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.

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.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Red Sox Claim Jordan Parraz

Link.

I'm confused by this move. The issue is that now the Red Sox 40 man roster is full. So, if the Red Sox were to acquire anyone as a free agent they would have to release someone. Or trade them.

Anyway, Parraz is a career minor leaguer and is 26 years old. He spent the last few years in the Royals system. He hit .266/.350/.410/.760 for Omaha last year. Not bad numbers. If he makes the Majors, he would be an adequate fourth outfielder. But I would not count on it. With Daniel Nava, Josh Reddick, Eric Patterson, Darnell McDonald, and Ryan Kalish all under contract next year, plus starters J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, and Jacoby Ellsbury still around, it looks like the outfield is pretty full. I think Parraz is the first to be cut if the Red Sox acquire someone.

This is a non-story.

Questionable All Stars Pt. 6: Shea Hillenbrand

The All Star selection process is such a subjective procedure that sometimes deserving players get left off. Then there are times when players who do not deserve to be All Stars are named to the team.

SHEA HILLENBRAND
Shea Hillenbrand was elected to start the All Star game in just his second season. Hillenbrand was a serviceable player and had some power, but he seemed allergic to taking a walk, which drove down his value significantly. 2002 was one of his better years, but to say that he deserved to start the All Star game is another story entirely.

In the first half of the 2002 season, Hillenbrand hit .298/.331/.490/.821 with 13 home runs. Certainly decent numbers, and he probably deserved to be an All Star, but not good enough to start. 2002 was a bad year for third basemen though. The real problem was that Hillenbrand only walked 11 times in that first half. In 370 plate appearances. His inability to occasionally get on base other than hitting was what eventually led the Red Sox to trade him, because he did not hit nearly often enough to make up for not getting on base.

At the end of the year, Hillenbrand's numbers were .293/.330/.459/.789 with 18 home runs and 25 walks. The next year, he was traded to Arizona for Byung-Hyun Kim and Bill Mueller took over at third base and won the batting title.

Busts Pt. 6: Steve Avery

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

STEVE AVERY
After Roger Clemens left as a free agent to Toronto, Red Sox GM Dan Duquette scrambled to find some pitching to make up for the loss. He signed Bret Saberhagen to a bargain-basement deal even though he was to miss most of the season while recovering from surgery. He signed Robinson Checo out of Japan, even though he was not ready for the Major Leagues. And he signed a former 18 game winner with the vaunted Atlanta Braves pitching rotation in the early 1990's.

The only problem was that Steve Avery had been on the decline every year since that time, possibly a product of too many innings at too young of an age.

Steve Avery is one of the major reasons the Red Sox were terrible in 1997. He was expected to be a replacement for Clemens, who was supposed to have been on the decline himself. Avery was a washout. In 1997, Avery went 6-7 with a 6.42 ERA and 51 strikeouts. He was injured often. Yet, for some reason manager Jimy Williams decided to pitch him often enough for his option to vest.

Avery was a little better in 1998. The pressure was off as Tim Wakefield had a good year and Pedro Martinez stepped into the ace role. Even Bret Saberhagen was making a successful comeback. Avery only had to be the fourth starter. He went 10-7 with a 5.02 ERA and 57 strikeouts. Adequate numbers for a number four. But he was not the pitcher he was expected to be.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Failed Prospects Pt. 6: Donnie Sadler

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.

DONNIE SADLER
After Garciaparra exploded into the Major Leagues, there was a lot of hype about a player that was supposed to fill the position next to him. Donnie Sadler was expected to be just as good of a contact hitter, steal a lot more bases, and play sparkling defense. Sadler was originally drafted as a shortstop but moved to second when he was blocked by the meteoric rise of Nomar.

Sadler rose through the minors quickly. He was drafted in 1994 and was already in AAA by 1997, but that's where he started to stall. He never really found his stroke there, although he did develop some power and he was stealing bases at a high rate.

Sadler made his debut in 1998 with the Red Sox, starting the year out with the team. However, he only hit .226/.276/.395/.671. He played only 58 games that year. He improved a bit at the plate in 1999, but still only played 49 games. He did the same in 2000. For his Red Sox career, Sadler hit .242/.283/.352/.635 with four home runs and nine stolen bases. Not the numbers he was expected to put up. Sadler was traded with Michael Coleman for Chris Stynes.

Sadler bounced around a few organizations, never playing regularly and never really learning to hit well. He last appeared in 2007.

News and Notes

1. The awards season has ended with only one piece of hardware being taken home by a Red Sox player. Adrian Beltre won the Silver Slugger for third base. Beltre finished in ninth place in the AL MVP ballot. Jon Lester finished fourth in the AL Cy Young balloting with Clay Buchholz finishing sixth. Terry Francona finished fourth in the AL Manager of the Year race. So, no one was particularly close, which is not really surprising.

2. Some news has been made about the Red Sox being in the hunt to trade for Justin Upton. This seems highly unlikely as it would cost the Red Sox a ton of young talent.

