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Friday, March 23, 2007

Emerging Star: LaMarcus Aldridge

21 y.o. LaMarcus Aldridge has really kicked up his game recently, taking advantage of the increased minutes he's been seeing. From the beginning of the season through Feb, he played in 48 games, averaging 7.2 ppg & 4.0 rpg in 19.5 mpg. In the Blazers' 10 games in March (through 3/22), he's been on fire averaging 15.3 ppg & 8.2 rpg in 30.8 mpg, more than doubling his output in points & rebounds, while only playing 10 minutes more per game.

His SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 299 has been a hot seller on ebay, averaging $80.63 (incl s&h) so far this month. During the 1st week of March, after he scored 30 pts in 26 min on 3/1, his SPx RC sold for an average of $85.07. After the hype dropped off some, the average for the following week was at $74.71. This same trend was true for his SPx Auto/Jsy Spectrum RC #'d 25. One sold the 1st week of March for $216.50. Another one sold the following week for $138.04.

Keep an eye this guy, as he continues to improve. He could really excel within this current trend of "smaller" big men, like Dwight Howard & Amare Stoudemire, who would've normally been PF, but are now being utilized as centers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Japanese Position Players

Hideo Nomo started the craze for players from Japan when he dazzled opposing batter for the Dodgers back in '05, winning NL ROY honors. Thereafter, more pitchers made their way to the MLB from Japan, but didn't have the same success that Nomo did. People thought that Japanese players could only compete in the majors as pitchers... because they hadn't seen the likes of Ichiro yet. Ichiro made an even bigger splash in '01 than Nomo did 6 years earlier. He showed the world that he could compete both as a position playing fielder & hitter. Over his 6 year MLB career so far, he has posted a .331 BA and has averaged 229 hits & 40 SB per 162 game season. Not to mention breaking the single season hits record (262 hits in '04) and winning the AL ROY & MVP in '01. UD had the lock on his only 2 base Auto RCs: SPx Auto/Jsy ($800) and Ultimate Coll Auto #'d 250 ($1500); both extremely rare and coveted finds.

Four other promising position players from Japan have since joined Ichiro here in the states; So Taguchi (STL, OF), Hideki Matsui (NYY, OF), Tadahito Iguchi (ChiWS, 2B) & Kenji Johjima (Sea, C).

Taguchi has played a less active role than the other 3 players, but has been a key contributor for the Cards in their quest for the WS. He's shown decent longevity compared to his '02 RC classmate Kaz Ishii, and continues to make the St. Louis roster. His best base RCs from '02 are his Bowman Chrome Auto ($50) and SPx Auto ($25)*Best Buy.

Matsui, who is by far the most popular hitter in Japan, has found his place in the middle of the Yankees' lineup, providing a threat at the plate beyond their ARod, Jeter, Giambi & Damon arsenal. Over his 4 year MLB career so far, he's averaged .291 BA, 23 HR & 108 RBI per 162 game season. His best base RCs from '03 are his SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 864 ($400), Ultimate Coll Auto #'d 250 ($350) and SP Authentic Auto #'d 500 ($300). *All Very Expensive! Like with Ichiro, UD had a lock on all of his Auto RCs also.

Iguchi has provided stable support for the White Sox in his 2 years in Chicago, helping them win the WS in his RC year in '05 (the first Japan-born player to win a WS). He's averaged a decent .280 BA, 20 HR & 15 SB per 162 game season so far. His best base RCs from '05 are SP Authentic Auto #'d 185 ($80), Ultimate Coll Auto #'d 99 ($120), UD Update Auto #'d 75 ($80) and Ultimate Signature Auto #'d 125 ($60)*Best Buy. Again, another UD exclusive for Auto RCs.

Johjima, the first catcher from Japan, has only played one season so far and has done quite well. Playing along side Ichiro, he averaged .291 BA & hit 18 HR his RC year. His key base RCs from '06 are Bowman Auto ($100) Bowman Chrome Auto ($120) and Topps Co-Signers Auto #'d 200 ($100). Topps finally got an exclusive on one of these Japanese players (strange since he plays in Seattle with UD man Ichiro).

