Monday, March 2, 2015

Massive Just Commons Mailday

I was recently in the mood to add a bunch of cards to my Red Sox collection.  I decided I would see if I could knock a bunch of stuff off of my want list the cheap way, by going through Just Commons.  It was a good decision:
I loved the Panini Golden Age set in 2013, but I never really managed to get the cards from 2014.  Cy Young and Dom DiMaggio were the only Red Sox representatives in the base set, both players that are somewhat rare, making them nice to see on occasion.  I love the John Burkett photo blowing the bubble.  I also really like the shot of Newman.  Nice camera angle, not something seen very often.
Here we have a really horrible aftermath of a swing by Tim Naehring with Wade Boggs watching in the background.  Otis Nixon is one of my favorite one-year wonders and there are several cards of him in this purchase.  We have a nice action shot of a bunt attempt in progress and a more familiar running shot done horizontally for some reason.  Valentin is making a nice backhanded play in the Select card as well.
Mo Vaughn always seemed like kind of an affable guy.  Always seemed to be having fun, such as in this dugout shot.  Knowing Jose Offerman, he probably misplayed this ball.  Then we have a double dip by Naehring, who appears quite a bit in this purchase as well. 
The 94 Upper Deck is probably the best shot of Naehring I have yet seen.  It is nice to see a little vintage, particularly of the 1975 variety.  These were some of the cards I wanted the most from that set.  It is kind of rare to see a real action shot of Bob Stanley for some reason.  Then we have kind of an interesting dugout shot of Darren Bragg.
Here we have some terrific shots from 2014 Stadium Club.  I have wanted the Mike Napoli hoisting the World Championship trophy for some time.  Pedroia is turning a double play while wearing the camo uniforms.  I have not seen these on a card yet.  I am thrilled that Masterson is back in Boston.  This and the two Buchholz cards are from 2008 Upper Deck Timelines.  I am getting closer to completion of that set.

Fleer Metal Universe is one of the most quintessentially 90's sets of all time.  We also have a nice stretching shot of Otis Nixon and a rare card of 94 backup catcher Rich Rowland.

And finally Cliff Floyd and Daniel Nava make appearances.  I am not sure I want to know where Nava's hands are.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

1991 Topps #542 Rob Murphy

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
It may seem strange, but I really like action shots of left-handed pitchers.  I have no idea why.  It does not seem like that impressive of a thing, but a decent action shot of a southpaw really appeals to me.  This was one of the first ones I really remember.

Rob Murphy was a lefty reliever acquired by the Red Sox in the same trade that brought Nick Esasky from the Reds.  Murphy was a valuable member of the bullpen in 1989, finishing with a record of 5-7 with a 2.74 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 105 innings.  He also saved nine games as a second closing option to Lee Smith.  Unfortunately, 1990 was a complete bust for Murphy.  His record was a terrible 0-6 and his ERA ballooned to 6.32 and his innings slipped to 57.  He did save seven games though.  A tired arm may have had something to do with it as his 1989 innings count was a career high.

After the 1990 season, Murphy was allowed to leave as a free agent to the Seattle Mariners. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Another Trade with the Other Brad

I made a trade with Brad of Brad's Blog after he posted about some Toys R Us parallels he received.  He pulled one Red Sox card, and even though the player was not a great one, or even a player I like that much, it is still a Red Sox card.  Knowing Brad is a Ryan Howard fan and I had one that I thought he would likely not have, I made the deal.  Brad threw in some extras as well:
1.  2015 Topps Toys R Us Purple Edward Mujica.  Mujica followed the patterns of Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, and Mark Melancon as a closer that Boston acquired that did not fare too well in his initial season with the team.  He started to come around in the second half and could be a major contributor to the bullpen this season.

2.  1996 Pinnacle Roger Clemens.  This is one of those cards that I did not even know I didn't have.  I don't keep extremely detailed records of cards that I have and cards that I need.  So it is not real easy for me to find out.  Oh well, another Rocket for the collection.

3.  2012 Topps Chrome Xfractor Adrian Gonzalez.  I still like Adrian even though he basically complained his way out of town.

Thanks Brad!

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Buyback and a Couple Prospects

Two packages were in the mail today.  One was expected, the other was not:
The first two cards came as a bit of a shock.  They were throw-ins, along with a pile of about 20 other Bowman Draft singles, in a package of stuff that will be shown in a later post on my Sandy Alomar Jr. blog.  Pretty decent players too.  Jake Cosart is the younger brother of Jared and is a pretty decent pitching prospect in his own right.  Of course Blake Swihart was Boston's #1 prospect, until today anyway, with the news that Boston outbid the Yankees for Yoan Moncada.  We should see Swihart later this year.

The last card was a trade that I was very happy with, for one of this year's buybacks.  It is an older one too, from 1967.  Joe Foy was a valuable cog in the lineup for the Impossible Dream Red Sox.  He hit 16 home runs that season, yet was largely overlooked due to the presence of Carl Yastrzemski, Rico Petrocelli, Jim Lonborg, and others.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

