Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cubs Breakdown - 2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition

2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition
The 2013 version of Elite Extra Edition hit the market recently, and I feel like this brand and this product has lost a bit of its luster.  This used to be a product that was very highly anticipated, and pretty much the clear second choice among prospect brands after the 800-pound Bowman gorilla.  But the last couple of years have felt a little less highly anticipated in advance.  I think a lot of it has to do with the advances in some of the other prospect products.  Leaf and Panini both put out multiple products within the last few months that included the big stars from this year's draft (Kris Bryant, Mark Appel, etc).  And these were quality issues that beat Elite to the market (Leaf Metal Draft came out almost three months ago).  So Elite kind of feels like just another product now. 

Unfortunately, this year's issue is not helped at all by the base card design.  I would clearly rate this as the worst design for Elite Extra Edition in the history of the brand.  It just doesn't resonate at all for me.  And I don't see any inserts that are worth much from a design standpoint either.  So a big negative on the looks of the cards from me.

Providing a wider variety of players than other prospect products is one of the other hallmarks of this brand, and fortunately for Panini, this year's issue continues to deliver in that area.  There are nine Cubs in this issue, and five of them are making their first appearance with the Cubs in a major issue.  The newbies are highlighted by Gleyber Torres, the 16 year old Venezuelan shortstop who paired with Eloy Jimenez to create the best one-two signing punch of the 2014 international signing period.  Unfortunately, Jimenez is not in this issue.  Other first timers include Corey Black (acquired in the Soriano trade with the Yankees), David Garner (RHP, 7th round pick), Tyler Skulina (RHP, 4th round pick), and Trey Masek (RHP, 5th round pick).  Our third round pick Jacob Hannemann is also here, and he's only had a card in the Rize set, so it's nice to see him as well.  Our 1st rounder Kris Bryant and our 2nd rounder Rob Zastryzny are also here, although they have had some cards in the other prospect issues.  The Cubs contingent is rounded out by Rock Shoulders.  Because we can never have enough cards of him (apparently).  Overall, a pretty good lineup from a player selection standpoint, though.

One other small nit to pick in this issue.  The Historic Picks insert set features some great players and commemorates their selection in the draft.  Joe Carter, the Cubs 1981 1st round pick, is in this set.  However, he is shown in what is clearly a Cleveland Indians uniform, and the cards itself says Cleveland.  Perhaps someone at Panini needs a history lesson?  Or Google lessons? 

Here's hoping that Panini puts more work into the designs of this issue next year, and possibly moves up the release date.  I get that they are trying to fill the dead spot between Bowman Sterling and Topps Series 1 on the card release calendar.  But I really feel like having it come out so late in the year hurt the desirability of this issue this time around.

The breakdown of Cubs is below.  Enjoy!

Base Set - 15 Versions - Base, Franchise Futures Autos (1-100 only, varied numbering), Aspirations Red Die-Cuts (#/200), Status Blue Die-Cuts (#/100), Status Emerald Die-Cuts (#/25), Status Orange Die-Cuts (#/10), Status Gold Die-Cuts (#/5), Autos Aspirations Red Die-Cuts (#/100), Autos Status Blue Die-Cuts (#/50), Autos Status Emerald Die-Cuts (#/25), Autos Status Orange Die-Cuts (#/10), Autos Status Gold Die-Cuts (#/5), Autos Status Black Die-Cuts (1/1), Autos Red Ink (#/25), Autos Green Ink (#/10)
#69 Corey Black (#/700, no red ink or green ink versions according to the Panini checklist)
#71 Gleyber Torres (#/250, auto versions are available via redemption only)
#90 Rock Shoulders (#/267)
#96 David Garner (#/670, auto versions are available via redemption only)
#102 Kris Bryant Auto (#/324)
#126 Rob Zastryzny Auto (#/690)
#147 Jacob Hannemann Auto (#/669)
#157 Tyler Skulina Auto (#/670)
#162 Trey Masek Auto (#/673)
The serial #'s for cards #1-100 indicate what the Franchise Futures auto version is numbered to for that player.


