Friday, March 24, 2017

I'm Back from Vacation

I went to San Antonio for a couple of days and have generally been inactive leading up to it.  Well, getting back, I had a few packages in the mail that I will get to.  They were all trades made before the trip.
1.  2010 Bowman Platinum Green Refractor Jose Iglesias.  I really liked Iglesias.  I was excited about him coming to the Majors and he was fun to watch while in Boston.  He had some speed which he utilized to rack up infield hits.  He never hit the ball terribly hard, but he got on base and he was terrific defensively.  It was disappointing when Boston traded him, but it opened the door for Xander Bogaerts.

2.  2017 Topps Heritage Baseball Flashback Carl Yastrzemski.  This flashback looks back at the 1967 season, which was of course, a huge season for Yaz.  The left-fielder led the Red Sox to the World Series on the strength of his Triple Crown season, yet oddly he was not a unanimous selection for the MVP that season.  Somehow, Cesar Tovar received a first place vote despite hitting .267 with six home runs.

3.  2017 Topps Salute David Ortiz.  This card features Ortiz in a Father's Day special uniform.  On Father's Day in 2016, Ortiz had one hit and one walk in four plate appearances.  The Red Sox beat the Mariners 2-1.

4.  2011 Topps Marquee Blue Kevin Youkilis.  The Topps Marquee set was underrated.  It had some terrific photography, including this awesome shot of Youkilis scoring a run in the 2007 World Series.

5.  2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Teddy Stankiewicz.  Stankiewicz was a second round draft pick of the Red Sox in the 2012 draft.  Unfortunately, after an impressive 2014 season, he has struggled his last two seasons.  At this point he is not even among the team's Top 40 prospects.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Red Sox With No Cards: 2011

2011 has to go down as one of the most disappointing seasons for me as a Red Sox fan.  There was so much promise with that team.  And they were leading the division for such a long time, but they utterly collapsed in the final month of the season.  The major reason was a lack of pitching depth and fatigue to the starters they had.  Whatever the reason, they still had a chance going into the final game of the season.  If they won or the Rays lost, they would have been in the postseason and both of those things looked likely heading into the late innings.  But the Red Sox blew their game at the end and the Rays mounted an incredible comeback in theirs and Boston went home.  The year was also the first (and only) year that Topps was alone in producing baseball cards.  Upper Deck was gone.  Nevertheless, most Red Sox players were represented on cardboard at some point.  A lot of the players that appear on this post appeared on past posts, which is doubly irritating.

As seen on the 2010 post, Atchison had a three-year career with the Red Sox and was one of the most reliable members of the bullpen during that time period.  It was a little more excusable for him not to have a card in 2011 as he appeared in just 17 games and 30.1 innings.  He improved his ERA though to 3.26 and struck out 17 versus just six walks.  He spent most of the season in the minors and performed very well.  He had a rough stint in Boston in May and June and was sent to the minors.  He was called back to Boston late in the season and was very good down the stretch.  Atchison will still appear in another future post in this series.

Back for his second stint in Boston, Joey Gathright had not appeared in the Majors at all since he was on the Red Sox postseason roster in 2009.  He was in the Orioles organization to begin the 2011 season and signed with the Red Sox as a free agent in late August.  His role was to be much the same as it was in 2009.  He was going to be a speedster off the bench a la Dave Roberts in 2004.  He appeared in seven games with Boston, but only had one plate appearance, in which he walked.  Most of the rest of the time he was either a defensive replacement or a pinch runner.  Gathright did steal a base, but he was also caught once.  Gathright has not appeared in the Majors since 2011. 

Like Atchison, Rich Hill was in his second straight season with the Red Sox.  His season ended early as a result of injuries.  He appeared in just nine games in May and June.  He pitched just eight innings, all in relief, but did not give up a single run and allowed just three hits.  He walked three but he struck out 12.  Impressive numbers, unfortunately he was not able to stay healthy.  That was fairly normal for Hill's time with the Red Sox and is the major reason he has no cards with Boston.  Hill does have a minor league card with Pawtucket.  Like Atchison again, Hill will appear in future posts in this series.

Once one of the top prospects in the game, Conor Jackson was a former first round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks and three impressive seasons early on in his career.  He was the 19th overall pick by Arizona and had an impressive few seasons from 2006 through 2008.  Unfortunately his career stalled after that.  The Diamondbacks traded him to Oakland in 2010 and he was traded from Oakland to Boston in 2011 for a minor leaguer at the August trading deadline.  Jackson appeared in just 12 games with the Red Sox in September and his hitting struggles continued.  He hit just .158/.227/.316 but he did have a home run and five RBIs.  Jackson appeared at first, third, right field, and left field for Boston.  2011 was Jackson's final appearance in the Major Leagues, though he attempted to catch on with other organizations.  

