Thursday, February 04, 2016

2016 Topps Baseball Series One - All the Dodgers Base Cards

As evidenced by Wednesday's official release of Topps 2016 flagship Baseball card set, the new season is clearly upon us.  Within a few short weeks ballplayers will be heading out to their respective Spring homes, and fans the world-over will be carrying around giant stacks of these cards to get signed.  For Dodger fans here's a look at all of the Dodgers' available in the years Series 1 base set.  Go here for a complete checklist.

Of specials note, there appears to be only one short-printed Dodgers variation card available.  It's of Clayton Kershaw and I'll have a pic of it later on.

#11 Andre Ethier

Welcome to the Blue, Raul Ibanez!

Along with Tuesday's Greg Maddux signing, the Dodgers also announced the hiring of slugger Raul Ibanez as an Special Assistant to the Dodgers.  At first glance this appeared to be secondary news when compared to Maddux's hiring.  As I've come to find out, though, Ibanez's addition appears to be every bit as important.

He too was a ballplayer who didn't have the exceptional tools that blew away the competition from the get go.  Instead, he had a drive that caused him to work harder than anybody on the field and the intelligence to play the game at the highest level possible. He had toiled for roughly seven seasons in the minor leagues before finally get his chance to play everyday.  Via an Baseball Prospectus story from 2009:
"He's reached that point in his career where he has figured things out," said a scout who has watched Ibanez since he broke into the majors in 1996. "He has a plan every time he steps into the box, and he's smart, so he adjusts quickly to whatever the pitcher is trying to do to him. Going to the weaker league (the NL) and playing in that bandbox (Citizens Bank Park) in Philadelphia has helped jack his numbers up a little bit, there's no doubt, but he is now one of the smartest hitters in the game. And don't discount what great shape the guy is in. He's in better shape now than when he a kid breaking into the league. He's not a big bulky guy, but he's strong, real strong."
Like Maddux with pitchers, Ibanez might be the perfect teacher for our young hitters.  Per a story by John Mcgrath at the Tacoma News Tribune:
(Lou) Piniella meant Raul Ibanez, whose services as a Mariners’ problem-solver were notable because, for one, Ibanez no longer worked in Seattle – he had signed a free-agent contract with Kansas City after the 2000 season – and, for two, of all the sharp minds around baseball capable of sharing intelligence with him, Piniella’s instant choice was the Royals’ 30-year-old designated hitter.
The son of a Cuban-born chemist, Ibanez is smart, with an exceptional baseball IQ. A few months ago, when I asked him what he knew about Ted Williams (who also hit 29 home runs at the age of 41), Ibanez smiled. The Splinter’s book on the science of hitting, he recalled, was a precious childhood possession.  
BTW, Harold Uhlman at Think Blue LA just wrote a fantastic story about Raul Ibanez that is worth checking out.  He notes that Kevin Seitzer's (one of my favorites while growing up) advice early in his career left an indelible mark.
“He gave me a solid foundation,” Ibanez said. “He taught me how to be fluid with my hands, how to hit with my legs and most important, to be stubborn with my approach, trying to hit to left-center.”
What the Dodgers are doing seems rather unprecedented.  They are actively recruiting the best minds in the business; both in the front office level and on the field.  BTW, you can follow Ibanez on twitter here: @RaulIbanezMLB.

In celebration of his becoming a Dodgers I made the above two fantasy cards of him.  I used a photograph taken from the Richard Harbus/for New York Daily News and the 1982 Topps Baseball card design. 

Dodgers Press Release:
Ibañez, 43, will gain his first front-office experience following a 19-year big league career with the Mariners (1996-2000, 2004-08, ‘13), Royals (2001-03, ‘14), Phillies (2009-11), Yankees (2012) and Angels (2014). The 2009 All-Star posted a .272 career batting average with 305 home runs and 1,207 RBI in 2,161 games, while making five postseason appearances during the course of his career. The left-handing hitting outfielder/first baseman was originally selected by the Mariners in the 36th round of the 1992 First-Year Player Draft out of Miami-Dade College.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

Blog Kiosk: 2/4/2016 - Dodgers Links - Some Odds and Ends

Now here are some championship arms.  Featured in the Associated Press press photo above, as found on eBay, are the pitchers of the eventual 1955 World Series Champion Brooklyn Dodgers.  Per the descriptor attached to the reverse:
"DODGER PITCHERS.  Don Newcombe, Billy Loes, Karl Spooner, Don Bessent, Clem Labine and Johnny Podres, left to right, are expected to be the pitchers throwing for the Dodgers in the World Series which gets underway Sept. 28. They're shown off to the side of a work out of the team at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, N.Y., Sept. 26.  Newcombe is expected to open for the Dodgers, seeking their first World Series title."
The only hurlers missing from the photo are Carl Erskine, Ed Roebuck and Roger Craig.  Below are more links to check out:
  • The newest issue of Dodger Insider magazine will feature Dave Roberts on the cover.  Check it out on the right.  Via Jon Weisman, it will be free!:
There’s a big change coming in 2016 for the Dodgers’ official magazine.

Starting in April, Dodger Insider magazine will be distributed for free at the autogates at every Dodger Stadium regular-season game.
  • Next week the MLB Network will premier a special show featuring former Dodger Dusty Baker; titled "Dusty: A Baseball Journey."  Hosted by Bob Costas, it will air on Tuesday, February 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The one-hour program will focus on his childhood and path through Baseball.  You can watch a clip of it here.
  • The 2016 Dodgers yearbook will feature Clayton Kershaw on the cover.  See it on the left.  Via Jon Weisman:
In June, Clayton Kershaw will celebrate his 10th anniversary in the Dodger organization. In turn, the Dodgers are celebrating Kershaw in the 2016 Yearbook.

Publishing at the start of March — in time for the opening game of Spring Training — and available at both Dodger Stadium and Camelback Ranch, the 2016 Yearbook will feature a special 27-page section reminiscing over the divine decade of Kershaw’s life as a Dodger.
  • Via Jonathan Mayo at, "Pitching prospects with best combo of tools: Nats' Giolito, Dodgers' Urias obvious leaders; Rockies' Hoffman surprising company."
Urias, No. 4 on the Top 100 and the top lefty on the list, understandably comes in second with a score of 240. He doesn't have the 80 or 70 on his report card like Giolito, but he is consistently plus across the board. Urias' 65 fastball may sit in the low 90s, but he can reach back for more, and it plays up because he commands it to both sides of the plate. Both his big breaking ball and his fading changeup are 60s -- that also allows his fastball to play up. Urias throws all pitches for strikes, thus the 55 grade on his control (it wouldn't surprise anyone if that ended up a 60).
Ibanez is one of those players that most likely should have been consumed by the game. Apparently with little chance of making it to MLB and even less chance of a lengthy career, he defied all the odds. He simply wouldn’t be defeated by a five ounce ball and a 34 inch bat.

    * Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
    * Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *