2019: Collecting Goals

Over the past couple of weeks, as 2018 was coming to a close, I began to think my collecting goals for the next year. As I covered in a previous post, 2018 was all about redefining my collection. In doing so, I revised my collecting habits and focused my collection. As we move into 2019 many of my collecting goals will be focused.

Set Collecting Goals
As for the sets I want to collect, the list right now stands at 11 sets. Topps Series 1 & 2 (counted as 1 set), Topps Update, Bowman, Bowman Chrome, Bowman Draft, Pro Debut, Heritage Minor League, Gypsy Queen, Topps Big League, Heritage (including High Number), Donruss.  This may seem like a big list, but there were easily over 50 sets released in 2018.

Most of these sets I will buy complete. My plan this year is to reduce the number of hobby boxes I purchase. There are a few of these sets that I will always want to buy a hobby box or three to open: Bowman, Bowman Draft, Pro Debut and Heritage Minor League. These are my favorite sets and I love opening those packs.

I am considering buy hobby boxes of Gypsy Queen and Heritage, but a lot depends on the price of the boxes. Last year Heritage was priced out of my range because of the Ohtani autographs. Donruss has been a fun box to open in the past and I may just get one this year.

The others however, I am going to buy as complete sets. I have met some great sellers on Twitter, like Christopher Torres (@CRT_Sportscards), that I definitely plan on doing some business with this year for my set and PC needs. As always, I will still buy a few packs here and there, just to see what the product looks like as it comes out. My intent this year is to start redirecting my hobby money to all aspects of my collection.

PC Goals
First and foremost is my Athletics PC. Above all else, this PC is my primary collecting focus for 2019. In 2018 I ended with 8,230 unique cards in my PC. The total amount of cards on my Athletics checklist is 19,726. So, my collection stands at 41.72% complete. I also have quite a few uncatalogued cards for which I need to create listings before they can be counted in the PC.

My goal for the A’s PC is to be at 50% complete by the end of 2019. This means I need to add approximately 1,633 unique cards to my collection, IN ADDITION to all of the cards that come out in 2019. There were over 600 unique A’s cards released in 2018. That means I will need to add roughly 2,000 cards in 2019 to reach this goal.

The other goal I have for the A’s PC is to complete the base sets (including traded/update) for Topps from 1970-present, Fleer (1960-61, 63, 81-2007), Fleer Ultra (1991-2007), Donruss (1981-98, 2001-05, 2014-present), Score (1988-98), Bowman (1989-present) and Upper Deck (1989-2010). The Score run will be the easiest to complete as I only need 5 cards at this point. I will cover the status of this goal in a future post.

I have quite a few player PCs that I am looking to organize and expand in 2019. My primary players include: Mark McGwire, Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk, Austin Beck, Lou Trivino, Daniel Mengden and Daniel Gossett. I was fortunate to see many of these guys in the Minor Leagues, particularly with the Stockton Ports, and they are some of my favorites.

My McGwire PC is going to receive the most attention this year. I need to take some time to reorganize it and catalog the cards I have in this PC. One goal I have is that I want to add 50 1987 Fleer Update McGwire and 50 1989 Upper Deck McGwire cards to the PC. These are two of my favorite McGwire cards along with the 1987 Topps.

I do have individual goals for each of the player PCs, but I am not going to take the time of list each goal here. Suffice it to say that I am looking to add a significant number of base cards (including doubles) and autograph cards to each of these player PCs. It would be nice to get each one of them into their own 1.5” binder by the end of 2019.

I am also considering adding at least 3 more players to the PC list in 2019. One prospect I really like that I am strongly considering is Sean Murphy. He is viewed as the A’s catcher of the future. Murphy will be starting the season with AAA Las Vegas and we could see him in Oakland sometime in 2019. I met him and got to see him play when he was with Stockton in 2017. He has a cannon of an arm.

Rainbow Project Goals
This year I will finish my current Rainbow project: 2018 Topps Update Lou Trivino. I currently need 3 more to finish it off: Gold /2018, Pink /50, Camo /25. There is another, Clear /10 that I would love to get, but only for the right price. For my collection the Rainbow only goes down to /25. Any card I get with a shorter print run is a bonus.

