Friday, October 31, 2014

Walking the Plank.

I know, this isn't Thursday and I don't normally post two game-used or autographed cards in a row. The reason for me posting this 2008 SP Legendary Cuts Destined for History card of Michael Young isn't a normal reason though.

A couple of weeks back I was trolling through the various blogs linked from some of my regular reading. I came across Bob Walk the Plank. BWP is a great Pirates-oriented blog. I left a comment asking the owner, Matt, to send me his address so I could drop some random Pirates cards on him.

One of the reasons I don't buy a lot of packs is the lack of space to store the non-Rangers teams. I have to keep the other clubs down to a manageable level. Several teams have a bad habit of building up (looking at you Giants) and the Buccos were one of these teams. Any time I can find a good home for the non-Rangers cards I have built up I consider it a win-win. Somebody gets cards of their team and I get that much closer to an excuse to buy some packs. I dumped a small lot of random Pirates on Matt and cheered the new space. I was sure to tell Matt he did not need to return anything.

Matt's definition of not returning anything was a small bubble mailer that arrived in my mailbox within days of him receiving the cards I sent. Inside was this Michael Young along with two more Young game-used, a Hank Blalock game-used, and a Matt Harrison certified autograph. Wow and wow again.

There's no way what I sent Matt called for anything close to what he sent in return. Thanks a ton for your generosity Matt, hopefully I can return it someday.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Silence.

For me it always seems the days after the end of the World Series are filled with deafening silence. The season is officially over and the long winter stretches out before us like an endless plain. In some ways it's a relief when the Rangers struggle, next year is that much closer. In other ways it's like taking the first step away from base camp on a thousand mile trek across the silent tundra. The sound of the 2014 season is fading already and 2015 is still so far away. I miss baseball already.

To the Royals fans out there: I'm sorry, truly I am. I was pulling for the boys in blue up until the final out of Game 7. It won't help the disappointment but they played well. Seven games and a one run loss in the final game are nothing to sneeze at. The team looks solid and should be a contender over the next couple of years. Just remember, there's 28 other teams out there that would trade places with the Royals today in a heartbeat.

The off-season for the Rangers is moving slowly along. They promoted Steve Buechele, shown here on a signed 1990 Fleer card, to bench coach. Bu replaces the departed Tim Bogar and has to be viewed as a possible managerial candidate for the Rangers, or someone else, in the future. Can't say how great it is to see Steve succeeding in his post-playing career.

Texas also made an opening offer to Colby Lewis. That's a good thing I think. No need to leave Colby hanging any longer than need be. He wants to stay in Texas and the Rangers need starting pitching. Lewis is not an ace but he is an established Major League pitcher who knows how to win and can eat innings. He can also mentor a young staff and help steady a team in contention. Those things could come in real handy in 2015. Lewis has said he does not want to draw out contract talks. That could mean a relatively short negotiation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

1978 Topps - Toby Harrah.

Toby Harrah, shown here on card 44 of the 1978 Topps set, was coming into his junior year as a third baseman after making the switch from short stop in 1977. He had responded well to the switch in 1977 and the Rangers were hoping he would continue his star performance in 1978.

Harrah played in 139 games in 1978, 20 fewer than the previous season. This was probably due to a trip to the disabled list. 91 of those games and 771.2 innings were at third base. Toby put together a .965 fielding percentage there, eleven points higher than the league average. With Bert Campaneris' struggles, Texas saw a hole opening up at short stop. Harrah got moved back to his old position in 49 games to try to fill the breach. Over the 413 innings he played at short he managed a .988 fielding percentage, 24 points higher than the league average.

Toby also made 547 trips to the plate for the Rangers in 1978. He watched his batting average fall 34 points to .229 and his on-base percentage tumble 44 points to .349. That was his lowest batting average since the team moved to Texas. Harrah's power also dropped as he hit 17 doubles, three triples, and 12 home runs - drops in all three areas from the previous season. He did steal 31 bases while getting caught just eight times. That was four more steals than in 1977 but he also got caught three more times.

