain with Dodgers

Posted on February 7th, 2014 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards, Coaches

Despite being rumored to be on the hot seat for much of the 2013 season, and even having his status somewhat up in the air after the season ended, reports are that the Dodgers have signed Mattingly to a contract extension through the 2016 season. Thanks to the large payroll and young talent that is currently suiting up for the Dodger blue, it seems like a good time to be the manager in the City of Angels. However, there is no lack of pressure to parlay that payroll into some postseason success. The Dodgers of 2013 made an incredible 2nd half run to an easy division title, but were bounced from the playoffs one round short of the World Series. While an NLCS appearance is nothing to sneeze at, the goals are clearly higher for this bunch.

What Mattingly Has to Work With

Nearly every manager in baseball must be privately jealous of the talent that has been assembled for Mattingly to work with. On the pitching side of the ledger, mattinglythere is Clayton Kershaw, whose name speaks for itself at this point. To go along with Kershaw, the Dodgers can send Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke, and Dan Haren to the mound as well. That is a list of starting pitchers that rivals any rotation in baseball, and makes for some long series when opposing teams arrive at Dodger Stadium. The lineup, for its part, isn’t lacking for star power either. Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and others combine to create one of the most formidable orders in the game. On paper, the Dodgers are a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

What Mattingly Brings to the Table

Don Mattingly was a great player for the Yankees for more than a decade. With a lifetime batting average of over .300, and 222 career home runs, Mattingly has no lack of authority in the clubhouse. The one thing that Mattingly lacks, however, might be what the Dodgers need the most – playoff experience. Despite playing in parts of 14 seasons for the Yankees, Don Mattingly only once made the postseason, losing to the Mariners in the 1995 Divisional Series. He never played in the ALCS, and never reached the World Series. Is that going to present a problem in trying to take the Dodgers to the promised land? Only time will tell. Plenty of great managers never played in the World Series, so it may be a non-factor when all is said and done.

Mattingly Collectibles Still Attractive

The presence of Don Mattingly in the dugout of the Los Angeles Dodgers is serving to introduce his name to a whole generation of baseball fans who never had the chance to see him play. A variety of great Don Mattingly collectibles can still be found on websites such as eBay, most with him dressed in the classic Yankee pinstripes, although a few  items with Dodger blue are popping up from time to time. Given his sizable place in baseball history, a piece of Mattingly memorabilia should have a place in every baseball collection.

Masahiro Tanaka is Coming

Posted on January 31st, 2014 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards, Players

After much discussion and debate, Masahiro Tanaka seems to be headed to the American Major Leagues for the 2014 season. Where he will be putting his skills to use, however, is still open for discussion. Just about every team in the league could use the talent that Tanaka possesses, but only a few will be willing to enter the high-stakes bidding that is sure to develop. Any team that wishes to negotiate with Tanaka will have to commit $20 million in a posting fee to Tanaka’s team in Japan, although only the team that ends up signing the star pitcher will actually have to pay the $20 million.

What does Tanaka Bring?

As with any player that makes their way over from Japan, there are plenty of question marks as to how their performance will translate to the American game. With that said, there is no lack of success stories of players to make the transition from NPB to MLB tanakawith great results. Some of the most notable examples include Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, and Yu Darvish. On the other side of the coin, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa were both acclaimed starting pitchers who failed to find their footing with the Red Sox and Yankees, respectively.

In the case of Tanaka, most analysts agree that he is on track to be a successful starting pitcher in the major leagues. He has experienced incredible success in Japan, including a 24-0 record last season. Tanaka is just 25 years old, has a powerful fastball, and a 6’2” frame. On paper, he would seem to compare reasonably with Yu Darvish, who has been successful with the Texas Rangers for the past two seasons.

Which Teams are in the Race?

Most teams don’t divulge their free agent interests ahead of time, so there is only speculation as to which teams will be significant players for Tanaka’s services. Six teams that are believed to have strong interest, and the funds to make a deal, are the Rangers, Yankees, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Angels. How much each of those teams is interested, or if there any other other ‘sleeper’ teams waiting in the wings, is yet to be seen. On the surface, the Angels and Rangers seem like long shots simply because of their previous financial commitments. During this off-season, the Rangers have taken on Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, both with significant contracts. The Angels spent big in the last two off-seasons, with Pujols and Hamilton. While the Mariners just spent a fortune on Robinson Cano, rumor has it that there is more room in the Seattle budget. The Yankees, for their part, can never be counted out of the bidding for any free agent – especially given their lack of depth presently in their starting rotation.

