size="31" type="text"/>

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Post-Season King of the Mound: Josh Beckett

Josh Beckett was nearly flawless through his four '07 post-season starts, pitching 30 innings and allowing only 4 ER & 2 BB with 35 K's and a 1.20 ERA. In this World Series, he actually pitched better (in ERA, K's/9IP & BB/9IP) than he did in '03, when he won the WS MVP with the Marlins. Despite his modest regular-season ERA of 3.27 (6th in AL) and 194 K's (7th in AL), he should still be a close-to-consensus AL Cy Young award winner.

His 99 Ultimate Victory RC, which could regularly be found for less than $10 early in the season, started rising in value as the year progressed, averaging around $19 TAC in July, $24 in August, and then back down to $19 in September (despite going 4-1 for the month). Then came October. It averaged $30 for the month, with one sale going for $43.50 TAC after Boston won the World Series. His 00 SPx Auto #'d 1500 has also been a hot item. This card, which by the way is not his RC card, could be bought for around $40 at the end of the regular season. It averaged $68 in October, and I saw one sell for $162.50 on 10/28! I'm thinking that one was probably a glitch (either multiple bidders got carried away, or an inexperienced buyer didn't know the market), but still!

Now is not the time to buy Beckett's cards. They're probably either at or close to their peak, so if you didn't already buy, you missed the boat. You might want to look into picking up another Red Sox pitcher, who missed the post-season due to injury; Clay Buchholz. His 05 Bowman Chrome RC has dropped a lot since hitting a high of around $25-30 after his no-no. You could pick one up this month for $10-15 TAC.

*Interesting Boston Fact: When Babe Ruth was pitching for the Red Sox, he had a World Series record of 2-0, with a 0.87 ERA.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

MLB Season '07 - Market Movers Part 3

  • 02 UD Propsect Premiers Prince Fielder Auto XRC - Fielder had a nearly-MVP-type season, hitting 50 HR (1st in NL) & 119 RBI (T3rd in NL); only his .288 batting avg kept it from being a complete MVP season. His "original" hot-card, the 02 UD PP Auto XRC, was topping the $200 TAC mark at the beginning of summer, but fell to $185 in July, $148 in August, and $147 in September (despite his end-of-the-season rally, hitting .333 with 11 HR & 22 RBI that month). Even though Fielder kept up his homerun hitting, he lost a lot of hobby attention to his teammate Ryan Braun. I've only seen one of these cards sell in October, and it went for an all-season low of $108.54, on 10/21. The 23-year-old slugger should have many great seasons ahead of him, and this card will remain a classic collectors item for fans & investors alike.

  • 03 Bowman's Best Ryan Howard Auto RC - Howard hit 47 HR & 136 RBI this season. Unfortunately, he also broke the single-season record for strike-outs, with 199. His top base rookie, 03 BB Auto RC, reached as high as the $500's range at one point, but fell to $380-400 through the summer, and settled at $370 in September. After the Phillies were knocked out the NLDS, the market for this card got even worse. In October, it's averaging $274 TAC. This might be the lowest point that I've seen it at. Can you imagine a guy hitting 47 HR (105 HR over the last two seasons!), and his best RC card actually drops in price? Talk about finicky buyers! Given the past price swings that we've seen, I would say that now might be a good time buy, since the value could easily almost double again in the future.

  • 04 Bowman Chrome Felix Hernandez Auto RC - King Felix almost had his "break-out" season this year, but it was disrupted by injury early on. He finished with a decent 14-7 record and 3.92 ERA, which unfortunately translated into disappointment, since expectation was a lot higher after he began the season 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, and 18 K's in 17 IP. His 04 BC Auto RC was selling close to the $200's range in April, but quickly fell while he was on the DL, and continued it's downward spiral after he returned and struggled to regain his pre-injury form. By June, it was averaging around $114 TAC, in July $112, in August $102, and by September $86. After the M's failed to reach the post-season, hobby interest in Felix's top rookie dropped off even more, averaging $76 in October. At 21 years old, why would anyone lose faith in this guy? I'm thinking that these are just minor setbacks in his path to stardom. Most pitchers aren't even in the majors at this age (he already has 2-1/2 seasons under his belt!).