Toby Harrah saved the Rangers defensively at short stop and third base but the unexpected offensive dip raised concerns. A shake-up was coming after the Rangers second straight second place finish. Harrah's offensive troubles could put him on the table. Even if they didn't, he needed to figure out a way to get his bat back up to where it had been over the past three or four seasons.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Minor League Monday - Eric McCray, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Eric McCray's first two seasons in pro ball had gone pretty well. One season in Rookie ball followed by one at Single A with success at both levels. Following the 1989 season, McCray was promoted to Double A Tulsa for the 1990 campaign.

McCray, shown here on card 1151 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers team set, made all 25 of his appearances for the team as a starter. He pitched 141 innings while posting a 4.21 ERA and an 1.589 WHIP. He ended the season with an 8-7 record.

After two successful seasons, Eric McCray's career suffered a setback in 1990. It was back to Single A for the start of the 1991 season. Eric needed to get things back on track and fast. A 10th round draft pick only has so many chances to make good, even if he is a left-hander.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Senators Saturday - Dick Lines, 1967.

Canadian Richard George Lines appears on card 273 of the 1967 Topps set. Dick looks happy about something and he had reason to be when this photo was taken. In 1966 Lines broke into the Majors and led the Senators regulars with his 2.28 ERA. That's not too bad for a rookie season and earned him a shot in 1967 as well.

Solely a reliever for the second straight season in 1967, Lines appeared in 54 games for Washington. Over the 85.2 innings he pitched, Dick compiled a 3.36 ERA and an 1.249 WHIP. Both were significant jumps from the previous season. In 2.2 more innings worked, Lines managed to keep his walk total at 24 - identical to 1966. He raised his strikeout total by five to 54.

Lines had his work cut out for him if he wanted to remain in the Majors in 1968. He started off well in 1966 but the rise in his ERA and WHIP in 1967 was very concerning. The lefty wasn't suffering from extreme wildness, he hit nobody and uncorked just four wild pitches. He must have had some control issues that were keeping him from getting the ball where he did in 1966. Either that or he was still getting the ball there and the league was adjusting. Whatever the problem, Lines needed to get a handle on it if he wanted a shot at making the team in 1968.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Royals and random stuff.

In recognition of the Royals win last night I am posting this signed 1978 Topps Jim Sundberg card. I got this card signed in person at the Rangers FanFest this past spring. Of course, Sunny was also the Royals starting backstop when they won it all in 1985. Hope to see another Royals championship this year as well. Since they didn't win game one the odds aren't with them. Odds don't seem to really bother this KC team though.

Been doing a little work on the trade list over the past week. I now have team names listed in the misc, rookies, and minis categories. Some of the players I am sure everyone knows the teams for but I think it's easier for team collectors to scan for their team rather than for specific players. Also eliminated a player or two from the list. Some of the Pudge game-used are on hold for a possible trade but the rest of the list is still available. Take a look and let me know if you see anything you like. The off-season is rapidly approaching and a few trades would make the long winter a lot easier.

Also, if you have a card blog yourself and would like it added to my links list, let me know. I'll take a look and see what I can do. I would like to add some more team oriented blogs in particular but any card blog is a good blog.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Big news, Big cards.

So, I got a phone call from Mark the Royals fan last Friday night. He was pretty pumped and had some big news to share. He had tickets to the World Series. One for game one and two each for two, six, and seven. That is some big news. Mark scored the tickets for face value. That's big news as well. The story of getting the tickets was pretty neat but that's Mark's tale to tell. Needless to say, he was really looking forward to heading off to Kaufman and seeing the series. Can't blame him, I would be pretty excited as well. Hopefully he sees a Kansas City title. I'm pulling for the Royals this year and really want to see them come out on top.

During the conversation Mark mentioned he just made a rather large trade with a Mets collector we've both been trying to reach to propose trades. Mark has quite an extensive Royals collection and had a bit of a hard time coming up with enough he needed to round out the trade. He hit my wantlists and filled out the trade with Rangers. He wanted me to know to be expecting a box.

The box arrived Monday and it was big. Well, it had this 1990 Topps Big card #127 featuring Rafael Palmeiro in it. That and about two hundred and fifty other Rangers cards. Mark was right, he hit my wantlists. The box shrank my wantlists by almost four pages and completed ten team sets. That's big. Bigger than anything I have to send in return.

Me not having anything to send in return is probably the biggest thing about this. Mark mentioned the box on Friday night in order to tell me not to send him anything in return. Nothing, just enjoy the cards and cross them off the list. Now that's big. Thanks Mark.