No one can be sure as to what Masahiro Tanaka will bring to MLB when he arrives for the 2014 season. With his impressive resume from his career in Japan, it seems likely that he will have success on American soil as well. If he lives up to the potential that he brings with him, the team that wins this sweepstakes will have gotten a great asset for their pitching staff.

Robinson Cano has Landed – in Seattle?

Posted on January 23rd, 2014 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards, Players

Well – nobody saw that coming. While the Mariners were rumored to be interested in the services of star second baseman Robinson Cano (and why not?), the consensus thinking was that any negotiation with the Mariners was simply an effort to drive up his price with the Yankees. Wrong. Cano received a huge offer from the Mariners, and decided to pack up and head out west. He will team up with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and others to try and bring back a contending team to the Pacific Northwest.

What the Mariners Can Expect

In Robinson Cano, the Mariners are getting one of the most accomplished and productive players in all of baseball over the last robinsoncanoseveral years. Cano hits for average, hits for power, plays great defense at second, and more. Of course, at $240 million over 10 years, the Mariners are banking on the fact that Cano will continue to be the productive player that he has been for many years to come. Given the struggle that Seattle has faced in scoring runs over the last few seasons, any offensive addition will be a welcome one for both fans and pitchers in the Emerald City.

Are They Contenders?

One of the major questions in the days after Cano signed with the Mariners was whether or not this move alone is enough to make the Mariners a contending team in a division with the Rangers, A’s, and Angels. The answer, at this point, is probably not. However, the Mariners are likely not finished making moves during this off-season, and their opening day roster could very well look different than it does today. On the pitching side of the game, the Mariners seem to be positioned pretty strongly, with stars Hernandez and Iwakuma backed up by young talent like Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. While the offense remains a concern, young hitters such as Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak might have an easier time fulfilling potential with an established star like Cano hitting in the middle of the lineup and taking some of the pressure off of their shoulders.

What to Expect from Cano?

The safe bet is to expect Cano to keep on doing what Cano has always done – hit and field. He isn’t a player that will impress you with his all-out hustle and effort – he is more akin to another player that is legendary in Seattle, Ken Griffey Jr. Junior was know for the ease with which he played, and Cano is similar in that way. He is very much a natural on the baseball field, and has a knack for making the game look easier than it is.

It remains to be seen if Robinson Cano is able to take the Mariners to the next level and make them a team that the Rangers and A’s have to worry about in the standings. What is already clear, however, is that fans in Seattle have their first star hitter in many years, and there will be more anticipation for the 2014 Mariners’ season than any in recent memory.



Polar Opposites – David Freese for Peter Bourjos

Posted on December 14th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards, Photos, Players

The St. Louis Cardinals have a well-earned reputation as one of the best-run franchises in all of baseball. One look at their recent resume would suggest that they do, in fact, know what they are doing. A constant presence in the playoffs, the Cardinals seem well-positioned to remain as a force in the National League for many years to come.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, on the other hand, seem to be trending in the opposite direction. After a very successful first decade of the new century, the Angels have started throwing money at their problems – only to end up with more problems. The last two off seasons have seen the Angels making the biggest splash, first with Albert Pujols, and next with Josh Hamilton. Neither of those moves have paid off to this point, and the Angels appear to be going nowhere fast.

An Obvious Move for St. Loius

Given the fact that the Angels have a glut of outfielders and no third baseman to speak of, the Cardinals made sense as trade partners. The Cardinals have plenty of infielders to go around, but were a little thin in bourjosthe outfield department – especially center. Peter Bourjos is one of the fastest players in baseball and a great defensive outfielder. In addition, he hits better, and for more power, than your average speedy outfielder. When he can stay healthy, Bourjos is an enviable player that forces the opponent into a lot of uncomfortable positions.

