Saturday, November 29, 2008

All pitching leads to Boston.

Texas sent Wes Littleton to Boston yesterday. Littleton, seen here on card number 1201 of the 2006 Upper Deck set, had been designated for assignment just prior to the deal.

According to, the Rangers sent Wes to the Sox in exchange for "future considerations". Whether this means the Rangers get the biggest piece of Grandma's apple pie at Christmas or simply an apology for wedgies handed out as young children is yet to be determined. There are unsubstantiated rumors that actual baseball players or cold hard cash might be involved as well.

Speaking of cash, apparently money not only can't buy you happiness, it also can't buy you friends. Young Japanese star Junichi Tazawa has turned down Texas' offer to play ball for them. In spite of having the largest offer, the Rangers are stuck watching Tazawa head off to, you guessed it, Boston.

Not sure I understand that. The Sox have several other Japanese pitchers and supposedly that is the draw. Of course that will also be a bar to breaking into the rotation. If I were a young phenom I would think that the most potent offense in the Bigs and weak rotation would be enticing. What better place to break in big, get the insurance runs you need, and look good for other teams?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Where did the time go?

My sincere apologies for this past week's shortage of posts. With getting a dental crown on Tuesday and having relatives in for Thanksgiving, it seemed that time just got away from me. In addition, I am having writer's block so I think that I will settle for a Classic trivia day.

Today's questions are provided by Ruben Sierra on card number 180 in the 1988 Classic set. Please feel free to take a shot at the answers in the comments. Ok, here we go:

1. (T-F) Mike Whitt led the Angels in losses in 1987?
2. What Hall of Famer was referred to as "Big D"?
3. Who holds the M.L. record for most relief losses in a season?
4. Who holds the second longest hitting streak in the A.L.?
5. The Cincinnati Reds are in the N.L.?

Well, looks like number five is a giveaway but a couple of the others might be a little more challenging. Looking forward to seeing everyone's guesses.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Book 1, Page 19.

Today we have our first minority report Pudge page. Most of the page pockets are left empty in this sad episode. Well, let's see which cards put on an appearance today.

Empty pocket
Empty pocket
Empty pocket
Empty pocket
Empty pocket
1994 Score #31
1994 Score Gold Rush #31
1994 Score Gold Stars #58
1994 Select #214

To be fair, I am not sure that the empty pockets will be able to hold what they are left open for. Here is what they are waiting on: 1994 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #5, 1994 Rangers All-Stars Pins #20, 20, and 22, 1994 Rangers Magic Marker #35. Since I haven't ever seen any of these, I am not sure which are regular cards and which aren't. I have a bad feeling that the pins will not go in the pages (to avoid damage to the other cards) and so I'll have to readjust my pages. Time will tell I suppose.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where's Willie?

Well, with not much going on today in baseball it's time for another exciting episode of, "Whatever happened to that guy?" Today's card is an unnumbered card from the 1986 ProCards OKC Eighty Niners team set. The player pictured is infielder Willie Lozado.

Apparently by the time this photo was taken Willie's best baseball days were behind him. According to Willie was signed by the Brewers in 1978 and made his MLB debut in July of 1984. During his tenure with Milwaukee he played 2nd, short, third, and DH. After 43 games the Brew Crew left him unprotected and St. Louis snagged him in the rule 5 draft. They released him in November of 1985.

The record apparently stops there. According to the back of this card, Willie played for Louisville and Arkansas in 1985. There is no indication of how he ended up in the Rangers system. He never played for the Rangers or any other club in the bigs after his 1984 appearance. So, what did become of infielder Willie Lozado?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Making some moves.

The Rangers much heralded 2005 first round draft pick has been sent packing. Joh Mayberry Jr. is seen here on card number UH314 of the 2005 Topps Updates and Highlights set. These types of pictures might be as close as John comes to playing for Texas. Yesterday he got shipped off to to the Phillies in exchange for former 2004 first round pick Greg Golson. Both teams seem to think that the players needed a change of scenery.

