I have been having pretty good luck finding cards from Venezuela recently of players that otherwise would not have any cards. Last time out, there was Geremi Gonzalez, before that was Sandy Leon. Several minor leaguers also have cards, but I have not been picking those up because they have not played in the Majors. I am not sure what the story is behind these cards, they do not likely have a Major League license, but are still getting made.
Anyway, two more players arrived recently. Up first is Niuman Romero:
Romero played in just two games for the Red Sox in 2010. He had four at-bats, did not collect a hit, but did score a run. He played one game at first and the other at second, yet is listed here as a shortstop. He had a an assist and four putouts at first, but did not have any defensive chances at second. He has been bouncing around the minors ever since, but his only other Major League appearance was the previous season in 10 games with the Indians.
And now, Gustavo Molina:
No relation to the Molina brothers (Jose, Bengie, and Yadier) obviously because they are all from Puerto Rico. This Molina was a catcher as well though. Gustavo Molina had a bit more Major League experience than Romero above. He has appeared in the Majors for five different teams in four seasons, though never for more than ten games. Molina's Red Sox stint consisted of four games in 2010. He had seven at-bats, collected a hit and a run, and had an assist and 15 putouts as a catcher.
So, not the most exciting of players here, but I am very excited to cross them both off the list of players without Red Sox cards.
Recently, a reader named Chris reached out to me asking me to take some Red Sox cards off of his hands. Of course I am always willing to oblige and recently received a nice, fat package of cards in the mail from him. Most of the cards were from the mid to late 2000's, a time period that I was far more focused on my Jason Varitek collection, so there were a surprising amount of new cards in the package. Here are the new ones:
Jonathan Papelbon: Tons of Papelbon cards were in this package, including five of these Generation Now cards. I once considered going for the entire run of these cards, but never really got around to it. Papelbon is Boston's all-time saves leader and had some terrific seasons.
Kyle Larson: I had no idea who Kyle Larson is. I don't really care for these First Pitch cards. They just don't do anything for me.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: There were a number of Matsuzaka cards as well. One of my favorite Matsuzaka memories is of him getting a base hit and driving in a couple of runs in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series.
Manny Ramirez: And there were a lot of Manny Ramirez cards. Manny had just a ton of cards issued during his Boston career. It would have been very easy for me to get 1,000 cards of him, but I just never really wanted to do that. I did not have to chase them, they would find me.
Josh Beckett: Beckett was the 2007 ALCS MVP for the Red Sox as well as the 2003 World Series MVP for the Marlins. He was an incredible clutch performer.
Julio Lugo: He led the team in stolen bases in 2007, but was otherwise a disappointment. He did perform well in the World Series though, so no real complaints there.
Mark Loretta: Loretta spent just one season with Boston, but hit .285, played excellent defense and was voted to start in the All Star Game in 2006. All in all, that was a pretty good season, but Dustin Pedroia was ready to take over.
Hideki Okajima: Boston's top middle reliever in 2007 was voted into the All Star Game that year in the final vote. I always liked Okajima a little better than Matsuzaka. Okajima came at the same time but was generally more effective, mostly because he did not nibble at the corners so much.
Jed Lowrie: Lowrie never seemed to put it together in Boston, and still seems to be having that problem. He did have some moments where he looked like a potential star, including a very impressive run in early 2011 where he was hitting .400 through the first month of the season.
Michael Bowden: Drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2005 draft, Bowden was one of five players to be picked by Boston in the first round. All five made the Majors, but Bowden and Craig Hansen did not play long in the Majors. Jed Lowrie, Clay Buchholz, and Jacoby Ellsbury all became regular Major Leaguers though.
Manny Delcarmen: For a couple of years, Delcarmen was one of Boston's most reliable middle relievers. He had a terrific season in 2007 and was very good in 2008. He declined after that and was out of the Majors after the 2010 season.
Jonathan Van Every: Van Every spent just a handful of games with Boston in three straight seasons, but he actually pitched a little bit in two of those seasons. Not many position players can say that.
