Friday, December 31, 2010

Red Sox Re-Sign Hideki Okajima

I was planning on covering Okajima in an Unknown Heroes post, but since there is Okajima news today, I will just go ahead and talk about him here.

Link.

The Red Sox today brought Hideki Okajima back after non-tendering him earlier in the offseason. Okajima came over from Japan prior to the 2007 season, possibly as a way to help acclimate prized signing Daisuke Matsuzaka to the U.S. Okajima and Matsuzaka have never really been buddy-buddy though.

Okajima was a highly effective left-handed arm out of the bullpen for the 2007 World Series champs, going 3-2 with a 2.22 ERA and 63 strikeouts, compared to 17 walks, in 69 innings. He also racked up five saves. Okajima was effective due to an extremely deceptive pitching motion that resulted in his face not even pointing toward the batter at the end. Such movement was disorienting for hitters.

Over the next few years, his stats have gotten progressively worse, to the point that there was some question whether Okajima would be brought back this year. Luckily, he is back. Hopefully he will bounce back some. Otherwise, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, and Felix Doubront will be ready to take his place in the bullpen.

Busts Pt. 11: Jeremy Giambi

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.

JEREMY GIAMBI
Jeremy Giambi was acquired in December 2002 by Theo Epstein as part of the overhaul of the Red Sox lineup. Giambi was a high-on-base percentage player and was expected to be the starting designated hitter in the new-look offense.

Unfortunately, things did not work out. Giambi was frequently injured and struggled when he was in the lineup. He stuck around through the entire year, but only played in 50 games. Giambi, the younger brother of then-Yankee Jason Giambi, only hit .197/.342/.354/.696 with five home runs. This, a year after hitting 20 home runs.

His on-base percentage was decent enough, considering he rarely got a hit, but he was a big bust otherwise. Giambi lost his job to David Ortiz, who of course became a huge star with the Red Sox.

One-Card Wonder Pt. 12: Esteban Beltre

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).
ESTEBAN BELTRE
The only card I own of Esteban Beltre is 1997 Pacific Crown Collection. Beltre played in 27 games as a backup middle infielder in 1996, hitting .258/.299/.290/.589 with six runs batted in and one stolen base. Beltre played 13 games at third base, eight at second base, six at shortstop, and one at designated hitter. He was not a particularly good defensive player and a complete zero with the bat, so it was not surprising that he was not brought back the next year.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 13: David McCarty

David McCarty was a bit of an unusual player. He played three years with the Red Sox, from 2003 through 2005. He was picked up off of waivers in August of 2003 and played in 16 games down the stretch run between left field and first base. He was a pretty good hitter in that limited amount of time, hitting .407/.448/.630/1.078 with one home run.

The next year, McCarty began working on pitching. He pitched a few innings during Spring Training and made the team as a pitcher/backup first-baseman. He pitched left-handed so his versatility was highly valued. He hit .258/.327/.404/.731 in 89 games with four home runs. He also pitched in three games, going 3.2 innings with four strikeouts and one earned run. His ERA was 2.45. Despite the relative success, that was the only experiment with McCarty as a pitcher.

In 2005, McCarty only played in 15 games, hitting .500/.667/.500/1.167, but injuries ended his career.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Feature: WAR League Leaders

Today's feature, Red Sox players who lead the league in WAR:

POSITION PLAYERS
1995 John Valentin 8.5
1988 Wade Boggs 8.7
1987 Wade Boggs 9.1
1986 Wade Boggs 8.6
1970 Carl Yastrzemski 9.1
1968 Carl Yastrzemski 10.1
1967 Carl Yastrzemski 12.2
1951 Ted Williams 6.5
1947 Ted Williams 10.3
1946 Ted Williams 11.8
1942 Ted Williams 11.0
1941 Ted Williams 11.3
1938 Jimmie Foxx 7.5
1919 Babe Ruth 10.6
1912 Tris Speaker 11.0

What we take away from this is that John Valentin had a hell of a year that went almost completely unnoticed in 1995. Wade Boggs was a lot more valuable than people really realized, and Yaz was amazing in 1967.

PITCHERS
2000 Pedro Martinez 10.1
1999 Pedro Martinez 8.4
1992 Roger Clemens 7.9
1991 Roger Clemens 7.5
1990 Roger Clemens 9.5
1987 Roger Clemens 8.4
1979 Dennis Eckersley 6.8
1966 Earl Wilson 5.3 (pitched with Detroit as well)
1957 Frank Sullivan 6.3
1949 Mel Parnell 8.0
1942 Tex Hughson 5.6
1936 Lefty Grove 8.9
1935 Lefty Grove 7.7
1902 Cy Young 8.9
1901 Cy Young 11.2

Pedro Martinez was as good as we suspected and Roger Clemens was better. I was surprised that Clemens did not lead in 1986, his 24-4 season. The big surprise here is Frank Sullivan, an underrated pitcher in the 1950's. I am also surprised by the absence of Babe Ruth and Smoky Joe Wood.

OVERALL LEAGUE LEADERS
1999 Pedro Martinez (lead Majors)
1995 John Valentin
1992 Roger Clemens
1988 Wade Boggs (lead Majors)
1987 Wade Boggs (lead Majors)
1986 Wade Boggs (lead Majors)
1970 Carl Yastrzemski
1968 Carl Yastrzemski
1967 Carl Yastrzemski (lead Majors)
1951 Ted Williams
1949 Ted Williams
1947 Ted Williams (lead Majors)
1946 Ted Williams (lead Majors)
1942 Ted Williams (lead Majors)
1941 Ted Williams (lead Majors)
1938 Jimmie Foxx
1919 Babe Ruth (lead Majors)
1916 Babe Ruth
1903 Cy Young
1901 Cy Young (lead Majors)

For three years, Wade Boggs was the best player in the Major Leagues, that's kind of surprising.

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 11: Curt Schilling

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

CURT SCHILLING
It will be a few more years before Schilling is eligible for the Hall of Fame. But when he is, there should be little question that he belongs, despite what Dan Shaughnessy says.

Curt Schilling does not have a sparkling record. His 216-146 mark is not eye-popping, but his other numbers make up for it. Schilling's career ERA is 3.46, pretty decent for the era in which he pitched. He also racked up 3,116 strikeouts, compared to just 711 walks. His career WHIP is 1.137. Most pitchers are not that good at preventing baserunners over the course of just one season, much less their entire careers. His career WAR is 69.7, well ahead of several pitchers already in the Hall.

Some would point to his lack of awards as a negative against his career, but Schilling was a six time All Star and finished second in the Cy Young vote three times and fourth once. He finished in the top ten in the MVP vote twice. Schilling was clearly one of the best pitchers in the league several times. He won 20 games three times and struck out 300 or more batters three times.

Schilling was also a great postseason pitcher. He won the co-World Series MVP along with Randy Johnson in 2001 and of course, there's the Bloody Sock.

THE VERDICT
He's in, clearly. The only question is which hat he should wear and my feeling is that it should be a Red Sox cap, due to the Bloody Sock and 2004.

Busts Pt. 10: Tony Clark

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.

TONY CLARK
Tony Clark was an All Star in 2001, the year before he played for Boston. His home runs were down, but he had played on a bad Detroit team and his slash line was still very good. Before that, he had hit more than 25 home runs in four seasons. Nevertheless, Detroit placed him on waivers after the 2001 season and Boston snatched him up quickly. It looked like a steal, a former All Star the year before who had four seasons of more than 25 home runs under his belt.

Unfortunately, it did not work out that way. Clark was a complete waste in Boston his one season there. He hit .207/.265/.291/.556 with only three home runs and 29 RBIs in 90 games. He was done as a regular after that but was able to resurrect his career as a valuable bench player.

So what happened? My theory is that as the Players' Representative during the 2002 labor talks, Clark had too much outside stuff on his mind and was not able to concentrate on baseball. Just a theory though.

It's a good thing Brian Daubach was still around to take over.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Failed Prospects Pt. 11: Charlie Zink

Since I have been a fan, there have been several players with huge expectations in the Red Sox minor league system. Some of these players, such as Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon, Jon Lester, and others meet those expectations. Others are not as fortunate.
CHARLIE ZINK
Another prospect that I was disappointed never turned out. Zink was a knuckleballer who threw a decent fastball and what was called a hard knuckleball. Zink pitched reasonably well in the minor leagues, with a decent record some years, but higher ERAs. Being a knuckleballer though, not much was expected. Nevertheless, Zink has, to date, only pitched in one Major League game.

Zink was brought up to start a game in 2008. He pitched 4.1 innings, giving up eight runs. He had one strikeout and one walk. That has been the extent of Zink's career thus far, but he is still in the minors, most recently in Minnesota's system.

