Who Should I Collect?

I’ve always been a player collector.  I’ve already briefly mentioned how I collected Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry as a young Mets fan.  I’ll get into that collection in more detail in a future post (I need to rescue it from my hometown).

In my basketball days I was primarily a Michael Jordan collector (will still take any and all MJ’s you want to float my way), with secondary focus on Grant Hill.  Need proof?  Here’s a not quite complete list of the binder-worthy players I collected back then.

This doesn't include the "newer" players like Grant Hill and the following years.

Aaaand here's #65 - #115. Again, not the absolute complete list.

So, yeah.  I guess you could say I’m a player collector.  Most of these guys honestly don’t deserve their own binder pages, yet they were rewarded with them.  Very rarely did a player get dropped, I just stopped trying to trade for them instead.

I’m digressing.  Basically what this comes down to is I want to collect a player again.  I’m not going to go 115 players at once crazy, but maybe 2.  We’ll see.  Whomever I collect will face a couple limitations.

First, I’m not going to actively seek out any parallel or numbered card less than or equal to #/50.  Will I accept them?  Gladly!  Will I buy them or purposefully trade for them?  Doubtful — unless I’m close to obtaining all the other cards from that player.

Second, I’m only going to collect cards of that player on the Cubs.  If he played for another team, great, but I don’t care if I have the card.

Alright, so obviously that narrows down the list of potential subjects down.  We can assume I’ll go with someone from the active roster.  I could go for a classic player, but that’s been done in my family.  My cousin collected Dawson.  My brother had Sandberg.  That really leaves Grace for the trifecta, but I don’t like him anymore.  Ever since he stood with Arizona and led a chant against us, I just can’t see him as a full-on Cub anymore.  I could go with Dunston, but that seems a little too easy.  If I go even more classic, then we’re talking some major cash.

I’m not a prospector, so forget Starlin Castro or Barney or Carpenter or…..  I prefer team longevity, ease of collectability, won’t break the bank type players.

Current/Active roster it must be, but there are positives and negatives to each one.  Let’s run them down, shall we?  You may want to grab some cocoa.  Don’t worry, I won’t go over all 25 players — just most of them.  In no particular order:

Big Z

Our newest relief pitcher.  Hey, anything is better than Samardzajirjjaaa.  PROS: Long history with the team; only been with the Cubs.  CONS: Doesn’t spark much collecting interest from me; not the ace he’s supposed to be.

I dare a non-Cubs fan to spell his name without cheating.

Since I mentioned him already, let’s formally dismiss him as an option.  Touted as a starting pitcher, but never given that opportunity.  Now that he’s back in the minors (where he should have started the year), he’s still in relief so he can be ready to help us later.  Consider his career ruined.

I don't have any of him in a Cubs uni to scan

The byrd is, as they say, the wyrd.  He’s the newest Cub and doing very well for us this year.  PROS:  Doing well for us; supposedly here for three years.  CONS:  People don’t expect it to last; hasn’t had a chance to really cement fan favorite status yet here; still might get traded at the deadline

He's no Bobby Scales, but I suppose I'll give him a shot.

He impressed last year and led everyone in AVG in spring training.  He’s still doing quite well, despite having to share time with 3 massive contracts in the OF.  PROS:  Seems to be legit; good, likable player.  CONS:  How long will he stay with the team considering Soriano and Byrd; Will the skills hold up?  TOP CANDIDATE

Boring card for a boring player

Baker is starting to grow on me, but he’s a platoon 2B/utility IF guy.  He’s effective, but somewhat inconsistent.  Don’t think he has a shot.

Little Babe Ruth - if ever a nickname didn't fit.

His platoon partner.  Also doing well, but also inconsistent.  Almost guaranteed to not last the year with the team.

Since you can't capture the glove wiggle on card very easily

PROS: Longevity with the club; effective closer and more effective starter; likable player; All-Star but not superstar.  CONS:  Pitchers get traded a lot.  TOP CANDIDATE

K Fuk

He was a hero in his first game, now people aren’t so hot about him.  They kind of want him gone and since his time as a Cub is most likely ending soon, he’s a no go.

This picture kind of sums up my feelings about him

Better this year offensively and seeing the ball well, but defense has suffered more than usual.  Speed is gone.  Junk contract.  PROS:  team longevity; All-Star.  CONS:  a player we pray for, not root for; overpriced in the card market as well.

