2007 Upper Deck Future Stars Hobby Box
24 packs, 4 cards per packContent Highlights (on average):
4 autographed rookie cards (printed on silver foil board)
7 foil-numbered inserts
Find limited triple signature cards
Cost: $29.95 (Blowout Cards - Black Friday deal)
Estimated Cost Through Ebay (with shipping): $35-50
After opening this box I felt content. I was happy. When scanning the cards however, I realized that objectively speaking, perhaps I shouldn't be pleased. You will see what I got. You tell me, should I be happy or disappointed?
I would describe this set design as complicated. There are enough lines, shapes and angles to remind me of a geometry test in high school.
It is not often that you see green, black, beige and white as a basis for a card color scheme. Certainly this design wouldn't hold up for a large flagship set. The colors would wear thin and there isn't room for great photos, but for a set with just 100 base cards (without autos), this combination is different enough to be enjoyable. One or two boxes and you move on to the next product.
There are other decisions that are visually incongruent:
Naming a set 'Future Stars' implies a certain content. And while the autos are all 'Future Stars' (or so we hoped), the base set is loaded with well-established stars. I am not complaining about the player selection, it's wonderful, however this 'Future Stars' moniker is akin to a store named 'Just Paperclips' selling mostly desk chairs.
Any player whose resume can begin with the words 'Throughout his 21 seasons...' is a hero of mine. It is reminiscent of the back of Pete Rose's 1987 Topps card. You need a magnifying glass to read it (yet another reason why Topps is my favorite company).
(Click for a great walk down memory lane)
Four cards per pack seems fundamentally wrong to a lot of collectors. When the majority of the cards are stars it makes things okay. You may get ten cards per pack in a bigger base set, but you will most likely get six commons and four stars anyway.
The total cards you will receive comes to 96.
Excluding inserts (autos, serial numbered cards), 51 of the cards were stars. We all define stars differently. The cards I am picturing fit my definition. I usually define stars based on statistics as opposed to value.
In this case I received 12 inserts. Pulling those from the equation it means nearly 61% of the cards are stars. That adds to the fun of opening these packs.
Of all the cards only 13 were clear cut commons.
I'm so close to showing all the stars, may as well finish it off.
Now for the hits:
Felix Pie (s/n: #528/999). This card is pretty sweet. Looks futuristic and cold.
Felix Pie is on the Orioles these days. He had a strong second half in '09 (.290 ba, 7 hr) which made him one of the most valuable 4th outfielders in baseball.
People have been waiting for years for Pie to explode. He will be just age 25 for all of 2010.
Pie had some amazing lapses in concentration for the Orioles. His base running decisions were embarrassing at times. He struggled early in '09 and was part of the reason Nolan Reimold was called up.
But Pie also worked hard to improve and his second half won over many Orioles' fans including myself. I like Pie and want him to be a 300 at bat type guy in 2010. However his improved trade value makes him a player that might move.
Hideki Okajima (s/n: #998/999). Another next to last print run. That's my thing, I guess.
Hunter Pence/Hector Gimenez (s/n: #625/999)
Josh Hamilton/Jared Burton (s/n: #272/999)
Stars and strangers.
The names and pictures of the players on these inserts are so small that it literally takes several seconds to realize who you are looking at. These dual cards don't quite work.
Jared Burton of the Reds is one of those middle relievers that only fans of the team recognize by name. And like many middle relievers that toil in obscurity, Burton has been relatively successful in the majors. He's a middle reliever with a lifetime 3.47 era in 161 ip
Michael Bourn (s/n: #314/500). Bourn shocked a lot of baseball experts by posting a .354 OBP in 2009. He also hit .285 with a league leading 61 stolen bases. More importantly, his stolen base success rate was an impressive 83.5%. He raised his OPS from an anemic .588 (2008) to a respectable .738. If that trend is true Bourn could have a solid career ahead of him. He pushed away the ghost of Doug Glanville for the time being.
Micah Owings (s/n: #059/500). It is hard not to root for Micah Owings. He's with the Reds now.