Knuckleballers have a long shelf life, so there is still a chance Zink could make it to the Majors, but I am surprised, at 30 years old, that he is not discouraged and has decided to retire yet.

One-Card Wonder Pt. 11: Joe Oliver

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).
JOE OLIVER
Sometimes it's a mystery, other times it makes sense. Joe Oliver was a well-respected starting catcher in the early 1990's with the Cincinnati Reds. By the late 1990's, he was a backup. Oliver started 2001 with the Yankees and was released. He then signed with the Red Sox.

In 2001, the Red Sox suffered through a major injury to starter Jason Varitek and Scott Hatteberg was not a good option defensively. They picked up Doug Mirabelli to play a big role and then later brought Oliver up.

Joe Oliver only made it into five games with the Red Sox, with 13 at bats. He had three hits, including one double. This is the only existing card of Oliver with the Red Sox.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 12: Jim Leyritz

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.
JIM LEYRITZ
I liked Jim Leyritz and was excited when he was acquired. Leyritz was acquired in a trade with the Rangers along with Damon Buford for Aaron Sele, Mark Brandenburg, and Bill Haselman.

Leyritz was initially going to platoon at catcher with Scott Hatteberg and DH with Reggie Jefferson. The emergence of Jason Varitek and the good year by Reggie Jefferson limited his playing time though and he complained his way into a trade to San Diego.

It was unfortunate though, because Leyritz was having a great year. He hit .287/.385/.519/.904 in 52 games with eight home runs and 24 RBIs. Leyritz also played at first base.

Leyritz was traded in June for Carlos Reyes, Dario Veras, and Mandy Romero. Reyes was a decent bullpen arm, but neither of the other two did anything of consequence.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 12: Kevin Millar

I was so excited about the acquisition of Kevin Millar in 2003 that I even wrote a term paper for my Conflicts Resolution class about the negotiation process. For those that do not know or remember, the Florida Marlins sold Millar's contract to the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. In order to send him to Japan though, they had to pass him through waivers. It was an unspoken rule that Major League teams would not interfere in other teams' deals with Japan, but new Red Sox GM Theo Epstein claimed Millar anyway.

Millar spent three years with the Red Sox and brought a new attitude and levity to the Red Sox clubhouse that had not been seen in years. Millar was instrumental in the "Cowboy Up" slogan in 2003 and the "Idiots" in 2004.

Millar had a very good year in 2003, and a similar year in 2004. He slumped badly in 2005 and was let go at the end of the year. In 2003, Millar hit .276/.348/.472/.820 with 25 home runs and 96 RBIs. In 2004, he hit .297/.383/.474/.857 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs.

Millar was part of the group of acquisitions designed to focus on improving the team's on-base percentage, something he was successful at. Millar also provided leadership and somewhat steady defense.

Millar was a lot of fun and was one of the more colorful characters in recent Red Sox history. Not many players could pull off throwing out the first pitch in a World Series game while still being active with a rival team, but Millar did it in 2007.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Feature: Red Sox Stars from 1920-1932

The Red Sox were pretty terrible in the years 1920 through 1932. That was the year after the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees through the year before Tom Yawkey took over the team. It was a time of inconsistency, although Boston did have some bright spots.

Here are some of the best individual seasons from the years 1920-1932.

1920: Boston finished fifth (72-81)
OF Harry Hooper: .312/.411/.470/.881 with seven home runs, 16 stolen bases, 17 triples, and 53 RBIs
C/OF Wally Schang: .305/.413/.450/.862 with four home runs, 51 RBIs
OF Tim Hendryx: .328/.400/.413/.814 with 73 RBIs
OF Mike Menosky: .297/.383/.393/.776 with three home runs, 23 stolen bases, and 71 RBIs
SP Herb Pennock: 16-13 with a 3.68 ER

1921: 75-79 (fifth)
2B Del Pratt: .324/.378/.461/.839 with five home runs, 102 stolen bases, and only ten strikeouts
SP Sad Sam Jones: 23-16 with a 3.22 ERA
SP Bullet Joe Bush: 16-9 with a 3.50 ERA

1922: 61-93 (eighth)
OF Joe Harris: .316/.364/.478/.842 with six home runs and 54 RBIs
2B Del Pratt: .301/.361/.427/.788 with six home runs, 86 RBIs
1B George Burns: .306/.341/.446/.787 with 12 home runs, 73 RBIs
SP Jack Quinn: 13-16 with 3.48 ERA
SP Rip Collins: 14-11 with 3.76 ERA

1923: 61-91 (eighth)
OF Joe Harris: .335/.406/.520/.925 with 13 home runs, 76 RBIs
1B George Burns: .328/.386/.470/.856 with seven home runs, 82 RBIs
OF Ira Flagstead: .312/.380/.455/.835 with eight home runs, 53 RBIs
SP Howard Ehmke: 20-17 with 3.78 ERA, 121 strikeouts
SP Jack Quinn: 13-17 with 3.89 ERA

1924: 67-87 (seventh)
OF Ike Boone: .337/.404/.497/.901 with 13 home runs, 98 RBIs
1B Joe Harris: .301/.406/.430/.835 with three home runs, 77 RBIs
OF Ira Flagstead: .307/.401/.421/.823 with five home runs, 43 RBIs
OF Bobby Veach: .295/.359/.426/.785 with five home runs, 99 RBIs
SP Howard Ehmke: 19-17, 3.46 ERA, 119 strikeouts
SP Jack Quinn: 12-13, 3.27 ERA
SP Alex Ferguson: 14-17, 3.79 ERA

1925: 47-105 (eighth)
OF Ike Boone: .330/.406/.479/.885, nine home runs, 68 RBIs
OF Roy Carlyle: .326/.365/.496/.862, seven home runs, 49 RBIs
SP Howard Ehmke: 9-20, 3.73 ERA

1926: 46-107 (eighth)
OF Ira Flagstead: .299/.363/.429/.792, three home runs, 31 RBIs
SS Topper Rigney: .270/.395/.377/.772, four home runs, 53 RBIs, 103 BBs

1927: 51-103 (eighth)
OF Ira Flagstead: .285/.374/.401/.775, four home runs, 69 RBIs
SP Slim Harriss: 14-21, 4.18 ERA

1928: 57-96 (eighth)
OF Doug Taitt: .299/.350/.434/.784, three home runs, 61 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, 14 triples
3B Buddy Myer: .313/.379/.390/.769, one home run, 44 RBIs, 30 stolen bases
OF Ken Williams: .303/.356/.413/.769, eight home runs, 67 RBIs
OF Ira Flagstead: .290/.366/.392/.758, one home run, 39 RBIs, 12 stolen bases
SP Ed Morris: 19-15, 3.53 ERA, 104 strikeouts
SP Red Ruffing: 10-25, 3.89 ERA, 118 strikeouts
SP Jack Russell: 11-14, 3.84 ERA

1929: 58-96 (eighth)
OF Jack Rothrock: .300/.361/.408/.769, six home runs, 59 RBIs, 24 stolen bases
SP Danny MacFayden: 10-18, 3.62 ERA
SP Milt Gaston: 12-19, 3.73 ERA

1930: 52-102 (eighth)
OF Earl Webb: .323/.385/.523/.908, 16 home runs, 66 RBIs
SP Milt Gaston: 13-20, 3.92 ERA, 99 strikeouts

1931: 62-90 (sixth)
OF Earl Webb: .333/.404/.528/.932, 14 home runs, 103 RBIs, 67 doubles (record)
SP Danny MacFayden: 16-12, 4.02 ERA, 74 strikeouts

1932: 43-111 (eighth)
1B Dale Alexander: .372/.454/.524/.978, eight home runs, 56 RBIs
OF Roy Johnson: .298/.378/.484/.862, 11 home runs, 47 RBIs
OF Smead Jolley: .309/.345/.480/.825, 18 home runs, 99 RBIs

In addition, 1B Phil Todt had some decent power and led the team in home runs during this time period. Todt hit 52 home runs for the Red Sox from 1924 through 1930 and was the best power threat in those years. His other numbers were not as impressive though.

Boston had some decent hitters and a few decent pitchers, but this was a very lean time. While the Yankees were lead by power hitters such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the top home run season for the Red Sox during this time was Smead Jolley's 18.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

R.I.P. Walt Dropo

Walt Dropo died today. Dropo was the first Red Sox player to win the Rookie of the Year Award in 1950 when he batted .322/.378/.583/.961 with 34 home runs and lead the league with 144 RBIs. Dropo never hit quite so well again, but enjoyed a long career.

