Monday, December 31, 2007
The Blazers were one of the hottest teams in Dec, going 13-2 (including winning 13 straight). Why then is their young star LaMarcus Aldridge's rookies falling in value? Maybe it's because the Blazers had their recent surprising success in spite of Aldridge. His stats in Nov, when the team went 5-10, were 18.5 ppg & 8.3 rpg. They then fell in Dec, when the team hit it's hot streak, to 16.9 ppg & 5.9 rpg. He also missed 5 games right in the middle of their 13-game W streak, due to a foot injury, showing collectors that he currently isn't as instrumental as people may have previously thought to the team's success.
Here is a list of some of his key 06-07 rookies that dropped in value from Nov to Dec: SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 299 fell from $54.76 to $49.46; SP Authentic Auto #'d 299 fell from $59.60 to $47.67; Exquisite Collection Auto/Patch #'d 99 fell from $480.95 to $416.77; E-X Auto #'d 199 fell from $41.55 to $32.16; Hoops Hot Prospects Auto/Patch #'d 150 fell from $54.25 to $34.01.
I don't mean to take anything away from the potential that Aldridge has. I do think that he, along with Brandon Roy, are the future of this franchise. I just think that people wanted to rush the idea of his "stardom" a little too prematurely. He is definitely improving, and should continue to evolve into a star. Portland has a very young line-up who will help them to become a Northwest division title contender before we know it. Aldridge is a very decent investment for the future, and at current market values, is becoming a pretty good buy also.
Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
- Dwight Howard has back-to-back 20+ rebounds games. He grabbed 21 against Charlotte on Saturday, and 21 against Miami on Friday, giving him six 20+ rebound games this season. If anyone had any doubts, I'm sure they're convinced now that Howard is the next dominant "big man" in the NBA. At only 22 years old, he's averaging 23.3 ppg & 15.1 rpg for the Southeast-leading Magic. His 04-05 SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 750 is averaging $160.25 in December, up from $124.26 in November. Most recent sales have been in the $170-175 TAC range. His Ultimate Collection Auto RC #'d 250 has been averaging $274.46 this month. I don't think that his rookies have reached their max value yet. There's still room for growth.
- Bucks' star Michael Redd is been averaging 23.8 ppg, down from his 26.7 ppg in 06-07 and 25.4 ppg in 05-06. I expect to see Redd increase his scoring average as the season moves forward, as he's done every single year he's been in the league (as long as he stays healthy). His 00-01 Fleer Autographics Auto has been a pretty consistent seller in the $8-10 TAC range this season. His 00-01 E-X Auto #'d 1-500/1500 is averaging $18.22 this month, down from $25.72 in November. In my opinion, Redd is one of the more underrated players in the hobby, kind of like Paul Pierce (until recently). Maybe he, like Pierce, will have to wait until the Bucks become a better team, or until he gets traded to a contender, in order for his hobby status to rise.
- After losing some of the spotlight to rival point guard Deron Williams last season, Chris Paul seems to be making a comeback this year. He's averaging 21.5 ppg, 10 apg & 2.9 spg (compared to Williams' 19.4 ppg, 8.7 apg & 1.2 spg). His Hornets are also having a great start. With a 20-10 record, they're currently #2 in the tough Southwest division, only 1 game behind the Western Conference-leading Spurs. So why are his cards dropping in value? His 05-06 SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 is averaging $74.75 this month; down from $90.84 in November. His SP Authentic Auto #'d 1299 is at $49.50 this month; down from $57.25 last month. Even his Exquisite Collection Auto/Patch #'d 99 is down by over $500. I've only seen his Ultimate Collection Auto #'d 250 rise this month, from $81.27 to $102.79. Paul and Williams are the point guards of the near future. It wouldn't hurt to have a few of their key cards in your collection.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I hadn't seen ANY of Paul Pierce's sole rookie-year autos listed on auction for the past couple of years, and this month I saw two! Of course I'm talking about his 98-99 Topps Auto. The first one sold on 12/4 for $67 TAC, and the second was on 12/11 for $36. I had both on my watchlist, but forgot to bid!
