Ryan Madson Set to Sign With A’s on 3 Year Deal

Veteran reliever Ryan Madson and the Oakland Athletics have agreed to a 3 year deal worth $22 million. The deal is not yet official as it is pending a physical.

This move will make long strides in shoring up a miserable 2015 bullpen. Madson was 1-2 with a 2.13 in 68 games for the World-Series Champ Kansas City Royals. The true question mark is his health. Prior to 2015 Madson missed the 3 previous seasons with a variety of arm issues. Signing him to a 3 year deal could be a risk, but it can also be high reward as the Athletics lost 53 games in 2015 by 2 runs or less.

The bullpen in 2016 had already received a boost from from the Athletics front office in the off season. In addition to a healthy Sean Doolittle, who spent a lot of time on the disabled list in 2015. Last week the Athletics added another strong arm in Marc Rzepczynski in a deal that also brought Yonder Alonso from the San Diego Padres to the Athletics for Drew Pomeranz and prospect Jose Torres.  In late-November the Athletics acquired Liam Hendricks from the Toronto Blue Jays for Jesse Chavez.

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TTM Success 10/09/15: Dave McKay

A couple of weeks ago I received a TTM success from former Oakland Athletics infielder and coach Dave McKay. Dave played in the majors from 1975 to 1982. He was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1971. Dave made his MLB debut on August 22, 1975. In April of 1980 the Athletics signed Dave as a free agent. In his 8 year career he was a .229 hitter. Dave also played for the Toronto Blue Jays.

After his retirement as a player in 1982, Dave came back to the Athletics as a coach where he served from 1984 to 1995. He has also coached for the St. Louis Cardinals (1996-2011) and the Chicago Cubs (2012-2013). Since 2014, Dave has served as the first base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Dave signed 3 cards for me: 1981 Fleer, 1983 Topps and 1983 Donruss.

TTM autographs from Dave McKay

TTM autographs from Dave McKay

I received this success in 189 days. Thank you Dave!

 

Athletics Trade Brandon Moss for Joey Wendle

The Oakland Athletics have a track record for making a splash at the Winter Meetings and this year is no exception. The Athletics traded 2014 All-Star Brandon Moss to the Cleveland Indians for their No. 9 Prospect, second baseman, Joey Wendle. This move comes nearly 2 weeks after All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie and a couple of top pitching prospects.

Brandon Moss is a power bat who hit .231 with 25 home runs in 2014 for the Athletics. The 2014 season was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type season for Moss. Before the All-Star break Moss was batting .261 with 21 home runs in 89 games. After the break Moss retreated batting .173 with only 4 home runs in his final 58 games. Moss regained his confidence just in time for the Wild Card game, where he provided most of the Athletics offense in that game blasting 2 home runs and driving in 5 run. However it wasn’t enough for the playoff run to continue.

Joey Wendle will likely start the season with Triple A, Nashville Sounds and could easily make the 25-man roster by mid-season. Wendle hit .253 with 8 home runs in 87 games for the Arkon RubberDucks (AA) in 2014 before being sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist. In 2013 Wendle was named a Post Season All-Star with the Carolina Mudcats as well as a MiLB Organization All-Star for the Indians.

Joey Wendle appears to be the long term answer for the second base needs of the Oakland Athletics.

Jeff Samardzija Shines in Athletics Debut

On Sunday afternoon, one of the newest Oakland Athletic pitchers showed fans why they traded for him. Jeff Samardzija held the Toronto Blue Jays to 1 run on just 4 hits over 7 innings in his Oakland Athletics debut.

Samardzija gave up 2 hits in the first inning and had runners on 1st and 3rd with only 1 out. He then got Jose Bautista on a one strike pitch to ground into an inning ending double play. Jeff would go on to retire 13 of the next 14 batters giving up a lone walk in the 3rd inning. Samardzija would only allow two more hits, both coming the 6th inning.

