Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Botts booted

Today's card is number 427 in the 2002 Bowman set, Jason Botts.

Just before last night's loss to Kansas City the Rangers cut Jason from the Big League team. Botts was 6-for-38 (.158) in 15 games this spring. He had two home runs and 18 strikeouts.

After designating him for assignment the Rangers have 10 days to trade or release Botts. If they don't, they will have to see if he clears waivers before sending him back to the minors. To replace Jason in the lineup the Rangers called up first baseman Chris Shelton from AAA.

There are a lot of folks under fire as the Rangers struggle in this season where they had set their goal as a .500 year. Some think that Ben Broussard should have been the one to get the ax before Botts. I am not sure but it seems to me that he too may well be on his way out. Shelton is now slated for most of the starting time at first. One thing is for sure, if something positive doesn't start to happen Jason won't be alone, manager Ron Washington is already about two thirds out the door.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

2004 Topps - Hank Blalock

Ouch! The Rangers announced late last night that Hank will be on the disabled list for three to four weeks. Apparently he tore a hamstring sliding into second base during the Rangers win over Minnesota on Friday. The wheels sure seem to be coming off early for Texas. I guess when it rains it pours.

Blalock looks much healthier on card number 75 of Topps' 2004 offering. I like having the team name easily readable at the top of the card but it makes the logo on the lower right seem redundant. Too much foil but not a bad design overall. I do like that the player's uniform number is on the front of the card. The small icon on the lower left matching the photo of each player is also a nice touch.

Monday, April 28, 2008

1991 Fleer Update - Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan on Monday and today we have number U-62 in the 1991 Fleer Update set.

Pudge appears on this card to be throwing down to second. I would say it is probably at the end of the pitcher's warm-up. The ump is out of position and it looks like a member of the security team is standing in the background. Neither would be the case during play.

The back of the card informs us that, although just 19 years old Pudge was one of the most highly touted catching prospects in baseball. This after being signed by the Rangers only three years previous at 16.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

1982 Donruss - Fergie Jenkins

Number 643 in the second year offering from Donruss is Fergie Jenkins.

In light of the recent pitching woes in Texas and the history of having weak pitching Jenkins looks good. Fergie pitched for four years for Texas from 1978 to 1981. This would be among the last cards of Jenkins in a Rangers uniform.

Donruss did a better job with this set than they did in their first year. There are several things about the design I like. Having the year of issue on the front of the card is a nice feature. The design is simple and most of the photos and colors are good.

On the downside these cards are often off-center. Perhaps the biggest problem with this particular card though is that it is from 1982. Texas could use a Fergie Jenkins caliber pitcher now.

Friday, April 25, 2008

1992 Dairy Queen - Bobby Witt

Number 5 in the 1992 Dairy Queen set is Bobby Witt.

By the time this card was issued Bobby had been pitching for the Rangers for six years. Dairy Queen was putting out an Olympic set though and so went back to Witt's tour with the Olympic Team. The purpose of the set appears to be to tout the support given to the 1992 Olympic Team tour.

According to the card back, Bobby was the youngest member of the 1984 team and led the team with a 0.69 ERA. He had 36 strikeouts and only 9 walks. Not a bad ratio.

Because Bobby would come up with Texas, I have this card in with my Rangers minor league cards. It is not exactly a true minor league card but it shows Bobby in his pre-major league days. A nice snapshot of history.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

1976 Topps - Briles IP auto

Today's card is number 569 in the 1976 Topps set, Nelson Briles.

This is the oldest signed Rangers card I have. I didn't actually get it signed myself, I got it in a lot of in person and through the mail autographs that I bought several years ago. Still an interesting card though.

Obviously Topps didn't ask Briles what name he preferred to go by as the card says Nelson but he appears to have signed it as Nellie. Perhaps he liked Nellie because of the similarity to Nellie Fox. I am glad I picked this card up though since Briles passed away in February of 2005.

This signature is also neat for another reason. Nellie pitched alongside Bob Gibson for the St. Louis Cardinals. He snagged 14 wins in 1967 while posting a 2.44 ERA after replacing Gibby following his broken leg. Not a bad shoulder to have rubbed if you ask me.