The Rangers also said so long to pitcher Kameron Loe yesterday. They sold the rights to Kam to the Fukuoka SouthBank Hawks, a Japanese team. Looks like Loe is headed out of country. Best of luck to him and his pet python. Hopefully he can make a go of it and be able to stay off the Japanese equivalent of the OKC to Arlington shuttle.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Frank Tanana - TTM autograph.

This 1985 Donruss card came in the mail for me today. I had sent it and a 1985 Topps card out to Frank Tanana earlier this month and asked him to sign them. He did so and returned both. He also included an autographed Gospel tract.

I really appreciate the players who take time to answer their mail. I would assume that most often the letters are requests for autographs. To sign and return the enclosed materials takes time and impresses me. It is easy to see who cares about the fans and who does not. A late return is understandable. A return with a letter saying the athlete is too busy to sign is acceptable. No return is not cool. Failure to even acknowledge the fans really bothers me.

In other news it looks like Mike Mussina is going to retire. I remember the hype the surrounded his debut and have watched from afar as he amassed his 270 career victories. After a 20 win season last this year it looks like he will be going out at the top of his game. Good luck with retirement Moose.

After a successful and enjoyable trade with John from England I am adding his blog to the links list. Take a look at The Pursuit of 80's(ness) and tell him Spiff sent ya.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trading cards with a card.

A while back I contacted Kerry at Cards on Cards about a possible team lot trade. After some back and forth we agreed on a 220 card trade. I shipped off Kerry's Cardinals cards and he sent some Rangers my way.

Approximately 290 Rangers cards arrived in the mail today and it was a pretty nice lot. Only one or two doubles in the entire thing. I needed about 45 of the cards and was able to complete four team sets. One of the cards that I needed to complete a team set was this 2006 Bazooka Hank Blalock, number 54.

I was also able to complete my 1979 Topps, 2008 Upper Deck, and 2006 Fleer Tradition team sets. Possibly the largest number of team sets knocked out by any one trade to date. Thanks for the great trade Kerry!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

1972 Topps - Larry Biittner

Today's card is another in the airbrushed beauty that is 1972 Topps. Just about every Rangers card in this set was airbrushed due to the company not having pictures of the players in their new Rangers duds. As a result the team looks for all the world like they are appearing on cereal box cards.

Larry Biittner may not have been airbrushed on card number 122 but he has no logo in site. Larry seems a bit pensive, almost as if he is unsure about the move to Texas. He must have liked it though. After two seasons with the Rangers he was traded to Montreal. He then played nine more seasons before re-signing with Texas for his final campaign in 1983.

Don't worry Larry, you aren't the only one moving. It would appear that as soon as the logjam gets broken in the free agent market there will be a lot of players with new homes this next season.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Book 1, Page 18.

Looks like there is still not a lot of movement on the free agent front. Not a lot of movement on my front either so let's see what we have for Pudge today.

1994 Leaf Limited #74
1994 Leaf Limited Gold All-Stars #15
1994 O-Pee-Chee #87
1994 Pacific #627
1994 Pacific All-Latino #13
1994 Panini Stickers #132
1994 Pinnacle #349
Empty Pocket
1994 Pinnacle Museum Collection #349

The empty pocket is waiting for the 1994 Pinnacle Artist's Proofs #349. Seems like by this point in the book an empty pocket or two is about par for a page. That will change as the parallels pick up later in the 1990's and the gaps become more frequent.

On this page we see a numbered card in the Leaf Limited Gold All-Stars. On the back of the card it is numbered 1815/10,000. Not exactly low numbered but I think this is the first numbered card of Pudge we have seen.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

1987 Classic - Pete Incaviglia

Nothing much happening on the free agent front today so I decided to fall back on Classic trivia. Today's questions come from card number 16 in Classic's 1987 offering.

I picked this card up off Sportlots awhile back as I started trying to fill some holes in my collection. I must say, I like the card. I knew that Inky was strong but it takes real power to vaporize the ball. Looks like Pete has done just that. Wonder what the umpire's call was?