Base Set Photo Variations
No Cubs Included

Back to the Future Autos (Varied Numbering)
No Cubs Included 

Bloodlines - 2 Versions - Base & Dual Autos (Most #/25)
No Cubs Included 

Elite Series - 2 Versions - Base & Autos (Varied Numbering)
#2 Kris Bryant - Auto #/25


High School All Stars
No Cubs Included

Historic Picks - 2 Versions - Base & Auto (Varied Numbering)
Joe Carter's card in this set says Cleveland, although he was drafted by the Cubs

Scouting 101
#19 Kris Bryant


USA Baseball U18 Jerseys - 2 Versions - Base & Prime (#/49) - No Cubs Included
USA Baseball U18 Autos (most #/299) - No Cubs Included
USA Baseball U18 Double Jersey Autos (#/249) - 2 Versions - Base (most #/25) & Prime (Most #/10) - No Cubs Included 
USA Baseball U15 Jerseys - 2 Versions - Base & Prime (#/49) - No Cubs Included
USA Baseball U15 Autos (most #/199) - No Cubs Included

  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cubs Breakdown - 2013 Panini Select

2013 Panini Select
Panini's latest entry into the baseball card market is Panini Select, and it brings some good things and some bad things.  At the top of the list of good things is that the card designs are above average and work very well with the chrome format.  Anthony Rizzo's Select Team insert card is one of my favorite looking Cubs cards of 2013.  His Thunder Alley card is a pretty nice looking card also.  Combine this with a simple, but effective base set design, and the only thing really missing from a looks standpoint is MLB logos.  That's too bad, but it is what it is.

Another positive thing is that we get quite a few different players represented with the Cubs in this issue.  They aren't all big names (which is kind of a good thing in some ways), but a total of 19 different players are shown as members of the Cubs in this issue.  Two big thumbs up from me for this variety!

Now the downside.  Obviously, the lack of MLB logos that I mentioned above has to be on the negative list.  It doesn't bother me that much as long as the cards are well done.  Some of them are, some aren't, but I don't think it kills the issue.  One thing that is a big downside for me is that Panini went back to their minimum pricing policy late last year.  And this issue just doesn't offer much in the way of value at the required price.  I don't open packs, so it doesn't affect me directly whether they are a good deal.  But it does mean that these cards are going to trickle on to the market very slowly and will be hard to find for no real reason.  Heck, these hit the street over two weeks ago and I still don't have scans of a couple of the base set cards!  Two big thumbs down on Panini's distribution strategy.

The breakdown of the Cubs in this issue is below.  I will add scans as they become available.  Enjoy!

Base Set - 4 Versions - Base, Prizm, Gold Prizm (#/25), and Black Finite Prizm (1/1)
#73 Anthony Rizzo
#87 Starlin Castro
#111 Ernie Banks
#118 Ryne Sandberg
#129 Kyuji Fujikawa
#130 Alberto Cabrera
#139 Justin Grimm
#159 Hector Rondon


Base Set Rookie Autos - 4 Versions - Base Auto (Varied Numbering), Prizm Auto (#/99), Gold Prizm Auto (#/25), and Black Finite Prizm Auto (1/1)
#191 Brooks Raley (#/750)
#201 Chris Rusin (#/750)
#216 Junior Lake (#/750)
#232 Jaye Chapman (#/500)
#238 Mike Olt (#/500)


Signatures - 4 Versions - Base Auto, Prizm Auto (Most #/25), Gold Prizm Auto (Most #/10), and Black Finite Prizm Auto (1/1)
#11 Brett Jackson
#26 Darwin Barney
#27 Dave Kingman
#57 Kerry Wood
#82 Thomas Neal
#83 Ryne Sandberg (Prizm #/10, Gold Prizm #/5)
#86 Starlin Castro


En Fuego - 4 Versions - Base, Prizm, Gold Prizm (#/25), and Black Finite Prizm (1/1)
No Cubs Included

Select Future - 4 Versions - Base, Prizm, Gold Prizm (#/25), and Black Finite Prizm (1/1)
 #2 Kris Bryant

Select Team - 4 Versions - Base, Prizm, Gold Prizm (#/25), and Black Finite Prizm (1/1)
#6 Anthony Rizzo


