Monday, November 26, 2012

2012 Chachi #67 Leading Firemen - Jonathan Papelbon & Phillippe Aumont

For the Phillies and their fans, it's been a slow off-season so far.  In prior Novembers, the Phillies made early splashes by signing big free agents or making an occasional trade.  To date, the only move made by the Phillies has been to sign third baseman Josh Fields (formerly of the White Sox and very briefly, the Royals) to a minor league contract.

By this time last year, Jonathan Papelbon had already been a Phillie for a few weeks.  Signed on November 14, 2011, Papelbon was inked to be the team's closer through at least the 2015 season.  He did a decent job in 2012, saving 38 of 42 chances and making the National League All-Star team.  The knock against Papelbon, other than his bizarre Cinco Ocho alter ego, is that he can't pitch effectively when the team is trailing or when the ballgame is tied up.

Only four Phillies recorded saves in 2012, which is less a testament to Papelbon's season as it is to the overall ineffectiveness of the rest of the team's bullpen.  This is one area in dire need of improvement for 2013.  I'm all for reuniting with our old friend Ryan Madson, if he'd be willing to serve as Papelbon's set-up guy.

1.  Jonathan Papelbon - 38 saves
2.  Phillippe Aumont - 2 saves
3.  Antonio Bastardo - 1 save
4.  Josh Lindblom - 1 save

Saturday, November 24, 2012

2013 Chachi Transactions #2 Juan Pierre

A week ago today, Juan Pierre officially became an ex-Phillie when he signed a one-year deal with the recently gutted Miami Marlins.  The deal makes sense for Pierre - he'll most likely lead-off and have an everyday job with the Fish.  I believe the Phillies would have brought him back, but he would have served as the team's fourth or fifth outfielder.

I had to choose an appropriate color combination for Pierre's Chachi Transaction card, as (obviously) the Marlins did not have any cards in the original 1973 Topps set.  I made an interesting discovery when I tallied the different color combinations used by Topps in the original set.  There are only 12 different combinations broken down as follows.  Note that a player's name in the original set appears only in black, blue or pink:

I can't explain why, but for some reason this type of stuff fascinates me.  How did the folks at Topps decide that the Phillies and Brewers were going to be represented by the colors pink and purple?  For the teams added post-1973, I've decided to go with the following combinations:

Can you tell I'm home for Thanksgiving, and I have a little extra time on my hands?  Isn't it glorious?

Moving On
Jason Pridie (10/6/12) - Filed for free agency
Tyson Brummett (10/18/12) - Claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays
David Herndon (10/23/12) - Claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays (Signed a split contract with the New York Yankees, 11/20/12)
Juan Pierre (10/29/12) - Filed for free agency (Signed with the Miami Marlins, 11/17/12)
Brian Schneider (10/29/12) - Filed for free agency
Jose Contreras (10/29/12) - Team option declined
Placido Polanco (10/29/12) - Team option declined
Ty Wigginton (10/29/12) - Team option declined

Friday, November 23, 2012

Four Additions to the 40-Man Roster

2012 Grandstand Clearwater Threshers #7, 2012 Topps Pro Debut #129 and
2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP142

In advance of the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, to be held on December 6th, the Phillies have added four top prospects to their 40-man roster.  As of this writing, their are 38 players on the roster, leaving just two spots up for grabs.

Zach Collier (of) - Collier spent 2012 with High-A Clearwater, where he batted .269 with 6 home runs and 32 RBIs.  He's had cards in the 2008 Bowman Draft and 2008 Bowman Sterling sets, along with a number of Phillies minor league issues.

Ethan Martin (rhp) - Martin came to the Phillies as part of the Shane Victorino deal with the Dodgers.  Upon joining Double-A Reading, Martin went 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA.  He was most recently featured in the 2011 Bowman Chrome and Topps Debut sets, and he's still waiting for his first official Phillies minor league card.

Trevor May (rhp) - By all accounts one of the top prospects in the organization, May struggled at Double-A Reading last season.  He finished with a 10-13 mark and a high 4.87 ERA.  May was all over the Topps minor league releases last season, appearing in the Bowman Platinum, Topps Heritage Minor League and Topps Pro Debut sets.

Jonathan Pettibone (rhp) - Pettibone earned a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after posting a 9-7 record and a 3.30 in 19 starts with the Reading Phillies.  Once with the IronPigs, Pettibone continued his success, going 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 7 starts.  His first mainstream card was included in the 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects set.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

1975 Hostess #149 Tug McGraw

Much like the soon to be former Hostess employees, I'm going through a major transition with my career trajectory.

I've never been a big fan of change, but in this case there's a part of me who is looking forward to testing free agency and seeing what the other franchises have to offer.  I've heard a lot about the other teams during my career - better ballpark, friendlier fans, more family-friendly front office - and now it's time to find out if those rumors are true.