3. Fabio Castro, who spent the entire season in the Red Sox minor league system, signed with the Mariners as a minor league free agent. His strikeout rate was impressive, but he had a bad ERA and his height (5'7") seems to be a factor against him.

4. As expected, the Red Sox offered arbitration to Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, and Felipe Lopez, but declined to offer to Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell. Martinez has already agreed to a contract with the Tigers, so the Red Sox will receive a high draft pick, unless of course Detroit signs someone rated higher than Martinez. Beltre is supposedly Boston's priority. There is a chance Lopez will accept and return to the Red Sox, at which point he will probably be traded. Lowell has already retired and I expect at this point that the Red Sox will bring Varitek back yet again.

5. Marco Scutaro is being shopped with the emergence of Jed Lowrie last year.

6. Jonathan Papelbon is also expected to be shopped, though Boston would have to pick up a sizable chunk of his salary to move him.

Goodbye Victor Martinez

Link.

Victor Martinez is off to Detroit. He was a valuable pickup for the Red Sox at the trading deadline in 2009 and gave them a good year last year. Unfortunately, the team seemed to have cooled on him when they realized his defensive abilities were declining rapidly. His bat is fine, but he could not throw out runners. That said, now Boston must find a way to replace his offense.

I never totally warmed up to Victor until just recently either, as he moved my favorite player Jason Varitek into a backup role. I knew it was better for the team, but it still stung a little bit.

Next year's catching situation will be interesting. They have Saltalamacchia still, but he has not yet proven himself to be a starting catcher, though he does have high upside and is still just 25. I suspect he will be the starter and Jason Varitek may be brought back in a backup role to guide Saltalamacchia along. We'll see.

Hey, at least we have some more draft picks. No way does Boston not offer Martinez arbitration.

One-Card Wonder Pt. 6: Chris Hammond

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).

CHRIS HAMMOND
I hate doing these when I can not find a scan of the card. This one is a 1997 Ultra card. I do not currently own a scanner, so I can not add one myself. Oh well.

Hammond was a valuable member of the Red Sox pitching staff in 1997 until going down with an injury. He did not pitch particularly well, bu the was versatile, starting eight games, finishing six, and pitching in several additional games.

He went 3-4 with a 5.92 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 65.1 innings. Unfortunately, he was very wild and walked a lot of batters. After the season, he left as a free agent. He would later have a great year in the Braves bullpen in 2002.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 7: Carlos Baerga

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.
CARLOS BAERGA
In the early to mid 1990's, Carlos Baerga looked like a future Hall of Famer. He had back to back 200 hit seasons, hitting well over .300 and averaging 20 home runs. He probably would have done the same in 1994 had the strike not interrupted the season. He had good power for a second baseman and appeared in three All Star games and won two Silver Sluggers. He was traded to the Mets in a trade for Jeff Kent. Baerga promptly declined. He later played for the Padres and returned to the Indians and then disappeared for a couple of years.

Baerga re-emerged in 2002 with the Red Sox, his first season in the Majors since 1999. He was extremely popular in the clubhouse and provided a spark as a backup infielder, designated hitter, and pinch hitter.

Baerga hit .286/.316/.379/.695 as a part-timer in 2002. He played in 73 games, hitting two home runs and driving in 19, and he stole six bases. He played most of his games at DH, but also played second and third.

Baerga resurrected his career with the Red Sox in 2002 as a solid clubhouse leader and decent bench bat. He went on to play for the Diamondbacks and Nationals before retiring for good after the 2005 season.

Red Sox Acquire Drew Sutton

Link.

Yet another low risk transaction for the Red Sox. Sutton, 27, has been with the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, and Houston Astros organizations the last few years. He did hit 20 home runs in the minors recently. He has not been real successful in the majors though, hitting .229/.302/.381/.683 in 55 games. Not real exciting.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Unknown Heroes Pt. 7: Jeff Frye

I have always liked players who have the ability to play multiple positions. Jeff Frye was something of a super utility player who played every position during his time with the Red Sox except pitcher and catcher. Frye was not a great fielder, but he was versatile and that was extremely helpful to the Red Sox when they acquired him in 1996 as a free agent from the Rangers. Wil Cordero, the starting second baseman had gone down with an injury and the Red Sox needed someone to come in and pick up the slack. Frye proved very valuable that year and subsequent years.

Frye was never a great hitter, but he was good enough, going .295/.363/.392/.755. Pretty decent numbers for a second baseman really. His ability to back up any other position on the diamond added to his contact hitting ability to make him a nice little player. Frye hit nine home runs during his three plus seasons for the Red Sox. He also stole 40 bases, making him a rare player with speed on those Boston teams.

During the 2000 season, Frye was part of a big trade with the Rockies that brought Rolando Arrojo and Mike Lansing to the Red Sox. Nomar Garciaparra was known to be upset, Frye had been very popular with the Red Sox.