One other Japanese player is Kaz Matsui (Col, 2B). He's had a shakier career compared to the others thus far, playing for the Mets, then moving to the Rockies during last season. Due to injury, he's only played over 100 games in one of his three seasons in the majors ('04). He has a MLB career batting avg of .266, but finished last season hitting .345 in his 32 games with the Rockies.

Ichiro & Hideki Matsui Auto RC's are extremely expensive, but Taguchi & Iguchi can be found at very reasonable % of BV levels. Kaz Matsui's RC's are are the lowest priced, but also have the highest risk (of not increasing in value).
Disappointing April Basketball Beckett

I was very disappointed when I received my April Basketball Beckett in the mail this week. It reflected so little from the actual market movement. Beckett says that they track real auction sales in their BV pricing, but I feel like they miss the boat on a lot of the action. Michael Redd's RC year Auto's remained flat, even though in reality his E-X Rookie Memorabilia Auto has been selling for well over book price (BV $25) for the past 3 months ($33.11 incl s&h for Mar, thru 3/20). His Fleer Autographics, which has booked for $12 forever has been selling at an average price of $12.85 in Mar so far, still hasn't moved either.

Gilbert Arenas' SP Authentic Auto RC is shown to be increasing in value, but actual sales show that it's dropped (Feb Avg - $112.88, Mar Avg so far - $106.00). So why did it jump to $130 in the April Beckett? The only 2 sales that I've seen in '07 that went for that much were on 1/15 for $139.89 (the same day he scored 51 pts & hit a buzzer beater 3 to win the game) and on 2/25 for $133.73. His average sales price from Jan thru today have been $114.06.

Paul Millsap's Fleer Autographics Auto debuted in the April Beckett at $15. How do you explain that when actual sales have averaged $38.91 so far this month?

This Beckett also reports that Dwight Howard's RC's have been red hot, when in actuality his SPx Auto/Jsy RC, which is one of his best, has dropped in average sales price from $143.17 in Feb to $124.44 in Mar thus far (13.1% drop).

If Beckett is going to spend the money to put out issues each month, I wish they would take the time to thoroughly research market data and reflect what buyers & sellers can expect cards to really go for. Collectors & investors are better off tracking actual sales on their own to gauge market timing for buying/selling.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More Baseball RC Year Confusion: Willy Aybar

One of the hottest young players early last season was Willy Aybar. He started off hot playing for the Dodgers, batting in the mid .300's, then dropped down to the mid .200's before being traded to the Braves. His two 2001 RC's were selling for way over BV, with his Auto RC selling for close to $100. He ONLY has TWO RC cards: 2001 Bowman's Best #'d 2999 & 2001 Bowman's Best Auto (pictured). Aybar was one of a handful of RC exclusives that Bowman's Best featured that year.

When I did a search today on ebay, cards from 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007 came up, all listed as his "RC" cards. I don't mean to keep harping about this subject, but it's just really irritating! I hope that collectors aren't buying these cards thinking that they're his RC's.

Anyway, Aybar is still a hot up-and-comer and now is a good time to pick up his RC cards (if you can find them). You can probably buy the non-Auto RC for around $10 (incl s&h) and the Auto RC for $10-15. There are two of his Auto RC's currently on ebay with set prices of $28.70 & $32.00 (incl s&h). I'm holding on to my pair to see what he does this season.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Barbosa: The Next Star From the 03-04 Draft

The 03-04 draft class will go down as one of the best (if not THE best) in history, with Lebron, Melo, Wade, Bosh and Howard leading the way. The next emerging star from that class is clearly Leandro Barbosa. This 24 y.o. is listed as a PG, but scores like a SG. He's averaging 17.5 ppg so far this season (23.4 ppg so far in Mar), and has led the Suns to victory numerous times. Did you see him last night against the playoff-bound Rockets? He posted 32 points (12-18 FG, 5-6 3PT, 3-3 FT), 8 rebounds & 3 assists!

He has 7 base Auto RC's, of which only 2 have his full signature (not sure about Hoops Hot Prospects); Bowman Signature Auto/Jsy #'d 1250 and SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1999. (*Please see my posting on 2/5/07 titled "Player Focus: Leandro Barbosa" to see all 3 of his sig variations).