Pierce leads the top-ranked Celtics with 21.1 ppg, and also has 5.3 rpg & 5.0 apg. His 98-99 SP Authentic RC #'d 3500 has been on the rise. Last month it averaged $25.83 TAC, and this month it's up to $29. Pierce has been one of those star players that has cruised under the radar, due to poor team performance. Expect him to jump a few notches on the hobby charts this season as Boston competes for Eastern Conference dominance.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Less than a month after the Cubs cut their injury-plagued ace Mark Prior, the Padres signed on to bring him to his hometown of San Diego. I still remember pulling his 01 UD Prospect Premiers Auto XRC from a pack at the local card store back when the product was first released, thinking who is this guy? Since his debut in '02, Prior has been a dominant strike-out pitcher. Even with his ups & downs the past few years, he's still averaging a career 10.37 K's/9IP. Unfortunately, he only had one full, healthy season back in '03, when he won 18 games & had 245 K's in 30 starts. Being that he missed the entire '07 season while still pulling in $3.5 + million in salary, it's not too surprising that the Cubs decided to let him go. I'm glad to see that there's still interest in Prior, despite his health problems, and to join such a great rotation (with Jake Peavy, Chris Young & Greg Maddux) is just an additional plus.
Prior's best base rookie cards from '01 are his Ultimate Collection Auto #'d 250, SPx Auto #'d 1500, Donruss Elite XRC #'d 556 (only avail through redemption) and of course his UD Prospect Premiers Auto XRC #'d 1000. There have been very few on auction during Prior's absence this past season, probably meaning that sellers haven't lost hope that he & his cards will make comeback (otherwise we would have witnessed a large-scale dumping on the market by now).
On espn.com they're saying that he's been throwing on flat ground without any pain, and he should be able to return to play by mid May at the earliest. If he can stay healthy, I think that playing alongside other top-notch pitchers will help him to regain his form back. It would be very interesting to see if he, Peavy & Young were all able to compete for the Cy Young in '08, since they all have the talent to do so. I've been a Prior fan since I pulled that XRC several years ago, and I'm excited to see his comeback.
Monday, December 24, 2007
On 12/6, it was announced that the Nationals had acquired the 23-year-old slugger Elijah Dukes from the D-Rays, for top pitching prospect Glenn Gibson. Many collectors had high hopes for Dukes this past season (his rookie year), but his problems off the field took him away from the game, both physically & mentally. His problems ranged from possession of marijuana to assault on his wife. He only hit .190 for the season with 10 HR & 21 RBI (of which 7 HR & 15 RBI were hit in the month of May), but 43% of his hits were for extra bases, which isn't too bad. What was bad was his striking out every 4.2 AB's.
After Dukes' decent May, his rookie cards started to fall as his problems started to mount. His 07 Bowman Auto RC averaged $17.72 TAC is June, then fell to $9.85 in July, and $8.36 in August. In October, he seemed to receive a little boost as that same rookie moved up to $10.01. I haven't seen any sell yet this month, but there are two ending within the the next week. We'll see if this recent news will help to spark some renewed interest in his cards.
There's no question that Dukes has potential to be an offensive force at the plate. The basic concern is whether or not he can keep his personal problems at a minimum. Hopefully this move to Washington, away from his home state of Florida, will provide him with the fresh start he needs. He's still young enough to turn things around and have a long & successful major league career.
The Nats seem to be planning for success in '08, with off-season signings of players like OF Lastings Milledge, C Paul LoDuca, IF Aaron Boone, OF Wily Mo Pena and others. This could be an opportune situation for a player like Dukes to reemerge as a focused & developing ball player.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
After enduring back-to-back losing seasons with the T-Wolves (despite averaging 22.1 ppg, 12.8 rpb & 4.1 apg), Kevin Garnett is finally on a top-tier team. His stats have come down compared to his previous seasons (which is to be expected now that he's sharing offensive responsibilities with Paul Pierce & Ray Allen), but it seemed like as long as he kept his scoring average over 20 and rebounds over 10 (and the Celtics kept winning), collectors were more than happy to bid up his 05-06 Finest RC value.