Blogger trading?

I received an email from Rich at Out of the Mill, a very good card blog. He asked me and couple of other bloggers to post a link to an idea he had for an online card blogger trading meet. He is under the mistaken impression that many folks read this blog and he requested the help getting the word out. The idea sounds good to me and so I give you the link to his post:
If you blog about cards, think you might be interested, and have the time then please leave a comment on his post letting him know. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mystery card - Jeff Burroughs

What is today's card? Well, that is a very good question. I have no idea what this card is or where I got it. Any input as to identification would be much appreciated.

Here is what I know about it. It has no identifying marks, no copyright information or company name and no year. It is 3.5 inches wide by 4.25 inches high. You can see the front. The back appears to be part of a puzzle designed to be put together with other cards to form a larger black and white picture. Jeff's card back has a black belt with the bottom of a white pinstripe jersey and the top of white pinstripe pants showing. Looks like maybe a Yankee uniform.

Some possible clues. Burroughs played for Texas from 1972 through the end of the 1976 season. The uniform looks like a mid-70s version. I am not sure where this was taken but looking at the bat knob Jeff appears to be holding an aluminum bat.

Well, any thoughts? Please post any feedback or clues you might have as to the identification of this card.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

1985 Topps - Doug Rader

Today's card is number 519 in the 1985 Topps set, Doug Rader. One thing I have always liked about Topps is the manager cards. For most of the time I have been collecting they have been the only major card company to consistently produce cards of managers. I like that. Gives the fan a chance to get a look at the man running the show.

I don't personally remember Rader managing the Rangers. The first manager I remember was his replacement, Bobby Valentine. That didn't stop me from really disliking the man. Not that he ever did anything to me personally or that I even knew anything about his managing style. His "crime" was much more than any of that.

Doug Rader was the manager when the Rangers traded away Jim Sundberg. It was a move I always disagreed with (although well after the fact). I remember hearing my Dad and Grandfather talking about Rader and about how he disliked Sunny and so got him traded. It was a wrong not righted until only a year or two before Sundberg retired when Texas reacquired him. I still remember getting my first Doug Rader card and looking at it for several minutes. Here at last was the "villain" I had heard about as a child almost every time the conversation turned to baseball and catchers. I remember thinking that he didn't look particularly nefarious. Strange that a man who didn't care for Sunny should look so normal I thought. There are times I miss Doug Rader being one of the baddest of the bad men I had heard about.

Monday, April 21, 2008

1991 Donruss Rookies - Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan on Monday again. Number 33 in the 1991 Donruss The Rookies set.

This set looked like the regular set but with the red borders as opposed to the green and blue ones of the regular set. From the back of the card we learn that Ivan was signed by Texas as an undrafted amateur free agent. Kind of blows my mind that they were able to get him without anyone else snagging him up in the draft.

One interesting thing about this photo, I can't make out the number but it is very clearly a double digit number on his jersey. Today Pudge wears number 7 and has done so for as long as I can recall with Texas, Florida, and Detroit. I am assuming that this picture was taken after his June, 1991 call up and that he had not yet arranged to get number 7.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

1995 Pacific - Rick Honeycutt

Number 428 in the 1995 Pacific offering is Rick Honeycutt. The card design here almost shouts second tier card company. The player name, year, and company logo all scan black but are gold foil. Maybe if they were black the design wouldn't look quite so gaudy.

Rick was one of those players that put in more than one stint with Texas. He pitched for the team in '81, '82, and part of '83. In 1982 he had an ERA of 5.27. The other two years it didn't get over 3.31. That must have been the Honeycutt the Rangers remembered in 1993 when they signed him as a free agent for the '94 season. That was not the Honeycutt they got as he had a whopping 7.20 ERA in 25 innings pitched.

Not sure if it was the red uniforms or the difference between being in his late 20's the first time and 40 the second that accounted for the decline.

Friday, April 18, 2008

1984 Donruss - Tom Henke

Number 134 in the 1984 Donruss set is Tom Henke. This is Tom before he routinely shut down opposing offenses and was considered one of the best closers in the game.

