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Friday, August 31, 2007

Players to Buy Right Now

There are some players who's cards, for one reason or another, have dropped in price recently, well below their potential values. I believe that these players have very bright futures ahead of them, and that their card values will rise (or rise again) over time.
  • Prince Fielder - Fielder's cards were the hottest items in the hobby before the All-Star break. Then came Ryan Braun. Braun stole the spotlight in Milwaukee, and Fielder's cards started to fall (even though he still leads the AL with his 39 HR - 2nd in the majors). His 02 UD Prospect Premiers Auto XRC was averaging $206 in June (with a high sale of around $240). It then dropped to $185 in July, and now down to $148 in August. Today one sold for $131 TAC. I think that they're a good buy in the $120-130 range, especially knowing that they have the potential to sell for at least $100 more than that. His 05 SPx Auto RC #'d 185 was averaging in the $240-250 TAC range through June & July. This month, it's dropped to $172, with one selling last week for $131. At only 23 years old, he has his whole career ahead of him.
  • C.C. Sabathia - Through the end of June, Sabathia was 12-2 with 3.20 ERA. His sole rookie year Auto, his 99 Topps Traded Auto, was selling in the $50 range (still low in my opinion, given his skill & potential). His record has fallen off some, now at 15-7, but his ERA is still very respectable, at 3.37. I think that finicky buyers moved on after Sabathia had a few rocky starts, so demand for his cards have waned. The last sale that I saw for his TT Auto went for a meager $32.10. What a deal! There aren't that many listed on auction each month, but if you time it right, you can find one at a good price. A worthwhile investment in my opinion. At only 27 year of age, he already has over 1100 career K's, making him a potential candidate to reach that coveted 3000 K career mark.
  • Ryan Raburn - Although Raburn isn't hitting as well as he did in July (.387, 3 HR, 10 RBI in 31 AB), he's still doing quite well, with an overall batting average of .330. His 02 Bowman Chrome Auto RC averaged $24 in July, but has since been falling each week in August. The last sale that I saw, yesterday, went for $11.39. I don't know how much of a star Raburn will be in the future, but to pay around $10 for a BC Auto RC, it isn't much of a risk. If Raburn starts to play more frequently and can maintain his performance level at the plate, I think that his cards have a chance to go back up to their July levels.
  • Scott Kazmir - I know that I keep on saying the same thing, but Kazmir is, in my opinion, the best pitcher aged 23 or younger in the majors right now. He already has 572 career K's; over 1/6 of the way to 3000. A guy like Erik Bedard (age 28), who leads the majors in strike-outs, only has 639 for his career, and he's 5 years older than Kazmir! He's averaging 9.94 K's/9IP for the season (11.95 for the month of August), with a very decent 3.74 ERA. If he played for a better team, he'd probably have a much better record to go with his other stats (he's had 5 no decisions this year in which he allowed 1 or no earned runs). His 04 Bowman Sterling Auto/Jsy RC is averaging $15.71 in August, down from $15.88 in July & $19.80 in June. One even sold for $11.59 about a week ago. This is definitely a player to buy now. Barring any unforeseen difficulties, he's on his way to becoming baseball's next big ace.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

MLB Briefs
  • Roy Oswalt gave the Astros a much needed morale boost yesterday, pitching 7 shut-out innings, and allowing just 4 hits with 9 K's. Oswalt is 6-0 in his last 7 starts, with a 1.01 ERA & 7.86 K's/9IP. His 00 SPx RC #'d 1600 is currently selling in the $120's TAC range.
  • Rick Ankiel, the Cardinals' pitcher turned outfielder, has been holding his own since his call-up on 8/9. He had a super start, hitting .417 with 3 HR & 6 RBI in his first 3 games, but has since cooled off some. He's still batting .321, but only has 1 HR & 4 RBI in his last 11 games (which still isn't too bad!). His 99 Ultimate Victory RC has been averaging $13.25 TAC over the past couple of weeks. His 99 SP Top Prospects Auto was selling for around $30 TAC about a week after his debut, but I saw one sell this past week for $14.
  • Jered Weaver helped the Angels shut down their AL West rivals, the Mariners, 8-2. Weaver out dueled young Felix Hernandez, pitching 8 solid innings, and allowing just 1 ER with 5 K's. Weaver is having a decent '07 season, with a 10-6 record, a 3.79 ERA, 6.36 K's/9IP & 2.64 BB/9IP (not as good as last season when he went 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA and 7.68 K's/9IP & 2.41 BB/9IP). His 05 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto RC has been selling in the $40-45 TAC range. You can also find his BCD Ref Auto #'d 500 for almost the same price.
Great Pitching Match-Ups: Results

Well, what do you know, I was 1-5 with my predictions for the 6 pitching match-ups for Wednesday's games. The only pick that I got was Greinke over Miller, and Greinke didn't even get credit for the W. That's the way it goes sometimes. Glad I didn't decide to put a parlay 6 bet down!
For investment purposes, I stand by my picks. I still think that those pitchers are the better players to buy into at this time, based on the players' ages, career potential going forward, and rookie card selection.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Player Focus: Freddy Sanchez

Freddy Sanchez, last year's NL batting champ, had a slow start this season, but has really picked up his game in recent. Through the end of July, he was only hitting .290 and averaging 1.5 HR & 9.5 RBI per month. In August (through 8/28), he's hitting .386 with 5 HR & 28 RBI, with a .458 OBP. Kind of reminiscent of his hitting a year ago, but with more power.

