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Friday, December 29, 2006

RC Card Focus: Andrew Bynum - SPx vs SP Authentic

For the past month or so, I've been watching actual sales for two key RC cards of Andrew Bynum. These cards are their SPx Auto/Jsy RC & SP Authentic Auto RC. Both cards are mid-high value range and I feel a decent bang for the buck.

Andrew Bynum SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 1499 - This card's BV in Dec was $40, then jumped to $50 in Jan. Dec sales on ebay (I tracked 14 sales from 12/2 to 12/23) averaged $36.21, just a 90.5% of BV (vs Dec BV of $40). The high was $44, and the low was $27.

Andrew Bynum SP Authentic Auto RC #'d 1299 - This card's BV in Dec was $30, then jumped to $40 in Jan. Dec Sales on ebay (I tracked 14 sales from 11/24 to 12/27) averaged $34.06, 113.5% of BV (vs Dec BV of $30). The high was $56, and the low as $22.79.

Even though the SPx had the jersey swatch & $10 higher BV, buyers didn't necessarily value it much higher than the SPA. The difference in average selling price, for roughly the same time period, was only $2.15. My opinion to explain this is the autograph version used (refer back to my previous discussion on 11/27 - Player Focus: Andrew Bynum Auto Variations). The SPx uses the VERY common "AB #17", which I think will become even more common as the years go by when this becomes Bynum's normal sig. The SPA on the otherhand uses the less common "Andrew Bynum" sig. As I mentioned before, players' sigs usually get shorter as the years go by (Ex. Kobe Bryant --> Kobe 8 --> Kobe). The impact of the difference in serial # (200) is pretty much nil.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Player Focus: Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce has been and still is one of the best players in the NBA, but has kept below the hobby radar, beneath other star players. I think the reason is because the Celtics haven't performed well as a team, and because Vince Carter & Dirk Nowitzki are also from the same RC class, and they have both performed equally well & helped their teams to better results than the Celtics. When you look at the RC BVs for 98-99, Pierce's cards are around the same level as Antawn Jamison's (among a few others, but I'm choosing Jamison to compare to because they have more similar career stats to eachother). Over their 8+ year careers, Pierce has averaged 23.5 ppg & 6.6 rpg, and Jamison 19.3 ppg & 7.6 rpg. When considering this, there is one RC that stands out as a good BV deal, in comparison to Jamison's RC in the same set. It is the SPx Finite Radiance #'d 1500. Why is it that the base version #'d 2500 books for $30, and the rarer Radiance books for $25? Jamison's base books for $25 (less than Pierce's) and Radiance is at $30 (more than Pierce's). Don't know what's going on there, but it would appear that his Radiance card is a deal! All of Pierce's RCs can be had at amazing % of BV levels. This month I saw two SPx Finite RCs #'d 2500 sell on ebay. They went for $5.30 & $5.51, 17.7% & 18.4% of BV respectively.

Looking at the current Celtics roster gives hope for the future. They have so many young talented players like Al Jefferson, Delonte West, Tony Allen, Sebastian Telfair, Rajon Rondo, Gerald Green & Kendrick Perkins who could help Pierce to a championship run. If they can develop this current team, I think that they could achieve more than Dirk has with the Mavs and VC has with Toronto or NJ. That could push Pierce's RCs into the top spot for 98-99. Just like Dwayne Wade & the Heat's Championship run last year, pushing Wade's RCs past Carmelo's into the #2 spot under Lebron.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Player Focus: Kwame Brown

Kwame Brown was the first high school player to be taken #1 in the draft, by the Wizards back in 2001. He was a raw talent with great size, and he was going to be playing along side the best player in the game, Jordan. Brown became a big disappointment, and many thought he was heading in the same direction as another past #1 pick (Michael Olowokandi '98). Now, in his 5th NBA season, and playing for the Lakers, Brown looks to be finally coming around. He's shown that he can put up good defense, and suprisingly has a soft touch laying the ball in. Not all straight out of high school stars get off to hot starts like Lebron or Dwight Howard. Take for instance Jermaine O'neal. He spent his 1st 4 seasons at Portland, playing only scant minutes and averaging just 3.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg & 0.7 bpg, before moving to Indiana and averaging 19 ppg, 9.9 rpg & 2.5 bpg over the last 6+ seasons. In some instances, it just takes a little more time & the right team situation to jump start potential. I think that Brown is now starting to show what he's capable of doing, and putting the discouragement of his past behind him. He's back from injury (re-replacing Andrew Bynum in the starting line up) and he will be key to the Lakers success this season, at both ends of the court.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Player Focus: Caron Butler

I've been a fan of Caron Butler since he came to the Lakers from Miami back in '04. I remember watching him continuously driving to the basket, through traffic and getting hammered by the big guys in the paint, and thinking this guys got guts! He's one of the most underrated SF in the game, and I was sad to see him go after just one season. Now he's doing his thing in Washington, where he averaged 17.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.7 spg and shot .870 from the line last season. This year he's off to a good start averaging 17.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.7 spg and shooting .895 from the line. He's playing with some talented players in Washington, like Arenas & Jamison, so hopefully he can be successful there. Butler's RCs can be found at good % of BV prices on auction. I recently saw two of his SPx Auto/Jsy RCs #'d 999 (BV$30) sell for $5.01 & $5.55, which are 17% & 18.5% of BV respectively. I would try to find some of his key RC cards to buy at around 15-30% of BV if possible. That way you could maximize your value if and when his cards start picking up steam.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Player Focus: Carmelo Anthony