But Not for the Angels

While it is easy to see why the Cardinals would be interested in Bourjos, it is not so obvious why the Angels would be willing to deal him for David Freese. Although Freese will live in St. Louis history forever after his amazing 2011 World Series performance, his 2013 campaign left a lot to be desired. He posted career lows in just about every category, and flopped in a big way in October. He is only under contract for two more years, as opposed to three for Bourjos, and will be more expensive to boot. Sure, the Angels needed a third baseman, but way Freese? And freesewhy give up Bourjos?

Seemingly One-Sided

As it stands, this trade seems like an easy win for the Cardinals. They addressed a significant need without having to part with anything of too much value or pay high free agent prices. The only obviously trouble that could be lurking on St. Louis end is the injury trouble that seems to follow Bourjos. If he can stay on the field, he’s an asset – but that’s a big if. For Anaheim, the deal seems less than desirable. Sure, Freese could rebound and be a useful player for the next couple years, but there is a chance that his useful days are behind him. Typically, hitters numbers get worse when moving from the National to American league, and Freese certainly can’t afford to go down much from where he was in 2013. It will all play out in time, but St. Louis fans sure have to feel better about this deal as it looks today.

The Robinson Cano Sweepstakes

Posted on December 7th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards, Jerseys, Players

It isn’t breaking news that Robinson Cano is one of the best players in all of baseball. He has been excelling for the Yankees for the better part of the last decade, and as a power hitting second baseman, his skills are rare. As the biggest fish in the free agent pond this offseason, Cano is looking to cash in big-time. In a strange move, Cano has ditched super-agent Scott Boras in favor of rapper-turned-businessman Jay-Z. The idea of Jay-Z sitting down with some of the general managers and owners around the league is an entertaining thought all of its own. Cano, and Jay-Z, have floated the idea of landing a contract north of $300 million in total value. Crazy? Maybe, but then again maybe not.

Abundance of Riches

The game of baseball has never been wealthier than it is right now. Revenues are at an all time high, attendance is strong, TV ratings are up, and on and on. In short, it is a good time to be a baseball player. As it relates to Cano, it is a great time to be a free agent with a great track record of reliable and durable performance. Great canosecond basemen are hard to find, and ones of Cano’s level are basically once-in-a-generation players. This is obviously a player that is going to land a giant contract, no matter which uniform he happens to put on.

Sustained Greatness

On the most visible team in the most visible market in the league, somehow Robinson Cano has flown slightly under the radar. The last time Cano missed more than three games in a season? 2006. This isn’t Cal Ripken, but pretty darn close. During that span, Cano has only hit below .300 once, and that was five years ago. He has amassed 200+ homers and has a career OPS of .860. The numbers on the back of his baseball card are so consistent they almost seem like a misprint. There should be no mistake when considering the talents of Cano – he is truly one of the very best players in the game.

Potential Suitors

It seems inevitable that Cano will go back to the Yankees, because it doesn’t seem like they ever let a great player like this get away. However, with the Yankees insistence on getting below the luxury tax number next season, it might not be as sure a thing as it seems from the outside. Also, there is the Jay Z factor to consider. This is his first free agent negotiation, and his first chance to make a big splash. Can he convince a team in another market to take the leap on Cano and sign a contract near that $300 million mark? Not only would that mean a huge payday, but it would also put him in position to land future clients impressed with his work. The Rangers, Mariners, Dodgers, and others have all been tossed out as possible landing spots, but only time will tell where, and for how much, Robinson Cano will sign on the dotted line.


2014 Free Agent Outfielders – Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin Soo Choo?

Posted on November 22nd, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards, Players

Once the World Series ends, it seems as if it takes no time at all for the hot stove league to fire back up for the winter. Where will the big free agents land? Will there be any blockbuster trades? These questions are fun for baseball fans to wrestle with all winter long, and the answers slowly trickle in until the rosters are set and the teams head to Spring Training. This year, much of the conversation will focus on two free agent outfielders – Jacoby Ellsbury from the Red Sox and Shin-Soo Choo from the Reds. Both of these players hit at the top of the lineup and offer power, speed, defense, and on-base skills. They are truly two of the best outfielders in the game, and both are available on the open market. But the question remains – which one would you rather see land on your team?