Sanchez's rookie cards never really made a big impact in the hobby, and still aren't ringing up any record sales. I did a search on ebay for "freddy sanchez rc", and only two cards came up listed on auction (there were more listed at fixed prices in various ebay stores). Of the two listed, only one of them was really his RC card from '02 (the other was an '03 issue). I think that people are holding back his key cards, like his 02 Bowman's Best Auto & BB Bat and 02 Finest Auto, waiting for values to increase. At 29 years old (he'll be 30 in December), I'm not sure if that day will ever come. He unfortunately didn't have a break out season until he was 28, making him a lot older than these other up-and-coming star hitters like Ryan Braun (23), Alex Gordon (23) or even Ryan Raburn (26). I'm sure that there is a market out there for Sanchez cards, but I would say that the broader collector base would probably prefer to buy into younger players that would have a potentially longer career of great performances. Personally, I am a Sanchez supporter, and wish the best for him as a player, and for his cards as part of the hobby.
Great Pitching Match-Ups Tonight

There are several pitching match-ups tonight that should prove to be quite intersting. They are:
  • Jered Weaver (LAA) vs Felix Hernandez (SEA) - W-Hernandez
  • Josh Beckett (BOS) vs Roger Clemens (NYY) - W-Beckett
  • Aaron Harang (CIN) vs Ian Snell (PIT) - W-Snell
  • Johan Santana (MIN) vs C.C. Sabathia (CLE) - W-Santana
  • Andrew Miller (DET) vs Zack Greinke (KC) - W-Greinke
  • Ben Sheets (MIL) vs Carlos Zambrano (CHI) - W-Zambrano
Hernandez is due for an ace-outing. He'll probably go 7 innings, and allow 1 or 2 earned runs, with 8 K's, and Seattles' bats will go to town on Weaver. Beckett will out duel the Rocket, and help the BoSox increase their AL East lead. Ian Snell will stun the crowd by "over-achieving", for his 8-10 record, to out duel the 13-3 Harang. Johan Santana will be dominant as usual. Zack Greinke, although he's been coming out of the bullpen for most of the year, will prevail over Andrew Miller, who's still trying to find his groove after recently returning from the DL. Carlos Zambrano will welcome Ben Sheets back to active duty with a loss, by shutting down the Brewers' young offense.

I'm just writing what comes to mind, so I'll probably be wrong on all of my predictions. Let me know what your thoughts are on these match-ups.
MLB Briefs
  • Twins' pitcher, Matt Garza, got roughed up by the Mariners on 8/20, allowing 7 earned runs (4 HR) in just 2-1/3 IP. That outing alone jumped his ERA from 2.05 to 3.30! In his last outing, he somewhat redeemed himself, helping the Twins beat the O's 8-1, allowing just 1 earned in 5 IP. Garza's 05 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto RC has been a solid seller in the mid $30's range this month. I saw one of his 05 BCD Xfractor Auto's sell for $67.97 on 8/23.
  • The Astros' Hunter Pence returned from the DL on 8/21. He's been trying to regain his pre-injury form, but is batting just .226 with 0 HR & 1 RBI in 7 games since his return. After his injury, the number of Pence Auto RC's listed on auction dropped off to very scarce levels. Now that he's back, they've been slowly returning. His average TAC values for the month of August have been: 04 Donruss Elite EE Auto #'d 672 - $105.81, 04 SP Prospects Auto #'d 600 - $238.52, and 04 Fleer Hot Prospects Auto #'d 299 - $119.50. Even if Pence isn't able to get his game back by the end of the season, he has plenty of time to wow the fans in future seasons, being that he's only 24 years old.
  • As expected, the Padres' Jake Peavy has once found his groove, and has been dominating opposing hitters. He's 6-0 in his last 7 starts, with a 1.35 ERA & 11.76 K's/9IP. Also as expected, his 01 Bowman Chrome Ref RC has been getting a boost recently. It's now selling for around $45-50 TAC; up from the mid $30's range at the beginning of the month.
Absence from Posting
I was out of town on business the past few days so I couldn't put up any posts. Last night, in my hotel room, I did watch the Tigers pummel the Yankees for their worst ever away shut-out loss, 16-0. Justin Verlander was awesome. Mike Mussina & and the Yankees were horrible. It's just amazing that a team with so much talent, despite the bad pitching, could be shut out like that. With the offense that they have, they should hardly ever (if not never) lose like that.

Verlander's 05 Bowman Sterling Auto/Jsy RC has been falling in price a little each month, averaging $47.79 TAC in June, $44.53 in July, and now $36.44 in August (through 8/28). This past week it's been selling in the $30-35 range, making it a good time to buy. This guy is going to have a long HOF career, and his cards will see increases in the long term for sure. I personally think that his Sterling RC is one of his best quality base rookie cards, and is very undervalued (along with the entire 05 Sterling RC set).

His 05 Bowman Chrome Auto RC has remained pretty stable at around $80-90 TAC over the past couple of months.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Current MLB Rookie Deals
Here are some of the players' rookie cards that I feel are selling for pretty good deals right now.
  • 01 Bowman Chrome Jake Peavy Ref - This card is averaging around $38.50 for the month, with the most recent sales in the low $40's range. I think that if you can find one for below $40 TAC, it's a good price for Peavy's best base RC card. The lowest sale that I saw this month was on 8/5, for $33.82. The highest was on 8/22 for $43.68.

  • 02 Bowman Chrome Draft Cole Hamels - This card is averaging around $23 for the month, but has dropped down to the $17-19 TAC range since his injury. I feel that while he's on the DL, it will probably fall a little lower than it's current level, creating a good buying opportunity. If he can continue his success on the mound when he returns, this card could move back up to to the high $20's/low $30's range again.
  • 02 UD USA J.J. Hardy Auto #'d 375 - This is my favorite Hardy card. It reached into the $60's range a few months ago, but has since fallen to the $20-30 TAC range. I feel that Hardy is a very good investment, not only based on his individual performance, but also because he's a part of a very young & exciting Brewers team, which of course includes the likes of Ryan Braun & Prince Fielder. I'm waiting to snag one for around $20 TAC for my personal collection.

