Friday, July 31, 2015

Where Can You Find Baseball Cards for the Newest Phillies/Ex-Rangers?

2014 Topps #536
2014 Topps Pro Debut #123
2014 Choice Frisco
RoughRiders #8
Cole Hamels (and Jake Diekman) are now officially members of the Texas Rangers and the Phillies have six new players in their organization that I've honestly never heard of before.  No offense meant here, but if Matt Harrison, who was an A.L. All-Star in 2012, bumped into me on the streets of Philadelphia I'd have no idea he was the newest Phillies starting pitcher.

The best way for me to get acclimated with these new guys is to summarize their baseball card careers to date.  I won't attempt to provide scouting reports on these players as I'm just purely interested in getting to know them through their baseball cards for now.  If you want something a little more in-depth, I thought this article was a good read.

New Phillies
Matt Harrison (LHP) - Harrison came up with the Rangers in 2008 and was an 18 game winner in 2012.  He's been limited to just nine starts over the past three seasons due to back injuries and the lefty underwent spinal fusion surgery in June 2014.  He's been appearing in Topps sets since 2009 and his most recent mainstream release is from Series Two of the 2014 Topps set.  He was also in the 2014 Topps Heritage set.

Alec Asher (RHP - AAA) - Asher has split this season between AA and AAA compiling a record of 4-10 with a 4.43 ERA in 20 starts.  Asher's only mainstream baseball card to date can be found in the 2014 Topps Pro Debut set.

Jerad Eickhoff (RHP - AAA) - Eickhoff has been in the Rangers organization since 2011 and he's appeared in 18 games this season (17 starts) for the AAA Round Rock Express.  It doesn't appear as if Eickhoff has any mainstream baseball cards to date, although he has appeared in a number of Rangers minor league team sets.

2015 Topps Pro Debut #172
2014 Bowman Draft
Top Prospects #TP66
2015 Topps Pro Debut #191

Based on everything I've read, it seems as if these next three prospects are the key to this deal.

Jorge Alfaro (C - AA) - Alfaro was ranked the third best prospect in the Rangers system in Baseball America's pre-season rankings.  He's going to miss the rest of the 2015 season as he's been out of action since mid-June with a left ankle injury.  It seems as if Alfaro has more baseball cards available than any other player acquired in this deal (with the exception of Harrison) and he's had cards in Topps Heritage Minors, Bowman Chrome and Topps Pro Debut sets since 2012.  Alfaro also has a card in the 2015 Topps Pro Debut set.

Jake Thompson (RHP - AA) - Thompson was ranked the second best prospect in the Rangers system in Baseball America's pre-season rankings.  In 17 starts with the Frisco RoughRiders this season, he's 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 87 2/3 innings.  Thompson has been featured in multiple Topps Heritage Minors and Topps Pro Debut sets since 2010, and his most recent mainstream card was in the 2015 Bowman Inception set.

Nick Williams (OF - AA) - Williams was ranked the fifth best prospect in the Rangers system in Baseball America's pre-season rankings.  In 97 games this season with Frisco, he's hitting .299 with 13 home runs and he's split time between center and right field.  Williams started appearing in Bowman releases in 2012 and his most release mainstream baseball cards can be found in the 2015 Bowman Prospects insert set and the 2015 Topps Pro Debut set.

All images have been taken from completed or ongoing eBay auctions.

Cole Hamels Topps Gallery - #ThankYouCole

After months/years of speculation, and having to endure what seemed like close to 50 final starts, Cole Hamels is officially no longer a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Similar to the tribute I paid to Jimmy Rollins back in December, here are all the Topps base cards for one of the greatest pitchers in Phillies history.  It was a pleasure to watch him pitch and we'll be forever grateful for his performance in the 2008 postseason.