R.I.P.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Goodbye Bill Hall

I was originally planning on covering Bill Hall in an Unknown Heroes post, but this will work. Hall yesterday signed with the Houston Astros to be their main second-baseman. Good for him, I am happy he found a way to be a regular again. Last year, Hall was something of a jack of all trades for the Red Sox, and he was productive too.

Hall played in 119 games at a variety of positions. He hit .247/.316/.456/.772 with 18 home runs and 46 RBIs. He also stole nine bases. Hall has never been a great threat to get on base, but he has enough pop in his bat to be a decent option off the bench.

Hall played 55 games in left field, 51 at second base, nine in right field, seven in center field, six at shortstop, five at third base, and even one game pitching. He pitched one inning and faced three batters, getting all three out.

Hall was a good superutility player, but he found a starting job, there was no chance at Boston matching that.

New Bullpen Arms

Link.

What the above link says is that the Red Sox have now agreed to sign Dan Wheeler. He and Bobby Jenks are the major new acquisitions in the Red Sox bullpen, but the team has signed numerous other players in the last couple of weeks that will be given the opportunity to make the team out of Spring Training.

BOBBY JENKS
Bobby Jenks is the most intriguing name as he is a former closer with the White Sox. Jenks was 1-3 with a 4.44 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. He saved 27 games.

DAN WHEELER
Dan Wheeler has pitched the last three and a half years for the Rays, making him battle-tested in the AL East. He went 2-4 with a 3.35 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 48.1 innings.

Matt Albers, Andrew Miller, Brandon Duckworth, Jason Bergmann, Clevelan Santeliz, Randy Williams, Rich Hill, and Ryan Harvey will also compete. Suddenly, the Red Sox bullpen looks pretty strong.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 10: Bret Saberhagen

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

BRET SABERHAGEN
If only Bret Saberhagen had stayed healthy. Saberhagen was one of the best pitchers in the game in the mid to late 1980's. He won the Cy Young Award in both 1985 and 1989, winning 20 games each year.

Saberhagen was still a good pitcher in the early 1990's and may have deserved to win the NL Cy Young Award in 1994. But the injuries took their toll and Saberhagen missed large portions of the seasons 1990 through 1993. Even after 1994, Saberhagen still had issues. He only pitched in 25 games in 1995 and was out the entire year in 1996.

The Red Sox signed Bret Saberhagen to a low-cost, high-reward contract prior to the 1997 season. Saberhagen was still suffering through injuries in 1997 and only pitched in six games that year. But in 1998, Saberhagen made a great comeback, winning 15 games with a 3.96 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 175 innings. The next year, his ERA was 2.95, but he won only 10 games, as he again suffered injuries. He missed all of 2000 and then only pitched in three games in 2001.

Saberhagen's career record was 167-117 with a 3.34 ERA and 1,715 strikeouts. His career WAR was 54.4. Certainly, Saberhagen had some great years, and his career WAR was higher than Hall of Famers Dazzy Vance, Stan Coveleski, Rube Waddell, Waite Hoyt, and Dizzy Dean.

THE VERDICT
Saberhagen would be a stronger candidate if he had not missed major parts of the seasons from 1990-1993, 1996-1997, and 2000-2001. Other than those seasons, he would be a good candidate.

Busts Pt. 9: Rolando Arrojo

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.

ROLANDO ARROJO
In 2000, the Red Sox were still seeking more rotation help. They swung a deal with the Colorado Rockies for Rolando Arrojo, who looked like a potentially decent starting pitcher. The Red Sox were able to make the deal because they were willing to take on Mike Lansing's bad contract.

Arrojo, who won 14 games with a 3.52 ERA and was an All Star in his rookie season with Tampa Bay in 1998, managed to win five games in 13 starts for the Red Sox that year, but he had a 5.05 ERA and only 44 strikeouts in 71.1 innings.

In 2001, Arrojo went 5-4 with a better ERA as an arm out of the bullpen. His strikeout rate was up. The next year, he had a similar role.

Arrojo was not a huge bust, but he was not the solid starter that he was expected to be when Boston picked him up.

Failed Prospects Pt. 10: Abe Alvarez

Since I have been a fan, there have been several players with huge expectations in the Red Sox minor league system. Some of these players, such as Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon, Jon Lester, and others meet those expectations. Others are not as fortunate.

ABE ALVAREZ
I really wanted Abe Alvarez to succeed. He had such an interesting story. He was legally blind in one eye and wore his baseball cap to the side to shade the light from that eye in order to see better. He pitched reasonably well in the minor leagues, but he was not able to succeed at the Major League level.

Alvarez only pitched in four games with the Red Sox in three seasons. He was 0-1 with a 11.32 ERA and five strikeouts in 10.1 innings. Very unfortunate.

Currently, Alvarez is pitching in an independent league. I really wanted Alvarez to succeed. It's a shame.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

News and Notes

Bullpen and catching edition.

-The Red Sox have been falling short in most of their attempts at big-name bullpen arms. Koji Uehara returned to Baltimore, Matt Guerrier went to the Dodgers, Jesse Crain looks like he's headed to the White Sox, and Pedro Feliciano might be a Yankee. Brian Fuentes is still out there and David Aardsma and Justin Masterson might be available via trade. Andrew Miller, Hideki Okajima, and Taylor Buchholz are all Red Sox non-tenders that could be brought back.

-Putting a bullpen together is difficult as relievers can be very inconsistent. Just look at Ramon Ramirez last year, who was great in 2009 but not good at all in 2010. So Boston should be taking a stance on not offering huge money for relievers. Nevertheless, they need to do something.

-The Red Sox did pick up a few potential bullpen arms, but no one of any real consequence. Jason Bergmann was recently picked up from Washington, but he only pitched eight games last year. Brandon Duckworth was signed, but he has not pitched in the Majors since 2008. The Red Sox signed a former Red Sox pitcher, Lenny DiNardo from the Athletics. He also has not pitched in the Majors since 2009.

-The Red Sox look to be close to signing Dan Wheeler and Matt Albers, who at least pitched last year. Wheeler has been pretty good for Tampa Bay the last few years, so this would be a decent pickup. They still need a decent left-hander though.

-As for catching, the Red Sox appear committed to going into the season with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek. Saltalamacchia is something of an unknown quantity, so fans are nervous about this catching situation. Russell Martin was pursued, but the Yankees ultimately got him because they promised him a starting catching role. I can't really see Boston putting up decent money for another option. It's time to see if Saltalamacchia is ready. He's spent enough time in the minor leagues.

EDIT: Two new pieces of news:
-The Red Sox sent Eric Patterson to the Padres to complete the Adrian Gonzalez trade. I liked Patterson, but he was expendable.

-Bobby Jenks may be headed to Boston to help the bullpen. This is a pretty decent signing. More when it becomes official.

2ND EDIT:
-The Red Sox officially signed Matt Albers to a minor league contract.

-The Red Sox retained Andrew Miller, also to a minor league contract.

-They signed former first round pick of the Cubs, Ryan Harvey, who is making the transition from outfielder to relief pitcher.

So with all those changes, Boston may have its bullpen put together: Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks, Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, and Tim Wakefield. Brandon Duckworth, Jason Bergmann, Robert Coello, Robert Manuel, Michael Bowden, Matt Albers, and Ryan Harvey will all be available in the minors.

3RD EDIT:
-The Red Sox have also officially re-signed Rich Hill, a left-handed bullpen option, Randy Williams, and Clevelan Santeliz. Busy day, but barring a move for Brian Fuentes or Dan Wheeler, Boston appears to be done dealing with the bullpen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One-Card Wonder Pt. 10: Calvin Pickering

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).
CALVIN PICKERING
The card this time is from 2002 Upper Deck 40 Man. Another huge set, like Topps Total and Pacific Online, this was a great set for team collectors like myself. Pickering was formerly a top prospect in the Baltimore Orioles system, who had eventually worn out his welcome with his inability to make the transition to the Major Leagues.

The Red Sox picked up the big Virgin Islands native from the Cincinnati Reds in a waiver claim near the end of the 2001 season. Pickering played in 17 games for the Red Sox down the stretch. He hit a decent .280/.379/.480/.859 in 58 at bats for the Red Sox who were out of the race. He also contributed three home runs and seven runs batted in while playing mostly first base with a couple of games as the designated hitter.

Pickering spent the entire next season in the Red Sox minor league system and was unable to make it back to the Majors that year. He was allowed to leave as a minor league free agent. Had things worked out differently, Pickering could have been David Ortiz before Ortiz joined the team.

