Friday, May 28, 2010

Autograph Updates- 5.28.10

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Enjoy, and let me know if you've had any look getting some great autographs this season!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Tale of Two Pitchers




For Justin Masterson and Clay Buchholz, when one is having the best of times, the other is having the worst of times. Pitching on Monday, Buchholz and Masterson were again heading in opposite directions. By surrendering four runs to the Chicago White Sox in the first inning, assembling a high pitch count and being forced out after pitching only four innings, Cleveland’s Justin Masterson earned his eleventh consecutive losing decision and extended his winless streak to 16 starts dating back to August 20, 2009. At the same time, in Boston, Buchholz tossed six innings, striking out 8 Tampa Bay Rays and allowing only one run, collecting his 12th win since August 19th of last year.

What makes that situation so remarkable is that two years ago the situation was almost the exact opposite for the former teammates when they were both members of the Boston Red Sox. Clay Buchholz was selected with the 42nd overall pick in the supplemental portion of the first round in the 2005 draft out of Angelina College in Texas and Masterson was selected by the Red Sox a year later with the 71st overall pick in the second round of the draft out of San Diego State.

By spring training of 2007, both Buchholz and Masterson had shown their promise in the Boston farm system and were seen as top prospects in the organization. During the 2007 seasons, both Buchholz and Masterson met and exceeded the organizations expectations, with Masterson earning a promotion from High A Lancaster to AA Portland and Buchholz scaling the organization ladder from Portland to AAA Pawtucket to a late season call-up to Boston. While with the big club, Buchholz showed why scouts were so high on him by throwing a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles on September 1 in just his second Major League start.

Entering the 2008 season, Masterson and Buchholz were unquestionably the top two pitching prospects in the Red Sox organization. After his spectacular performance in Boston at the end of the 2007 season, Buchholz was awarded a place in the Red Sox starting rotation on Opening Day while Masterson began the season with the Portland Sea Dogs. From that point, their seasons went in opposite directions. For Buchholz, 2008 could not have been much worse. As a starter for the Red Sox, Buchholz went 2-9, with a 6.75 ERA in 16 games, eventually being demoted all the way back to Portland. In the meantime, Masterson flourished, being promoted directly from Portland to Boston to make an emergency start on April 24 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Masterson spend most of the rest of the season with Boston, pitching as both a starter and reliever as the team needed him and earning his first postseason win in Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

In 2009, the positions of Masterson and Buchholz had reversed. While Masterson broke spring training as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Buchholz was assigned to Pawtucket to show that he still had the talent that he had shown in 2007 and made so many fans and scouts believe that he would be a permanent fixture in the Red Sox rotation for years to come. Fortunately, both Masterson and Buchholz started the season off well. Buchholz bounced back from his disappointing 2008 season to dominate International League batters while Masterson was a reliable bullpen arm for the Red Sox. By mid-July, Buchholz earned a promotion back to Boston and showed that he belonged there, finishing the year 7-4 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. Masterson, on the other hand, was traded, along with top pitching prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price, to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Catcher Victory Martinez at the trade deadline. Working as a starter for Cleveland, Masterson had a 4.55 ERA in 57 1/3 innings pitched with little run support, going 1-7.

Now, with almost two months of the 2010 season in the record books, Clay Buchholz is on the top of the world while Justin Masterson has struggled to find any success. While Buchholz is making the case that he is the Ace in a rotation that includes Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey, Indians Manager Manny Acta has suggested that the Indians may return Masterson to the bullpen in the hope that he can once again find success as a relief pitcher that has eluded him as a starter.

Personally, I hope and believe that Masterson and Buchholz can end their career seesaw routine and both find success as major league pitchers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Justin Masterson: A Diamond in the Rough

Simply looking at his win-loss record, it would be easy to give up on Justin Masterson. The Akron Beacon Journal recently featured a story about Masterson with the title, “Pitcher’s futility streak goes on.” Beginning the season 0-4 to extending his winless streak to 14 starts dating back to last August, many observers have concluded that the Justin Masterson as a starter experiment has failed and that it is time for him to return to the bullpen. But, if you go deeper into the numbers, it is possible to conclude that rather than being a mediocre starter, Masterson might just be the unluckiest pitcher in baseball.

Justin Masterson is among the league leaders in a number of statistical categories that more accurately reflect what a pitcher is doing, rather than whether or not he has a good team behind him. For example, Masterson is one of only seven starters in the majors to average a 10 or more strike outs per nine innings(K/9), a list that, in addition to Masterson, includes Brandon Morrow, Tim Lincecum, Jered Weaver, Clayton Kershaw, Yovani Gallardo and Tommy Hanson. In addition, Masterson boasts a league leading 3.53 groundball to fly ball ratio, attracting groundballs on 58.8% of balls in play as opposed to line drives on only 24.6% of balls in play. Unfortunately, mostly as a result of a poor defense behind him, he has a league leading .412 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Making matters worse for Masterson is that he receives the leagues seventh lowest run support at 2.61 runs per nine innings.

The Cleveland Indians are clearly not a good team, but rather than being the goat that he is being made out to be by the Ohio media, Masterson might just be the diamond in the rough that the Indians thought he was when they traded Victory Martinez to the Red Sox for him and young prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price last July.



Personally, I have not lost an ounce of faith in Masterson's ability to be a dominant pitcher in the Major Leagues, whether it be as a starter or a reliever, although I am wondering what happened to the TTM cards I sent him over a month ago now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Autographed Cards Update, Take Two

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Hoping that you enjoy the videos and crossing my fingers that I will be showing off my autographed Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen cards next weekend!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Still taking 50/50 Autograph Deals for Pawtucket Red Sox

I posted this before, but just in case anyone missed it last time around, I am happy to do 50/50 autograph deals for the following players.

Over the past year, I have built quite a collection of minor league baseball autographs. During that time, I have been introduced to the concept of 50/50 autograph deals. For those of you who are not familiar with the system, here's how it works. If you have cards of a player that you would like to get signed, but do not have the opportunity to get them signed yourself, you seek out a person who frequently gets autographs from that player's team, send them cards and then split however many cards they get signed.

For example, if you had 4 Bubba Bell cards that you would like to get signed, you could send them to me with a self addressed stamped envelope to return them, I would get them signed, and then return 2 signed cards to you and keep 2 for myself.

As of right now, I am willing to go 50/50 (maximum of 10 cards per player) for the following members of the Pawtucket Red Sox...

Dustin Richardson
Mark Wagner
Dusty Brown
Lars Anderson (only 2009 TriStar Projections and any Just Minors cards for now)
Gustavo Molina
Torey Llullo
Gerald Perry
Randor Bierd
Fernando Cabrera
Fabio Castro
Robert Manuel
Adam Mills
Joe Nelson
Ramon A. Ramirez
Tug Hulett
Jorge Jimenez
Ryan Khoury
Angel Sanchez
Bubba Bell

If anyone is interested in 50/50 with me for any of those Paw Sox, please leave a comment and/or email me at georgebianchijr@gmail.com

Remember, although I will make every effort to get as many cards signed as I can, and, as seen in my videos, I do get quite a few cards signed, success is never a guarentee. In the event that I cannot get the cards signed, they will be returned. Please contact me if you're interested.

Monday, May 3, 2010

In Person and Through the Mail Autographs from April 2010

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Sorry about the extra footage of me trying to stop the recording. My webcam decided that it didn't want to stop, so you get to see my puzzled face as I kept hitting the stop button until I gave up and ended the whole program. I thought about re-shooting the cards, but I decided to just go with the raw and un-cut version of me and my autograph collection.