May 20, 2010

Digging into the minds of prospectors

With the release of 2010 Bowman, I've thought more and more about prospecting. It's not really something that I am into, but there are so many who are.

I wonder about the drive for prospectors and those who want to collect the cards of the hottest stars. Are they looking for the next Albert Pujols? Do they just want to own something that no one else can have?

Take the Stephen Strasburg 2010 Bowman Superfractor, which is now up for auction (link). As of Thursday (5/20), the card has nine days left is up to $7,100.

There is no doubt that Strasburg has been amazing in the Minor League. He'll be making his Major League debut probably within the next two weeks, and probably sooner than that. Does a card like this retain its value?

In five years, if the person who won this card goes to resell it, would it sell for the same amazing amount? Cheaper? More? An interesting question is what would Strasburg have to do over the next five years to make this card worth more, less or the same?

I'm fascinated by the whole prospecting thing. I've only really thought about it twice with Yankee prospects, moreso because the Yankees are my team of choice. So, if I get the good cards of the prospects before they make it big with the parent club, perhaps my collection would be cheaper. However, Jose Tabata really didn't work out with the Yankees and now I have his cards sitting in a binder asking why I don't love them anymore.


  1. For that card to go up he'd have to be better than the hype, or the hype would have to last for five years.

    There's nothing like hype and hope to drive the market of a card. When it's gone, it's gone. Right now the hype of a new release, a new card, and a dominating performance in AAA drives the value. In five years, what's going to drive people to look for that Strasburg card? Nothing. Especially if he blows out an elbow or breaks his knees in a freak rollerblading accident.

    I think to cash in you have to find the next big thing before he gets there. That's not going to happen with Strasburg.

  2. hmm the Jackie Robinson RC (1948 Leaf) Books for 2 grand and can be had for a lot less.

    And several PSA Babe Ruth Goudey cards have sold for under $2500 on Goudey recently.

    Both of those cards are over 60 years old and are of players that actually done something.

    If Strasburg makes half of the impact of either of those players....well I still don't see getting 7 grand for that card.

  3. Don't give up on Tabata. Once he left NY, he got his head back on straight. He is doing well in triple A right now, so you never know, he may work out.

  4. I'm pleased Tabata is doing well, but I don't think I want his cards anymore. The appeal for me with him was that he could be a good Yankee in the future.

    Perhaps, I should sell his cards and try to make some money back on them.

  5. Although I don't do it for trying to flip the cards for some kind of short-sell immediate profit, I do some prospecting on occasion. Usually they are guys for local teams; I prospected heavily on Lincecum in 2006, and have done a little of it on Buster Posey.

    I think that the competitive edge of owning something that only you have that lots of people want is a big motivator for prospectors. All too often, though, they fall in love with ownership too long. How are their can't miss, perfect mechanics Mark Prior rookies doing these days?

  6. The 'wise' prospectors say all you need is one good game, one good week to be able to flip a card and make some decent profit.

    For prospectors, it is all about the flip - who cares if you can buy comparable valued cards with more history or more prestige.

    These 'wise' prospectors don't usually wait around for a card to decrease from its peak value, but they probably have a stash to sell off and a stash to hold.

  7. Sooz-
    1) There's a good chance that Tabata still can be a good Yankee. Don't forget, once he gets called up and plays well, it's only a matter of time before the Pirates, the AAAA affiliate of the New York and Boston teams, trade him for a couple of bats and some used catching gear.

    2) Prospecting is all about returning a profit. Some prospectors aren't collectors, they buy low and sell high. It's just another way to make money. Unless he becomes the best pitcher in the history of the game, I don't see Strasburg's cards increasing any more. At this point, they can only come down. Sell now if you have any.