When the 03-04 season hit, Carmelo Anthony was the 2nd hottest thing out the gates after Lebron James. Now look at his RC card values: his Bowman Signature auto/jsy is 1/3 of Dwayne Wade's (and only $20 more than Lebron's non-auto/jsy!), his Exquisite Auto/Patch RC is $2800, while Lebron's is $12000, Wade's is $7500, and Bosh's is a close $2200. I would say that Melo's RC value slide is at an end, and now is the time to pick up some deals. So far this season he's averaging 31.5 ppg and shooting .515 FG% & .833 FT%. Compare that to Lebron's averages of 27.5 ppg, .470 FG% & .712 FT%, and Wade's of 28.1 ppg, .472 FG% & .816 FT%. This guy is destined to achieve greatness. He led Syracuse to a national title his freshman year, then got drafted and led Denver to the playoffs his RC year (Denver went 17-65 the year before). I'm not taking anything away from the other two players, but I think that Melo is in a way a sleeper ready to awaken. Wade has also benefited from his great performance leading the Heat to the Championships last year, helping his RC cards build some really strong value.

You can still pick up Melo's auto RC's at good % of BV levels. I just saw a Bowman Sig Auto/Jsy sell for $64.76, roughly 65% of BV ($100). If he continues the way he's been playing, you can bet that he's gonna be getting alot more hobby love. My only concern is with Denver's performance, because they're in the stronger Western Conf, while Cleveland & Miami may have more chances to shine in the East. Anyway, however you look at it, Melo is a good long term (and possible short term) investment.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Real Deal - Market Report

Here are some actual RC card sales that I've seen recently for high potential players (not yet making the "hot" lists), which I thought were good buys.

03-04 Bowman Sig Gold Auto/Jsy Travis Outlaw #'d 69/99 - BV$37.50, actual $10.50 - 28% of BV
02-03 SPx Auto/Jsy Carlos Boozer #'d 1427/1999 - BV$30, actual $16 - 53% of BV
05-06 SP Authentic Auto/Jsy Deron Williams #'d 65/100 - BV$60, actual $53 - 88% of BV

The Utah Jazz have been on fire so far this season, lead by Boozer in the front court & Williams in the back. Considering how well they've been doing, I felt like these were good buys for two of their key Auto/Jsy RC cards. Just 2 days earlier I saw the same Deron Williams RC card sell for $82 - 137% of BV.


This report's sleeper is Michael Redd (Mil Bucks, 00-01 RC year). Redd is in his 7th NBA season with the Bucks, and he has improved and been rewarded with more minutes each year. Last season he averaged 25.4 ppg in 39.1 mpg. So far this season he's averaging 30.4 ppg (3rd in the league) in 41.1 mpg. Unfortunately he hasn't had a strong supporting cast. Now, the Bucks have future stars Andrew Bogut & Charlie Villanueva to help Redd hopefully make them a winning team. Although Redd has been a consistent scorer for the past few seasons, it seems like he hasn't received the hobby interest that other players have, possibly due to him playing for a not so good small market team. Redd doesn't have that many RC cards, but his better ones are: E-X Rookie Memorabilia Auto (500 print run) - BV $30, SPx #'d 4500 - BV $10 (Spectrum #'d 25 - BV $100), Fleer Autographics Auto - BV $12 (Silver #'d 250 - BV $15, Gold #'d 50 - BV $36), and Ultra Platinum Medallion #'d 25 - BV $40. All of these should be able to be picked up for less than BV. Although, he did just have a 45 point, 8 rebond, 5 assist, 4 steal night against the Lakers yesterday (and scored 57 against UTA on 11/11)!

Rare Finds

My rare find for this report is a 03-04 Finest Gold Ref Luke Walton #'d 25, sold for $62.01 on 11/8. Walton is one of my "sleepers" and this is one of his best, most limited Auto RC cards (yes, the last good year for Finest RCs!). I think that this card is better looking than the SPx Spectrum RC for that year (also #'d 25), and could probably be picked up for less too. Congrats to the lucky collector that bought this rare find.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Player Focus: Andrew Bynum Auto Variations

As all of you have noticed, the way that some players sign their names vary, depending on the year it was signed, or in some cases the product that was signed. Kobe Bryant's autograph evolved from Kobe Bryant, to Kobe 8, to just Kobe. Andrew Bynum, just within his RC year has three different auto variations: AB #17, A Bynum and A Bynum #17. In the case of Kobe, there's a premium for his full name signature, because he only signed it that way for a short time during his 1st year. Of the Bynum autos, the products that have each variation are: "AB #17" - all Topps products, Reflections, SP Game Used, SPx, UD Hardcourt, UD Rookie Debut & UD Portraits. For "A Bynum" - Exquisite Collection, SP Authentic, Ultimate Collection & UD Trilogy. For "A Bynum #17" - SP Signature, UD Portraits & UD Sweet Shot. Based on this rough info, I would say that the AB #17 would probably be the most abundant (and possibly the lowest long term value), while the other two would have the most potential value, due to 1) the high end products that have the A Bynum version, and 2) only two products having the A Bynum #17 version. Also, players' sigs don't usually get longer, they tend to get shorter, or more abbreviated over the years, so I would guess that the AB #17 might be the one to persist in future year products, making the other two variations more scarce and command more of a premium as time goes on. The other x factor is that we don't know the population for the autos that aren't serial #'d, so it's very hard to get an accurate count of how many of each really exist.

