Friday, March 27, 2015

Possible 2015 Orioles- Positions Players

Today's post is going to focus on the autographs my dad got on his Spring Training trip of the new position players in the Orioles organization who will likely/possibly be playing in Baltimore at some point during the 2015 season. I'm listing them from most likely to least likely to make the team out of Spring Training.

After Travis Snider, Everth Cabrera might be the second most likely new Oriole to start the 2015 season. He can play everywhere and has some legit speed. Also the O's don't pay players $2.4 million to play in Norfolk. He's had a few minor hiccups during his time in Sarasota following a few major life-choice blunders during his time with the Padres over the past few years, but I am very confident that he will play in Baltimore at some point in the near future. 

Dariel Alvarez, who obviously took some time out of his baseball schedule to sign quite a few autographs, at least for my dad, has made quite the mark in Sarasota. He seems to have the strongest throwing arm in camp and can certainly hit. Buck has mentioned his issues with the English language, confirmed by my dad while trying to get Dariel to personalize one of these cards, as well as some showmanship issues with him, but I can fairly well guarantee that he will make at least an appearance in Baltimore this summer.

I'm not really sure how this trio of infielders, Paul Janish, Jayson Nix, & Chris Parmelee fit into the mix. A lot has been made of improving the defense at AAA Norfolk and I have a feeling that these guys will be playing there to start the year at least. A lot has been written about the quality of Janish's defense at short, Nix has had a good spring at the plate, and Parmelee sounds like a smooth operator with the glove at first. All of them or none could really appear in games for the O's. 

Matt Tuiasosopo (who has to have one of the most fun names to say in baseball) and Rey Navarro have both already been sent to the minor league camp and are long shots to make it to Baltimore. It seems like there might be more utility infield flexibility or openings than in the outfield, so who knows is Tuia ever plays in Baltimore. Either way I'm prepared!

The one player that I'm confident who will not play in Baltimore, at least in 2015, is Alex Hassan, who the Orioles lost on a waiver claim to the Athletics when they had to make room on the roster for Everth Cabrera. But if he ever makes his way on to the team, I have a signed and personalized Orioles card ready to slide into the collection!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Potential 2015 Orioles- Catchers: Ryan Lavarnway, J.P. Arencibia, & Brian Ward

Having some new autographs to write about really has reinvigorated my interest in writing and talking about autographs. Thanks again for the autograph fuel old man! The approach of baseball's regular season certainly doesn't hurt either, it's almost time for another playoff push, O's fans!

Since I'm focusing on players who could be making their Orioles debuts this season, today I'm going to examine the catchers. With Matt Wieters starting the season on the disabled list, there will be an opening for at least one additional catcher on the roster.

It seems like Caleb Joseph will be the starter while Wieters is out, and the backup catcher slot is one of the tightest contests going on in Sarasota.

My money is on Ryan Lavarnway being the backup on Opening Day. Buck puts some major emphasis on catching defense and I think Lavarnway is pulling away from the pack.

The guy likely trailing Lavarnway seems to be J.P. Arencibia, which again seems to boil down to a defense thing. 

I sent this card with my dad on his trip because it shows Arencibia attempting to tag out Nolan Reimold at home plate when they were members of opposing teams. Pretty cool that they are both in Orioles camp this year.

Two other guys are on the fringes of the competition, "The Pride of Pigtown" Steve Clevenger who can absolutely hit at the Major League level but has allowed 9 steals this spring. 

And career minor leaguer, Brian Ward, who seems to be the best defensive option of the group but is also the least experienced. You can't rule anything out, but since he was sent to the minor league camp a few weeks ago, he would seem to be the longest of the long shots. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I'm Back? Spring Training & Travis Snider

Oh, hi there, fellow Orioles autograph collectors. Wow, where did the time go? I have no idea where the past four months went, but I certainly did not plan to go without posting for so long. 

Obviously, I'm not nearly as active with this blog as I used to be, thanks in large part to my amazing, now six-month old little boy. He is my world now, and my autograph collection has taken a much deserved backseat. But I don't intend to let my collection, or this site, completely fall by the wayside. Especially with the baseball season rapidly approaching, I hope to at the very least cover the new Orioles debuts, with additional posts on other past Orioles from time to time. 

While I was not able to make my (typically) annual trip to Spring Training, my parents spent an entire month in Sarasota, and my dad had some amazing autograph successes with the team. I believe that he got an autograph of nearly every player in the Orioles camp, besides Darren O'Day, who sounds like he was being a real piece of work. He's never been an easy autograph to get, but sounds like he stepped up his ignoring-the-fans shtick. 