  • 04 Bowman Sterling Scott Kazmir Auto/Jsy - Since his 02 UD Prospect Premiers Auto XRC is still selling for around $80 TAC, I think that this card is a good cheaper alternative for Kazmir fans. It's averaging $15 this month, with a high of $23.24 on 8/13, and a low of $11.59 on 8/22. I'll probably try to pick one up if I can get it for between $10-12 TAC; a good price compared to it's average of around $20 in June, and $16 in July.
  • 02 UD Prospect Premiers Prince Fielder Auto - This card, which averaged around $206 in June and $185 in July, is now averaging $150 in August. It had a high of $205.50 on 8/12, and a low of $124.50 on 8/19. Although it's still probably too much for me to pay for a card, those of you out there that are willing to pay should be able to get a pretty good deal compared to previous months. I don't expect it do fall much more in price than the $120-130 range, since Fielder IS still the NL HR leader right now, with his closest competitor (Adam Dunn), 4 behind him.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Follow-Up: Micah Owings

Well, the D-Backs' Micah Owings did hit another HR tonight, but his pitching wasn't so hot. He allowed 3 ER off of 7 hits, with only 2 K's in 6 innings pitched. This loss dropped his record to 6-7 for the season. Right after I reported that his 05 Topps Chrome Update Auto Ref #'d 500 dropped in TAC price to around $10, one sold tonight for $22.02. I guess his cards are still quite new to getting hobby attention, so we can probably expect his card sales to have a wide range of TAC values until collectors' perceptions of him become more solidified. He is definitely a high risk investment. Personally, I would rather spend $20 on a 03 Bowman's Best Dan Haren Auto RC or 04 Bowman Sterling Scott Kazmir Auto/Jsy RC; both of which have been selling for around that range recently.
MLB Briefs
  • Micah Owings, the D-Backs rookie pitcher that hit 2 HR & 6 RBI in his last start against the Braves, saw his 05 Topps Chrome Update Auto & Auto Ref #'d 500 gain sudden hobby interest immediately after his impressive performance. They were selling for around $16 & $27 TAC, respectively. That same Auto Ref then dropped down to around $10. Since he IS a pitcher (and his pitching is just so-so), not a hitter, I wonder how the market for his cards will perform in the near term, since he gained the hobby's attention with his hitting. I'm guessing that unless he can maintain consistent performances on the mound, his cards will probably not elevate to star-level values. Owings has his next start tonight against the Cubs, so we'll see how things go.
  • Tampa Bay's Edwin Jackson has been on fire recently. He out dueled Dice-K on Wednesday to help his sorrowful D-Rays beat the AL-leading Red Sox 2-1, allowing just 1 run off of 5 hits in 6 innings pitched. Through his four August starts, he's 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA (only downside is his 5 BB/9IP). This is a huge improvement over his April-July performances, where he went 2-11 with a 6.56 ERA. There still aren't many of his key rookies listed for sale, so maybe people are holding them back to see if he continues his current success. Like I said before, there must be a reason why team management chose to keep him around, especially when they have a former collegiate star like Jeff Niemann, who's 11-5 & averaging 8.45 K's/9IP at Triple-A Durham, just waiting to get his call-up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Player Focus: Chris B. Young

23-year-old D-Backs outfielder Chris Young is batting .237 with 26 HR & 47 RBI through 8/22. As a lead-off hitter, I feel that his main purpose at the plate should be to get on base. With his subpar .289 OBP, low batting average & 97 strike-outs (most on the team), maybe its time to move Young to a different batting spot. Clean-up would be better suited for him, so that he could drive in more runs with his team-leading home run hitting. With fewer at-bats, I think that he would also be able to reduce his strike-outs & raise his BA. His base stealing ability would just be an added plus (he's stolen 21 bases on 23 attempts).

Young's 05 Bowman's Best Auto RC #'d 974 (his only base Auto RC that I've seen) has been a hot seller on auction (it's from one of those sets that Topps went overboard with parallels that are so closely #'d to each other). I saw one of his 05 Bowman Chrome Gold Ref #'d 50 sell for $66.00 TAC last week.

I think that Young has the potential to be a good investment, but is a little risky right now. Will the D-Backs stick it out with him in the lead-off spot, hoping that he'll improve his OBP to go along with his decent home-run hitting & base stealing, or will they move him to the middle of the line-up, where he can generate more RBI for their offense?
Player Focus: Wily Mo Pena

Big-hitter Wily Mo Pena was traded to the Nationals on 8/18; a move that should prove beneficial to both Pena & his new team. With the Red Sox this season, Pena was kind of always in limbo. He didn't have a regular spot in the line-up (with Ramirez, Crisp & Drew playing the outfield), so he never had the chance to get his offense going. Through 4-1/2 months, he only had 141 at-bats, and was hitting just .218 with 5 HR & 16 RBI. Such a waste of a long-ball talent.

Now, with the Nationals, Pena has been utilized as a regular outfielder, and is providing an additional home run threat in the middle of their line-up. In his first 5 games with them, he's hitting .300 with 2 HR & 5 RBI. He's still striking out a little too often (once every 4.38 at-bats), but less than before when he wasn't getting regular playtime in Boston (once every 2.56 at-bats).

Pena's best base rookie card is his 99 Bowman Chrome RC (his name is spelled "Willi" on this card). There aren't many of these listed on auction right now, but you can probably pick one up for around $5-7 TAC. I would rate Pena on the higher risk side as an investment.
In the News: Upper Deck Backs Out of Bid for Topps

Upper Deck announced this week that it has terminated its $425 million offer for Topps, clearing the way for the the $385 million bid by the investment group led by Michael Eisner, which shareholders will be voting on next week.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Player Focus: Dan Haren

Oakland's ace Dan Haren has an impressive 14-4 record, with a 2.66 ERA and is averaging 7.58 K's & 2.23 BB's per 9 IP. Unfortunately, he was on pace to have even better stats than that, but has fallen off some over the past two months. Through the end of June, he was 9-2 with a 1.91 ERA. Since then, he's gone 5-2 (generous considering his ERA) with a 4.09 ERA.

Haren's 03 Bowman's Best Auto RC has fallen also, in line with his performance. In June, it was averaging around $40 TAC. In July, it fell to the mid $30's range. Now, in August, it's averaging in the mid $20's. That's a 37.5% drop! With a drastic price change like that, I'm assuming that the price rose too quickly initially, and now the market is correcting itself. Another victim of the "finicky buyer" effect.
In the News: Cole Hamels Injured

Cole Hamels, the Phillies' 23-year-old ace, has a strained elbow and will miss his next start today against the Dodgers. He's scheduled to have an MRI, and could miss up to 3 weeks.

