Sunday, August 21, 2016

Red Sox With No Cards: 2000

2000 saw more of the same from card companies.  Smaller sets, with very few exceptions.  Unless you were a regular player, you were not likely to get a card.  Boston had a number of veteran players with long histories show up very briefly in 2000.  Many of those players did not appear in a Red Sox uniform on cardboard.

Boston might have been able to make it to the postseason in 2000 if it were not for the fact that they had virtually no production at all from the third base position.  The incumbent John Valentin played in just 10 games, top rookie prospect Wilton Veras was a bust, and the team was left with a number of retreads and never-weres like Lou Merloni, Manny Alexander, and Ed Sprague.  Sean Berry was another name on that list.  The former Expos and Astros third-baseman had had some good years in the past, but was basically done by 2000.  He started the season with the Brewers, but was not hitting and was released in June.  Boston picked him up to help with their third base problems, but he ended up playing in just one game for them.  In four at-bats he failed to get a hit and struck out twice.  He was released a couple of weeks later.

One of the most frustrating aspects of being a fan during the Dan Duquette regime was the fact that the team simply was not able to produce very many of its own players.  A lot of the reason for this is the fact that Duquette made so many trades involving a lot of prospects.  Duquette was not afraid to make deals when the team needed something.  The bullpen was a problem in 2000, so Duquette spent time trying to upgrade it.  One deal involved acquiring Hector Carrasco from the Twins.  To get him, Duquette gave up Lew Ford, a five tool player who would play five years for the Twins and was a pretty good player in 2004 when he hit 15 home runs and stole 20 bases.  Carrasco, on the other hand, pitched in just eight games for the Red Sox in 2000, going 1-1 with a 9.45 ERA.  He struck out seven in 6.2 innings, but also walked five.  After the season, he left as a free agent.  It is safe to say the Twins won that trade.

A very unpopular trade among the players in the clubhouse in 2000 was the trade of Jeff Frye, among others, to the Rockies.  Frye was a popular player to the team, and Nomar Garciaparra in particular was outraged.  That deal was mostly made in order to improve the team's pitching.  Along with Frye, Brian Rose and John Wasdin were shipped to the mountains in exchange for starting pitcher Rolando Arrojo, infielder Mike Lansing, and reliever Rich Croushore.  Croushore was more of a throw-in in the deal and only pitched in five games for the Red Sox.  He was 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in five games.  He walked more than he struck out and was traded to the Mets before the 2001 season for Frank Graham.

In his first full season with the Red Sox, after being acquired in a midseason trade from the Tigers in 1999, Florie had his career-defining moment.  Unfortunately that moment was being struck in the face with a line drive, causing multiple broken bones and eye damage.  Florie had been a fairly reliable bullpen arm until that moment.  He was 0-4 on the season with one save in 29 games.  He struck out 34 and walked 19 in 49.1 innings.  Florie had been a starter at times earlier in his career so he was often use for more than one inning in relief.  Florie is an annoying example of a player without any Red Sox cards because he spent parts of three seasons with Boston and appeared in 50 games and 88 innings.

The longtime Minnesota Twins fan-favorite third-baseman was at the end of his career in 2000.  He had bounced around a little bit in previous seasons, from the Angels to the Royals to the Cardinals to the Cubs, but was still capable of hitting for some power.  Boston decided to bring him in as a right-handed platoon partner for Brian Daubach at designated hitter after an impressive Spring Training.  Unfortunately, it was pretty clear that Gaetti was done.  He started the season 0 for 10 with just one RBI and three strikeouts.  To his credit, Gaetti realized he was done.  He voluntarily retired after just five games.

Another longtime star approaching the end of his career to show up in Boston in 2000 was Bernard Gilkey, who had some impressive seasons with the Cardinals and the Mets in the early to mid 1990's.  Gilkey had been released by the Diamondbacks in June of 2000 after a disappointing stint in which he hit just .110.  Boston gave him a shot and he made it into 36 games in the second half.  He hit .231/.327/.341 with a home run, five doubles, a triple, and nine RBIs.  Not bad numbers for a fourth outfielder, really, and he was acceptable in the field as well.  Gilkey played enough that he could have been included in an extended set, or in early sets from the next season.  He was let go as a free agent after the season and returned to the Cardinals, the team he started his career with before bouncing around.  He last appeared in the Majors with the Atlanta Braves.