Feature: Race and the Red Sox

One of the biggest issues that I have being a fan of the Red Sox is their rather horrible history in race relations. To begin with, the Red Sox were the last team in the Major Leagues to have an African American player. That part is well-known. What is not as well-known is that they had numerous opportunities to make a big impact with an African American player.

JACKIE ROBINSON
The Red Sox were the first Major League team to give Jackie Robinson a tryout. The Red Sox held a tryout at Fenway Park in 1945 for Robinson and eventual NL Rookie of the Year Sam Jethroe, as well as Marvin Williams. It was clear that Robinson could play, the same went for Jethroe. However, the Red Sox did not intend to actually be the first team to integrate. The tryout was a complete sham, orchestrated to make the team look like they wanted to bring in an African American player. It has become widely known that Tom Yawkey, the Hall of Fame owner of the Red Sox was extremely racist and did not want an African American on the team at this time. Robinson went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, debuting in 1947.

WILLIE MAYS
The Red Sox also passed on an opportunity to bring in Willie Mays. The team had a minor league affiliate in Birmingham. Birmingham's GM alerted the Red Sox GM Joe Cronin to the availability of Mays and the cheap cost it would take to sign him. Cronin passed.

PUMPSIE GREEN
In 1959, Green finally became the first African American player for the Red Sox. Green was not nearly the player that Jackie Robinson or Willie Mays were. Green spent four seasons as a backup middle infielder for the Red Sox, and played regularly at second base in 1960. Green hit .244/.353/.360/.713 for the Red Sox with 12 home runs, 69 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases. He was a switch hitter, increasing his value, but was not much of a fielder. He was later traded to the Mets with Al Moran and Tracy Stallard for Felix Mantilla, who would be an All Star for the Sox.

OTHERS
So, Green was the first, but he was not a star. Boston continued to have some problems with race relations as history went on. The Red Sox would begin to have some star African American players, beginning in 1959. Earl Wilson made history by being the first African American to throw a no-hitter, and was a damn fine hitter for a pitcher. George Scott arrived in the late 1960's and was a great defensive first baseman and power hitter. Reggie Smith was the first big African American star for the Red Sox. Jim Rice was a major star, MVP, and eventual Hall of Famer. Ferguson Jenkins was acquired to shore up the pitching staff in the late 1970's. Don Baylor was acquired in 1986 to add power to the DH position. Ellis Burks developed into a fine all around player in the 1980's. Mo Vaughn won the MVP in 1995. Carl Everett was an All Star in 2000. And there have been many more.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox still battle a perception of being racist. Several African American players in recent years have stated publicly that they would not play for the Red Sox because of the racist perception, including Barry Bonds, David Justice, Marquis Grissom, and others. Several times recently, articles are printed criticizing the Red Sox for not having many African American players. Right now, Mike Cameron is the only African American assured of a job with the Red Sox next year. This is most probably not due to the organization, but a trend in general where there has been a decline in African American players in the Major Leagues.

I am embarrassed by the Red Sox poor history of race relations, but hiding from that history is not the answer. It must be confronted and efforts made to change the problems of the past.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 5: Dwight Evans

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.
DWIGHT EVANS
When I first started getting into baseball, Dwight Evans seemed to me like a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. Of course this was the early 1990's, before the huge offensive explosion that made many great players from the 1980's look quaint. I still believe Dewey belongs in the Hall.

Dwight Evans played for a long time for the Red Sox. He came up in 1972 and stayed with the team through 1990. Then, he spent one year with the Baltimore Orioles. He never quite looked right in that uniform though. Evans played in 2,606 games in all, including 2,505 with the Red Sox. That is number two all time for the Red Sox.

Evans hit .272/.370/.470/.840 for his career. Very good numbers. He also drew a lot of value from his ability to take a walk, which was an underrated skill for the time that he played. He lead the league in walks three times. He also lead the league in runs once and home runs once. Evans hit 385 home runs in his career and drove in 1,384 runs. His numbers would have been even better though, if he had not developed into such a great hitter so late in his career.

Evans was a fantastic defensive right-fielder, one of the best ever. He won a Gold Glove eight times, and deserved them. He made several sparkling defensive plays over the course of his career and had a rocket for an arm. He was also a three time All Star and won two Silver Sluggers.

Dwight Evans for his career was worth 61.8 WAR. That is higher than many Hall of Famers, including Harmon Killebrew, Dave Winfield, Richie Ashburn, Willie Stargell, Billy Williams, Andre Dawson, Hank Greenberg, Enos Slaughter, longtime teammate Jim Rice, and many more.

Evans received precious little support for his Hall of Fame candidacy, mostly due to the era he played in. He was off the ballot entirely after three years. Hopefully he can still make it in through the Veteran's Committee, because Dewey deserves it.

