It’s that time of the year. Pitchers and Catchers start reporting this week and soon Spring Training will be in full swing. It is also the time where I send a couple of TTM batches to current Major and Minor Leaguers in hopes of getting their autographs on some cards.
This year my first batch is almost exclusively Oakland Athletics. Honestly this is no different than in years past. There is only one non-Athletics player and that is Daniel Robertson of the Tampa Bay Rays. As many know he was drafted by and played for the Athletics’ minor league system until he was traded prior to the 2015 season.
In the first batch there are 11 players/coaches that I am sending requests to. Usually my batches are in groups of 10, but I had a couple of extra stamps so I decided to add one more. 4 of these players are ones I have received TTM successes from in the past. 7 I have not sent to before. 1 of those 7 can be classified as “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?” (i.e. Long Shot)
Here is the list of players in the first batch:
The Long Shot:
From time to time I see successes from Mark McGwire so I figured why not? What’s the worst that is going to happen? I lose 1 card. The potential reward far out weighs the risk.
*Received prior successes.
On October 26th I received a TTM success from Kansas City Royal Ben Zobrist. I had sent a 2015 Topps Opening Day card out to Zobrist during the last week of the season. He is one of the few position players who usually has a quick turnaround time during the season.
Zobrist began the 2015 season with the Oakalnd Athletics. He came to the A’s with Yunel Escobar by way of a trade that sent catcher John Jaso along with minor leaguers Daniel Robertson, Boog Powell to the Tampa Bay Rays. Zobrist was later traded at the deadline to the Royals for Aaron Brooks and minor league pitcher Sean Manaea.
Zobrist signed 2 cards for me: 2015 Topps Opening Day (one I sent) and 2015 Testimony card (Bonus)
TTM Autographs from Ben Zobrist
With every request Zobrist included an additional signed testimony card. The back side has a description of his relationship with God. I received this success in 28 days. Thank you Ben!
Zobrist is one of those player I have liked since he came up in the Rays organization. I just wish he could have stuck with the Athletics for more than just 67 games. I was fortunate enough to see Zobrist rehab with the Nashville Sounds when they came to the West Coast in late May. He signed a MLB Ball for me before the game I went to in Fresno.
Ben Zobrist autographed baseball from rehab appearance with Nashville Sounds on May 24, 2015.
The day after receiving 3 success from Spring Training TTMs, I received a total of 4 more successes. 1 was from former Major League pitcher Rick Reuschel and 3 were from the second batch of Spring Training TTMs. The second batch was sent out on February 28th, so these three were a very quick turnaround.
The first was from Oakland Athletics reliever Evan Scribner. Evan was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 28th round of the 2007 June Draft. One of Evan’s early highlight was in the 2012 regular season finale with the Athletics. He pitched 3 scoreless innings in the Division-Clinching win. Evan signed a 2013 Topps card for me. The autograph is really sharp and I like how the uniform number is inside the “S” of his last name.
TTM Autograph of Evan Scribner
The next I received was from current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Hector Santiago. Hector was recently acquired by the Angels as a part of a 3 team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox. Hector was nice enough to autograph a 2012 Topps Update card.
TTM Autograph from Hector Santiago
The 3rd Spring Training TTM I received was from Don Baylor. Don is currently the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He was a 2 time Oakland Athletics, playing for them in 1976 and once again in 1988. Don is one of 2 players to reach the World Series in 3 consecutive years with 3 different teams. 1986 – Boston Red Sox, 1987 – Minnesota Twins, 1988 – Oakland Athletics. Don autographed 3 cards for me: 1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps and 1988 Topps Traded.
TTM Autographs of Don Baylor
Fun Fact: Eric Hinske was the other player to play in 3 consecutive World Series with 3 different teams. 2007 – Boston Red Sox, 2008 – Tampa Bay Rays, 2009 – New York Yankees. Interestingly enough all 3 teams are in the American League East.
This is the third installment of a 3 part series introducing the newest members of the Oakland Athletics. These players were either signed as a free agent or traded for during the off season. This third installment will introduce the new key minor league players not on Oakland’s 40-man roster. These players figure prominently in Oakland’s future.
Sam Fuld, outfielder – Sam was signed to a Minor League contract earlier this month. He has spent parts of the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. His contract includes an invite to the Major League spring training camp. He will compete for a possible 5th outfielder spot, if the Athletics are to carry 5 outfielders into the season. You can read our post about the signing here: A’s sign Fuld
Billy Burns, outfielder – Billy was acquired by the Athletics from the Washington Nationals in exchange for reliever Jerry Blevins in early-December. Billy has proven to be a terror on the base paths as he swiped 74 bags in 121 games in 2013. He is also very capable of getting on base. In the past 3 seasons Billy has an OBP of .421. The Athletics will likely start the 23 year old in Midland with the RockHounds, but if he has a great spring he could break camp with the River Cats.
