Posts Tagged ‘California League’

2003 lancaster jethawks team set review

December 9, 2008

2003 Lancaster Jethawks team set
Official Score – ground rule DOUBLE
Manufacturer: Grandstand Cards
Sponsor: Bubble Yum
Retail price: $6.00(ish)

The 2003 Lancaster Jethawks finished 4th in the California Southern League. The Baseball Cube indicates that Rick Rodriguez managed the team, yet this team set begs to differ. I wasn’t there, so I honestly couldn’t tell you who was in charge. It is interesting to note that some 148,194 fans stopped smelling the poppies long enough to file through the turnstiles at “the Hangar” (Clear Channel Stadium) to watch the Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks play ball. (Today the Jethawks are affiliates of the Houston Astros.)

There is no printed checklist for this 30-card team set. The numbers on the backs of the cards correspond to the player jersey numbers. Pretty much the best way to tell if you have a complete team set is to compare your cards to this official team checklist sponsored by the Aardvark Trading Company.

1 – [25] Mike Aldrete (manager)
2 – [33] Scott Barber (p)
3 – [17] Billy Biggs (p)
4 – [20] Jason Bulger (p)
5 – [31] John Castellanos (p)
6 – [18] Lance Cormier (p)
7 – [36] Joey Cramblitt (p)
8 – [7] Mike DiRosa (c)
9 – [38] Jay Garthwaite (of)
10 – [26] Matt Henrie (p)
11 – [23] Jamie Jones (of)
12 – [21] Josh Kroeger (of)
13 – [11] Erick Macha (if)
14 – [30] Damon Mashore (hitting coach)
15 – [9] Kyle Nichols (1b)
16 – [4] Danny Richar (if)
17 – [14] Mayobanex Santana (if)
18 – [12] Sergio Santos (if)
19 – [16] Pete Sikaras (p)
20 – [29] Doug Slaten (p)
21 – [37] Chris Snyder (c)
22 – [24] Jeff Stanek (1b)
23 – [34] Mel Stottlemyre, Jr. (pitching coach)
24 – [19] Francisco Trejo (p)
25 – [8] Dan Uggla (if)
26 – [35] Justin Wechsler (p)
27 – [28] Carlton Wells (p)
28 – [22] Marland Williams (of)
29 – [‘03] Justin Jakubcin (strength coach)
30 – [‘03] Adam Weyer (trainer)

I like the design of these cards- a kittywampus layout of a full-bleed “baseball card” card superimposed over a warning track area of an outfield next to the foul line. However, I wouldn’t want to have like 20 of these sets from different teams to look at. The set also suffers a bit from the fact that only two cards (pitcher Matt Henrie and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, Jr.) have backgrounds that really differ from the rest. I’m not saying that all of the backgrounds are identical, but they are lacking in variation. Technically, the photography is very good, and I wouldn’t have hesitated to score the cards higher if the set had included some action shots.

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You’d have to think that with a name like Billy Biggs, a player was destined for the majors. That was not the case with this right-handed relief pitcher. Instead, it appears that Biggs hung up the glove after spending four seasons in the minors, logging 216 innings on the mound and racking up exactly ONE plate appearance. Billy’s entire professional baseball career was spent within the Diamondbacks organization- pretty uncommon in this day and age. Biggs’ total stats include a record of 11-16 with an ERA of 3.33 and a WHIP of 1.30- again, all in relief. Certainly players have hung around in the majors for much longer than four years while not performing as well. Billy failed to reach base in his only trip to the plate.

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Dan Uggla smashed 23 homers and stole 24 bases for the Lancaster Jethawks during the 2003 season. Any questions?

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Jason Bulger made his major league debut on August 26, 2005. He was traded to the Angels the following spring, and has yet to spend a full season with the parent club. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

While I would not argue that Jason bears a slight resemblance to the scarecrow on the Wizard of Oz, I am here to set the record straight by reminding you that the man who played that character was named Ray Bolger- not Bulger. In other words, if they are related, someone in that family tree has some spelling issues.

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Infielder Sergio Santos is still working toward his first call up to the majors. He has been in the Toronto Blue Jays organization since the end of 2005 when he was included in a deal with Troy Glaus for Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista.

