Friday, May 31, 2019

Precious CarGo

In a move that seems more in-line with Cubs of previous generations, Theo Epstein and crew have signed the dotted line with an aging veteran on the downswing of their once lucrative career.  It's a transaction that calls to mind the days of Jim Edmonds patrolling center field at Wrigley Field in what felt like some sort of hallucinogenic fever dream to Cubs fans in the decidedly non-boring city of Chicago.  Or, if you're a little bit older, perhaps you might remember an August acquisition of Twin Cities icon, Gary "The Rat" Gaetti - a decade prior to Jimbo - playing out the twilight of his career in the wrong Midwestern locale.

Of course, both of those moves fueled playoff runs too - 2008 and 1998 - with both "fishes out of water" playing key roles in the clubs success.  With that in mind, maybe yesterday's signing of noted Cubs killer, Carlos Gonzalez, to a minor league contract will mark another notable step in a run through October.  "CarGo," the 2010 National Batting Champion and three-time All Star, was once one of the most feared bats in all of Major League Baseball; however, that was then.  Now, the slugger is but a shell of his former self in 2019, having just been released by the Cleveland Indians after posting an atrocious .210/.282/.286 batting in 117 at-bats.  Egad.

Why bother with somebody seemingly past his prime, you might ask.  Well, the Cubs have a glaring need in the outfield.  I mean, if you don't believe me, they started Jim Adducci in right field just a few games ago.  With Ben Zobrist's ongoing personal problems potentially bringing an early end to his illustrious career, there's a spare outfielder spot up for grabs in the Windy City.  This gap was exposed even further by the injures to Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward over the weekend, though both players seem to be on the mends.

Granted, Carlos' stats have steadily declined in recent years before falling off of the cliff known as 2019.  However, wouldn't you bet on a small renaissance in the midst of a heated playoff battle from "CarGo," who's still only 33, than count on a journeyman like Adducci?  Especially when the only required investment is a minor league contract?  That's a no-brainer upgrade, right there.

Although, Gonzalez won't be added to the Big League roster right away.  First, this weekend, he'll head to Iowa for a tune-up performance in the Pacific Coast League and a brief evaluation period.  If everything looks normal for the veteran, it seems like there's an expectation that he will get the bump up to Wrigley Field at some point during next week's homestand.  That's how the local beat writers are reporting the acquisition, anyway.... then again, you never know with baseball.

Oddly enough, in his corresponding article, Paul Sullivan, made the same correlation I did with the Gaetti and Edmonds moves of yore.  Parallel thinking at it's finest!

That said, barring a major disaster in Des Moines, it seems that the three-time Gold Glover will almost certainly be a Cub before too long.  With that in mind, shortly after hearing about the transaction, I took to my trade boxes to search out any cards I might have of the longtime Rockies star.

Luckily for me, I've never had the fortune of trading with a fervent fan of the Colorado National League Baseball team.  Combine that with the fact that Gonzalez was a marquee name and league-wide star for much of the current decade and it should come as no surprise that I had a bounty of precious "CarGo" in my boxes.

In fact, I came across so many Carlos Gonzalez singles during my dig, that I had a hard time deciding what card should eventually occupy his spot in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection.  Again, it seems like his addition to the 25-man roster is just a formality, so I'm approaching this situation as if he already has been added.  That being the case, I think I might as well take this opportunity to show off my potential newfound Cubs cardboard - maybe you readers can help me decide which card is best?

A few were easy to weed out of contention.  For instance, I find the three cards which have appeared already in this post to be less than attractive.  While the first 85 games of his MLB career were spent in Oakland, he just looks weird in green and gold; so, it was easy to rule his 2008 Topps Update rookie card out right away.  Furthermore, the surfboard aesthetic of 2012 Topps - parroted in Opening Day, is simply blase and 2011 Topps Attax is too oddball both in designation and design for my premier collection.

This one is obviously disqualified because it forces Gonzalez to share the spotlight with two other, non-Cubs.  That being stated, I'll still gladly set it aside.

Sure, I don't mind being reminded that the Cubs have acquired a multiple time, former All-Star player.  On the other hand, both of these cards are *ahem* rather ugly and will not make the cut.  Okay, maybe ugly is too strong; but again, two sub-par designs and those All-Star jerseys that look like the host team's weird me out.  Regardless, I do not see them as potential inclusions.

