Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Great Baseball Card Experiment

Ever since I was a small child, I have had interest in collecting baseball cards. I bought a pack whenever I had a little extra money as a child, and spent most of my free time chewing the disgusting gum, and memorizing the statistics on the back. I lost interest in them as a teenager, but I have gotten back into it the last few years. I opened a pack of Bowman's just last night, and got a Bryce Harper chrome card, that is selling for at least $20 on various Internet sites.

An idea popped into my head over the last few months:  If I sent baseball cards to players in a self addressed stamped envelope, would I actually get back an autograph? I have heard stories of players taking a few minutes out of their busy days, and signing an autograph for a fan. I realize the chances are slim, and I know that an autographed card isn't worth much, because their is no way for the signature to be authenticated.  Here is the list of the players I am going to try and snag a signature from.

Zack Grienke:  Always been one of my favorite players, after he had a successful fight with anxiety. Would love a Grienke signature in my collection.

Jeff Keppinger:  A very good utility guy, who has always hit at the big league level.  I figure a utility guy with Houston isn't bogged down with letters.

Clayton Kershaw- Reaching here, and hoping that the young lefty gives me an autograph. The guy is a stud, so I hope I get a response.

Gio Gonzalez- The young lefty has blossomed into an effective starter, and Oakland doesn't have a great fanbase, so I am hoping he hooks me up with an autograph.

Carlos Quentin- The power-hitting outfielder has San Diego ties, so me thinks I have that working in my favor.

Scott Hairston- Always was a favorite of mine when he played in a Padres uniform. Now with the Mets, hopefully he will feel a bit nostalgic.

Alex Gordon- The former #2 pick is having a solid 2011 campaign, and I have a ton of Gordon cards.

Chase Headley- Dude is having a very good year, and I am playing the local San Diego card, hoping that plays into my favor.

Daniel Hudson- The young Arizona right-hander has been solid this year, and would be a great addition to my collection.

Again, I am not expecting much, but I figure at least one of these guys has to respond. If not, I am sending non-insert cards that aren't worth much. I will keep you all posted on what I get back, if anything.

Padres Trade Chips

The Padres got pounded 14-5, at the hands of the Boston Red Sox Monday night. The team sits at 30-44, and it is obvious that the ship has sailed on 2011. The team has been a complete disaster in every facet of the word, and it is time for Jed Hoyer to look to the future. Here are some of the trade chips that the San Diego Padres have at their disposal.

  • Heath Bell, Closer.  Signed through 2011, at $7.5 million.  Eligible for free agency after the season.  Bell is one of the Padres best trade assets, and should bring back at least two quality prospects. He has been one of the best closers in the game the last few years, and he has racked up 107 saves in the last 2 1/2 seasons. His strikeout rate is way down, but has still been effective in save situations. Possible Suitors:  Angels, Mariners, Brewers, Cardinals, Yankees, Rangers.
  • Ryan Ludwick, Outfielder. Signed through 2011, at $6.7 million.  Eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.  Ludwick had a miserable 2010 with San Diego, and his start to 2011 was just as bad, but he has come on as of late. For the year he has a line of .260/.328/.401, with 9 HR's and 45 RBI's.  He is playing above-average defense in left, and is hitting .285 away from Petco.  Possible Suitors:  Brewers, Cardinals, Mariners, Indians, Tigers.
  • Chad Qualls, Relief Pitcher. Signed through 2011 for 1.5 million. Has a club option for 2012 for $6 million, with a $1.05 million buyout. Qualls has pitched much better in 2011, after an abysmal 2010 campaign.  He has a 2.52 ERA, although his strikeout rate is at a career-low. Petco has been his friend, as he has a 0.96 ERA at home, and a 4.24 on the road.  Possible Suitors: Mariners, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Phillies.
  • Aaron Harang, Starting Pitcher:  Signed through 2011 for $3.5 million, and a mutual option for $5 million. Has a $500k buyout.  Dealing Harang is incumbent on his return from the DL. He's had a solid 2011, going 7-2 with a 3.71 ERA. Shouldn't cost too much, and can be a good back-end pitcher for a contender.  Possible Suitors:  Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Indians, Twins.
  • Mike Adams, Relief Pitcher. Signed for 2011 at $2.5 million. Arbitration eligible for 2012.  Adams is simply one of the best setup men in baseball. He has a 1.39 ERA, and strikes out more than a batter an inning. I believe that he may have more value than Heath Bell, but he is eligible for arbitration for 2012, so the Padres may not be inclined to move him.

80 Year Old McKeon the Man for the Marlins

If my team added a manager who has won over 1,000 games, and managed a club to a World Series title, I would be excited. If the man recalls seeing "Gone With the Wind" in the theatre, I might scratch my head.

The Florida Marlins, reeling after losing 17 of their last 18 games, replaced the departed Edwin Rodriguez with Jack McKeon, the "experienced" leader who led the team to a title in 2003. McKeon is 80 years, and has been away from the game for some time. Perhaps he somewhere waiting to die, who knows?

Sure the guy is old as dirt, but he has had some success. Obviously he is not the long-term answer in Miami, but he could help a talented Marlins team find their way back into the pennant race. He already showed his authority by benching Hanley Ramirez for showing up late to a team meeting. As a Marlins fan, you just have to help he remembers the way to the ballpark everyday. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

NBA Draft Preview

The NBA Draft is nearing closer, and it maybe the only NBA related action for awhile, with an impending lockout looming.  The Cleveland Cavaliers hold the top pick in the draft, and are expected to take Duke guard Kyrie Irving with the top pick. While the draft is not considered particularly deep, there are some good players to be had. Here are a few I have my eyes on.

  • Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke:  At 6'3 he has the size that NBA coaches love at the point. Shot over 50 % last year, and has great quickness. Durability is a huge concern with him, however. Has drawn comparisons to Chris Paul.
  • Derrick Williams, PF, Arizona:  The guy has versatility, as he should be able to play both forward positions. Averaged 19.5 points a game, and shot 57% from 3pt, albeit in limited attempts. Looks like a lock to go #2 to Minnesota.
  • Enes Kanter, C, Kentucky/Turkey:  The best center in the draft. Has the ability to score in the post, and knock down mid-range jumpers. At 6'11 and 260lbs, he has the bulk desired to play inside. I think he goes at #4 to Cleveland, who owns the first and fourth picks in the draft.
  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego St:  Obviously, he is my favorite player in the draft, and his stock has been rising. He is a tremendous talent, and can be a defensive force, and a great rebounder, although his jumper really needs to be polished. Has drawn comparisons to Gerald Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. I see him going in the #6-10 range, possibly to Sacramento at #7.
  • Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky:  Another freshman point guard who played at a prestigious school. Has great court vision, and the ability to shoot the 3. Could replace Deron Williams in Utah, who own the third pick in the draft.
There are way too many players for me to cover, but check out www.nbadraft.net for all your draft needs.