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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

MLB Briefs: Poor '08 Starts

Phil Hughes, the Yankees' 21-year-old pitcher, picked up his 2nd N/D in 2 tries on 4/8. He now has a 2-game record of 0-0 with a 5.00 ERA, allowing 10 hits, 5 BB with 6 K's in 9 IP. Collectors' belief in Hughes' potential have kept his top rookie card values high. His 04 Bowman Chrome Auto RC has averaged in the $95-120 TAC range in the past couple of months (compared to someone like Justin Verlander, who's 05 BC RC has sold in the $50-70 range, despite having accomplished so much more on the mound than Hughes has). His 04 SP Prospects Auto RC #'d 400 has been selling in the $165-175 range, and his 04 Donruss Elite EE Auto RC #'d 1485 has been in the $35-60 range. Because of his age, he'll get quite a bit of hobby-leeway (at least for a little while). He may become a huge star for New York in the future, but as of today, I'd say that he's a higher-risk bet, at current market values. Of course, that risk level would come down some if his cards become more affordable.

At one point, Hunter Pence was one of the hottest commodities in the hobby in '07 (until he got injured). He posted an impressive .322 BA with 17 HR & 69 RBI in 108 games played. So far in '08, he hasn't been able to keep his 3-6 Astros out of the NL Central's bottom spot. He's batting a pitiful .179 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB and 10 strike-outs in his first 9 games. His 04 SP Prospects Auto RC #'d 600 is selling for around $160 TAC this month, down from close to $200 in March, and a high of $309 last July. His 04 Donruss Elite EE Auto RC #'d 672 has been selling for around $100, down from a high of $134 last July, and his 04 Hot Prospects Auto RC #'d 299 has been selling for around $125, down from a high of $139 last July. Pence has the chance to be a part of one of the best line-ups in the NL, with guys like Miguel Tejada, Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman (potentially that is - so far none of them have been too consistent).

Last year's NL ROY runner-up, Troy Tulowitzki, hasn't been able to carryover his strong offense from '07 into the '08 season (so far). In his first 8 games, he's batting .212 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 BB & 6 strike-outs. The bright side is that he started the '07 season batting a similar .200 with 0 HR & 1 RBI through his first 8 games, and still ended the year at .291, 24 HR & 99 RBI. So there's still hope for him to turn things around in '08! His 05 Topps Rookie Cup Auto RC (his one-and-only base rookie auto) has seen huge growth over the last year, averaging $33 TAC last July, then peaking out at $82 last November. This month it's been selling in the $70's range, signaling that the hobby still maintains the belief that Tulowitzki is the future of the franchise, and could possibly help the team reach the post-season again. The only complaint that I have about the TRC set is that there are too many parallels; #'d to 399, 299, 199 & 50, in addition to the unnumbered base).

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