2003 Topps #671
2005 Topps #689
2006 Topps Update #UH145
2007 Topps #55
2008 Topps #35
2009 Topps #650
2010 Topps #70
2011 Topps #460
2012 Topps #190
2013 Topps #332
2014 Topps #196
2015 Topps #10

2015 Topps Stadium Club #37 Carlos Ruiz

Phillies 4, Braves 1
Game 103 - Thursday Night, July 30th in Philadelphia
Record - 39-64, 5th Place, 16 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  On the night he played in his 1,000th career game, Carlos Ruiz had a big two-run single in the fourth to give the Phillies the lead and the eventual 4-1 win.

What It Means:  The Phillies are 10-2 since the All-Star break.

What Happened:  Ruiz's hit scored Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis.  Ryan Howard singled home another run in the fifth and Domonic Brown hit his first home run of the season in the sixth.  Aaron Harang returned from the disabled list and kept the Phils in the game with five solid innings.  Ken Giles pitched a scoreless ninth to record his second save.

Featured Card:  Ruiz has caught in 963 of those 1,000 games, putting him behind only Darren Daulton (965), Bob Boone (1,095), Red Dooin (1,124) and Mike Lieberthal (1,139).  I was happy to see that Ruiz was included in the recently released Stadium Club set.  For a guy as important to this club as he's been, he really hasn't received much in the way of cardboard appreciation.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Braves at Phillies: July 30th to August 2nd

Thursday, Friday and Saturday 7:05, Sunday 1:35
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Braves 46-55, 3rd Place in the N.L. East, 8 games behind the Nationals
Phillies 38-64, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 16 1/2 games behind the Nationals

Braves Probables:  Shelby Miller (5-7, 2.27), Matt Wisler (5-1, 3.43), Alex Wood (7-6, 3.54), Julio Teheran (6-6, 4.71)
Phillies Probables:  Aaron Harang (4-11, 4.08), David Buchanan (1-5, 7.00), Aaron Nola (1-1, 3.29), Adam Morgan (2-2, 4.05)

At the Ballpark:  It's the annual Alumni Weekend at Citizens Bank Park, which is always a fantastic ime to go catch a few Phillies games.  On Friday night, Pat Burrell will be inducted by Charlie Manuel into the Phillies Wall of Fame.  All fans will receive a commemorative Burrell print.

Saturday will feature a pre-game ceremony introducing up to 50 former Phillies players.  On Sunday, all fans will receive a Phillies Wall of Fame Fathead, which will feature Burrell, Dick Allen, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt.

Braves Leaders
Average:  Nick Markakis - .290
Runs:  Andrelton Simmons - 48
Home Runs:  Freddie Freeman - 13
RBIs:  Cameron Maybin - 47
Stolen Bases:  Cameron Maybin - 17

Wins:  Alex Wood - 7
ERA:  Shelby Miller - 2.27
Strikeouts:  Shelby Miller - 107
Saves:  Jason Grilli - 24

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Ben Revere - .298
Runs:  Ben Revere - 49
Home Runs:  Ryan Howard - 18
RBIs:  Ryan Howard - 54
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere - 24

Wins:  Ken Giles - 5*
ERA:  Aaron Harang - 4.08*
Strikeouts:  Aaron Harang - 73*
Saves:  Luis Garcia and Ken Giles - 1^

1985 Topps Traded #16T
*Cole Hamels, now (almost) with the Rangers, is the overall team leader with 6 wins, 3.64 ERA and 137 strikeouts
^Jonathan Papelbon, now with the Naitonals, is the overall team leader with 17 saves.

1985 Topps Appreciation:  This is one of those random series this year where I don't have a logical pairing of Phillies-related cards from the 1985 Topps set.  So instead, and because I don't have anywhere else to fit this in this year, here's Don Carman's rookie card from the 1985 Topps Traded set.

This does give me the opportunity to point you in the direction of the awesome Wax Pack blog, which is tracking one collector's journey to find and have signed each of the 15 baseball cards pulled from a random pack of 1986 Topps.  Carman's card was in the pack and the blog's author documents his visit with Carman on Day 21 and Day 22.

