Thursday, December 18, 2014

Random Rangers and free cards.

Not much going on in Ranger land recently. Been pretty hectic in my world though and I apologize for the lack of recent posts. The lead-up to Christmas has begun and my time seems to be disappearing before my very eyes. Doesn't look like things will be slowing down anytime soon either.

With the lack of activity on the Rangers front, I opted for a random Rangers game-used card today. Hank Blalock got the call on this 2004 Upper Deck Matinee Idols card featuring a swatch of Hank's jersey.

I could use some help from my readers (if my lack of posting hasn't driven them all off). The Christmas giveaway was a success, even if I would have preferred to send out more packages. Space was cleared enough to allow me to sample the upcoming 2015 releases. Then a very nice problem. I was given a defunct collection. Mostly Indians. Enough to fill up the empty space and then some in the American League box. Enough other cards to take up most of the empty space in the National League box.

I need an Indians collector willing to take free cards. A Giants collector would also be appreciated since I am reaching critical mass on the black and orange. Of course, any space cleared would be good. If you missed the Christmas giveaway please let me know. Include a couple of teams you would be interested in (in order of preference). Email me at rmatlack3 at juno dot com with your name, address, and team list. If I have cards left from any of the teams you list I'll get some out to you in the next couple of weeks. Free cards. Can't beat that can ya?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Senators Saturday - Joe Coleman, 1968.

Joe Coleman looks less than impressed with the pitch he just threw on card 573 of the 1968 Topps set. Seeing as this is probably a pose, it's an interesting facial expression.

1968 was Joe's first full season in the Majors. He made 33 starts for Washington and completed 12 of them. Two of those complete games were shutouts. Coleman led the club in starts and never appeared in relief. He ended the season with a 12-16 record.

Over the 223 innings he pitched (team high), Joe put together a 3.27 ERA and an 1.179 WHIP. He whiffed 139 opposing batsmen (team best) while issuing 51 free passes. His 2.73 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the best on the team. Joe also tossed nine wild pitches and hit 12 batters.

Joe Coleman had been a workhorse for the Senators in 1968 and appeared to do well in his first full season with the club. He had some work to do though. His control obviously needed to be polished up. If Coleman could lower his WHIP a bit he might see his ERA drop some. That could put him from being a serviceable pitcher to a good one. Washington might have something in Joe Coleman and they wanted to see him develop quickly.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tom's Terrific!

Got a nice surprise in the mail this morning from Tom over at The Angels, In Order. Of course, it's always nice to hear from Tom but he outdid himself this time.

Just because he's a nice guy, Tom sent me a nice assortment of Rangers cards and team issue cards. Since I have only been to one FanFest in my life I really appreciate those kind of issues. It's surprising how hard they are to find on the secondary market.

What really made my day was that quite a few of the team issue cards were signed. Nine to be exact. Not often I open a package and fine nine Rangers autographs. A day to remember for sure.

One of the signed ones was this ballpark view card signed by former Ranger Ellis Valentine. Ellis was a Ranger for only a few weeks so it's hard to find any cards showing him in a Texas uniform. A card like this answers the purposes of obtaining an autograph nicely.

Thanks for the package Tom. I really appreciate it and it adds a lot to my collection.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Back and catching up.

Wow! It's been a long time since my last post and for that I apologize. Things got really hectic aver the past two weeks and I wasn't able to get enough posts pre-scheduled to make up the difference. I'm back in town now though and have no plans for any further vacations in the immediate future. Hopefully that means the regular posts are back. Lots going on with the Rangers since I last posted.

Mitch Moreland and Jurickson Profar both got good news. They had MRI's and things are looking good. Moreland should be full strength by Spring Training and Profar should be back by the start of the 2015 season.

Adam Rosales, Michael Kirkman, and Alexi Ogando, shown here on card 56 of the 2014 Topps Heritage set, all received bad news. The Rangers non-tendered the trio, making them free agents. Not a real surprise with any of the group. Rosales was a stop gap utility player and Kirkman just never came around. Ogando's elbow is a major concern and his failure to pitch in winter ball sealed the decision for Texas.

The Rangers have re-signed pitcher Colby Lewis to a one year deal. That's a real kick in the teeth for the anti Jon Daniels crowd. It's a good thing for the team I think. Colby struggled early in the 2014 season but by the end of the season he seemed to be mostly recovered from his hip surgery and back to his old self. If that continues in 2015 this signing could be the one that really helps the club.