The home crowd of 22,897 saw the Athletics secure their first 4 game sweep of the Blue Jays since 1981. Eric O’Flaherty pitched a perfect 8th inning. Sean Doolittle earned his 13th saves after surrendering a lead off home run to Steve Tolleson in the top of the 9th.

Box Break: 2013 Elite Extra Edition

One of my favorite products over the past few years is the Panini Elite Extra Edition. This set features over 100 of the top draft picks from the previous draft. Each blaster  box contains packs each containing 5 cards. In addition each blaster box promises 2 autographed cards. This interests me as one of my focuses in my collection is autographed cards.

2013 Elite Extra Edition Blaster Box

2013 Elite Extra Edition Blaster Box

Here are the hits I pulled from this box.

Inserts

Insert Hits: Jonathan Denney, Scouting 101; Keaton McKinney, Game Jersey; Chris Anderson, Aspirations Die Cut #108/200; Tim Atherton, Status Die Cut #042/100

Insert Hits

There are several subsets, or inserts, in this year’s set including: Scouting 101, USA Game Jerseys (15U & 18U), Elite Series, Aspirations Die Cut, Status Die Cut and Historic Picks. I pulled 4 inserts from this box. The first was Jonathan Denney (Boston Red Sox), Scouting 101. I also pulled an 18U Game Jerseys of Keaton McKinney (Akeney High School, Iowa). The other 2 inserts were die cuts.  One is of Chris Anderson (Los Angeles Dodgers), Aspirations #108/200 and Tim Atherton (Minnesota Twins, now Oakland Athletics), Blue Status #042/100. I’m sure Jesse from Section 117 @ BIB would like the Chris Anderson card.

Photo Variant

The first 10 cards of the base set also has short printed photo variations. I pulled the variant for Marco Gonzales (St. Louis Cardinals).

Photo Variant: Marco Gonzales, Card #6

Photo Variant: Marco Gonzales, Card #6

Here is the base along side the variant. I had the base card from the previous box I purchased.

Photo Variant and Base Card: Marco Gonzales, Card #6

Photo Variant and Base Card: Marco Gonzales, Card #6

Autographs

The outside of the box promised 2 autographed cards inside. It did not disappoint. I actually pulled 3 autographed cards from the box.

Autograph Hits: Carlos Salazar #607/625, Andy Burns #273/399

Autograph Hits: Carlos Salazar #607/625, Andy Burns #273/399

The first is of pitcher Carlos Salazar (Atlanta Braves) serial numbered #607/625. The next autograph I pulled was of third baseman Andy Burns (Toronto Blue Jays) serial numbered #273/399. The third was an absolute bonus…

Autograph Hits: D. J. Baxendale, Green Status Die Cut #04/25

Autograph Hits: D. J. Baxendale, Green Status Die Cut #04/25

I pulled the Green Status Die Cut Autograph of pitcher D. J. Baxendale (Minnesota Twins) numbered only #04/25.

All in all a very successful box. It was worth the $29.99 price point to me. So far I hae purchased 2 of these blaster boxes and each time I have pulled 3 autographs in each box. The one slightly disappointing thing this that I have not pulled an Oakland Athletics card. The closest is the Tim Atherton Blue Status Die Cut. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins, but was a Rule 5 pick (AAA round) in December 2013 by the Athletics and is currently on the Stockton Ports pitching staff. So, of course, I will be getting this card signed soon!

 

Showoff Sunday: California League Coaches – North Division

In this edition of Showoff Sunday I will be displaying autographed cards of former Major League Players turned California League Coaches. At this time there are 15 coaches in the California League who have had Major League experience. The range of experience is anywhere from 1 or 2 seasons to more than 10 years.

For this post I will focus on the North Division of the California League which includes the Stockton Ports, Modesto Nuts, San Jose Giants, Visalia Rawhide and the Bakersfield Blaze. I will begin with the coaching staff of the Stockton Ports. Manager Ryan Christenson played with 4 teams including the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers. I have had 12 cards singed by Ryan so far this season.

