Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The First Call-Up of 2018

It's only the second week of the young season and we already have our first Cubs roster move of 2018.  Since the beginning of the season, Anthony Rizzo has been dealing with some stiffness and soreness in his lower back and it's only been exacerbated by the unseasonably cold weather in Cincinnati and Milwaukee.  Perhaps these issues are the reason behind Rizz's unusually slow start to the campaign: .107/.219/.214.  The man hasn't had a slash line that weak since he traded in his Padre Brown for Cubbie Blue!

After a few days of "will he or won't he" play, the Cubs finally decided to place Anthony on the 10-Day disabled list in order to afford him the proper rest.  Hopefully a few more days of uninterrupted rest will assuage his pains; however, back problems are notoriously tough to shake.

In the meantime, in the de facto captain's stead, Ben Zobrist and Victor Caratini will likely spend a majority of the time at first base.  Although, for a little added depth, the Cubs also went ahead and called up another infield bat - Efren Navarro, a bonafide first baseman.

I would be absolutely flabbergasted if Topps actually documented this menial roster shuffling with a Now card; thus, I decided to take up the mantle myself and create the first Efren Navarro Cubs "card," borrowing the design of this year's season-long documentary set.  Thankfully, Getty was able to capture a few images of the newest Cub during spring camp for use in this endeavor.  How does it look?

Speaking of spring, Efren came over to the Cubs this off-season as a non-roster invitee.  The 31-year old was drafted by the Angles in the 50th (!!!) round of the 2007 draft and eventually spent time on the Major League bench in four separate seasons for the Halos.  After a stint backing up Miggy Cabrera in Detroit for 2017, Navarro's career stat line reads.243/.306/.334.  As you can see, he's not making the club for his batting prowess; but, still, not bad for a 50th round draft selection!

Anyway, despite how happy I am with how my custom Topps Now creation turned out, I'll still need an authentic trading card to represent Efren in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder.  Having been far from a blue-chip prospect and never seeing much extended action in the Show, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there are few options for the latest man to don blue pinstripes:

As far as Major cards go, there's exactly one choice:  an unattractive, floating head rookie card from 2012 Heritage, shared with three other freshmen.  Otherwise, Efren has been documented in a handful of minor league team-issued sets.

Both of these options present some issues.  First off, while I prefer Major league cards for my marquee binder, I also prefer non-shared cards for representation.  Furthermore, singles from those team sets available in minor league gift shops across the country are generally overpriced and under-stocked on my usual cardboard sources.  Therefore, it may be a while before I obtain a proper Efren Navarro card for my CATRC.

I know... first world problems, right?

Unless Mr. Navarro comes up and does something spectacular enough to earn a authentic Now card, I highly doubt that my options are going to increase.  If he's up in the Majors long enough to earn a spot in the Update checklist, something terrible has gone wrong with Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs' 2018 season.  These are literally the cards that I've been dealt in this quest.

At any rate, this situation has afforded me the excuse and opportunity to create a re-usable template based on the 2018 Topps Now design, something I'm now bound to use again throughout the season.  I know that during my brief blogging absence, many other scribes declared their intentions to create their own season-long, documentary sets.  While I don't intend to be quite that bold, I may now use this template to do a few such cards, here and there.  We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, welcome to Chicago, Efren Navarro.  Go earn yourself a bonafide Topps Now card!


  1. Nice job on the card. Hopefully Rizzo hasn't picked up Ross's mantle as the grandpa of this team!

  2. You do Topps NOW better than Topps NOW does (and, lest we forget, you also do Topps THEN, which Topps doesn't attempt at all).

  3. Efren Navarro, eh? One of the Cubs blogs I follow hosts a prediction contest at the beginning of each season. One of the questions they ask is "Who will be the first minor leaguer called upon?" I doubt anyone had Efren Navarro on their radar. I know I didn't!