On the flip side, these next two beauties are wonderful pieces of cardboard.  Buuuuuttttt, there's warts with each that bars them from the binder:

2011 Topps Kimball Champions are nearly pieces of art when compared to most contemporary products.  Seriously, I feel like I should blow this up and have it framed in my study.  In fact, if it were to be blown u, it would stand a much better chance at making it into my CATRC because, as it stands, it's too small for inclusion.  I'm far too OCD to allow cards that are smaller than standard-size (when avoidable) into my favorite tome.  If only it were a little bit bigger...

Speaking of OCD, those same tendencies prevent me from including a horizontal shot when I have perfectly acceptable vertical orientations available... even when the sideways card in question features Carlos showcasing his Gold Glove defense in a green grass frame.  Oh well - like I said, I have several appealing options at my disposal, so I'm not too broken up about it.  Thus, without any further adieu, let's take a look at the true contenders:

2016 Topps Update 500 Home Run Club Futures

With his sudden downturn, it's easy to forget that Gonzalez was once thought to have an outside chance at swatting 500 big flies.  Then, at age 30, he already had 201 on the back of his baseball card.  Here's hoping he can rediscover some of that magic as a Cub a few years later.

2018 Topps Gypsy Queen

When I first ripped a pack of the annual, faux-retro Gypsy Queen product last summer, I was not impressed with it's multi-color, busy layout.   Of course, as time has marched on, it's grown on me and, though GQ has long passed it's sell-by date as a product line, I think this might be my favorite iteration since 2011.  

2016 Topps Bunt (Physical)

At the risk of influencing the vote, I think this one here is my personal front-runner.

The surprise hit of the 2016 baseball card market was the emergence of the physical Bunt cards  With it's giant, floating team logos, minimalist design, and cheap price point, it charmed collectors all across the blogosphere and I was certainly no exception.  In fact, I felt that it's design should have been the Flagship template for that year.  Plus, as an added bonus, Carlos is wearing the Rock's purple alternate jersey, with a purple helmet and purple wrist bands.  That's a lot of purple and there's not nearly enough purple in baseball.

RIP Topps Bunt physical  😓

And there you have it, my newfound Carlos Gonzalez PC.  Like I said at the outset, I have plenty of options to choose from for my CATRC, if and when "CarGo" gets the call back up to the Show in Chicago.  Sure, there are no mega mojo hits - it's mostly just base cards and a couple of basic inserts that I've pulled while pack ripping over the decade plus - but that's good enough for me.   However, 'm still not entirely sure which card should get the honor of representing the outfielder in my favorite binder.  There are too many options!

With that, I turn to you, the readers of Wrigley Roster Jenga - which baseball card should represent Carlos Gonzalez in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection?

Which CarGo is most precious?

2016 Bunt Physical
2017 Gypsy Queen
2016 Topps Update 500 Home Run Club Futures
One of those other ones, idiot
Created with QuizMaker

If you selected other, I ask that you please elaborate in the comment section below.  Am I stupid for eliminating the Kimball just because it's a touch too small or perhaps I am being too harsh on the All-Star jerseys?  Please make your thoughts known!

In the meantime, I'll be over here crossing my fingers, hoping that everything goes according to plan and Carlos is in Cubbie Blue within the next couple of weeks.  I don't need another Drew Smyly incident, so I guess I'll hold off on actually paging the new card until after he's officially added to the active roster and it can hang out with Kendall Graveman for now.  I hope that he is called up, not just so I can add his pasteboard to my collection - I truly believe that Gonzalez can help this team.  After all, he thoroughly enjoys hitting in Wrigley Field, as his eye-popping .299/.340/.588 slash against the Cubs attests.  Perhaps coming to the North Side is just the jump start the All-Star needs to get his game on and go play.

Welcome to the club, Carlos.  It's no secret that we need another outfielder - it's your spot to take!


  1. Although it isn't a great uniform, I would fo with the blue National League uniform card.

    The card won't be tied to another MLB team, and the Cubs are I the National League. Granted, he didn't make the all-stars with the Cubs, and it does still have the Rockies logo in the corner, but with the blue color, at a glance it still might work.

  2. Wow, my thumbs missed out on my phone today...

    ...would go with...

    and ...Cubs are in the...

  3. I remember an off-season or trade deadline (five or six years ago) where it seemed like every Cubs-centered rumor out there was about CarGo. Happy he is finally a Cub and I hope he produce at WAR > 0.

  4. 2011 Topps Kimball Champions is one of my favorite insert sets from the past decade.

  5. I know I'm late on this, but I would go with the blue National League uni.

  6. I'm with Trevor. I like the 2012 Home Run Derby one.

    I'm a fervent fan of the Colorado National League Baseball team, and I'm sure I can find some more CarGo cards in my duplicates box if you'd like to do a swap.