Skills - 4 Versions - Base, Prizm, Gold Prizm (#/25), and Black Finite Prizm (1/1)
No Cubs Included

Statisticians - 4 Versions - Base, Prizm, Gold Prizm (#/25), and Black Finite Prizm (1/1)
No Cubs Included

Thunder Alley - 4 Versions - Base, Prizm, Gold Prizm (#/25), and Black Finite Prizm (1/1)
#12 Anthony Rizzo


Youngbloods - 4 Versions - Base, Prizm, Gold Prizm (#/25), and Black Finite Prizm (1/1)
No Cubs Included

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cubs Breakdown - 2013 Leaf Sports Heroes

2013 Leaf Sports Heroes
This is the third edition of the Leaf Legends of Sport / Sports Heroes brand, and it has grown into a pretty familiar and comfortable issue.  I think I complained last year that the second edition had too similar of a design to the first issue.  This year's has kind of a similar feel as well, but Leaf did change it up a little bit by using a full bleed design on the base set autos.

So what's to complain about this year?  I guess my main complaint would be that the two Cubs representatives (Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg) have been in all three years of this issue.  By itself, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But at some point, this issue is really going to suck if we only see the same guys year after year.  Topps Tribute has a bit of a problem in that way as well.  Leaf needs to work on adding some new blood to this issue for next year.

But overall, this year's issue is a worthwhile addition to the yearly lineup.  I really like the photo on the Ernie Banks base auto card, I don't remember ever seeing it before.  Too bad it has the logos airbrushed.  A breakdown of the issue is below!

Base Autos - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base), Silver (most #/25), Gold (most #/10), Red (most #/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
Bruce Sutter has a card in this set as a member of the Cardinals
Ferguson Jenkins has a card in this set as a member of the Rangers
#EB1 Ernie Banks - Silver #/10, Gold #/5, Red #/3
#RS2 Ryne Sandberg


Inscriptions Autos - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base), Silver (most #/25), Gold (most #/10), Red (most #/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
No Cubs Included

Loyalty Autos - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base), Silver (most #/25), Gold (most #/10), Red (most #/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
#EB1 Ernie Banks - Silver #/10, Gold #/5, Red #/3


Pink Ribbon Inscriptions Autos - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base, #/60), Silver (#/25), Gold (#/10), Red (#/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
No Cubs Included

Multi-Player Autos
No Cubs Included

Field of Dreams Autos (#/25)
#BS1 Bruce Sutter


Going for the Gold Autos - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base), Silver (most #/25), Gold (most #/10), Red (most #/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
No Cubs Included

USA Signatures Dual Autos - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base), Silver (most #/25), Gold (most #/10), Red (most #/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
No Cubs Included

State Pride Autos - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base), Silver (#/25), Gold (#/10), Red (#/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
No Cubs Included

Ring Legends - 4 Versions - Bronze (Base), Silver (most #/10), Gold (most #/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
No Cubs Included

Canton's Finest - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base), Silver (most #/25), Gold (most #/10), Red (most #/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
No Cubs Included

Springfield's Finest - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base), Silver (most #/25), Gold (most #/10), Red (most #/5), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
No Cubs Included

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cubs Breakdown - 2013 Leaf Trinity

2013 Leaf Trinity
Leaf came out with a new prospect based brand just before Christmas in Leaf Trinity.  I'm not sure of what the Trinity named signifies, possibly that there are three main sets in this issue.  But I have to give Lead some props for originality here.  Two out of the three sets are relatively good looking cards, and the third is an inscriptions set that piques my interest because I get to keep an eye out for new sayings beyond just the first week on the market.

As far as Cubs players in this set, we get a strong dose of Kris Bryant which is always a positive.  The Pure card of Bryant is his best looking card to date in my opinion, and he seems to have quite a few sayings in the Inscriptions set.  And we get a few more Jorge Soler cards as well.  He's starting to get a little overdone in my view.  We also get Eloy Jimenez and Jacob Hannemann, though, and they are definitely not overdone yet.

