Category Archives: 2008 Upper Deck Timeline

2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 7

The last entry to complete the set before we move on to some other Flashback sets…

Oh, Elijah. I went from hating his signing to thinking he had some potential to being absolutely confused when he was cut from the team. I guess his attitude just got the best of him? I’m also confused that he’s playing for the Newark Bears, apparently, as he wasn’t GREAT last year, but he was only 25. Surely someone would have picked him up? But yeah, according to the Washington Post:

But Rizzo also implied that Dukes’s presence in the clubhouse adversely affected the Nationals, saying they “will be a more cohesive group” without him.

“The clubhouse will be more united,” Rizzo said. “We’ll have a better feel around the ballclub. We’ll gain just by that alone.”

So yeah, attitude entirely. Oh, well. Good luck to the guy.

Another of the great, lost Expos from the MLB years.

Phillips as an Expo.

I liked Phillips way back, and I’ve been happy to see him find his talent and turn it into a productive career. I like this card a lot, as well – it captures exactly the spirit of 92 Upper Deck.

So we get to the first of today’s entries that isn’t in some way tied to the Nats/Expos…but IS from Washington, DC. No, I didn’t plan it this way, but it’s a nice little coincidence. Emmanuel isn’t a very good hitter (in the way that Hitler wasn’t a very nice man), but he’s managed to stick in the majors since debuting in 08, and was even rumored to be part of a trade for Jose Bautista this season, though that never got off the ground. I thought he might be a good glove man, so I hit up fangraphs, and his UZR is -17.7. So uhm…what value does he provide, actually? A warm body? I don’t get it. But he’s still out there.

And so the final card I’ll cover in this set. Uhm…Rico Washington. That’s about the flimsiest connection to this “theme” you can come up with. Rico was a 30-year old rookie when this was published, so I can appreciate that this was probably just a neat moment for him. He didn’t really hit well in his run, which lasted most of April, 2008, and he hasn’t been back since. In fact, he seems to have retired completely, but at least he got a shot. Good for him.

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 6

And we resume the series, closing in on the end…

Yes, there are two Nationals in this subset, and I wanted to save them for last (and next-to-last). Tyler Clippard has completely revived his career the last two seasons, pitching to a 157 and 126 ERA+ respectively with enough innings for those numbers to actually mean something. He hasn’t been quite as effective of late, but I suspect that has to do with overuse – the guy has already appeared in 50 games this year. I still have faith in Clip, and I have an autographed version of this card, as well:

I will forever associate Chris Duncan with the asinine crap that went down with his exit from St. Louis. For those unfamiliar, when St. Louis (rightfully) dealt him to Boston for being unable to hit water falling out of a boat, his dad, pitching coach Dave Duncan, and manager Tony LaRussa were very butthurt and gave the front office trouble about it. But come on, the guy really was underperforming and fans didn’t like him. It was time for a change. And yes, technically Chris is a National now, though he hasn’t suited up for them in an official game yet. Here’s a shot of him from Spring Training, though:

Duncan is hitting .191 in Syracuse this year, so don’t expect to see him in Washington any time soon.

I had never heard of this guy when I pulled this card, and I still haven’t seen him in a game. To me, Janish looks and smells like a AAAA player, and the numbers bear it out, though he has managed a 109 OPS+ in 37 games this year (small sample size caveats aside). I also did not realize he pitched in two games last year, but was less than impressive.

Russ was one of the last two cards I needed to complete this set. I had high hopes for this guy once upon a time. He looked like another in the tradition of good-hitting Dodgers catchers in the mold of Mike Piazza, but lately he’s looked more like a Paul LoDuca. I also have something of a grudge against him because I picked him up last year for my fantasy team as what I thought would be a steal and he completely tanked and has kept it up this year.

Finally, we have Clay Timpner, another player who was a mystery to me. So far he has appeared in only two ML games with two at-bats, striking out both times, and hasn’t returned since 2008. No wonder I’d never heard of the guy. He’s playing at AA Richmond this year, with a .707 OPS. Meh.