Friday, October 26, 2007

MLB Season '07 - Market Movers Part 2

  • 00 Bowman Grady Sizemore Auto - Sizemore is another player that had his ups & downs this season, and his 00 Bowman Auto followed suit. This card peaked early in the season, in the $500's range (remember when he started the season with 3 HR in his first 3 games?), then proceeded to fall every month thereafter. In June it averaged around $300, in July $270, in August $216, and then finally in September (his lowest HR & RBI month of the season) it hit rock bottom at $186. When the Indians entered the post-season, there was a renewed interest in Sizemore, and, despite his so-so hitting (.279 with 2 HR & 3 RBI), his Bowman Auto started to rise, averaging $276 in October before Cleveland was eliminated from the ALCS, and then dropped back down to $215 immediately after their exit.
  • 01 Bowman Chrome Jake Peavy Ref RC - Peavy, the best pitcher in the NL (in my opinion), had a terrific season, leading the NL in W's, K's & ERA (the triple crown of pitching). Throughout the sesaon, his 01 BC Ref RC was a pretty consistent seller at the $40-50 TAC range, only entering the $50-60 range a couple of times. His blown start at the end of the season (unfortunately to decide who would go on to the post-season) dropped his hobby status quite a bit. In October, this card averaged $38; down from $46.80 in September. I would rate it a strong buy if you can pick one up in the $30-35 range (which is possible).
  • 02 Bowman Chrome Draft Cole Hamels RC - Hamels had a very good season, going 15-5 with a 3.39 ERA & 177 K's in 183-1/3 IP, to help the Phillies slip into the post-season. Hamels' 02 BCD RC peaked in June at around $27 TAC, then fell to $22 in July, $21 in August (he missed the 2nd half of Aug/1st half of Sep due to injury) and then down to $16 in September. He finished the regular season by tossing 8 shut-out innings against the Nationals (with 1 BB & 13 K's), and looked ready for the NLDS. Unfortunately, they faced the red-hot Rockies and became just 3 more notches in Colorado's amazing 21-1 run to the World Series. It looks like buyers have recognized the potential in Hamels, and are picking up his BCD RC while prices are low. In October, it's averaging $19.70 TAC.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

MLB Season '07 - Market Movers Part 1

Here's a look at some of the rookie cards that experienced big increases or decreases toward the end of the '07 regular season:
  • 99 Topps Traded Alfonso Soriano Auto - Soriano had his ups & downs this season, but ended hot in September. For the month, he hit .320 with 14 HR (42% of his season total) & 27 RBI (39% of his season total). His 99 TT Auto was averaging around $103 TAC during that time, and I thought it would shoot up even higher when he continued to tear it up in the post-season. Boy was I wrong. As the Cubs got swept out of the NLDS by the D-Backs, Soriano hit a terrible .143 BA with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 extra base hits & 4 K's. As a result, that same rookie year auto fell to an average price of $71.50 TAC in October (the last sale I saw went for $66.99 on 10/14). This off-season is probably a good time to buy Soriano's key cards, as they will surely go back up when he gets back on track in '08.
  • 99 Topps Traded Carlos Pena Auto - Carlos Pena was one of the only bright spots in the D-Rays' offense this season. He deservedly won the Comeback Player of the Year award, after hitting an amazing 46 HR & 121 RBI. His 99 TT Auto was on fire late in the season, selling in the $55-60 TAC range through mid September. Then, it suddenly dropped down to the $18-30 range, for no apparent reason. He finished the season strong, hitting .318 with 13 HR & 29 RBI for the month, so I'm not sure why his hobby interest fell through the floor like that. My guess is that either collectors are viewing him as a one-season wonder, or, at 29-year-of-age, they'd rather focus their buying on some of the younger up-and-comers. I'm thinking that if he can show the same level of play in '08, at least some of the buyers out there will help to re-elevate his hobby stature.
  • 00 Bowman John Lackey Auto - Lackey had a great season, going 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA (both career bests). Then came the post-season. Before the ALDS series with the Red Sox started, I remember hearing the TV commentator say that Lackey has never had much luck against Boston. I was thinking, "Nah, he'll do just fine. He's coming off of a career-season, so he should be able to hold his own against Josh Beckett." I guess I had too much faith in the Angels. After getting beat in game 1, 4-0, Lackey's 00 Bowman Auto immediately dropped from averaging $36 TAC in September, down to the low $20's. I think that because there was that known roadblock for Lackey (the Red Sox), he really needed to show that he could beat them in order to justify his star status in the hobby. When he failed to do so, that was pretty much it for him (at least until next season). If you want to pick up some his cards, now might be a good time to buy. Personally, I'm not a Lackey collector.
More to come!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rockies NL Champs; What about Todd Helton?