Also, amidst all the confusion of the past couple of weeks, I got the Christmas giveaway packages sent out. Some were smaller than others due to a lack of cards for those particular teams. Hopefully all arrived safely and were enjoyed by the recipients. If you missed the giveaway just let me know your address and team preference and I'll see what I can do. I have no Rangers, A's, Angels, or Royals. I have a lot of Giants, Indians, Cubs, Cardinals, and Orioles. The rest of the teams have a few cards left as well.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Senators Saturday - Dave Baldwin, 1968.

The picture on Topps 1968 card 231 puzzles me. I can't decide if Dave Baldwin is trying to pose like he just threw a breaking ball, if he's offering the photographer a fist bump, or if he's the fore-runner to Kenny Rogers going after the television camera-man.

Whatever the case, Baldwin had a fine rookie season in 1967 and looked to follow it up in 1968. A career long reliever, Dave appeared in 40 games for Washington in 1968 and pitched a total of 42 innings.

Something went dreadfully wrong during those 42 innings of work. Baldwin's ERA soared to an unsightly 4.07 and his WHIP took a jump to 1.238. In 18 fewer innings of work, he allowed five more home runs than the previous season. Dave got saddled with two losses and picked up no wins.

Probably as a result of his stumbles, Baldwin spent part of the year with the Triple A Buffalo Bisons. He pitched 17 innings over ten games there and put together a 3.71 ERA and an 1.765 WHIP. Neither number was impressive at all.

For Dave Baldwin, the Year of the Pitcher wasn't. For some reason the wheels came off the wagon for him. He needed to get the 1967 form going again or it was going to be difficult to nail down any sort of regular role in the Washington bullpen in 1969.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hearing the Vealtones.

First off, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hope all take some time to reflect on how blessed by God we are.

Last weekend marked the beginning of a couple of very busy weeks for me. Work schedule shifts, Thanksgiving, travel, etc. Hectic.

Got home on Monday to find a package from Dustin over at Coot Veal and The Vealtones. We had been working on a trade for awhile and finally got the details hammered out just before things got busy. Being an understanding guy, Dustin sent his end of the trade and told me to get mine in the mail when possible. Included in the package from Dustin were two Rangers game-used cards, one of which was this 2005 Donruss Champions bat bit card of former Ranger Al Oliver. Anytime I can scoop a Scoop card I'm up for it. Also in the mailer was a Tanner Scheppers auto, a game-used Bob Gibson, and four cards that are probably going out as gifts. Dustin also tossed in several Rangers not included in the original trade. They all hit holes in my collection.

Dustin's still looking for trades so if you haven't already, get over to his blog and check out his trade bait. Thanks a ton for the trade Dustin, I really enjoyed the break when package arrived. Your cards are on their way, if you don't have them yet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

1978 Topps - Jim Mason.

Jim Mason, shown here on card 588 of the 1978 Topps set, was in his second stint with Texas when this photograph was taken. Interestingly, both of his times with the Rangers were impacted by Toby Harrah.

The Senators brought their former second round draft pick (1968) with them to Texas. Limited playing time in 1972 and 1973 made it clear that Mason was blocked at shortstop by Harrah. In December of 1973 the Rangers sold Jim's contract to the New York Yankees. 1974 was his first professional season outside the Senators/Rangers organization.

The time away from Texas gave Mason a chance to play in the World Series in 1976 and hit a home run in his only World Series at-bat. In November of 1976, the newly former Toronto Blue Jays grabbed Jim in the expansion draft. He would start the 1977 season with them.

Going into 1977 the Rangers moved Toby Harrah to third base to make room for the newly signed Bert Campaneris. This move left Roy Howell without a home. Texas was hoping Howell was their third baseman of the future but he never jelled. Now he was available. The Rangers needed to move Howell and would like a backup to Campaneris. The Jays needed a third baseman. On May 9, 1977 Mason returned to Texas in a trade for Howell that also involved Steve Hargan and $200,000.

Mason spent the rest of 1977 in a backup role and was expected to spend 1978 in the same manner. However, Campaneris struggled in his second season with Texas and Jim saw more action than expected.

Over 42 games, Mason played 221.1 innings at short stop. He posted a .938 fielding percentage, significantly below the league average .954. Jim also played 79 innings over 11 games at third with a .905 fielding percentage, 49 points below league average. A two inning cameo at second base rounded out his defensive time in 1978.

Jim made 116 trips to the plate in 1978 for Texas. He posted a dismal .190 batting average and a .227 on-base percentage. He hit just four doubles with no other extra base hits.

Had Jim's bat been even average, he might have carved out more playing time for himself in 1978. He was only about four points ahead of Campaneris though and his glove was way behind. That was not a formula for displacing Campy. Things were unsettled at short for Texas however. Mason had an uphill road but there was an outside chance he could make a play for the position in 1979, if the Rangers held on to him.