Pickering later played for Kansas City and again produced reasonably well in limited time. I have no idea why Pickering was not able to stick. He seemed to hit just fine.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 11: Billy Wagner

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.
BILLY WAGNER
Billy Wagner did not even pitch a full year for the Red Sox actually. He was suffering an injury-plagued year for the Mets in 2009 when they traded him late in the season to the Red Sox for financial relief, Chris Carter, and Eddie Lora. Wagner was once one of the best closers in the game.

Wagner immediately paid dividends for the Red Sox though. Despite pitching in only 15 games, Wagner was a big pickup. He was relatively well-rested due to the injuries, so he was a big weapon out of the pen down the stretch.

Wagner went 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 22 strikeouts in only 13.2 innings as a lefty out of the pen. He gave up only eight hits, five earned runs, and seven walks. After the season, the Red Sox offered him arbitration, but he left for a closing opportunity with the Atlanta Braves. Boston got a first round draft pick though which was used on Kolbrin Vitek, now a top ten prospect in the Red Sox system.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 11: Byung-Hyun Kim

I know I am probably in the minority here, but until he gave the finger to the Red Sox fans, I really liked Byung-Hyun Kim. The diminutive (5'9" and 175 lbs.) pitcher from South Korea with the funky sidearm delivery was a lot of fun to watch. When he was pitching well, he was unhittable. It was unfortunate that Boston had him towards the end of his effectiveness as a pitcher.

Kim was acquired in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks partway through the 2003 season for Shea Hillenbrand, who threw a massive tantrum. The Red Sox had been trying out a closer-by-committee approach that year which was an unmitigated disaster. Kim was acquired to solidify the back of the bullpen, and for the most part succeeded. Kim went 8-5 with a 3.18 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 79.1 innings, with only 18 walks allowed. Kim saved 16 games. Later in the year though, he began to have difficulties and he did not pitch more than one game in the postseason. Kim was being groomed to be a starter the next year.

In 2004, Kim suffered through several serious injuries and only pitched in seven games, starting three of them. After the season, Boston decided to cut ties with him and traded him to Colorado for Charles Johnson (who was immediately released) and Chris Narveson.

Kim hung on for a few more seasons with Colorado and Florida, but never even came close to matching his successful 2003 season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Feature: From Yankees to Red Sox

The Yankees and Red Sox have been in competition for players for a long time. Even when there is a player that one team does not want, they tend to make things difficult for the other team to get him. Recent examples include Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee, and others. The teams have also often signed players away from the other team. The Yankees have had a bit more success than the Red Sox in this regard, taking Johnny Damon and Wade Boggs away from the Red Sox in the last twenty years. Some Yankees players have left that team to join the Red Sox, and here are some of the most recent such players:

MIKE TORREZ
Mike Torrez was a Yankee for part of one season, in 1977. He was part of the purge of the Oakland Athletics and was traded to the Yankees for Dock Ellis and a couple of other players. Torrez turned in a fine season, going 14-12 with a 3.82 ERA and 90 strikeouts. After the season, Torrez signed a free agent contract with the Red Sox and spent five seasons for them. His first two seasons were his best as he won 16 games in each of them. Unfortunately, injuries took their toll. Torrez delivered the pitch that Bucky Dent hit over the Green Monster to take the one game playoff in 1978.

DON BAYLOR
Prior to the 1986 season, the Red Sox and Yankees traded designated hitters with the Red Sox sending Mike Easler to New York for Don Baylor. Baylor was pretty good in 86 as he hit .238/.344/.439/.783. Baylor crushed 31 home runs and drove in 94 runs. He was also wildly popular in the clubhouse. Easler put up a better slash line, but less than half as many home runs and fewer RBIs.

RICK CERONE
Rick Cerone joined the Red Sox as a backup catcher after his second stint with the Yankees. Cerone had not been a valuable starter in several years, but he spent most of his two years with the Red Sox as a starter since incumbent Rich Gedman was suffering through injuries. Cerone hit .255/.323/.352/.675 with the Red Sox. Cerone later returned to the Yankees for a third time in 1990.

MIKE STANLEY
Mike Stanley won a Silver Slugger for the Yankees in 1993 after hitting 26 home runs and was an All Star in 1995. In 1996, Stanley joined the Red Sox and had a great year as the Red Sox catcher. He hit .270/.383/.506/.889 with 24 home runs. In 1997, Stanley also played first base and designated hitter and was again putting up big numbers. He was traded back to the Yankees late in the season for Jim Mecir and Tony Armas, Jr., who was later packaged to the Expos for Pedro Martinez. Stanley returned to the Red Sox the next year in a midseason trade with the Blue Jays, and he continued his hot hitting.

DAVID CONE
David Cone had transformed into a finesse pitcher while with the Yankees and won 20 games in 1998 and even pitched a perfect game. He had a horrendous year in 2000, losing 14 games with an ERA of 6.91. He left the Yankees to try to resurrect his career with the Red Sox in 2001. He went 9-7 with a 4.31 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 135.1 innings. A decent year, but Cone continued to have injury problems.

RAMIRO MENDOZA
Ramiro Mendoza was a big part of the Yankees bullpen for the dynasty years of 1998-2001. He left the Yankees for a free agent contract with the Red Sox in 2003 and spent two seasons in the Red Sox bullpen. Inconsistency and injuries were a problem for Mendoza. His ERA in 2003 was 6.75. He improved considerably in 2004 but was limited due to injuries and did not pitch in the postseason. He returned to the Yankees in 2005.

JOHN OLERUD
John Olerud was picked up late in the 2004 season by the Yankees, but he did not produce much for them. He was let go as a free agent after the season. The Red Sox picked him up in May to platoon with Kevin Millar at first base. Olerud played 87 games with the Red Sox and hit .289/.344/.451/.795 with seven home runs in his last hurrah as a Major Leaguer.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 9: Ellis Burks

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

ELLIS BURKS
Ellis Burks was one of my early favorite players due to his blend of power, speed, and defense. Burks won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards in 1990, the year before I started paying attention to baseball. Burks turned in a 20/20 season in his first season in the Majors, 1987. He was not able to replicate that feat in his time in Boston, but he continued to put up decent numbers. Unfortunately, he slumped horribly in 1991 and then suffered through nagging injuries in 1992, so he was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season.

Burks had a decent season in 1993 with the White Sox and then completely resurrected his career in 1994 with the Colorado Rockies. In 1996, Burks had a 30/30 season with the Rockies and lead the league in runs and slugging percentage, finishing third in the MVP race. Inevitably, the question arose whether Burks was enjoying this career resurgence was the result of the park effects from playing in Colorado.

In 1998, Burks was traded at midseason to the Giants. The question was answered as Burks continued to put up great numbers. He then moved to Cleveland and also continued putting up good numbers. In 2004, Burks returned to the Red Sox to close out his career in eleven games.

For his career, Burks hit .291/.363/.510/.874 with 352 home runs, 1,206 RBIs, and 181 stolen bases. Had he played in any other era, Burks's numbers may have been enough to gain him some recognition in the Hall of Fame ballots. Unfortunately, he played at a time of major offensive production, so his career was something of an afterthought. Burks's career WAR is higher than Red Sox Hall of Famer Jim Rice, as well as Orlando Cepeda, Larry Doby, Ralph Kiner, and Kirby Puckett.

THE VERDICT
Burks was eliminated from consideration by the BBWAA in his first year of eligibility, receiving only two votes. He probably deserved better than that, but his career is not that of a Hall of Famer. He was a very good, but seldom great player.

Busts Pt. 8: Ed Sprague

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.

ED SPRAGUE
In 2000, the Red Sox were having problems at third base. Regular third-baseman John Valentin was suffering from major injuries and was only able to play ten games that year. Rookie prospect Wilton Veras disappointed greatly and Manny Alexander and Lou Merloni were both limited players.

In late June, the Red Sox traded Cesar Saba and Dennis Tankersley to the Padres for Ed Sprague, hoping that the former All Star would be able to step in and bring stability to the position. It was a steep price as Saba and Tankersley were both well-regarded prospects. Neither really developed into the players they were expected to be, which was good because Sprague tanked in Boston.

Sprague played in 33 games for the Red Sox, with a slash line of .216/.293/.306/.599 with two home runs and nine runs batted in. He was relatively decent in the field, which was surprising as Sprague was not well-known as a good defensive player. But what value he brought defensively was negated by his horrible bat.

Sprague was released at the end of August and returned to San Diego.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Failed Prospects Pt. 9: Juan Diaz

Since I have been a fan, there have been several players with huge expectations in the Red Sox minor league system. Some of these players, such as Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon, Jon Lester, and others meet those expectations. Others are not as fortunate.