His SPx RC has been steadily rising in sales price, going for an average of (all prices incl s&h) $17.65 in Jan, $23.80 in Feb & $27.63 in Mar (thru 3/14). It's BV went from common status to $25 since the beginning of the season. You can still find them for below BV once in a while, so get them now before they really start to jump in price. One just sold on 3/14 for $38!

Unlike his other Auto RC's, his BS's BV hasn't moved lately. At $20 it's a very good buy for a combo Auto/Jsy with relatively low numbering. It's average selling price on auction for the past month has been $14.43 (incl s&h), making it my choice for best value. From the ones that I've seen, his silver parallel #'d 249 doesn't have his full signature; it has his "LB#10" sig. The gold version #'d 99 also has an abbreviate signature.

This guy can shoot the 3, drive to the basket and is quicker than most defenders. Having him will help the Suns continue their division dominance in years to come.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Baseball's Back; I'm so Confused!

As we get into the second half of the basketball season, Spring Training is upon us again. Collectors are monitoring the play of prospects & young stars, buying up their early picks for who will have a break out season, continued success or break some records. The very unfortunate thing though is how RC's are defined in baseball now. It can be so confusing when you search for someone's RC cards. If their 1st RC cards came out in 2002, those of course will come up. Then their "(RC)" cards from 2006 will come up, when they made their MLB debut. And on top of that you have all of those sellers out to fool buyers by listing other year cards that they claim are RC's. For example, I did a search for "Francisco Liriano RC" recently, and cards from 2002, 2005 & 2006 came up. I think that it's such BS that this new rule came into play, and think it's even more BS that some sellers are trying to pass off non-RC or non-(RC) cards as players' real RC card. Basketball fortunately is a lot more clear cut. They don't have cards issued for college or development league players.

This new rule for baseball RC's has really turned me off to the 2006 & newer products. It'll probably take a little while before I actually start thinking about buying some of the newer products. What they should've done was only apply it to players who haven't had any RC cards in previous years, and get rid of the "(RC)" RC's. The card companies tried to make them more appealing by putting Autos on them & numbering them, but to me they just aren't those players' RC cards. Who knows, maybe I'm alone on this one, and other collectors just love those "(RC)" cards. Anyway, that's just my opinion.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Why aren't Michael Redd's RC BV's on the move?

Michael Redd, as I've written in earlier postings, has become one of the best scorers in the NBA. Since his RC year in 00-01, he has increased his scoring average every season. His only 2 RC year Autos have been hot sellers over the past few months. The E-X Rookie Memorabilia Auto #'d 1-500/1500 had an average selling price (incl s&h) of:
  • $32.77 (Jan), $29.23 (Feb) and $32.02 (so far in Mar)
It has sold for over the $25 BV consistently, but still the BV remains the same. His Fleer Autographics Auto had an average selling price (incl s&h) of:
  • $11.03 (Jan), $11.21 (Feb) and $12.85 (so far in Mar)
This auto has been increasing every month and is now selling for over the $12 BV.

Hopefully Redd gets his hobby due and Beckett raises his values accordingly in the April issue. They raised some other players' values even though their cards weren't selling for over the BV at that time (i.e. all of Carlos Boozer's Auto RC's).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

New Big Man in Boston

Al Jefferson has been outstanding for the sinking Celtics, posting double-doubles on a regular basis. He's been the one consistent bright spot for this team, especially during their extended losing streak while Paul Pierce was out. If you notice though, you don't see very many of his key RCs for sale on auction. My guess is that collectors/investors are sitting on them, waiting for them to move to even greater heights, which they probably will as long as Jefferson continues his strong play. He's averaging 14.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg & 1.5 bpg in 33 mpg for the season, and has posted double-doubles in 32 of the 52 games that he's played in thus far (he's only started 43 of those 52 games). In his last 10 games, he's averaged 19.9 ppg, 13.4 rpg & 1.6 bpg in 36.2 mpg as a starter.