Posting could be light to non-existent over the coming weeks as I begin my first real free agency tour in 15 years.  Hopefully I end up with a contender.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1983 Phillies - The Missing Links

1983 Topps Traded #72T, 1983 TCMA Portland Beavers #22 and 1983 Fleer #564
The 1983 Phillies, the Wheeze Kids, surprised everyone and made it all the way to the World Series, only to be defeated in five games by the Orioles.  When reviewing the team's roster from that year, and the baseball cards available for 44 members of the team, I was a little surprised there's only one new addition to the Missing Links list.

There are just four members of the 1983 Phillies squad with little to no Phillies cardboard representation.  And one of them has never appeared on a Phillies baseball card.

3 Cards or More
40 Players

2 Cards
1984 Tastykake Phillies
Larry Milbourne (41 games in 1983) - 1983 Tastykake Phillies #18 and 1983 Topps Traded #72T
Tony Ghelfi (3 games in 1983) - 1984 Tastykake Phillies #19 and 1985 Tastykake Phillies #17

Local product Milbourne was purchased from the Indians by the Phillies in December 1982.  During his short time with the club, he hit just .242 serving as Joe Morgan's primary back-up at second base.  The Phils sold him to the Yankees in mid-July, but he still received a Phillies card in the 1983 Topps Traded set.  (I'm still trying to track down a 1983 Tastykake Phillies set at a reasonable price.)

Ghelfi was drafted by the Phillies in 1980 and his three-game appearance in 1983 wasn't enough to merit him a standard issue baseball card.  Fortunately for him, and Phillies baseball card collectors, his status as a pitching prospect earned him inclusion in both the 1984 and 1985 Phillies Tastykake sets.  I created a custom card for Ghelfi using his pictures from the team's 1984 Yearbook and his 1984 Tastykake card.

0 Cards
Alejandro Sanchez (15 games from 1982-1983)
Steve Comer (3 games in 1983)

Comer was released by the Mariners in April, and signed by the Phillies in June 1983.  He pitched in three games for the club, his first being an emergency start in the second game of a double header against the Padres in late August.  He appeared in two games in relief in the Phillies last two regular season games in October.  I've never even seen a picture of Comer in a Phillies uniform.

Past Missing Link Posts
1982 Phillies - Stan Bahnsen and Alejandro Sanchez

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1949 M.P. & Co. (R302-2) #109 Del Ennis

Back in October, I picked up the card seen here at the Valley Forge Baseball Card Show.  I was flipping through a binder of vintage oddball Phillies cards - quite possibly the best kid of binder there is - when I stumbled upon this "Del Ennis" card.

"What is this?," I asked the dealer.  "I've never seen this card before."

"Oh, that's from the '40s.  Not a lot of people know about those cards," he responded.

I made him what I thought was a reasonable offer for the card, and he accepted.  I knew there was no way the card was actually meant to represent Ennis, as Ennis had never played for either the New York Yankees or Giants during his career.  And the player featured on the card clearly was wearing a cap with the familiar interlocking "N" and "Y".

When I got home, I sorted my new goodies and settled down with the Standard Catalog to determine exactly what it was I had just added to my collection.  Here's what I found out:

- M.P. & Co. stands for Michael Pressner and Company, which was a New York City-based "novelty and carnival supply firm."

- They originally released a set of 24 cards in 1943, featuring "crude color drawings that have little resemblance to the player named."  The Standard Catalog also points out that the original set was one of the few released during World War II.

- Thanks to Jefferson Burdick, the original set has been designated R302-1, with the second set, released in 1949, designated R302-2.  Burdick used the "R" designation for candy and gum cards issued beginning in 1930.

- The card I now have in my collection is from this second set, issued six years after the original.  The set's manufacturer took the very unusual step of updating the player selection for the re-release, but neglecting to update any of the photos used!  So the Ennis card featured here is really just the Carl Hubbell card from the original set (image lifted from the Old Cardboard gallery, found here) with Ennis' name added.

And there you have it.  I'm not sure if this card technically belongs in a Phillies collection, but since it features one my Dad's all-time favorite players, it now has a comfortable home.  Without a doubt, it's now the strangest Del Ennis baseball cards in my collection.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1998 Donruss Production Line Power Index #15 Scott Rolen

I made mention recently of my work/Hurricane Sandy stress-induced buying binge.  These "binges" happen maybe two or three time a year, and they usually consist of me spending  anywhere from a dime to a few bucks each on various cards from my Phillies want lists.  The majority of Phillies cards from my most recent purchase were from the era of Phillies baseball when personal events and an overabundance of non-interesting baseball card releases conspired to seriously curtail my collecting habits.  This personal era began in 1998 and ended in 2006.