JUAN DIAZ
Juan Diaz was a Cuban undrafted free agent who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1996. After a few years in the Dodgers system, he signed as a minor league free agent with the Red Sox in 2000. He was a very large man, with big power potential. He hit 20 or more home runs in the Red Sox minor league system for three straight years. He looked like a potential star with his massive power.

But there was a problem.

After 2001, when there was a push to find accurate birth records of immigrants from Latin American countries, it was discovered that Diaz was older than originally thought. Four years older. Immediately, Diaz's prospect status was killed. A 28 year old hitting 20 or more home runs in AAA is significantly less impressive than a 24 year old.

Diaz made the Majors briefly in 2001 with the Red Sox and did hit a home run. But that was it for him.

One-Card Wonder Pt. 9: Midre Cummings

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).
MIDRE CUMMINGS
Midre Cummings actually spent parts of two seasons with the Red Sox. Yet, he only has the 2001 Pacific card in a Red Sox uniform. No scan again, sorry. One of these days, when I open my office I will have a scanner.

Cummings was originally picked up off waivers from the Reds in 1998. During that season he played in 67 games as a backup outfielder. Then, he batted .283/.381/.475/.856. Pretty decent numbers for a backup really. He also hit five home runs and drove in 15. Nevertheless, Cummings was released during Spring Training in 1999.

In 2000, Cummings was traded by the Twins back to the Red Sox in late August for the stretch run. He batted .280/.419/.280/.699 with no extra base hits and two runs driven in.

Cummings was not a good defensive outfielder, but his ability to draw walks was valuable. Unfortunately, this was not a time when the ability to draw walks was as well-valued as now.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 10: Takashi Saito

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.

TAKASHI SAITO
Takashi Saito was part of the Red Sox bullpen in 2009 and was one of its most consistent members. Prior to 2009, Saito played for the Dodgers and was an excellent closer for them for three years. The right-hander also had very good strikeout rates, typically well more than one strikeout per inning.

Saito came to the Red Sox, not as a closer, but as a setup man. He was part of a group of four Japanese pitchers for the Red Sox in 2009, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, and Junichi Tazawa. Saito pitched very well, and was easily the most consistent bullpen arm.

Saito went 3-3 with a 2.43 ERA, two saves, and 52 strikeouts in 55.1 innings pitched. He gave up 50 hits and 25 walks. Saito was not re-signed after the season which was a bit of a disappointment as he continued pitching well in 2010.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Unknown Heroes Pt. 10: Alan Embree

Alan Embree made an immediate impact upon his acquisition in 2002. He was acquired in a trade with the Padres along with Andy Shibilo for Brad Baker and Dan Giese, who never really did much in the Majors. Embree however, proved to be an extremely important arm out of the bullpen for the Red Sox through the 2004 season. He was used in a variety of roles, from setup man to situational lefty to closer.

In 2002, Embree pitched to a record of 1-2 with a 2.97 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 33.1 innings. His ERA was higher and his strikeout rates were lower the next two years, but he remained a vital part of the bullpen. He was particularly impressive in the postseasons with the Red Sox. He gave up only two earned runs in 19 innings over the course of two postseasons with the Red Sox.

Embree struggled terribly in 2005 and was released. He found his way to the Yankees where he continued to struggle. He never pitched quite as well again.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Red Sox to Sign Carl Crawford?

Link.

I was a little premature when I posted about the Adrian Gonzalez trade because that looked like it could have died Sunday afternoon. So, hopefully I am not jumping the gun here, but it looks like Carl Crawford is on his way to Boston. I am thrilled. Crawford is a great defender and a great hitter. His on base skills leave a bit to be desired, but he is very fast. Hopefully Ellsbury still has a job with Boston. This could be the lineup:

CF Ellsbury
2B Pedroia
LF Crawford
3B Youkilis
1B Gonzalez
DH Ortiz
RF Drew
C Saltalamacchia
SS Scutaro

That is a scary damn lineup.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Feature: Red Sox for About 5 Minutes

A lot of players have played for the Red Sox. But there are some players that have been signed to the Red Sox that never actually played in a Major League game with them. Sometimes players are acquired in trade and immediately traded away. Sometimes players are picked up and sent to the minors, but just never make it to the Majors.

Let's look at some of these surprising players, who for about five minutes, were Boston Red Sox:

ROGER PECKINPAUGH
Roger Peckinpaugh was a great shortstop during the Dead Ball Era for the Yankees. He was even the league's MVP in 1925 when he was with the Washington Senators, though that was a few years after his very brief stint with the Red Sox. Peckinpaugh had a very good 1919 for the Yankees, hitting .305/.390/.404/.794, good numbers for a middle infielder at the time. Peckinpaugh was traded to the Red Sox as one of the better pieces the team acquired when they were trading their best players to the Yankees in the early 1920's. Peckinpaugh was acquired along with Rip Collins, Bill Piercy, Jack Quinn and $100,000.00 for Bullet Joe Bush, Sad Sam Jones, and Everett Scott in 1922. It was one of the few decent deals for the Red Sox, as Quinn was the best player from that point on. It would have looked even better had the Red Sox actually kept Peckinpaugh, but two weeks later, they shipped him off to Washington for Jumpin' Joe Dugan and Frank O'Rourke. Of course a few months into the season, the Red Sox would trade Dugan, a fine player in his own right, to the Yankees.

ROLLIE FINGERS
The story of Rollie Fingers's very brief stint with the Red Sox in 1976 is well-known. The Oakland Athletics were having money problems and owner Charles Finley was attempting to purge the team to help. Finley sold Fingers, one of the league's top relievers and a future Hall of Famer, along with Joe Rudi to the Red Sox for $1 million apiece. Just a few days later, Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided the sales as "against the best interests of baseball". Fingers and Rudi were in uniform at one game, but never appeared. If they had, perhaps things would have been different. Rudi eventually played for the Red Sox in 1982, but Fingers never did.

TOM HENKE
I remember this vividly, but I cannot for the life of me find anything about what happened. I had a newspaper article from late 1992 that stated the Red Sox had signed both Henke and Andre Dawson. But the deal must have fallen through or something and Henke later signed with the Texas Rangers. I was upset because I was only 12 and I really liked Henke with the Blue Jays and was looking forward to seeing him with the Red Sox.

SAMMY SOSA, KEVIN APPIER, and JOHN WETTELAND
After the Players' Strike of 1994 began, several free agents switched teams. But later, it was decided that the free agent contracts would be voided and contract negotiations disallowed. Sammy Sosa, Kevin Appier, and John Wetteland had all signed free agent contracts with the Red Sox that were voided as a result. Link.

BOB HAMELIN
The former Rookie of the Year with the Kansas City Royals was basically washed up, but was brought to Spring Training with the Red Sox in 1999. This sometimes happens with players. He was signed with the hope of replacing some of the lost offense of Mo Vaughn. He never made it out of Spring Training with the Red Sox.

MARTY CORDOVA
See above for Bob Hamelin. Cordova was the Rookie of the Year the year after Hamelin. Cordova though, at least was able to continue in a reserve role for a number of other teams after his failed tryout with the Red Sox in 2000.

QUILVIO VERAS
The former speedster Quilvio Veras was picked up by the Red Sox in late August 2001 as a free agent after a couple of injury-plagued seasons. He played only three games in AAA Pawtucket that year due to continuing injury problems. But hey, he has a Red Sox baseball card despite not playing a single game at the Major League level with the Red Sox.

MIKE GONZALEZ
He was not a well-known player at the time, but he has had some big years out of the bullpen recently. In 2002, Gonzalez and Scott Sauerbeck were acquired by the Red Sox from Pittsburgh for Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez. Sauerbeck was the big piece and Gonzalez had not yet appeared in the Majors. He was sent to AAA Pawtucket. A little more than a month later, the Pirates discovered some problems with Lyon's shoulder and the Red Sox, in order to appease them, returned Gonzalez in exchange for Lyon and Martinez as part of a larger deal that also resulted in Boston trading Freddy Sanchez and getting Jeff Suppan. This really did not work out well for Boston as Sanchez went on to become an All Star and batting champ, and neither Suppan nor Sauerbeck pitched well for Boston down the stretch. At least Lyon was included in the Curt Schilling deal.

CHARLES JOHNSON
The former All Star and great defensive catcher Charles Johnson was acquired along with Chris Narveson in a trade by the Red Sox from the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Byung Hyun Kim. It was a salary dump and Johnson was released the same day. He later found his way to Tampa Bay, but his career was basically over.

