Saturday, July 30, 2011

RBI (31) An impulse pull...

A while ago I was out and about picking up some batteries for my reading light and of course the closest battery rack to the door is normally on the checkout aisles. Well next to the checkout aisles as you all know there are the card racks, and I couldn't resist wandering over to see what was there. I decided to have a little restraint and grabbed the last pack from the box.

I was pleased to see my first 2011 autograph from the Topps 60 inserts. I'm a little unsure about the signer though. Chris Tillman was the Mariners 2nd round pick in 2006, but was traded to the Orioles with a host of prospects for Erik Bedard. He's been ranked as the best pitching prospect in the Orioles organization and second best prospect only behind All Star catcher Matt Wieters.

The Anaheim native has had a bumpy Major League career and since 2009 has made 34 Major League starts. He shows flashes of potential but against big league hitters continues to be pummeled having a career 5.35 ERA not including a shelling by the Yankees today. He fails to get the strikeouts necessary to survive with runners on as he has been unable to coax the groundouts needed to escape the perils of the AL East. 

His time in the minors has been more successful as he threw a no-hitter against the Gwinnett Braves for the Norfolk Tides in 2010. He also finished as a 2010 International League ERA leader with the 4th best ERA a 3.34 with Norfolk. Despite his struggles so far with the Orioles it's likely they don't give up on their pitching prospect as a combination of Tillman and the still developing Brian Matusz can give a strong 1-2 punch to help pull the Orioles out of the AL East cellar in future seasons. As in the 2013 season when Tillman was named an All-star.
I pulled this Chrill Tillman autographed Topps 2011 Series 1 Topps 60 insert from a loose pack box.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sac Fly (2) Winner...does anyone have his email address?

Well folks it's that time again...time to announce a winner! I'm going to have to apologize for disappointing all of you with the autographs I got, because not many of you actually guessed the players I got. I guess Adrian Beltre, Darren Oliver, and Matt Harrison aren't very popular guys with many of you, but I did appreciate them signing a few things for me.

With a grand total of 2 points our winner is...mmmrhubarb who correctly guessed Harrison on a Tuesday. Congratulations on winning, I'll be contacting you unless you beat me to it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

RBI (30) Gracefully moving on...

Well maybe moving on down to the minors is more like it. That's how Angel rookie catcher Hank Conger took his recent demotion from the big show due to recent struggles at the plate.

When the season began the Angels had Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson, and the 25th overall pick from the 2006 draft on the roster. Most were surprised the Angels carried three catchers, but Conger played his way onto the team and complicated the catching situation. With Mathis and Wilson out of options and likely to be stolen by another team before they cleared waivers back to AAA Salt Lake, Conger forced the Angels to carry all three with his strong spring.

When the season began Conger batted a strong .273 in April, but the following months were tough and dragged the promising young catcher's average to .214 on the season. The Angels "Hammering" Hank had been able to crank out 5 Home Runs and 7 doubles in 50 games, but with the Rangers on the hunt the Angels were unable to let the rookie catcher work through his struggles with the big league club anymore. While hitting better than Jeff Mathis, Conger's problem were compounded by nabbing only 8 of 56 base stealers and Mathis being paired with the aces of the staff.

When asked about his demotion, Conger showed poise and the big league polish he picked up when discussing the news. He definitely is a key cog to the new core of the Angels led by Peter Bourjos, Jordan Walden, Mike Trout, and Mark Trumbo. Having seen Hank earn his 2010 Futures Game MVP in person, I'm confident he will be sure to have a promising career under a halo in the future when the catching situation in the organization opens more big league at-bats for him.
Hank Conger signed a few autographs at Angel Stadium before a game he wasn't appearing in. It was pretty nice of him to come out of the dugout for the fans, and he put a great signature on his 2011 Gypsy Queen rookie card.

Balk 4- Important Contest Update

Well folks, unfortunately my card delivery didn't include the hobby packs that were supposed to be there for the Sac Fly (2) prize. So I went out and bought 2 value packs of 2011 Allen and Ginter and hope that you all think that is a comparable prize to all you who have entered so far.

Really sorry everyone, I guess I jumped the gun and won't be having the dealer I went through acquire me packs anymore. If anyone has an issue who has already entered feel free to email me and I'll see what I can do to make everyone happy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sac Fly (2) A divisional contest...

Well the Angels and Rangers may be locked in a tough race to see who will win the division, but it doesn't stop me from appreciating good baseball players. So I'm going to have a contest like Sac Fly (1) but with a little bit of a twist.

-2 Value Packs of 2011 Allen and Ginter.
-Additional cards from my collection of your selected team.

How it works:
The Texas Rangers were in town this last home stand and I was able to get a few in person autographs of members of the team. So here's the contest: 3 different Ranger's players signed autographs for me, guess which ones signed. Each correct player is worth a point.

Now here's the twist...I got all 3 autographs on the same day despite having gone to all three games (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). Guess which day I got the autographs on as an additional point to add to your score. 

Most points wins. 

The winner will be the person who gets the most points earned from their guesses. If there is a tie I will use a random number generator for all valid correct entries. If no one guesses any of the players correctly I will use a random number generator for all entries to determine the winner.

How to enter:
All you have to do to enter is comment your guess. You can leave a second guess as a valid entry if with your second entry you post a link to your own site announcing/linking this contest (2 entry max).

Contest will close Thursday July 29th at 11:59 PM PST, and the winner will be announced Friday July 30th.

Also for my regular readers, sorry for the lack of posts the past week. I just started a new job and as soon as I'm settled into my new routine I'll be sure to continue posting at a regular rate again. Though I'm not actually sure if there are any regular readers...if you're a regular reader comment that too in your entry and if you win I'll see what I can do to spice up your prize.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

RBI (29) An MVP TTM...

Ok well maybe not a league MVP, but the 1998 Angels' team MVP Gary DiSarcina. Gary didn't respond to my letter but the former shortstop was kind enough to take the time to autograph and mail back my card.

DiSarcina was the California Angels 6th round pick in the 1988 draft and shot through the system making his first appearance in the Majors in September of 1989 to play in 2 games. The following two seasons he played in only 18 games a season, but by 1992 he took over as the Angels starting shortstop. He had an All-Star first half in 1995, but only appeared in 99 games by the end of the season. In 1999 DiSarcina appeared in his lowest number of games since taking over as starting shortstop, playing only in 81 and finally a mere 12 apperances in 2000 before he finally retired, ending his 12 year career as an Angel.

DiSarcina was a career .258 hitter, retiring just short of a hitting milestone with 966 hits. To go with his almost one thousand hits, he scored 444 Runs thanks in part to 47 Steals and 28 Home Runs.

Despite his playing career ending, DiSarcina continues life in baseball having been a manager for the Red Sox affiliate Lowell Spinners from 2007-2009. He returned to the Angels family in 2011 as a special assistant to General Manager Tony Reagins.
DiSarcina was scheduled to throw a first pitch for the Angels 50th Anniversary, but did not sign autographs during the game. Amazingly the game he threw the pitch for was on a Monday, and that Thursday I received my card in the mail. I guess he went through some fan mail and sent out a few! Gary DiSarcina autographed this 1996 Score card and responded to my request mailed to Angel stadium after 56 days.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

RBI (28) A halo that shines...

Okay maybe not shining but Angels second baseman Howard "Howie" Kendrick is sparkling like an All-Star right now in Arizona for the 2011 All Star Game. One of the three Angel representatives, Howie is a first time All-Star but from initial reports coming out of Arizona is handling the experience like a pro.

Howie was taken in the 10th round of the 2002 draft by the Angels and has proven to be a steal. Considering the 2002 MLB draft was the focus of the book with an upcoming movie by the same name Moneyball, I guess as much as I love sabermetrics they don't always nail it. Since being drafted by the Angels, Howie has worked his way from fringe prospect to All-Star second baseman rostered only behind 2011 Home Run Derby Champion Robinson Cano. Hopefully the clinic Cano put on in the Derby will have tired him out and let Howie get lots of playing time behind starter Jered Weaver.

Since 2006, Howie has made the best of every opportunity to play and became a stable fixture in the Angel infield playing more games every season especially after Adam Kennedy walked in free agency before the 2007 season. While his power continues to develop Howie has maintained a strong batting average, hitting at least .279 in every season and over .300 in two seasons.

2011 has obviously been of a high caliber and Howie has been a true team player. Due to injuries he has been moving out of his own position at times and has played in left field, at first base, and at second. While his position may not be consistent, his hitting is and at the end of the first half Kendrick has been hitting .302 with 8 Home Runs and 9 Steals. Not only has Howie accumulated 29 RBI but also scored 43 Runs, including a critical run that gave starter Dan Haren a 1-0 victory over Detroit's Justin Verlander to collect his 100th Win. If he keeps up the pace Howie will have the best year of his career so far with plenty more to come.
Howie Kendrick autographed his Topps 2006 Rookie card for me at Angel Stadium the day the All Star rosters were announced. I made a "Congrats 2011 All Stars" sign with Howie and Weaver's numbers (I later added Walden's number after Ron Washington added him) and Howie came over and signed for a few fans. I was hoping to have him autograph the sign but was too excited watching him sign his rookie card to remember to ask. 

You can follow Howie Kendrick on Twitter @HKendrick47

Friday, July 8, 2011

RBI (27) An especially polite TTM response...

Not that all the players who respond aren't nice, but Mr. Steve Searcy former pitcher for the Tigers was especially nice in his response this week.

Taken in the 3rd round of the 1985 draft by the Detroit Tigers, Steve Searcy looked to be a promising prospect, and in 1988 he was named the International League Pitcher of the Year. Searcy was a lefty reliever and starter for the Tigers between 1988 and 1991 before being traded to the Phillies for the end of the 1991 and 1992 season. Despite coming out of the bullpen on occasion, Searcy never logged a Save despite finishing 15 games in relief. When he finally retired after 5 seasons and 70 career appearances with 21 starts, Searcy had a 5.68 ERA and logged 140 Strikeouts.

When asked in my letter:

When you threw your complete game did you think you would go the distance at any time?
Showing off the attitude of his generation of pitchers before the even more watchful eye on pitch counts and innings tossed reached the level we see in pitchers today Searcy said, "I always wanted to pitch a complete game every time I started a game."

What was the hardest part of throwing a complete game?
This time Searcy showed how the game started to change in the 90's even if his pitching mentality didn't he wrote, "Because of the way the game is now they will put in a closer or short man even if you're pitching well."

How did you adjust going to the National League from the American League?
Reflecting the work ethic that allowed him to bounce between the bullpen and starting rotation Steve said, "Same game. Just had to try to remember how to hit."

With more than 100 strikeouts were any especially memorable or important to you? 
Proving even ball players are human and they all have heros too, Steve shared a really nice moment from his career and personal life, "Yes. Don Mattingly. He was one of my favorite players when I was in high school."

What was your favorite place to pitch at?
Showing why he was happy to shuttle wherever the Tigers and Phillies needed him to go, Steve showed a real love of the game itself responding, "Anywhere they would give me the ball." 

Mr. Searcy responded to my letter and autographed my card sent to his personal address after 12 days. He was nice enough to sign my 1990 Fleer card with an extremely clean signature, but not only did he sign the card he went one step forward. He also was nice enough to go an extra step by including a note that thanked me for my letter and offered me his best wishes with his signature. I can't thank him enough for such a personal touch.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

RBI (26) Send him home...

Or at least that's what I tend to call out to Angel 3rd base coach Dino Ebel before every game. Today it happened to work out quite nicely, considering 2011 All-Star Howie Kendrick was sent and scored the deciding, and only, run for Dan Haren's 2-hit gem and 100th career win.

Dino was actually a member of the other Los Angeles organization, the Los Angeles Dodgers for 6 years as a professional player in the minors after signing as an undrafted amateur free agent. He was named Gulf Coast League Player of the Year in 1988 as a rookie, but despite advancing through the minors to Triple-A ball as a utility player, Dino never made it to the big show.

However through all his minor league and winter ball experience, Ebel gained significant baseball knowledge and acted as a player-manager, and eventually full time minor league manager and coach. Despite spending 17 years with the Dodgers Ebel decided to leave the organization in 2005 to join the Angel Triple- A affiliate coaching staff. Eventually after Joe Maddon left to turn the baseball and math worlds on their head (sorry Joe, but 9 doesn't equal 8 and it won't until you win a World Series) Dino was brought up to the bigs as Mike Scioscia's 3rd base coach.

He's served the Angel offense well since taking the position, and I'm sure Vlad Guerrero appreciated him  coming down the freeway since Dino served as his pitcher when he won the 2007 Home Run Derby.

Dino was nice enough to sign this Topps 2011 Heritage Angel Team card right below himself in the photo, prior to a game at Angel Stadium while on his way out of the bullpen area. To be honest this is a really meaningful autograph for me, because prior to this I was unable to get a single Angel autograph besides Steve Soliz signing his hat I bought from the yard sale. I guess all I had to do was get Dino to sign and he opened the flood gates for the autographs to keep on coming home.

Friday, July 1, 2011

RBI (25) You're fired...

Or at least that's what one Donald says, but not former Angel infielder Donald "Donnie" Hill.

The southern California native was taken with the 1st pick of the 1981 draft by the Oakland Athletics, but didn't make his debut in the Majors until 1983 at the age of 22. After breaking into the MLB with the A's he stuck around as a part time player never appearing in more than 123 games in his 9 year career. Hill would eventually end his career after a partial season with Minnesota in 1992. He would be a career .257 hitter with 26 Home Runs and 228 RBI.
Donnie Hill autographed this 1991 Fleer card card for me as part of the Angel's 50th anniversary promotion.