Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hard Work Pays Off

Hey everyone, Drew back here. I can't remember the last time I've been this involved with the hobby while also being as uninvolved in the blogosphere. I really just haven't had the motivation to blog, despite having picked up some of the best cards in my collection. I'm currently watching the youth movement take over New York tonight in Game 3 of the Subway Series, so I feel as though it's a good time I show off my own personal card farm system. 

I don't think there's ever really been a time I haven't liked Brian Cashman. Sure, I know I've questioned some of his high end signings in the past, but you really have to wonder how much the Steinbrenner's influenced those moves. Especially now, after a week where Cashman turned over a new leaf and brought the Yankees organization into the modern baseball world and temporarily gave up hopes of buying a championship. 

Fans of the team are accustomed to winning, so it is awfully risky to sell off your best assets in an effort to rebuild at the trade deadline. Cashman is not a hero because he chose to sell, since he's one of the last current GM's to do so. He's a hero because he finally held his own and did what has needed to be done since 2013. He showed his rebellious side, took some risks, and from all accounts it just might pay off. All I can say is: I have never been more excited for the future of this team.

The Yankees may boast a top notch farm system after last week's moves, but Aaron Judge still excites me over any of them. He could be an All Star, reminiscent of Dave Winfield in size and stature. He could be a bust. The risk is there, but it's worth taking. I cannot wait to see this guy don the pinstripes in a few weeks. I bought his Bowman Chrome refractor autograph (get used to reading that) for my birthday, and I may be preparing to send it in to BGS and see how it grades. But for now, it becomes one of the highlights of my card collection.

In order to make a youth movement work, you need to have someone who can grind out games at whatever position needs to be filled. Rob Refsnyder appears to be the obvious pick for that utility-man role. He doesn't do anything fantastically, but he more than holds his own. I've been impressed with what I've seen from him in the majors this year, and I hope the team continues to reward him with proper playing time.

Everyone enjoys a comeback story, let's be real. Two years ago, Tyler Austin was considered a Top 100 prospect, but injuries halted his road to the show before he got the chance to make his MLB debut. In 2016, he's batting .311 with 13 home runs and 45 RBI in AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre, and rumor has it that he and Judge could see a call up by the beginning of September at the very latest.

Speaking of comebacks, we'll be hoping to see much more out of Greg Bird in 2017 than we've gotten this year. One of the biggest blows to this season came in February when out of nowhere it was announced that he would be undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and would be out for the season. After catching a glimpse of what he is capable of doing at the Major League level, it was tough news to swallow. Mark Teixeira appears to be dragging himself out of New York after what has so far been a horrendous final season of his 8 year deal, so the job could be Bird's to take as early as next spring.

While it's good to have powerful bats in your lineup and guys capable of filling voids throughout the diamond, no team is complete without a sparkplug at the top of the lineup. Enter Jorge Mateo, who could be just that in 2-3 years when the Yankees are ready to bring him up (because if he had a say apparently, he would be well past High-A by now). Last year, he led all professional players with 82 stolen bases, and has continued to display raw speed this season. Some say he may be the fastest player in the game. It's too early to think about positional logjams, but I'm interested to see how their middle infield plays out over the next few years. For now, the job has been earned by Didi Gregorius, our best current all around player.

We close things out for now with the man who will have the final say in a large part of the team's future wins and losses. Dellin Betances has been one of the most exciting relievers in the game over the past three seasons, and I feel like some Yankee fans take his talent for granted. He's been dominant, but fans keeping asking for another Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman caliber player to pair him with. Now, after two big trades; Betances has the closer job and I couldn't be happier for him. He was notably disappointed seeing his friends depart to Chicago and Cleveland, but now he has the opportunity to become the 9th inning man once and for all.

Brian Cashman and I have both been working hard this summer. He's been able to bring Yankee fans hope for the future, while I have been slowly working my way back from being totally broke post-Europe. Budgeting portions of my paychecks towards the hobby have given me something to look forward to despite consecutive days (or weeks) of work. And now, I'm almost ready for the future to take off and kick into gear.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fun, Easy Instagram Dealing!

Hey guys, Drew back here! This month has been strictly business, which may explain why I haven't been around. The amount of wheeling and dealing with my collection has reached new heights this summer, thanks to eBay and Instagram in particular. I also have been working almost every day since I returned from Europe, so in order to keep me sane I've been putting part of my paychecks towards a card budget that has allowed me to expand and grow my collection.

