Posted by: portersprospectreport | September 9, 2008

$100 Well Spent #3

Last time I focused on upcoming potential September callups, this time I will dedicate my hypothetical C-note to impact RC’s during the pennant stretch.  Every year, certain RC’s pop up out of the wood work to become brief denizens on collector hot lists.  I recall 1986 when an ordinary Mets 3B, Ray Knight, whose greatest previous conquest was being the spouse of LPGA legend Nancy Lopez, became the toast of the Big Apple and a brief hobby sensation with an MVP performance against the Buckner-cursed Boston Red Sox. 

As of today, 11 teams (5 A.L. & 6 N.L.) are in the thick of the playoff race.  I began writing this article with the intent of giving a player to watch from each contending team.  However, that task has proven to be daunting and waters down the quality of depth that each of these teams posesses.  So, I have decided that this post will be focused on the 5 A.L. teams and the next post will highlight the 6 N.L. teams.  Each post will be allocated $100 (not $50 and $50). 

Ok, this will be hard, but I will am up for the task.  As always, your thoughts and prospective lists are welcome.  I will be using average Ebay prices from the past two weeks as my point of reference.  Here we go…

 

Tampa Bay Rays—87-57 1st place A.L. East

Rocco Baldelli 2000 Bowman Chrome DP (x5)—$7.50

  • The revival of Rocco has been the one of the great chapters within the success story that is the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.  Baldelli, who was once compared to Joltin’ Joe Dimaggio, had his career seemingly cut short when he fell prey to a chronic fatigue disorder which robbed his body of the necessary energy to participate in strenuous physical activity.  Somehow, Baldelli has found a way to make it back to the Rays’ lineup as a DH and RF.  Baldelli cannot yet handle a full time workload, but his story is as compelling as that of the Rays this season and that is sure to get more national publicity the further the Rays progress in the playoffs.

 

Carlos Pena 1999 Bowman Chrome (x5)—$7.50

  • How far the mighty have fallen.  Last season’s breakout player has not delivered the goods this season hitting just .245 with 27 HR and 85 RBI.  While this is a far cry from last year’s 46 HR 121 RBI performance, it bears worth noticing that Pena was suffering from nagging injuries that kept him out of most of June.  Since his return, Pena has averaged a HR every 10 AB’s and is walking quite a bit more.  He has carried this lineup since Evan Longoria’s hand injury and will play a crucial role within this lineup down the home stretch.  Collectors have become disenchanted with his cards, don’t make the same mistake.  the ’99 Bowman Chrome series 2 set features the nicest of his low end RC’s and are readily available in quantities.

 

Boston Red Sox—85-58 2nd Place A.L East, 1st Place W.C.

 Jon Lester 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft (x10)—$12.50

  • It is really hard to find an under-hyped Red Sox prospect or player.  Lester is not underhyped, and this card is not Lester’s first (2002 Prospect Premieres) nor is it his best.  However, it is one that can be bought for cheap and is available in bulk quantities.  Lester has #1 starter stuff and knows how to win.  His no-hitter this season and return from cancer are compelling stories that will get more play, the more the Sox play.  Lester has an opportunity to move into the #2 spot in the rotation between Beckett and Dice-K if the Sox decide to employ a righty, lefty, righty look to their rotation.  That is a distinct possibility that will allow Lester to pitch more post-season innings, increasing the chances for him to do something special in the national spotlight.

 

Jed Lowrie 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft (x2)—$7.50

  • Lowrie has all but taken the starting SS job away from Julio Lugo and has proven resilient in his first 200 AB’s.  While Lowrie does not have much power, he is particularly adept at driving in runs, especially in crucial situations.  Ammortized over a 600 AB season, Lowrie would have a Tommy Herr-like 6 HR and 120 RBI.  Clutch hitting during the ’08 playoffs could vault Lowrie into the hearts of Red Sox Nation alongside other young stars like Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury.