To say that Steve Ontiveros had an uneven career would be an understatement.  He made his Major League debut in the mid 1980's with the Oakland Athletics and looked to be a decent starting pitcher after winning 10 games in 1987.  Unfortunately injuries started to take their toll and he pitched in just a handful of games over the next three seasons.  He was out of baseball for the entire 1992 season due to injuries before re-emerging in Seattle in 1993.  He shockingly led the league in ERA and WHIP for Oakland in 1994, despite pitching in more games as a relief pitcher than a starter.  In 1995, he was an All Star, winning nine games for a bad Oakland team.  Then he spent four seasons in the minor leagues before showing back up in Boston late in the 2000 season.  He made one start, giving up six runs in just one inning, then pitched out of the bullpen for two more games.  He was 1-1 with a 10.13 ERA.  He pitched in the minors for two organizations the next season then retired.

Left-handed relievers who throw hard are a valuable commodity.  It was with that in mind that the Red Sox executed a minor deal with the White Sox to acquire Pena despite a 5.40 ERA in 20 games and walking nearly as many hitters as he struck out.  Pena made it into just two games for the Red Sox in 2000, pitching three innings, walking three, and striking out just one.  His ERA was 3.00.  He spent the entire season in 2001 in Boston's minor league system but was not brought back to the Majors.  He bounced around for a couple of seasons after that, but his very brief stint in Boston was his last Major League action.  Pena does appear in a minor league set with the Red Sox.

Like Bryce Florie, Hipolito Pichardo spent a large amount of time in Boston's bullpen in 2000.  He was tied for fifth-most games for a Boston pitcher in 2000 (38) and also started a game.  Pichardo had been a reasonably effective reliever for several seasons with the Kansas City Royals after arriving in the Majors as a starter at the age of 22 in 1992.  He was injured the entire 1999 season and sought to resurrect his career with the Red Sox in 2000.  He was largely successful, finishing with a record of 6-3, though he lost the game that he started.  His ERA was a very impressive 3.46 and he even picked up a save.  Pichardo returned to Boston in 2001, pitching in 30 games that season exclusively out of relief.  He finished the season 2-1, but with a 4.93 ERA.  The next season he pitched for Houston, but struggled and was done in the Majors.

Curtis Pride was in his second stint with the Red Sox in 2000, after a very brief two at-bats in 1997, which included a home run.  Pride was somewhat renowned for making it to the Major Leagues despite being born deaf.  He spent a little more time with the Red Sox in this stint, but that is not saying much.  Pride played in nine games with 21 plate appearances.  He hit .250/.286/.300 with only a double as an extra base hit.  After the season, he returned to Montreal, where he started his career, and continued to bounce between the Majors and Minors, coming up when a team needed a bat off the bench.

Never really known for his bat, Andy Sheets typically had a job because he was versatile and steady in the field.  He was brought to Boston mostly to serve as the backup shortstop to Nomar Garciaparra but also played a game at first.  Unfortunately, he was completely inept at the plate in 2000, hitting just .095 in 21 at-bats before being sent to the Minors.  Sheets played for the Mariners, Padres, Angels, Red Sox, and Devil Rays in his seven-year career.  He just could not get anything going in his very brief time in Boston.  Sheets does appear in a minor league set with the Red Sox.

Like Jesus Pena, Dan Smith's career with the Red Sox consists of just two games.  The former Expos right-hander pitched just 3.1 innings while giving up three runs, walking three, and striking out just one.  He had been a starter the year before in Montreal, but pitched in relief for Boston.  Smith spent the next season in the minors before returning to the Expos in 2002 where he actually pitched well out of the bullpen.  He spent another season in the Montreal bullpen in 2003 but was not nearly as impressive and was out of the Majors for good after the season.  Smith does appear in a Red Sox minor league set.

