Am I the only one who has noticed that the quality of autographed inserts has declined precipitously in 2008? Last year I pulled the following in Topps Finest: Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, Alex Rodriguez, and Ryan Howard. I also was lucky enough to pull a rookie redemption card (#10) that turned out to be an autographed Joba Chamberlain card. I pulled a dual autographed card of Brandon Webb and Chien-Ming Wang. I also pulled David Wright and Garrett Atkins autos from Moments and Milestones. From SPx, I pulled Ryan Braun (2), Daisuke Matzuzaka, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Drew, Felix Hernandez (2), and Andrew Miller.

I bought about 8 boxes of each of these products.

This year I bought about the same number of boxes but got nowhere near the return. The best auto card I received was a Topps Finest Alex Rios red parallel. Almost all of the rookies were minor leaguers – most of whom were not top 10 team prospects according to Baseball America. Some were not in the top 30 team prospects.

It appears to me there is a problem. The card manufacturers seem to be having trouble getting premier players to sign cards for them. Here’s an example. Last year I also pulled from Topps Finest a dual autographed redemption card of David Wright and Chase Utley. When I never received the card, I called Topps and was told that Chase Utley was not signing the card so Topps was sending me a replacement. Topps sent an autographed X-fractor of Tim Lincecum so I am not disappointed but I would rather have had a Chase Utley autograph. If you check e-Bay you see that there are fewer and fewer major stars signing autographed cards for the 2008 releases. SPx has a “Superstars” autographed series this year. I pulled a Victor Martinez “Superstars” card. I know Superstars. I have collected Superstars. Victor Martinez is no Superstar.

I am very disappointed with the 2008 releases. I will not be buying any Legendary Cuts this year. From what I can see on eBay, the “return” on these boxes is a bunch of material cards that are pedestrian. The base cards are not “legends.”

The only series I am looking forward to is Triple Threads, which for the past 2 years has exceeded expectations.

It may be that 2007 was an extraordinary year for cards (I loved the 2007 Topps Finest base cards and collected the entire set) but the drop off in quality this year seems to me to have been precipitous.

Click HERE, HERE, and HERE to see D.J.S’s pulls from 2007.