Henke was signed by Texas in June of 1980 with a contract to run through 1984. He showed up with the team in '82, '83, and '84 but pitched so few innings that his debut with Toronto in 1985 still garnered him ROY votes. In 1986 he was third in the AL in saves and took off from there. The Rangers got him back in 1993 and 1994. He had 40 saves in 1993, third in the AL. After 36 saves for St. Louis in 1995 he hung it up and went out at the top of his game.

Tom is one of those players that seem to come along all too frequently for Texas. They are ok while with the team and blossom just after leaving. Watching the rest of their careers unfold is like playing a game of "What if?"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

2007 UD Antiquity Artifacts - Michael Young

Number AA-MY in the set is Michael Young and a piece of his jersey. I like this card. I like the player and I like the look of the card. It has a nice design and little foil. If I were to change anything about it I would move the numbering to the back of the card.

Mike has been struggling a little this season. It all started with the season opener in Seattle when he had the flu and misplayed several balls hit his way. It is still early in the season but already there are scattered calls to move or trade Young. That makes no sense. He is locked into a long term deal and has been a Rangers anchor for several years. He'll come around soon. Having him and Kinsler playing together for the long term will be beneficial to Texas in a year or two.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

1993 Sports Cards Magazine - Dean Palmer

Today's card is number 48 in the Sports Card Magazine set from 1993. These cards came inside the magazine and were designed to be cut loose from the rest of the cards in the sheet. I can't remember exactly where I got this one from but I am pretty sure I didn't get it directly from the magazine. Each card had a write-up on the player featured. It also has some advice from "The Investment Advisor." On Palmer's card he says, "Palmer first appeared in many of the regular 1990 sets, making his rookie cards affordable and easy to find." More like an observation than advice.

It took me a long time to warm up to Dino. He replaced Steve Buechele at third base. Boo was one of my favorite Rangers at the time and so Palmer had some big shoes to fill. His bat was big enough but I was never satisfied with his glove work. To be fair, there weren't many third-sackers who could measure up to Steve's glove. I remember constantly complaining about Palmer's glove work. He did eventually get things smoothed out, it just took a little time.

Palmer fit with the Rangers lineup of the time that was loaded with power. He had enough pop in his bat to not seem out of place with Palmeiro, Gonzalez, Canseco, Franco, and Rodriguez. When Texas finally traded him to the Royals I was sad to see him go.

Monday, April 14, 2008

1991 Classic Best - Ivan Rodriguez

Today's card is a twofer of sorts. First up on Ivan Monday we have the 1991 Classic Best number 136. In this card we see Pudge squinting into the sun as he poses for the camera and models a mesh backed cap. Something tells me that the cap would have been a helmet in a real action shot.

The second card we have is the 1991 Classic Best Gold Bonus number BC7. This card is practically a repeat of the first card except for the numbering and the gold foil on the player name. I personally prefer the first card even though the second is an insert. The gold foil makes for some hard reading of player's names. For Pudge that's no big deal but other minor leaguers are not as well known and name reading is a must in their cases.

The information on the backs of the cards is identical. It is noted that Ivan signed as a free agent with Texas on July 27, 1988. Stats from 1989 and 1990 are also present.

While not the toughest of Ivan's minor league issues to track down I like this pair. The design is nice and the fact that the parent team's logo is prominent on the back of the card is an added bonus. Too many times as a team collector I find myself looking at minor league cards and wondering just who the parent club is.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

1988 Score - Jeff Russell

Today's card is number 514 in Score's inaugural set, Jeff Russell.

Jeff pitched for Texas for all or part of nine seasons in two hitches with the team. In 1988 he started 24 games but other than that he was a reliever. I remember Russell best for being a closer. At times he was pretty fearsome.

I have never really cared for Score's first design. At the time it seemed a bit gaudy and never got any better with age. The color-coded borders that seem to have no rhyme or reason and the floating white box just didn't get it done. I did like the player's uniform number on the back of the card. That was a nice feature to an otherwise undistinguished set.