THE VERDICT
He should be in. And now.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Questionable All Stars Pt. 5: Jason Varitek

The All Star selection process is such a subjective procedure that sometimes deserving players get left off. Then there are times when players who do not deserve to be All Stars are named to the team.
JASON VARITEK
I hate doing this one because Varitek is my favorite player. Varitek has been a deserving All Star in the past. He deserved to be an All Star in 2003 and 2005 when he was selected. I would argue that he may have deserved it in 1999, 2004, and 2007 as well. However, Varitek did not deserve the honor in 2008, and that is why I am writing this blog.

Varitek hit .220/.313/.359/.672 in 2008. He hit 13 home runs and drove in 43. Those are not All Star numbers, even considering his position. And it is not as if he slumped badly in the second half. Varitek's first half numbers were .218/.299/.354/.653. He actually started hitting better in the second half. So no, Varitek was not a good selection to the All Star game in 2008. But he did deserve it in other years.

Busts Pt. 5: Kevin Mitchell

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.
KEVIN MITCHELL
Kevin Mitchell was brought in to the Red Sox roster in 1996. At this time, the Red Sox were getting a lot of criticism for employing an individual known for his involvement with the formation of rotisserie baseball. One of the effects of his involvement was a lot of big-time hitters at every position, such as Wil Cordero, Jose Canseco, Mike Stanley, and more. The 1989 NL MVP had big power.

Kevin Mitchell played 1995 in Japan and came back to the states to play right field and designated hitter for the Red Sox. He only played in 27 games for the Red Sox though and did not show close to the kind of power that was expected from him. Mitchell hit only two home runs, but he did hit .304/.385/.413/.798, so it was not a total loss. However, Boston expected more. Mitchell was making a reasonably high salary and the Red Sox were not going anywhere, so he was shipped off to the Reds for Roberto Mejia and Brad Tweedlie, neither of whom ever made the Majors in Boston.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Failed Prospects Pt. 5: Michael Coleman

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.
MICHAEL COLEMAN
Michael Coleman was expected to be an all-around talent. He could do anything on the baseball field, run, hit for power, play defense, etc. He even had the nickname "Prime Time", which was also Deion Sanders's nickname. He was expected to be a great player. It just did not work out that way.

Coleman was selected in the 18th round out of high school. He cracked the Top 100 prospects list in 1996 and made it to #51 in 1998. He had a 20/20 season for two minor league levels in 1997 and hit 30 home runs in 1999 for Pawtucket.

Coleman made his ML debut for the Red Sox in 1997, but only played in eight games. He played two more in 1999. He spent several seasons in AAA and the Red Sox eventually tired of him not being able to take the next step forward. Coleman was traded to the Reds along with fellow failed prospect Donnie Sadler before the 2001 season for Chris Stynes. He was traded again during Spring Training along with the whining Drew Henson to the Yankees for Wily Mo Pena, which turned into a hell of a trade for the Reds.

Coleman played 12 games for the Yankees that year and was released. He went back to the Red Sox where he again failed to make the Majors and bounced around the minors for a few seasons after that.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One-Card Wonder Pt. 5: Alex Delgado

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).

ALEX DELGADO
This is another one that I cannot provide a scan for, but it's a 1997 Pacific Crown Collection card. It looks like he may have one or two other Red Sox cards that I have simply been unable to find, but this is the only one I own at this point.

Delgado only made the Majors in 1996. He appeared in 26 games, mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement, appearing at catcher, left field, third base, right field, first base, and second base. He had only 24 at-bats in 1996 and hit .250/.348/.250/.598 with no extra base hits. Delgado bounced from organization to organization after 1996, never again reaching the Majors.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 6: Cliff Floyd

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.
CLIFF FLOYD
Cliff Floyd had an interesting year in 2002. He started the season for the Florida Marlins and hit .287/.414/.537/.942 with 18 home runs in 84 games. He was then shipped to the Montreal Expos as part of a large trade for former Red Sox farmhand Carl Pavano and others. He played only 15 games for the Expos and hit .208/.263/.414/.678 with three home runs. Then, he was traded again, this time to the Red Sox for Seung Jun Song and Sun Woo Kim.

Floyd split his time between left field and designated hitter for the part of the season he spent in Boston. He hit .316/.374/.561/.935 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. He was certainly a good offensive player during his time with Boston, but the Red Sox did not re-sign him after the season, preferring to pick up cheaper DH options such as Jeremy Giambi and David Ortiz. Of course, we know how that turned out.

I liked Floyd while he was in Boston, but it was clear they did not have much intention in bringing him back the next year. Good thing neither Song nor Kim really did much for Montreal. Boston did get two draft picks out of losing Floyd to the Mets, which they used on Matt Murton and Abe Alvarez.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 6: Troy O'Leary

Troy O'Leary was originally an outfield prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Milwaukee gave him a couple shots in 1993 and 1994 and then tried to pass him through waivers to send him down to the minors in 1995. Boston swooped in at that time and grabbed him. It was not long before he became the team's regular right-fielder, especially as Mark Whiten was struggling badly.