If you anyone out there knows which variation is usedUD Rookie Debut, please let me know! Thanks.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Player Focus: Andrew Bynum

There's been a shortage of skilled big men in the NBA (at both ends of the court), which has allowed players like Shaq & Duncan to dominate and help lead their teams to championships. Yao looks to be the current heir to the Center throne, with some younger potentials in the midst. Of these younger players, Andrew Bynum appears to be the best bet. At only 19 years old (and now starting for the Lakers), he has the physique to compete with anyone, is being coached by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Kareem is starting to teach him his signature sky hook) and he's shown us flashes of stardom with his scoring, rebounding, shot blocking, etc. If you can find his key auto rc's for less than current BV (in the 70-80% of BV range), pick them up. Most of them that I've seen have been selling for around 120-170% of BV, but if you look hard enough, you can find good deals out there. One SP Authentic Auto RC sold for 76% of BV on 11/25 (one sold the very next day for 129% of BV, and another one is already at 187% of BV with 11 hours left on auction!). I like his SP Authentic Auto RC #'d 1299 - BV $30 (the first 100 also have a patch), his SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 1499 - BV $40 and his SPx Spectrum Auto/Jsy RC #'d 25 - BV $120. If he continues to develop at the rate he has been, look for his RCs to get increasing attention with up arrows in the coming months.
My View: The Downfall of Topps Finest Basketball

Topps Finest was first introduced for Basketball back in 93-94. It was a simple premium product, with base RCs & ref versions. Over the years they've experimented with things like only base RCs, no ref RCs (95-96), having 2 series' but with only RCs in one of the series (94-95, 95-96), Bronze, Silver, Gold, Embossed (96-97), etc. Recently, Topps has just gone crazy with the parallels. In the 05-06 set, there are 19 RC variations! There's the base, 6 diff colored refs, 6 diff colored x-fractors, and 6 diff colored superfractors. It's very deceiving. If you pull a RC auto ref #'d 99, normally you'd be thrilled. But when there are 5 other colored ref auto RCs #'d to 229, 19, 59, 199 & 1, you're actually getting one that has 606 ref auto RCs on the market. All this does is dilute the value of each RC card. The best change that Topps made to the Finest Basketball brand was in 02-03 when they added Auto RCs. In my opinion, the best value Finest years were 02-03 (base auto RC, ref auto RC & Gold ref auto RC) & 03-04 (base auto RC, ref auto RC, Gold ref auto RC, X-fractor auto RC). If Topps wants to compete with UD, they should return to this simple but value inducing format. I personally refuse to buy any Finest RCs after the 03-04 year because you just won't be getting the bang for your buck that you should be.

This seems to be a trend for Topps. The Bowman Chrome Baseball is the same. It started in 97 with a base & ref set. Now they also have diff color parallels. Bowman Elevation Basketball is following the same path. They have 5 different RC variations, #'d to 999, 399, 299, 99 & 1. This should be reduced to 3 at the most: #'d 999, 99 & 1.

I've always liked the Finest & Bowman brands. They have nice designs and great auto RCs. It's a shame that they're cannibalizing themselves & pushing themselves out of competitiveness.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Real Deal - Market Report
Here are some actual RC card sales that I've seen recently for high potential players (not yet making the "hot" lists), which I thought were good buys.
  • 01-02 Topps Chrome Zach Randolph Auto - BV$20, actual sale $9.38 (47% of BV)
  • 01-02 SP Authentic G Arenas Auto #'d 1525 - BV$80, actual sale $48.99 (61% of BV)
  • 03-04 Finest M Pietrus Auto #'d 999 - BV$12, actual sale $3 (25% of BV) *REAL DEAL!
I know that Areans is already considered a "Star" player, but just wanted to list it b/c it sold for a realtively good % of BV price.

This report's sleeper is Jarrett Jack (Por Blazers, 05-06 RC year). I feel that Jack could be an essential part of Portland's effort to pull themselves out of mediocrity. In the next few years, the Blazers could be topping the Northwest Div, with Jack running the floor, dishing to Randolph, and young talents like Aldridge, Webster & Outlaw. Most of Jack's RCs are booked as commons, and can be picked up for nice % of BV prices. Some RCs that I like are his 05-06 SP Game Used Rookie Excl Auto #'d 100 - BV $40, SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1499 - BV $15 and Ultimate Collection Auto RC #'d 250 - BV $20. Jack hasn't received much attention, due to two other PGs from that RC year who have been really hot, Chris Paul (NO/Okla) & Deron Williams (UTAH), but watch out for this quiet sleeper!

Rare Finds
My rare finds for this report are the two most limited Autos for Lamar Odom's RC year: 90-00 Skybox Autographics Century Marks Auto #'d 50 (BV $50) & 99-00 E-X E-Xplosive Lamar Odom Auto #'d 99 (BV $50). The Autographics CM auto recently sold for $44 (88% of BV) and the E-Xplosive sold for $26 (52% of BV). Both are great finds, and congrats to those buyers who won them in auction. I expected the Autographics card to go for more $, due to the higher level of popularity for the brand, but not for as much as it did.