The Case for Ellsbury

Coming off a World Series title which he had a lot to do with, Jacoby Ellsbury is a hot commodity. In the 2013 season, Ellsbury hit an impressive .298 with an OPS of .781. To go along with that, he stole a league-leading 52 bases and played excellent defense in center field for the Red Sox. Back in 2011, Ellsbury posted aellsbury season for the ages hitting well over .300 and slugging 32 homeruns. If he ever returns to that form, he will once again be a legitimate MVP candidate.

The downside with Ellsbury is, of course, the injuries. He missed almost all of the 2010 season, and missed half of the 2012 season. Is he injury prone, or just unlucky? That is the question that teams will have to answer when they weigh their offers to the left handed outfielder from Oregon.

The Case for Choo

Shin-Soo Choo might not have the name recognition of Ellsbury, but he is quite a player in his own right. In his only National League season with the Reds, Choo had an OPS of .885 and hit 21 homeruns. He added 20 stolen bases to those numbers, and was one of the toughest outs in the league. Also, he walked an incredible 112 times on the season, a number that wasn’t far behind his strikeout total for the year.

When looking for a drawback to signing Choo to a long term contract, it is probably his struggles against left handed choopitching. If you are going to dedicate a large portion of the payroll to one player, you would like for him to be a steady force day in and day out. However, Choo has trouble against left-handed pitchers and won’t be the same force on days that see a lefty starter on the mound.

Who would your winner be?

When the times comes to write the check, whose name would you put on the pay line? Ellsbury seems to have slightly more upside than Choo, but comes with a higher risk of injury. Choo looks to be the steadier bet, but you would have to deal with his struggles against lefties. In the end, both are great players and are sure to benefit whichever teams land their services.


Ted Williams, Barry Bonds….Raul Ibanez?

Posted on October 4th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards, Players

Raul Ibanez has had an impressive major league career, all things considered. While never a star player, Ibanez recently hit his 300th career home run during his third stint with the Seattle Mariners. With that homer, Ibanez becomes just the 137th player in baseball history to reach that total. No matter what the category, adding your name to a baseball list that has less than 150 members is impressive to say the least. When Ibanez retires, whether after this season or next, no one will be calling for him to enter the Hall of Fame – however, it will be able to walk away knowing he got the absolute most possible out of his ability. Raul-Ibanez-Baseball-Card

Saving His Best for Last

This 2013 season has been of particular note because of the home runs that he has racked up. Playing in 119 games for the Mariners, Ibanez has hit 29 home runs with a week left to play in the season. No player aged 41 or older (Ibanez is currently 41) has ever hit 30 home runs in a major league season. If he is to reach that mark in one of the last six games, it will be an incredible achievement if only for the names he has passed on the list. The top single-season home run leaders 41 years or older include Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Dave Winfield, Stan Musial, Carlton Fisk, and more. Raul Ibanez is not a name that fits in with the rest – but there he is none the less.

Due to a consistently low on base percentage and downright terrible defense, the value Ibanez brings to a team has always been limited. He has had his moments in the spotlight, though, most notably in the 2012 playoffs when he came up clutch for the Yankees in several key situations. More than just a home run hitter on the field, Ibanez has long been noted for his leadership, community service, and overall positive influence on the game of baseball.

Despite being a great guy and racking up solid home run totals, no one is going to be clamoring for Raul Ibanez collectibles anytime soon. You could take a key from this list though and build a collection of cards and other items from the later seasons of the stars that have had big home run years late in their careers. Obviously anything Ted Williams is always attractive, but even Carlton Fisk, Stan Musial, and Barry Bonds could all comprise an exciting and valuable collection. Tracking down cards that represent the later years in these players’ careers would provide a fun challenge, but one that is more doable than finding rooking cards or other, more common targets.

A True Role Model

Raul Ibanez has had a unique career that all young players could learn from. He was cast off from team to team early on, and rarely got many at-bats. He continued to work, improved his swing and his fitness, and eventually made a lot of money and achieved great things in the game that he loves. That kind of persistence is what makes up a successful professional athlete, and Raul Ibanez will be able to retire feeling good about himself and his career.