Friday, April 11, 2008

2007 Upper Deck - C.J. Wilson

Today's card is number 983 in the 2007 Upper Deck set. C.J. Wilson got the closer's job at the tail end of Spring Training this year and so far he appears to be making good. He helped shut down the Orioles yesterday in the double-header and got two saves in the process. I believe he only threw about 17 pitches total. I am not a big believer in pitch counts but I do think that a closer shouldn't mess around getting the job done.

Overall I kind of like the 2007 Upper Deck design. The team name and position are a little hard to catch when quickly looking through a stack of cards but other than that it isn't too shabby. Most of the card front is used by the picture and the foil is there but not overdone.

As for C.J. he is looking a bit shaggy as he throws home. I don't really care for the derelict look on ballplayers and most can't pull it off successfully. I must say though that I like his threads. The vest style uniforms have always been something I liked and I was pleased when Texas introduced them. The gray looks better in my opinion than the white but I like them both.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

2000 UD MVP - Doug Davis

Texas got rain yesterday and the game got postponed. They will play a double-header against Baltimore today. Kason Gabbard is slated to start the first game. The last time he faced the O's the final score was 30-3 in favor of the Rangers. I'll bet Ron Washington would settle for scoring half as much as that game and giving the Orioles twice the score they had.

Doug Davis is scheduled to go under the knife today for his thyroid cancer. Having surgery is rarely the best and when you throw cancer in the mix things can get ugly. Whenever I hear of someone fighting that fight I stop and offer a prayer on their behalf.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

1993 UD Fun Pack - Jose Canseco

Today's card is number 155 in the 1993 Upper Deck Fun Pack set.

Jose had joined the Rangers part way through the season the year before this card was issued. He moved from Oakland as part of a trade that involved Ruben Sierra, Jeff Russell, and Bobby Witt as well as some cash.

At the time I recall asking what Texas was thinking. I mean, giving up Russell and Witt? The Rangers kept Jose for two more seasons before shipping him off to Boston.

Steroid issues aside, I never cared for Canseco. My brother is a huge A's fan and loved him when he was one half of the Bash Brothers. He soured on him a bit though as Jose's legendary surliness with fans and reporters as well as his off-field hi-jinks with his wife became more well known. All in all it seemed to me at the time (and since to be honest) that Texas had only moved one problem player (Sierra) in order to acquire another.

I have read in a few places that since retirement Jose relates better to the public. That may be true but I still have that young fan bad taste in my mouth.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

2000 Topps - Doug Davis

Today is the Rangers home opener. As I write this the game has just kicked off. It would be nice to see the team win it.

Today's card represents another opener. 2000 Topps Traded number T78 is Doug Davis' rookie card. Drafted by the Rangers in 1996 Doug spent part or all of five seasons with the club before moving on to the Brewers and then the Diamondbacks.

Today Doug makes his second start of the 2008 season and his last before undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer on Thursday. Let's hope and pray that he will be back as soon as possible.

Monday, April 7, 2008

1991 Classic III - Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan on Monday again. Today we have card number T78 in the 1991 Classic III series. This card is glossy compared to last week's card. I like the photo better but I'm not sure I care for the border color. On the back we are once again advised that Pudge had "No major league record" at the time the card was issued. We also get five more trivia questions. These are not as difficult as last week's. If anyone wants to give them a shot post your answers in the comments section and I'll let you know what the card says are correct. No fair looking the answers up.

1. (T-F) Craig Biggio plays first base.
2. Which team did George Brett hit his "pine tar" home run against?
3. I was the first Rookie of the Year Award winner. Who am I?
4. What pitcher threw back to back no-hitters in 1938?
5. What does the statistic SB stand for?

Since nobody braved last week's questions here are the answers:
1. False
2. Willie McCovey
3. 6
4. Ted Turner

Saturday, April 5, 2008

1990 Upper Deck - Harold Baines

Number 353 in the 1990 Upper Deck set is today's card, Harold Baines.

1990 was Upper Deck's second year and the brand was still new and exciting. The holograms on the backs of the cards were considered cutting edge. I personally liked the first few years of Upper Deck. The photos were nice, the colors good, and the designs simple. Easy to read with the team logo right up front.