It seems that more & more collectors are putting a huge premium on premium products. The % of BV for the high end stuff (90%+) is so much higher than for the medium end stuff (20%-70%). Makes you think... card companies are probably making much better profit margins off of the high end product, so they don't mind that it may be cannibalizing the popularity of their other products.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Real Deal - Market Report
Here are some actual sales that I've seen recently for high potential players (not yet making the "hot" lists), which I thought were good buys.
04-05 SPx Throwback Josh Childress Auto/Jsy RC - BV$50, actual sale $14.55 (29% of BV)
05-06 SP Game Used Charlie Villanueva RC #'d 999 - BV$15, actual sale $0.99 (7% of BV)
05-06 SP Game Used Rookie Excl Lawrence Roberts Auto RC #'d 100 - BV$ 30, actual $4.99 (17% of BV)

This report's sleeper is Mickael Pietrus (GS Warriors, 03-04 RC year). Pietrus didn't have the quick star career start that others in his RC class had (Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, Bosh...), but he has been quietly posting strong numbers as a starting GF for the Warriors this season (11.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, .481 3P%). Look for him to be a larger contributor going forward. His key RC cards can still be had at reasonable prices. Some recent sales are: Exquisite Auto/Jsy RC #'d 225 - $142.49 (BV $160 - 89% of BV), Finest Auto RC #'d 999 - $3.00 (BV $12 - 25% of BV). Even though the % of BV for his Exquisite sale doesn't seem that good, almost all other players' Exquisite RCs that I've seen have sold for over BV (Ex. Luke Walton, a comparable player, sold for $165 - 138% of the $120 BV) . I like his SP Game Used Rookie Excl Auto RC #'d 100 which books for $60 and Topps Rookie Photo Shoot Auto #'d 56 at $80. All of his RCs can be had a fairly low % of BV prices (for now!).

Rare Finds
My rare find for this report is the 05-06 Bowman Welcome to the Show Charlie Villanueva Auto/Jsy #'d 5/5. This the only card from this set that I've seen, and its of a player previously listed on my "sleepers" list. This card sold on ebay for $51.01 recently (BV not listed due to scarcity). A very nice pick up for someone wanting a rare RC year card for an up & coming player.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Real Deal Part 1

Here are some real sales on ebay for some of the players that I've listed in my "Sleepers" listings, along with some players who's cards are really hot. In my opinion, you should be able to pick up a "sleeper" RC card at around 70% of BV or less. Some of the players on my list have already jumped from "sleeper" to hot while I've been writing my blog, as you'll see below (of course it also depends on the set the RC card is from also).

05-06 Exquisite Ronny Turiaf Auto/Jsy RC #'d 225 - BV $80, Sales 11/8 $115.48 (144% of BV)
05-06 SP Game Used Ronny Turiaf Auto #'d 100 - BV $30, Sales 11/8 $27.21 (91% of BV)
05-06 UD Rookie Debut R. Turiaf Hotagraphs Auto - BV $25, Sales 11/8 $16.16 (65% of BV)
03-04 SP Authentic Luke Walton Auto RC #'d 1250 - BV $25, Sales 11/9 $14.38 (58% of BV)
03-04 Exquisite Luke Walton Auto/Jsy RC #'d 225 - BV $120, Sales 11/9 $165 (138% of BV)
04-05 SPx Josh Childress Throwback Auto/Jsy - BV $50, Sales 11/10 $14.55 (29% of BV)
99-00 Skybox Lamar Odom Autographics Century Marks Auto #'d 50 - BV $50, Sales 11/11 $44 (88% of BV)
05-06 Ulitmate Coll Charlie Villanueva Auto RC #'d 250 - BV $60, Sales 11/9 $42.69 (71% of BV)

05-06 SPx Andrew Bynum Auto/Jsy RC #'d 1499 - BV $40, Sales 11/8 $56.55 (141% BV), $104.59 (261% BV), 11/10 $58 (145% BV)

It seems like for both sleeper & hot players alike the Exquisite Collection Auto/Jsy RCs are commanding over BV in actual sales. Overall, all other RC cards for sleepers seem to be selling for under BV at this time. My personal favorites for RC cards are SPx Auto/Jsy (incl Spectrum versions), because you seem to get the most bang for your buck; a serial #'d RC with both an auto & jsy, plus the hype value. I try to stay away from Fleer & Topps RCs, except for the Bowman brand & Topps Rookie Photo Shoot Autos. Most of their other brands/products are either unattractive or weak in value. If you compare Upper Deck's brand RCs with similar serial #'s & qualities (auto, game used, etc.) to Topps & Fleer, most of the time UD's RCs hold a higher value; important especially if one day you need to sell off your collection to survive!

Friday, November 10, 2006

NBA Sleepers Part 5

Tyson Chandler (NO/Okla Hornets, 01-02 RC) - Chandler's RC cards started out hot, then cooled and seem to have settled at their current level. He seems to have joined an exciting team this season. The Hornets have a young, talented starting line up with Paul, West, Stojakovic & Mason, and I think Chandler will fit in quite well and will have a break out season. His RC cards are fairly priced. From top to bottom, some of his RC cards I like are SPx Spectrum Auto/Jsy #'d 25 ($250), Spx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 ($50), SP Authentic Auto #'d 1275($40), UD Flight Team Key Signatures Auto #'d 100 ($20) and UD Sweet Shot Rookie Memorabilia Jsy #'d 600 ($20). Hopefully he can maintain a double-double avg & help the Hornets get to the playoffs. The Hornets should get a lot of attention with Chris Paul running the floor.

