At the beginning of this year, I decided to stop trying to chase new sets by happenstance and, instead, jump into the case breaks that Chris from Crackin' Wax does. I like that Chris is a Packers fan living in Minnesota, and I enjoy watching and listening to he and his wife going through the break with the cards. I also like that he donates money to charity as a result of his breaks.
I haven't had much luck scheduling-wise in catching the breaks live, though. Every time a break is scheduled, I seem to miss it. This weekend, though, I should be able to catch the Bowman case break. I noted this on Twitter recently, but I've never been more excited to pay more than the average slot cost in my time back collecting.
In fact, it's probably the first time I've ever paid more than the average slot cost for the Brewers thanks to the fact that Topps probably can't pick out Milwaukee on a map if you spotted them its location in Wisconsin. I mean, I heard that native New Yorker President Trump today identified Wisconsin as a state that borders on Canada. It does not, but that's pretty typical for a lot of New Yorkers -- there's New York, there's LA, there's Florida (a/k/a "Retirementland") and there's "the rest."
But I digress.
The most recent break that I took part in was the Topps Heritage break. Let's talk about the set through the Brewers cards:
We start with the player that Milwaukee would charitably call "the Forgotten Man," Chris Carter of the New York Yankees. The way that Eric Thames is going, Carter will be the answer to a trivia question of "who did Eric Thames replace as the starting first baseman for the Brewers?" Thames's story is incredible -- I mean, it has to be for him to have two ToppsNow cards in the month of April!
Clearly Topps spent approximately $8 of effort on this leaders card. They reused the portrait portion of Carter's regular card as the photo for the HR Leaders card. The Arenado photo got reused on the 1968 Heritage Game card and the Bryant card makes an appearance in the Heritage set on his "NL All-Topps Selection" card. It's inspired decisions like this that show why Topps deserves the monopoly in licensed cards that it has.
Now it's time for the former Brewers portion of this post. Thankfully, Will Middlebrooks didn't make an appearance in this set. Somehow, though, Chris Capuano did. As for Scooter, well, I'm happy that he is getting to play in his hometown. The Brewers really don't have space for him anywhere, and Gennett simply did not have the ability to play elsewhere on the diamond to make his presence useful.
Two starters for this year's team. My stomach just sunk when I read on Baseball-Reference that Garza has a vesting option for 2018. Oh God No. Could that happen?
Well, thankfully, Garza has spent too much time on the DL for that option to vest. Thankfully. It's now a unilateral team option that could be exercised for $5 million. I would not doubt that the Brewers could use that option as a trade chit somehow if Garza can stay healthy. The team may even exercise that option depending on how players develop or how this year plays out. We'll see.
As for Peralta, well, he currently leads the National League in wins with three. Congratulations.
Next up: the guys who've come from elsewhere to play pretty well as Brewers. In order: the Mayor of Ding Dong City has come to Milwaukee and is slugging like crazy -- of his 18 hits through April 24, 14 of them have been for extra bases. Shaw is a candidate to stick around for a few years depending on how guys like Isan Diaz and Lucas Erceg develop. Shaw is still cheap and isn't arbitration eligible until 2019. I can see him being a Gennett-type -- kept around while necessary, dumped when not.
Hernán Pérez is a similar guy, I think. He's the "super-utility" type who will be useful to play all the positions while the Brewers develop better options. He doesn't walk enough -- only 18 walks in 430 plate appearances last year -- so he has to keep his batting average high to be useful. He reaches arbitration after the 2018 season; we'll see if he's still a Brewer then. Incidentally, the Brewers have had both players named "Hernan" play for them -- Iribarren and Pérez.
Keon Broxton has started the season slowly again. He showed a fair amount last year in the half-season he played (.784 OPS) but he cannot afford to relax at all with the prospect-studded outfield at Colorado Springs.
Finally, we have the youngest player on this page, Jonathan Villar. That's right -- Villar has been in the majors since the age of 22 with Houston back in 2013, and he's about six weeks younger than Pérez. He's almost a full year younger than Broxton. Shaw is older than Broxton by three weeks. Villar also comes up for arbitration in 2018.
Here are the two horizontal cards -- youngster Orlando Arcia (whom some in Milwaukee are already wondering whether he is a bust...at the age of 22...thanks to his lifetime slash over 74 games of .217/.264/.345...oh my god he's Rey Ordoñez) and Harvard grad Brent Suter.
Suter actually follows me on Twitter thanks to the fact that I passed along a message to him from Ray Peters, so I've got that going for me. Perhaps because of that, I really hope for the best for him and want him to be in the major leagues with the Brewers. After all, no pitcher should have to pitch in Colorado Springs regularly.
I got one copy of the New Age Performers card of Orlando Arcia. I mean, I really hope Arcia develops and all, but his bat has never been his strong suit. Still, he needs to pick up the pace at the plate.
Now, this case was pretty terrible for me. I didn't get any Ryan Braun cards from the short-printed high numbers. I had to hit eBay for those two. Oddly, though, the hardest card to find -- which I also purchased on eBay -- was the "Then and Now" card of Villar with Lou Brock.
Here's hoping that the Bowman break treats me right this weekend. I'd better be in the chatroom though to get some of that famous Crackin' Wax Chat Room Mojo©!