I've updated my 1998 and 1999 Phillies Want Lists and I hope to soon turn my attention to updating or creating my want lists from 2000 through 2005.  So on my recent COMC shopping trip, I found myself clicking more and more Phillies cards from 1998.  And about 90% of the cards I purchased from 1998 featured the then reigning Rookie of the Year, Scott Rolen.  When the card featured here was first released, or even a few years ago, I would have cringed at plopping down five to ten (or even fifteen) dollars for it.  But now, I can stomach the few bucks I just spent to add it to my collection.

1998 Pacific Omega Rising Stars #20
I also added this Desi Relaford/Darrin Winston insert card to my collection.  I've had this card on my want lists since it was originally released, but I failed to include it in the tally of Winston's cards when I put together my 1997 and 1998 Phillies Missing Links posts.  As such, I'll need to go back and update those posts accordingly.

Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 Chachi #60 Batting Leaders - Jimmy Rollins & Kevin Frandsen

I'm sure if I was more savvy with the tools available on Baseball Reference, I could figure out the following question:  When was the last time, prior to this past season, when the Phillies had only player with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title?

A player needs 502 plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, and only one Phillie, Jimmy Rollins with 699 plate appearances, qualified.  John Mayberry, Jr. was next in line with 479 plate appearances.  So while there were a few players with a higher batting average than Rollins' pedestrian .250, he holds the dubious distinction of winning the team's 2012 batting title.

If you throw qualifying plate appearances out the window, here are the Phillies position players who hit over .300 last season:

1.  Kevin Frandsen - .338 (195 AB)
2.  Darin Ruf - .333 (33 AB)
3.  Carlos Ruiz - .325 (372 AB and 421 PA)
4.  Pete Orr - .315 (54 AB)
5.  Juan Pierre - .307 (394 AB and 439 PA)
6.  Jason Pridie - .300 (10 AB)

And if you use a qualifying mark of 3.1 plate appearances per team games played, both Ruiz and Pierre would qualify for the title.

Finally, and amazingly, we have to go back to 1888 and Phillies Room favorite Sid Farrar to find the last time someone led the team with an average as low as Rollins' .250:

1.  Sid Farrar - .244 in 1888
2.  Jimmy Rollins - .250 in 2012
3.  Gary Matthews - .258 in 1983
4.  Tony Gonzalez - .264 in 1968

Friday, November 9, 2012

2003 Upper Deck #232 Bobby Abreu

Will this long, cold off-season ever end?

Pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater in 95 days.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

1974 Johnny Pro Phillies - Two More Added

1974 Johnny Pro Phillies #16 and #32
I wasn't aware of the awesomeness of the 1974 Johnny Pro Phillies set until adding the Bill Robinson card to my collection last month at the Valley Forge card show.  Johnny Pro Enterprises (not sure what they did back in the day) issued two regional baseball card sets in the early '70s.  Their first set was released in 1973 and featured 28 different Orioles cards on a green background.  (See here for an example from the terrific Number 5 Type Collection blog.)

In 1974, Johnny Pro issued 12 Phillies cards on a white background.  The Robinson card was the first to enter my collection, and I recently picked up the two additional cards featured at the top of this post.  That means I'm just 9 cards away from a full team set.  (Please see here for my updated 1970-1974 Phillies Want List.)

The Dave Cash card came from a recent work/Hurricane Sandy stress-induced Checkoutmycards buying binge.

Steve Carlton came my way via an eBay auction.  I have to give some credit (and free advertising) to the seller, who sent along a typed two-page listing of additional Carlton oddball cards he had for sale.  If you're in the market for vintage oddball Phillies cards (and if you're reading this, you probably are), please send him an e-mail at Nedco7 at comcast dot net.  The Carlton card arrived quickly and very well packaged, so I can comfortably give the seller The Phillies Room seal of approval.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2003 Phillies - A Tradition Continues

2003 Bowman #46, 2003 Topps #485, 2003 Ultra #30 and 2003 Upper Deck First Pitch #233
Ron from Section 36 was a little early this year with his annual clean-up of baseball cards having reached their 10-year expiration date.  The early delivery date could have something to do with the fact that the Sox season (much like the Phillies season) was over way too early this year.  Fortunately, this problem won't repeat itself next year as both teams plan to spend their offseason restocking their rosters and returning to championship caliber franchises.  You heard it here first.

On Saturday, I received a package containing mostly Phillies cards from 2003.  There were Phillies cards from other years in the package, but the majority of the cards were from '03.   On an annual basis, when there's a new year's crop of cards about to released, Ron dispenses with those unwanted cards from ten years prior.  This is now the fourth year in a row I've been the lucky recipient of the Section 36 Phillies discards:


Thanks again Ron, and I've already started putting aside some Red Sox cards for your next package.

(And this post reminds me . . . I need to get back to this series of posts soon.  It's time to tackle the 2000s, whether I like it or not.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 Chachi #66 ERA Leaders - Cole Hamels & Cliff Lee

The A.L. and N.L. Cy Young Award winners will be announced in a few weeks, and the two pitchers featured on this card could receive some votes.  Cole Hamels led the team in ERA for the first time since 2008, when he pitched the Phillies to their last World Series Championship.  Roy Halladay, who led the team in 2010 and 2011 had an off year and one would hope he's back in the running for the team's ERA title in 2013.

Pitchers qualify for an ERA title by pitching in at least one inning per team game played.  Only Hamels and Lee had enough innings to qualify for the title, but here are the top five Phillies starters and relievers for 2012:

Starters - ERA (IP)
1.  Cole Hamels - 3.05 (215.1)
2.  Cliff Lee - 3.16 (211.0)
3.  Kyle Kendrick - 3.90 (159.1)*
4.  Roy Halladay - 4.49 (156.1)
5.  Joe Blanton - 4.59 (133.1)^

Relievers - ERA (At least 25 IP)
1.  Jeremy Horst - 1.15 (31.1)
2.  Raul Valdes - 2.17 (29.0)
3.  Jonathan Papelbon - 2.44 (70.0)
4.  Jake Diekman - 3.95 (27.1)
5.  Antonio Bastardo - 4.33 (52.0)

*Includes 13.2 innings as relief pitcher.
^Includes 0.2 innings as relief pitcher.

Friday, November 2, 2012

1987 ProCards Clearwater Phillies #1540 Dave Brundage

Dave Brundage was just 23 years old when this baseball card was issued in 1987.  Originally drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round of the June 1986 amateur player draft, Brundage spent two seasons playing for the organization's minor league teams in Spartanburg, Clearwater and Reading.  In December 1987, Brundage, along with Glenn Wilson and Michael Jackson, was shipped to the Mariners in the deal that brought Phil Bradley to Philadelphia.

He'd spend the next seven seasons climbing through the Mariners system, but he never made it to the Majors.

He became a player-coach in the late '90s and he managed within the Mariners organization until leaving to manage the Braves Triple-A team in 2007.  Yesterday, Brundage was named the new manager of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs and he finally returns to the Phillies organization after a 24 year absence.  He brings with him 13 seasons of experience as a minor league manager, during which time he won three league championships.

The IronPigs manager for the past two seasons, Ryne Sandberg, joins the Major League ranks this season as the Phillies new third base coach.  It would be cool if Brundage joined Sandberg next season at the Major League level, finally ending his 27-year minor league odyssey.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2012 Phillies Fan Appreciation Day Postcards - Placido Polanco

As we preparing our basement for proper hunkering down during Hurricane Sandy, I saw the news that the Phillies had declined their 2013 options on reliever Jose Contreras and first baseman Ty Wigginton. A few hours later, still with electricity, the announcement came that Placido Polanco was also now an ex-Phillie.  None of the three declined options comes as a shock.

Contreras signed with the Phils prior to the 2010 season and enjoyed a very successful year out of the bullpen.  He went 6-4 with a 3.34 ERA and four saves that year.  Unfortunately, arm problems limited Contreras to just 17 games in 2011 and another 17 games in 2012.  He'll be 41 in December so this could be the end of the line for the 10-year Major League veteran.

2012 Topps Update #US82
Wigginton had a very disappointing 2012 campaign.  In 125 games, Wigginton hit just .235 with 11 home runs and 43 RBIs.  Contreras earned Phillies cards within the 2011 and 2012 Topps sets, while Wigginton made it into the 2012 Topps Update set.

Polanco is just one year removed from his All-Star and Gold Glove season of 2011.  He started slowing down in the second half of 2011 and missed time with back problems and a sports hernia.  Back injuries slowed down Polanco significantly in 2012, as he made it into only 90 games.  It's unknown if he'll be able to continue his baseball career and it's a real possibility that he could be done after 15 seasons.  In his seven total years with the Phils (2002-2005 and 2010 to 2012), Polanco hit .289 in 688 games.

The card featured at the top of this post was included in the 9-card set given to fans attending Fan Appreciation Day at the ballpark.  It pays tribute to Polanco's 2,000th career hit which came back on May 14th.

Moving On
Jason Pridie (10/6/12) - Filed for free agency
Tyson Brummett (10/18/12) - Claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays
David Herndon (10/23/12) - Claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays
Juan Pierre (10/29/12) - Filed for free agency
Brian Schneider (10/29/12) - Filed for free agency
Jose Contreras (10/29/12) - Team option declined
Placido Polanco (10/29/12) - Team option declined
Ty Wigginton (10/29/12) - Team option declined