Not only did my dad spend a good chunk of his trip watching the Orioles practices and games, but he even used some of his free time to continue to produce his Old Man Cards of players new to the Orioles organization. While I know he had a great time making the cards and getting the autographs, at the end of the day he gave them all to me to add to the collection. He's a really great guy, and while I know that he had fun with the whole thing, it's really nice that he used his vacation time to help out me and my collection. Thanks old man!

I will be showing off his autographs over the next few weeks leading up to Opening Day, with a focus on the new players who will likely break camp with the Orioles. 

Starting out today is one of the last players that my dad got to sign for him on the trip, Travis Snider. It sounds like my dad only saw Travis sign one time and that was these three cards for him. 

I would say that Travis is likely the best "lock" to make the Orioles Opening Day roster out of all the new players in camp. Wesley Wright is likely 1b in this category, and Everth Cabrera is pretty likely to be in Baltimore as well, but Travis is the one I'm most confident will break camp with the O's. 

This card is heading for my collection as soon as Travis appears in a game. Personalized, inscribed, awesomeness. 

It sounds like Travis was so impressed by my dad's efforts with the OMCs that he took the time to sign all three at once. So these two are available for trade if anyone is interested. My scanner decided to cut the borders off the card above, as well as many of the others I scanned (super), but what can you do?

Thanks again to my dad for all the time and effort he spent making the cards and getting the autographs, but knowing him, he had a blast with all of it. And I'm sure the combination of the Florida weather and the Orioles were a pretty perfect combination for him!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Upgrading the Collection Thanks to Old Man Cards

As many of you probably already know, my dad has been making "Old Man Cards" for me to try to get signed for the past few years. They typically feature Oriole players who were never pictured on any other cards in an O's uniform, effectively making them the only cards of many of them as a member of the Orioles. Oh, and they're awesome and I really appreciate his contributions to my collection. As always, thanks dad!

Here are some recent additions to my collection thanks to Old Man Cards. Since I don't have as much time on my hands as I used to, most of my posts moving forward will likely be more heavy on pictures than words. But after all, this is an Orioles autograph blog, and most of the visitors to my site are here to see autographs, not read my rambling posts. So without further ado...

Yes, that says Bryan. Yes, I still will consider it "personalized". Close enough.

As I get many of these cards signed by fellow SCN members on consignment, the personalizations don't always get done, but I'm still happy to have Orioles cards signed by the Dana Evelands of the world.

Unfortunately, Dan signed this card on the black part of his uniform, but it is signed and personalized. There aren't many picture options when a guy only plays in three games as an Oriole.

Francisco never made it to Baltimore from Norfolk last season, but I'm prepared in case he ever does!

I think this was my third attempt at getting this card signed and personalized, but Clay finally cooperated!

Who else do you do you know that has a signed Orioles Miguel Socolovich card? Who else do you even know that remembers that Miguel Socolovich was an Oriole?

I should have figured it out from my difficulty in getting him to sign anything while he was in Baltimore, but it sounds like Danny is a pretty tough signature to get. He apparently refused to personalize this card for me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Unpossible Autographs: George Zuverink, Jeff Robinson, & Artie Quirk

Sadly, during my time away from the blog, three former Orioles passed away.

George Zuverink passed away on September 8, 2014 at the age of 90. He kindly signed and personalized this card for me back via a TTM request in October 2011. (Obituary from the Holland, MI Sentinel)

Jeff M. Robinson passed away on October 26, 2014 at just 52 years old, following a seven week battle with an unspecified health issue. That's way too young to go, I just hope he didn't suffer. (Obituary from the Detroit News)

Artie Quirk passed away just a few weeks ago on November 22, 2014. He kindly signed and personalized this card for me via a TTM request I sent in early 2013. (Obituary from The Day (CT))

It's always sad to learn about members of the Orioles family who have passed away, especially as I've said before, when they have taken some of their time to sign cards specifically for me, as Zuverink and Quirk did.

*To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: When I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is not very smart, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible." I feel like it lightens the mood of an otherwise sad post. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Oh Hey There, or Catching Up on Orioles Debuts of De Aza & Johnson

Wow, where has the time gone? I had absolutely no intentions of being away from the blog for almost two and a half months, but I guess that life really does change quite a bit when you have a baby. My amazing wife, gave birth to our awesome son two days after my last post here way back in September. And needless to say, and I'm sure many of you out there can empathize, my free time has been at a premium ever since the little dude entered my life. And he is far and away my top priority, obviously, but I have no intention of letting this site totally gather dust. I will at least try to pop on from time to time to keep up with Orioles comings and goings.