Baines was/is a popular player, especially among White Sox fans. There is a somewhat large movement to get him into the Hall of Fame. Since he played for Texas I have heard that I am supposed to have an opinion on the matter. I don't.

Texas traded Scott Fletcher, Sammy Sosa, and Wilson Alvarez to the Sox for Fred Manrique and Harold. Baines lasted only part of two seasons with Texas. In spite of the "OF" designation he played only three games in the outfield. This compared to 141 as DH. In that time he hit 16 home runs and drove in 60 runs. Probably because of this he never made an impression on me. If a guy is only a DH I expect a better than .300 average, power, and lots of RBI. Not that Baines was a bad player, I have nothing against the guy. He just didn't stick around long enough or make a big enough splash to catch my attention.

Friday, April 4, 2008

2005 Fleer Platinum - Mark Teixeira

Today's card is one I received in my trade with Steve at White Sox Cards. Number 36 in the 2005 Fleer Platinum set and the last one I needed for my team set.

I am pretty ambivalent on these cards. I like the no borders design and the way the player's picture stands out. I don't like the silver foil on the white background for the player and team name. Makes it hard to read. It actually shows up better in the scan than in life.

Tex himself I have somewhat mixed emotions over. I had gotten somewhat excited about him in the four years since he came up with Texas. I was thinking that he was the future of the franchise. Then he was gone. Traded to Atlanta. I was not big on the trade.

Since the trade though I have changed my mind. I read where Mark said that he wanted to play for a winner, that Texas was far from being there, and that he would not be resigning at the end of the 2007 season. I really dislike selfish players. That combined with the promise that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is showing convinced me that the Rangers didn't do so poorly after all.


Just received a bubble mailer from White Sox Cards. Inside were two packets of Rangers cards that he had found for me after looking through my wantlist in exchange for some Sox I sent his way. I looked through them and can already say that I am now several completed team sets to the good. Thanks for the trade Steve!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

2007 Topps - Texas Rangers

Today's card is a modern version of the team card that I posted previously. Number 596 in the 2007 Topps set.

As I stated before, I like team cards and was thrilled when Topps reintroduced the concept a few years back. The design of the 2007 cards is a little less thrilling. I am not down on them, just not excited either.

On the plus side is the 1971-like look. I actually liked the black borders after years of the white. The team name is in silver foil and doesn't scan well but looks ok in person. I kind of like the silver on black idea. The down side would have to be the little colored boxes on the corners. Not sure I see the point there and having them different colors doesn't help either.

As for the picture. Not bad. Obviously has had the wall photo-shopped in. This is a historic team. This is the team that broke the tradition of firing Buck Showalter and winning the World Series the next season. Not a proud accomplishment but hey, you got to take what you can get.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

1987 Smokey Bear - Charlie Hough

Charlie makes another appearance today on card number 12 of this set. It looks like Charlie is sharing the secret of the knuckle-ball with Smokey. Shortly after this picture was taken Smokey gave up his MLB aspirations after being informed that he would have to have his claws removed to avoid scuffing allegations.

This is an over-sized card that has perforations along three sides and so seems to have been torn out of a larger sheet. The back of the card has no stats but does inform us that it was a public service in wildfire prevention, 1987. In a cartoon Smokey advises readers to, "Leave a cold trail!" In the background a family prepares to leave a picnic area.

I like these kind of cards. Fun and simple, like cards should be.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

2006 Topps Opening Day - Kevin Millwood

Well, Opening Day has come and gone and the Rangers blew a solid outing by Kevin Millwood to lose the game. Throwing six innings and giving up no earned runs weren't enough and Kevin got tagged with the loss. This was his third straight Opening Day loss for Texas. The bright side was the solid pitching performance. The Rangers need good starters.

Here Millwood appears on card number 126 of the 2006 Topps Opening Day set as he appears in his first Opening Day start for the Rangers.

Overall I must say that I am unimpressed with this set. I think I miss the point of the Opening Day sets from Topps. The design is the same and the photos are even mostly the same. A few players get different shots in the regular set but most of them are the same. On top of that the blue foil makes the Team, player, and position hard to read. It is only slightly harder to make out in this scan than in person.