2014 TSR: Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad, Why Must I Be Sad?

I’ll admit, I’m overstating things a bit here by quoting that particular They Might Be Giants song… but the truth of it is that I have been very disappointed by a number of recent “designated for assignments” that happened to players I like.

I originally made this rainy Brian Roberts custom to express that I was sad ABOUT Brian, but now it’s because I’m sad FOR Brian.
2014 TSR #414 Brian Roberts
It does seem like the Orioles took an attitude of “it’s time to move on” with Brian this winter, but to fans of Brian it seemed almost like an act of spite when he signed with the freakin’ Yankees.  No, it couldn’t be the Royals or Astros, it had to be the Bronx.

As it turned out, it didn’t quite work out for anybody, the Yankees went and traded for a bunch of new infielders, and Brian found himself without a job while the Yankees play an out-of-position Stephen Drew.

I don’t expect the Orioles to try to bring Brian back, but I’ve read the Padres haven’t gotten much production out of second, maybe they’ll give him a shot.  The Giants and A’s both have needs at second base, but I don’t know if a contending team would take a chance on Brian… Then again, the Giants have already tried and ditched Dan Uggla, so what’s wrong with throwing another struggling former All-Star into the mix?

Moving on to another former Oriole who didn’t have success with a new team…

This past winter there was incredulity a-plenty surrounding the Orioles after they traded Jim Johnson, the guy who lead the AL in saves for two years running, to Oakland for Jemile Weeks, a minor leaguer and several boxes of Dan Duquette’s favorite variety of Toaster Strudel.
2014 TSR #373 Jim Johnson
Now, Duquette looks like an absolute genius, because Johnson was so bad with the A’s that they ate his salary for the year and released him. I would not be entirely surprised if the Orioles sign him to a minor league contract to see if he might be able to revive some of that Oriole Magic. (Feel it happen! Magic! Magic!)

(Shhhhh… Don’t tell anyone that’s Nationals Park in the background of an A’s card…)

Just a little side note of happiness, I had to smile when I was doing an internet image search of “Jim Johnson Athletics” and one of the first hits was my custom from over the winter:
2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #13 - Jim Johnson

For what it’s worth, if I were at The National this weekend, I’d be looking to pick up one of the 1959 Bazooka cards upon which my “Hot Stove” custom set was based… and I’d probably be turning white as a sheet when I see how expensive they are.

The last source of Shlabotnik sadness comes from San Diego’s treatment of Jason Lane.

You may remember Lane as an Astros outfielder from 2002 to 2007.  In 2011 he made the conversion to being a full-time pitcher, and spent two years in the independent Atlantic League.  This year, he made it back to The Show after a 7 year absence.
2014 TSR #429 Jason Lane
In June, the Padres called him up for several days. In two relief appearances, Lane faced 14 batters, allowed just one to get to base, but that apparently wasn’t good enough, because he got shipped back down to AAA El Paso.

One July 28th he got called back up to make a start, and while his performance wasn’t spectacular – 1 earned run and 6 hits in 6+ innings of a Padres loss – it was good enough that one would think that they’d give a guy with a 0.87 ERA and a 0.677 WHIP another try… but apparently not. Free Jason Lane!

It was at this point that I was going to launch into a feel-good guy or two, but it quickly grew into its own post, which you’ll see tomorrow.

Who were you disappointed to see traded, DFA’d or otherwised dissed over the past week?

2013/14 “Hot Stove” – Bronson Arroyo, Alpha And Omega

Back in September, I previewed my Hot Stove set with these two images, custom cards which weren’t so much predictions as much as theoretical possibilities that illustrated points I’d wanted to make:
2013-14 Hot Stove Promo #2 Bronson Arroyo

2013-14 Hot Stove Promo #1 Matt Garza

As it turned out, the D-Backs were rumored to be in on Garza until the end, and I came pretty close to looking like a genius.

But since the D-Backs did get Bronson Arroyo, I also would’ve looked like a genius if I’d only swapped the two teams.  Oh, well.

Anyway, it’s time to set things straight.  I’m not going to bother doing Garza in a Brewers uni, but I did decide to re-do Arroyo in his properly-airbrushed uniform:

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #18 - Bronson Arroyo

All throughout this set and the prior year’s version, I tried some different “tricks” every now and then… That was the case with this one, and it didn’t turn out quite like I’d envisioned it, but it’s close enough.