2015 Topps #560 Jerome Williams

Blue Jays 8, Phillies 2
Game 102 - Wednesday Night, July 29th in Toronto
Record - 38-64, 5th Place, 16 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  On the night the Phillies were working on the deal that would send 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels to the Rangers, Jerome Williams and Justin De Fratus were pummeled in an 8-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  I really want to be able to root for the Angels, but I'll root for the Rangers at least on the days that Hamels starts.  As of late last night, I was trying my best to keep up with the details of the trade on Twitter.  I'll have a full post and a look at the baseball cards of the newest Phillies coming later.  I'll also need to do a massive overhaul of the Virtual Phillies Wall.

What Happened:  Williams (4 2/3 innings, 4 runs, 10 hits) and De Fratus (2 1/3 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits) had horrible outings.  The bats were shut down by knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey and Troy Tulowitzki had two doubles, a home run and drove in three runs in his Blue Jays debut.

Featured Card:  When the dust settles and we figure out where the six (!) players acquired from the Rangers are heading, I'll be curious to see if Williams still has his rotation spot.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Much like the Jimmy Rollins trade in December, I'm still trying to process all of this.  It's officially the end of an era.  (I can't even imagine how I'll feel when Chase Utley eventually departs.)

2008 Chachi #83

2015 Topps #561 Ken Giles

Phillies 3, Blue Jays 2
Game 101 - Tuesday Night, July 28th in Toronto
Record - 38-63, 5th Place, 15 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Adam Morgan pitched another effective game as Ken Giles recorded his first save in the post-Jonathan Papelbon era.

What It Means:  The Phillies have won 9 of their last 10 games and they continue to play baseball that is enjoyable to watch.  The fourth place Marlins are just 4 1/2 games ahead of the Phillies.

What Happened:  The Phillies hit three consecutive doubles in the fifth from Darin Ruf, Cody Asche and Andres Blanco, resulting in all three of their runs.  Morgan allowed just two runs on five hits in his six innings of work and the new back end of the bullpen trio of Jeanmar Gomez, Luis Garcia and Giles threw three shutout innings.

Featured Card:  Here's the baseball card of the new Phillies closer from this year's Topps flagship set.

Don't forget to vote in the poll (on the left sidebar) to help determine the design to be used for the 2016 Chachi set!

All-Time Phillies Saves Leader Papelbon Traded to Nationals

2015 Topps Allen & Ginter #89
2015 Chachi Almost #10
There has been a deal.

The big news throughout the day yesterday was the pending trade of the Phillies all-time saves leader, and general overall nutjob Jonathan Papelbon.  The deal was officially announced before the start of the fifth inning in last night's game and I'm glad the Papelbon era (2012-2015) has officially come to a close.

Papelbon was traded to the Nationals (with cash considerations) for Double-A prospect Nick Pivetta.  Pivetta is a lanky right-handed starting pitcher who was drafted by the Nationals in 2013.  Prior to the season, Baseball America ranked him the Nationals 10th best prospect.  He has yet to appear on any mainstream baseball cards although a quick eBay search shows that he has several cards in recent Nationals minor league team sets.

I decided to add Pivetta to the growing Chachi Almost set and hopefully he's appearing on a Chachi base card in the near future.  Given that he's recently appeared in three games for Double-A Harrisburg, I went ahead and assigned him to the Reading Fightin Phils for his card.  One of Papelbon's final Phillies cards (if not his final Phillies card) is from the recently released Allen & Ginter set.

Departed During Season
Grady Sizemore (6/1/15) - Released  (Signed with the Tampa Bay Rays organization 6/15/15)
Phillippe Aumont (6/24/15) - Designated for assignment and elected free agency (Signed with the Toronto Blue Jays organization 7/24/15)
Jonathan Papelbon (7/28/15) - Traded with cash considerations to the Washington Nationals for Nick Pivetta.

Arrived During Season
Kevin Correia (6/8/15) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the San Francisco Giants organization

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Phillies at Blue Jays: July 28th to July 29th

Tuesday and Wednesday 7:07
Rogers Centre - Toronto, Ontario

Phillies 37-63, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 16 1/2 games behind the Nationals
Blue Jays 50-50, Tied for 2nd Place in the A.L. East, 7 games behind the Yankees

Phillies Probables:  Adam Morgan (1-2, 4.28), Jerome Williams (3-7, 6.28)
Blue Jays Probables:  Felix Doubront (1-0, 4.34), R.A. Dickey (4-10, 4.53)

At the Ballpark:  There's nothing doing over the next two days inside the ballpark formerly known as the SkyDome.  No giveaways or special promotions are scheduled.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Ben Revere - .302
Runs:  Ben Revere - 48
Home Runs:  Ryan Howard - 18
RBIs:  Ryan Howard - 53
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere - 24

Wins:  Cole Hamels - 6
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 3.64
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 137
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 17

Blue Jays Leaders
Average:  Chris Colabello - .318
Runs:  Josh Donaldson - 70
Home Runs:  Josh Donaldson - 24
RBIs:  Josh Donaldson - 68
Stolen Bases:  Jose Reyes - 16*

Wins:  Mark Buehrle - 11
ERA:  Mark Buehrle - 3.29
Strikeouts:  Drew Hutchison - 98
Saves:  Brett Cecil and Roberto Osuna - 5

*Jose Reyes is now with the Rockies.  Kevin Pillar is active team leader with 15 stolen bases.

1985 Topps #688
1985 Topps Traded #80T
1985 Topps Appreciation:  I wrote about Len Matuszek's career when I featured his 1988 Topps card in a Dodgers series preview post.  Right before the start of the 1985 season, Matuszek was shipped to Toronto for prospects Ken Kinnard and Jose Escobar (neither ever played for the Phillies) and Phillies Room favorite Dave Shipanoff.

By the time Matuszek's Blue Jays card was released in the 1985 Topps Update set, he was already with the Dodgers, having been traded to L.A. on July 9th.  This is one of three baseball cards featuring him with the Blue Jays as he's also in the Fleer Update set and the Blue Jays Fire Safety set.

I was always bummed that Shipanoff didn't have a Phillies card in the 1985 Topps Traded set and I rectified that oversight with a custom card you can find here.

1909 T206 George McQuillan (Ball in Hand - Piedmont Back)

I recently achieved a significant milestone at my place of employment and I decided to celebrate the only way most 41-year-old men in my position would.  I bought an old, semi-expensive Phillies baseball card.

I guess I'm now a bit of a George McQuillan master collector, as this is my second card of the Phillies pitcher, both of which date from 1909.  I wrote at length about McQuillan when I added his American Caramel card to my Phillies collection three years ago.  This is also the second T206 card in my Phillies collection, as it joins the Mickey Doolan card I purchased a little over a year ago.

Similar to what I did when I posted the Doolan card, I wanted to share McQuillan's entry from the highly recommended book, The T206 Collection - The Players & Their Stories.

Monday, July 27, 2015

2016 Chachi Set: Which Topps Design?

1970 Topps #677
I'll admit I've been spending way too much time over the past few days hitting refresh on Twitter and MLB Trade Rumors, hoping for any Phillies scoop or consummated deals.  I realize this exercise is futile.  All the national (and local) media can report at this point is something along the lines of:

Sources telling me the Phillies are still in talks with Dodgers/Cubs/Rangers/Yankees/Blue Jays about Cole Hamels/Jonathan Papelbon/Ben Revere/Jeff Francoeur, or

Sources telling me the Phillies are listening to all potential suitors right now and they're ready to make a deal for the right pieces.

No one knows anything except the Phillies front office and these "sources" might as well be me.

With that in mind, and just between you and me, sources are telling me that the 2016 Chachi set will be based on the 1970 Topps set.  I'm actually a little surprised that as of this afternoon, votes for the 1970 Topps set have now doubled votes for the 1971 Topps set.

I'm assuming this is due to the 1970 Topps set having an underrated, underused design and maybe the folks who have voted here are ready for something different than the overused 1971 Topps design.  I'm digging the thought of spending the 2016 season with the 1970 Topps set and design and sources are also telling me that the 1971 Topps set is the early favorite for the 2017 Chachi set.

