Awhile back I made a deal with Kerry from Cards on Cards to send some 2003 Topps needs that he had…and promptly forgot the deal. With my busy schedule, it happens. Well, imagine my surprise when a huge package of cards showed up last Friday! It’s taken me awhile to get these scanned, but I’m ready to show some of what he sent (most of which I actually needed)…
2009 Topps Heritage
Remember how I said I had gotten one of only two Stammen cards that I was aware of? Well, this is the other one, so I now have a “complete” Stammen set. Not to mention I didn’t realize how little 2009 Topps Heritage I had. He also included this nice Detwiler…
He also included a few players I didn’t have, including this Mike Thurman:
2002 MLB Showdown
But here is, by far, the COOLEST thing he included. Man, these are just awesome to behold:
That is not the 1978 Topps Gary Carter; it’s the 1978 O-Pee-Chee. In fact, he included a whole mess of 78 OPC that’s…well, it’s amazing. It’s so crazy to see an issue from the 70s with a higher-quality white card stock as opposed to the drab gray cardboard.
Of course, he included a lot of other awesome Expos and Nats cards, but we’ll save those for when it’s appropriate. He also included a whole mess of Reggie Jacksons (which I still need to put in binders).
So thanks a lot, Kerry! These are some treasured cards.
Time to bring it on home…
I was so disappointed when Willingham got injured earlier this year. Josh has been a damn good hitter for this team, and while I wonder why it took him so long to get to the majors, I’m grateful his free agency is still a ways off. I could see him being a boon for the team through 2012.
And, of course, Ryan Zimmerman. What Nationals team set would be complete without Big Zim? A couple of fine additions to my PC.
Finally, what may be my favorite card of these sets: the black Nationals Park card. I don’t know, there’s just something about it that speaks to me. I guess it may be because I’ve seen that view so much? I don’t know, but I dig it.
So, let’s rate this set…
Design: 6/10 (white) 7/10 (black) – The white design is so boring it’ll put you straight to sleep, but I think the black design has a bit more bite to it. I think they should have just made the set black to begin with, honestly. It’s why I went ahead and bought the parallel set.
Player Choice: 6/10 – Covers the basics, but some bizarre choices. Steven Shell? Mike Hinckley? Where are players like Jesus Flores or Colin Ballester?
Photography: 4/10 –My big quibble with the set. The studio shots have grown on me a bit, but the few action shots are pretty boring.
Total: 6/10 (white) 7/10 (black) – Mediocrity abounds, with the black set just a notch above mediocre. Still, I don’t regret getting the sets; it’s possibly the only chance I’ll get to own a Steven Shell card, even if the choice is baffling.
Ugh, I cannot stand Scott Olsen. So ready for this guy to be off of the team. I think that time may be coming soon, though. The question is whether someone will pick him up and give him a chance.
Another former National. I hoped Wily Mo would finally put it together here, but obviously, no. Alas. In fact, it seems his career is over, as he hasn’t picked up anywhere in 2010. Poor guy. Lost potential.
And yet another ex-Nat! I always liked Saul when he came out of the bullpen, and he’s done okay with the Indians so far this year. I hope he hangs in there.
I didn’t even remember Steven Shell. This card perplexed me when I found it. Apparently he was an Angels farmhand in the early 00s, but made his debut with the Nationals in 08, pitching pretty well. He had a 5.40 ERA in 09, and is with the Mariners this season. No great loss, I guess.
Oops, looked back and realized I missed a player on my last entry, so here he is:
I’ve written about Mike as a failed prospect, but here he is finally on a Nationals card. Unfortunately, he continues the trend of players who are no longer Nationals; he spent the majority of last year in the Texas system, and is in Baltimore’s system this year, his pitching somewhat average. I wonder if he’ll ever make it back. Oh, and I don’t know how I feel about the rookie banner on these things. I suppose it harkens back to simpler times, but I’m just not crazy about the design.
Good old John. He’s been pitching a LOT better since coming back from an injury in early August; he’s 5-2 since August 1st, and has looked like a different pitcher. I’m guessing the injury was holding him back earlier in the season.
I really thought Shairon had a shot at being something special even after an uneven season last year, but this year he’s kind of sucked at AAA, and I’m wondering if he’ll ever climb back up to the majors with all the pitching talent on deck. I mean, it’s a good problem to have, but it is a problem.
I think we can turn the lights out on Lastings Milledge’s hope to be a superstar at this point. He’s 25 and seems to have hit his ceiling as an average bat in CF. I guess the power’s just never coming. Definitely one of the more disappointing players that I’ve encountered in my years.
So today we have one player who was on the ML roster for the Nats this year: John Lannan, while Shairon Martis continues to labor in the minors. Man, the turnover for this year was nuts. No wonder it felt like I was watching a different team the other day. I was!
Ahh, Cristian. You were a good National, and I’ll miss you, but I think between Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, we got shortstop and second base covered. Cristian’s sucked in Texas, and I wonder if his career is nearing the end. I sure hope not, but he is getting there age-wise. Poor guy. I’ll always remember him for hitting .400 in one of my baseball video games.
This could be an entertaining game. Let’s see how many (or few) of these guys are still Nationals one year later. Joel’s been pretty good for Pittsburgh so far. I’m happy for him; his story was pretty good, coming back from basically being abandoned by the Dodgers.
Willie hasn’t been very good for the Nats this year. But hey, at least he’s still a National.
Austin has played for Cleveland and New York this season, not actually doing too bad. I have to be honest, as good as he may have been, I’m glad he’s gone. He was such a frustrating player to watch. You got the feeling he was capable of more than he was putting out there. Hell, he might have felt the same, who knows?
So out of four Nationals, only one is still with the team, and he’s marginal. One year later. The face of the team is definitely changing, and I like it.
This is the first time I’ve ever done something like this; I bought both the main team set and the parallel team set for 2009 O-Pee-Chee, as I liked the design of the black cards far more than the white. I present them to you now.
Josh Bard was okay for the Nats last year; as a backup catcher, you could do a lot worse than a 0.4 WAR with a .288 wOBA, but I don’t really miss the guy.
Here lies the career of Daniel Cabrera. He sucked. He’s gone. The end.
I still can’t believe no major league team picked up Dukes. I mean, yeah, he has problems, but he’s not THAT bad. I wonder what’s gotten him practically banned?
Finally, Adam Dunn. I’m going to miss The Big Donkey, a lot, but I don’t think he’ll be re-signing with the team. I hope we can at least get some good picks for him disappearing from the order.
This is an idea that’s been kicking around in the back of my head for awhile, and, as I’ve now reached the 500th post, I thought it was time to do something special.
My plan is to separate the two eras, as it wasn’t fair to either team to lump them together. Entry 1 is the Expos; Entry 2 the Nationals; Entry 3 a Battle Royale determining who is the “better” (worse) failed prospect. When that’s done, I’m going to try to acquire some of these key rookie cards that I don’t already have.
The guidelines for this battle:
- Player must have either been a hyped player or selected in the first three rounds.
- Not going for a full 25-man staff. Five starting pitchers, but max three relievers. They’re already kind of failed prospects in some respect as most are converted starters.
- I don’t have to own the key cards (yet). In fact, some may not be available. But I will make an effort to obtain them.
Without further ado…
- 1B: Thomas Pittman – A Supplemental first rounder in 1997, Pittman was a high school first baseman who started with a .152/.264/.196 line in rookie ball and never progressed past High A. His career ended in 2001 with a .244/.301/.373 line. Yuck. Key Card: 1996 Roox Prep Stars. I was unable to find a picture of Pittman, so here’s a sample Roox Prep Star card.
- 2B: Henry Mateo – He was seen as the heir apparent at 2B in Montreal behind Jose Vidro. I don’t think he was ever seen as a phenom or anything like that, but the thought was that he would be a serviceable middle infield guy, and it didn’t pan out. Not a giant disappointment like some of these other guys, just a mild blip. Key Card: 2004 Upper Deck pro Sigs auto
- SS: Hiram Bocachica – Boy, did this guy have high hopes behind him. I’ve already covered him. Key Card: 1997 Bowman Chrome.
- 3B: Boi Rodriguez – My description of Rodriguez when I reviewed 1990 Best: “Boi Rodriguez was someone who could do a convincing impersonation of a prospect, but never really hit enough to get a cup of coffee in the majors. It also didn’t help that as a corner infielder he never slugged above .446 in full-time action.” Key Card: going with the 1990 Best card here.