Hamels has been having a very solid season, with a 14-5 record, 3.50 ERA & is averaging 8.39 K's/9IP. Hopefully his injury is minor, and he'll be back for his next scheduled start after tomorrow.

Hamels' 02 Bowman Chrome Draft RC has been averaging in the mid $20's TAC range so far this month, with a high of $33.49 and a low of $18.50.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Player Focus: Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira, Atlanta's newly acquired first baseman from the Rangers, has rediscovered the long-ball here in the NL. In his last two games, he's gone 5-for-7, with 4 HR, 10 RBI & scored 6 runs. For the month (he joined the Braves on 8/1), he's hitting .266 (worse than his .297 with Texas) with 9 HR & 25 RBI. He's been hitting a HR every 7.55 at-bats; much more frequently than his HR per 22 at-bats with the Rangers.

His 01 SPx Auto RC #'d 1500 peaked out at a little over $100 TAC in early August, soon after he went deep in his first 3 games with the Braves. He then had only 2 HR in the next 14 games, and his SPx RC slid down to around $80 mid month, and to the $50's range this past weekend. Yesterday, after his home run flurry, one sold for $103.07. I saw one of his 01 Ultimate Collection Auto RC's #'d 250 sell for $207.50 TAC on Friday. This card will also benefit from his recent explosive power-hitting.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Player Focus: Micah Owings

Arizona D-Backs' rookie pitcher, Micah Owings, was pretty much an unknown until this past Saturday, when he helped his team take down the Braves by striking out 7 in 7 IP, and going 4-for-5 at the plate, with 2 HR, a 2B & 6 RBI.

Owings is definitely improving on the mound. In 4 August starts, he has a 3.16 ERA with 8.41 K's/9IP & 2.45 BB/9IP (5.13 ERA, 5.90 K's/9IP & 3.58 BB/9IP coming in to the month). We'll have to keep an eye on this 24-year-old to see if August truly is a turning point for him, or if its just a fluke. His batting is quite impressive for a pitcher, with him averaging a HR every 14.67 at-bats.

His 05 Topps Chrome Update Auto RC is selling for around $16-18 TAC. It's his only base Auto RC card, as far as I can tell from what's up on auction.
Player Update: Leo Nunez

During the time since my last post on 8/13 ("Player Focus: Leo Nunez), it seems like collectors have started to take an increased interest in Royals pitcher Leo Nunez's cards. One of his 04 Bowman Chrome Gold Ref #'d 50 sold over the weekend for $39.76 TAC; a huge rise from it's common status not too long ago.

Nunez was pulled from his last start on 8/16 vs. the Rangers when he tore a callus on his right thumb. He went 3 innings, allowing 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB & had 3 K's before leaving the game. Today it was announced that he is expected to make his next start, on 8/21 vs. the White Sox, after a successful bullpen session on Sunday.

Nunez, at only 24 years old, could have a big potential for value growth, since his cards started out so cheap. We'll have to wait & see how his next few starts go to get a better idea of what's to come.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Most Effective Pitchers Over the Last 3 Years, Below Age 30

I believe that looking at a pitcher's record is by no means an accurate way to determine their true effectiveness (because they could just be playing for a team with a great defense), so what I've done here is compared pitchers, below the age of 30, based on their ERA, K's/9IP and BB/9 IP over the last 3 years. The top 3 were:
  1. Johan Santana (MIN, Age 28) - Santana had a 2.87 ERA (1st) with 9.35 K's/9IP (2nd) & 1.86 BB/9IP (3rd). His top rookie cards, 00 Bowman's Best #'d 2999 & Finest #'d 3000, have been selling for an average TAC of $53.00 & $70.00 this month, respectively.
  2. Jake Peavy (SD, Age 26) - Peavy had a 3.11 ERA (3rd) with 9.57 K's/9IP (1st) & 2.49 BB/9IP. His 01 Bowman Chrome Ref RC has been averaging around $37.00 TAC this month, down from it's $42.25 average in July, and $48.60 in June.
  3. Roy Oswalt (HOU, Age 29) Oswalt had a 3.06 ERA (2nd) with 6.74 K's/9IP & 1.98 BB/9IP (4th). His 00 SPx RC #'d 1600 is selling for around $105.00 TAC in August, down from it's July average of $122.80.
ERA is probably the truest stat to measure a pitcher's effectiveness. BB's & K's represent support to the ERA, as they can help or hurt the opponents' offense, and are almost solely the result of the pitcher. I think that to be on this list, a player needs to have a good combination of all three, because a pitcher who doesn't strike-out many batters relies more heavily on his team's fielding to get outs (which is not the point of this analysis), and a pitcher who walks a lot of batters puts too many potential runs in place, and again relies more on his defense to stop them from scoring.

Two other pitchers that almost made the cut were C.C. Sabathia (3.58 ERA, 7.81 K's/9IP, 2.10 BB/9IP) and Brandon Webb (3.12 ERA, 7.09 K's/9IP, 2.30 BB/9IP).
Player Focus: Dustin McGowan

Just when Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan's cards started to gain value again, his pitching hits the skids. After a tough May (1-2 with a 5.90 ERA), he improved in June (3-2, 4.54 ERA) and did even better in July (2-1, 2.67 ERA). His 03 Bowman's Best Auto RC averaged just $13.33 TAC in July, and jumped to $22.29 through the first half of August, as a result of his strong pitching the previous month. Unfortunately, in his first 3 August starts, he's 1-2 with a 11.40 ERA, signaling that his RC cards could once again start to fall back into the $10-15 range.

In 9 of his 19 starts this season, he's allowed 2 or fewer earned runs; not bad for a first year full-time starter. The problem was that he also had 5 starts where he allowed 5 or more earned.