Shane Battier (Hou Rockets, 01-02 RC) - I think that Battier is one of the more underated small forwards in the game. The Rockets picked him hoping that he could be a third scorer, along with T-Mac & Yao. The new Rockets GM in-training is one of the new age managers basing player decisions on calculations to see how effective players really are, not just looking at their plain stats (i.e. ppg, rpg, etc). We'll see if his pick lives up to his expectations. Battier doesn't have that many RC cards, but his higher priced ones are Topps Chrome Ref ($24), Topps Chrome Black Ref #'d 50 ($48) andUltimate Collection #'d 250 ($30). Some of his better RCs (and moderately priced) are SPx #'d 1999 ($10), SP Authentic #'d 550 ($8), UD Sweet Shot Rookie Memorabilia Jsy #'d 600 ($12), Topps Xpectations #'d 250 ($25), UD Legends #'d 500 ($12) and Topps Pristine Ref #'d 250 ($18). If you notice that for the year 01-02, I don't pick the Hoops Hot Prospects Jsy RCs because I just can stand the way they look!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

NBA Sleepers Part 4

Ronny Turiaf (LA Lakers, 05-06 RC) - Here's a guy that almost didn't get to play in the NBA. After being taken by the Lakers, and having successful heart surgery, he has become one of the hardest working players that I've seen. Great attitude, great team player, and gives 100%. He doesn't have that many RC cards, so picking them all up wouldn't be that much of a challenge. Prices for his cards are still relatively low, so I'd get his best ones. Exquisite Collection Auto #'d 225 ($80), Exquisite Collection Gold #'d 25 ($75) & Greats of the Game Auto #'d 99 ($80). Some of his more affordable cards are SP Game Used SIGnificance #'d 100 ($30), UD Hardcourt Signatures ($15 - what a deal!) & UD Rookie Debut Hotagraphs 1:336 packs ($25). Turfiaf will play a key role on this young Lakers team, along with Bynum & Walton.

Luke Walton (LA Lakers, 03-04 RC) - Walton is becoming what the Lakers had previously hoped Devean George would become - a SF with a well-rounded game, and with a high basketball IQ. Walton has started the first 5 games of this season, and is avg 14 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.2 spg and is shooting .617 FG% and .833 3P%. Just needs improvment with his .583 FT% (although he's a career .717 FT%, so I'm sure that won't last). Walton has tons of RC cards, so I'd be selective on which ones to buy. For lower priced, high quality RCs, there's Finest Auto #'d 999 ($20), SP Sig Sinatures Auto ($20), Ultra Signatures Auto #'d 350 ($15), UD Rookie Exclusives Auto ($15). For a little more, you can get Bowman Sig Auto/Jsy ($25), Hoops Hot Prospects Auto/Jsy #'d 400 ($20), SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1999 ($30), Ultimate Collection Auto #'d 250 ($40), SP Authentic Auto #'d 1250 ($25). For his high end RCs, there's Topps Rookie Photo Shoot #'d 56 ($80), Finest Gold Ref Auto #'d 25, Bowman Sig Gold Auto/Jsy #'d 99 ($62.50), Exquisite Collection Auto/Jsy #'d 225 ($120) & SP Game Used Rookie Exclusives Auto #'d 100 ($60) & SPx Spectrum Auto/Jsy #'d 25.

more to come!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

NBA Sleepers Part 3

Brevin Knight (Cha Bobcats, 97-98 RC) - Knight struggled in his first 7 seasons, playing for 6 different teams and avg 7.2 ppg, 6.1 apg & 1.8 spg. After injury problems and finally finding the right set up in Charlotte, he's been showing his skills. Over the past 2 seasons, he's avg 11.4 ppg, 8.9 apg & 2.1 spg. He doesn't have that many RCs (there weren't so many darn products/brands back then), but some of his key cards are Bowman's Best Atomic Ref ($6), Finest Ref ($15), Skybox Premium Autographics ($20) and Century Marks #'d 100 ($40), Topps Chrome Ref ($10), Ultra Platinum Medallion #'d 100 ($20), Stadium Club First Day Issue #'d 200 ($7.50) & Stadium Club One of a Kind #'d 150 ($15). Of course, I would go after his Auto RCs, which you could probably find well below BV. *He also has Auto RCs in 97 Scoreboard, which could probably be had at a steal! I think he'll be one of the top PG this season, and for seasons to come, as long as he can stay healthy!

Lamar Odom (LA Lakers, 99-00 RC) - Odom can be the savior of the Lakers. Kobe can't do it alone, and Odom has the potential to be the alternate go-to guy. He has the height of a PF, and can score (including from behind the arc), rebound, dish, cause turnovers and he's got handles. He's had some problems in the past, but in the first few games of this season (when Kobe was out) he sure looked like he was ready to unlock his full potential. I'm predicting that this year he'll post 18+ppg, 10+rpg & 5+apg. His RC values have reflected his lack of consistency, staying pretty stagnant over the past few years, making now an opportune time to pick some up! I like his Fresh Ink RC autos (all of which book for $15), Skybox Premium Autographics ($25) & Century Marks #'d 50 ($50), SPx Radiance #'d 100 ($50). His SP Authentic #'d 1500 has a BV of $40, SPx #'d 3500 is at $20. One of his most limited (but also cheap) RCs is Stadium Club First Day Issue #'d 150 ($18).

more to come!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NBA Sleepers Part 2

Here are a couple other players that I think are undervalued in the hobby:

Zach Randolph (Por Trailblazers, 01-02 RC) - Randolph has been Portland's top scorer & rebounder for the past few seasons. He's starting this season on a tear, with 26 ppg & 10.3 rpg in his first 4 games. I think that he has not received the hobby attention that he deserves partly because Portland is a smaller market, and the team as a whole hasn't done well. He doesn't as many Auto rc's as other players his year. The only ones are Topps Chrome Auto ($20), Topps Pristine Auto ($40), and Topps Xpectations Auto ($20). These are great deals for Auto RC collectors, esp considering that his other higher end non-Auto RCs book for almost the same price, like SPx #'d 1999 ($20), Ultimate Collection #'d 250 ($50), Hoops Hot Prospects Jsy #'d 1000 ($15). But it's all about preference. I personally prefer auto rc's over all others.