As of my last post, I still was waiting on some autographs to arrive to keep my collection at 100%, and I was able to do so through the 2014 debuts, with 986 autographs to represent each and every player who has ever suited up for the Orioles. I'll show off a few of the autographs here that I believe I had never posted before my hiatus. There are also a few upgrades that I had obtained and never shown off. So here I go...

#977- Preston Guilmet

#978- Nick Hundley

#983- Alejandro De Aza

#984- Kelly Johnson

Sorry that I'm forgoing my standard write-ups about De Aza and Johnson, but I'll try to write something more about them when/if I ever can get their Oriole Old Man cards signed. And as always, a big thank you to my dad for supplying the great custom O's card of Guilmet for me to get signed.

Nick Hundley and, for some weird reason, Steve Lombardozzi were both also included in the 2014 Topps Update set as Orioles, so they were added to my need list. Hundley seems like a good signer, but Lombardozzi never seemed very nice, so he might be a tough one to knock off.

I can fairly well guarantee that my next post won't take another 2+ months to write, so I hope to keep up with my posting a little bit better moving forward but time will tell!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Oriole # 986- Christian Walker

The most recent Orioles debut surprised me somewhat, mainly due to how late it was happening in the season. Christian Walker was just called up to the O's after they clinched the AL East on Tuesday night. He had to be added to the 40 man roster and his service clock is starting now, so you know that the team must see something that they like in him. It also is fairly directly tied to Chris Davis's positive adderall test and suspension and the need for another first baseman on the roster. 

Christian had been working at the Orioles instructional league program in Sarasota for just this type of reason. Every year the O's send a group of 10-15ish minor league position players and pitchers to Sarasota to stay fresh in case any needs come up with the big league club after the minor league season ends at the beginning of September.

This Shorebirds signed card is the only autograph I have of his right now, but it works just fine for my collection, at least until I try to get one of my dad's custom O's cards signed. Christian has been included in a few minor league team sets over the years (2012 Ironbirds, 2013 Shorebirds, 2014 Baysox & Eastern League All-star set) and he seems to be a good signer. I saw him sign for multiple people at both Norfolk Tides games that I attended this year, but didn't have any unsigned cards of his at that point. Much to my dismay at this point. But one autograph is better than none!

Christian was drafted by the Orioles in the 4th round of the 2012 draft after a successful college career with the South Carolina Gamecocks. He made his professional debut with the short season A ball Ironbirds, and spent time at every ensuing level of the O's farm system. In 2013, he progressed from the lo A Shorebirds, to the hi A Keys, all the way to the AA Baysox in a single season. (Generally, jumping two levels in a single season is a good sign.) 2014 saw Christian start the year in Bowie before moving to AAA Norfolk mid-summer. He hit a combined 26 home-runs with 96 RBI this year, and yes, that was good enough to earn the call to Baltimore.

He made his major league and Orioles debut last night, September 17, and went 1-3 with a double in the game. He did enough to be the recipient of Adam Jones' post-game pie, and it was a very cool moment for the rookie. I have a feeling that we will be seeing more of Christian in the coming seasons in Baltimore. Good luck to him.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oriole #985- Quintin Berry

Since I'm still waiting for my autographs to arrive for Orioles 983 & 984, I'm skipping to the 985th player to appear in a game today. That man is Quintin Berry.

Unlike the two guys I'm skipping, Quintin was thankfully with the team in Spring Training, so I had an autograph of his prepared to slide right into my collection. Once again, my Old Man's Oriole Card is right there with Quintin's first, and likely only, O's card. He was actually a pretty great signer in Sarasota, so I actually have a few of his autographs for trade as well. 

I showed off these autographs in a few posts back in March and April, and at the time, I mentioned that the Orioles might be able to use Quintin for his prowess on the basepaths, which is exactly what they have done so far. After a steal today, he is now 25-25 in stolen bases in his MLB career. Pretty impressive.

After playing for the Tigers and Red Sox in 2012 and '13 respectively, the O's signed him to a deal this past off-season. He had a good season at AAA Norfolk and definitely earned the promotion. He has appeared in five games for the Orioles so far, all as a defensive replacement or pinch runner, so that's pretty obviously his role with the team.

Oh, and he and Adam Jones are boys, as they attended Morse High School together in San Diego, and remain good friends. I imagine that factored in to his addition to the Oriole organization, but I'm all about it if he can help the team win a few games!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Oriole #982- Jimmy Paredes

There have been a handful of Orioles debuts, probably the last round for the 2014 season, this past week. I will cover them over the coming days, and hope to remain somewhat timely with my writing. But who ever really knows? I'm obviously pretty unpredictable.