O'Leary had a good year in 1995 during his first season with the Red Sox. He hit 10 home runs and had a slash line of .308/.355/.491/.846. Not bad for a player in his first real shot at the Major Leagues. He also played pretty good defense. In 1996, he played the full season and slipped a little bit. He did increase his home run total to 15, but his overall numbers dropped and he did not play well in the outfield that year.

In 1997, O'Leary's numbers were back up to his 1995 levels, while his home run numbers stayed constant. He was entering the prime of his career and looked like a solid outfield option for years to come. In 1998, his power numbers took a step forward as he hit 23 home runs with 83 RBIs. He also moved over to left field and improved his defensive play. In 1999, he lead the team in home runs with 28 and drove in 103.

In the 1999 ALDS against Cleveland, O'Leary had his career highlight. In the fifth and final game of the series, Cleveland twice intentionally walked Nomar Garciaparra to pitch to O'Leary. Each time, there was at least one other runner on base. Each time, O'Leary smashed a home run to drive in seven runs in the game. He was as big a part as Pedro Martinez in winning that game.

In 2000, O'Leary started to slide. He would only hit 13 home runs each of the next two years and his RBI numbers and batting average slipped. He left as a free agent to Montreal in 2002.

For his Red Sox career, O'Leary hit .276/.331/.459/.791 with 117 home runs.

Feature: Red Sox Scouting in Asia

Dan Duquette was obsessed with finding the diamond in the rough. He struck gold with Tim Wakefield in 1995 and he attempted to replicate that success for the rest of his tenure as the Boston Red Sox general manager. After Hideo Nomo exploded onto the scene in 1995 with the Dodgers and Korean right-hander Chan Ho Park came later, Duquette, and several other general managers, decided to try to mine the Japanese baseball leagues and other Asian leagues. Duquette may have been the most active, but his efforts were not met with a ton of success.

Below is a list of the players that made it to the Major Leagues with the Red Sox. As you can see, there is not much success here and Duquette did not find his diamond in the rough in Asia.

ROBINSON CHECO
Checo was the first of the Red Sox Asian efforts to make the Major Leagues in 1997. Though Checo was not of Asian ancestry, he was Dominican, he had been pitching in Japan when he was signed. He was expected to be a good starter or reliever with high strikeout potential. Checo spent parts of two seasons with the Red Sox, going 1-3 with a 5.57 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings. He only pitched in seven games for the Red Sox in all.





JIN HO CHO
Cho had the most hype of any of the Red Sox Asian signings and was expected to be a good number two or three starter. Cho pitched in 13 games for the Red Sox over two seasons from 1998 to 1999. He went 2-6 with a 6.52 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 58 innings.








SANG-HOON LEE
Lee was something of a free spirit, with long, bleached hair. He only pitched for the Red Sox in nine games as a reliever and had a 3.02 ERA and six strikeouts in 11.2 innings.









SUN-WOO KIM
Kim stuck around a little bit longer, although his status as a starter or a reliever was never made clear. He pitched in 35 games for Boston from 2001 to 2002, starting four. His record was 2-2 with a 6.50 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 70.2 innings. He did go on to a reasonably long career, pitching in the Majors through 2006.






TOMOKAZU OHKA
Ohka was the most successful player from this group, but that is not saying much. He pitched parts of the 1999, 2000, and 2001 seasons, mostly as a starter. He went 6-13 with a 4.61 ERA and struck out 85 in 134.2 innings. He was unusual in that he never pitched in the professional leagues in Japan and was brought over to the US as an amateur.






Also signed were Seung Jun Song, Takayasu Kato, and Byeong Hak An, though none of them made it to the Major Leagues.

About the best thing that can be said about the Red Sox efforts is that they made great trade bait. Ohka was traded along with another minor leaguer to the Expos for Ugueth Urbina, who was an All Star closer for the Red Sox in 2002. Kim and Song were traded to the Expos as well, but for slugger Cliff Floyd who helped the Red Sox during the 2002 stretch drive. An was traded along with another minor leaguer to the White Sox for reliever Bobby Howry.

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 4: Luis Tiant

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.
LUIS TIANT
I believe that Luis Tiant is a borderline case. He managed to stay on the ballot for the full 15 years, and his name has now been turned over to the Veterans' Committee. I do hope to see him make it in someday.

Tiant was a huge star for the Red Sox in the 1970's. He got his start for the Cleveland Indians in the mid 1960's and pitched pretty well for a few years. In 1968, he won 21 games and lead the league with a 1.60 ERA and nine shutouts. However, he lost 20 games the next year and was traded to the Twins where he pitched well but was injured.

In 1971, he emerged in Boston. 1971 was a transition year as Tiant was morphing from a power pitcher into a finesse pitcher. 1972 through 1976 was Tiant's peak as a pitcher. He won 20 games three times during this pitcher and lead the league in ERA once and WHIP once. Tiant continued to pitch well through 1979 and then held on for three more years.

In his career, Tiant went 229-172, for a .571 winning percentage and a 3.30 ERA. He had 2,416 strikeouts and a 1.199 WHIP. He was also worth 60.1 WAR for his career. His career numbers stack up well in comparison to Hall of Famers like Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning, and Don Drysdale.