In Nov, Garnett averaged 20.1 ppg & 11.8 rpg, and his Finest RC averaged $54.25 TAC. From Dec 1st through 11th, he posted 17.5 ppg & 7.5 rpg, and his Finest RC dropped to $49.54. Then, from Dec 12th through 20th, he averaged 17.0 ppg & 6.5 rpg. Even though the Celtics are still winning, his Finest RC continues to fall along with his stats, now down to $37.46.
I guess the only way to maintain a superior value level is for a player AND their team to continuously perform. I'm just happy to see KG finally winning. He deserves to take a breather once in a while! The last two Finest RC's that I saw on auction this past week sold for $36 TAC. I don't expect prices to fall below the $30 mark. Hopefully they'll go back up and stay in the $45-55 range where they belong, especially since this is his best base rookie, and it's the only year that Finest didn't have refractor parallels for the rookies.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
A week or so ago I was doing my usual rounds on espn.com and clicked on the T-Wolves game against the Wizards to see how up-and-coming star Al Jefferson was doing, and noticed that this guy named Craig Smith scored 36 with 8 boards. A few days later he scored 30 with 10 rebounds against the Bucks. Who the heck is Craig Smith?
Smith, a 24-year-old 2nd-year player out of BC, was only averaging 8.5 ppg & 4.3 rpg in 16.8 mpg during the month of November. This month, he's increased his playing time to 27.9 mpg, and has upped his stats to 15.1 ppg & 5.4 rpg so far in December. In the 3 games that he's played 30 or more minutes, those stats go up to 27.3 ppg & 8.7 rpg. He and 22-year-old teammate Jefferson could potentially make-up a strong two-man scoring-rebounding duo for years to come.
I guess Smith has had his following of fans, but I had never heard of him. He was the 36th overall pick in the '06 draft, which would partially explain the lack of hobby interest in his cards. From looking on ebay (his cards aren't listed in Beckett since they're considered commons), it looks like he has quite a few rookie-year Auto's. Two that I've been watching are his 06-07 SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1199 & Exquisite Collection Auto/Patch #'d 225, which have been selling in the $10 and $25-40 range respectively. I wouldn't say that Smith is going to be a guaranteed hobby star, but there is a possibility. At only 6'-7" and playing the PF position, he may have a tough time matching up against some of the bigger guys out there in the long run.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
On Friday it was announced that Dan Haren was heading to the D-Backs in an eight-player trade. Toward the end of the '07 season, Haren's 03 Bowman's Best Auto RC was on the slide, dropping down below $20 in October, from a high of around $40 in June, as his bid for an AL Cy Young diminished due to his fall in performance. In November, there seemed to be renewed interest in Haren, and his BB Auto RC jumped to the mid $30's range. At first, I just dismissed this sudden rise as a fluke, but in early December, another one sold for $34.40 TAC. A day after the announcement of his trade, one sold for $45.75 (even higher than when he was at his peak last season!). I guess the prospect of him playing for a real contender, alongside NL Cy Young runner-up Brandon Webb and possibly future HOF'er Randy J0hnson, is sparking some real hobby buzz.
Friday, December 14, 2007
The Lakers' 20-year-old Center, Andrew Bynum, has been improving by leaps & bounds. He's now a lot more aggressive under the basket, which not only leads to more boards, but more second chance points. Depending on what the situation demands, he can have a soft touch to lay the ball in, or dunk it with force (unlike injured Kwame Brown, who seems to have an aversion to dunking!). He's also wowing the crowd with alley-oop dunks.
I was watching the Lakers-Warriors game tonight, and had the pleasure of witnessing Bynum score 6 pts & grab 10 boards in his first 11 minutes of the game (he out-rebounded the entire GS team in the 1st Qtr), helping the Lakers to a 28-17 lead after the 1st. He dominated GS starting Center Andris Biedrens and back-up DJ Mbendga. Including tonight, he has 11 double-doubles this season, while only averaging 26 mpg.