I'm going to leave this poll up until Topps goes live with its first look at its 2016 flagship set.  At that point, I'll take the poll down and officially announce the 2016 Chachi set design.  So please refresh your memories with this post and happy voting!

2015 Topps Pro Debut #166 Aaron Nola

Phillies 11, Cubs 5
Game 100 - Sunday Afternoon, July 26th in Chicago
Record - 37-63, 5th Place, 16 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The offense continued to rake against Cubs pitching and Aaron Nola pitched a solid ballgame to secure his first big league win.

What It Means:  The Phillies are now 8-1 since the All-Star break, which is their best post All-Star break start since the 1970 Phillies went 9-1.  This was their first three-game sweep in Chicago since August 2009 when Scott Eyre, Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee were the team's winning pitchers.  The game won by new Hall of Famer Martinez happened to be his Phillies debut.

The Phillies are off today and they'll open a quick two-game series in Toronto tomorrow night.

What Happened:  Nola lasted 7 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits (two home runs) and striking out six.  Odubel Herrera and Domonic Brown both had three hits, with Brown and Maikel Franco each driving in three runs.  Franco (11) and Ryan Howard (18) homered in the win.

Featured Card:  I expect Nola to be all over the 2016 Topps releases, but for now the only 2015 Topps cards I have of his in my collection are from the Bowman and Bowman Inception sets and this Topps Pro Debut card showing him with the High-A Clearwater Threshers.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cole Hamels Throws No-Hitter!

2015 Chachi #52
Phillies 5, Cubs 0
Game 99 - Sunday Afternoon, July 25th in Chicago
Record - 36-63, 5th Place, 17 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  In what could possibly be his last start with the Phillies, Cole Hamels threw the the 13th no-hitter in team history as the Phillies won against the Cubs, 5-0.

What It Means:  Little did I know I'd witness history when I began working in our yard and mowing our lawn yesterday afternoon.  Listening to the radio broadcast of the game the entire time, I finished up after the fifth inning and sat in our garage to listen to the sixth and seventh innings.  I decided I didn't want to be exiled in the garage in case history was made, so I got over any lingering superstitions and went inside to watch the final two outs on TV with my family.

As Hamels collected the final outs he needed, my oldest son Doug could barely contain himself and my youngest son Ben wondered what all the commotion was about.  We jumped and screamed and clapped as Odubel Herrera somehow caught the final out of the game in center to preserve the no-hitter.  If this was in fact Hamels' last game as a Phillie, he gave us all a wonderful parting gift and a fantastic memory that I'll never forget.

What Happened:  Hamels struck out 13 and threw 129 pitches.  His only blemishes on the day were two walks allowed to Dexter Fowler.  Ryan Howard's three-run home run in the third gave Hamels all the run support he'd need.  The Phils scored twice more in the eighth when Cody Asche singled and Freddy Galvis blooped a double to the outfield grass behind first base.  Anthony Rizzo fielded the ball and immediately threw it beyond third, allowing Galvis to come around to score.

2015 Chachi #53
2015 Chachi #54
Featured Cards:  Hamels gets the main Highlight card here, but I also wanted to work in a Highlight card for Herrera and a Record Breaker card for Carlos Ruiz.  I was going to go with a few dreaded short-printed variation cards to accomplish this, but then I decided to just add three cards to the main set.  (Years from now, when set collectors are trying to put together their 2015 Chachi sets, they'll thank me for this.)

Ruiz joins Jason Varitek as the only catchers in Major League history to have caught four no-hitters and he becomes the only National League catcher to have accomplished this feat.  I also love the picture below capturing the moment after Herrera's grab when Ruiz and Howard were the first to greet Hamels on the mound.  Chase Utley (currently on the disabled list, but in Chicago) joined the trio a few seconds later.

Herrera's circus catch to record the 27th out preserved the no-hitter and he also made a nice play on a David Ross liner in the eighth for the second out of that inning.