In fact, here are the numbers of Hunter, Bunning, and Drysdale

HUNTER: 224-166, 3.26 ERA, 2,012 strikeouts, 1.134 WHIP, 32.5 WAR
BUNNING: 224-184, 3.27 ERA, 2,855 strikeouts, 1.179 WHIP, 60.1 WAR
DRYSDALE: 209-166, 2.95 ERA, 2,486 strikeouts, 1.148 WHIP, 65.7 WAR

So what's the problem? Well, it's this:
TIANT: 19 seasons
HUNTER: 15 seasons
BUNNING: 17 seasons
DRYSDALE: 14 seasons

Tiant's numbers are similar to those other three Hall of Famers, but he played longer than all of them, and significantly longer than Hunter and Drysdale.

THE VERDICT
I would really like to see Luis Tiant in the Hall of Fame and he does have comparable numbers to some pitchers already in the Hall, but he also pitched longer than those pitchers. Tiant is a borderline case. I lean towards him being in, but I can definitely see the argument for exclusion.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Questionable All Stars Pt. 4: Mark Loretta

The All Star selection process is such a subjective procedure that sometimes deserving players get left off. Then there are times when players who do not deserve to be All Stars are named to the team.

MARK LORETTA
In 2006, new Red Sox second-baseman Mark Loretta was elected to start the All Star game over Yankees Robinson Cano. Loretta was a fairly normal everyday middle infielder, who could hit for contact but not much else. His season line was .285/.345/.361/.706. He hit five home runs and drove in 59.

In the first half, Loretta was hitting .305/.353/.385/.738. He was certainly playing better in the first half. He also played good defense and had some clutch hits, which probably helped his case.

At the end of the year though, it's pretty weird to look at his stats and realize that he started the All Star game. It was mostly due to his team. Had to be.

Busts Pt. 4: Mark Whiten

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

MARK WHITEN
Hard-Hittin' Mark Whiten was supposed to be a rising star in the early 1990's. But for some reason, he bounced around a lot with various teams. Boston was his fourth team, in only his sixth season. He hit 25 home runs in 1993 with the Cardinals and looked like a star. But in 1994, he struggled. He was traded to the Red Sox along with Rheal Cormier for Scott Cooper. Oddly, Cormier was the only player of the three to perform reasonably well for his new team, and he was a throw-in.

Whiten hit .185/.239/.241/.480 with one home run and ten runs batted in in 32 games. He was supposed to be the Red Sox right-fielder and number five hitter, but his offensive output was terrible. He did play well defensively and had a great arm in right.

He was traded to the Phillies in July for Dave Hollins, who played five games with Boston before going down with an injury. Whiten of course, turned into a decent option as a backup outfielder with power, later playing with the Braves, Mariners, Yankees, and Indians.

Failed Prospects Pt. 4: Brian Rose

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.
BRIAN ROSE
Brian Rose was part of a trio of hot pitching prospects for the Red Sox in the mid to late 1990's. He is the only one who did not develop into a longtime starter, though none of the three really lived up to expectations. Jeff Suppan and Carl Pavano have both had long careers, but Rose was supposed to be the best of the three of them.

Rose was drafted in the third round of the 1994 draft, the same draft that produced Nomar Garciaparra. He made a quick impact and won 12 games during the 1996 season for AA Trenton. He then won 17 games and had a 3.02 ERA and 116 strikeouts for Pawtucket in 1997. He made his Major League debut in 1997 in one game of a doubleheader and gave up four runs in three innings, striking out three and walking none.

In 1998, he was 1-4 with a 6.93 ERA, proving he was not ready yet. But he was still 22. In 1999, he was 7-6 with a 4.87 ERA, but only 51 strikeouts in 98 innings. It was this low strikeout rate that probably lead to the devaluation of Rose as a prospect.

In 2000, he started out 3-5 with a 6.11 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 53 innings and quickly lost favor with the Red Sox. He was part of a package including Jeff Frye, John Wasdin, Jeff Taglienti and cash that was sent to the Colorado Rockies for Rolando Arrojo, Mike Lansing, and Rich Croushore. Neither side really got much out of this trade.

Rose pitched poorly for Colorado in 2000 and then bounced from the Mets to the Devil Rays in 2001. He never made the majors again and jumped from team to team.

Red Sox Claim Taylor Buchholz

Link.

I'm not too sold on this, but I suppose it's potential bullpen depth. Buchholz, no relation to Clay, has been bouncing between the big leagues and minor leagues since 2006. In 2008, he had a decent year out of the bullpen for the Rockies, but was out of the majors in 2009. In 2010, he played for Colorado and Toronto, and did not have a good season.