I will be resuming my Matt Olson 2015 Bowman Draft Rainbow. I don’t remember where this one stands, but I started it a couple years ago after I happened to win a printing plate from this set for a very good price.

I plan on starting at least one new Rainbow project this year. Not sure which player or which set or how many Rainbows, but one will be from a 2019 release. Two players I am considering are Matt Chapman or Jesus Luzardo.

Sets In Progress
I mentioned in my previous post that I have quite a few sets that I have started that I have never completed. In 2019 I intend to complete some of those sets. There will be other sets that I add to this list, but I know I want to complete.

2018 Topps Big League
2018 Topps Heritage Minor League
2017 Topps Chrome Update – 17 cards needed
2018 Topps Series 2 – didn’t buy much, may just buy complete
2013 Pinnacle – 112 cards needed

Lists for most of these sets can be found on the Sets in Progress page on this blog. (Insert link) If you have any of the cards I need for my set, I would be interested in making a trade.

MiLB Collection
I love going to Minor League Baseball games. It’s fun to watch players develop. It’s also a great way to meet prospects and get their autographs. This year I want to organize and expand my MiLB collection. The Stockton Ports are my home team and the Modesto Nuts (formerly A’s) is my secondary home team. My goal is to expand both of these collections by picking up all of the team sets I need from 1991-present. I also want to get all of the Pro Debut, Heritage Minor League and other major label Minor League cards from 1991-present for this collection.

Another goal I have for my MiLB collection is to create some binders for the other Oakland A’s affiliates by level. For 2019, my goal is to pick up all of the AAA (Nashville and Las Vegas), AA (Midland), A (Beloit) and Short Season (Vermont) affiliate team sets from 2015-present.

 

As a whole these goals do seem a bit lofty. However, over the course of the year, they are very attainable and simple. Again, these are my goals and they can change at any time. There many be a product that comes out that is simply amazing that I want to chase. Or there may be a new player that arrives at the MLB level that I want to collect. These are flexible goals. I just wanted to create a plan for myself as I head into the new year. Last year I redefined the direction of my collection, this year I want to move it forward and take it to the next level.

If you don’t already, you can follow me on Twitter at @bicemusic. I am always open to bulk trades. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter or comment below!

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Jesus Luzardo heading to Midland

After only 3 starts Oakland’s No. 2 Prospect, Jesus Luzardo, has been promoted to AA Midland RockHounds. During his brief stint with the Stockton Ports, Luzardo gave up only 2 runs and 6 hits in 14.2 innings. He also struck out 25 batters and walked only 5.  In his last outing on April 17th he did not allow a hit and walked 1 in five innings against the Modesto Nuts.

Luzardo0405

Athletics No. 2 Prospect Jesus Luzardo pitching for the Stockton Ports on Opening Night, April 5, 2018

Luzardo’s first start with the RockHounds will likely take place on Tuesday at Corpus Christi. Right now Midland’s starting pitcher is listed as TBD for that game.

Luzardo’s promotion may seem fast, but he impressed many people during Spring Training this year. Luzardo pitched in 3 games, 2 as a starter. In those outings, he did not give up any runs, compiled a 2-0 record and earned a save in his lone relief appearance.

The top prospect is one of now four 20 year-old starting pitchers to make it to AA for the Oakland A’s in the past 20 years. According to Melissa Lockard (Twitter: @melissalockard) the most recent to do this were Rich Harden (2002), Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson (both in 2008). Among this group Luzardo has the fewest Class A Advanced starts with 3. Both Cahill and Anderson had 13 starts each for the Stockton Ports in 2008. Harden had 12 starts for the Visalia Oaks in 2002 before earning his promotion.

Interestingly enough both Cahill and Anderson have rejoined the A’s for the 2018 season. Cahill made his first start in Oakland on April 17th. Anderson is pitching great in AAA Nashville with a 1.38 ERA in 3 starts while striking out 20 in 13 innings pitched.

The 20 year-old lefty was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 3rd round of the 2016 Draft out of Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, FL). Luzardo was acquired by the Oakland Athletics with Blake Treinen and Sheldon Neuse (Oakland’s No. 11 Prospect) in the trade that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington.