So far, while I like the design of the subset, the player choices leave me more than a bit underwhelmed. There are some good players to come, sure, but nothing that’ll wow you. Thankfully, we’re almost done and can get to something better – 2002 UD Authentics.

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 5

…it is complete. I received the last two cards I needed for the subset yesterday. Woohoo! My first completed subset in…well…a loooong time. That means we will definitely look at the entire thing. I may move on to some other subsets of Timeline, but for right now I’m focused on some of the 2002 issues I talked about yesterday.

Poor Edinson. He looked so brilliant in 2008, then lost most of the last two years to injury. Given Johnny Cueto’s pitching motion, I always figured he would be the first of the two brilliant young pitchers to give out. I’m thinking Cueto will still eventually give out, but for now, it seems the Reds have both of them back in the rotation, along with some other great pitchers. Speaking of which, what the hell happened to Aaron Harang? That guy was a world-beater for awhile there, and now…wow. Just awful.

Anyway, Edinson returned recently and pitched a great game. Good for him! As for the card itself, I like it, but it’s not a standout in the set, exactly. They’ve applied that 92 filter (look at the way the light diffracts on his arm to understand what I’m talking about) that I just love so much (ugh), but the shot is vintage 92. It would definitely have fit in with the original set.

This was another one of those “Who?” cards when I pulled it from the blaster. Iribarren had a blistering 10 OPS+ in 15 plate appearances in 2008, and faired slightly, if not significantly, better in 2009 with a 78 OPS+. He managed a 0.0 WAR in 2009, making him the very definition of a replacement player. Good job? All I can think is he must be a glove guy, because his minor league numbers really aren’t much better. I mean, he had a .680 OPS in the friggin’ Pacific Coast League in 2008. Not exactly what you call a world-beater, but I’m always glad to see a guy like this get a card. Even if he never sticks, he’ll always have this to point to.

Let’s finish it up with a couple of Cubs. First is Reed Johnson. Reed joined the Cubs in 2008, so I wonder if he was included in this set as a sort of “traded” nod, because he’s kind of far from being the sort of young player Upper Deck seemed to be going for here. Reed’s never been the most amazing player, but 2008 was about par for the course, and shows why batting average is not the be-all end-all for judging a player. He hit a deceptive .303, but his obp was .358. Ick. He did, however, manage a 98 OPS+, not great for a corner outfielder and certainly below league average, but he accounted for 1.3 WAR. Not a terrible pickup from the scrap heap.

What a letdown this guy must be for Cubs fans. I remember the hype with him coming in, that he would be the next Ichiro or Hideki Matsui. What they got instead was a corner outfielder who couldn’t muster a 100 OPS+. Hell, even a 90 OPS+. He rebounded a bit last year, mustering a 104 OPS+ with a 3.1 WAR, but he’s back down again this year, and can’t seem to manage to get above a .260 batting average (one of those times when batting average does kind of matter). He’s been especially wretched in July. Just another thing that’s gone wrong for the Cubs.

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 4

Well, this set has a few All Stars from this year. I never thought Corey Hart was going to amount to much, being honest, and I was pleasantly surprised, though he has had his down years as well. I do wonder if this year’s power surge is a long-term thing, though. Probably not. He is 28, which would be right around his prime. What I’m saying is I wouldn’t go loading up on Hart rookie cards as an investment, but he’s a solid player. Oh, and once upon a time he was a pretty great player for my Out of The Park team. Heh.

As for this card…eh. Far from my favorite of the set, but it’s another one off the checklist.

Huh. So I was prepared to declare Fred Lewis today’s scrub, but I looked up his numbers and he’s actually not a bad outfielder. Who knew? I mean, I consider myself a fairly savvy fan, and I had no knowledge of the guy. I mean, he has little power and a just okay average, but considering that average he has a pretty great OBP. I mean, yeah, you ideally want more from a corner outfielder, but I wouldn’t kick him off my team.