The Most Exciting Baseball Cards to Find

Posted on September 10th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards

We all know that baseball cards have the potential to be a nice long-term investment if the player reaches their full potential and you happen to own some of the harder-to-find cards in your collection. Knowing that you are in possession of a collection that gains in value a little bit each day is a nice feeling. However, there are many ways to invest money, so that isn’t the only thing that calls us to back to baseball cards time and again. Along with the financial aspect is the possibility of finding great cards that bring up fun memories, introduce you to new players, complete a set, and more. If you are a long-time baseball card collector you have probably had your share of memorable finds over the years. In fact, as you read through our list of the most exciting baseball cards to find, try to think back to when you experienced these exact situations and just how exciting it was. Miguel Cabrera-Baseball Card-Triple Crown

The Card that Completes a Set

No matter if you are trying to complete a small set of 10 or 20 special issue cards, or a full 700+ card set from Topps or another card maker, getting that final card that brings it all together is a great feeling. There is something about the finality of having a full set of cards that is satisfying and makes for a great display as part of your overall collection. When you are searching for just one or two more cards to finish off a set, that quest can be exhaustive and lead you to places you never considered – so when it is all said and done, the accomplishment is worth at least a moment of celebration.

Your Favorite Player

We all have our favorite players. Sometimes they are among the best players in the game, and other times they just happen to play for our favorite team and have a personality that we appreciate. No matter how you came to pick your favorite player, finding their card in a freshly opened pack is an exciting moment. You probably have countless different cards of the player already, but there is always room for one more.

The Rare Special Edition

This one is exciting because the card is usually valuable, and you will know that you are in possession of something that very few other people own. Most card makers have special series within their sets that are hard to find and valued above the standard card sets. If you are lucky enough to land one of these cards within a pack that you have purchased, it will quickly become a prized part of your collection.

The Nostalgic Moment

If you go to a trade show or find an old pack of cards to purchase online, you might find the card of a player whose name you haven’t thought of in years. Maybe they used to be a favorite player of yours and have fallen off the radar. Maybe they played for a rival and you couldn’t stand them. Whatever the case, baseball cards can bring surprisingly strong emotions to the surface when they are first opened – and that is one of the things that we all love so much.

Top Designated Hitters of All Time

Posted on June 1st, 2013 by admin | Posted in Baseball Cards, Photos

First enacted in 1973, the designated hitter has come to play a prominent role within the sport of baseball over the past few decades.  Because the position is only available in the American League, it gives baseball memorabilia collectors not only another area of interest to focus on, but another way to enjoy collecting in general as well.  Arguments have been raging back and forth as to whether there should even be a designated hitter or if it should be implemented in both leagues, but regardless it is likely here to stay for a significant amount of time.  What follows are some of the most accomplished designated hitters to have played the game to this point.

Jim Thome

One of the more prevalent power hitters of the modern era, Thome will likely go down as one of the best designated hitters of all time as well.  Having played over 20 years in Major League Baseball, Jim racked up over 600 home runs, 1,600 RBIs and well over 2,000 hits to go with a .276 average as well.  He was selected to five All Star games over the course of his career and should easily make it into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, making Thome appealing to baseball memorabilia collectors.


Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas was one of the giants of the game during the modern era as well, but what separates him from someone like Thome was his ability to hit for average as well as power.  Frank hit over 520 home runs for his career to go with a sparkling .301 average along with over 2,400 hits as well.  Thomas was in his prime for the Chicago White Sox during the early 1990’s when he won the AL MVP award in 1993 and 1994, and his memorabilia is still highly collectible today.


Edgar Martinez

Martinez was most known for his role as a designated hitter for the Seattle Mariners during his nearly 20 year career.  Edgar hit over .310 for his career with nearly 2,300 hits and over 300 home runs as well, and went to the All Star game on seven occasions.  One of the most defining aspects of his time in Major League Baseball is that the best designated hitter award for each year is named in his honor with the Edgar Martinez Award.  Unfortunately Martinez has not been elected into the Hall of Fame yet, but that should not take away from his memorabilia value.


Paul Molitor

Unlike many designated hitters these days who mostly hit for power with a little bit of average as well, Paul Molitor mostly hit for average and had tremendous speed on the basepaths.  Molitor had a .306 average for his career along with over 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases.  He was selected to seven All Star games and won the Silver Slugger award on four different occasions as well.  Paul was elected in to the Hall of Fame in 2004 with over 85% of the vote and remains popular among memorabilia aficionados.