After spending a considerable amount of time in the Marlins bullpen in 1997 and 1998, Rob Stanifer found himself in the minors for the entire 1999 season before making it to Boston early in 2000.  Unfortunately, he did not pitch very well and was sent back down to the Minors where he actually had some good numbers.  It is surprising he was not given another chance in the Majors after that.  Stanifer pitched in just eight games for the Red Sox and was 0-0 with a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings.  Stanifer does appear in some Red Sox minor league sets.

A lot of these players played for just a handful of games for the Red Sox, with a few exceptions.  Hipolito Pichardo, Bernard Gilkey, and Bryce Florie all appeared for a significant chunk of the season and probably should have been given a card by someone.  Gary Gaetti was probably my favorite player that did not get a card.  I always liked him when he played for the Twins, Angels, and Royals.

Friday, August 19, 2016

One-Card Wonder Pt. 30: Willie Banks

I have mentioned before how much I loved Upper Deck 40 Man.  Without it, we would never have a Red Sox card of players like Willie Banks here.  This was right at the time when very few sets were concerned about player selection.  There were a few larger sets such as Topps, Topps Heritage, and Fleer Tradition that had a bunch of cards for each teams, but unless the player was a regular or a rookie, they were not getting a card.  So, middle relievers, backup catchers, utility infielders, and short-term callups were left out in the cold.  That always bothered me because I have always liked getting a variety of players.

That brings us to Banks here.  Willie Banks was a top prospect for the Twins in the early 1990's and was a part of the Twins World Championship team in 1991, though he did not play in the postseason.  Banks had his first full-time season in 1993 and went 11-12 with a 4.04 ERA.  The next year, he was traded to the Cubs and was 8-12 with a 5.40 ERA in the strike-shortened season.  After that however, his career stalled.  He bounced from team to team for several years but never played more than 10 games until 1998.    That year, he found full-time work in Arizona's bullpen.

The next year, Banks found himself in Japan briefly before returning to the U.S.  He did not make it back to the Major Leagues until 2001 when he re-emerged briefly in Boston's bullpen.  He made it into five games late in the season with a 0.84 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 10.2 innings.  That showing was impressive enough to get him to stay in Boston for the majority of the 2002 season.  Banks was an important member of the bullpen that season, pitching in 29 games with a 2-1 record and a 3.23 ERA.  He picked up one save in a 22-4 drubbing of the Rays in which he pitched the last four innings of the game, giving up just two hits and no runs.  He was released during Spring Training of 2003 and never made it back to the Majors.

Banks had a brief stint with the Red Sox, but he was a major bullpen contributor in 2002.  If it were not for 40 Man, he would not have any cards with the Red Sox.

One Card Refractor Mailday

Nothing exciting today.  Just a one-card trade that brought me this refractor of Boston's current closer.  Kimbrel has had an up and down season.  At times, he looks brilliant, but other times he is maddeningly wild.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 21: Carl Yastrzemski

Years in Boston: 1961-1983 (.285/.379/.462, 452 home runs, 1,844 RBIs, 3,419 hits)
Best Year in Boston: 1967 (.326/.418/.622, 44 home runs, 121 RBIs, MVP, Triple Crown)
When compiling a list of the best players in Red Sox history, Carl Yastrzemski's name most likely comes up second only to Ted Williams.  There is a good reason for that, Yastrzemski's hitting numbers may not have been quite as impressive, but he was an incredible hitter in his own right and his career lasted longer than any other player in a Red Sox uniform, covering 23 full seasons and 3,308 games.

Yaz came up the season after Ted Williams retired from baseball and took over Williams's position in left field.  Though there were seasons in which he played other positions (center field, first base, designated hitter), he will likely be remembered as a left fielder more than anything else.  He was the second link in the chain of three Hall of Famers to patrol left field for the Red Sox from 1939 through 1989.