Really dig this shot. Love the reflection in the shades and the close-up of an otherwise ho-hum pose. So yeah, he’s not a star exactly, but it’s a card worth having, I think.

David Murphy will forever be a Red Sox player in my head; I just associate him so strongly with 2003, the year I got back into collecting. At that time he was a #1 draft pick for the Sox, and I figured he would eventually make the team. Seeing him as a Ranger just feels off, to this day. You know, though, as decent as he has been, I wouldn’t say he’s lived up to being a #1 draft pick. Especially when you look at who was picked after him (Adam Jones, Chad Billingsley, and Carlos Quentin to name a few). Could be worse, I guess. Could have never made the majors.

I like this card, as well. There’s something about this set that makes the players seem larger than life – it’s not just the extreme zoom but also the framing of the shots. I appreciate it.

Breslow has lived the life of a middle reliever, that’s for sure. It’s actually kind of surprising to see him in this set, given the short shrift middle relievers typically get. Relievers are pretty hard to gauge, but Breslow does look like a good one; decent if not eye-popping WHIP, good ERA+s (though they’re almost useless for relievers), keeps the home runs low. ¬†And hey, he’s made pretty good for a 26th round pick. You go, Craig!

This is another example of the larger-than-life shot. I wonder if it’s because 1992 Upper Deck was more zoomed out and modern cards tend to get a tighter shot? I don’t know, but it’s interesting and keeps the set dynamic for me.

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 3

I’m in the home stretch of completing this subset now…I think I only have one or two more cards that I need for it (I completely filled out two pages of the set last night and it was glorious). So. Let’s take a look at a few more cards from the set.

Votto.

With today being the All-Star Game, it seemed appropriate to lead off with Votto. Votto made the game at last, and uh…it seems kind of messed up that he had to be the last man added, given that he currently leads the NL in OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ and is tied for the lead in home runs. Shouldn’t that be a no-brainer? The guy is kind of good. Anyway, I love this card. Nice, subdued shot – action but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it, and the color balance is nice, even if they’ve again applied that 1992 Upper Deck Mannequin Filter.

What

The first time I saw this last name, I thought “you must be kidding me, right?” Even in 2008, I’d never heard of the guy, which I guess makes sense, given that he was a low-round Cleveland pick who only made the majors as 28-year-old. This set has some damn odd choices for rookie cards, that’s for sure. Van Every seems to have bounced up and down between Boston and Pawtucket for the last few years, but I have a feeling he won’t stick long-term. One thing I like about this set is the photography; they went back to basics here with some old-school Upper Deck action, and I like it.

Now a Devil Ray.

Yeah, Matt Joyce was part of the deal that brought Edwin Jackson to the Tigers (before he was shipped off). It looks like his rookie year in Detroit was half-decent (a 2.2 WAR for a 23-year old outfielder isn’t bad), actually, so he was a decent choice for this set. Unfortunately, he seems to have gone downhill since then with Tampa Bay, but he’s only 25 so he still has time to pull it out.

The Edwin Jackson Connection lives.

And since we mentioned Edwin Jackson, this set also has the man that came from Arizona to Detroit for him. I’ve always had a good feeling about Scherzer, but it looks like he’s kind of been iffy for Detroit so far. Could it be the adjustment to the AL’s much more difficult offenses? Maybe. Could just be a down year, too. I guess we’ll see how he is after the All-Star Break. This card is my favorite of the ones pictured here. Good action shot? Check. Nice color choices? Check. Goofy pitching face? Check.

I received a big pack of these yesterday, so I’ll be writing about them more soon, as well as some other throwback-style sets that I’ve begun collecting.

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 3

Here we go again…ordered some more from this subset and should receive them soon. Anyone know how many there are exactly? Anyway, let’s cover some more significant cards this time.

Evan Longoria RC

Probably the most “important” card from this subset, and it’s a nice one. I mean, I like Longoria to begin with (I’m something of a closet Rays fan dating back to the early 00s), but I think the shot itself is pretty good and, while 1992 UD is not my favorite design in the world, I think it works here for the most part. I think it’s because of the colors in the background and the muted white border.

