Dont Bet These Ponies Just Yet…

Coming up this week, we are going to get our first taste of the rookies in their NFL uniforms. Usually this is a big week for me, as I am not a college collector in any way. Yet, as I look around, I see the value drastically skewed in favor of people prospecting on the rookie QBs, despite not knowing whether or not their college resumes will translate to Sundays.

Last year was a fluke. Im going to say that more so than anything else I will say in this post. Ryan put up great numbers with an okay team, and made them better. Flacco put up okay numbers on a great team and basically didn’t fuck things up enough for them to falter. This never happens with two rookie QBs doing great with their teams, in fact, it really hasn’t happened since Roethlisberger did great with the Steelers in his rookie year. Most of the time, though its becoming less common, the QBs will sit for a year to brush up on their league knowledge, or to give the existing starter a chance to set the table. Funny enough, even Peyton Manning had some ridiculously awful first few years, and his bad team was better than Stafford’s.

So, before you go out and buy handfuls of Stafford, Sanchez, and Freeman cards, you should realize that this will probably be the peak of their value for the next year, if not ever. Prospecting is all about buying low and selling high, so there is zero reason to “invest” now, especially when these guys are not exemplary college QBs. Stafford wouldn’t have been the #1 pick if Bradford and Tebow had decided to come out, and Sanchez declared for the draft for that very reason. Freeman was just a Flacco style risk for the Bucs, though he looks like he has the tools to be good. The question still remains, even with all of this, even if you are a huge Georgia, SC, or KSU fan, why are people buying now?

Im guessing that Stafford has the height because he was a highly publicized number one pick from the worst team in NFL history. However, he will have that team to deal with when he comes to play. He is going to have many more interceptions than TDs, because the Lions just arent that good. The offensive line was as bad as you could get last year, and that hasn’t changed all that much. Stafford will be on his back more than Paris Hilton in front of a camera, and I am not kidding. For a rookie QB, this causes bad mistakes and even worse confidence issues. Ryan was different because his team had more pieces than the Lions do, but also because he had a few targets to play with, in addition to a great running back. It helps when you have someone to take the pressure off when you need it. Stafford wont have that.

At this point in the year, its better to invest in later round guys that could be standouts once the pre-season rolls around. They will have very small prices for cards that are numbered pretty high, and buying now at nothing and then selling later at something is much better than paying astronomical prices for Stafford and Sanchez and holding them through long droughts of low prices. If you must buy, wait until week 8 when it sets in that these guys arent living up to the amazing seasons that Ryan and Roethlisberger had. You can buy their cards for half the price they are now, and all you have to have is a little fucking patience.

Though all the JCs on eBay are pooping themselves each time a new Stafford card is released, they probably don’t have the smarts to realize what is going on. They are pretty much bidding against themselves, while all the smart people sit back and laugh. Take this as your hint to sell while prices are high, right JaMarcus Russell?

You may be asking what I will say if one or both of these guys end up with stellar first seasons? I will congratulate them for beating the odds, and extend my willingness to take an “I told you so” those people who took those odds to the bank. I am willing to do this because the feat is so rare. My prospect-wang may be small, but im not stupid.

When Prospecting Attacks…

From my experience, prospectors are the only people I have seen make money in this industry. It requires a lot of work and a ton of patience to REALLY make it worthwhile, but when you hit it big, it can be nuts. In order to accomplish the big buys, you have to monitor the MILB stat lines, scour the BA prospect reports, and make sound decisions on what cards to invest in. Its not easy in the slightest. I know that the term “invest” makes no sense in cards, because no one ever makes any money, but this is a little different. These people buy cards for the sole purpose of holding on to them until the MLB debut, and they always have money in mind. I don’t necessarily find that much wrong with the concept, only because its like stock investing in a long term scope.

Lately, things have gotten a little extreme with a few “prospects” that havent even reached pro level ball. They have not been drafted, and one is still a sophomore in high school, 2-4 years away from actual MLB service. Steven Strasburg, a pitcher, has been widely considered as the person who will be the top pick in the draft in the first year he is eligible. He recently played on Team USA and showed amazing potential as a future ace for any number of MLB teams. Bryce Harper is in a similar situation as a catcher for a Las Vegas high school. He also played on Team USA, and again, showed major potential just like Strasburg. His videos have become a sensation on YouTube, especially the HR derby one where he hit a few MLB sized bombs.

As a result of this hype and the buzz from the prospecting community, the auto cards that have been inserted into Sweet Spot and the Team USA box sets have been fetching hundreds of dollars on eBay. It seems as though people think that these guys will be the next superstars to really make a hobby impact a la Pujols, Wright, and Longoria. Although I agree that these are some incredibly talented players, I wont be investing THIS early. I think its pretty crazy that Harper’s cards have eclipsed both Pujols and Jeter, two of the hobby’s biggest names, and he has yet to even be drafted.

A lot of collectors think prospectors are idiots, and I am NOT one of those collectors. They cant understand why someone would pay for cards of players who havent even played a single pro game in the top levels of the league. Personally, I think that mentality is quite closed minded. See, I have seen quite a few people get rich off of a collection that cost them only a few hundred dollars, and they have used that money to build some of the most incredible collections of players you do know. Of course, there are flip sides to everything, but the smart ones don’t usually fail. However, I think paying $250 for either of these players takes that paradigm of collecting to an absolutely crazy level.