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Chris Snyder broke into the big leagues on August 21, 2004. Snyder has been cashing paychecks from the Diamondbacks organization his entire professional career. I’m fond of baseball cards that utilize photographs taken from this vantage point. It almost allows you to feel what it would be like to be a baseball.

Card thickness is typical for a minor league set. Surface treatment is a semi gloss that left the cards practically begging to be autographed. The backs consist of two-color (black and grey) printing over white matte, including name, typical player stats, minimal bios and a grayscale Bubble Yum logo.

I obtained this team set in trade from a blogless reader in exchange for a 2008 Albuquerque Isotopes team set. Although the Jethawks don’t have it listed on their online team shop, I was informed that they do still have this set available. So you probably have to call them if you want to order one for six bucks. I haven’t seen this entire team set available on the secondary market, but if you act fast, you can pick up just the Josh Kroeger card from a dealer on eBay for “only” $3.95 plus $1.50 shipping.

– Kris

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2008 inland empire 66ers team set review

August 3, 2008

2008 Inland Empire 66ers team set
Official Score – 3-UNASSISTED (“hidden ball trick”)
Manufacturer: Grandstand
Retail price: $6.00

Participants in the California League, the Inland Empire 66ers are the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The sixty-sixers’ highway sign-inspired logo will make even the most sensible fan nostalgic for bygone days either experienced or imagined.

I recently reviewed another team set that used the same Grandstand template as the one chosen by the sixty-sixers. Do you recall what team that was for? I liked them then, and I like them still. How could you not?

These minor league-thin cards exhibit a semi gloss surface ready for immediate autographing. The backs consist of four-color printing of typical player stats in black and short bios in blue over a light image of a glove and some tattered baseballs. There is no printed checklist for this team set, so please allow me…

1 – [51] James Adkins (p)
2 – [26] Alberto Bastardo (p)
3 – [29] Josh Bell (inf)
4 – [11] Matt Berezay (of)
5 – [36] Henry Cruz (hitting coach)
6 – [50] Francisco Felix (p)
7 – [12] Justin Fuller (inf)
8 – [8] Tommy Giles (of)
9 – [9] Javy Guerra (p)
10 – [40] Gabriel Gutierrez (c)
11 – [49] Charlie Hough (pitching coach)
12 – [5] Bridger Hunt (utility)
13 – [38] Joe Jones (p)
14 – [62] Brent Leach (p)
15 – [7] Francisco Lizarraga (inf)
16 – [27] Drew Locke (of)
17 – [34] Paul Koss (p)
18 – [6] Jaime Pedroza (inf)
19 – [14] Eduardo Perez (inf)
20 – [54] David Pfeiffer (p)
21 – [22] Jordan Pratt (p)
22 – [21] Trayvon Robinson (of)
23 – [45] Ryan Rogowski (of)
24 – [59] Jesus Rodriguez (p)
25 – [41] Carlos Santana (c)
26 – [46] Tim Sexton (p)
27 – [13] John Valentin (manager)
28 – [15] Josh Wall (p)
29 – [35] Cody White (p)
30 – [61] Garrett White (p)
31 – [‘08] Steven Downey (strength coach)
32 – [‘08] “Possum” Nakajima (athletic trainer)
33 – [66] Bernie (mascot)

The sixty-sixers field staff includes three men with a wide range of big league experience. Were you aware that manager John Valentin is the only player in major league history to both hit for a cycle AND turn an unassisted triple play? I wasn’t… until I read it as part of his bio on the back of his card. As interesting as that is, Charlie Hough gets the nod to have his card featured here as he ponders blogger/collectors who are interested in bullpen telephones.

Fifteen of the cards in the 2008 Inland Empire 66ers team set depict pitchers. Only one in the bunch is a posed headshot, the remainder being mound action photos. Two of the cards are horizontal in orientation. Amazingly, the photos include a considerably wide variety of angles, backgrounds, jersey variations and day/night situations that serve to prevent these cards from appearing to be repetitive. I would tip my lens cap to the photographer(s), but no photo credits were included. Well, you know who you are…

I’m presenting this Tim Sexton card as an example of one of the pitchers. Not because it is the best photo- it isn’t. Instead, I’ve chosen this card due to the presence of the mountains in the background. I’ve never been to Inland Empire, but it would appear to be a fabulous venue to take in 9 to 12 innings while enjoying a dog and a couple of beers, and possibly even pulling in a foul ball.