I bought a redemption card from someone a couple of months back because he was offering a good price and it seemed like it would be a pretty good card. I know full well Topps's shaky history with redemptions. Just last year I gave up on a redemption that had been pending since 2013. But I thought I would take a shot. I received it in the mail a couple of days ago, only a few weeks since redeeming it. Here it is:
That is a Hanley Ramirez autograph with a huge patch, numbered out of just 10. I am very happy with this, and particularly since it did not take much time at all to receive. Hanley is having a terrific season this year and needs just one more home run in the next four games to become the third Red Sox to hit 30 home runs this year (Mookie Betts and David Ortiz are the other two), for the first time since 1977 (George Scott, Butch Hobson, Jim Rice).
I have been very excited about Topps Heritage High Numbers. After reviewing the checklist, I noticed that a ton of new players for the Red Sox are appearing in the set. So when I saw that it had hit the shelves, I had to buy one.
Unfortunately, my Heritage break was not that exciting. Aaron Hill is the only new player I received. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled about about getting new cards of David Price and Junichi Tazawa, but there are cards of Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz, Brad Ziegler, Chris Young, and Sandy Leon, all of whom I am very excited about. I did get Aaron Hill though, so it is not all bad.
Several packages arrived in the mail today. Included among them were a Topps Now card, some random wantlist hits, and the #8 card on my Most Wanted list.
1. Rafael Devers. This card was a one-card trade package. For some reason I did not include these on my wantlist. I only had the Rusney Castillo (because of course I did) before. Devers is one of Boston's top prospects and has the best power potential in their system.
2. Yoan Moncada. This represented the high point of Moncada's season. Unfortunately he started striking out at an alarming rate and has since been buried on the bench. He remains a work in progress. Moncada remains Boston's #1 prospect and one of the top prospects in the game however.
3. Curt Schilling. This was the #8 card on my Most Wanted List. This is a short-printed image variation and shows Schilling with the Red Sox instead of the Diamondbacks as the regular version showed.
4. John Valentin. Several Valentin cards have found their way into my collection recently. I am not complaining.
5. David Ortiz. I really like this shot of Ortiz's pre-at bat routine. This is a short-printed card and was on my want list. Once again, Ortiz finds his way into a package today.
6. Xander Bogaerts. Another wantlist hit. Bogaerts has been struggling a bit lately, but he still managed to get to 20 home runs for the first time in his career.
7. Will Middlebrooks. I love this card. First, there is the action shot, one of the best photos in recent memory for a Red Sox regular Topps card. Then, there is the fact that this is the red refractor and is numbered to just 25.
8. Clay Buchholz. This came in the same trade package as the Middlebrooks, a rare high-end trade for me.
9. Team Card. Finally, this card came from Peter of Baseball Every Night who contact me and offered to send this card and some other base mostly because I needed this one card. That is Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts in that shot, Boston's "Killer Bees". Thanks Peter!
2004. The year Boston won it all for the first time in 86 years. Afterwards, a number of commemorative sets were released and a lot of players who likely would not have received any cards, did. Players like Curtis Leskanic, Dave McCarty, Ricky Gutierrez, Adam Hyzdu, Lenny DiNardo, Terry Adams, Mark Malaska, Phil Seibel, and Joe Nelson all had very few cards released, but they still were better off than these players.
The left-handed Anderson had been a starting pitcher for a few years with the Pirates, while the Pirates were pretty much terrible. He was 24-42 with the Pirates with an unsightly 5.17 ERA. Control was always an issue. He bounced around a little bit before 2004 and started the season with the Cubs. He was traded to Boston in July for a minor leaguer. Anderson pitched in just five games for the Red Sox, six innings total. He walked three and struck out three and had an ERA of 6.00. Anderson did not return to the Majors after his stint with the Red Sox.
Astacio had been a promising pitching prospect with the Dodgers at about the same time another pitcher named Pedro had been starting to make his mark with the team. Astacio had some good years, including winning 14 games in 1993. Later, he was traded to the Rockies, where his ERA ballooned, but he managed to win 17 games one year and struck out more than 200 batters. He pitched well enough, though it is hard to be a good pitcher in Colorado. He then spent some time with the Astros and Mets before finding himself in Boston as a 35 year old trying to stick around. Astacio pitched in just five games for the Red Sox, with a 10.38 ERA. He started just one of the five games. He struck out six and walked five in 8.2 innings. After the season he spent some time with the Rangers, Padres, and Nationals.