Oh, and Longoria? Yeah, he’s kind of good.

Bills

Raise your hand if you know what happened to Bills, because I have to admit I haven’t been following that closely and have no idea. All I can see is his peripherals declined, and he seems to have bombed out. Was it injury?

Anyway, I like this card. Great motion, nice bright colors that work together. Sure it’s not a “key” card or anything, but I like it, and I could see it fitting in with the 92 set nicely.

The Pie

Man, Pie’s had a weird career. He was the first player where I became really cognizant of the curse of Cubs outfield prospects, and so dimmed my excitement considerably. Since then, he seemed to put it together in 2009 and I didn’t quite understand why he was in the minors in 2010, but now I see he was injured, and of course it makes sense considering this is the 2010 Orioles we’re talking about. This is a nice action shot, with interesting contrast between the blue of his uniform and the yellow shirt behind him. That blue smudge to right kind of offsets that, but eh. Beggars and choosers.

I think we’ll stop there for today. More tomorrow!

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 2

We soldier onward…today we cover some lesser lights of the set (and there are quite a few, mind you).

I know nothing about Bobby Wilson. Literally. I’m going to look him up now for the first time.

Okay, good news for Mr. Wilson is that he’s stuck around to this year. Bad news is he hasn’t had a whole lot of at-bats or games, and in those games, he’s managed…well, let’s say his career WAR is -.2. Just not getting it done for a corner infielder. Not to mention his career minor league ops is .763. Mind you, not bad for a 48th rounder; I’d say for a 48th rounder to become a AAAA player is pretty awesome.

Clete Thomas seemed like one of those young guys who just couldn’t get a shot in Jim Leyland’s world. I mean, in 2008 he had a 103 OPS+ in 40 games, and managed a 0.2 WAR last year. Not world-beating stuff, but give the guy a chance already, he could make a handy fourth outfielder. This season, though, he’s back in Toledo, and he must be demoralized, because he’s not doing a damn thing. Poor guy.

This guy has been a Yankee this season, and not a very good one. Looking at his minor league line, it looks like control has been a huge issue for Mr. Smith. His half-decent ERAs have belied a career 2.70 K/BB ratio (which is pumped by a couple fluky seasons already). Not too much to say about Greg Smith after that. I’m amazed he made it to the majors, and I doubt he’ll stick.

That’s all for now. We’ll try to cover some more interesting players next time.

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 1

It’s a mouthful, that’s for sure. Being a sucker for a certain era AND baseball card design elements, my ears perk up anytime something is done with the designs from my collecting heyday. As such, you’re going to see a lot of these kinds of things appear here, and I’m trying to put together a set of the 2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback cards. 1992 Upper Deck was one of my least-favorite design of the early 90s Upper Deck sets, but a lot of that had to do with the bizarre effect they put on their photographs, as seen here:

He looks like a mannequin, no?

To be sure, some cards in this set still have this effect, and most don’t. It certainly improves the design a bit. Oh, and I have a few Tyler Clippards that I think I’ve shown before, so let’s look at the non-Nationals.

Here’s an example of the effect used in this set, but compare it to the Ryan and you can see they’ve toned it way down. I love the composition here; the colors work really well together, and the blue in the background really pops. It’s also just a great picture of the one Yankee player that I can still stand (albeit not a Yank here).

Poor Scott Kazmir. I’ve liked the guy for a long time, but he’s really fallen off the cliff thanks to injuries. It sucks, and it also sucks to be an Angel because…well, Angels and all. Anyway, I like the picture, I like the card.

Okay one last guy for today. I knew nothing about German Duran before picking up this card. Looks like he hasn’t played in the majors since 08, when he knocked out a mindnumbing -0.9 WAR. That’s right, a random AAA player would have done better. So what’s he done since then? Oh, had a .167/.233/.215(!) slash across three teams in 2009, but has rebounded somewhat as a 25-year old in AA this year. I’m willing to bet he never makes it back to the Majors, but at least he got a lot more than most players.

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