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Cardinals Winter Warm-Up autograph prices reflect economy

Autograph prices at the St. Louis Cardinals fan event, Winter Warm-Up, demonstrate an appreciation of the down economy.

As every year at this time, I received my package with the autograph details for the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up to be held next weekend. That provides me the opportunity to look at those rising and falling in the eyes of whoever in the Cardinals hierarchy sets what they believe to be the market prices for autographs.

While the prices demanded for signatures of course do not reflect true player value, they do indicate fan value in a way. Of course, all proceeds go to charity, Cardinals Care, so the needy are the true winners.

What is different this year is that there are fewer individuals signing for a donation and lower prices for the ones that are signing. In addition, more free autographs will be provided than before. This is a wise move by the Cardinals, better reflecting the current economic environment.

Autograph tickets are on sale online from January 9 through January 13, with any remaining tickets available at the event. Albert Pujols, the highest-priced autograph at $175, was handled via a special lottery.

The pre-imposed limit of autograph tickets per player per person is three, same as in the past except that for a few players, the previous limit was two. Last year, they were Rick Ankiel, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. That restriction went away this year, as did Ankiel.

Joining Pujols at the top of the pecking order is newly-signed Matt Holliday at $100. In a sign of the economy, there is only one price increase from last year and it is understandable, new Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog.

Top dogs 2010 2009 2008 Commentary
Albert Pujols $175 $175 $175 Held prices flat despite winning every award in sight.
Matt Holliday $100 Debuts high as expected.
Second tier
Yadier Molina $75 $100 $90 Drops back down under the $100 barrier.
Chris Carpenter $50 $60 $75 Second year in a row for a price decrease. Bargain!
Adam Wainwright $50 $60 $80 Another surprise drop in price. Just needed a few more votes.
Middle of the pack
Ryan Ludwick $30 $40 $10 Should have an interesting case in arbitration, too.
Tony La Russa $30 $30 $30 Biggest signature was on a new contract for 2010.
Colby Rasmus $25 $30 $30 Looks like one of the real bargains of the day.
Skip Schumaker $25 $30 $5 Hopefully, he will get thanks for his position change.
Kyle Lohse $15 $25 He still has his $41 million coming at least.
Brendan Ryan $15 $15 $10 Last year, he was just a reserve. Now a starter and still $15.
Ryan Franklin $10 $10 $10 Career season didn’t raise his asking price.
Kyle McClellan $5 $10 Relievers don’t get enough respect.
Jason Motte $5 $10 I wonder how fast he signs? Has he developed a 2nd signature yet?
Trever Miller $5 $5 Steadiest member of the 2009 pen back for another year.
Josh Kinney Free $5 $5 Still working on his comeback.

Autograph prices are lower this year than last for 11 current players and two ex-Cardinals. In addition, the number of current and former players signing for free has been expanded from 47 to 54, while the total number of fee signers is down from 34 in 2009 to 24 this year.

# of signers 2010 2009
Current fee 15 26
Hall of Famers 2 4
Retired fee 5 4
Free 54 47

There are several notable Cardinals missing from the WWU autograph rolls, all for unknown reasons except one, the hitting coach.

Missing in action 2010 2009 2008 Commentary
Jason LaRue $5 Reserve catcher and his ‘stache missing from 2010 rolls.
Brad Penny Newest Cardinal needs to meet fans. Only has one-year contract.
Dennys Reyes Would he sign in Spanish?
Julio Lugo Would the Boston Red Sox pay for his autograph signings, too?
Mark McGwire He’d be extremely popular, but I hear he has some open issues.

The ranks of the Hall of Famers signing have dropped noticeably with regulars Bob Gibson and Lou Brock being the most obvious absences.

Hall of Famers 2010 2009 2008 Commentary
Red Schoendienst $75 $75 $60 Get it while you still can. A true great.
Whitey Herzog $60 $40 $50 Hall election reverses declining trend in autograph price.
Where did they go?
Bob Gibson $125 Auctioned off baseball memorabilia in 2009.
Bruce Sutter $100 Retired number was questionable decision by Cards.
Lou Brock $100 Always very popular. Also sold memorabilia in 2009.

Among the past Cardinals heroes signing for a small fee include fan favorite Mike Matheny. John Tudor dropped off the list.

I remember you! 2010 2009 Commentary
Ray Lankford $10 Didn’t receive any Hall of Fame votes.
Vince Coleman $10 Will he steal your money like so many bases?
Mike Matheny $10 Should be a very popular autograph.
Bernard Gilkey $5 $15 Can’t beat the price.
Jack Clark $5 $10 Fox Sports Midwest broadcaster drops fee.
Not appearing in 2010
John Tudor $10 Probably still cranky.

The article would not be complete without noting these ten former Cardinals who signed in past years. Best of luck, guys.

The departed 2009 2008 Commentary
Rick Ankiel $60 $55 Leaves St.Louis after 13 years
Troy Glaus $40 Did signing aggravate that supposedly-OK shoulder?
Chris Duncan $20 $40 Autograph price was already in decline.
Khalil Greene $20 Just signed contract with Texas.
Todd Wellemeyer $15 Still looking for work.
Joel Pineiro $10 $20 Trying to find multi-year security.
Chris Perez $10 Dealt to Cleveland for Mark DeRosa.
Brian Barton $5 Gone and forgotten.
Adam Kennedy $5 Was a WWU no-show and on his way out the door.
Brad Thompson $5 $10 Released and signed with Royals.

Not to be forgotten are a major batch of current and former Cardinals who will be signing for free. There are some nice names in here, so don’t think you have to drop big money to snare good autographs. For example, Jaime Garcia won’t be free next year, I bet.

Mitchell Boggs Daniel Descalso Jaime Garcia Mark Hamilton Daryl Jones
Josh Kinney Lance Lynn Tyler Norrick Matt Pagnozzi Matt Scherer
Nick Stavinoha George Altman Andy Benes Scott Cooper Danny Cox
Mike Crudale Ken Dayley Jim Donohue Curt Ford Rich Hacker
Rick Horton Charlie James Tom Lawless Joe Magrane T.J. Matthews
Ed Mickelson Pat Perry Jerry Reuss Ted Savage Todd Worrell
Allen Craig David Freese Tyler Greene Blake Hawksworth
Pete Kozma Joe Mather Adam Ottavino Shane Robinson
P.J. Walters Alan Benes Glenn Brummer John Costello
Boots Day Chuck Diering Neil Fiala David Green
Ron Hunt Mike Jorgensen Mark Little Greg Mathews
Jose Oquendo Jay Randolph Kerry Robinson Scott Terry

The 14th Annual Winter Warm-Up, a three-day event, will take place on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend; Saturday, Sunday and Monday, January 16-18, 2010.

For full WWU information, including signing schedules and ticket prices, follow this link.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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