Search for BoSox Pt. 5: 2010 Topps Update

I recently bought a hobby box of 2010 Topps Update. Here's the Red Sox result:

Base Cards
Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre AS
Mike Cameron
Felix Doubront RC
Bill Hall
Ryan Kalish RC
John Lackey
Jon Lester AS
Victor Martinez w/ Cano AS
Darnell McDonald
Daniel Nava RC
David Ortiz AS
David Ortiz HR
Eric Patterson
Josh Reddick
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Marco Scutaro

Attax
Victor Martinez
Kevin Youkilis

Million Card Giveaway
Carl Yastrzemski

Peak Performance
John Lackey
Daniel Nava

The Cards Your Mom Threw Out
Wade Boggs
Nomar Garciaparra w/ Jeter and ARod
Carl Yastrzemski

Pretty good break from a Red Sox standpoint.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One-Card Wonder Pt. 4: Willie McGee

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).

WILLIE MCGEE
Well, I cannot include a scan of this, because I can not find one, but it's a 1996 Donruss card. I think McGee may have some parallel versions of this one and possibly one or two other cards out there of him, but I have no idea why there are so few Willie McGee Red Sox cards.

Willie McGee was a Red Sox only for the 1995 season, playing 67 games as a backup outfielder. He batted .285/.311/.400/.711 with two home runs and five stolen bases. The longtime Cardinals great was well past his prime when he appeared for Boston, but he played reasonably well still in 95. This was McGee's only full season in the American League though and he returned to St. Louis the next year. I am still working on finding more cards of the former great.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 5: Rickey Henderson

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.
RICKEY HENDERSON
Rickey Henderson is an all-time great and it was clear already by the time he joined the Red Sox that he was headed to the Hall of Fame. Henderson was brought in as a free agent prior to the 2002 season to serve as a backup outfielder. He had already surpassed the all-time marks for runs, walks, and stolen bases. He had already achieved his 3,000th hit. He was still playing though.

Henderson played in 72 games for the Red Sox in 2002. His slash line was .223/.369/.352/.721. He also hit five home runs and stole eight bases. He showed that he still had enough left to play reasonably well, but he was not a starter anymore. Still, having an all-time great on the Red Sox appealed to me. Henderson was a player I enjoyed watching when I was younger and he was one of the best players in the majors. It would have been great to see him play for Boston when he was younger.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Baseball Card Spotlight: 2001 Fleer Red Sox 100th Anniversary

Of course I was going to cover this set eventually on this blog. The set featured 100 cards and there were a series of inserts, game-used, and autograph cards as well.

BASE SET
The base set featured 100 cards with a couple of subsets. Players included such Hall of Famers as Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, stars like Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, and Mo Vaughn, and regional favorites like Pumpsie Green, Gene Conley, and Bill Lee.

Cards 78-92 were a subset entitled Beantown's Best and included All Stars and favorites.

YAWKEY'S HEROES
The first insert set was Yawkey's Heroes, which featured some of the favorite players in Boston since Yawkey took over the team. It features players like Ted Williams, Tony Armas, Dennis Eckersley, Tony Pena, Johnny Pesky, and more.

SPLENDID SPLINTERS
The other insert set was named after Ted Williams's nickname and featured some of the best hitters in Red Sox history. There was also a game-used parallel featuring game-used bat pieces of most of these cards, including Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. I have Wade Boggs and Jim Rice.

RED SOX THREADS
The jersey card insert set featuring players like Pedro Martinez, Carl Yastrzemski, Roger Clemens, and others. I have Dwight Evans and Don Zimmer.

BOSOX SIGS
The autograph set featuring a number of tough signers like Carl Yastrzemski, Roger Clemens, and Nomar Garciaparra. I have Bernie Carbo, Jim Lonborg, and Rico Petrocelli.

Obviously, this is my favorite set of all time, but I wish they would have had a larger base set and more players. Or at least updated it later on. I bought the set itself and a few retail boxes. I bought the set to get all of the base cards and the retail boxes to get some of the inserts and hopefully a relic or autograph. It was only after I started on ebay that I was able to compile the relics and autos I own, as well as finish off the insert sets. Great cards. Wish there were more.

Boxscore: August 8, 2006: Royals 6 vs. Red Sox 4

This is, to this date, the last Red Sox game I have attended. My friend from work and I went down to Kansas City to see the Red Sox take on the Royals. This was during a particularly cold streak for Boston and they could not win a single game against the Royals that series. Injuries had decimated the team and the pitching was particularly hurt.

Jon Lester started the game, but he was a rookie and was very wild. He pitched five innings, giving up four runs, three walks, and five strikeouts. Of course, the bullpen was pretty bad and Craig Hansen and Rudy Seanez each gave up a run. Julian Tavarez also pitched in the game.

The big bright spot for the game was Wily Mo Pena who hit a ball so hard that the outfielders did not even move. The ball landed on top of the concession stand and was one of the furthest hit home runs in Kaufman Stadium history. David Ortiz also hit a home run in the game, his 41st. Manny Ramirez, Alex Gonzalez, and recent pickup Javy Lopez each had two hits in the game. Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis also each had a hit. Ramirez, Lopez, Youkilis, and Gonzalez each had a double. Coco Crisp stole a base, and Mark Loretta and Alex Cora each had two hitless at-bats.