Action on his 05-06 Auto rookies is just starting to pick up. Last month, his SP Authentic Auto RC #'d 1299 averaged $24.34 TAC, and his SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 1499 was at $25.79. His Exquisite Collection Auto/Patch RC #'d 225 was going for around $214. This month, his Exquisite RC is up some, selling in the $250-260 range. You can still find both his SPA & SPx in the mid $20's. If you really want a special card, look for his SPA Auto/Patch #'d 1-100/1299. I saw one sell in November for $124.48 TAC; none so far this month.
If you haven't already read my post from last season on 11/27/06, "Player Focus: Andrew Bynum Auto Variations", check it out to see which of his rookie-year cards have his different autograph variations ("AB#17", "A Bynum" & "A Bynum #17").
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The Wizards' star guard, Gilbert Arenas, has been out with injury since 11/17. The team went 3-5 with him, and has gone 6-5 in his absence. Two big reasons for the team's relative success without their top scorer are Caron Butler & Antawn Jamison. Both of these players have eluded the hobby's interest for years, but I think that it's about time for them to get their share of the limelight.
Butler averaged 22.5 ppg this season with Arenas on the court. Without Arenas, 24.7 ppg (excluding the game on 11/20 where he only played 26 min). I became a Butler fan when he played for the Lakers in the 04-05 season, watching him slash to the basket, despite multiple defenders hammering him, and just observing his hard work on the floor. Butler has 5 base Auto rookies from 02-03: Bowman Signature Auto/Jsy #'d 999, Finest Auto #'d 999, SP Authentic Auto #'d 1500, SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 999 & Ultimate Collection Auto #'d 250. All are selling for under BV, and all have at least one parallel (coolest one is the Ultimate Collection Auto/Patch #'d 25).
Jamison averaged 16.5 ppg this season with Arenas. Without him, 23.75 ppg & 10 double-double's in 12 games (4 out of 8 with Arenas there). From day one in the NBA, Jamison seems to have been overshadowed by classmate & fellow Tar Heel Vince Carter. He only has 2 #'d base rookies from 98-99: SP Authentic #'d 3500 & SPx Finite #'d 2500. There weren't any base Auto rookies that year, but he does have 7 insert Autos (including 3 Co-Signers, matched up with Michael Olowokandi, Mike Bibby & Vince Carter). Just like with Butler, all of Jamison's cards can be found for less than BV.
I can't say for sure that these guys will be hobby stars anytime soon (or ever for that matter), but they should be. I'm thinking that their only chance is if they can continue at this current level of production after Arenas returns, and the Wiz need to make a run at the Eastern Conference title. Then the trio could maybe have the hobby-star package deal going on, kind of like the Suns, with Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire & Leandro Barbosa (well, Phoenix almost has it).
Sunday, December 09, 2007
With all of the trade discussions going on recently, Johan Santana is receiving some renewed hobby interest. His 00 Finest RC #'d 3000 was a steady seller in the $55-70 range throughout the season. Now, with the possibility of Santana going to a true contender (Boston or NYY), that same rookie has been averaging $106.75 so far in December. His 00 Bowman's Best RC #'d 2999 averaged in the $50-60 range this past season. I haven't seen any for sale this month, but you can bet they'll be selling at elevated levels as well.
Back in July, Santana was my top pick for "Top Pitcher Investments: Age 28 to 30", and nothings changed since then. I still think that he is, and will be the best in his age group (and age groups above & below him) till the day he retires. Since becoming a full-time starter in '04, he has 983 K's in 912-1/3 IP (9.7 K's/9 IP), a 2.89 ERA, a 70-32 record, and has only allowed 1.95 BB/9 IP.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Here's part 2, showing the real average market pricing, or TAC, for some of the players that I've been watching. The first price is for September, second is October, and third is November.