Catchers? There are two. Half of them feature a horizontal orientation, which brings the count to three (so far) in this set. I was going to just describe them in general terms, then post a scan of the Carlos Santana card- but as I looked at the cards side by side I began wondering just what in the heck was going on.

At first glance, these photos would appear to have been shot during different days. Well sure, it isn’t impossible to expect to see two catchers in the same game. For example, one of the two may have pinch hit for another player at some point in the game. But wait… how many (non-All-Star) games have you seen where players from the same team wear different uniforms? So they must have been taken during different games. But wait again… wouldn’t you also agree that the faces in the crowd look somehow familiar?

Perhaps these shots were captured during a double header? Should I consult the 66ers schedule to see how many twin bills they’ve played at home this season? I don’t think so, and here’s the “why.” Some of these people are doing exactly the same thing in both photos. Granted, the guy screwing around with the cap (who is already wearing one) does seem like he would be the kind of person who would screw around with a new hat for two games straight. But how long do you expect that the kid in front of him, or the couple sitting behind him would maintain their exact same positions- especially in the presence of such a fidgety person?

Then I’m left wondering where all those other people to the right side came from, and why they aren’t in the other photo. I’m beginning to suspect that some kinky Photoshopping has been going on in Inland Empire. I’m not complaining, mind you… just curious.

You’ll get eleven cards of position players when you obtain your own 2008 Inland Empires 66ers team set. Six are variations of the classic batting stance. If you enjoyed the background people-looking aspect of the catcher subset, then you will also find these entertaining. Personally, I believe you can look to the remainder of the position player cards to find three worthy candidates for best overall card in the set.

Okay, so this card of Justin Fuller is a bit dark and unfocused, but the use of the wall ad as the background helps elevate this card above the majority.

I also really like this action photo of utility player Bridger Hunt hustling down the first base line.

Finally, this card of Josh Bell has absolutely nothing wrong with it other than that fact that it got a corner dinged during shipping. I should point out that a reader, and not the Inland Empire team shop submitted this set for review.

The 2008 Inland Empire 66ers team set is a bargain at only six bucks. In fact, the deal is so sweet; you may expect to hear the Dragnet theme playing immediately after placing your online order. I’m here to tell you that that probably will not happen. I’m kind of surprised that they don’t charge at least $6.60 for them to help stay with the theme.

The Inland Empire 66ers online team shop also has team sets from 2003 thru 2006 available. Possibly if you order more than one you will save a small amount of coin in shipping charges. Fans of the Mother Road would have a tough time if they could only order a single item from the sixty-sixers’ team shop. Fortunately, the only limit is between them and their credit card issuer.

If you are planning on just purchasing this team set on the secondary market, be sure to budget approximately double the price offered by the team.

– Kris

2007 modesto nuts team set review

June 30, 2008

2007 Modesto Nuts team set
Official Score – TWO-INNING SAVE
Manufacturer: Grandstand
Sponsor: Krier’s Cards & Comics
Retail price: $ 10.00

I must confess that from the moment I first opened the envelope from the Modesto Nuts front office and began leisurely thumbing my way through this team set, I started wondering why it is exactly that I don’t have a Modesto Nuts jersey. What am I…. crazy?

The Modesto Nuts are the Advanced Class-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. They do not play their home games against California League rivals in an almond orchard as you might suppose, but rather in John Thurman Field not far from the Tuolumne River in Modesto, California. Given that the ballpark was built by the Acme Construction company, it isn’t difficult to imagine giant cartoon anvils and pianos suspended overhead that can be dropped on unsuspecting umpires and bad 7th inning stretch singers at a moment’s notice.

Of course you didn’t come here for that! You are probably interested in finding out what players are in the set and what the cards look like. I’ve taken the time to type up a checklist since there isn’t one included in the team set.