Part of the trifecta of pitchers who spent multiple seasons with the Red Sox yet have no Major League cards with them, Miller was in his first season with Boston in 2011.  The southpaw was acquired in a trade of young left-handed relievers with the Marlins after the 2010 season.  Boston gave up Dustin Richardson and clearly won this deal.  Miller was the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Tigers and was traded to the Marlins in the Miguel Cabrera deal.  He was mostly disappointing in his Major League career to that point, but he was just 26 years old.  Miller was used primarily as a starter for Boston in 2011 and had a mostly inconsistent season.  He pitched in 17 games, starting 12, and was 6-3 with an ugly 5.54 ERA.  He struck out 50 and walked 41 in 65 innings with a rough 1.815 WHIP.  It was not a great season, but Miller would turn things around soon.  Miller will appear in a few more posts in this series.  He does have a minor league card with Pawtucket. 

The award for the shortest stint for players in this post goes to Trever Miller.  Miller, no relation to Andrew Miller, was a veteran lefty relief pitcher who first appeared in the Majors in 1996 with the Tigers.  Miller appeared with the Tigers, Astros, Phillies, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Cardinals, and Blue Jays before coming to Boston in 2011.  He had a few decent seasons throughout his career but never seemed to be able to stay on track for very long.  He started the season with Toronto and was released in late August.  He signed with Boston and appeared in three games.  He pitched two innings without giving up a hit, a run, or a walk.  He struck out one and finished one game.  It was Miller's last appearance in the Majors.  Interestingly, this was Miller's second stint with the Red Sox organization.  He had an ugly 3-11 record with a 5.01 ERA in the minors with Boston in 2001.

The award for the longest tenure prior to coming to the Red Sox goes to Dennys Reyes who was in his 15th season in the Majors in 2011.  Reyes was a portly left-hander who pitched for the Dodgers, Reds, Rockies, Rangers, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Royals, Padres, Twins, and Cardinals before joining the Red Sox.  He had been a fairly reliable reliever and was 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA for St. Louis in 2010.  Reyes broke camp with Boston, but struggled in four appearances.  He had a 16.20 ERA in 1.2 innings, striking out one and walking none, but giving up three runs.  He did not have a record.  Reyes was just 34, so he could have moved on, but he never appeared in the Majors after 2011.  

Utility player Drew Sutton was in his third Major League season and his third Major League team in 2011.  He had previously been with the Reds and Indians and signed with Boston prior to the 2011 season.  He spent most of the season in the minor leagues and had a decent .295/.382/.476 line in Pawtucket.  He appeared in 31 games for the Red Sox from May through July and actually had a pretty decent season.  Sutton hit .315/.362/.444 with seven doubles and seven RBIs.  He scored eleven runs.  Sutton appeared in at least one game at every position except pitcher, catcher, right and center field for the Red Sox in 2011.  Sutton played the 2012 season with the Rays and Pirates.  His 2011 season was the best showing in the Majors of his career.  

Being a left-handed pitcher means that you can often continue to find work despite never having an ERA lower than 4.58.  Williams never had a successful season, but he kept getting picked up, pitching for the Mariners, Padres, Rockies, and White Sox before making it to Boston in 2011.  He was able to strike batters out at an impressive rate, but he had control problems and was often hit hard.  Williams appeared in just seven games with the Red Sox in 2011, pitching 8.1 innings with a 6.48 ERA.  He struck out six, but walked five.  Williams did not appear in the Majors again after 2011.  

Dan Wheeler was originally set to appear in this post, but he was saved by having a card in the hard-to-find Japanese Sega Card-Gen set.  I don't have it, but would love to add it.  Despite the presences of Atchison, Hill, and Miller in 2011, three pitchers who were with Boston for multiple years with some impressive numbers, my pick for the player I most want to see on a card for 2011 is Drew Sutton.  Sutton appeared in the most games and had the best numbers of any of the players in this post.  He was actually fairly impressive as a utility player.  Weirdly, Nate Spears received a card despite appearing in just seven hitless games over two seasons, yet players like Sutton (31 games) and Miller (17 games) never appeared.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

One-Card Wonder Pt. 40: Nate Spears

I recently read the book about Terry Francona's time managing the Red Sox from 2004 to 2011, written by Francona and Dan Shaughnessy.  One rather minor moment that stuck out to me was when Francona was talking about coming back for the 2012 100th anniversary of Fenway Park after his divorce from the team.  He talked about being moved to tears to see Nate Spears on that team.  Spears had been with the Red Sox organization since 2010 and been up to Spring Training several times, yet could not crack the roster.  He was apparently a favorite of Francona's from Spring Training and Francona was very happy to see him on the team that day.

Spears was originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round of the 2003 draft, but he did not make his Major League debut until 2011 with the Red Sox.  He generally played well in the minor leagues, yet he just could not seem to catch a break.  In 2010 he started the season in Double A with the Red Sox organization and hit 20 home runs, earning a call to Triple A and then to the Majors in 2011.  He played in just three games with the Major League team and did not have a hit in four at-bats.  He appeared at second base and left field.