- 02 UD Prospect Premiers Prince Fielder Auto: $147.49 -> $113.03 -> $105.50
- 03 Bowman's Best Dan Haren Auto: $22.96 -> $17.39 -> $34.99
- 04 SP Prospects Hunter Pence Auto #'d 600: $203.62 -> $199.54 -> $166.76
- 04 Donruss Elite EE Yovani Gallardo Auto #'d 803: $44.04 -> $41.32 -> $37.44
- 05 Topps Rookie Cup Troy Tulowitzki Auto #'d 399: $41.24 -> $74.50 -> $49.00
- 05 Bowman Chrome Draft Ryan Braun Auto: $164.45 -> $130.85 -> $137.44
- 05 Bowman Chrome Draft Clay Buchholz: $21.25 -> $11.68 -> $11.59
Braun's BCD Auto RC also experienced a similar cycle, peaking around August in the $180-200 range, before slowly falling to it's current level. He hit .324 with 34 HR & 97 RBI, in only 113 games this season, helping him to win the NL ROY. Braun was 7th in the majors for fewest at-bats per HR (13.26 AB/HR). I think that his cards are still quite high, so you'd have to watch the market pretty closely to find a deal out there.
Dan Haren finished the season with a very decent 15-9 record & 3.07 ERA. But, what most collectors saw was that at the end of June, he was 9-2 with a 1.91 ERA, so basically things went downhill in the second half of the year, driving his BB Auto RC's value down from it's high of around $40 in June, to it's low of around $17 in September. It looks as if collectors are either regaining faith in Haren, or are just buying without real-market knowledge (since there haven't been many for sale recently), because I saw one sell for $34.99 TAC in November.
Hunter Pence was a red-hot commodity through mid-July (hitting .330, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 8 SB), with his SP Prospects Auto RC peaking in the $300+ range. Then he got injured and was out for almost a month. His values dropped during his absence, and never really recovered after his return, as his performance lost a step or two through the end of the season. If you're a Pence fan, this off-season might be a good time to stock up on his cards. I'm guessing that he'll be back strong in '08.
The Brewers' 21-year-old pitcher Yovani Gallardo showed that he has talent. He had a few blow-up games here & there, but overall did quite well. At the end of July, he had a 3-1 record & 2.72 ERA after 9 outings. His DE EE Auto RC hit its peak around that time in the $55-60 range. August was disastrous for Gallardo, with especially 3 terrible starts, pushing his ERA up to 4.66. Despite having a good September (3-1, 1.36 ERA for the month), his card values continued to slowly erode, falling into the current $30's range. I would rate Gallardo to be a strong buy for the future. He's playing for a young team that should be leading the NL in a couple of years.
Troy Tulowitzki, the NL ROY runner-up, caught the hobby's interest in the latter part of the year, as he & the Rockies started to heat up and make a miraculous run for the postseason. His cards peaked in October, and dropped off after his team lost the World Series. 05 Topps Rookie Cup produced his only rookie-year base auto, but unfortunately they made too many parallel variations of it (NNO, #'d 399, 299, 199, 99 & 50).
When Boston pitcher Clay Buchholz tossed a no-no vs. the Orioles on 9/1, his 05 BCD RC became the hottest thing on the market for a couple of days, selling in the $25-50 range, before coming back down to earth less than a week later. If he had pitched in the postseason (he was injured), he might have had a chance to extend his hobby popularity (or do the opposite). Collectors seem to be keeping a close eye on Buchholz, possibly with the belief that he has a bright future in the majors. The last BCD that I saw sell this month went for $18.51 TAC.
Friday, December 07, 2007
With a shortage of "true" big men in the NBA, we've seen guys, who might have been power forwards back in the day, stepping into the center position (Tim Duncan used to be the Spurs' PF, when David Robinson was there). Dwight Howard is emerging as one of the best, averaging 23.2 ppg, 15.1 rpg & 3.0 bpg so far this year. Through is first 20 games, he has 17 double-doubles; 12 games with 15+ rebounds, and 3 with 20+. He's been a great rebounder since day one, but now he's showing that he can score too (he has 6 games with 30+ points).
Howard has 4 Auto base rookies from 04-05. The two most common ones are his SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 750 and SP Authentic Auto #'d 999. In November, his SPx RC averaged $124.26 TAC, and his SPA RC $130.64. Through the first 4 days of December, those averages have already risen to $158.57 and $160.87, respectively. I expect those values to maintain their strength, as long as Howard & the Magic continue to play well. Unfortunately, the team has failed to beat 3 out of the 4 division leaders that they've faced (they lost to Detroit, S.A. & Phoenix twice), making Boston the only top-tier team that they've been victorious against. I think that in time, they will be able to compete against those other teams that have been playing together for a while, and could challenge for the Championships in seasons to come.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Now that we're over a month out of the postseason, let's take a look at how some players' rookie values have changed during the September through November period (all prices listed below are average TAC for each month; Sep, Oct, Nov).