I would say that the 25-year-old McGowan's BB Auto RC is a decent buy at $10-15 TAC, and has the potential to rise to around $25-30, if he can gain some consistency. Given his pitching's current state, I would keep my eye out for some deals on his cards right now.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Market Update: Big $ RC Year Card Sales in August

There have been some pretty big $ sales this month for various players' high-end RC year cards. Here's a list of a few of them:
  • 94 SP A Rodriguez Holoview D/C - $1,644.00
  • 01 BC J Peavy Gold Ref #'d 50 - $246.50
  • 01 SPx Ichiro Auto/Jsy - $854.99
  • 03 DE EE R Howard TOTC Auto #'d 100 - $658.40
  • 04 BS S Kazmir Red Ref #'d 1/1 - $520.00
  • 04 BB F Hernandez Green Auto /50 - $243.50
  • 05 SPx P Fielder Platinum Auto #'d 10 - $416.50
The abbreviations used above are BC = Bowman Chrome, DE EE = Donruss Elite Extra Edition, BS = Bowman Sterling and BB = Bowman's Best.

It was the first time that I had ever seen a Red refractor from the 04 Bowman Sterling set, or a Green Auto from 04 Bowman's Best. An 04 Bowman Sterling Scott Kazmir Black Ref #'d 25 sold that same week for $150.96 TAC.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Card Pricing Update: ARod's SP RC; The Ryan Braun Phenomena

During the time between Alex Rodriguez's 499th & 500th career HR, his 94 SP RC sold for an average TAC price of around $101. For the week after he hit his 500th (during which he hit HR #501-503), his SP RC was averaging around $107; a very modest 6% rise. Now, the 2nd week after his 500th, that same RC has dropped down to $88 TAC. What happened? This month, he's hitting .383 with a .466 OBP, and is averaging a HR every 11.75 at-bats, in addition to leading the majors in HR & RBI and helping his team to a 10-4 record through 8/15. Is that not enough? I guess the bar is set quite high for ARod, so he really needs to provide that "wow-factor" in order to maintain his RC card values.

Ryan Braun's RC cards, on the other hand, don't seem to have a brake pedal. His 05 Bowman Sterling Auto's average TAC in June was $41.70. In July, it jumped to $74.00, and in August, $84.40. Expect to pay around $100 TAC for it now. His 05 Bowman Chrome Auto has been even crazier. It went from an average of $79.00 in June, to $153.00 in July, to $174.00 in August. I saw one sell yesterday for a record amount of $220.25 TAC. Don't even ask about his various Chrome refractor parallels. He BC Blue Ref Auto #'d 150 is averaging $571.00 per pop this month. Every week I think that his card prices are going to level out, but then they jump even higher. If you didn't buy into Braun a couple of months ago, then you missed to boat (I missed it also).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Team Focus: The Potent offense of the Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers, this year's "Cinderella team", have shown that they possess one of the most potent offenses in the majors, leading all teams in home runs, with 160. As a team, they're hitting a HR every 25.36 at-bats. How many teams have 5 players who, at this point in the season, combining for 115 HR? None. Of course the players I'm talking about are Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart & Geoff Jenkins. Together, they're hitting a HR every 16.03 at-bats.

The only other teams with 5 players hitting over 100 home runs are the Reds (109), Phillies (107), Yankees (101) and Marlins (101).

Fielder & Braun have already caught hobby fire, Jenkins had some time in the limelight several years ago but lacks any desirable RC's, and I consider Hart a risky investment. Hardy is probably the best deal for collectors/investors to buy into right now. I like his 02 UD USA Auto #'d 375, which averaged in the $60+ TAC range in June, but has fallen since to the $25-30 range now. Prime time to buy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Player Focus: Magglio Ordonez

Magglio Ordonez is having a career season at the plate, hitting a major league-leading .358. He's on track to have 200+ hits and 140+ RBI this season (both firsts for his career). So far, August could be his best month, with him batting .452 with 5 HR, 14 RBI & .511 OBP through 8/12.

As far as the hobby is concerned, Ordonez's cards haven't been in big demand for a while. Even now, with him hitting so well, his cards are selling at affordable price levels. His only rookie year Autos can be found in 98 Donruss Sig (Red /3200, Green /1000 & Blue /100). I saw one of his Green (Millenium Marks) Donruss Sig Autos sell today for $25.50 TAC.

If you're gonna invest in Ordonez, I would suggest sticking to his 3 Autos mentioned above, or his serial #'d cards from '98 (i.e. Bowman Chrome Golden Anniversary #'d 50, Bowman's Best Ref #'d 400 or Atomic Ref #'d 100, ...), since #'d RC's weren't as common back then and should appreciate more than those with unknown production numbers.
Player Focus: Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard may not be on track to hit 58 HR & 149 RBI like he did last year, but his production is definitely improving each month as the season moves forward. In April he hit 3 HR & 13 RBI, in May 6 HR & 17 RBI, in June 10 HR & 27 RBI and in July 10 HR & 29 RBI. So far his August numbers look pretty similar to June & July.

His 03 Bowman's Best Auto RC, which once garnered well over $500, has been averaging in the $370-390 range over the past couple of months. Now that Howard is back in the HR race (and leading the NL in RBI), collectors are again starting to push his coveted Auto RC up in value. So far in August, I've seen sales in the $410-460 TAC range. His 01 UD Prospect Premiers XRC hasn't seen much change in value recently. It's been averaging around $24 TAC for the past couple weeks, and has been in $20-27 TAC range for a few months now.

I expect prices to continue their ascent as long as he maintains his current HR/RBI pace. One area that he needs to improve in is strike-outs though. He embarrassingly leads the majors with 137, and goes down swinging (or looking) every 2.63 at-bats.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Player Focus: Hanley Ramirez

When you talk about lead off hitters, hobby heavyweights like Ichiro, Alfonso Soriano, Grady Sizemore & Jose Reyes automatically come to mind. But the one that might be having the best season of them all is the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez. This 23-year-old shortstop is batting a NL-leading .341, with 21 HR, 59 RBI & 37 SB through 8/12.