I haven't had the chance to do much autographing at all during this season and I only got a single autograph at Wednesday's Orioles game, but it thankfully filled a hole in my collection as Jimmy Paredes signed and personalized this freshly minted old man card. (I'm not sure but it might say Ryaa, but it's close enough for me and still much preferred to any form of Brian/Bryan.) My dad had just given me this card as we walked into the game around 6:30 and it was signed by 7 which was the quickest turnaround that I think I've ever done with one of his awesome cards!

Jimmy is actually in his second stint with the Orioles system in 2014, as he was a "member" of the organization for just two days back in mid-February. In fact, he rode the waiver carousel for much of the offseason, being selected by the Marlins from the Astros on November 4th, the O's got him from the Marlins on February 15th, then the Royals plucked him from the O's on February 17th, and the Orioles finally got their guy back from KC on July 24th. He spent most of the following month with the AAA Tides, before being recalled to Baltimore on August 28th and appearing in his first game the following day. He is the 982nd player to appear in a game for the O's and has appeared in five games, all at third base, since his debut.

There have been times where he has really flashed the leather but he also has already made two errors. He has been strong at the plate so far, hitting .333 with a HR and 4 RBI over 18 ABs. Over his career he has struck out way too often but has only whiffed once thus far for the O's.

Jimmy has been around the MLB block as he made his debut with the Astros back in 2011 and appeared in 118 games for the team between '11-13. He made it into 9 games for the Royals this season before the Orioles re-acquired him, so Baltimore is his third big league squad. And for the record, he has struck out in about 30% of his MLB ABs to date.

With Manny Machado's season ending injury, I would guess that Paredes might have a chance to make a postseason roster as a late inning defensive replacement, as long as he can clean up his fielding game over the next month. The O's obviously see something they like with him since they have brought him into the season twice this year so who knows what the future may hold.

Thanks for signing my card, Jimmy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oriole #980 Andrew Miller, and #981 Cord Phelps

Well, what happened there? After posting pretty regularly for most of the year, this is my first post in nearly a month. And honestly, I don't expect things to get much less busy in my life as my wife and I are expecting our first child, a baby boy, in just under a month. So I will post when I can, but they will be few and far between.
It's kind of funny timing for me to slow down posting considering the Orioles have been playing so well. Most of the years I've been writing posts about the O's in August/September, the team was so out of contention it wasn't even funny. Now that they are in firm control of the AL East, I'm nearly non-existent. But, at least for now, I have been able to continue to watch most of their games, and it's certainly been a fun season to this point!

Also, strangely enough, I've actually been spending more time working with my cards lately as I continue to attempt to organize and pare down my collection in preparation for our little guy. But I'm sure that will come to a screeching halt soon enough too!

Anyway, today's post is highlighting the two players who have made their Orioles debuts since my last post.

First up is lefty relief pitcher Andrew Miller, who the O's acquired at the trade deadline from the Red Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. Miller was widely regarded as the top left-handed reliever available and the Birds did what they needed to do to make the deal happen.

I just pulled the trigger on a certified copy of his autograph on COMC, and it should arrive any day.

Since Miller was a former first-round pick by the Tigers, I was surprised the be able to pick up an autographed swatch card of his numbered of just 99 of his for a few dollars. His career as a starter never really took off but he has certainly found his niche as a reliever. He will likely only be an Oriole through the end of this season, and I've heard talk about his possibly sliding into the closer role for a team in 2015.

Not too surprisingly if you know him, my dad had this Old Man Card made the day after Miller's Orioles debut on August 1st and was trying to get it signed for me the very next day. I always really appreciate his help, and I hope to get this card signed soon enough, if I can find the time!

The next Orioles debut occurred on August 16th as Cord Phelps became the 881st player to appear in a game for the team. Luckily, Cord was with the team in Spring Training and I was ready for his debut! I briefly wrote about him in this post following my Florida trip, saying at the time that I had "an inkling that Cord Phelps might be the 2014 version of Russ Canzler, knocking on the big league door but never quite cracking the club." Looks like I wasn't right on that one!

Cord has previously played in some games for the Indians between 2011-13 so he isn't completely new to the big league scene. It seems like he is in a pinch-hitting defensive replacement role for the Birds and has only appeared in two games so far, but he is officially an Oriole!

I have a few extra of Cord's autograph, all obtained in-person, if anyone needs one for their collection. I actually just got his 2014 Tides card signed on my trip to Norfolk, not long before he was called up to Baltimore.