GUILLERMO MOTA and ANDY MARTE
Reliever Guillermo Mota and third-baseman Andy Marte were acquired in different trades in the offseason after 2005 and then traded away in the same deal. Mota was acquired along with Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell from Florida for Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado, and Harvey Garcia. Marte was one of the top prospects in the game when he was traded from the Braves to the Red Sox for Edgar Renteria. Both players were packaged a short time later with Kelly Shoppach and a player to be named later for Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard.

HEE-SEOP CHOI
Hee-Seop Choi carried a lot of hype for years in his time with the Cubs, Marlins, and Dodgers. He was supposed to be a big power hitter, but never managed to stay on the field long enough to reach his full potential. When the Dodgers tired of this, they placed him on waivers and the Red Sox took a flyer. He never made it out of AAA for Boston though.

CARLOS DELGADO
The former big-time slugger with Toronto, Florida, and New York, was signed late in the 2010 season after coming off of an injury. He began rehabbing in Pawtucket, but was injured again and never appeared in a Major League game with the Red Sox.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 8: Roger Clemens

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

ROGER CLEMENS
Okay, statistically, there is no doubt that Roger Clemens should be in the Hall of Fame. The big right-hander is one of the best pitchers of all time. Hands down. His record is 354-184. He had a career 3.12 ERA, and struck out 4,672 batters. He won seven Cy Young Awards.

He did most of his damage with the Red Sox too, winning 192 games and three of his Cy Young Awards. He also pitched for the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Astros, winning at least one Cy Young Award for each team.

Statistically, he's clearly in. But will voters only consider his stats? Clemens is at the center of the ongoing steroid controversy, and with Barry Bonds, has the biggest black mark on his career because of it. Many voters will be unable or unwilling to look past that, just as they have continued to snub Mark McGwire. This year, Rafael Palmeiro, who was actually suspended for testing positive for PEDs, will be on the ballot for the first time. I will be very interested in what happens with his vote. That should help us get a clearer picture of what will happen when Roger Clemens is eligible.

THE VERDICT
He should be in, regardless of the steroid controversy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Busts Pt. 8: Ramon Martinez

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.

RAMON MARTINEZ
In their ongoing quest to find decent pitching to fill out the back end of the rotation, the Red Sox signed Pedro Martinez's older brother. Ramon Martinez was a great pitcher early in his career with the L.A. Dodgers and even won 20 games in 1990. Of course he pitched a lot of innings early in his career, so he began to pay for that as the decade wore on.

Martinez was signed to an inexpensive deal in 1999 and made four starts for the Red Sox, winning two games with a 3.05 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 20.2 innings. He looked like a pretty good bet to pitch well the next year, but he tanked.

Martinez was 32 years old in 2000, but pitched like a 40 year old. He won ten games, but lost eight and pitched to a 6.32 ERA. He struck out 89 in 127.2 innings and walked 67. He also cost the Red Sox over $6 million, big money for the time.

Martinez went to Pittsburgh the next year but he was basically washed up. His brother continued to shine for several more years though.

Failed Prospects Pt. 8: Wilton Veras

Since I have been a fan, there have been several players with huge expectations in the Red Sox minor league system. Some of these players, such as Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon, Jon Lester, and others meet those expectations. Others are not as fortunate.

WILTON VERAS
Wilton Veras was supposed to be one of the top prospects that Dan Duquette developed. It just did not work out that way. The third baseman had power potential, could hit for a decent average, and played decent defense. At least he did in the minors.

But Veras never could make the Major Leagues for long. He spent parts of two seasons in Boston and compiled a slash line of .262/.297/.340/.637. He hit two home runs and drove in 27. He also struck out 34 times and only walked 12 times in 294 plate appearances. It was this poor strike zone judgment that ultimately cost Veras a career.

Veras jumped from AA to the Majors. He could not cut it in the Majors so he was sent to AAA to get more seasoning but he was never able to develop there either. He was out of professional baseball after the 2003 season.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

One-Card Wonder Pt. 8: Mark Lemke

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).
MARK LEMKE
Mark Lemke was one of my early favorite non-Red Sox players when he was with the Atlanta Braves in the early 1990's. He was a good-fielding second-baseman who did not hit much but seemed to play hard all the time. I have always liked players like that, although he was not really a good player.

Lemke came to the Red Sox in the 1998 season to keep second base warm for the prospect Donnie Sadler. Unfortunately, Lemke only played 31 games for the Red Sox before suffering a concussion in a game that kept him out the rest of the season. His career was over.

The only Red Sox card I have of Lemke is from the 1998 Online set, a great team collector set. I do not have a scan of the card though. Lemke hit .187/.232/.231/.463 for the Red Sox. He did provide good defense at second base though.

Since Lemke went down with an injury and Sadler never really developed, second base duties were mostly handled by Mike Benjamin who parlayed a decent season into a mind-boggling multi-year deal with the Pirates.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 9: Bartolo Colon

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.
BARTOLO COLON
2005 AL Cy Young Award Winner Bartolo Colon had been experiencing some major injury problems since he won the award. In 2008, Boston took a flyer on him to see if he could help solidify the rotation. It was a low risk move. Colon was 35 and could charitably be described as hefty. He only pitched in 29 games total the previous two years.

Colon spent the first part of the year on the disabled list and rehabbing. He finally made it to Boston in the middle part of the season and pitched in only seven games for the Red Sox. Colon went 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA in those seven games, striking out 27 in 39 innings.

Colon could not stay healthy and he left the team, his Red Sox career over almost as fast as it started.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 9: Dante Bichette

Dante Bichette was part of the exciting quartet of sluggers in the early days of the Colorado Rockies. Of course, like the others, his numbers were inflated somewhat by his home park. Bichette was a promising young player when he went over to Colorado.

Bichette was near the end of his career when the Red Sox acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds during the 2000 season. He still had something left though and hit seven home runs for the Red Sox during the stretch drive and had a slash line of .289/.336/.518/.854 in 30 games.

Bichette returned to the Red Sox the next season and was meant to be the principal designated hitter, but also spent time in the outfield. He was not a terrible fielder, and looked a lot worse than he actually was. 2001 was his last season in the Majors and Bichette hit only 12 home runs with a slash line of .286/.325/.460/.786. He was 37 that year, so not much was expected of him, but with Carl Everett also slumping, Boston was not able to make the playoffs.

Red Sox Trade for Adrian Gonzalez

Link.

This one is huge. Adrian Gonzalez has been targeted by Boston for several years now and it finally looks like he is headed over. This effectively ends the pursuit of Adrian Beltre as Gonzalez will shift Kevin Youkilis over to third base, his original position.

The cost is significant. Boston is sending first round draft picks Casey Kelly and Rey Fuentes, along with first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and a player to be named to San Diego. But to pick up a player of Gonzalez's caliber, you have to give up quite a bit. Boston also has five early draft picks next year to help absorb some of that loss to the organization as Beltre, Victor Martinez, and Felipe Lopez will all bring compensatory draft picks.

Gonzalez will be 29 next May, so he is still young. He is also a big-time power threat as he has hit 30 or more home runs each of the last four years while playing in San Diego, a notorious pitcher's park. This is a good pickup for Boston.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Feature: 2010 Hall of Fame Ballot

The 2010 Hall of Fame Ballot and Veteran's Committee Ballots are out there now. Obviously, I do not have a vote in these, but I wanted to look at the players that have played part of their Major League careers with the Red Sox.

Here's the Veteran's Committee Ballot:
Vida Blue
Dave Concepcion
Steve Garvey
Ron Guidry
Tommy John
Al Oliver
Ted Simmons
Rusty Staub
Billy Martin
George Steinbrenner
Pat Gillick
Marvin Miller

No Red Sox. I hope to see Ted Simmons get in from these names.

And the main ballot:
Roberto Alomar
Carlos Baerga
Jeff Bagwell
Harold Baines
Bert Blyleven
Bret Boone
Kevin Brown
John Franco
Juan Gonzalez
Marquis Grissom
Lenny Harris
Bobby Higginson
Charles Johnson
Barry Larkin
Al Leiter
Edgar Martinez
Tino Martinez
Don Mattingly
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Raul Mondesi
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
John Olerud
Rafael Palmeiro
Dave Parker
Tim Raines
Kirk Reuter
Benito Santiago
Lee Smith
B.J. Surhoff
Alan Trammell
Larry Walker

First the Red Sox:
Carlos Baerga:
I touched on Baerga a little bit earlier on this blog. After his first six seasons, Baerga looked like a potential Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, his career fell off of a cliff after that and so did his Hall chances. If he had not declined so dramatically he might have had a shot. I think he will disappear off of the ballot in this, his first year.