Travis Outlaw (Por Trailblazers, 03-04) - This young teammate of Randolph has been brought along very slowly, but with each season, he's seeing more playing time, and is putting up more points & grabbing more boards. He was drafted in the same superstar year as Lebron, Melo, Wade, Bosh, ..... so he hasn't gotten much attention, thus keeping his RC cards at affordable levels. If you look in your Beckett, Outlaw isn't even listed for most of the sets. You could probably pick up some of his quality RCs like SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1999 for less than $10 on auction (common RC Auto/Jsy book for $40). The only RCs that are listed are Exquisite Collection Auto #'d 225 ($120) & Sweet Shot Signatures Auto #'d 49 ($50). Outlaw came straight out of high school. Jermaine O'neal was also brought along slowly (and also straight out of high school), and look how he turned out!

Both of these guys' RC cards can be found on auction for well below BV (although neither of them have that many RCs on auction, so it might be hard to find their key cards).

more to come!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Basketball Outlook - Hot Sleepers

Aside from the obvious stars (whose best RCs are just unattainable for us average collectors), here are a couple of players that I think are quiet sleepers waiting to break out into hobby stardom.

Charlie Villanueva (Mil Bucks, 05-06 RC) - With the lack of good big men in the NBA, teams are putting their hopes behind anyone who has some skills and a big body. I think that this guy has the chance to be a top F in the East, up there with Dwight Howard, Antawn Jamison & Chris Bosh. In the 1st 4 games of the season, he's avg 18.8 ppg & 10.8 rpg. For a low cost quality RC, try Finest Auto #'d 349 ($20), Ulitimate Collection Signature Auto ($20). For a mid range quality RC try SP Sig Rookies INKorporated #'d 50 ($40), Topps Big Game Draft Day Moments Relics Hat/Auto #'d 129 ($40), SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 ($50). For high end RCs try Exquisite Collection Auto/Jsy #'d 225 ($300), SP Game Used Rookie Exclusives Auto #'d 100 ($120), SPx Spectrum Auto/Jsy #'d 25 ($225), Ultimate Collection Rookie Auto Patches #'d 25 ($300).

Josh Childress (Atl Hawks, 04-05 RC) - He's been coming off the bench for the past couple of seasons putting up decent numbers (10.1 ppg & 5.7 rpg), and getting increased minutes. I think that this year or next will be his break out season. If you want to pick up a low cost quality RC of his, try Bowman Signature Auto/Jsy #'d 399 ($15). For a mid range quality RC, try SP Sig Rookies INKorporated Auto #'d 100 ($25), SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 ($40), Bowman Sig Auto/Jsy #'d 50 ($30), SP Authentic Limited Auto #'d 100 ($45). If you can afford the best (which I can't!), try Exquisite Coll Auto/Jsy #'d 99 ($300), SPx Spectrum Auto/Jsy #'d 25, Topps Rookie Photo Shoot Auto #'d 55 ($100), Ultimate Collection Draft Day Ink #'d 6, UD Trilogy Rookie Premiere Patches Auto #'d 10 or Topps Chrome Auto Ref #'d 7, if you can find them!

more to come!
Basketball Season is Here!

With all these new brands, subsets, sub-subsets,'s very hard to keep track of today's basketball RC's. There are just way too many RC cards for each player now. Look at Finest for instance. There's a base RC, refractor, x-fractor, superfractor, black ref & x-fractor, gold ref & x-fractor, green ref & x-fractor, red ref & x-fractor. That's 12 RC cards for each player, just from Finest! It doesn't even matter that they're all #'d, autographed, or whatever. All this does is take value away from the product as a whole. I think that SPx has it about right. They have a base & Spectrum RC. If you notice, SPx auto RCs typically has a higher value than Finest auto RCs of the same player and with a similar #'d to. I believe that this overproducing of RC versions is a big reason why.

Another problem that I'm having is card companies cannibalizing their own brands. I think that there are too many brands out in the same MSRP range from the same companies. For Upper Deck, they have SPx, SP Authenic, SP Game Used, SP Signature, Sweet Shot & Trilogy. Personally I don't have the money to be buying so many different brands. I'll probably focus on 2 (maybe 3 at the most).

