...and suddenly I've got an impressive Jon Lester collection, but that's getting ahead of myself. About a week and a half ago, I received an e-mail from Mojo letting me know that he really wanted my Kobe Bryant Rookie & Stars patch autograph that I had won in the Panini Adrenalyn photography contest. Always one to entertain an offer, I took a look at what he had to offer and what he had to offer was impressive. We exchanged a few e-mails and my end of the trade arrived in the mailbox on Friday. I'll start with some of the extras and work my way up to the meat and potatoes of the trade.
I didn't have any Jon Lester rookies prior to this, so these were welcome additions to my collection. Now I've got a great Jon Lester collection. What's that? These aren't all that impressive. Hmm, there must be something else in this package to prompt that first sentence up there.
Next up is a 2008 Donruss Threads Anthony Rizzo Diamond King. I haven't purchased any of the unlicensed baseball stuff that Donruss/Panini has done since losing their MLB license. So, it is safe to say that this is my first card from this set. This card is serial numbered 7/100.
Rizzo might have been king of the high school diamond, but at the time that this card was produced, he had yet to be crowned king of any minor or major league diamonds. The Donruss crystal Ball was working because he's currently ranked 3rd amongst Red Sox prospects after a season in AA Portland that saw him hit for power, but not much average. He was named the Sea Dogs MVP and the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year. Jon Lester got all of the press because he was in the majors at the time he battled cancer, but Rizzo defeated cancer himself in 2008.
Here's the Dice-K card from last year's Topps World Baseball Classic redemption cards. The terrible diamond cut on these cards would be a harbinger for many mis-cut, mis-printed, damaged and missing cards to come from Topps in 2010. It's a refractor and it's of a Red Sox player, so I'll take it. Whether or not Matsuzaka is a member of the Red Sox roster when Opening Day rolls around is under a lot of debate. He could be traded to lower salary, but if he's still around he'll easily be the best 5th starter in the league. I'd like to see him stick around.
Next up is a gold Aaron Bates from Topps Unique that's serial numbered 15/25. Bates doesn't currently rank amongst the top Red Sox prospects, but that doesn't take anything away from the coolness of this card. I like the design of the Topps Unique base cards, but I probably won't ever own too many of them unless I go digging through a singles box for them. The packs and boxes cost way too much for me for what you could possibly pull as hits. It was great for those who are only looking at the serial numbers, but a lot of the big hits were ugly looking cards.
Josh Reddick is part of the new crop of youngsters knocking on the door in Boston. We got to see a lot of these youngsters last season due to all of the injuries that plagued the Sox. Two-thirds of the starting outfield spent the majority of the season on the disabled list. Reddick currently ranks 8th in Boston's farm system and is on the 40 man roster.
This green foil parallel from TRISTAR's 2008 Projections set is numbered 16/50. This is a nice looking set. I've purchased a box of the special packs containing only Red Sox Prospects and liked what I saw.
To be honest, I don't even know what set this Carlton Fisk card is from. I thought it might have been All-Time Fan Favorites, but that doesn't appear to be the case. What I do know about the card is that it has Pudge's complete career statistics on the back which is very cool. The card is numbered out of 99 on the back and has the cool old-school Topps logo on the front.
As a Sox fan, you can only ask "What if?" when it comes to Fisk. What if management back then hadn't played games with Fisk's contract negotiations and he remained with the BoSox rather than signing with the ChiSox. For starters, I'd probably have no idea who Rich Gedman was.
Oh, here's another Jon Lester card. Is this the one that lays the ground work for a kick-ass collection? This is a relic card that's numbered to 102 from 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom. Here's a nice ticket stub from
Fenway Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The ticket has a photo of Ramon Hernandez bunting the A's to victory over the Sox. On a Jon Lester card? This will be interesting to have in the collection in a "Topps really produced shit like this?" kind of way.
Jacoby Ellsbury had a really tough 2010. He missed over 90% of the season, stayed away from the team while rehabbing his injury and ended up alienating fans as well as teammates. He's an amazing talent on the basepaths even if he doesn't get there via walk as often as a lead off hitter should. Here's hoping that he can put a disastrous 2010 behind him and rebound next season.
This card is from 2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects and features a jersey swatch from an All-Star Futures game-worn jersey.
On the other hand, Clay Buchholz had a brilliant 2010. He finished with a 17-7 record and 2.33 ERA. If not for an injury that wiped out 3 to 4 starts, Buchholz might also be mentioned as an AL Cy Young Candidate. As it is, I don't see too much difference between his stats and the players that are getting all of the attention. The only thing that Buchholz didn't do was strike out a ton of batters.
Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while are probably sick of me mentioning that I was lucky enough to witness Buchholz no-hitter. Because of that, I've put together a little bit of a Buchholz collection. I've got an Allen & Ginter autograph, this relic card and now just need a Bowman Chrome rookie to complete the trifecta.
Here's another card from 2008 Donruss Threads. This is an autographed Lars Anderson limited to 474 copies. I'm not sold on using the Diamond King name with prospects, but Donruss was probably trying to cash in on the nostalgia of the brand.
Anderson is currently ranked 4th in Boston's farm system and once he's ready for the Majors it will give Boston the flexibility to move Kevin Youkilis back to the hot corner. It can't hurt to have two top prospects at first base and it'll be fun watching to see if Anderson or Rizzo ends up being the first baseman of the future in Boston.
When I started watching basketball, Bill Walton was a member of the Boston Celtics. So, even though I'd later find out that he only spent two years with the team at the end of his career, the fact that I first saw him with the Celtics on a team that would go on to win the 16th Championship makes me always associate him with the Celtics. So, when I saw this card I definitely wanted it in my collection.
Elite was yet another Donruss product that I never purchased any packs of. I got my fill of multi-sport sets in the 90s thanks to Classic. This is a cool card and one of only 100 copies in existence.
This Big Baby card is one that Mojo had let me know about a while ago, but until recently I didn't have anything to send off in order to acquire it. This is actually one of Baby's better looking autographs with the only flaw being that it slips off of the sticker a little at the bottom of the G. This card is the gold version and is numbered to 25 copies.
Davis has been huge so far for the Celtics this season. He is now the first person off of the bench which will be important in order to keep Shaq and Garnett rested for the playoffs. Davis has been playing the center position late in the 4th quarter of games due to Shaq's free throw problems and has been playing well. I wouldn't be surprised if his name came up at the end of the season in 6th Man Award conversations.
Here's the card that I've been teasing throughout this whole post. It's a Jon Lester 2007 Sweet Spot black bat barrel red ink autograph card numbered to 5. This is the type of card that you may not even see for sale let alone have the opportunity to own. So, that card alone lays the groundwork for a great Jon Lester collection that I think I shall now begin. I'll pick up one or two higher end rookies and then a nice looking relic and build from there.
Thanks to Mojo for the great trade. I didn't think I would end up trading the Kobe for a handful of cards, but then again most people don't have a collection full of cards such as these to draw upon.