Now Pitching: AD WLS

PROS:  Last year’s success doesn’t seem to be a fluke; sort of Maddux-lite; no-nonsense, goes about his business; potential star but doubtful superstar.  CONS:  Good young pitchers get traded; still could be a fluke (even Rich Hill had one good year).  TOP CANDIDATE

D-Lee and his suspect wrist

PROS:  All-Star; likable player.  CONS:  Too expensive; most likely will not be with the team much longer.

Whatcha lookin' at, huh?

PROS:  All-Star; ROY; doing well this year again.  CONS:  After last year, I still think he’s going to amount to a bunch of squat; too expensive thanks to the ROY thing.

Ted "Theodore" Lilly

PROS: All-Star, but not a superstar; arguably our best pitcher since he’s been here.  CONS: not signed past this year (but he may stay); not that enjoyable of a player to collect, really.

Stop or My Shortstop Will Shoot

PROS:  lifelong Cub; scrappy player; very consistent; flies under everyone’s radar, which combined with scrappy, is right up my alley.  CONS: Not signed past this year; rumored to be traded.  TOP CANDIDATE

one of 3 Carlos' to choose from

PROS:  All-Star, but not a superstar; at times a magician on the mound; young, talented closer with a lot of potential.  CONS:  When he’s not a magician, you wish HE would disappear; not signed past this year; small chance he’ll be traded if Cubs are sellers at the deadline.  TOP CANDIDATE

Why must you be sucking this year?

I saved him for last.  This is my natural instinct.  My gut was telling me to collect this guy (and/or Theriot).  PROS:  All-Star, but not a Superstar; flies under most people’s radars and is underrated as a 3B; thus, inexpensive to collect; fewer inserts to chase as other Cubs take those spots; longevity with the team; usually clutch; wouldn’t have to chase non-Cub rookie cards.  CONS:  has a player option after this year and may not stay a Cub if we’re out of it; has been injured a lot the past couple years; has not played well this year (but hopefully will pick it up soon).  TOP CANDIDATE

So, there you have it.  Thanks for sticking with me.  I know I basically named everyone except for Silva (no thanks) and our relievers (if Angel Guzman comes back ever, he’s a possibility too).  What do you guys think?  Which of the top candidates should I collect?  Should I collect more than one?  What factors go into your player decisions?

9 comments to Who Should I Collect?

  • If it were me (and I were a Cubs fan, which is a huge leap), I would collect Randy Wells. I like him. And I gravitate to good young pitchers.

    Always the risk of arm issues when collecting young hurlers, but they have the most appeal for me.

  • I would go with Theriot. I know it is pronounced differently than it is spelled but how awesome would it be to have a name like “The Riot”.

    After him I would go with Lilly. I always thought he was under ratted even with the Jays.

  • Not that I am a fan of the Cubs by any means,but if I had to blindly pick I would def go with Ryan Theriot. Good player, cool punk rock name. I thought of collecting him myself last year. Good luck with the PC!

  • Gary

    Go with Dempster or The Riot, but make sure you only pick one. This way, you can devote yourself to one player, not spend too much money, and have a sweet collection of a player not many other people collect.

    Good luck with your new player collection, whomever you choose.

    By the way, are you guys planning on coming to Baltimore in August for the National? I highly recommend it, both for collecting purposes and for blogging purposes. Plus, we can go out for a beer afterward.

    Did I just add a weird, stalker-vibe? Pretty sure I did. Sorry about that.

    • Jon

      Gary, right now I don’t think I’ll personally have the time off left (or the cash) for the National. I definitely want to make it out one of these years. I’ve been to many comic conventions in my youth and would love to go to something equivalent for cards. Mall shows are fun, but bigger is better!

      Don’t worry. I don’t think you’re a stalker…yet. Once you start calling my phone and using my non-blog email, then we’ll talk restraining order.

  • Both Dempster and Theriot are the budget options and you won’t have to sift through hundreds of autos and GU as they probably haven’t had that many… but my problem is that I think they both have very limited futures with the Cubs. Soto has a much better chance of keeping his job well into the ’10s… but I agree with your assessment of his talent.

    What about something really limited? Like Kenny Lofton as a Cub… or Juan Pierre as a Cub? No longevity but it could be fun trying to find all of those where they’re in Cubbie blue!

  • Gary

    Jon, so it would probably be REALLY weird if I told you that I had extra space in my bed here in Baltimore, so you wouldn’t have to spend any money on a hotel.

    Yeah, that would probably take it a little over the line. But just so you know, the above statement is true…

  • […] or admire admire ballplayers from every organization’s history.  Just look at my previous basketball collecting experience.  I had over 100 active player collections going (with a handful of main […]

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