Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bowman Draft Trade and a Fan Pak

I recently made a trade with a guy for a few Bowman Draft singles.  Nothing real exciting, just a couple of cards from my wantlist and a refractor of one of Boston's draft picks.  
1.  Nomar Garciaparra.  Nomar was the 12th overall pick in the 1994 Draft.  Boston did not select higher than that again until 2013 when they apparently wasted a pick on Trey Ball.  Nomar was one of the best draft selections Boston has ever had as he had a terrific run of success from his rookie season through the 2003 season.

2.  Roger Clemens.  The Rocket was the 19th pick in the 1983 Draft.  None of the previous 18 picks came close to the career Clemens had.  Of course Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  Boston was lucky Clemens fell to them.

3.  Mike Shawaryn.  Boston's fifth round pick from the 2016 Draft fell in the draft due to a loss in velocity, but he was very successful in his first stint as a professional, going 0-1 with a 2.87 ERA with 22 strikeouts versus seven walks in 15.2 innings.

I was a little surprised when I opened up the package with those three cards in it to find one of these:
These are the Upper Deck Fan Paks issued by the company for the Red Sox and Yankees with slightly modified versions of Upper Deck brand cards.  I had a lot of these already, but out of the 25 cards, I did get these seven new ones:
The 2007 and 2008 Upper Deck sets are both printed on thinner card stock and are glossier.  The UD Future Stars cards have darker green and silver foil.  The SP Legendary Cuts cards have silver foil as well.  The most notable difference though is with the Masterpieces cards, none of which are shown here as I have them all.  Those feature a glossy instead of a textured finish.  The Mike Lowell card is probably the best picture.  I'm guessing he made a catch into the stands in foul territory and was showing he had the ball.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Dual Relic and a Vintage Trade

Let's dive right in.

I got my Ebay Bucks certificate and used it on two cards to go toward my Jason Varitek collection, which now stands at 898 cards.  The first one came in now:
The nice thing about this one is that it also features Kevin Youkilis on it.  At one point, I considered starting a new mini player collection of Youkilis.  This was back when Varitek started declining sharply.  Ultimately my decision at that time was to just remove the focus on an individual player and reassert my team collection.  But I have always liked Youkilis.  It is a shame his time with the Red Sox ended the way it did.

The second package of the day came from Eric, a Red Sox fan from South Dakota (not all that far from me), who agreed to send me a few vintage Red Sox cards for some Red Sox doubles I have:
1.  1940 Play Ball Jim Bagby.  This card is glorious.  It is a 1940 Play Ball that has been through the wringer.  Bagby had a decent rookie season in 1938 when he was 15-11 with a 4.21 ERA, but he was not able to build on that until being traded to the Indians in a deal that brought Joe Dobson to Boston.  That one worked out pretty well for the Red Sox.  Bagby did return to Boston in 1946.

2.  1956 Topps Ike Delock.  The trade brought me two 1956 Topps cards, just my second and third.  Delock was a pretty decent pitcher in the 1950's that spent a lot of time in the bullpen.  He was 83-72 with a 4.01 ERA over eleven seasons with the Red Sox.  His best season was 1959 when he was 11-6 with a 2.95 ERA.

3.  1956 Topps Milt Bolling.  Bolling was part of the vaunted "youth movement" then-manager Lou Boudreau was pushing in the early 1950's.  Unfortunately, the infielder never developed into anything more than a good fielding shortstop who could not hit.  He hit .247/.324/.356 with 15 home runs and 75 RBIs over six seasons with the Red Sox.

Thanks for the trade, Eric!  Hope to do some more soon.

Monday, January 16, 2017

T207 Reprints and a Bunch of Numbered Cards

The latest mailday roundup consists of two packages, the first a couple of reprints of some very old cards, and the second a collection of serial-numbered and other higher-end cards.

Here is the first package.  All of these cards are reprints.  I would love to get the originals, one in particular, but I will settle for the reprints for now.  These are reprints of the 1912 T207 set.
1.  Charley Hall.  Nicknamed "Sea Lion", Hall was often used in relief during a time which starters were typically expected to finish their games.  Hall was pretty decent.  He was 12-9 with a 1.91 ERA in 1910 and 15-8 with a 3.02 ERA in 1912.  He pitched 10.2 innings in the 1912 World Series against the Giants.  His career numbers with Boston were a record of 46-32 with a 2.89 ERA in 147 games over five years.  He only started 57 of those games.