Ok, on to the questions.
1. (T-F) Ty Cobb holds the single season record for the highest batting average?
2. Who was nicknamed "The Iron Horse"?
3. Who tied Mike Schmidt for the N.L. home run crown in 1984?
4. Who was the first third baseman to hit over 500 career home runs?
5. What is the nickname of the Cincinnati N.L. team?
Got some pretty easy ones this time. Feel free to post your answers or thoughts on Inky's powder power.

Friday, November 14, 2008

...Start talking!

It's free agent time. Time for players' agents to try and talk up their clients for the big time contract. Got to like O-Pee-Chee's acknowledgment of the process on card number 201 of their 1985 offering. Burt Hooton is still pictured in his Dodger duds but there is a notation that he had signed with the Rangers since the picture was taken.

As for this year, the Rangers have reportedly showed some interest in Milton Bradley but the word is that he will probably end up with a new address. Burt's 1984 team has withdrawn their offer to Manny Ramirez but say they are still in the hunt. Thank goodness Texas learned their lesson with Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees are dangling big money in front of CC Sabathia and seem to be eying Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett. Trying to buy another Championship? I guess some things never change.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ready, set...

Today's card is an unnumbered card from the 2002 Fleer Box Score World Piece set. The card features a piece of one of Chan Ho Park's Rangers jerseys.

Park is one of the many free agents that are still up in the air as we head into Friday and free agent open season. In the past day though there have been several teams that have not been idle.

Nick Swisher is on his way to the Yankees while the Cubs acquired Kevin Gregg from the Marlins and appear to be ready to deal Kerry Wood. The talks surrounding Jake Peavey seem to be stalled and Manny Ramirez looks like he is stalling as well.

Thus far Texas has not made any major moves with the exception of picking up Hank Blalock's option for next year. They have also resigned a minor leaguer or two. Jon Daniels has said that the club plans to focus on bolstering the bullpen but will most likely not be handing out any blockbuster deals.

The next week or two could be very interesting with some big names possibly changing teams or retiring. Any thoughts on who ends up where?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

1973 Kellogg's - Pete Broberg.

Nothing much happening so far today on the hot stove front. I thought I would take a gander in one of my Rangers binders and see what random card I could come across. I got this one.

This Pete Broberg card is from the 1973 Kellogg's set and is number 41 in the 54 card set. Excepting my Matlack card from the same year this is the earliest Kellogg's card I have and I believe is from the first year that the cereal company offered cards. This and the Matlack are also the only Kellogg's cards I have that are not 3D.

The card has small bumps on the sides and bottom that seem to indicate that it was torn from a sheet. It is difficult to tell if an old Senators picture of Pete was used - his cap almost looks airbrushed.

Flipping the card over we can see two lines of stats, all that Pete had at the time. We also find that Broberg's middle name is Sven and that this is an "officially authorized card." Who officially authorized it I am not sure but there are logos for the Rangers, MLB, and the Players Association on the back as well. About half of the back is filled with information on Pete that talks about his Dartmouth days and compares him to Walter Johnson. It also talks about the jump he made from college ball to the Majors and refers to the Rangers as "his Texas employers."

I enjoy reading old card backs and this one is particularly entertaining. Whoever wrote this should be brought out of retirement to write card backs now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Turning on the heat.

Rangers president Nolan Ryan knows pitching. After all, as card number 34 in the 1994 Topps set indicates, he did it in the Bigs for 27 years.

That length of time is just phenomenal and Ryan claims that it was his conditioning regimen that allowed him to last that long. Who's gonna argue with the king of K's? Not me. Apparently not anyone in the Rangers organization.

Frustrated by the 14 pitchers placed on the disabled list last season, Ryan has decided to retool the Rangers' pitching philosophy. Time to crack down, work out, and push the pitching staff to go further and be tougher. One of the several conditioning camps scheduled for this year is already in full swing. The goal? Get pitchers who can perform and not end up with a sore this or that. Sounds good to me. Here's to hoping it works.

While Nolan holds the pitching staff's feet to the fire, the off-season has been heating up as well. Looks like Billy Beane is trying to make opposing teams sweat a little with the acquisition of Matt Holliday. Obviously Beane is a brilliant operator, I just wonder who will replace Huston Street in the A's pen. Haven't had the opportunity to check with my A's advisor (my brother) about this latest move.