Dusty Brown, catcher – Dusty was signed by the Athletics to a Minor League contract in January. He was out of baseball for the 2013 season and has 24 games of Major League experience. His contract included an invitation to the Major League spring training camp. With the crowd of catchers the Athletics have at the Major League and AAA level it is possible the Athletics could move the Minor League veteran to an infield position.
Chris Jensen, pitcher – Chris was acquired with Drew Pomeranz in the deal that sent Brett Anderson to the Colorado Rockies. He was 5-8 with a 4.55 ERA with the Modesto Nuts in the 2013 season. Chris is a solid starting pitcher, but could likely find himself starting for the Stockton Ports in 2014 as the 23 year old could use a little more experience before making the jump to AA.
This is the second installment of a 3 part series introducing the newest members of the Oakland Athletics. These players were either signed as a free agent or traded for during the off season. This second installment will introduce the new position players on Oakland’s 40-man roster. These players may or may not make the opening day lineup, but figure prominently in Oakland’s future.
Nick Punto, utility infielder – Nick was signed as a free agent by the Athletics on November 13th. He spent last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and played in 113 games batting .255 in 294 at bats in a part time role. Nick figures to be the utility infielder for 2014 with the ability to play almost all infield positions.
Craig Gentry, outfielder – Craig was acquired with Josh Lindblom in the deal that sent Top Prospects Michael Choice and Chris Bostick to the Texas Rangers. Craig played an important role with the Rangers in 2013. He primarily came off the bench and was in a platoon role and batted .280 with 12 doubles in 246 at bats. Criag will take on the platoon role that was vacated by Seth Smith after he was traded to the San Diego Padres.
Chris Giminez, catcher – Chris was claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays in December. Giminez has limited MLB experience playing in no more than 45 games in a season over his 5 year career. He out of options and will likely be placed on waivers towards the end of spring training. He would likely clear waivers and be outrighted to Sacramento where he could figure prominently with River Cats.
On Tuesday the Oakland Athletics agreed to terms on a Minor League deal with outfielder Sam Fuld. His contract includes an invite to the Major League spring training camp. Sam has spent parts of six seasons in the majors as a reserve outfielders. The past three years Sam has been apart of the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
If he is placed on the Major League roster his contract would be worth $800,000 with the possibility of more in performance incentives.
Sam looks to join the Oakland outfield that already includes Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Craig Gentry.
The Oakland Athletics dropped the final game of the series on Wednesday afternoon in a frustrating loss the LA Angels. The Athletics were 2 outs away from securing a 4-2 victory when usually reliable closer Grant Balfour gave up a 2-run home run to Josh Hamilton to tie the game. The Angels would go on to score 1 run in the top of the 11th inning to take a 5-4 lead, which would hold up to give them the victory.
However, the Athletics maintain their 6.5 game lead over the Texas Rangers. They received help from the Tampa Bay Rays as the had their own extra inning victory over the Texas Rangers by the score of 4-3.
The Minnesota Twins come into town for the 1st time in 2013 to play a 4 game weekend set starting Thursday. These are the final 4 regular season games for the Athletics and they still have a chance to clinch the division at home.
Monday, September 16th
LA Angels 12
Oakland Athletics 1
WP: C.J. Wilson (17-6)
LP: Jarrod Parker (11-7)
Tuesday, September 17th
LA Angels 1
Oakland Athletics 2
WP: Grant Balfour (1-3)
LP: Michael Kohn (1-3)
Wednesday, September 18th
LA Angels 5
Oakland Athletics 4
WP: Juan Gutierrez (1-4)
LP: Jesse Chavez 2-4)
SV: Ernesto Frieri (35)
Despite a 5-4 loss to the LA Angels this afternoon, the Magic Number for the Oakland Athletics has been reduced to 5. The Athletics received help from the Tampa Bay Rays as they earned a walkoff victory over the Texas Rangers in the 12th inning on Wednesday afternoon.
With the walkoff victory for the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night the Magic Number falls to 6. The Athletics look to reduce that number today against the Los Angeles Angels in the finale of the 3 game set. The Athletics also hope to get help from the Tampa Bay Rays as they play the Texas Rangers tonight in Tampa.
Before the game began on Tuesday night the Athletics knew they would receive no help from the Tampa Bay Rays. The Texas Rangers beat the Rays 7-1. So in order for the Athletics to reduce the magic number they would have to take matters into their own hands. This is not always an easy task against the Angels. Athletics/Angels games are always competitive. The two teams seem to rise to the occasion and Tuesday night was no exception.