For a video primer of Luzardo’s first 2 starts with Stockton, I recommend Real McCoy Baseball’s YouTube Channel. You can follow him on Twitter @RealMcCoyBaseball

A’s Pitching Prospects Start the Season Strong

The first full week of the MiLB season is in the books and the different leagues are handling out the first round of player and pitcher of the week accolades. The Oakland Athletics pitching prospects took home Pitcher of the Week awards in three different leagues.

Coming into the season the A’s had the 7th ranked Top Farm system by MLB Pipeline. The pitching prospects are led by A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo. However, Puk went under the knife to have Tommy John Surgery last week and Luzardo has had a very strong showing in his first two starts of the season.

Here is how the A’s prospects fared in the weekly awards (April 5th-15th):

California League, Pitcher of the Week: Parker Dunshee, Stockton Ports. Dunshee had 2 starts and only gave up 3 hits while striking out 14 batters. He won his second start at San Jose on April 12th and has yet to give up a run.

Midwest League, Pitcher of the Week: Bryce Conley, Beloit Snappers. Conley has tossed 10 scoreless and hitless innings to start the 2018 season. Conley tossed the first 6 innings of Beloit’s combined no hitter with Ty Damron and Josh Reagan finishing it off.

Pacific Coast League, Pitcher of the Week: James Naile, Nashville Sounds. Naile went 3-0 and has pitched 17 2/3 scoreless innings in 3 starts to begin the 2018 season. Naile has allowed 15 hits, only 2 walks and stuck out 15 batters.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Oakland’s pitching prospects. The Stockton Ports starting pitching combined for 39.2 IP, 21 H, 2 ER, 9 BB, 59 K in the first 8 games. Bobby Wahl, Jeremy Bliech and Lou Trivino have each pitched in 3 games out of the bullpen for Nashville and have not given up a run. Jake Sachez, currently with Midland, has not given up a run in 3.1 IP with Midland and Nashville combined.

Modesto Nuts, 2017 Cal League Champs

As I prepare for my first trip in 2018 to John Thurman Field, home of the Modesto Nuts. I can’t help, but think back to my last trip there in 2017. It was Friday, September 15th, Game 3 of the California League Championship. The Nuts would roll to an 8-1 victory over the Lancaster JetHawks, securing Modesto’s first title since 2004 when they were an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

As a life-long baseball fan, there are certain milestone events I have always wanted to witness in person. One of which is a team winning their league championship. I was fortunate enough to be among the 3,329 fans in attendance that night. This win completed the “perfect postseason” where the Modesto Nuts beat the Stockton Ports in the first round 3 games to 0 and the Lancaster JetHawks in the finals 3 games to 0. This was the Nuts first season as a Seattle Mariners affiliate.

Joe Rizzo, who was promoted to Modesto during the final week of the season, was named Cal League Finals MVP after hitting 7 for 13 (.538) with 1 HR and 4 RBI. The then 19-year old was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of Oakton in Vienna, VA. Kyle Lewis also had a strong series batting 6 for 14 (.429) with a 2B, 3B and 2 RBI. Lewis was the Mariners first round draft pick in 2016 out of Mercer College.

After the game I was fortunate enough to get a couple of autographs from the newly crowned champions. First was a Cal League Baseball signed by Kyle Lewis. Lewis was nice enough to inscribe 2017 Champs on the ball.

I was also able to get the Cal League Finals MVP, Joe Rizzo, on a Cal League Ball. Rizzo inscribed Cal League Final MVP on the ball for me.

All-in-all this was a great night to witness history. I am excited to have these 2 pieces of autographed memorabilia to remember that night.

Lineup Card: Stockton Ports vs. Modesto Nuts – July 28, 2017

I have always wanted to get a lineup card. I have seen people at Banner Island Ballpark with ones from previous games getting them autographed. I have never been lucky enough to get one from a coach or manager. Towards the end of the season I was at a Modesto Nuts game and in the team store they were selling game-used lineup cards. They were $25 and the proceeds went to the charity fund. I thought it was a decent price, but I didn’t think much about buying one until I noticed one detail: they were autographed by the Nuts players. This was a deal I couldn’t pass up.

I looked through the cards to find ones where they played Stockton. I found a couple and settled on the one from Friday, July 28th. I wasn’t at that game, but it turns out that I was at the game the next day. I went with this card for 2 reasons. The first is that Sheldon Neuse, Oakland’s No. 13 prospect, went 3 for 5 and hit his first 2 home runs in the Athletics organization. Neuse had come over from the Washington Nationals with Blake Treinen and Jesus Luzardo in the Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson trade on July 16th. The other reason is that Seattle’s No. 1 prospect, Kyle Lewis, is on the lineup card (on the bench) and he autographed it.