- 94 SP Alex Rodriguez: $100.85 -> $99.80 -> $120.50
- 95 Bowman's Best Vladimir Guerrero: $34.85 -> $34.13 -> $34.13
- 95 Bowman's Best Andruw Jones: $18.81 -> $20.82 -> $28.99
- 99 Topps Traded CC Sabathia Auto: $54.09 -> $46.83 -> $31.02
- 99 Ultimate Victory Josh Beckett: $19.19 -> $30.28 -> $25.62
- 99 Topps Traded Carlos Pena Auto: $37.70 -> $28.36 -> $18.00
- 01 Bowman Chrome Ref Jake Peavy: $46.83 -> $38.26 -> $46.28
ARod's SP RC was up at the end of the season (as it should've been), but started to fall when he and the Yankees failed to move past the 1st round of the postseason. It started picking up steam in November with all of the contract renewal & breaking the HR record discussions ensued. I expect it to come down again before the '08 season starts.
What can I say about Vladimir Guerrero? His BB RC has been a steady seller (kind of like how he's such a steady performer).
After a subpar season for Andruw Jones, interest in his BB RC started climbing when speculation of what team he might land him hit the news. Jones' cards will fluctuate as they always do, so buy 'em when he's slumping! Being a Jones fan, I'm holding on to my collection regardless of how his values fare.
C.C. Sabathia's values dropped in each of past three months (kind of like his performances). Winning the Cy Young didn't seem to help his slide either. Beckett's values continued to rise through the World Series, but came down some after he disappointedly didn't win the Cy Young.
Carlos Pena had a spectacular power year, hitting 46 HR & 121 RBI, and was the most improved player in the league (and probably the entire majors). After holding strong value throughout a lot of the season, collectors lost hope on his future prospects and dropped his TT Auto value down to about 1/3 of it's peak price.
Jake Peavy's BC Ref RC card value trend was pretty clear. He had an awesome season, so his values were up in September. He then flopped in the final game of the season vs. the Rockies, blowing his team's chance to go to the postseason: his values dropped. Then he unanimously won the NL Cy Young. You guessed it: values back up again.
Part 2 coming soon!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
As a most-of-the-time starter last year on a struggling Boston team, Al Jefferson had a break-out season averaging 16 ppg & 10.9 rbg in 33.6 mpg. Despite his Celtics going 24-58, we saw Jefferson's hobby status elevate into star territory. Now, with the just-as-bad T-Wolves, he's continuing to improve and is posting up 20.7 ppg & 11.2 rpg in 36.5 mpg. This time though, his rookie values seem to be heading south, along with his team's record (2-12).
Maybe in order to reach that first hobby star level it's enough for the individual player to to do well, regardless of his team's performance. But to reach that next level and/or to even sustain their current star status, they also need to show that they can lead their team to success. One example favoring this theory is Kevin Garnett (ironically the player that Jefferson was traded for). KG averaged 22.1 ppg, 13.0 rpg & 4.6 apg over his last 3 years in Minnesota, but the team still had a 109-137 record. KG's 95-96 Finest RC, in turn, could be easily found for under $20 before this season. Now that he's leading the Celtics to success (and only averaging 20.1 ppg, 11.8 rpg & 4.0 apg), that same rookie card averaged $54.25 TAC for the month of November. Before the team had their first loss on 11/18, it was averaging $64.59, with a high of $87.55 (on 11/17).
Jefferson's 04-05 SPx Auto/Jsy RC #'d 1999 averaged $38.30 TAC during the first half of Nov, then dropped to $31.83 in the second half, with it's most recent sales below $30. All this dropping in value and Jefferson is playing better than ever.
Jefferson is still very young (only 22 y.o.), and he will no doubt find the right situation to succeed in. Hopefully it won't take him as long as it did for KG to do so.