2.  Olaf Henriksen.  Nicknamed "Swede", even though he was Danish, Henriksen spent his entire Major League career with Boston.  He was never a starter, but he WAS an outfielder at a time in which Boston had one of the greatest outfields in the history of the game.  For his career, Henriksen hit .269/.392/.329.  He played in three World Series and hit a double in four plate appearances.

3.  Les Nunamaker.  This is the card that I would most like to find the original.  Nunamaker was originally from Malcolm, Nebraska, a small town northwest of my hometown.  Nunamaker spent the first three seasons of his Major League career with the Red Sox and was sold to the Yankees early in his fourth season.  His Boston career consisted of a .247/.307/.326 line.  He also played for the Browns and Indians in his career.

The next package is a collection of singles from Triple Threads, Chrome and Gold Label.
1.  Brian Johnson.  Johnson is 26 now and it is time for him to take the next step.  Last season was a bit of a lost season after a car-jacking and anxiety issues left him unable to move forward as expected.  This season will be important in determining what he is.

2.  Wade Boggs.  Boggs finally had his number 26 retired by the Red Sox last season.  The Rays retired his number 12 for them a long time ago, but then they don't have the history the Red Sox had.  I am happy for him.  As I have mentioned many times, Boggs was my favorite player when I started watching baseball.

3.  David Ortiz.  Ortiz has a new commercial out these days for TurboTax wherein he is a tennis instructor, though not a very good one.  And we were all worried about how he will possibly make a living now that his baseball career is over.

4.  Eduardo Rodriguez.  You heard it here first: Eduardo Rodriguez will have a breakout year and be an All Star in 2017.

5.  Blake Swihart.  And Swihart will be Boston's starting catcher and start to live up to some of the hype he had pre-2015.

6.  Roger Clemens.  Clemens was my favorite player after Boggs left.  He still had a few good seasons left after 1992 with the Red Sox, but nothing quite like his prime seasons.  But despite injury-plagued and effected 1993 and 1995 seasons, he was still quite good in 1994 and 1996.

7.  Mookie Betts.  I'm disappointed but not shocked by Betts not winning the MVP.  Hopefully he has a few more seasons like 2016 and gets that MVP at some point.  He is a lot of fun to watch.

8.  Sam Travis.  One of the few remaining prospects in the Red Sox system close to the Majors.  I think Travis will make it to Boston by the end of the season and he could be the first-baseman of the future.  Mitch Moreland is only on  a one-year contract after all.

9.  Henry Owens.  This is kind of an interesting card.  It is very thick and metallic.  Owens, like Johnson, is at a crossroads in 2017.  He has got to get a handle on his control.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Red Sox Awards History: Comeback Player of the Year

Major League Baseball started giving out a Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2005 to one player in each league who has had a great season after an injury-plagued or some other down season.  The Sporting News has given out a Comeback Player of the Year Award since 1965, but apparently MLB has not officially recognized it.

Several Red Sox players have won the Comeback Player of the Year Award over the years.  Here are those players:

2016 - RICK PORCELLO (MLB Award)
Porcello is the most recent AL winner of the Comeback Player of the Year Award, though he did not win The Sporting News Award, which went to Mark Trumbo.  Porcello was not hurt in 2015, he just had a bit of a down season, at least for the first half.  He finished the season 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP.  He was actually decent down the stretch which was a preview of his 2016 season.  Though no one expected him to come in and win the AL Cy Young Award as he did.  Porcello was 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA, a 1.009 WHIP and 189 strikeouts versus 32 walks in 223 innings.

2011 - JACOBY ELLSBURY (MLB  and TSN Award)
Prone to some bizarre injuries in his career, Ellsbury only played in 18 games in 2010 due to rib injuries, initially sustained in a collision with teammate Adrian Beltre.  He finished second in the AL MVP race in 2011 after hitting .321/.376/.552 with 32 home runs, 105 RBIs, and 39 stolen bases.  He became Boston's first ever 30/30 man and was an All Star and won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award.  It was far and away his greatest season.

1998 - BRET SABERHAGEN (TSN)
Once one of the greatest pitchers in the game, Saberhagen's career had stalled after a terrific 1994 season with the Mets.  1995 was subpar, particularly after being traded to the Rockies.  He was injured for the entire 1996 season.  The Red Sox took a flier on him for the 1997 season and he made it into six games, though he was 0-1 with a 6.58 ERA.  He went on to have a very good full season in 1998, ending up 15-6 with a 3.96 ERA.  He struck out 100 and walked 29 in 175.  This was the second time Saberhagen won the Comeback Player of the Year Award.