That's a good question Jim. I was wondering the same thing. I'm thinking that Todd Helton won't experience the growth in hobby interest that Matt Holliday & Troy Tulowitzki have. Helton's level of play has really dropped off over the past 3 seasons (in every offensive category), and his contributions this post-season haven't been significant enough to reignite his hobby spark.

I remember those those days when his 93 Topps Traded RC was a hot commodity. Now, you can pick one up for less than $10 TAC. Since this is his only rookie card, and he is still one of the best hitters over the last decade (.332 career BA), I would say that this card remains a good investment, and a very nice piece in any collection.

Helton still has a chance to join the younger stars in the spotlight, if he can have a strong performance in the World Series. Let's hope that he can do better than his .154, 0 HR & 1 RBI through the NLDS & NLCS thus far. His interview after game 4 was quite moving, and it would be nice to see the Rockies pull off an upset for their veteran star.
NLCS Aftermath

The day after the Rockies eliminated the D-Backs from the NLCS, a Micah Owings' 05 Topps Chrome Update Auto RC sold for $7.55 TAC (as expected), down from it's average of $11-17 before game 4. On the other side, a 99 Bowman Chrome Matt Holliday RC sold for $22.67 TAC, up from it's average of $12-18 before game 4. No surprise there either.

Looking forward, I think that both Holliday & Troy Tulowitzki will experience even more hobby growth, and if Colorado miraculously wins the World Series, you can expect to be paying around $30+ for the Holliday's BC RC, and $90+ for Tulowitzki's 05 Topps Rookie Cup Auto RC #'d 399.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Owings, D-Backs Fail to Avoid Sweep

On Monday night, Micah Owings had a good start, pitching 3 scoreless innings, and scoring off of Conor Jackson's RBI single to give the D-Backs a 1-0 lead. Then, in the bottom of the 4th, Owings gave up back-to-back walks, followed by a 2-run, 2-out double (it was almost like Rockies' manager Clint Hurdle had seen the future in order to have known to make that change at that time). Earlier that inning, Owings had the wind knocked out of him while diving for a ground ball, which could at least partially explain his downfall thereafter. After a fumbled grounder by Jackson, a Kaz Matsui RBI single and a 3-run Matt Holliday home run, Owings exited the game, down 6-1.

I guess Owings' 05 Topps Chrome Update Auto RC won't be jumping to new heights anytime soon. It'll be a good time to buy his cards during the off-season, as they'll probably fall to very affordable levels. Matt Holliday's rookies should definitely experience a boost, especially after winning the NLCS MVP award. His 99 Bowman Chrome RC has been selling in the $12-18 range over the past week, with the refractor version averaging around $50 TAC.