After an impressive Spring Training in 2004, Crespo made the Red Sox as a utility infielder. He did not perform particularly well at the Major League level. Crespo had been in the Majors for the Padres in 2001 and 2002 and hit .203 with four home runs in 80 games. Crespo made it into 52 games with the Red Sox into July before being sent to the minors. He hit just .165/.165/.215 in 79 at-bats with two doubles and a triple. He stole two bases. Crespo filled in at shortstop, second, and all three outfield positions. Crespo does have a team-issued postcard and some minor league cards, but no standard cards with the Boston Red Sox.
For a couple of seasons in the late 1990's, Bobby Jones was a regular starting pitcher with the Rockies, in the same rotation as Astacio. Jones had a 6.33 ERA in 1999 though, with a 6-10 record, and was traded to the Mets for another struggling starter Masato Yoshii. He bounced around after that, never making it into more than 16 games in the Majors again. Jones had been signed by the Red Sox in 2003 and played in the minors for them in 2004. He pitched in three games for Boston in April, pitching 3.1 innings with an ERA of 5.40. He struck out three, but walked eight. He continued bouncing around after that, but never made the Majors again.
A backup catcher for several seasons, Sandy Martinez originally came up with the Blue Jays, though he started in the Dodgers organization. Martinez also spent some time with the Cubs, Marlins, Expos, and Indians before coming to the Red Sox as catching depth in September after a cash deal with Cleveland. Predictably, Martinez was a much better defensive catcher than a hitter. He played in just three games with the Red Sox in 2004 with four at-bats. He did not record a hit and struck out twice. He had a passed ball as a catcher and six putouts. Martinez continued to bounce around after 2004, but never made it back to the Majors.
The winner for the most obscure player on this list is Earl Snyder, whose entire Major League output consisted of 19 games over two seasons, 18 of them for the Indians in 2002. He played just one game for the Red Sox in 2004. Snyder had a good year in Pawtucket, hitting 36 home runs and driving in 104 while hitting .273/.323/.558. He played his only game for Boston in mid-August, playing third base and registering a single and a strikeout in four at-bats. He left as a free agent after the season and continued to hit well in the minors, but never was called up again. Snyder does have cards issued with Pawtucket.
Of these players, Cesar Crespo played the most for the Red Sox. None of the other players even played in more than five games. Pedro Astacio is the most well-known player, having had a 15 year career in the Majors with some success. If I had to pick one player I would have liked to have seen on some cardboard wearing a Red Sox uniform, it would likely be between Crespo and Astacio. I would probably pick Astacio.
Casey Kotchman was once one of the hottest prospects in baseball. He was the 13th overall pick in the 2001 draft by the Angels and made his Major League debut in 2004. Unfortunately, he never quite lived up to those expectations. He had some decent seasons, but took a few years before he became a regular player. He did hit .296/.372/.476 with 11 home runs and 68 RBIs for the Angels in his first full season in the Majors. He was having a decent season in 2008 before he was traded to the Braves in the deal that brought Mark Teixeira to the Los Angeles.
He started the 2009 season with the Braves and was hitting .282/.354/.409 with six home runs when he was traded to the Red Sox in a deadline deal for Adam LaRoche, who Boston had just acquired the week before. Boston had been suffering from some injury problems, particularly to third-baseman Mike Lowell. The Red Sox had to move Kevin Youkilis to third and get creative at first base. They used rookie Jeff Bailey there, but needed a more permanent solution. So, first they acquired LaRoche, and then flipped him for Kotchman.
Kotchman did not produce much with the bat in his short stint with the Red Sox, but he was a good defensive first-baseman, as per his reputation. He only hit .218/.284/.287 with just one home run and seven RBIs in 39 games. Kotchman's playing time started getting squeezed by Victor Martinez and Mark Kotsay. He was on the postseason roster, but was used primarily as a defensive replacement. He had just one at-bat and was hitless.
After the season, Kotchman was on the move yet again, this time traded to the Mariners in exchange for utility man Bill Hall. The Mariners also helped pay Hall's contract. It was a trade that worked out well for the Red Sox. Kotchman continued to bounce from team to team.
Kotchman's only card with the Red Sox is from the Topps Update set in 2009, a set that has been quite good to Boston players over the years.