There are a couple of downsides in this issues, first and foremost being that the patches in the patch auto set are not game used (and not even from authentic jerseys if I'm not mistaken).  The cards look good, but this is a little bit weird.  And of course, none of the cards in this issue include MLB logos.  There's nothing Leaf can do about that, and they do a pretty good job with what they have to work with.  But there's no denying the cards would be better with logos.

Overall, I think this is a pretty strong effort from Leaf, and I love the effort to innovate.  Topps hasn't done anything new in at least a couple of years, and their products are starting to feel very stale.  Panini and Leaf haven't been successful with everything they have tried this year.  But at least they have done some new stuff.

The breakdown for this issue is below!

Pure Autos - 5 Versions - Grey (Base, #/60), Blue (#/25), Green (#/10), Red (#/5), and Purple (1/1)
#JS1 Jorge Soler
#KB1 Kris Bryant


Inscriptions Autos - 5 Versions - Bronze (#/30), Silver (#/10), Gold (#/5), Red (#/3), Purple (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
#EJ1 Eloy Jimenez
#JH1 Jacob Hannemann
#JS1 Jorge Soler
#KB1 Kris Bryant





Patch Autos - 5 Versions - Bronze (Base, not #/d), Silver (#/25), Gold (#/10), Red (#/5), and Purple (1/1)
#JS1 Jorge Soler
#KB1 Kris Bryant

Monday, December 30, 2013

Cubs Breakdown - 2013 Topps Supreme

2013 Topps Supreme
Surprise!  Topps managed to pull off a bit of a holiday season surprise by issuing Topps Supreme baseball with basically no pre-announcement and no fanfare.  The first time I heard anything about this set was the day before it was issued.  And I have to say that this is one of the most unusual issues I can ever remember from Topps.

What makes it unusual?  Well for starters, it is only being sold in asian markets.  To get it in the U.S., you would have order it from a dealer across the Pacific.  Dave & Adam's partnered with some asian dealers to run a few group breaks, which provides the only cards I have seen from this issue.  And I don't believe Topps has issued a checklist for this product, so information is somewhat limited early on here.

Some other observations about this issue include the fact that the card design is pretty good.  Topps has been using something very similar in their Supreme football brand for a couple of years now, and it a pretty pleasing design.  Too bad they didn't use this design on Tier One.  Also, the player selection is VERY eclectic.  A number of super high end autos are in this issue (Koufax, Aaron, Puig, Harper, Trout), along with some interesting retired guys we don't see very often (Kevin Mitchell, Dan Gladden, Mike Greenwell), and then there are cards like the two Bryan Lahair cards as a member of the Cubs (Lahair played in Japan in 2013, so I can kind of understand these).  We also get the first ever licensed autograph card of Junior Lake.  But overall, just a very interesting mix of players. 

Most of the pics below are from the group breaks I mentioned above.  So the quality isn't very good.  But I have only seen two cards from this issue listed on eBay in the two weeks since these first hit the market.  So I have a feeling these cards may be very tough to come by in the U.S. market going forward.  I will make updates below as they become available.  Enjoy!

This checklist is likely incomplete.
Base Autos - 8 Versions - Base (#/50), Sepia (#/35), Red (#/25), Blue (#/20), Orange (#/15), Green (#/10), Black (#/5), Platinum (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
Bryan LaHair
Ernie Banks
Fergie Jenkins


Supreme Stylings Autos - 8 Versions - Base (#/50), Sepia (#/35), Red (#/25), Blue (#/20), Orange (#/15), Green (#/10), Black (#/5), Platinum (1/1), plus four colors of autographed printing plates
Anthony Rizzo
Bryan LaHair
Junior Lake


Kanji Relic Autos (details unknown)

Dual Autos - 3 Versions - Base (#/25), Dual Relic Auto (#/5), and Dual Patch Auto (1/1)

Triple Autos (#/5)
Quad Autos (#/5)
Six Player Autos (#/5)

Patch Autos - 3 Versions - Base (#/25), Platinum (#/5), and Supreme (1/1)
Anthony Rizzo


Two Player Dual Patch Auto Book Cards - 2 Versions - Base (#/10) and Platinum (1/1)