Monday, March 30, 2015

Changing Clothes

Well, the last few days have been a whirlwind of emotion.

Actually, I guess that statement isn't exactly accurate, as the whirlwind was really just a hurricane of horrible - the only emotion I felt was frustration.

Thankfully, it looks like that figurative storm has passed, along with the actual bad weather that has been plaguing Chicago.  Sun and temps in the 50's has certainly helped my mood.

So, I'm back behind the keyboard to talk cardboard.  In order to ease myself back in, today's post won't require much brain-power on my part.

When it comes to my CATRC, a "Cubgrade" is when I can add a Cubs card of a particular player to my binder who had previously been represented in a different uniform.

Y'know, changing clothes, like so:

Arodys wasn't a Cub for very long and did not live up to the hype that he generated upon his acquisition at the trade deadline 2012 in the Paul Maholm/Reed Johnson deal with the Braves.  The then-top prospect was coming off of Tommy John surgery and represented huge upside should he return healthy.

Unfortunately, he had a few setbacks, was limited to the bullpen and was not able to make it back to the Bigs until September of last year and had been surpassed by several players on the depth chart.  Thus, he was dealt back to whence he came in return for Tommy LaSTELLLLLLAAAAAA!!!!!!

I was lucky enough to land this purple parallel on Listia for less than 100 points.  Score!

(well, uh, Bowman actually. *rimshot*)

Michael Tucker was a MLB journeyman who called Chicago home for one season - 2001.  Like Arodys, he was a mid-season reinforcement, coming in a July trade from the Reds.  However, this time around, the Cubs were actually in the thick of the pennant race.

The outfielder was actually fairly adequate.  He batted .263 in the course of 235 PA's and was worth 1.2 WAR; so, we won't blame the 2001 Cubbie Collapse on Tucker.  After the Cubs choked away the NL Central in the final half of the season, they jettisoned Michael to the Royals for no one of consequence.

Sidenote - I've always appreciated minor league cards for the unfamiliar uniforms, so cards that depict high school teams are even more fascinating!

Todd was a late-inning reliever who had one good year, 1975, where he posted a 2.29 ERA in 122 innings with 12 saves.  Unfortunately, it wasn't with the Cubs.

His Cubs career was much uglier, with an ERA above 9 in just over 30 frames in 1977.

So, maybe we can blame the Cubbie Collapse of 1977 on Todd?  Well, amongst others as well anyway.

Regardless, I'm happy to add him to my CATRC in the proper uniform, even if the sleeve on said uniform has seen better days.

Ah, another 2001 Cub.  Although, this guy was the original edition of Carlos Zambrano.  I mean, not even Big Z was suspended for starting a bench-clearing brawl in a Spring Training game against the Giants!  

Stemming from that, Tavarez attacked the people of San Francisco later that year after being booed enthusiastically. This earned him a nice fine from the Cubs and an order into sensitivity classes by Bud Selig.

It's no coincidence that he played through 11 teams during his 17-year, MLB career.  

Luckily, that '52 Topps design will make any player look good.

"Cool Breeze" blew Chicago pretty quickly back in 1978.  In fact, he blew through a lot of towns over the course of his MLB tenure, being involved in 5 trades in just 8 years.

One in a long, long, loooooong line of third basemen who tried to fill Ron Santo's shoes, Scott lasted only 78 games before being shipped on down the line.  This was likely due to his problems with manager Herman Franks, with whom there was allegedly physical altercation.

Between he and Mr. Tavarez, there's an awful lot of anger in this particular post.

I've always had an affinity for 1978 Topps - it's a no frills design with the old umbrella logo that goes really well the the Cubs color scheme.  Bonus points for the excellent Wrigley Field photo too!

Ah, speaking of anger, in the wake of Bryant, Baez and Russell being sent back to minor league camp, let's examine another top prospect from the Cubs organization in the days of yore.

Unlike the Gary Scotts or Felix Pies, Phil proved useful to the Cubs - as trade fodder.  He was packaged with Calvin Schiraldi and future Sox broadcaster Darrin Jackson in 1989 for playoff-run reinforcements Luis Salazar and Marvell Wynne.

Meanwhile, I really wish Topps would revisit a subset based on players who debuted in the Majors again.  It's be an excellent opportunity to see some fresh faces on cardboard.

I love cards that feature defunct teams and I love these 1974 Topps with the large "traded" stamp (so very 70's). What a dilemma!

Pina was a late-inning fire-baller who had a pretty good career, though, his time on the Cubs was brief.   

The transaction celebrated here brought him to the north side in exchange for Bob Locker; he was only around for 34 games and 47.1 innings before being forwarded to the Angels for local hero Rick Stelmaszek that July.

His best success came in the Mexican League after his time in Chicago. Pina threw a no-hitter in 1975, posted a 21–4 record with a 1.94 ERA and pitched a perfect game in 1978 and gained induction in their Hall of Fame in 1988.

And, saving the best for last....

The very first card issued of our savior Jon Lester in his proper robes!*

This hobby shop exclusive beat his Heritage card to the market by just a few weeks.  It's a beauty too - I love the Cactus League motif in the background and I'm a sucker for all things color coordinated and shiny.

Plus, the Photoshopping isn't even particularly noticeable.  Maybe it's because I've taken several courses on the program, but subtlety seems pretty rare these days.

I've always had a thing for the Spring Fever set, but this is the first one I've been able to add to my collection.

* - excluding his Topps Bunt "card;" call me old school, but if I can't hold it, it ain't a card!

The new golden boy literally changing his clothes
image courtesy of

On that note, I'm going to call it a day.  I could use a nice positive spot to end on.

Although, it does always make me happy to add new cards to my CATRC, especially when they depict the best uniform in baseball!

Here's hoping that Lester and Cubs find a way to bring happiness to all of Chicago this season.  If not, I might slip into another mini-blogging slump or two and I don't know if anyone could handle that!

Ok, by anyone, I really just mean myself... and maybe my cat.

Hey - that works two ways!


  1. Phil Stephenson doesn't even look like the same person as a Cub.

    I read a good Fangraphs article about service time and how to fix issues with players like Bryant. Seems like we run into this every year.

    1. It sure does seem that way; Bryant, Springer, Strasburg, Posey... etc etc. I like the ideas presented and hopefully they at least provide a nice jumping off point when it comes to negotiating some real change.