One-Year Wonder Pt. 22: Todd Walker

Every once in awhile, the Red Sox pick up a veteran player for a year, or just the stretch run that was a star at one point that I become fascinated with. It's a player that is basically only a role player at that point in their career, but may show flashes of their old brilliance. It's so unusual to see them as a member of the Red Sox, that I try to find as many of their cards as possible. This series will be about some of those players.
Second base had been a position with a lot of turmoil in the 90's and early 2000's for the Red Sox.  Jody Reed started the decade as a capable regular, but Boston had trouble finding consistency after he was selected in the expansion draft.  Scott Fletcher had a very good season in 1993 highlighted by impressive defense but he faltered in 1994.  Luis Alicea took over in 1995 and turned in average offensive and defensive numbers.  1996 saw Boston run their team like a fantasy team, bringing in offense-first players at several positions, one of which was second base with Wil Cordero.  His defense was so bad though he was moved to left field where he could not hurt the team as much.  Then Boston went through a bunch of players over the next few years at the position.  Jeff Frye, Mike Benjamin, and Lou Merloni all proved to be better off as utility players than everyday second basemen.  John Valentin was moved to second to accommodate Nomar Garciaparra, then moved to third after Tim Naehring went down, which was much more successful.  Donnie Sadler was unable to translate his minor league success into the Majors.  Mark Lemke suffered a concussion and could not hit.  Jose Offerman then had an All Star season in 1999 but later on proved to be a very expensive bust.  Mike Lansing was acquired solely for Boston to be able to get Rolando Arrojo and played like a throw-in, albeit a $7 million one.  Chris Stynes could not stay healthy and finally Rey Sanchez was a very good defensive player, but a complete zero at the plate.  Which brings us to 2003 and Todd Walker.  He would not be a long-term solution either.

2003 was the first season under Theo Epstein as general manager.  He brought a Moneyball-esque philosophy to building his team.  Walker had the ability to get on base, even though he was largely considered a bust after being the eighth overall pick in the 1994 draft.  He did not get along well with managers or players and he did not hit nearly as well as he was expected.  Nevertheless, Walker was a decent buy-low candidate for the Red Sox vacant second base position.  All he cost were two failed prospects in their own right, Josh Thigpen and Tony Blanco.  Only Blanco made the Majors, and he did not live up to expectations.

Walker came in and performed as advertized.  He was often the #2 hitter on the team and provided some decent offense without providing much on defense.  He finished the season at .283/.333/.428 with 13 home runs and 85 RBIs.  The Red Sox were an offensive juggernaut that season and having a second baseman hitting like that was a big reason why.

Walker really impressed in the postseason, hitting five home runs, including a controversial home run against the Yankees in the ALCS.  It was certainly not Walker's fault that the Red Sox were not able to beat the Yankees in the ALCS as he hit .370/.414/.704 with two home runs, a triple, and two RBIs.
After the season, Walker was allowed to leave as a free agent and Mark Bellhorn replaced him.  Bellhorn was basically the same player as Walker, but slightly better in all categories. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Red Sox with No Cards Pt. 12: Andrew Miller

In this series I take a look at players who played for the Boston Red Sox but, for some reason, never had a card produced of them with the team.
Now that his time with Boston is officially over, it is time to lament the fact that Andrew Miller never made it onto a card in a Red Sox uniform.  Miller was a major part of the Red Sox bullpen for a few years, yet for some reason Topps never picked up on it.

Miller was a former first-round draft pick (6th overall) by the Detroit Tigers and was a major part of the trade with the Marlins that brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit.  He was traded to Boston after the 2010 season for Dustin Richardson.  In 2011, he was brought up to be a starter, but struggled, going 6-3 but with a 5.54 ERA.  He was then groomed to be a bullpen arm, where he would flourish.

In 2012, Miller was 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 53 appearances.  He struck out 51 in 40.1 innings as a LOOGY.  In 2013, Miller was having a strong season, but injuries derailed his season and he only made it into 37 games, but he had a 2.64 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 30.2 innings.  2014 was his breakout season as he became a major part of the Red Sox bullpen.  He was 3-5 with a 2.34 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 42.1 innings when he was traded to the Orioles for top prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. 

All told, Miller spent parts of four seasons as a dominant lefty out of Boston's bullpen.  He pitched in 157 games with a 3.79 ERA in 178.1 innings with 218 strikeouts.  Yet he never received a single card to commemorate his time in Boston.  In 2013, Topps Update included cards of Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, and Drake Britton.  Bailey pitched in 30 games but was mostly unimpressive.  Britton made it into just 18 games.  Bard pitched in just two games with a 9.00 ERA.  Topps could have easily replaced any of the three, particularly Bard, with Miller.  

One-Card Mailday

I received this today:
You can't really tell from the scan, but that is the Top 5 Refractor mini from 2014 Bowman.  Bowman did the mini refractors for the Top 5 prospects from each team again in 2014.  Cecchini was #3.  I still need the other four, which are all on my wantlist, but it was nice to get the first one, finally.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Some Gypsy Queen and A&G Needs

I don't know why it has taken so long to finally start knocking some of these cards off of my wantlist.  It seemed like last year nobody ever wanted to trade on the forums.  It was frustrating.  But now for some reason I have been finding myself adding a bunch of the cards that I couldn't last year.

Today, I knocked the rest of the non-SP base cards from Gypsy Queen and a few A&G cards off of my wantlist:
I really like the photo on the Bogaerts card.  Gypsy Queen is not really known for terrific photography, but that Bogaerts is awesome.  The Gomes is a pretty decent shot too.  Player selection is important to me as a team collector, which is why I love the fact that Nava has been getting into more and more sets in 2014.  He may not show up as much in 2015 thanks to a little bit of a decline in 2014 but it is nice to see him frequently.

A&G has been eluding me for some reason.  I did get a few here, but there are still several more.  I like seeing Fisk and Nomar in the set, although the increase in Nomar cards likely means that Jason Varitek's days as my largest Red Sox player in my collection are numbered.  Nomar is a little close for comfort.  Maybe Varitek will make it into Archives this year.  I am not really holding my breath though.