If you can find them, I would try to pick up his Bowman Sig Auto/Jsy, Hoops Hot Prospects Auto/Jsy & SPx Auto/Jsy base RCs, and his Topps Photo Shoot Auto & SP Game Used Rookie Exclusives Auto inserts. His SPx RC has been selling in the $40-45 (incl s&h) range recently. If you can find it for lower than that it would be a good buy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Player Focus: David West & Desmond Mason

The NO/Okla Hornets have had a roller coaster ride of a season thus far. They've beaten teams like the Jazz, Lakers (twice), Wizards, Cavs, Pistons, Heat & Nuggets, but have also lost to teams that they should have beaten. They've had their share of injuries (Paul, West & Stojakovic have all been out for extended periods of time) too. At the end of the day, they may or may not make the playoffs this year, but I still think that they have the potential to be a 7th or 8th seed in the next couple of years.

Two key players in their starting lineup that seem to be often overlooked in the hobby are PF David West and GF Desmond Mason.

West, a two-year starter, has played all four of his NBA seasons with the Hornets. In 05-06, he averaged 17.1 ppg & 7.4 rpg. So far this season, he's averaging 17.0 ppg & 8.5 rpg. Most of his RCs are listed as commons right now, but look for that to change as he is back from injury, continues his strong play, and helps the Hornets make a run for the playoffs. Four RC cards from 03-04 that I like are his Ultimate Coll Auto #'d 250, SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1999, SP Authentic Auto #'d 1250 and Bowman Sig Auto/Jsy #'d 1245.

Mason, in his 2nd year with the Hornets, has been quite the consistent player over his 7-year career, as both a reserve & starter. His career averages are 12.8 ppg & 4.6 rpg. This season he's averaging 14.3 ppg & 5.0 rpg. He's the only Hornet that has played & started in all 60 of their games this season, providing support through the other players' injuries. His key RC from 00-01 is SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 2500. These can be found at a steal! A lot of them that I've seen go unsold on auction, with starting bids in the $0.99 to $5.00 range. I would try to pick this one up for $3-5 (incl s&h) as an investment. Even if he never does catch hobby fire, it's small enough of a risk at that price level.

Both of these players can be counted on to contribute double digit scoring day in & day out (West has scored in double digits 84% of the games this season; Mason 80%), something a lot of teams' starting lineups are lacking.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Breaking News: The Topps Company

It was just announced today that The Topps Company has agreed to be acquired by Michael Eisner's The Tornante Company (who invests in media & entertainment companies) and Madison Dearborn Partners (a Chicago-based Private Equity company) for $385.4 million. The transaction is still subject to approval from Topps' stockholders, regulatory approval and other conditions, but is expected to be completed in the 3rd quarter of this year.

I don't know about Topps' other business segments, but considering their baseball & basketball releases over the past several years, this isn't very surprising. Other than their Bowman brand, I feel like their products have really stumbled. Hopefully under their new ownership they'll be able to infuse a little more innovation into their product lines, and eliminate those that are underperforming or cannibalizing their other brands. Another area that they should work on is signing better exclusives with players. For basketball, Upper Deck definitely has the better stable of top players (i.e. Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Dwight Howard,...).

Good luck Topps! You've definitely got your work cut out for you.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Player to Watch: Tyson Chandler

Tyson Chandler was a hot commodity coming out of high school, and was taken 2nd in the 2001 draft. After 5 development years in Chicago, Chandler seems to have found a good fit in NO/Okla. Chandler had said that he wanted to become the top rebounder in the league, and that his scoring would hopefully develop later. I think that later may be coming sooner than everyone thought.

While his season-to-date averages are 8.6 ppg & 12.4 rpg, his Feb avgs were 13.2 ppg & 16.1 rpg, and he doesn't seem to be slowing down. In his first 2 games in Mar, he's avg 15 ppg & 16 rpg. He's finally becoming the double-double big man that everyone thought he would be. At only 24 years old, and with 6 years of experience under his belt, Chandler should have a bright future.