Before I get into some of the higher end additions, I wanted to show off a fun trade package I got from Instagram user @ttm.autographs32. Luke and I were able to work out something simple and fun that we both benefitted from.

Andrew McCutchen is in the midst of his worst career season, which is worrisome for Pirates fans for sure. Luckily for them, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco have picked up Cutch's slack. I'm not collecting McCutchen as much as I once did, but I'll welcome any of his cards into my collection when offered. He is one of the best players and guys in the game today regardless of his slow season, and time will tell if he will emerge as the catalyst he's been in years past.

The best part about collecting Derek Jeter is that there isn't a whole lot that could happen nowadays that would kill his value. I would never sell any of my Jeter cards, but it's nice knowing that his cards really could only increase in value with time. I surprisingly didn't have many of these cards yet, and this pushed me to a total of 236 unique cards in my Jeter PC.

Unlike McCutchen, Robinson Cano is on his way back into relevancy as he has led the Mariners offense in 2016. The former Yankees All Star is currently batting .305 with 22 home runs and 60 RBI! I'm planning on slowing down on collecting Severino, Panik, and McCutchen and placing much of my focus on my former favorite player.

It's hard to resist collecting some of the Yankees top prospects. We don't have the best farm system in the game, but there are more significant names than I can ever remember being in the system. Jorge Mateo was in the news recently for some conduct issues, but homered today in return from his suspension. Aaron Judge has been a monster up until his recent knee injury has sidelined him. Hopefully we'll see our #1 prospect in the majors by season's end.

Finally, the Yankees are giving Rob Refsnyder some fair playing time in result of the abysmal performances from Teixeira and A-Rod. This green bordered Gypsy Queen mini is numbered out of 99.

Finally, I was given these 2 Topps Big Stix sticker pages of Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano! I recently took the time to put every single Cano card I own in top loaders in his own exclusive PC box, and I put these stickers on top to add some decoration to it.

Thanks Luke for the trade. Be ready to see some pretty great stuff on this site, despite my inconsistencies with posting.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Harvey Day

Hey Mets fans, remember when "Harvey Day" was a thing? It's tragic, really. Sure, Matt Harvey is returning to form this year little by little, but the days where he electrified the Mets fanbase on every fifth day appear to be over. One of the flaws of the world today, in my opinion; is that topics become old news in light speed. Harvey has certainly fallen victim to this.

But don't worry "Dark Knight". I'm not a Mets fan, but I've seen enough of your starts to know that this is not the end. The Mets faithful may be more intrigued by Thor and his giant hammer or the legendary slugger that is Bartolo Colon, but Harvey is still my favorite of the All Star bunch.

2011 Bowman Platinum Matt Harvey Autograph

And with that, I decided to add one of his top prospect autographs to my collection. I've been working just about every day this summer, and will be continuing to do so for the next few months. I'm allowing myself a weekly budget to use to bolster my collection, because it will serve as excellent motivation to keep working hard and save up money towards a new car.

This has been a card I've wanted to add for a while now. I went some of the All Star Game events in 2013 when the Mets hosted, and the hype for Harvey (who started the game for the National League) was soaring almost as high as Strasburg-mania in 2010. After an atrocious April and May this season, Harvey pitched more like himself in June. Hopefully he can keep it going, and perhaps Harvey Day could return.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Full Circle

Last week, I made a pretty big trade on Instagram with user @ttmcollector25. At first, I had planned to accept a trade I wasn't too high on. But, just before I pulled the trigger, I found this card scattered on his page and quickly countered:

2000 Upper Deck Legends Reggie Jackson Auto Graded 8.5 w/ 10 Auto

It took a little extra on my end, but it wasn't too difficult to come to an agreement. I haven't added an autograph of Reggie's since he screwed over my Mickey Mantle 16x20 and signed in the darkest spot intentionally. I haven't been his biggest fan since then, but this was too nice a card to pass up. And the most ironic part of it all is that it originally belonged to a fellow blogger in our community, Frankie!

It's crazy how some things come full circle like this. I think Frankie may have moved the card because of the somewhat disappointing grade. However, I've never really been one to critique (or have much interest in) graded cards, so I'm comfortable with the score this received.