Meanwhile enough pitching to satisfy anyone is about to hit the free agent market on Friday. Looks like the price tags for most of it will be enough to make a Steinbrenner blush. Texas has said they will be cautious with free agent pitching. After their luck with Jennings and McCarthy perhaps that is a wise move.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Book 1, Page 17.

Monday again. Free agents and teams are preparing to start talking and here we are with our latest Pudge page. The eight cards we have today are:

1994 Finest Pre-Production #126P
Empty pocket
1994 Flair #346
1994 Fleer #319
1994 Fleer All-Stars #22
1994 Fun Pack #70
1994 Fun Pack #176
1994 Kenner Starting Lineup Cards #45
1994 Leaf #338

The empty pocket is left for the Finest Refractor which looks to be a pricey addition. Of these eight cards I think that I like the Flair the best. It just has a classy look to it.

One of the free agents that will soon be talking to various teams is none other than Ivan. The Tigers have already said that they don't feel he is a fit and the Rangers have too much depth at catcher to be interested. Apparently the Yankees only planned to rent him for the home stretch of last season. So, where will he end up? Is there a possibility that he won't catch on with anyone and end up retiring? What do you think?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Simply Golden.

Michael Young won a Gold Glove for this past season's performance. I thought that the image of Mike turning a double play was appropriate. Seeing it on card number 87 of the 2008 Masterpieces set was also fitting. A Gold Glove recognizes a master.

Can't say I was terribly surprised by Michael Young winning a Gold Glove. He managed to beat out runner-up Derek Jeter by five points in fielding percentage, one less error, 44 more double plays, and 0.77 assists more per game on average. For the numbers folks, Mike's range factor in 2008 was 4.36 compared to Jeter's 3.83.

Still not sure why the Rangers need to be in a hurry to trade Young or move his position. Seems to me that he is handling it just fine right now.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Got back from class this afternoon to find this 1994 O-Pee-Chee card waiting for me. I had sent it and two other cards out to Dean Palmer on September 17. Mr. Palmer was nice enough to sign and return all three.

Speaking of third basemen, it looks like the Rangers picked up Hank Blalock's option for 2009. Instead of playing third base though he will be the DH. Of course there is always the option that he will be dealt for some pitching before the season starts. Still a lot left that could happen this off-season.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A word from the management.

Well, the boss says I have to go to a continuing education class for the next three days. As a result I will be away from my computer for the next couple of days. I will try and post on Friday night bu no promises.

I will leave you with this Billy Hunter card from 1978 Topps, number 548 in the set. I posted the signed version of this card in an earlier post but thought I would throw up the untouched version as well.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Book 1, Page 16.

Looks like the Rangers might have signed Mike Maddux to be their bullpen coach. I stopped by the card shop and mentioned that to the owner and he said that he had heard that they are talking to Ben Sheets and perhaps that might be why they signed Maddux. That could be interesting.

Wow! Two weeks with no Pudge. Hope that everyone was able to survive. Let's take a look at what we have up today.

1994 Church's Hometown Stars #27
1994 Church's Hometown Stars Gold #27
1994 Collector's Choice #625
Empty Pocket
1994 Collector's Choice Silver Signature #625
1994 Donruss #376
1994 Donruss Diamond Kings #DK10
1994 Donruss Special Edition #96
1994 Finest #126

The empty pocket is left for the 1994 Collector's Choice Gold Signature #625. Of these eight cards, I have to say I like the 1994 Donruss card the best. Minimal foil and a great photo of the classic play at the plate. Very nice looking card.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Talking points.

Well, the season is over, the champion is crowned, and the parades are past. The players are all home and have hung up the spikes for the year. Now it's time for the front office guys to take the field and do their thing.

Jon Daniels is off to the GM talks to represent the Rangers. We get to see his signature on this 2006 Topps card, number 293. I had the bright idea of sending it off for an autograph but didn't account for the gloss. Daniels signed it but the signature bubbled badly. Let's hope that his efforts this off-season turn out better than my efforts to obtain his autograph.