Carl Yastrzemski was not an immediate success.  He was good, but not great for the first season of his career, gradually developing into a better and better hitter.  Then, in 1963, he won his first batting title and his first Gold Glove, while also smacking 40 doubles.  He led the league in batting average, doubles, hits, and walks and was named an All Star for the first time.  He hit 20 home runs for the first time in 1965.

Then, in 1967, Yaz had the greatest season of his career, and quite possibly the greatest season of any Red Sox player ever.  In WAR, it certainly is a record, a 12.4 WAR season.  He won the Triple Crown, en route to the AL MVP and the Gold Glove in the Impossible Dream Red Sox season.  What is even better is that he was an incredible clutch hitting machine, having a terrific final couple of weeks of the season and continuing that magic stretch through the World Series by hitting .400 with three home runs.  It was an incredible offensive season and the greatest moment in a terrific career.

The next season, he again won the batting title, though with just a .301 mark, the lowest batting average to ever win the batting title in the Year of the Pitcher.  His other numbers took a tumble too, but he still had a decent season.  The next two seasons, Yaz hit 40 home runs each year.  After that point, Yaz was no longer a top offensive player, but he would still be a productive hitter and a stalwart of the Red Sox offense.

Yaz started shifting around the diamond and gradually became the starting first baseman in the 1975 pennant winning season.  Yaz had a subpar season for him but turned it on again in the World Series.  His power numbers increased the next couple of seasons as he led a powerful Red Sox offense.

During the 1980 season, Yaz collected his 3,000th hit.  He is the only Red Sox player to have 3,000 hits all with this franchise.  Yastrzemski completed his career in 1983.  He spent his entire career with the Red Sox, setting franchise records for hits, games, runs, runs batted in, and extra base hits.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 1989.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

1991 Topps #761: Larry Andersen

In this series, I will look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
The most infamous deal Boston has made since the Babe Ruth sale to the Yankees was the deal in which the Red Sox acquired Larry Andersen.  Of course that is not because Boston picked up Andersen but because of who they gave up when they got him: Jeff Bagwell.  

In hindsight of course the trade looks absolutely terrible.  Boston gave up a slugging first baseman who is a borderline Hall of Fame candidate in order to get an aging middle reliever who they ultimately only had for 15 games.  Boston was in contention in 1990 but was having some difficulties with their bullpen due to injuries to closer Jeff Reardon and ineffectiveness of other pitchers.  So they needed to get a good arm in the bullpen.  And Andersen fit the bill.  He pitched in 15 games with a 1.23 ERA, striking out 25 and walking just three in 22 innings.  He picked up a save.  Andersen pitched in three games in the postseason, and did lose one of those games.  He left as a free agent to the Phillies after the season.

On the other side was Bagwell.  At the time, Bagwell was a third baseman in AA ball, but Boston already had Wade Boggs at the position and expected him to be there for a couple more years at least.  They also had Scott Cooper ahead of Bagwell on the depth chart for third base.  I do not know why Boston did not consider moving him to first base, but they probably should have.  Bagwell did not have much power in the minors, but he would certainly not be the only player to develop power at the Majors.  It is likely that Boston simply did not know what they had with Bagwell.

Ultimately, this was not a good trade.  But that does not mean that it did not make sense at the time.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

Topps Now: July 20 and an A&G Blaster

I have been very busy lately.  I know I say that a lot.  I have jury trials coming up soon so my collecting has taken a back seat.  I have not been buying many packs and I have not been making many trades.  Most of my new cards coming in have been the Topps Now cards.  As bad as Boston has been lately, they still manage to get an inordinate amount of these things.  Just look at July 20, when Boston got two cards.
This first card features a number of players wearing throwback uniforms.  Xander Bogaerts is featured here in a 1970's uniform.  I would have liked a picture of the red caps though.   The late 1970's red Red Sox cap is a personal favorite of mine because my first cap was a 1975 replica.  This card features several other players as well, notably Albert Pujols and Bartolo Colon.
The other card features Hanley Ramirez, who hit three home runs in the Red Sox win over the Giants.  Hanley has a tendency to go on tears and this game was certainly evidence of that.