As you can see, I have since framed the lineup card with some autographed cards of some players on the Ports. I don’t think I am going to get the Ports players to sign the lineup card. At this point it will be too difficult. Many of them will likely not be on the team next year.

 

MLB Authentic Memorabilia: Bruce Maxwell 07/14/2017

I have made it a goal for myself to pickup a piece of MLB authentic memorabilia whenever I go to a Major League Baseball game. Ideally, I would like to pick up a ball or something from that particular game that I attended. However, if that does not work out, then it should be something from one of my favorite players.

On September 23rd, I went to an Oakland Athletics game with my Brother and my Nephew. I picked up my first authenticated ball. This ball comes from a game on July 14, 2017. It was a double hit off the bat of Bruce Maxwell against Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco.

Maxwell JC353510 Ball I chose this ball because Bruce Maxwell has always been one of my favorite players. I first met him in 2013 when he was promoted mid-season to the Stockton Ports. He has always been nice to me and my family. When Bruce was in Stockton, he would come out to the field early an talk with us for a few minutes before he had to go stretch. Even now as a Major League player he will still talk to us if we see him at a game. I know Bruce understands that things like this mean a lot to people and that is why he is a fan favorite.

The cool thing about the authentication is that you can go to the MLB Authentication Website and get details of the “life” of the ball. He are the details for this particular ball.

Maxwell JC353510 DetailsThere is a lot of information here such as type of pitch, pitch speed and the count. In this case it even includes the hit launch angle, hit speed, distance and who fielded the ball.

This is the third MLB Authentic item I own. I am really happy to have it in my collection. Tomorrow, I will post the ball I picked up at the A’s game on September 26th. My first two items are a couple of bats thatI picked up at the A’s Fan Fest back in January. I post about those at a later time.

The Highs and Lows of Graphing in One Day

When you collect in person autographs there many highs and lows. There is nothing better than when you get most, if not all, of the cards or items you wanted signed. You develop friendships with other graphers at the ballpark as you talk to kill time waiting for players.

On the other side there are low times where the freshly written autograph gets smeared. Or there are times where the player you’ve been patiently waiting for tells you, “after the game,” or a straight up “No.” There is no worse feeling than when the pen fails and the item is ruined.

Those who collect autographs have all been there. It’s all a part of the game. These are the things that will happen time and time again. You can only hope that there are more highs than there are lows.

On Wednesday, May 17th I experienced some really good highs, followed promptly by the lowest of lows. The Inland Empire 66ers were visiting the Stockton Ports. There are quite a few prospects on the 66ers that I wanted to get. Also, Rickey Henderson, who serves as a roving instructor for the Athletics Minor League System, was in town so there was a small chance of getting his auto as well.

When some of the 66ers started to come out, I noticed Matt Thaiss and asked him to come over. He was really great about it. As he came over he noticed one of the other grapher’s book had a couple cards of another player, Kyle Survance, Jr. Matt said, “Hey, you need Kyle? He’s right here. Kyle come over here.” This was the first time I ever had a player ask another player to come over and sign for us. That was a really cool experience.

I ended up getting all, but one or two of the players I was looking for, so it was a really good pre-game session. As I got back to my seat, I noticed that Rickey Henderson was signing for a few people. I had brought a card with me and as always a Major League Ball. In the last moment I decided to get the ball signed instead of the card. I hand the ball and to Rickey and he starts to sign it. Then the worst possible thing happens. The pen fails.

I was so heart broken. He got through his first name and the pen failed as he was signing his last name. I couldn’t believe my luck. This was the same pen that I used the last couple of days to get Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett on Major League Balls. When I got back to my seat, I promptly snapped the pen in half and threw it on the ground.

I have been an Oakland A’s fan since 1985. Rickey is a player I grew up watching. He is one of my all time favorites. To have this happen is heart breaking. I hope that one day I can get this ball replaced. I do have a a California League Ball signed by Rickey, so at least I have that.

At this point I have opted to not attach a picture of this ball. I might change my mind and post it later. If you do want to see a picture then comment below and I’ll likely post it.