So, thanks Frankie for giving this up so it eventually would join my collection!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Instantly Hooked on Instagram

For a while, I didn't know how much I was into using Instagram for hobby related purposes. I didn't know how much I'd be able to trust users and besides, I hadn't done much trading in a considerably long time. I finally decided to give it a shot, and the longer I've had my new separate account (@drewshotcorner), I realized that a lot of my cards do indeed have a price tag and are not untouchable. Several trades later, I have to say I'm hooked. No offense to you guys, but the trading and selling is much more active there than it is on these sites from everything I've seen.

First, I made a trade with user @csgraphs a few weeks ago. I dealt a few autographs I didn't have any connection to for these two beauties:

2016 Topps Museum Collection Nolan Arenado Quad Patch Relic /75

2013 Topps Five Star Justin Upton Auto /333

Arenado is one of the top five all around position players in the game in my eyes, along with Trout, Harper, Machado, and Goldschmidt. He can do no wrong. This patch card I acquired more than likely will end up in Frankie's hands eventually, but for now I'm going to enjoy the dirt splattered relic chunks.

Meanwhile, it hasn't been the brightest start to Justin Upton's Tigers tenure. He is beginning to come on, which is encouraging and should have been expected. He is an example of an overhyped prospect that has come into his own over time. He was hyped to be much greater than he's been, but at least he's still an above average outfielder. I love Topps Five Star, and will struggle to unload this card because of how gorgeous his autograph looks.

Next, I worked out a trade with @cluelesscards that I didn't think I would end up doing, but lucked out with. He wanted one of my low end Troy Tulowitzki autographs, and I preferred to move the card only for a different autograph or relic. He then presented me with an alternative approach to the deal, as he had quite a few cards I needed of many of my PC guys.

Robinson Cano was the big winner once again, as I was able to add 10 new cards of his alone to my PC box. I'm starting to soften on his transition from New York to Seattle, and really have no issue with continuing to collect his stuff here and there. I think a lot of that has to do with the Yankees now having a major league caliber player at second base again in Starlin Castro; no longer having to deal with the black hole that was old Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew.

This trade also included my first Aroldis Chapman Yankees card. I've been pretty impressed with Chapman, but I must admit it's hard watching him pitch for such a non-competitive team. If he isn't moved by the trade deadline, I won't have much faith left in the organization. He has too much value to be left wasting away in this bullpen. Side note: how awful were those 2015 All Star Game hats?

Believe it or not, the Yankees boast a stronger young core than they've had in quite some time. Refsnyder has had some nice moments, Bird exceeded expectations last September, and Didi Gregorius may just be their second best hitter right now after the red hot Carlos Beltran. The Opening Day rookie card of Gary Sanchez is a total flop though. I don't think you can tell from the scan, but the photo is so pixelated. It looks like a custom card done horribly wrong. Sorry, Topps.

Because there is a Nick Swisher card included here, I guess this is the proper time to address that I have sold my 150+ card collection of his to Chris Olds, formerly of Beckett Baseball. He is a Swisher super collector, and as much as I enjoyed his stint in pinstripes it was all taking up too much space in my personal collection box. I might add a few of the cards back in time, because now I have just a few left, but I felt like it was the right thing to do and I did it.

I really like this Gypsy Queen framed parallel of Andrew McCutchen. Cutch is off to the worst start of his magnificent career, and may be considered the worst of the Pirates super talented outfield. I would never count him out though. He is no longer one of my major PC focuses, but I wouldn't pass up his cards if I were offered them. This one will be staying with me.

This was a good trade for me, despite losing an autograph from my autograph count (which is declining substantially since I first posted about it). 

The final trade I'll be showcasing in this post was with @cbbaseballcards. I gave up my Anthony Rizzo Tribute auto in exchange for these two Yankees autographs. Rizzo is one of my favorite players right now, but I want to find a card I like more than the one I had. 

Aaron Judge and Greg Bird could work out in several ways. One could pan out, one might not. Perhaps both will fly to superstardom and bat 3-4 in the Yankees order for years to come. Or both of these cards will one day be found in the dollar bin. Autograph collecting is such a gamble, and I think that is part of why it is so addicting for collectors like myself. Judge has been on a tear lately in AAA, and I hope the Yankees give him a fair chance in the majors this season after they trade Carlos Beltran for more quality prospects (which again, as much as I like Carlos; needs to happen for the good of the future).

This is just the beginning of my summer collection overhaul. I just got a new job that pays pretty well, and while most of the money I make will be allotted to recovering my abysmal bank account post-study abroad, I will have some money to put towards this hobby too. I already have a few ideas up my sleeve.