John Olerud:
John Olerud is a potential sneaky candidate. His 17 year career was not filled with excellent seasons, although he did have a few. He quietly went about his business, which was mostly spent getting on base however he needed. His career OBP was .398, pretty impressive. Olerud was also a very good defensive first baseman. I think his career could get lost based on the fact that his power numbers were nowhere close to typical first base numbers. He played only part of one season with the Red Sox, but he still had a lot left and played very well for the Sox. He could go either way. He could drop off after this year, or he could build in voters minds to eventual enshrinement. Time will tell.

Lee Smith:
I planned to devote a whole post to Smith, but this will do. I think Smith belongs in the Hall of Fame. What has kept him out has been the fact that the Hall voters are not sure what to do with closers yet. The only closers in are Goose Gossage, Dennis Eckersley, Hoyt Wilhelm, Bruce Sutter, and Rollie Fingers, all of whom offered more than just one inning a game saves.

Smith was at the forefront of the revolution of closers and held the saves record for years. He was an absolutely dominating closer. He racked up nearly a strikeout per inning for his career, had a 3.03 career ERA, and saved 478 games. Of course that number has been dwarfed by both Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera since, so his case suffers in comparison.

I would like to see Smith in, and I think he could get in eventually. But it may take until the Veterans Committee.

NOTES
-I predict Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Jeff Bagwell will get in this year.

-Bagwell, Juan Gonzalez, and Charles Johnson all spent a brief time period as Boston Red Sox, though none made it into any games.

-I think Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, and Larry Walker will all make it eventually.

-Kirk Reuter and Lenny Harris will not get a single vote.

News and Notes

1. The Red Sox picked up Brandon Duckworth, 34, a right-handed pitcher who last pitched in the Majors in 2008 with the Royals. This is probably just organizational depth. Not anything to be excited about.

2. The Red Sox non-tendered Hideki Okajima, Taylor Buchholz, and Andrew Miller. Presumably this is to free up space on the 40 man roster and then try to re-sign these players to lesser or even minor league contracts. Miller surprises me because they just traded for him. I really want to see Okajima back because I like him quite a bit, but I will not be disappointed if he leaves.

3. Other interesting players who were non-tendered: Russell Martin (C, Dodgers), Bobby Jenks (RP, White Sox), J.P. Howell (RP, Rays), Chien-Ming Wang (P, Nationals), George Sherrill (RP, Dodgers), Jack Cust (DH, Athletics).

4. I have been thinking about possible trade targets if the Red Sox cannot re-sign Adrian Beltre and I wonder if San Francisco is so down on Pablo Sandoval that they might consider moving him. If Boston could get him to be motivated to keep his weight in line, this could be a solid pickup.

5. Please Boston, sign Carl Crawford and move Ellsbury back to center.

6. It was rumored that Boston attempted to sign Mariano Rivera this week. I do not know if that is true, but it would not surprise me.

EDIT
7. The Red Sox signed Nate Spears, Santo Luis, and Jason Bergmann. Spears and Luis were both in the Red Sox minor league system last year, so this does not really qualify as particularly noteworthy. Bergmann has been in Washington's bullpen for the last six years and is potentially a name to watch for a bullpen slot next year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Red Sox Re-Sign Jason Varitek

Link.

The Red Sox and Jason Varitek agreed to a one-year $2 million contract today. Excellent news as Varitek remains my favorite player. His role will be the same as this last year, except that he will also be acting as a mentor to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. This is probably a prelude to a coaching position soon.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 7: George Scott

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

GEORGE "BOOMER" SCOTT
George Scott was one of the first African American stars for the Red Sox, and the team's first African American All Star. He arrived in the Major Leagues in 1966 with the Red Sox and played in every game that year, hitting 27 home runs, driving in 90 runs and a slash line of .245/.324/.433/.757. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year race behind Tommie Agee, whose overall numbers were similar to Scott's.

Scott improved on his overall numbers for the pennant winning Red Sox in 1967 and looked to be a big upcoming star. He won the first of his eight Gold Gloves that year and hit .303/.373/.465/.839 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs. He also stole ten bases for a great all-around year.

Unfortunately, his numbers took a massive tumble in 1968 when he hit only .171/.236/.237/.473 with three home runs and 25 RBIs. He did win his second Gold Glove, but that was the only bright spot. He improved significantly each of the next two seasons and looked like his career was back on track.

Scott was traded to the Brewers in a huge trade prior to the 1972 season along with several other players for Tommy Harper and a couple of others. With Milwaukee, Scott became a well-known power hitter, leading the league in home runs and RBIs in 1975. He was traded back to Boston in 1977 for Cecil Cooper, which was not a great trade. Scott had his last big season in 1977 hitting 33 home runs with 95 RBIs.

Scott was a great defensive first-baseman with a lot of power, but his numbers fall well short of Hall of Fame credentials. His career line was .268/.333/.435/.767 in 14 seasons. He hit 271 home runs with 1,051 RBIs. He was often worth 1.0 to 1.5 WAR for his defense each year.

THE VERDICT
No. Scott had some great individual seasons, but his career falls well short. He was great defensively, but probably not among the best ever. He does not rise to the Bill Mazeroski/Ozzie Smith/Harry Hooper level of defensive greatness to get in with his glove.

Busts Pt. 7: Mark Portugal and Pat Rapp

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.

MARK PORTUGAL and PAT RAPP
In 1999, the Red Sox sought to fill out the back end of their rotation by signing free agents Mark Portugal from the Phillies and Pat Rapp from the Royals. Neither pitcher was very good for the Red Sox, with Rapp being only slightly better.

Portugal had a great changeup and won ten games for the Phillies the year before. But he was an unmitigated disaster with the Red Sox. Portugal went 7-12 for the Red Sox with a 5.51 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 150.1 innings. Portugal was released prior to the end of the season.

Rapp was only slightly better. He had won 12 games for the Royals the year before, but was non-tendered and the Red Sox plucked him in January. Rapp went 6-7 with a 4.12 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 146.1 innings. He also pitched in relief on occasion.

Pitching was the reason the Red Sox did not make it farther in October that year. Outside of Pedro Martinez and Bret Saberhagen, the Red Sox had to mix and match pitchers. Rapp and Portugal were a big part of the problem. Kent Mercker was acquired late in the season to help.

Failed Prospects Pt. 7: Steve Lomasney

Since I have been a fan, there have been several players with huge expectations in the Red Sox minor league system. Some of these players, such as Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon, Jon Lester, and others meet those expectations. Others are not as fortunate.

STEVE LOMASNEY
The Red Sox have had some troubles developing catchers since the early 1980's when Rich Gedman emerged. Since then, John Marzano, John Flaherty, Eric Wedge, and Scott Hatteberg all came from the Red Sox minor league system, none of whom made a single All Star game with the team. Steve Lomasney was supposed to change that. He was hyped to be the second coming of Carlton Fisk.

Lomasney was rated the #50 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2000 season. He had hit 20 home runs and .259/.390/.482/.873 in two stops in 1999. However, in 2000, he started to slip and never came close to those numbers again. He finally made it to AAA Pawtucket in 2001 but continued to struggle. He bounced between AA and AAA for years, never quite making the leap for good.

He played one game in the Major Leagues with Boston in 1999 and was hitless in two at-bats with two strikeouts.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One-Card Wonder Pt. 7: Jim Corsi

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).

JIM CORSI
Sorry folks, another one with no scan. This one is a 1998 Pacific Online card, a great set for team collectors because it featured a bunch of cards of guys that had few, if any, other cards. You'll see this set again in this series.

I am not totally sure why Jim Corsi has no other Red Sox cards. He was a major part of the Red Sox bullpen for two years in 1997-1998. He also pitched in 1999 and accumulated 134 games over the course of the three seasons for Boston. Corsi went 9-7 with two saves. He pitched to the tune of a 3.35 ERA for the Red Sox. He also struck out 103 in 147.1 innings.

EDIT:  I just recently picked up one of the parallels of this card.

Monday, November 29, 2010

One-Year Wonder Pt. 8: Pokey Reese

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.

POKEY REESE
Pokey Reese was never really a great player, but I always liked him anyway. Reese was a very good defensive middle infielder with great speed. He came up with the Reds and was a highly rated prospect. He was rated so highly that Cincinnati balked at including him in the deal with the Mariners for Ken Griffey Jr. He never really developed into that great of a player, but he had his valuable abilities.

The Red Sox originally acquired Reese prior to the 2002 season in a trade with Colorado for Scott Hatteberg. They non-tendered him though to try to re-sign him for a lower salary. The Pirates though swooped in and got him, so he never played a game in his first stint with the Red Sox.