My fav brands to buy for Basketball are SPx & Bowman. They have reasonable pack prices and if you pull an auto RC, chances are it will will have a relatively strong value in comparison to similar RC's from other brands.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Young Pitchers Update

Now that the season is winding down, we can see which of the young pitchers that shined earlier on are still the in game. Injuries & inconsistent/bad performance has weeded some of them out. The ones that are still on top are Justin Verlander (great performace on a strong team), Chien-Ming Wang (ditto), Josh Johnson (bright spot on poor performing team), Carlos Zambrano (ditto), C.C. Sabathia (ditto), Scott Kazmir (ditto) and Jered Weaver (still impressive, but not invincible anymore). All of these guys' auto RC's (ungraded) can be had for around $40 to $80, depending on the timing & version (I don't think Josh Johnson has any auto RCs). I still think that given each of their ages, MLB debut dates, etc...I would rank them (from a collecting point of view) as 1. Carlos Zambrano, 2. Scott Kazmir, 3. C.C. Sabathia, 4. Justin Verlander, 5. Josh Johnson, 6. Jered Weaver, 7. Chien-Ming Wang. Chad Billingsley has also been looking good for the Dodgers. Ricky Nolasco is still my pick for best bargain.
Red Sox Woes

It seemed like the BoSox were real contenders for the AL Wild Card (and earlier AL East lead), but things are looking pretty gloomy with all of their recent injuries. Their 3 top bats (Ramirez, Ortiz & Pena), their top ace (Schilling) & their red hot closer (Papelbon) are all out, and team falling quickly. Since they're 8 GB from the Yanks, their best bet for the postseason is the wildcard (although they're 6 GB there). It's tough to bet on the Twins & ChiSox stumbling though, with both teams looking strong. I guess this will be the year where 2 perrenial powers will miss the postseason (the other being the Braves - although the Braves are only 3.5 GB, but they need 6 teams to stumble in the next month).

Sunday, July 23, 2006

RC Deals

Some of the RC cards that I think are deals right now are 92 Bowman Manny Ramirez #532 and 92 Bowman Carlos Delgado. Both of these cards are the players' top RC's, and can be found for under $20. Ramirez is one of the top hitters of our time. He has 461 HR's, 2024 Hits & .314 BA. I think he'll retire with 600+ HR's & 3000+ Hits. Delgado has 393 HR's so far in his career. By the time he retires, I predict that he'll have around 540 HR's.
Recap: Liriano vs Kazmir

Ok, so I was wrong about the score, but Liriano & the Twins did beat Kazmir & the D-Rays. I predicted a score of Min 4-2. Actual runs scored against each pitcher came to Min 4-1. Pretty close! Liriano is appearing to be the most dominant of the young pitchers (or any pitchers) this season. Today he fanned 10 in 5 IP! More kicking myself for not picking up ANY of his RC's before!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Young Guns Dual

It's exciting to see two great pitchers going head to head. Today we get to see Kazmir & Liriano battle it out. Both 22 y.o. lefties have been having red hot seasons. My prediction: Minnesota wins it 4-2.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Young Pitchers on the Move - Update

In my last post, I mentioned some of the young pitchers that I thought had strong potential. A few of them have really pulled away from the pack and are doing tremendously well. Jered Weaver (6-0, 1.12 ERA) & Ervin Santana (11-3, 3.88 ERA) have been bright spots for the struggling Angels. The team is only 1 game above .500, but luckily only 1.5 GB in the seemingly weak AL West. The LAA are ranked 11th (out of 14) in the AL for runs scored, so their pitchers don't get the best run support, making these pitchers' performances even more amazing.

Of course 3 other pitchers are having break out seasons: Justin Verlander (11-4, 2.83 ERA), Francisco Liriano (10-2, 2.12 ERA) & Scott Kazmir (10-6, 3.27 ERA). Boy do I wish I picked up their rare auto rc's back when they were affordable!! I'm predicting the next pitchers to break out will be Ian Snell of the Pirates (8-6, 4.85 ERA) and Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins (6-6, 5.00 ERA). Both the Pirates & Marlins have young pitching staffs that could develop into MLB leading rotations in the future, with these two pitchers at the forefront.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Young Pitchers on the Move

There are so many bright pitching prospects right now, breaking into the majors. Those whose cards are already on the move are guys like Justin Verlander (Det), Jered Weaver (LAA), Cole Hamels (Phi), Francisco Liriano (Min) & Scott Kazmir (Tam). They're all in their early 20's and pitching very well for their respective teams. Only problem (for me at least) is that their RC cards are already becoming quite an investment ($75 to $100+ for their top Ref or Auto RCs).

Some of the pitchers in this age group that I think could become good investments are Ian Snell (Pit), Paul Maholm (Pit), Zach Duke (Pit), Ricky Nolasco (Fla), Mike O'Conner (Was), Elizardo Ramirez (Cin) & Ervin Santana (LAA). Like the list of players in the 1st paragraph, these guys are young and starting for their respective teams. They've all had highs & lows in their short careers. All of their key RC's (except maybe Duke) can be had for a fraction of those players listed previously. It'll be interesting to see which of them will be able to get it together and join the ranks of other star pitchers. We also can't forget about currently slumping Dontrelle Willis. Gotta remember he's only 24 y.o. and he's already got 497 K's in 679 IP. Only 1 year older than Verlander (54 K's in 89 IP) but alot further along in his career already.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

400-400 Man

The one active player that could very likely become a 400 HR - 400 SB career player is 30 y.o. Alfonso Soriano. The only other player EVER to do this is Barry Bonds (700+HR-500+SB). Although he may never join the 500 HR or 3000 Hit clubs, the 400-400 club is even more exclusive, with only one member so far! Guys like Vlad Guerrero & Andruw Jones who could've possibly done it have really seen a tapering off in their SB's in recent years. Soriano has 181 HR-182 SB so far. His Finest Gold Ref RC #'d to 100 books for $80. Sounds like a relative deal compared to his Bowman Chrome Intl Ref RC, also #'d to 100, booking for $150, his regular BC Ref RC (not numbered) booking for $100, and his UD Ultimate Victory Parallel RC #'d to 100 booking for $150.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Young Veteran Pitchers with Long Term Potential

A few of the pitchers that I think have long term investment potential are C.C. Sabathia (Cle - Age 25), Carlos Zambrano (Chi - Age 25), Jeremy Bonderman (Det - Age 23). These young pitchers started their MLB careers fairly early and are in the starting rotations for their respective teams. Sabathia, who's showing alot of dominance this season, is only 25 and already has 802 K's in 1020 IP (Maddux had 738 K's after his first 1174 IP). Zambrano is even better with 740 K's in his first 839 IP, and Bonderman has 479 K's in 605 IP.