Ramirez, the ‘06 NL ROY, has only had one month so far this season with a below .300 batting average (.279 in May), and was on fire in July, hitting .424. He is a part of a talented group of 20-somethings on this Florida Marlins roster, which also includes Miguel Cabrera, Dan Uggla & Josh Willingham. Unfortunately for the Marlins, these guys’ hot hitting hasn’t been enough to overcome the team’s terrible rotation performance. Starting pitchers have a combined 5.13 ERA.

His best rookies are his 03 Bowman Chrome Auto & Bowman’s Best Auto. These two cards have been hot sellers for around $165-175 & $75-80 TAC, respectively.

I’ve read that the Marlins were thinking about the possibility of having Ramirez in the middle of the line-up, which could help to drive in more runs (as long as the hitters in front of him get on base). I think that he can be successful wherever he hits, but he would probably be the most valuable in the #1 or #2 spots, with Cabrera hitting #3 behind him. I think that the Marlins are one of the teams of the future, and Ramirez will definitely be one of the stars to lead them to success.

Player Focus: Leo Nunez

On Saturday, the Royals' 23-year-old Leo Nunez out-dueled Dustin McGowan to help his team to a a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays. This was only the third career start for Nunez, who was purely a reliever in previous years. On the season, he has pitched 4 games (3 as starter, 1 as reliever), going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. If you only look at his stats for his 3 starts, he's 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA.

Nunez has potential to get on the hobby map this season (he's been a common ever since his debut). Beating McGowan (a hobby up-and-comer) in his last start should garner him some attention. If he can continue his success, I expect to see more action on his cards. One potential stumbling block would be that he plays for the Royals, who haven't been to the post season since '85, and have only had one winning season in the last 10+ years.

Of his RC cards that I've seen, his 04 Bowman Chrome seems to be his best. Since his cards are so cheap, you can probably find a BC Gold Ref #'d 50 for less than $10 TAC. All of the Nunez RC's on auction have bids (a month ago they probably wouldn't have had any), showing that collectors/investors are already starting to speculate.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Follow-Up: Rick Ankiel's OF Debut

It was looking pretty bleak for Rick Ankiel, in his 1st game back with the Cards as an outfielder. Through the 6th inning, he was 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts. I just thought hey, it's his first game, it'll probably take a little while for him to get adjusted to major league pitching. But in the 7th, he went deep for a 3-run homer, off of reliever Doug Brocail. I'm very happy for Ankiel, and hope that he can keep his spot on the St. Louis roster.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

MLB Briefs
  • D-Rays ace Scott Kazmir (my #1 pitcher investment pick for age 23-25) has been on fire. In his last 3 starts, he's 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA, 11.37 K's/9IP and only1.89 BB/9IP! Tonight he shut down Jeremy Bonderman (my #3 pick for age 23-25) & the Tigers, helping his team to a 8-1 victory. Kazmir's key Auto RC's have been slowly inching up in price the past couple of months. I expect them to continue their upward trend, and possibly start increasing at a faster pace.
  • On Sunday, Dustin McGowan helped lead his Bluejays to a win over the Rangers, 4-1. McGowan pitched 8 strong innings, allowing just 1 run & 1 BB, with 6 K's. He has improved every month so far this season, with a 5.90 ERA in May, a 4.54 in June, a 2.78 in July, and now a 1.13 in his first August start. His 03 Bowman's Best Auto RC was selling in the $30's range in June, but has since fallen to the $9-12 TAC range in July. Now is a good time to pick this card up, before it starts to rise again.
  • When this season started, I had high hopes for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I thought that their rotation could be a cinderella-type rotation for the NL. Unfortunately, they've disappointed more than they're shined. One bright spot in this group though, has been Tom Gorzelanny, who leads this rotation with a 10-6 record, 3.50 ERA and a 11.78 IP/HRA (innings pitched/homerun allowed). Through the end of May, he was 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA, but thereafter, he started to struggle in June, and really stumbled in July. During that time, his 03 UD Propsect Premiers Auto fell in TAC price from the mid $20's range down to the $12-15 range. His last start, on 8/7, was a good one. In 7 innings against the NL West-leading D-Backs, he allowed 2 runs & 2 BB, and had 9 K's. Look for his key Auto RC's to start getting some hobby attention again soon.
Player Focus: Matt Garza

Matt Garza, the young 23 year old Twins pitcher, has probably had some of the worst luck among all starters this season. Since rejoining the team in early July, he's gone 1-3 in 6 starts & 1 relief appearance. Based on this record, you'd never think that he could have a 1.70 ERA, 8.45 K's/9IP and 2.47 BB/9IP. Talk about no run support! He's had 4 starts in which he has allowed 1 run or less. What's his record for those 4 great outings? 1-2!

I think that because Garza has such a terrible record, a lot of collectors have overlooked him. If I'm not mistaken, he only has two base Auto RC's: 05 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto & 05 Topps Chrome Update Auto. The Topps Chrome Auto has the signature on a sticker, so for those of you who don't like that set-up, go for the Bowman Chrome Auto, which has the sig directly on the card. Both cards can be still found at reasonable prices. There's a BCD Auto auction ending in 3 days and the bid is currently at $15 TAC. A TCU Auto auction is also ending in 3 days and is currently at $16.05 TAC.
Rick Ankiel Receives Call-Up as Outfielder

Several years ago, Rick Ankiel was considered one of the hottest young up-and-comers in the league, as a starting pitcher for St. Louis. His control problems, which exploded in the Cardinals' '00 NLDS vs. the Braves, continued into '01, and eventually caused him to be sent down to the lowly Rookie League. He did better there, and was called back up in '04 to make a few relief appearances, before heading back down to the minors. In '05 he made the surprising announcement that he was switching to the outfield. He's been quite successful in his new position, leading the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 32 HR this season, and ranked 2nd with 89 RBI.

Today the Cardinals announced that the 28-year old Ankiel would be a starting OF against the Padres. He was always considered a decent hitter as a pitcher, and has proved it as a minor league outfielder. Let's see if he can hang in the majors.