The Rockies' shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, has already been heating up in the hobby. His 05 Topps Rookie Cup Auto RC #'d 399 is averaging $63.75 for the month, with the most recent sales in the $70-75 range. It was selling in the low $40's just a month ago.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Micah Owings Gets His Chance in Crucial NLCS Game

On Sunday, the Rockies beat the D-Backs 4-1, to take a 3-0 lead in the NLCS. Micah Owings, the 25-year-old Arizona rookie pitcher, will get his chance in game 4 to show if he can live up the hype from the regular season, and establish his place in the hobby. Owings has been known for his hitting as much as his pitching (*see related Owings posts on 9/28, 9/20, 9/6 & 8/24), and the D-Backs are probably hoping that he can help them win from both the mound & the plate, since they've been outscored 12-4 in the first 3 games of the series.

His 05 Topps Chrome Update Auto RC (only Auto RC) averaged around $15 TAC in August, then fell to $10 in September (after the hype died down), and is currently trading in the $11-17 range. I think that once people saw his name on the roster, anticipation started to rise for his upcoming post-season debut, which is what has fueled prices to rise over the past couple of weeks. If he can help the D-Backs move on to game 5, his cards should experience an immediate jump again. His 05 Topps Chrome Update Ref Auto #'d 500 has been a consistent seller from August through now, for around $20 TAC. This card will also experience a nice jump in value, should his performance meet it's high expectations.

We'll see how everything shakes out on Monday night when Owings squares off against the Rockies' rookie pitcher, Franklin Morales. I'm not a fan of either team, but I'd prefer to see Arizona win this one, to avoid yet another sweep this post-season.

Oh, and if he can't get it done, then I guess you'll be able to pick up his TCU Auto RC for less than $10, and hope that it'll rise in '08 when he starts pitching again!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Player Focus: Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew, the younger brother of J.D. Drew, had a pretty unimpressive first full regular season in '07, hitting just .238 with 12 HR, 60 RBI & a .313 OBP. Then came the post-season. In the D-Backs' NLDS sweep of the Cubs, Drew hit .500 (4 extra base hits) with 2 HR, 4 RBI & a .500 OBP. So far in the NLCS though, he hasn't been as fortunate. In his team's first two loses, he's only hitting .250, with 0 HR & 0 RBI.

Drew's 05 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto RC is still selling at a pretty affordable price level. I saw a refractor version #'d 500 sell this past week for $67.76 TAC; not bad when you consider that Ryan Braun's equivalent card from the same year selling for $180-200.

Drew is only 24 years old, and he's part of a young, up-and-coming D-Backs squad who should be competing for a World Series championship in the years to come. My hat comes off to Arizona for making it this far. All along I had expected the Padres to take the NL West.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

LDS Bright Spots
  • Grady Sizemore, the Indians' lead-off hitter, had his ups & downs during the regular season, ending up with a modest .277 BA, 24 HR, 78 RBI & 33 SB. In the ALDS against the Yankees, he was definitely more on the up-side. In those 4 games, he hit .375 with an OBP of .524, 1 HR & 1 RBI. Sizemore will be key to Cleveland's success in the ALCS vs. the Red Sox. His coveted 00 Bowman Auto was a hot commodity at the beginning of the season, but started to consistently fall thereafter. In June it averaged around $300 TAC, then fell to $270 in July, $216 in August and $186 in September. The hobby has already recognized his post-season improvement, with his most recent sale (that I've seen) going for $360 on 10/7. There's another auction ending on 10/16, which should give us a better indication of the direction this card is truly going in.
  • Manny Ramirez had a great showing in the ALDS series victory over the Angels. He hit .375 with a .615 OBP, 2 HR, 4 RBI and 5 BB, proving to the baseball world that he's back at 100% and ready to help lead his team to another pennant. I've already said in the past that Ramirez is one of the most underrated players in the hobby. Well, he still is! His 92 Bowman RC is still selling at rock-bottom price levels. Over the summer, it averaged in the $12-15 TAC range, and then fell to an all-time low of $8.20 in September. Who would've thought that you could buy the best rookie card (which happens to be a part of a pretty expensive set) of a future 500 HR Club & HOF'er for such a cheap price? So far in October, prices seem to be going up slightly, with an average TAC of around $10. Ramirez's key rookie cards are still a steal at current price levels, and are sure to increase as he continues to punish opposing pitchers.
Response to Question: Hobby Potential of Andruw Jones

