A buyer's guide to the 2014 Winter Warm-Up

USA TODAY Sports

It's for my niece, but you can make it out to Ron.

The annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up is nearly upon us, so take this as fair warning to get your Rick Ankiel shirsey freshly pressed and search Amazon for that comically large Cardinals camera strap. This is our time to shine. While the team does a fantastic job of reaching out to the fan base throughout the season with various promotions and theme nights, the Winter Warm-Up is our one true chance every year to force ourselves upon various, disinterested members of the organization.

Have a burning roster related question for Mo? Chances are you'll get to ask it. Want to present Shane Robinson with a set of crochet pot holders? Have at it. I assume there are "no touching" rules enforced, but you can typically get within a table's length of your hero for the cost of a minimal donation to charity, so make the most of it.

Most importantly, if you have the chance to attend the Warm-Up, make sure you get an autograph or two. Now I know it's unbecoming of an adult to ask another adult to scribble their name on a commemorative dish plate, but there's something kind of cool about it, right? At the very least, you should explore the secondary market for memorabilia. You'd be surprised.

The chance at an autograph from your favorite current/previous Cardinal player/manager is what makes the Warm-Up so great. They are literally forced to sit down and bear it. I'm positively sure that the majority of them enjoy it, but I do prefer to believe it's against their will. And if that is the case, the fact that they assign dollar values to each signature must rub salt in the eyes of the undervalued. Nah, I'm sure they take it all in stride.

So, without further adieu, here is your 2014 Winter Warm-Up autograph hound buyer's guide:

  • Yadier Molina ($100) - Yadi is the most expensive on the list and for good cause. He's arguably the most valuable player in all of baseball. I said arguably, so layoff. As far as the signature retaining its sentimental value, this is one of your safest bets. If Yadier retired tomorrow, he still goes down as a franchise icon. Yet, this is also one of the riskier auto tickets you could buy. Let's just say Yadi's attendance record is spotty. There's an above average chance you'll be re-routed to the Tony Cruz line at the last second.
  • Mark Ellis ($5) - Welcome to the team, Mark. Here's a kick in the junk.
  • Oscar Taveras ($20) - This is crazy value. Let's speculate that it's affirmation they're trying to trade him.
  • Michael Wacha ($70) - This is undoubtedly a Warm-Up rookie record price. They have him scheduled to sign in that prime Monday 12-2 p.m. time slot as well. If you're an employer within 50 miles of St. Louis, prepare for some sick calls on Monday, January 20th. *Cough. Oh, I came down with something. This weather. It's unreal... Facebook: Just met Michael Wacha!!! :o)
  • Jhonny Peralta ($25) - Reasonable. Just like his contract. All around reasonable.
  • Sam Freeman ($5) - This one is interesting because there are two of these things next to his name: **. According to the code, it reflects a new signing time, but I think it means he could be switched out for Randy Choate at the last minute. Furthermore, why is Randy Choate not on the list?
  • John Mabry ($5) - This one comes with a free swing correction. "You're doing it wrong. Take off the gloves."
  • Mike Matheny ($40) - LaRussa is getting $75, Mike. Just saying.

Enjoy the Warm-Up, everyone. I'll pay $60 for a Taveras ticket. Hit me up with a DM.

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