To be frank, I was a bit limited on the time I had to do this, because I’ve got two other “custom card” projects currently in the works.  I’m trying to finalize the design of my regular 2014 TSR custom set, and I also got temporarily sidetracked by a spur-of-the-moment, Olympic-related custom set, one that you’ll be seeing in the next week or so.

I’d have to think that this will be the last card of the Hot Stove set… At this time of year, there’s not a whole lot of point to “photoshopping” players into uniforms that they’ve already started to appear in.

So, to wrap things up, I’d like to introduce a new concept in inserts…

We’ve had “Mini” cards…

We’ve had “Micro” cards…

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce the new “Infinitesimal” parallel insert!
2013-14 TSR Hot Stove Infinitesimal uncut sheet
It’s an uncut sheet of 132 cards, but the entire sheet is a standard 2.5″ x 3.5″… which means that each individual card measures 0.21″ x 0.29″.

Mini-er than Mini.

Micro-i-er than Micro.

I win.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Dodgers Sign Haren To Fill Out Rotation

Going in to the offseason, the Dodgers were supposed to sign Masahiro Tanaka and Robinson Cano and Brian McCann and Matt Garza and Ervin Santana and — what the heck, sign Bronson Arroyo to a 5 year contract just to be the batting practice pitcher and clubhouse guitarist.

None of that has happened.  I don’t mean this to be critical, it’s more a reflection of how people have come to expect the Dodgers to throw money around.

They did sign Dan Haren to a one-year contract, a move that would’ve been a bit more noteworthy had it happened five years ago.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #17 - Dan Haren

…and I can’t think of anything else to write about Dan Haren, the Dodgers or this particular custom card, so I’ll just share a couple of unrelated thoughts…

Back at the end of July I gave a positive review of the 2013 Baseball Hall Of Fame Desk Calendar.  I enjoyed the calendar so much that I also bought the 2014 calendar… but I have to admit it’s been a little disappointing so far because the calendar has been using some of the same images as was used in 2013.  Obviously not an issue if you didn’t buy the 2013 calendar… but just something I wanted to mention.

One other thing I want to mention:  Topps hates me.

I’ve been looking to buy a single wax pack of 2014 Topps all week, and three different Targets had nothing.  Last night I found a Wal-Mart that had 2014 Topps, and they had blasters, hanger packs, rack packs, every conceivable configuration… except for the single wax pack that I was looking to buy.  Why just a single pack?  I’ll get into that when I write about the pack I do buy, but I’m sure you’ve all got an idea or two.  Here’s a hint:  I’m not completely skipping the 2014 flagship.

Oh, one final thing:  I got the moves like Jagger.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Yankees Outbid Half The Majors For Tanaka

I’d bet a stack of 1988 Donruss that this post gets its share of hits from people Googling on “Masahiro Tanaka Yankees”, so I’ll start off with a little explanation: This is a blog about baseball cards, and one of the things I like to do is make up “custom” baseball cards, ones that don’t exist in any format beyond digital… well, unless someone prints it out.

The card below uses a design based on the 1959 Bazooka baseball and football sets, and the image was “photoshopped” to get Tanaka into Yankees gear.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #16 - Masahiro Tanaka

Although I’m not too thrilled that Tanaka signed with the Yankees (and I would have been just as un-thrilled had he signed with the Dodgers), I am nevertheless happy that he signed with SOMEONE, because now the dozen or so teams who didn’t get an ace pitcher, who didn’t spend $100M, can get on with the business of working on their respective Plan B’s (“Plans B”?).

As they might say on TV, “We now return you to your regularly-scheduled offseason, already in progress”.

As for the custom, I guess it turned out well enough, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. In an effort to be topical, I tried to get it done in one sitting, something that isn’t my usual M.O. It also got to the point where any attempts I made to improve it had the opposite effect, so I decided that it was, for all intents and purposes, done.

Here’s a helpful hint to my fellow amateur pixel-pushers…  The jersey in the photo started out as a Japan jersey from last year’s World Baseball Classic, and that jersey had red and yellow piping coming out the wazoo.  To make it look more like a Yankees BP jersey I removed all the colored piping by using the “scratch remover” tool.  This tool also works quite nicely on unwanted pinstripes.  I usually run over the modified area with a Soften Brush just to make sure it’s not overly obvious that something’s been removed.

So as of right now, next week’s Hot Stove card looks to be Dan Haren, since that’s what I was working on when the whole Tanaka thing came up.  If there’s somebody else you’d rather see on a custom card, leave a comment and I’ll see if my meager skills are up to the challenge.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Justin Morneau Joins Exclusive Denver Club

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #15 - Justin Morneau

No pressure on Justin Morneau with the Rockies… just because an entire generation of Rockies fans has never known the team without Todd Helton at first base… it’s all good.

When Morneau signed with the Rockies, he joined an exclusive fraternity.  Over the 21 seasons of Colorado Rockies baseball, for any of those seasons if you would single out a guy and say “That’s the Rockies’ first baseman”, then you’d be singling out Todd Helton, Andres Gallarraga and…………… that’s it.  There ain’t nobody else.

Best of luck to Morneau, I’ll be rooting for him.

About this particular custom card…

Regulars will know that these customs are based on the 1959 Bazooka set.  Well, this is the first time that I’ve “gone rogue” with the color combinations.  This black with white letters/red with yellow letters combination didn’t exist on any 1959 Bazooka baseball or football cards.  I improvised on the colors because I didn’t like the way the “authentic” color combinations clashed with the purple Rockies logo.

Next week’s card: Tell me who should be on it.
I really don’t know at this point.  I thought about Shin-Soo Choo or Joe Nathan, but I’ve already done a few Tigers and Rangers and it might be good to do some other teams.

…but at this point there aren’t a lot of outstanding transactions that leap out at me.  Which transplanted baseball player do you want to see?  Dan Haren?  Mark Trumbo?  Jarrod Saltalamacchia?  Brent Morel?  Clark, the Cubs’ new mascot?  Leave a comment, let me know…

“Hot Stove” Custom – Carlos Beltrán Turns To The Dark Side

So, it’s been about three weeks since Carlos Beltrán officially signed with the Yankees, even longer since it became known that he would be playing his home games in Yankee Stadium Mark III.
2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #9 - Carlos Beltran

…and you know what? I’m still pretty pissed off about it.

This isn’t the usual “I’m tired of the Yankees throwing money around like rock salt on a frozen sidewalk” (to use a topical simile).

This one feels a little like betrayal… sure, “betrayal” is a little stronger than I actually mean, but I can’t think of anything better.

This feels like I’ve got the voice of someone’s sobbing mother in my head…  “I whole-heartedly cheered for you when you were with the Mets… I never said a word against you when the 2006 NLCS ended with you taking a called third strike with the bases loaded… I cheered for the Cardinals last year just because you had never been to the World Series… I always include the accent mark over the “A” in your last name…

“To think of all the things  I’ve done… All that I’ve sacrificed…


At this point, I’m thinking the best-case scenario from my own selfish standpoint would be season-ending injuries to Carlos and Brian Roberts (assuming his deal ever becomes official), thus sparing me the anguish of seeing two players I collect wearing the wrong-colored pinstripes.

I hope the two of your are satisfied… breaking my heart like that…

So, what do you think?  Are there any maternal guilt trips I should’ve included in my little rant?

Oh, almost forgot… Just for grins, I created a 1/1 Magenta Printing Plate for this custom:

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #9 - Carlos Beltran Magenta

I’ll try to make sure the next custom card comes with less angst and guilt.

…And speaking of the next custom…

Favorite Player On The Move?  Favorite Team Make A New Addition?

Would you like to see what a player will look like in his new uniform?  Make a request in the comments below, and I’ll do what I can to make one of my “Hot Stove” customs of your player! *

*Offer based on availability of images and abilities of the blogger.  No purchase necessary.  Void Where Prohibited.  Your results may vary.  Not to be taken internally.  If rash or swelling occurs, discontinue use.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Twins Sign Catcher Kurt Suzuki

Last week I shared my latest custom card of the week and made an offer to make a custom of your favorite “on the move” player.  At the time, this blog was having blogroll issues so many of you may not have seen it.

The first request for a custom came from Mr. S.J. Fuji, purveyor of The Chronicles Of Fuji and founder of the SanJoseFuji media empire.  Fuji wanted to see a custom of Kurt Suzuki, who signed with the Twins just before Christmas.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #14 - Kurt Suzuki

Before I go any further, I’d like to get something off my chest:  PINSTRIPES ARE A PAIN IN THE BUTT!  They’re easy enough to remove from an image, but faking them makes life difficult for amateurs like me.

Kurt Suzuki could end up with a starting job in 2014.  The Twins are moving Joe Mauer to first;  how much time Kurt Suzuki sees behind the plate depends on how ready prospect Josmil Pinto is.

…and a side note – if you are in a fantasy baseball league where players are drafted out of a pool rather than by position, then you may want to bump Mauer down in your rankings;  he’s less valuable as a first baseman than he is as a catcher.

If anyone would like me to make a custom of their favorite relocated baseball player, leave a comment and I will give it my best shot… but I make no promises, due to factors out of my control (i.e. available images to work with).

There is an outstanding request to make a custom of Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka, but I can’t do anything until he actually signs with someone.

“Hot Stove” Custom – A’s Get Closer Johnson From O’s

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #13 - Jim Johnson

There were two distinct moments of surprise associated with the trade that sent the Orioles closer Jim Johnson to the Athletics.

The first came when I found out that the Orioles were shopping Johnson in the first place… I can understand not wanting to commit too much money to a volatile commodity like a closer, but it wasn’t like the Orioles had another closer sitting around waiting for the opportunity.

The second surprise came when the A’s were the ones to pick him up.  “Wait, the Athletics are taking on salary?  What’s up with that?”

I’ve got nothing against the Athletics, and this wasn’t JJ’s idea, so I will wish him all the best with his new team.

…and I hope that Orioles GM Dan Duquette knows what he’s doing…

I take requests!

Has your favorite player has moved to another team this winter?  …Or did your favorite team acquire a player?  Would you like to see that special someone “photoshopped” into their new uniform?

If so, feel free to leave a request in the comments below, and I will give it my best.

I make absolutely no promises that I will be able to pull it off – I’m somewhat limited by the images I have access to, not to mention my amateur graphical skills –  but I will most certainly make an effort.


“Hot Stove” Custom – Mariners Sign Robinson Canó

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #11 - Robinson Cano

I took the easy way out with this one…  I didn’t do any “photoshopping” of Canó himself, I just took a promotional photo released by the Mariners , replaced the background on it and made that into a custom card.

I have a tiny, little soft spot for the Mariners, so I hope this works out for them… but to quote every single character who appeared in a Star Wars movie or spinoff, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”.

I’ll be curious to see how much the Yankees miss him… I’ve got some thoughts on the matter, but I’ll save them for tomorrow’s post…

…And for those of you who might be new to this blog, this is another in a series custom cards reflecting off-season changes. The card’s design is based on the 1959 Bazooka set.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Mets Sign Curtis Granderson

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #10 - Curtis Granderson

Realistic expectations about the newest Met, Curtis Granderson:

  • He is not going to single-handedly make the Mets a contending team.
  • His power-related numbers will drop because of Citi Field.
  • There’s a decent chance that he will not be “worth” the amount of money he’s going to receive.

Modest hopes for Curtis Granderson:

  • I hope that he will make the Mets more fun to watch… bearing in mind that “more fun” is relative.
  • I hope that he will NOT be another in a long line of disappointing big-name acquisitions in Mets history.
  • I hope that he will truly understand that he’s not going to put up “Yankee Stadium numbers” while playing at Citi Field.
  • I hope that this signing will get some of the more — *ahem* — vocal Mets fans to give it a rest, even if just for a little while.  Aaaaaaaaah, who am I kidding?  There’s no pleasing some people.

About this custom…

It came out OK, but it’s not quite what I set out to do.  Let’s just say that pinstripes are a pain to work with, and the next Mets custom you see will likely feature an alternate or road jersey.

But at least I can be smug that, unlike the NY Daily News, I did not give Granderson a retired uniform number or the 2012 “50th Anniversary” sleeve patch that he’ll never wear.

Oh, and for those of you who might be new to this blog, this is another in a series custom cards reflecting off-season changes.  The card’s design is based on the 1959 Bazooka set.