Today, I decided to buy a blaster of Allen & Ginter, which is never one of my favorite sets of any year.  I tend to not buy much of it mostly because I don't care for the non-baseball player cards.  But I will usually buy a blaster or a few packs, just because.  I did okay for my Red Sox collection:
The very first card out of the box was Mookie Betts.  I had one card in mind that I really wanted to get in this, which usually does not work out too well for me.  I did not get that card, but I did get the mini version.  The Ryan LaMarre is the card I wanted the most out of this set because it will likely be his only Red Sox card.  He played in six games, with five at-bats and also pitched an inning.  But then he was released.  So when I saw he was in this set, much less having a short print, I decided it was the card I wanted the most out of it.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Topps Now: July 10, 2016

On a day in which the Yankees have completely overhauled their minor league system, I am showing off a true gem in the Red Sox system.  Yoan Moncada homered in the All Star Futures Game to win the MVP.  He is the second player from the Red Sox organization to be so honored.  Hopefully Moncada will have a better career than the last one: Che-Hsuan Lin, who never really was given a decent opportunity in the Majors in my opinion.  Moncada could be up in the Majors later this season and is Boston's top prospect.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Catching Up...Again, Also a Zippy Zapping

I have not posting very much lately.  I have been very busy with work and Boston has been depressingly bad of late.  But I need to catch up and I need to show off the latest Zippy Zapping.
Up first is some random stuff from a few packs, a small trade and Topps online exclusives.  The first card is a Ted Williams from a Throwback Thursday release.  These have not been as good to Boston fans as the Topps Now cards, this was the first Red Sox card to be released from it.  The second card is another David Ortiz Topps Now, this one celebrating the home run that took him past Ted Williams.
These are some cards rounded up from some more trades.  Nothing massively exciting.  The Victorino is numbered out of 50.  Andrew Benintendi remains one of Boston's top prospects.  He could be called up soon given the struggles of Boston's other left fielders.

And next is the package from Kenny, the Zippy Zapper himself.  
As usual, Kenny's package contained a little vintage, a lot of prospects, and some other randomness as well.  Up first is another Benintendi, followed by a 1974 Topps card of Don Newhauser, who had a short career but was very good in his rookie season of 1972.  Reed Reilly was the seventh round draft pick in 2014 but has already been released.  Jon Denney too has been released after being a third round pick.  Michael Kopech is rapidly becoming one of Boston's top prospects.  His velocity has been clocked at over 100 mph as a starting pitcher.  He needs to get his head on straight, but he could be a decent starter.
And here are some more cards from Kenny.  Austin Rei was Boston's third round pick from last year and is an impressive defensive catcher, though not much with the bat.  Manuel Margot was part of the trade for Craig Kimbrel.  Rafael Devers is one of Boston's top prospects with the top power potential in the system.  Finally, the best card from the package is an autograph of Boston's first round pick from 2014.  Chavis has been slow to develop but is starting to come around now.  I still don't personally see him as more than trade bait for Boston, but he is hitting.

Thanks for the package Kenny.
And next we have a pile of cards that were acquired in trades.  Most of these were cards on my want list.  It is nice to add some Travis Shaw cards as he has become a decent regular for Boston.  A bunch of these guys are minor leaguers without a lot of chance at making it as big leaguers.  But there is another Benintendi and Devers card in there.  Rusney Castillo has become a very expensive bust.  William Cuevas has actually been up and down with Boston this year, appearing in three games.
And some more from that trade, featuring another Shaw and some random holes in my collection.  The final card in the scan is just the second Red Sox card to come out of the Throwback Thursday series, this one a 1959 Topps All Star design of All Star Game starter Xander Bogaerts.
And finally, we have one more trade featuring a nice rare Dustin Pedroia card, numbered to 88.  And then a bunch of All Star Topps Now cards.  I was hoping they would cover everyone named to the All Star team, because I have still been looking forward to my first Red Sox card of Steven Wright.  I suspect he will show up in Topps Update.  He better.  It is about time.