Thanks for the question Jim. I'm a huge Andruw Jones fan (been one since his call-up over a decade ago), and it's been disappointing to see his two rookie cards, 95 Bowman's Best & Bowman, plummet in value over the past year or so. Jones had a very sub-par '07 season, batting .222 (career avg .263), with 26 HR (career avg 34/162 game season) and 94 RBI (career avg 103/162 game season), and the Braves are probably thinking that his best years are now behind him. But, keep in mind that he will most likely be a 500 HR club member by the time he retires (he currently has 368), and he's only 30 years old. I think that whatever team he ends up with will be able to benefit from Jones' batting skills for at least 5 more good years. He's been much healthier than a lot of other players, missing a total of only 52 games in the last 11 seasons (played in 97.1% of the regular season games).

Jones' Bowman's Best RC was averaging around $21.50 TAC throughout the summer, and then fell again to around $18.80 in September. So far in October, it's averaging about $19. His Bowman RC was averaging around $13-18 TAC throughout the summer, and fell to a dismal $11 average in September. So far in October, you can find them in the $11-13 range.

I do think that Jones' rookies have a chance to rebound, initially depending on what team he goes to (i.e. depending on the team's strength, his role within the team, etc.), and then once more during the '08 season (as long as his performance rebounds also).

The $ value of Jones' cards don't really matter to me, since I'll probably never sell the ones that I have, but I would like to see his hobby status raised back up to where he deserves to be.

Thanks again for the question!

Monday, October 08, 2007

LDS Meltdowns
  • Alfonso Soriano ended the season on such a great note, hitting .320 with 14 HR & 27 RBI in September. I thought momentum would carry his hot streak into the post-season, but unfortunately he fell flat, hitting a dismal 2-for-14 (.143) with 0 extra base hits, 1 BB & 4 K's. Soriano's 99 Topps Traded Auto was selling in the $100-105 range last month, but I think that it'll probably drop down below $100 TAC as he & rest of the Cubs head off to an earlier-than-expected off-season.
  • Angels superstar Vladimir Guerrero had a decent regular season, hitting .324 with 27 HR & 125 RBI, helping his team to the AL West title. Then came the ALDS. The Angels had such a poor offensive showing against the Red Sox, and Vlady was no exception. He hit 2-for-10 (.200) with 0 extra base hits, 1 BB and 0 K's (only bright spot). His 05 Bowman's Best RC is averaging around $31 TAC in so far in october, down from $35 in September. I expect it to continue to drop through the off-season, down to around the $18-25 range.
Which players are more valuable in the hobby: those that excel in the regular season, but flop in the post-season, or those who are ok in the regular season, and then explode in the post-season? Of course the true challenge is to find the players who can do both. A topic for a future post...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Unsung Hero: Brandon Webb

All season I've been writing about how Jake Peavy is the best pitcher in the NL (if not the entire league), while another ace (who's team beat out Peavy's Padres for he NL West title) was also putting together a strong season. Brandon Webb, Arizona's 28-year-old RHP, ended the regular season with 18 W's (2nd in NL; career best), a 3.01 ERA (2nd in NL) and 194 K's (4th in NL; career best). He also had a great outing in game 1 of the NLDS, pitching 7 strong innings and allowing just 4 hits & 1 run, with 9 K's to shut down the Cubs (the only extra base hit that he gave up that game was a double to fellow pitcher Carlos Zambrano).