What I don't understand is why does the brain trust of each organization he joins insist that he keep pitching? He will 27 in 2010. His lifetime era is 5.08 in 377 innings. His lifetime batting statistics are .300 ba, .879 OPS, 170 ab. That is a reasonable sample size.
Now consider this, he has never focused on hitting. He walked just eight times and struck out 56 as a hitter. Those numbers show his lack of experience. Nonetheless he still hit .300 lifetime with power even with the handicap of rarely standing at the plate. He seems to be Ankiel times two.
In fact, Owings' .879 lifetime OPS was greater than every hitter on the Reds (with 50 or more ab) except Joey Votto in 2009. AND Owings era was worse than every pitcher on the Reds (with 25 or more ip) except one.
So what am I missing? What is lost in translation here?
The Reds have an asset in the wrong role.
Owings even once hit a pinch hit home run.
Aramis Ramirez (s/n: #110/199). The other Ramirez. Ramirez is a player that has always been under the radar (31 years old, .286 ba, 264 hr, .847 OPS lifetime). Similar to Derrek Lee, Carlos Lee and Paul Konerko. There are a family of players that quietly pile up impressive stats year after year, but are never once mentioned in the mainstream media as stars. Then, when they reach age 37 or so, people realize they have 450 career home runs and a .285 batting average. That's when the sports writers start proudly discovering these players.
A player that recently underwent this bizarre "arrival" is Bobby Abreu. He doesn't have the home run totals I mentioned, but he was always vastly underrated (.404 lifetime OBP, .896 OPS, .299 ba, 256 hr, 348 sb). I am still confused as to why 2009 was the year that the national media decided to explain why Abreu is so valuable to a team. In 2008 nobody rumbled when he was getting collusion-like salary offers.
This auto came in the first pack I opened. Perez is 31 years old. By the time this set was produced it was abundantly clear he had no real shot at a big league career. To credit him, his lifetime era of 3.57 is admirable. The picture on this card only further adds to the notion that he might have been a good dude to have on the club. His character and effort aside, he shouldn't be in a set called Future Stars. This is an example of a company finding cheap filler autos. 'Clear Path To Greatness' has a ring to it that requires a certain degree of due diligence.
Sean Henn! I'm not sure what the record is for having an era over 7.00 but Sean Henn has a streak of three years going. Also, his career era is 7.56. This auto actually came in the second pack I opened. There were flashes of the mythical hot box dancing in my head. Like sugar plums.
Andy Gonzalez. He has reduced his auto to four letters and a dot. He is too busy making outs to sign autographs. His lifetime .182 average in 225 ab makes the Mendoza Line proud. He is a middle infielder. He must have a helluva glove because he is getting chances his bat does not warrant.
Casilla has a shot at being a solid major leaguer. He hit .281 with a .707 OPS in 2008. 2009 was a disappointment but he did acquit himself well in AAA.
Okay. Look, I know I shouldn't be happy to get this card but I am. It's an Oriole (former). It's a great looking signature. Sure, Knott was nearly out of baseball when this was produced. Still, the card itself looks swell. Knott had a very strong minor league career and was never given a true shot in the majors. I don't care what team a player is on, if they do their job and still never get a fair shake, I like them.
That's all folks. Did you notice there ended up being five autographs? According to the box four is the norm. That was a nice surprise.
Despite the assortment of autos I received, there really is a shot at some great signed cards (Lincecum, Upton, Dice K, Zimmerman, Verlander, Lind, Hamilton, Pence).
I have one more of these boxes to open. Next time I'll just post the hits.
I think I had terrible luck with this box. I still had fun so I can only imagine what just one solid hit would do to bolster that feeling.
Had I paid $40-50 I'd be really frustrated with the auto/serial numbered player selection. It's one thing to get autos of players that are young and may or may not succeed, it's another thing to put 28 year old career minor leaguers in sets and call their auto cards 'Clear Path To Greatness'.
Thanks for reading!