 

Chicago White Sox— 80-62 1st Place A.L. Central

 

 Gavin Floyd 2002 Bowman Chrome Auto—$12.00

  • The White Sox have been a team that has been bouyed primarily on power hitting offense to keep them atop the heap in the A.L. Central.  Now with MLB HR leader Carlos Quentin on the shelf for the remainder of the year, it is the pitching that must step forward to keep them there.  Gavin Floyd has been a long term package of unfulfilled promise since his days as a number one draft pick with the Philadelphia Phillies.  This year, Floyd has gone a long way to making himself into a number one pitcher for a playoff contender.  Floyd has a 15-6 record, including wins in his last 5 decisions.  The White Sox still have enough offense to match up against any pitching rotation, but their own rotation will be the key in determining if and how far the South Side Boys will go in October.

 

Paul Konerko 1994 Topps Traded (X10)—$12.50

  • Konerko has had a disasterous ’08 (he killed my fantasy team).  However, since the acquisition of Ken Griffey Jr. and a temporary decrease in AB’s, Paulie has turned things around big time.  He’s batting .367 since the beginning of August with 7 HR (including one in each of the last three games) 15 RBI and 20 BB vs. just 14 K’s.  With Quentin on the shelf, Konerko’s power needs to be present in the middle of the lineup.  So far, he seems up to the task.

Minnesota Twins—78-65 2nd place A.L. Central, 2nd place W.C.

Francisco Liriano 2002 Bowman (X10)—$12.50

  • Perhaps the antithesis to the Chicago White Sox, the Minnesota Twins’ formula for success has been its starting pitching.  Headlining that group is the dominant left arm of ace Francisco Liriano.  Liriano has been perfect since his return from minor league exile winning his last 5 decisions and lowering his ERA an even 8 runs per 9 IP during that stretch.  Liriano is unquestionably the ace of this rotation and has the Twins surging since his return.  The Twins took their sweet time in getting Liriano back into their rotation, let’s hope for their sake that it wasn’t too long.

 

Kevin Slowey 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft (X10)—$12.50

  • The yin to Liriano’s yang, Slowey offers control and deception from the right hand side of the mound.  Slowey struggled in the early going this year, but has really turned it on going 4-1 in the month of August with 37 K’s and only 2 walks in 37 IP.  Slowey doesn’t have the flash or velocity that most frontline pitchers possess, but he has evolved into a winner who gives quality starts each and every time out.  He will surely be the number two pitcher in the Twins rotation if they play in October.

L.A. Angels—87-56 1st Place A.L. West (Best A.L. record)

 

 Ervin Santana 2004 Bowman’s Best Auto—$12.00

  • 2008 marks the coming out party for Santana and the end of years of frustration for the L.A. Angels organization.  Santana has shown glimpses of dominance in the past, but this season he has put it all together to be the ace of the Angels’ staff going 15-5 with a 3.32 ERA and 191 K’s vs. only 44 BB.  Santana’s opponents are only hitting .233 off of him, but he has allowed 19 dingers, which may haunt him come playoff time.  The Angels are going far this year, perhaps all the way to the World Series parade.  Don’t be surprised to see Ervin Santana supplant John Lackey as the Angels most used pitcher come playoff time. 

 

Brandon Wood 2003 UD Prospect Premieres (x2)—$4.50

  • Ugh, I wish I had more money to spend! Brandon Wood is not ready yet, but he is not far from ready to be superstar in this league.  Plate discipline has been his bane, but he is showing signs of figuring things out.  I think that he will be included on the Angels’ post season roster as a bench bat that can provide game changing power late in a game.  We shall see.  regardless, he is on the cusp of being the regular 3B that the Angels have been searching for since the days of Dallas McPherson.

 

Wow, that was difficult and should provide fodder for great conversation.  Let’s see how it all plays out!

 

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Responses

  1. Brandon Wood is actually looking pretty good. He might not be star but he’s gonna be at least a solid player some day.

  2. I watched him pretty closely in a series against my hapless Mariners. His swing is still pretty big and he is culpable to breaking pitches out of the strike zone. I did see a couple refreshing things, however.

    First, he lined a couple balls hard into right field for hits (one went for an RBI double). His ability to use the entire field has been a major factor to his success this season.

    Second, the Angels played him at SS for two of the games. If he remains at SS, he will be a star. If he is moved to 3B (which is probably more likely) he will be a good player. His range at SS seems to be adaquate for the position. He made a nice play deep in the hole and threw out a runner with his strong arm.

    Long term, it’s hard to say what we will see of Wood. His 3 BB/39 K ratio with the Angels is abysmal, time will tell if he is able to turn it around. He is only 23 and is still a promising prospect.


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