An Incredible Experience at Banner Island Ballpark

I’ve been collecting in person autographs for about the past five years. It is something that I am very passionate about. I do not sell my autographs, occasionally I’ll trade for players/teams I can’t get on the West Coast.  I just do this for fun and to meet ball players. I don’t expect players to sign everything I have. If they only sign one, then that’s fine with me.

Every once in a while I have an experience that is truly incredible and beyond words. Last night I had one of those experiences! May 6th was the Stockton Ports Annual Alumni Night. Unfortunately the way it works they never really know who is going to come to the event until they actually show up. Some alumni will RSVP the week of the game, but some just happen to show up.

So a good friend of mine, Jesse, and I were graphing that night and the Ports were introducing the Alumni that were there and they announced a very familiar name: Dion James.

I know Dion still lives in the Sacramento area. I sent a TTM request in October 2015. I received the cards back signed in just 2 weeks. I just had no idea he would be there.

Dion was a first round draft pick in 1980, 25th overall, by the Milwaukee Brewers. He was drafted out of McClatchy High School in Sacramento. Dion played 11 seasons in the Majors with the Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees.  Dion played 124 games for the Stockton Ports in 1981 batting .304 with 43 stolen bases.

Stockton Ports MLB Wall

Stockton Ports in the MLB graphic at Banner island Ballpark. Dion James: Year Played in Stockton 1981, MLB Debut 1983

I’ve learned to always carry a ROMLB with me because you never know who is going to show up at the ballpark. We found Dion on the concourse looking at some of the graphics and banners the Ports have posted around the ballpark. We approached him and asked for his autograph. He was more than happy to do it for us.

Dion James Ball

ROMLB Signed by Dion James

He signed a ball for me and an autograph card for Jesse. Then he said “I have something special for you guys. Hold on a moment.” He pulled out a stack of his own cards and proceeded to give 3 cards to the 2 of us and signed them all. I took the one I wanted and Jesse got the other two. Dion shook our hands thanked us for asking him to sign and being a fan. He also commented to us, “you made my day.” I said to him, ” Mr. James, you made my day!”

Dion James Card

1985 Fleer given to me by Dion James

Interactions like this will always make me a fan of a person for life! He was really nice when we asked him to sign and I would have been happy with the ball. The fact that he give us some of his own cards and signed them for us is above and beyond anything I could have expected. Thank you so much Dion for the experience! I will always remember it!

Athletics get Jed Lowrie back

On Wednesday Jed Lowrie was traded by the Houston Astros to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Oakland’s number 30 prospect Brendan McCurry. Jed returns to the Athletics after signing a 3 year deal with the Astros after the 2014 season. He played in 290 games with Oakland during the 2013 and 2014 seasons and batted .271 with 74 doubles and 125 RBIs. In 2015 Jed was limited to 69 games with Houston.

The arrival of shortstop Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve at 2nd base, made Lowrie expendable in Houston. Barring any subsequent moves. in Oakland he will have the chance to platoon with Marcus Semien at shortstop, Brett Lawrie at second and Danny Valencia at third.

Brendan was drafted in the 22nd round of the June 2014 draft. In 2015 he split time with the Stockton Ports and Midland RockHounds. He posted a 1.86 ERA in 50 games, converting 27 out 28 save opportunities. McCurry was selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League this year and posted a 4.73 ERA in just over 13 innings. He was selected as the reliever on Oakland’s organizational All-Stars for the 2015 season.

Card of the Week: Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate

Now that I just completed a stretch of working 16 days in a row, I can get back to some semblance of routine. This week’s Card of the Week is the 2014 Topps Pro Debut Printing Plate of Bruce Maxwell. Bruce is currently the Oakland Athletics No. 28 Prospect on MLB.com. This card features Bruce’s time on the Beloit Snappers. This is the 3rd printing plate I own. The great thing about printing plates is that they are a true 1/1.

Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 - Front

Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 – Front

Bruce was drafted in the 2nd round of the June 2012 Draft. This past year he was with the Midland RockHounds and helped them to their 2nd straight Texas League Championship. Bruce spent part of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Stockton Ports where I got to see him play. He was also named to the 2014 California League All-Star team.

Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 - Back

Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 – Back

Click to see the previous Card of the Week entries.