There aren't many Chandler auto RC's listed for sale on auction. He only has 4 base auto RC's from 01-02: SP Authentic Auto #'d 1525 ($40), SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 (250 x 3 versions) ($50), Ultimate Collection Auto #'d 250 ($?) and UD Inspirations Auto w/ M Fizer #'d 1149 ($30). All of them can probably be found for much less than the listed BV's.
Player to Watch: Paul Millsap

One young player to watch is Paul Millsap, the RC forward on the Utah Jazz. When Carlos Boozer got injured back on 1/27 against NO/Okla, Millsap came in and posted 15 pts & 17 rebounds in 35 min off the bench. For those 10 games that Boozer was out of the starting lineup (incl the game that Boozer returned but only played 12 min), Millsap averaged 12.8 ppg & 8.9 rpg in 28.2 mpg (for the season his averages are 7.1 ppg & 5.0 rpg in 17.7 mpg). He was one of the reasons the Jazz were able to go 7-3 during those 10 games without their leading scorer/rebounder. This guy just turned 22 last month, and has a lot of upside potential. Since he's a RC and not all of this year's sets have been released yet, It's hard to tell which of his cards are going to be the hottest. I haven't seen any Auto base RCs so far (his SPx isn't auto'd), and only one Auto insert - Fleer Autographics (sold on 3/4 for $35.60, incl s&h).

Friday, March 02, 2007

Market Watch

Below are actual average selling prices for designated time periods (including S&H charges).

Andrew Bynum - 05-06 RC
  • SP Authentic Auto #'d 1299 - $37.22 (Dec-06), $38.35 (Jan-07), $38.48 (Feb-07)
  • SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1499 - $39.47 (Dec-06), $42.34 (Jan-07), $42.25 (Feb-07)
  • SPx Spectrum Auto/Jsy #'d 25 - $293.00 (162.8% of $180 BV!) sold on 2/8/07
Deron Williams - 05-06 RC
  • SP Authentic Auto #'d 1299 - $25.14 (Dec-06), $26.79 (Jan-07), $35.45 (Feb-07)
  • SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 - $47.18 (Dec-06), $40.45 (Jan-07), $50.58 (Feb-07)
  • SP Authentic Auto/Patch #'d 1-100/1299 - $132.71 (between 11/28/06 to 2/2/07)
Dwight Howard - 04-05 RC
  • SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 - $128.44 (Dec-06), $143.17 (Feb-07)
Carmelo Anthony - 03-04 RC
  • SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 - $168.04 (Jan-07), $151.54 (Feb-07)
Gilbert Arenas - 01-02 RC
  • Ultimate Coll #'d 750 - $37.82 (Dec-06), $39.00 (Jan-07), $27.70 (Feb-07)
  • SP Authentic Auto #'d 1525 - $115.45 (Jan-07), $112.88 (Feb-07)
  • UD Inspirations Auto #'d 1149 - $33.02 (Jan-07), $33.24 (Feb-07)
  • SPx #'d 1999 - $27.73 (Jan-07), $24.72 (Feb-07)
Steve Nash - 96-97 RC
  • Topps Chrome - $27.92 (Jan-07), $28.94 (Feb-07)
  • Topps Chrome Ref - $270.87 (Feb-07)
Kobe Bryant - 96-97 RC
  • Topps Chrome - $154.15 (Feb-07)
  • E-X2000 - $30.77 (Feb-07)
While most of Gilbert Arenas' key RCs dropped in avg selling price in Feb and Andrew Bynum's stayed flat, Deron Williams' really caught fire. His SPA Auto RC jumped $8.66 (32%) and his SPx Auto/Jsy RC $10.13 (25%). Collector's finally got to see Williams in all his glory when Carlos Boozer went down with injury. If you watch the market closely, you can still pick up an occasional deal on Williams RCs. There were 3 separate sales of his SPA Auto RC for mid $20's range during the month of Feb ($10 below the avg).

Some other interesting RC year sales:

02-03 Finest Amare Stoudemire Gold Ref Auto #'d 25 - $571.16 (Feb-07)
96-97 Skybox Prem Autographics Steve Nash Blue Ink - $461.50 (Jan-07)
02-03 SPx Caron Butler Spectrum Auto/Jsy #'d 25 - $109 (Feb-07)