I haven't been watching any of Webb's cards on a regular basis, but I do know that he hasn't received that much hobby attention for a while (I sold all of my Webb rookies a couple of years ago). Webb has been pretty consistent throughout his 5-year career, maintaining his ERA in the low to mid 3.00's (career 3.22). I think that he could have potential as a hobby star, but not as much as guys like Peavy or C.C. Sabathia.

Thanks for the comment Jim, reminding me about Webb. He definitely does deserve mentioning!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A New Strike-Out King: Ryan Howard

Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has been a beast at the plate, hitting 47 HR & 136 RBI this year (giving him 105 HR & 285 RBI in his first two full seasons in the majors!). He also accomplished another amazing feat this season, one for which he is now enshrined in the record books; the single-season strike-out record (199). Adam Dunn must be feeling a little sigh of relief, since he previously held the top two spots for single-season strike-outs, with 195 (in '04) and 194 (in '06).

Last season, on average, Howard struck out every 2.66 at-bats. This season, that average jumped to every 3.21 at-bats. I'm sure that the Phillies' batting staff will be working with him to reduce those numbers for next season, but hopefully his long-ball production won't suffer as a result.

Despite Howard's spectacular HR & RBI display, it seems like his strike-outs & mediocre batting average have weighed on his card values. His 01 UD Prospect Premiers XRC ended the season averaging around $20 TAC, down from $22 in August & $26 in July. His 03 Bowman's Best Auto RC averaged $371 in September, down from $400 in August & $388 in July. With the Phillies on the brink of elimination in the NLDS, I don't expect Howard's cards to rebound this year (unless they can pull-off a miraculous comeback, led by Howard's big bat).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

MLB Briefs
  • On 9/28 (the same day Boston clinched the AL East) it was announced that Clay Buchholz, the young Red Sox pitcher, would miss the rest of the season & post season due to shoulder fatigue. His 05 Bowman Chrome Draft RC dropped in TAC value from the $20-25 range back in early September down to the $9-11 range at the end of the season. This slide was the result of a loss of hype in subsequent starts after his no-no.
  • Alfonso Soriano hit 6 lead-off home runs in September; the most ever in the majors (he had a total of 13 HR for the month). For the season, he hit .299 with 33 homers. We'll see if he can spark the Cubs in the post-season as well. His 99 Topps Traded Auto averaged around $100-105 in September, up from $97 in August. It's still a relatively low price for this card (it averaged $118 in July & $122 in June).
  • Carlos Pena has won the 07 Comeback Player of the Year award, after hitting a career high (by far) 46 HR & 121 RBI for the D-Rays. His 99 Topps Trade Auto was selling in the $50-60 TAC range in early September, but suddenly fell to the $20-30 range mid month, even though he hit 7 HR in his last 13 games of the season. Maybe collectors see him as a one-season wonder, or they've turned their attention to playoff-bound players. I'm not really sure why his only rookie-year auto dropped so drastically, but for those that do have faith in his future prospects, now might be a good time to buy (or we might even see further price erosion during the off season).
Peavy Ends Cy Young Season on Bad Note

Jake Peavy, this year's NL-leader in W's (19), ERA (2.54) & K's (240), was given the start against the Rockies on Monday. I thought that he would ensure the Padres' wild card bid, but instead he got rocked for 10 hits & 6 earned in 6-1/3 innings pitched. Not the best way to end the season.

Still, despite this ending, Peavy had a great year, and deserves to win the NL Cy Young award. The only other pitcher that could be considered for it is the D-Backs' Brandon Webb, who came in 2nd in W's (18) & ERA (3.01), after Peavy, and 4th in K's (194). Webb pretty much cruised below the hobby radar this season, but could experience reinvigorated interest if he & Arizona do well this post season.

I'm still amazed that Colorado is in the playoffs (and that they won game 1 of the NLDS today against the Phillies!). They may end up being the surprise success story of the season that I had thought the Brewers were going to be.