- C: Nelson Santovenia – Hard to believe, but this guy was a touted prospect at one point. I always thought of him as a guy who took up space in my junk wax packs, but he was a highly drafted catcher that just never lived up to the space Gary Carter left. Key Card: 1991 Topps Desert Shield
- OF: Chris Schwab – Chris was the very first failed prospect covered on NatsTown! You can view his story here. Key Card: 1994 Bowman
- OF: Josh McKinley – Another one I’ve already covered: “McKinley was the Expos’ first choice in the 1998 draft, so big things were expected of the guy. It seems he was a pretty well-regarded amateur player who played with Austin Kearns and Michael Cuddyer in the 1997 World Junior Championships. Unfortunately, it seems that he couldn’t hit in the minors. At all. His highest OPS was a SLG-heavy .834 in 2003.” Key Card: 2004-05 USA Baseball National Team Alumni Sig
- SP: Clint Everts –Everts was picked in the 2002 draft ahead of Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Zack Grienke, Cole Hamels, and Matt Cain, just to name a few. To this day he has not made the major leagues. He’s still 25, so I’m sure it will happen eventually, but he amply demonstrates the risks of picking a high school pitcher so high. Key Card – 2003 Topps Blue Chips Autographs
- SP: Tavo Alvarez – Already covered him as Failed Prospect #6. Key card- Tough choice. Nothing really stands out; ended up going with his 1993 Fleer Ultra.
- SP: BJ Wallace – Failed Prospect #17. Not sure if he was a bad choice or bad luck. Key Card- 1993 Bowman
- SP: Josh Girdley – The failed prospect so nice, I’ve featured him twice, once as a Failed Prospect, and once as an autograph. Key Card – 1999 Topps Traded Autograph
- RP: Don Levinski – I never even realized Don was an Expos prospect; I remember him as an Orioles relief prospect in 2004, but sure enough, he was a 2001 second-rounder who got dealt first to the Marlins, then the Orioles. I only ever had one card of him, but I saw him pitch for Frederick in 2004 during what would be the beginning of the end of his career. Key Card – 2004 Bowman’s Best auto
- RP: Nate Minchey – Failed Prospect #11. He did at least make the majors for awhile, I suppose. Key card – 1988 O-Pee-Chee Draft
So that’s our all-failure Expos team. Let’s recap:
- 1B – Thomas Pittman (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
- 2B- Henry Mateo (Made majors as Expo) Career WAR: -0.7
- SS- Hiram Bocachica (Made majors as Dodger) Career WAR: -1.1
- 3B – Boi Rodriguez (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
- C – Nelson Santovenia (Made majors as Expo) Career WAR: 0.8
- OF – Glenn Murray (Made majors as Phillie) Career WAR: -0.6
- OF – Chris Schwab (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
- OF – Josh McKinley (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
- SP – Clint Everts (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
- SP – Tavo Alvarez (Made majors as Expo) Career WAR: -0.3
- SP – BJ Wallace (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
- SP – Josh Girdley (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
- RP – Don Levinski (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
- RP – Nate Minchey (Made majors as Red Sox) Career WAR: -1.0
That’s right, Nelson Santovenia is the MVP of this sad squad. We’ll look at the Nationals soon.
Okay so “star” might be a bit strong in this case, but Tim Burke was a pretty damn serviceable reliever and closer, especially in the days before modern closer usage was established. While ERA+ is not a good yardstick for measuring a reliever’s effectiveness, Burke never fell below 100 from 1985 to 1991. I think that points to effectiveness, given that that was over 656 innings. His WHIP fluctuated wildly, but in 1987 he had a 0.890 WHIP. That’s just insane. In 1989 he had a 1.063 WHIP with a 2.7 WAR and 28 saves. I’ll take that. After blowing his chance with the Mets in 1992 (“We had very little confidence in Tim Burke,” said Gerry Hunsicker, vice president of baseball operations for the Mets.), he was traded to the Yankees, where he rebounded. He signed a minor-league contract with the Reds in 1993, but apparently he wasn’t happy and asked for his release, then retired, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.
What can I say about this card? It’s a 1989 Topps design, even if it’s O-Pee-Chee. I appreciate OPC from the 80s more than Topps, but I still abhor the 1989 design for some reason. I know a lot of people appreciate it, but I just find it flat-out boring. I mean, I guess it’s better than 88 and 90 Topps, but eh. Still, I wanted to talk some about Tim Burke, because I always thought he was an underrated reliever. So there you go.
Wow, quite a few Wil Cordero cards in my collection.
1991 Upper Deck
1992 Score Traded
1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier
Thought I’d show some of my oddballs…
1989 OPC Sticker
1999 Private Stock Mini
1993 Diamond Marks
2003 Bazooka Joe
1993 Diamond Marks
1995 Signature Rookies
1989 Toys R Us Rookies