1995 - TIM WAKEFIELD (TSN)
1995 was Tim Wakefield's breakout season.  Sure, he had a great rookie season in 1992, but he really attained national attention in 1995.  Wakefield had struggled in 1993 with the Pirates and spent the entire 1994 season in the minor leagues.  Seeking pitching help, Boston picked Wakefield up off of the scrap heap and he became the team's top starting pitcher, ending up with a 16-8 record and a 2.95 ERA.  He finished third in the Cy Young vote and even picked up some MVP votes.

1972 - LUIS TIANT (TSN)
Luis Tiant had two careers.  In his early years, he was a flamethrowing pitcher with the Indians who struck out 264 with a 1.60 ERA in 1968.  Unfortunately, arm troubles started in and he bounced around for a few years.  In 1971 he was 1-7 with a 4.85 ERA for the Red Sox.  But his second career took off in 1972 when he became a crafty, intelligent pitcher with a number of pitches and different arm angles.  He was 15-6 with a league-leading 1.91 ERA and finished sixth in the Cy Young vote.

1969 - TONY CONIGLIARO (TSN)
After a devastating beaning to the head in 1967, Tony Conigliaro missed the entire 1968 season due to lingering vision problems.  Conigliaro had previously been one of the game's brightest young stars after being the second youngest player in history to make it to 100 home runs.  He made a comeback attempt in 1969 and performed well, hitting .255/.321/.427 with 20 home runs and 82 RBIs.

1968 - KEN HARRELSON (TSN)
Harrelson was not hurt in 1967, he just had a bit of a down season, though he did not have a long track record of stardom.  He played with three teams in 1967 and was subject to a controversial release by the Kansas City A's.  Boston picked him up after the Conigliaro beaning.  Harrelson was an All Star for the only time in 1968 and finished third in the MVP race after hitting .275/.356/.518 with 35 home runs and a league-leading 109 RBIs.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Who Will Be Boston's Catcher in 2017?

My guess is that it will be this guy right here.  I just got this card, which is an image variation short print of Blake Swihart's Topps Update rookie card, in a one-for-one trade that I am very happy about.  Swihart still has options left so he will likely start the season off in the minors.  But he is the best hitter of the three available options, which includes Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon.  In 84 games in his rookie season, Swihart hit .274/.319/.392 with five home runs and 31 RBIs, but he was terrific down the stretch, hitting .303/.353/.452 in the second half.  Swihart was rushed somewhat to the Majors as a result of poor catching options in the Majors.  He had not spent much time at AAA by the time he was called to the Majors.  His career hit a snag in 2016, but he still hit .258/.365/.355.  I expect Swihart to start the season in Pawtucket, but I do not think he will be there long and then he will be called back to Boston, to re-start his career as Boston's catcher of the future.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Worst Heritage Blaster Ever?

I bought a blaster of Heritage High Numbers, mostly because I was pretty desperate to open something and the local store did not have the Topps Holiday stuff or the Archives 65th Anniversary stuff.  Here is the Red Sox output:
On the plus side, it did give me one of the remaining Red Sox base cards I still needed, this Brad Ziegler card, but I still need the Steven Wright.  As far as the other stuff goes, it resulted in a couple of short prints and some low-end inserts.  No autos, no relics, no refractors, no variations, not even a chrome card.  Just a terrible box.  But at least I have the Brad Ziegler now.  He is no longer with the Red Sox but he was fairly impressive in his short stint.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

My First Sale, Another Tek, and a Couple of Hall of Famers

Here is the most recent mailday roundup. 
1.  2016 Topps Now Chris Sale.  It did not take Topps Now long to cash in on the blockbuster deal between the Red Sox and White Sox that sent ace Chris Sale to Boston.  And now I don't have to wait until some time next Spring to get my first Chris Sale card.  I would have preferred a photo from the press conference (if there was one), but I can't complain too much.  Boston's starting pitching is looking pretty good in 2017.

2.  2016 Topps High Tek Orange Magma Diffractor Jason Varitek.  Yet another High Tek Jason Varitek variation.  I keep saying I am not going to try to collect all of these, and yet I keep adding them.

3.  2001 Topps Archives Reserve Luis Aparicio.  A nice refractor-like reprint card of Aparicio's final Topps card from his playing career.  He spent the last three seasons of his career in Boston, seasons which were below par for him.

4.  1992 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Jim Rice.  A nice Sportflics card produced by Kellogg's.  This is not the Canadian version, a variation Night Owl recently discovered.