The biggest problem with pitchers is questionable longevity due to injuries. Look at guys like Mark Prior & Kerry Wood. These guys could be the top pitchers in the majors, if they were consistently healthy. Glad to see Wood back in the rotation. I'm still rooting for Prior to join him soon!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Huge Upside Potential...

One young player that I think has a huge upside potential is the Dodgers' 3rd Baseman Willy Aybar. He's only 23, he tore up the minors and is showing that he can perform in the majors, and he only has TWO MLB RC cards (he also has an 01 UD minor league Auto that's hot too) , both from 2001 Bowman's Best: One #'d to 2999 RC & One Auto RC. To me, this combo of good play, young age & limited # of RC's is a winner. And to think that I almost sold my auto RC a couple of years ago, and would've only got about $5-10 for it!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Comparison: Ortiz vs Ramirez

I don't understand why David Ortiz's 97 Fleer & Ultra RC's are booking for $30, while Manny Ramirez's 92 Bowman RC is only at $25? Manny is 33 y.o. and has 446 HR, 1972 Hits & a .314 BA, while Ortiz is 30 y.o. with 191 HR, 926 Hits & a .282 BA. It's all because of one good year (last year) when Ortiz hit 47 HR, 148 RBI & .300 BA (and his postseason performance) (even though Manny hit 45 HR, 144 RBI & .292 BA that same year, in the same lineup). If you look at their ages & career accomplishments thus far, Manny's top RC is a bargain (and a keeper). Yes, I know that Manny has had some bad press about wanting to be traded, etc..., but he is a future 500 HR club member and pretty probably a future HOF'er.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Great Pitchers of our Time

It's just amazing when you think about the accomplishments of the 3 great pitchers of our time. Of course we're talking about Clemens (341 wins, 4502 K's, 3.12 ERA), Maddux (323 wins, 3089 K's, 3.02 ERA) & Johnson (268 wins, 4413 K's, 3.15 ERA). The Rocket's top cards are already high priced (84 Fleer Update - $300, 85 Topps Tiffany - $175; other RC's $30-40). But you can still pick Maddux & Johnson's top RC's for relative deals. Maddux's 87 Topps Tiffany is at $25 and 87 Fleer Update Glossy $8 (other RC's from $5 to 10). Johnson's top RC's are 89 Fleer Glossy $25, Topps & Topps Traded Tiffany $40 each (other RC's from $3-15). Understanding that there are some differences in rarity between these 3 guys' top cards, I would say that it still wouldn't hurt to snag a couple Maddux & Johnson top RC's while they're at this price level.

A couple other verteran pitchers that could be creeping into the top tier are Pedro Martinez (202 wins, 2931 K's, 2.72 ERA) and Mike Mussina (230 wins, 2459 K's, 3.62 ERA). Pedro's only real RC is 91 Upper Deck Final Ed. at $8. Mussina's top RCs are 91 Ultra Update $5 & 91 Leaf Gold Rookies $4. I don't know if these card's values will ever jump (because of the year), but I'm thinking about picking up a couple "raw" gem mints if I can find them for good prices.
There are some players' cards that I've been holding onto, waiting for them to achieve their perceived potential, and turn their key cards into hidden gems to sell. I'm not sure if their time has passed or not, but their cards are still sitting in my collection. They are players like Bronson Arroyo, Geoff Jenkins, Carlos Lee, Jose Guillen and others. Looks like Arroyo is having a very decent start this season with his new team, the Reds. He's 6-2 with a 2.29 ERA. His only RC card (95 Topps Traded) books for $8, but can be had on eBay for less. Hopefully now that Jenkins has better bats around him (in Fielder, Weeks, Lee, Hall & Koskie) and the Brewers are actually winning some games, his hobby status will go up. Carlos Lee has been playing solidly, with 15 HR & 39 RBI, and ONLY 18 SO! The other big hitters on this team have more than double that many! I have a ton of Jose Guillen cards so I've been always hoping he'd have a breakout season (and in the hobby). Still waiting… Anyway, we'll see what happens with all these guys the rest of this season.
My general philosophy for baseball card collecting is that there are 2 types of players: Long Term & Short Term. Long term players would be those who consistently put up solid stats from a young age, making it very possible that they will have HOFer career stats (i.e. 500+ HR, 3000+ Hits, 300+ Wins, etc…). Short term players would be those who either put up good to great stats for a few years, or don't start having strong numbers till mid career (or start their MLB career later), making it difficult for them to have HOFer career stats. Personally, I collect long term players, and buy & sell short term players. Of course, other factors to consider are personal contributions to their teams, reputation, team performance, etc. One of my all time favorite players to collect is Andruw Jones. I've been buying his cards since before he became the youngest player to hit 2 HR's in a World Series game back in '96 (breaking Mantle's record). If he stays healthy and plays to a normal retirement age, I think he can hit 500+ HRs & 3000+ hits. In my opinion, it wouldn't hurt to have a Jones 95 Bowman/Bowman's Best RC or two in your collection!