Back in the day, I was so thrilled to have pulled two great Ankiel rookie year cards; his 99 SP Top Prospects Chirography Auto and 99 Ultimate Victory Parallel. When he was sent down, these cards became commons. I've been holding on to them all these years with the hope that he would make a comeback. The Cardinals could really use the boost, with their subpar 52-59 record. I wish him luck in tonights game; he'll need it against the major league ERA leader Chris Young!

There seems to be some increased auction interest in his 2nd year 00 SPx Auto #'d 1500. There are two of them ending in 2 days that are currently at $16.50 TAC each.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

MLB Monthly Market Movements

Here are some of the players' cards that experienced TAC value changes from June to July. The first value is the June average TAC and the second is the July average TAC.
  • 94 SP Alex Rodriguez - $84.73 -> $105.02 (+24%)
  • 00 Bowman Draft Grady Sizemore Auto - $301.23 -> $270.94 (-10%)
  • 01 UD Propsect Premiers Ryan Howard - $20.46 -> $26.82 (+31%)
  • 02 Bowman Chrome Draft Cole Hamels - $27.27 -> $21.83 (-19.9%)
  • 03 Bowman's Best Felix Pie Auto - $71.79 -> $54.35 (-24.3%)
  • 03 Bowman's Best Dan Haren Auto - $40.00 -> $35.37 (-11.6%)
  • 04 Bowman Sterling Scott Kazmir Auto/Jsy - $19.80 -> $15.88 (-19.8%)
  • 04 SP Prospects Hunter Pence Auto #'d 600 - $258.21 -> $309.31 (+19.8%)
  • 04 Donruss Elite EE Yovani Gallardo Auto #'d 803 - $59.47 -> $54.58 (-8.2%)
No surprise with the price increases for ARod & Ryan Howard. Howard, as predicted, is back in the HR race, trailing Prince Fielder, the NL leader, by only 2 HR.

I was surprised at the decrease for Yovani Gallardo. I thought that his last few strong outings would've lifted his values up some. Gallardo's only 21 years old and has a lot of potential. As long as he continues to pitch well for the Brewers, you can expect his cards to increase in value. (Although tonight's game against the Rockies definitely won't be helping to give him a lift! He went 2-2/3 innings, allowing 11 ER off of 12 hits. Ouch!).

Unfortunately the increases last month for Hunter Pence's RC's have now reversed, since his injury on 7/22. You can now find his SP Prospects card in the low to mid $200's range. His Donruss Elite Auto #'d 672 can be bought for less than $100 TAC (July avg was $134.40). Hopefully he'll have a good rehab and return soon.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Player Focus: Corey Hart

The Brewers have been a pleasant surprise this season. Slugger Prince Fielder was hot in the hobby before the break, and Ryan Braun has been on fire since June. These two young stars have overshadowed the emergence of another possible up-and-comer, Corey Hart. Hart started the season batting 7th in the Brewers' line-up, and moved up to the lead-off spot full-time in June, replacing Rickie Weeks. Hart solidified his position there by hitting .336 with 9 HR, 21 RBI & 10 SB that month. He cooled considerably in July, batting .200 with 6 HR, 13 RBI & 0 SB, but seems to be rebounding so far in August (on 8/2 vs. the Mets, he went 3 for 5 with 2 HR & 3 RBI).

Hart's rookie cards from '02 are still affordable, and should have decent growth potential. He's a 6'6" lead-off hitter that can hit home runs, steal bases, and hit for average. Also, he's playing for a team that has some of the hottest young hitters in the league. His only rookies that I've seen come from the 02 Bowman Draft & Bowman Chrome Draft sets. If anyone else has seen any other MLB rookies of his, please let me know & I'll post them up in the comments section. Thanks!

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Day After #500: ARod's 94 SP RC

ARod hit his 500th career HR on 8/4. Sales of his 94 SP RC averaged around $103 TAC during the week leading up to this historical event. On 8/5, the day after #500, his SP RC averaged $124; a 20% increase. There weren't that many auctions ending yesterday, so maybe sellers were holding off listing because of ARod's 10-day HR drought between #499 & #500. I expect to see a lot of auctions ending around the 11th of this month (people listing 7-day auctions on 8/4). We might see a slight dip in TAC around that time due to over supply. I would still think that it would hold an average TAC value of around $115-125 for the duration of the season, unless he goes on a crazy HR spree or hits a total drought.
MLB Briefs
  • Cubs star Alfonso Soriano suffered a right quad strain yesterday while running from 1B to 3B against the Mets. He'll be out 2-4 weeks. Soriano's 99 Topps Traded Auto had already fallen from the $150's range at the beginning of July down to the $90's range at the end of the month. Now that he's on the DL, it'll probably drop a little more.
  • Brewers' rookie pitcher Yovani Gallardo tossed a gem on Friday to help his team to a 2-1 victory over the Phillies. He went 6-2/3 innings, allowing just 4 hits, 1 run & 1 BB, with 7 K's, to improve to 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA for the season. His 04 Donruss Elite EE Auto RC #'d 803 has been a consistent seller this past month, ranging from $43 to $72 TAC. You can probably find it in the $60-$70 range. His 04 SP Prospects Auto #'d 400 is his best RC, averaging a TAC of $180+ in July.
  • Phil Hughes, the Yankees' rookie pitcher, returned from the DL to start this past Saturday against the Royals. Hughes got roughed up for 7 hits & 6 ER in just 4-2/3 innings. He did have 5 K's though. This was Hughes' first start since 5/1 against the Rangers, when he tossed 6-1/3 no-hit innings with 3 BB & 6 K's. This subpar return hasn't seemed to affect his RC card sales much. His 04 Bowman Chrome Auto is selling for $180-$190 TAC, and his 04 SP Prospects Auto #'d 400 can be had for around $300 TAC.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

ARod Hits #500!

Alex Rodriguez finally hit his 500th career HR today, off of Kyle Davies, who was just acquired by the Royals from Atlanta earlier this week. After waiting 10 days since his 499th, he didn't waste any time today, going deep in the 1st inning for a 3-run homer. ARod is now the youngest player ever to reach 500 (32 year, 8 days), beating Jimmie Foxx's previous record by 330 days.