Memory Lane
5/29/10 - Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in Major League history
10/6/10 - Halladay no-hit the Reds in Game 1 of the N.L.D.S.
9/1/14 - Hamels, Diekman, Giles and Papelbon combine for the franchise's 12th no-hitter

Saturday, July 25, 2015

2013 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs #BCA-CA Cody Asche

Phillies 5, Cubs 3 (10 Innings)
Game 98 - Friday Afternoon, July 24th in Chicago
Record - 35-63

One Sentence Summary:  Offensive heroics from Cody Asche and Jeff Francoeur contributed to this come from behind, extra inning win against the Cubs.

What It Means:  The Phillies are surprisingly 6-1 since the All-Star break.

What Happened:  Asche hit a two-run double in the fourth to give the Phillies a temporary 2-1 lead.  With the Cubs leading 3-2 in the ninth, he hit a double into the ivy in right-center to score Freddy Galvis with the tying run.  Galvis had reached on a triple.

Francoeur hit a two-run home run in the top of the 10th to give the Phils their lead and Jonathan Papelbon closed out the game (perhaps for the last time with the club?) for his 17th save.

Featured Card:  Asche had two clutch hits in this game, so he gets the honors.  This is the sole certified autograph card of Asche in my collection to date.  I'm hopeful that Asche's autograph has improved since two years ago.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Phillies at Cubs: July 24th to July 26th

Friday and Saturday 4:05, Sunday 2:20
Wrigley Field - Chicago, IL

Phillies 34-63, 5th Place in the N.L. East
Cubs 51-43, 3rd Place in the N.L. Central

Phillies Probables:  Jerome Williams (3-7, 6.43), Cole Hamels (5-7, 3.91), Aaron Nola (0-1, 1.50)
Cubs Probables:  Jon Lester (5-8, 3.37), Jake Arrieta (11-5, 2.52), Jason Hammel (5-4, 2.82)

At the Ballpark:  It looks as if it will be a great weekend to be at Wrigley!  The first 10,000 fans this afternoon will receive a Billy Williams replica statue.  On Saturday, the Cubs are giving away a Jorge Soler bobble head and on Sunday the first 5,000 kids will receive a Cubs batting helmet.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Ben Revere - .300
Runs:  Ben Revere - 48
Home Runs:  Ryan Howard - 16
RBIs:  Ryan Howard - 48
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere - 22

Wins:  Cole Hamels - 5
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 3.91
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 124
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 16

Cubs Leaders
Average:  Anthony Rizzo - .287
Runs:  Dexter Fowler - 58
Home Runs:  Anthony Rizzo - 16
RBIs:  Kris Bryant - 54
Stolen Bases:  Dexter Fowler - 15

Wins:  Jake Arrieta - 11
ERA:  Jake Arrieta - 2.52
Strikeouts:  Jake Arrieta - 133
Saves:  Hector Rondon - 12

1985 Topps #538
1985 Topps #484
1985 Topps #460
1985 Topps #189
1985 Topps #563
1985 Topps #124
1985 Topps #589
1985 Topps #210
1985 Topps Appreciation:  I've got a whole bunch of 1985 Topps cards featured today, as I thought I'd take a look at some the ex-Phillies who played for the Cubs in 1984.  When Dallas Green took over as the Cubs general manager in 1981, he began the process of bringing over as many former Phillies coaches and players as possible.

Along with the selected Phillies-related transactions detailed below, Green was responsible for bringing Lee Elia and John Vukovich over to the Cubs to serve as coaches.

12/8/81 - Acquired Dan Larson, Keith Moreland and Dickie Noles from the Phillies for Mike Krukow and cash.

1/27/82 - Acquired Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg from the Phillies for Ivan DeJesus.

6/1/82 - Signed Jay Johnstone as a free agent.

1/25/83 - Acquired Warren Brusstar and Steve Trout from the White Sox for Scott Fletcher, Randy Martz, Pat Tabler and Dick Tidrow.

5/22/83 - Acquired Dick Ruthven and Bill Johnson from the Phillies for Willie Hernandez.

1/5/84 - Signed Richie Hebner as a free agent.

3/26/84 - Acquired Bob Dernier, Gary Matthews and Porfi Altamirano from the Phillies for Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz.