Hot Stove: Cruz, Markakis & Miller View Baltimore Through Their Rear-View Mirrors

Last week was not a good week for Orioles fans.

I expected Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller to go elsewhere… But to lose both of those guys AND Nick Markakis, the guy who had the longest tenure of any Oriole?  All within the span of 6 days?

Last week was not a good week.

But we must soldier on…  Perhaps we must, to beat a dead meme even more than it’s been beaten, “Keep calm and make customs”.

For those new to this blog, the following are all custom baseball cards based on the 1974 Kellogg’s set, and all three players in today’s post were “Photoshopped” into their new uniforms.  (Although I actually used Paint Shop Pro)

First we had Nelson Cruz head to the Pacific northwest.  Later, Cruz.  Front door, backside.
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #10 Nelson Cruz
I kept my emotional distance from Nelson Cruz last year. The guy signed a below-market one-year contract late in the offseason, so I figured there were two ways it could go… 1) Cruz would have a good season and take off for bigger piles of cash than the Orioles would pay, or 2) Cruz would be worthless without the PED’s and the Orioles wouldn’t want him back. Either way, the guy was clearly a short-timer. I’ll miss his offense, I won’t miss him.

For what it’s worth, the Nelson Cruz custom was made before the official announcement, and was a means of killing time while I was on hold with my internet provider’s support line.

…And then there’s Nick Mar-kick-ass. For a long while it seemed that re-signing with the Orioles was a mere formality. Then talks slowed down. Then they stopped. And the next thing you know, I’m digitally putting Markakis into a Braves uniform.
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #11 Nick Markakis
This just looks wrong, and I’m not talking about my work on the card. Nick is supposed to be an Oriole, what’s he wearing that damn tomahawk for?

For his troubles, Markakis is going to have to switch numbers; his customary #21 was retired for Warren Spahn, so he’s switched to #22.

Before we move on to the third custom, I’ll point out that the Braves will be playing in Baltimore in late July. Should be interesting to see how Nick is welcomed back.

Finally, Andrew Miller went to the Yankees… and you can’t even say he went just for the big payday, because the Astros offered him more. Frankly, I probably would’ve gone to the Astros – More money, and possibly a brighter future than you have in the Bronx (but that’s probably wishful thinking on my part).
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #12 Andrew Miller
Useless information: I adapted Miller’s Yankee jersey from an image of Ichiro. I think it’s fairly safe to say that in real life the 6’7″, 210 lb. Miller would not be able to wear the jersey of the 5’11”, 170 lb. Ichiro… But that’s the magic of digital photo manipulation!

I decided to combine the heavy shadow on Miller’s face with a nighttime Yankee Stadium background, thus creating my first night card for the 2014/15 Hot Stove set. You’re welcome, Night Owl.

So there you have it… Three former Orioles moving on.   Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m making customs of guys coming to the Orioles.

2014 TSR: Previewing Series 5 With Some “Trade Deadline Guys”

I don’t know how many of you realize that my custom card set comes out in six series of 132 cards each… as if such a thing mattered tremendously.  What the heck, it adds a tiny little element of fun for me, and possibly for some of you.

Series 5 went “live” on July 15th, which means that the first series to reflect the trade deadline deals ends up being Series 6, which gets released on September 1st.

The below customs are not meant to highlight every player moved or even the most important ones… In this case, it reflects the subset of players who moved and for whom I’ve created a custom which meets the exacting standards of The Shlabotnik Report, not to mention the Bavarian purity laws set out in the Reinheitsgebot.

For those of you who enjoy the concept of honoring players by giving them round card #’s, this Yoenis Cespedes card is #550.
2014 TSR #550 Yoenis Cespedes

…and David Price is #625. For these recently traded guys, I went with more pre-game cameo shots than I normally would… but I just liked the photos.
2014 TSR #625 David Price

Austin Jackson has been traded twice in his career, and both times it was a blockbuster-esque 3-team deal.
2014 TSR #540 Austin Jackson
Back in late 2009, he went from the Yankees to the Tigers in a trade that saw Max Scherzer, Curtis Granderson, Ian Kennedy, Edwin Jackson, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth change teams.

The Orioles took advantage of the Red Sox “We suck with you, we can suck without you” sale, and got an Andrew Miller rental for prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. I hope this doesn’t come back to bite the Birds in the butt. (Sorry, I know I shouldn’t let my Mets pessimism leak over to my Orioles fandom).
2014 TSR #559 Andrew Miller
Miller’s no stranger to being traded; he was part of the package of prospects that the Tigers sent to Florida for Miguel Cabrera. The Marlins also got Cameron Maybin, Burke Badenhop and a couple of other guys. I’d think you’d have to give the Tigers a teeny tiny little edge on that one.

Allen Craig wasn’t one of the players I had in mind when I started making these customs, but I just liked the way this one turned out.
2014 TSR #533 Allen Craig
I’ll freely admit that I make a bunch of customs and then throw them at the wall to see which ones stick.

To wrap things up for now, here are two of the pitchers that the Red Sox unloaded in their “looking towards 2015” deals.
2014 TSR #620 John Lackey

2014 TSR #598 Jake Peavy