Checklist: 31 cards (neither printed nor included)

1 – [2] Eric Young Jr. (inf)
2 – [3] Dave Hajek (hitting coach)
3 – [5] Neil Wilson (c)
4 – [7] Nick Haley (inf)
5 – [8] Chris Nelson (inf)
6 – [9] Jerry Weinstein (manager)
7 – [10] Phillip Cuadrado (inf)
8 – [11] Daniel Carte (of)
9 – [12] David Arnold (p)
10 – [13] Butch Hughes (pitching coach)
11 – [14] Kyle Blumenthal (c)
12 – [17] Travis Becktel (of)
13 – [20] Jeff Kindel (inf)
14 – [21] Nelson Robledo (c)
15 – [22] Brandon Hynick (p)
16 – [23] Brandon Durden (p)
17 – [24] Dexter Fowler (of)
18 – [25] Jonathan George (p)
19 – [27] Darric Merrell (p)
20 – [28] Alan Johnson (p)
21 – [29] Xavier Cedeno (p)
22 – [30] David Patton (p)
23 – [31] Cole Garner (p)
24 – [32] Edgar Huerta (p)
25 – [33] Justin Nelson (of)
26 – [34] Chaz Roe (p)
27 – [35] Jose Valdez (inf)
28 – [37] Lino Garcia (of)
29 – [41] Andrew Johnston (p)
30 – [43] Pedro Strop (p)
31 – [46] Tomas Santiago (p)

Ron Jackson is given photo credit for this shot of Eric Young Jr. In fact, he is given credit for every shot used in the team set. The result is consistent, quality photography and a nice looking set of cards.

The only two player cards that are not action photos belong to pitchers David Arnold and Jonathan George. I really like the spirit in which these cards were created, but am left with the nagging question of whether the background was Photoshopped in, or if the Nuts have a giant photo on a wall that they parade players past while snapping head shots. I would suspect the Photoshopping theory since George’s skin tone suggests that he may have been photographed while standing in front of a green screen.

You may have noticed that there is a Dexter Fowler card in this set. It isn’t particularly interesting. I suppose that Dexter cherishes those moments in baseball where he finds himself standing at the ready to swing a bat, as opposed to logistical nightmares that he sums up with, “That’s the grind of the Minor Leagues, but a priceless price to pay to get to the big leagues!” Trust me, Dexter Fowler’s MiLB player journal is far more interesting than is his card in this set.

It is next to impossible to create a decent team set without including at least one card with horizontal alignment. No, this isn’t a fact, but is my opinion. Jeff Kindell’s card represents the only such effort in this set, and I would categorize it as being in the top two or three overall.

At six-foot-three, this kid had to do some major stooping to squeeze into a space that measures only 2 inches high! This is a fantastic shot of a player anticipating a high hopper, but concentrating on keeping the glove low. Possibly it was shot between innings while the infielders warmed up, but it is a great photo even then.

Other contenders for strongest card in the set include this tight upper body shot of pitcher Alan Johnson…

catcher Neil Wilson on the move…

and Chaz Roe pitching with ripped pants…

Honorable mention goes to this Chris Nelson card. This card had potential to be the best in the set if not for what I suspect was the overzealous cropping efforts by a real go-getter in the Nuts organization.

Finally, I don’t know who this Jerry Weinstein cat is, but he looks like a guy who could tell you something about baseball that you didn’t already know in less time than it takes to drink a beer.

Card thinness is typical for a minor league set, and both sides have a semi-gloss finish. The backs consist of two-color (black and red) printing over white background that features a stylized image of grey baseball stitches. All you “figger filberts” will be jazzed over the short player bios and stats from the 2005 and 2006 seasons on the back.

Looking over the ’08 Modesto Nuts pocket schedule, I didn’t find any indication that they will be giving away team sets to fans before a home game this season. I did observe that Krier’s Cards & Comics, the sponsor on the ’07 Nuts team set, is sponsoring “Super Hero’s Night” on July 25, 2008 as the Nuts take on the San Jose Giants. Possibly there could be some sort of team set SGA that Friday evening? Either way, a heaping helping of fireworks will be served up for fans after the game.

The Modesto Nuts online team store has a kickin’ assortment of minor league baseball cards, including old Modesto A’s team sets, last year’s Carolina League All-Star set, a few different California League Prospects sets, and even the actual 2007 Modesto Nuts team set that you’ve just had the pleasure of reading about.

While you CAN pay $5.00 per single card for most of these guys on eBay, why on earth would you want to when you can order an entire set directly from the team for only ten bucks?

A word of warning… I will be jealous if I run into any of you readers wearing a Nuts jersey before I get one for myself!

– Kris