His 94 SP RC has averaged around $103 TAC for the past week. It'll be interesting to see if sales prices increase now. As we all know, the relationship between milestones & sales prices don't always correlate. I do expect to see a lot more of them up on auction in the immediate future. This increase in supply may cancel out some of the potential price gains that sellers are expecting to receive. We'll see what happens.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Player Focus: Mark Teixeira

The Braves' newest addition, Mark Teixeira, was hitting a HR every 22.00 AB & a RBI every 5.86 AB this season with the Rangers. In his 1st two games with the Braves, he hit 2 HR & 6 RBI in 11 AB. Maybe this change was what he needed to get back to like the slugger everyone expected him to be. Since peaking in '05 (43 HR & 144 RBI), we've seen his HR & RBI production fall the last 2 seasons. Now he's hitting in between the Jones' in Atlanta's very potent line-up. I expect his production to rise back up, driving more interest in his key RC cards.

From what I can tell, Teixeira only has two base Auto RC's: 01 SPx Auto #'d 1500 & 01 Ultimate Collection Auto #'d 250. I don't have any historical data on his cards, but there are a couple of his SPx RC's on auction right now, ending in 3 days, so we'll see if he's already started picking up hobby steam since his move to the Braves a couple days ago.
Player Update: Elijah Dukes

Things seem to be getting worse for the former D-Rays slugger, Elijah Dukes down to the minors & placed on the temporary inactive list back in June, because of off-the-field problems he was having. Dukes was sent with his wife, who had filed a restraining order against him. Now, Dukes is being accused of harassing his wife over the phone, which is a violation of his restraining order. If he's convicted of this misdemeanor, he could face up to 1 year in jail.

All of Dukes' RC cards have taken huge hits since he was bumped from the D-Rays roster. Both his 07 Bowman Auto & Bowman Blue Auto #'d 500 have dropped from around $12 TAC at the beginning of July, to the $6-$8 range in recent. Back in early June, these two cards were hot sellers for around $20-$30 TAC. Dukes is an extremely high risk investment. If you're willing to take plunge, now is a good time to start scouting out deals on his cards. Be patient though, because his cards are still selling at a wide range of prices (i.e. this month, his Bowman Auto has sold at a high of $14.11, and a low of $5.75 TAC - just one week apart).
Padres or Peavy Fan?

A couple people wrote in asking if I was a Padres fan or just a Peavy fan. I'm more of a Peavy fan. Since I'm from SoCal, I would probably cheer for the Padres against most other teams outside of the area, but the Dodgers are my fav team. I just think that Peavy is an excellent pitcher, and enjoy watching him play.

Also, thanks to baseballfan4ever for the additional Peavy RC card insight!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Peavy's Back!

Slumping Padres ace Jake Peavy, who went 1-3 with a 3.81 ERA in July, started August off in terrific form. He helped his team beat the NL West leading D-Backs 11-0 tonight, pitching 7 innings & allowing just 3 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB with 10 K's!

I've been writing about how his 01 Bowman Chrome Ref RC has been falling in recent, due to his subpar pitching, dropping from the $60 range a little over a month ago, down to it's recent $30-$40 range. If you didn't pick one of these up in the past couple of weeks, you better get one soon. Over the last month, his 01 Topps Fusion Auto (only RC year auto) dropped down to around $120-$130; a far cry from it's high of around $200 a few months ago (or even its $160-$170 price tag just over a month ago).

If this is really a sign that he's breaking out of his slump, his cards should rebound quite nicely (especially since even after his slump, he still had a 2.41 ERA, which is 2nd best in the majors). I think that Peavy is a great investment, both short & long term. He's also a terrific buy for any collection.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Response to Question: 2001 UD Johan Santana "Star Rookie"

Thanks for the question. This card only books for $5 because, although it says "Star Rookie" on it, 2001 wasn't actually his RC card year (it's 2000). If the card was from the 2000 UD set, it probably would book for $15. I would understand it saying "Star Rookie" if 2001 was his debut season in the majors, but he actually debuted in 2000. Maybe because it's Upper Deck's first card of Santana. Anyway, that's the reason for it's current book value. $5 actually isn't that bad for a 2nd year card of a player that Beckett considers a "Semistar", although we all know Santana is one of the best pitchers in the league.

Thanks for reading!
MLB Briefs
  • Alex Rodriguez is 0 for 17 since he hit his 499th career HR, but his 94 SP RC seems to be holding onto a strong average TAC price since then (7/25), at around $102.80. I've seen sales as high as $140+, but you can still find them in the $90's range if you look carefully.
  • Indians' ace C.C. Sabathia was 12-2 with a 3.20 ERA through the end of June, but has had a rocky July, going 1-4 with a 5.12 ERA for the month. His 99 Topps Traded Auto has felt the effects of his current slump, dropping in TAC price from the $60's range to the $40's range in the last few weeks. Now is a good time to buy.
  • Johan Santana, one of the best strike-out pitchers of the last several years, is having a challenging '07 season, but his 00 Bowman's Best RC #'d 2999 has been holding steady at around $57 TAC. I think that most collectors know Santana is a future 3000 K's (if not 4000 K's) pitcher who will eventually break out of this slump. Right now I would rate his RC's a "Hold".
  • Cleveland slugger Travis Hafner started the season strong in April, but has struggled ever since. We're finally starting to see his slumping play affect his card values. His 01 SPx Auto RC was selling for around $70 TAC up through a week ago, but has since fallen, and can be found for around the $40's range.
  • Prince Fielder, who was the hottest hitter in the NL not too long ago, has since been overshadowed by teammate Ryan Braun. His 02 UD Prospect Premiers Auto XRC has fallen in average TAC price every week this month; from $228.50, to $198.31, to $178.63, to $167.92, and this week to $160.18. Fielder still leads the NL in HR (30) and is 2nd in the majors (to ARod). His cards are becoming good buys again, so keep your eye out for deals!