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #1

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #1

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #2

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #2

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #3

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #3

The pitching coach for the Stockton Ports is John Wasdin. John has MLB experience with 7 different team, but most notably the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers. To date, I have been able to get 6 cards autographed by John this season.

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #1

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #1

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #2

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #2

Next up is the pitching coach for the Visalia Rawhide, Gil Heredia. Gil came up in the San Francisco Giants organization and played with 3 other teams the Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos and Oakland Athletics. I got 3 cards signed by Gil during Visala’s first series in Stockton (April 10-13, 2014).

Gil Heredia Autographed Cards

Gil Heredia Autographed Cards

The last cards I will feature on this post is the current San Jose Giants manager Lenn Sakata. Lenn is best known for his time with the Baltimore Orioles. He also played for the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics. I got these 3 cards signed during the recent series against the Ports in Stockton (May 13-15, 2014).

Lenn Sakata Autographed Cards

Lenn Sakata Autographed Cards

There are a few other coaches in the Northern Division that I have yet to get autographs from this season. Those former players include Dave Burba (San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians), Tom Browning (Cincinnati Reds), Pat Kelly (Toronto Blue Jays) and Robby Hammond (Arizona Diamondbacks).

Next week I will feature the coaches in the California League South Division.

Former All-Star and Manager Jim Fregosi Dies at 71

On February 14, 2014, 6 time All-Star and former Manager Jim Fregosi passed away.  He died from complications from a stroke he suffered while on a MLB Alumni Carribean cruise six days earlier.  Fregosi was a 6 time All-Star as a player and is probably remembered for being a part of one of the more infamous trades.  The New York Mets sent future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and 3 other prospects to the California Angels for Fregosi.

After his playing career ended Fregosi became a manager. In his first season as a manager (1979) he led the California Angels to an AL West title. Fregosi also managed the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Philies and the Toronto Blue Jays. Fregosi’s best year as a manager was in 1993 as he led the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series. They were defeated by the Toronto Blue Jays in 6 games.

On a personal note: On January 25, 2014 I received 3 autographed cards back from Jim Fregosi. I feel very blessed and grateful that I received these cards only a few weeks before his passing. He even accidentally signed the penny sleeve that was on the 1981 Fleer card. Fortunately he realized the mistake and signed the cards as well. Thank you Jim for the cards! You will be missed.

TTM autographs of Jim Fregosi received January 25, 2014.

TTM autographs of Jim Fregosi received January 25, 2014.

 

A great night for baseball

Friday was a great day to be an Oakland Athletics fan. First off the Athletics’s offense arrived in Toronto as the Athletics pounded the Blue Jays 14-6. The offensive surge was spearheaded by Josh Reddick’s 3 home runs.

While Reddick’s 3 home runs in one game is awesome, this was not the most impressive feat to happen in the Athletics organization on Friday. In Stockton Tanner Peters, starting pitcher for the Ports threw 8-1/3 innings of PERFECT baseball. A perfect game is one if the hardest feats to accomplish in baseball. This means that your pitcher does not walk anyone, give up a hit or hit a batter AND your defense does not commit an error. While the pitcher gets the credit for the perfect game it is truly a team effort.

Tanner’s perfect game was broken up in the top of the 9th inning when Modesto’s Jared Simon slammed a 1 out double off the left field wall. Tanner was pulled immediately after giving up the double and he left to a standing ovation. Enroute to the one hit gem Tanner amassed 14 strikeouts of the 26 batters he faced.

Talking with Ports’s catcher Bruce Maxwell after the game he commented that it was one of the easiest games for him to catch. Tanner’s stuff was magical that night. Bruce was saying that when the double was hit he hoped that the ball had enough topspin on it so that it would not leave the park. He did not want to see the perfect game broken up by a home run.

After the game Tanner was nice enough to stop by section 117 and sign a baseball for me. (Picture is below)

As a lifelong baseball fan this is easily in one of the top 5 games that I have attended. It was an amazing game to witness and Tanner Peters is definitely a pitcher to watch.

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