He spent most of the 2012 season in the minors with the Red Sox organization, except for a four game stint that happened to coincide with that anniversary.  He again failed to record a hit, striking out three times in four at-bats.  He played at second base, third base, and left field in the Majors.  Spears never appeared in the Major Leagues again, though he did play in a few other organizations.

Somehow, Spears managed to appear on a 2012 Topps Heritage card, one of the things I love about Heritage.  Interestingly, future Red Sox pitcher Drew Pomeranz is also on this card.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 31: Tom Seaver

TOM SEAVER
Years in Boston: 1986 (5-7, 3.80 ERA, 72 strikeouts, 104.1 innings)
Best Year in Boston: 1986 (5-7, 3.80 ERA, 72 strikeouts, 104.1 innings)
1986 was the final season of Tom Seaver's illustrious career.  "Tom Terrific" was one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  He was a 12-time All Star, a Rookie of the Year, and a three-time Cy Young Award Winner.  He was also 41 years old and was running out of gas.

Seaver started the 1986 season with the Chicago White Sox, his third team in his career.  He had been with the ChiSox since signing as a free agent prior to the 1984 season.  He was coming off of a season in which he had gone 16-11 with a 3.17 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 238.2 innings.  He had also won the 300th game of his career in 1985.  So he still had something left in the tank coming into the 1986 season, but he had a pretty rough start to the season.

Through 12 starts for the White Sox, Seaver was 2-6 with an uncharacteristically high 4.38 ERA in 72 innings.  He was also walking nearly as many (27) as he was striking out (31).  So it looked like age was finally catching up to him.  Nevertheless, the Boston Red Sox, who were contending for the AL East division title, needed some pitching depth after some off-the-field issues with Oil Can Boyd, and swung a deal with the White Sox to acquire Seaver in exchange for young outfielder Steve Lyons.  Seaver turned his season around and finished strong.

Seaver turned in a fairly decent 16 games for the Red Sox to close out his career.  He had a record of 5-7 with a 3.80 ERA but provided valuable innings and improved his strikeout to walk ratio markedly.  He struck out 72 and walked just 29 in 104.1 innings for the Red Sox.  He had his best game in an August outing against the Tigers when he pitched a complete game five-hitter, giving up just one run while striking out nine and walking only one.

Unfortunately, Seaver was unable to pitch in the postseason as he went down with an injury.  He missed a chance to pitch against the team he is most associated with, the New York Mets, in the World Series.  Seaver attempted a final season in 1987 back with the Mets, but ended up retiring.  Though his time with the Red Sox was brief and did not add much to his final numbers, he was reasonably successful.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 8: Dwight Evans

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?
Dwight Evans is one of the most underrated players of all time.  A large part of this is the fact that he developed into a star much later in his career.  Evans was in his tenth year as a Major Leaguer in 1981.  He always had pop in his bat, and he was always an excellent fielder with a cannon for an arm, and he was also an All Star in 1978, yet he was just now starting to become a true star in 1981.
In 1981, Evans developed into one of the best players in the league.  He was named to his second All Star Game and won his fourth Gold Glove Award.  He also won the Silver Slugger Award, his first, though the award had only been around since the previous season.  He finished third in the AL MVP vote, and for very good reason.  
Evans developed his batting eye and drew 85 walks to lead the Major Leagues, while striking out 85 times.  He was also the league leader in plate appearances (504), OPS (.937), and total bases (215).  He also tied for the AL lead in home runs (22) with Tony Armas, Bobby Grich, and Eddie Murray.  Evans also led the league in WAR (6.2), though that stat would not be developed until much later.  He had a slash line of .296/.415/.522.  His batting average and on-base percentage represented career highs at the time.
This was the beginning of a terrific run of success for Evans.  He would end up being one of the best hitters in the 1980's.  He has a strong Hall of Fame case that is mostly overlooked because of his late career surge and being surrounded by teammates like Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, and Roger Clemens who overshadowed Evans.  Some time soon his case will be re-examined and he may finally gain induction into the Hall of Fame. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

2017 Topps Trade

Here is another trade package.  This one crossed off a bunch of cards I needed from 2017 Topps Series 1, including an insert.
The first card is the Award Winner card of Rick Porcello, the 2016 AL Cy Young Award Winner, the Red Sox first winner of the award since Pedro Martinez in 2000.  Porcello is now one of four Red Sox pitchers to win the award, though Roger Clemens won it three times and Martinez twice.  The other cards are some of the base cards I still needed and leave me with just three more to get.  I love the Betts action shot, Mookie is a terrific defensive player.  I still need the Pomeranz, Pedroia League Leader, and the Moncada.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

One Pack 2017 Heritage Break

I bought a single pack of Heritage today while at the store.  And hey, I managed to pull a Red Sox card:
Nothing exciting.  Just a base card of All Star closer Craig Kimbrel.  I am hoping for a bounceback season from him this year.  He had a few stretches where he was terrible, but his final numbers were decent enough.  Not bad for one pack.