Reese spent two seasons with the Pirates before signing with the Red Sox before the 2004 season. He was a great defender with the Red Sox, compiling a defensive WAR of 2.2. He was valuable as a replacement for Nomar Garciaparra that year and contributed an inside-the-park home run among his three for the year, as well as making highlight reel catches. He was not much with the bat that year, but his speed and defense helped a great deal.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 8: Rod Beck


Rod Beck was cool. With a fu manchu mustache and a mullet, Beck looked more like a Hell's Angel member than a baseball player. He was also a great closer for several years for the Giants and Cubs. However, in 1999, just a year removed from a 51 save season for the Chicago Cubs, Beck's career looked to be in jeopardy. He was dealing with injuries and was traded late in the season to the Red Sox for Cole Liniak and Mark Guthrie. Beck was able to resurrect his career with the Red Sox, though he would not be a closer again.

Beck spent the rest of 1999 and the next two full seasons with the Red Sox. In 1999, he was 0-1 with a 1.93 ERA, three saves, and 12 strikeouts in 14 innings. The next two seasons, he became the team's main setup man and pitched well. For his Red Sox career, Beck went 9-5 with a 3.46 ERA, nine saves, and 110 strikeouts in 135.1 innings.

The best moment involving Beck though was at a time he was not pitching. The Red Sox were in Toronto and Beck was sitting in the bullpen seats, on top of the outfield wall when Manny Ramirez connected for a home run. Beck nonchalantly reached up and caught the ball with his bare hand. Cool indeed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Feature: Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups

Link.

This is one of my favorite baseball books. I can spend a long time on any given day just pouring over it. Unfortunately, it's a little out of date. It was released during the 2003 season and some of the information is even a little older than that. That said, it is a valuable resource.

Well, I recently dug it back out and reviewed the Red Sox information. Since it may be awhile before it gets updated, if ever, I figure I will add to it. I also have a couple of minor quibbles that I wanted to touch on.


ALL-TIME TEAM

DH: Neyer listed Jim Rice. At this point, I think the All-Time DH has to be David Ortiz. The most obvious reason is that Ortiz has played nearly twice as many games as Rice at DH. Of course, Ortiz being a regular DH for his entire career with the Red Sox also means that he has had his best seasons at DH, compared to Rice. I do not even need to discuss stats here, it is just obvious that Ortiz has taken over here.

RP: Neyer listed Dick Radatz here and I will make the argument that with Jonathan Papelbons first five seasons as a closer, that he may be taking over, assuming he continues to pitch well. Last year was not a good year, but Radatz was not nearly as good his last couple of years either. Papelbon was still at least decent last year. Provided he is not traded or continues to decline, it may be time to put Papelbon in this spot.


NUMBER TWO TEAM

DH: Neyer listed Carl Yastrzemski. Since Jim Rice fell off the All-Time Team, he will push Yaz back a spot.

C: Neyer listed Wally Schang. Schang was a great catcher, but played for a short amount of time for the Red Sox. I would list Jason Varitek, who has the Red Sox all-time record for games by a catcher and has beaten Carlton Fisk's club record for home runs by a catcher. Fisk was a better all around hitter and better defender, but Varitek is reasonably close, at his peak.

2B: Neyer listed Pete Runnels. Runnels was a better contact hitter than Dustin Pedroia, but Pedroia is pretty great himself and is a better fielder. I think Pedroia takes over here, due in major part to his 2008 AL MVP.

RP: Neyer listed Ellis Kinder. If Papelbon dethrones Radatz on the All-Time Team, then Radatz moves to the No. 2 team and knocks Kinder down a spot.


SINGLE-SEASON TEAM

DH: Neyer listed Jim Rice 1977. Pick a David Ortiz season. I think I will go with 2006, when Ortiz hit 54 home runs and drove in 137 RBIs. His slash line was .287/.413/.636/1.049. 2005 and 2007 are also great choices.

RP: Neyer listed Ellis Kinder 1953. I am inclined to go with Jonathan Papelbon's 2006. 0.92 ERA. Rookie year. Enough said.


ALL-ROOKIE TEAM

2B: Neyer listed Jody Reed 1988. Boston has not had a ton of great rookie second-basemen, but Pedroia did win the Rookie of the Year in 2008 and clearly deserved it. Automatically qualifies based on that.

SS: Neyer listed Johnny Pesky 1942. I have always considered this a bit of a mistake. Pesky had a great 1942, hitting .331 and leading the league in hits with 205. But Nomar Garciaparra also lead the league in hits in 1997, his rookie year, with 209. He also lead the league in triples and whereas his .306 average was not nearly as high as Pesky's, Garciaparra hit 30 home runs, drove in 98 runs, and stole 22 bases. Garciaparra's 1997 season was one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, it should have been listed.


HOMEGROWN TEAM

2B: Neyer listed Jody Reed. For obvious reasons, Dustin Pedroia has taken over here.

RP: Neyer listed Sparky Lyle. I think Papelbon could eventually knock Lyle off the list. I am not sure he is there quite yet though.


TRADED AWAY TEAM

I do not have any changes to this team.


GOLD GLOVE TEAM

RF: Neyer picked Trot Nixon. I never agreed with this one either. I think Dwight Evans was one of the greatest defensive right fielders ever, and Nixon did not have nearly the arm strength Evans had. I think even Neyer has come to change his mind on this.


IRON GLOVE TEAM

I do not have any changes to this team.


ALL-BUST TEAM

C: Neyer listed Marc Sullivan. I am not sure Sullivan was a bust. He was never really expected to be a great player. John Marzano was selected in the first round of the 1984 draft, 14th overall, and never developed into even a regular catcher. Javy Lopez was brought in during the 2006 season to bring some stability to the position after Varitek went down with an injury and tanked. I think Marzano should be listed here because of the big expectations and near total letdown. Sorry Mr. Marzano. R.I.P.

CF: Neyer listed Carl Everett. I do not totally disagree, as Everett had a world of talent, but he was great in 2000. He was bad in 2001 and traded for Darren Oliver due to his personality clashes with management. However, Coco Crisp looked to be a big star when he was acquired and never came close to matching his expectations. At least Everett was great one year. Crisp was never even a good player for Boston, outstanding catches notwithstanding.


USED-TO-BE-GREAT

LF: Neyer listed Al Simmons. I have to go with Rickey Henderson here. Simmons was also a Hall of Famer, but Henderson was one of the greatest of all time.


ALL-NAME TEAM

2B: Neyer listed Pete Runnels, whose first name was really Thomas. Poor Runnels has been completely driven out of this book, because I am going with "Laser Show" Dustin Pedroia.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 6: Reggie Smith

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

REGGIE SMITH
I missed Reggie Smith's career, but I get the feeling that he was a very underrated player. I base that almost entirely on the fact that I do not hear much about him and he was only an All Star seven times in 17 seasons, despite a career OPS+ of 137. Also, there's the fact that he dropped off the Hall of Fame ballot completely after just one year, in which he only received three votes. That seems like voters completely missed the mark.

Smith did not have dazzling home run or RBI numbers, but he was a very good, often great, complete player. Smith finished his career with 314 home runs, 1,092 RBIs, and a slash line of .287/.366/.489/.855. He was worth 63.4 WAR, even more than the last player I covered: Dwight Evans. Smith won one Gold Glove Award, and possibly deserved more. In his early years, he was quite fast, but his stolen base numbers dropped dramatically after he turned 28. Smith was also a very dangerous switch hitter.

Reggie Smith played for the Red Sox from 1966 through 1973, mostly in center field. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1967 after going .246/.315/.389/.704 with 15 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases. He improved on those numbers with the Red Sox. He lead the league in doubles twice while with the Sox and total bases once. His best season was his last in Boston when he went .303/.398/.515/.913 with 21 home runs. Smith also contributed a 30 home run season and a 20 stolen base season with the Red Sox.

Smith was traded to the Cardinals after the 1973 season, and continued to play well. He would later also play for the Dodgers and Giants.

The only real issues with Reggie Smith's candidacy for the Hall of Fame are his in-season durability and his counting stats. Smith was never a big home run hitter during his time, certainly not as much as teammates like Carl Yastrzemski, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, and Dusty Baker. His career high was 32 home runs. Smith also had some problems staying healthy. Smith only played 150 games or more three times in his 17 year career. Finally, Smith was out of the Majors at 37, even though he was still playing well. If he could have continued a few more years, he may have gotten more notice.

THE VERDICT
With the new emphasis on non-counting stats, Smith has a chance. Hopefully, he will make an appearance on next year's Veterans Committee ballot and get in.