Bouncing back from a year that fell short
The Mets made the postseason for the second consecutive season last year, but not even a superb outing from Noah Syndergaard could get the Mets past the Giants in the Wild Card game, so it’s been a long offseason. Speaking of Noah Syndergaard, this happened:
We saw lots of Syndergaard in cardboard last year and will likely see a lot more this year. Beyond him though, the cardboard Mets didn’t have a whole lot of depth in 2016 and there could be less in store for 2017. The Mets have two stars shining brightly in Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes, which could make everyone else hard to see. Or maybe they’ll be a rising tide that lifts everyone else into prominence. Honestly, I have no clue what Topps (and especially Panini) is doing and I get the feeling that they don’t either.
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A very different kind of top prospect list
It’s that time of year again when a young (or not-so-young) man’s (or woman’s) fancy (or dread) turns to ordinal rankings of young baseball players. That’s right, top prospect lists! Everyone’s got one and you usually regret looking at the other guy’s. Why should we be any different here? Now, I am not a talent evaluator, so we’re going to have to come up with some other way to rank these guys. And after a comment I made on For All You Kids Out There (For All You Kids Out There is the official podcast of your Baseball Prospectus Mets Local site), the answer became clear – we’ll rank them by the strength of their cardboard.
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A little bit a bit late
Full list of 2016 Mets draft picks
It took nearly the entire year, but 2016 finally brought us some new Mets prospects with autographs. As expected, most of them were from the 2016 draft: Justin Dunn and Peter Alonso in Bowman Draft, Dunn, Alonso, and Anthony Kay in Panini Elite Extra Edition, Dunn and Kay in Leaf Metal Draft, and Dunn again in Bowman’s Best. All of these, however, were overshadowed by the other newcomer, free agent acquisition Tim Tebow in Panini Elite Extra Edition and Leaf Metal Draft. Sadly, that means that nobody went deeper than the second round with autographs, which should come as no surprise when you consider how little emphasis there has been on prospects this year. Good thing we’ve got top prospect Tim Tebow, I guess…
From a Dunn deal to the invisible Hand
For the first time in the Alderson era, the Mets took a pitcher with their top pick. Sadly, Justin Dunn has no certified autograph cards, so the top spot will remain empty here until (hopefully) 2016 Bowman Draft. Supplemental pick Anthony Kay will have to stand in for the time being, but there’s nothing after that until Christian James in the 14th round. And after that, the only picks who have signed cards did not sign with the Mets – Carlos Cortes, Rylan Thomas, and, for the second time, Jordan Hand. After two years filled with picks who signed in Leaf Perfect Game, 2016 is a bit of a let-down. All the more reason we need this Mets prospect autograph drought to turn around and get us some ink from these guys.
The future is not now
Every year since 1999, MLB rounds up a few dozen top prospects to face off in the <sponsor name> All-Star Futures Game. And every year since 2000, Topps has cut up the jerseys worn during that game and used them in cards released in its multitude of prospect-focused products. Two years ago, Topps was churning out more Futures Game material than ever before, so much so that I had to put together a guide just to sort out what was where. Four Mets prospects participated in the 2013 game (though one was in the Pirates system at the time), including both starting pitchers. With three different fabric types on each jersey, plus patches, there was a lot to collect and a lot of places to find it. Since then though, Futures Game material has almost completely disappeared from the collecting landscape.
This year, the Mets had three representatives at the Futures Game in San Diego: Dominic Smith on the USA team and Amed Rosario and Dilson Herrera (who was once again traded shortly afterward) on the World Team. With distinctive brown and yellow jerseys, the material from this game should stand out. If we ever see it. So far, only a few hundred swatches of material have made it out to the collecting public from the four Mats-worn Futures Game jerseys from 2014 and 2015 combined. What happened?
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To sell or not to sell?
For those of us in the aging collector demographic, our childhoods were spent dreaming of the vast fortunes that awaited us in adulthood as our cards grew in value like those from generations past. The reality turned out to be quite the opposite though, as our massive cardboard reserves are now barely worth the paper they’re printed on. Ever since that harsh reality set in, collectors have struggled with the decision of what to do with hot cards they pull from packs. Sell for the quick cash? Wait and see for a little while and dump at the first sign of a downturn? Or hold on for the long haul and hope for a big return in the far future? My take is that you shouldn’t worry about it much, just keep what you like and sell off anything else that has value. Live in the now and let someone else take on the risk. But how has that worked out for me over the last 15+ years?
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The Phillies are bad and we all feel sad
The season is drawing to a close, which means it’s time for my annual pilgrimage to Citi Field. With just over a week left in the regular season, the Mets were in a tight race for a Wild Card spot. But that would not be the big story of the day.
It was 9am and I was standing on the train platform waiting to begin the 2 hour trip to Citi Field (after the usual 4 hour drive the day before). Checking Twitter, I started seeing cryptic tweets. Boating accident. José Fernandez killed. Confirmed.
José Fernandez was due to start the next day against the Mets. At 24, he had established himself as one of the game’s top pitchers. You would rather miss him in the rotation with a playoff spot on the line, but not like this. Never like this. How can this be real?
The Marlins would cancel their game that day. The Mets however would play on with a Fernandez 16 jersey taped up inside the dugout.
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