The Royals simply played better than the Red Sox that game.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 5: Tim Naehring

If not for injuries, Tim Naehring may have turned into a pretty good player. He was well on his way, but a bad knee injury prematurely ended his career.

Naehring came up to the Red Sox in 1990 and played pretty well down the stretch. He was handed the team's starting shortstop job in 1991, but injuries and ineffectiveness lead to him being removed. He came back in 1992 to play a little better, but was still not the player he would eventually become.

It was not until 1994 that Naehring started to match his potential. That year, he hit .276/.349/.414/.764 with seven home runs, while playing mostly at second base. In 1995, Scott Cooper was traded to St. Louis opening up third base. Naehring moved over to that position and turned in a good year, better than Cooper ever had. He hit .307/.415/.448/.863 with ten home runs and 57 RBIs. He also played good defense.

1996 was a bit of a down year for Naehring, but his defense was improved further and he hit 17 home runs. Naehring looked to be a rising star and he started the 1997 campaign off well. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury which ended his career.

Underrated Seasons: Nick Esasky 1989

Nick Esasky only played one year for the Red Sox, but it was a great year. It was the best year Esasky ever had, or would ever have, and that may have been why it went largely unnoticed.

Esasky was acquired by the Red Sox along with Rob Murphy for Todd Benzinger, Jeff Sellers, and Luis Vasquez, none of whom made any significant impact on the Reds. Murphy was a decent pickup for the 1989 season, but struggled in 1990. Esasky though, was a huge pickup for Boston in 1989.

Esasky played 154 games, the most in his career. He achieved career highs in nearly every category, including hitting 30 home runs and driving in 108 runs. His slash line was .277/.355/.500/.855, and he was a decent first baseman. He was worth 3.4 WAR. And for all of that, Esasky finished 18th in the MVP voting, garnering 19 total points.

Esasky left Boston as a free agent after the year and signed with the Braves, but he only played in nine games for the Braves on a three year contract and was forced to retire due to vertigo.

Feature: Best (And Worst) Red Sox Trades Since 1991

Most of my articles, you will notice, are limited to the time since 1991. That's not to say that I do not know as much about periods before then, I have researched thoroughly. But research only gets you so far. I have seen the players since 1991 and that helps me make more informed decisions.

With that little explanation, I want to look at five trades that I consider to be the best Red Sox trades since 1991. And then I will look at five that I consider to be the worst.

THE BEST

1995
Red Sox get: DH Jose Canseco

In two seasons with Boston, Canseco hit 52 home runs and had a slash line of .298/.389/.571/.960. Sure, he was on steroids, but so were a lot of other players. If it had not been for injuries, his home run total would have looked even better. WAR=5.1

Rangers get: CF Otis Nixon and 3B Luis Ortiz

Nixon played reasonably well for Texas, stealing 50 bases and hitting .295, but his only real weapon was speed. WAR=0.5

Ortiz played part-time for Texas in 1995 but even less in 1996 and was out of baseball after that. WAR=-1.1

TOTAL WAR=-0.6

1996
Red Sox get: RP Heathcliff Slocumb, P Larry Wimberly, OF Rick Holyfield

Slocumb is the only player to be in the Major Leagues out of these three. He put together a very good 1996 season for the Red Sox, going 5-5 with a 3.02 ERA, 88 strikeouts in 83.2 innings, and saved 31 games. He was pretty disastrous in 1997 but still managed 17 saves before he was traded, but that is part of why this trade was so great too. See below. WAR=3.2

Winberly and Holyfield never made it to the Majors.

TOTAL WAR=3.2

Phillies get: RP Ken Ryan, OF Lee Tinsley, OF Glenn Murray

Ken Ryan was supposed to be a closer-in-waiting. He did have a pretty good 1996 for the Phillies, going 3-5, 2.43 ERA and struck out 70 in 89 innings. But he never came close to those numbers again. WAR=0.8

Lee Tinsley played 31 ugly games for the Phillies and returned to Boston. WAR=-1.1

Glenn Murray played 38 ugly games for the Phillies and never returned to the Majors. WAR=-0.6

TOTAL WAR=-1.3

1997
Red Sox get: P Derek Lowe and C Jason Varitek

In eight seasons with Boston, Derek Lowe went 70-55, 3.72 ERA with 673 strikeouts. He once saved 40 games (2000) and won 20 games (2002). He was a two-time All Star (2000, 2002) and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting in 2002. He won the clinching games for all three postseason series in 2004. He also pitched a no-hitter against the Devil Rays in 2002. WAR=18.4

Jason Varitek has played in 14 seasons for the Red Sox with a slash line of .258/.343/.436/.778. He has hit 182 home runs and played the most games as a Red Sox catcher ever. He is the captain of the team. He is a three-time All Star (2003, 2005, 2008) and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 2005. He has caught four no-hitters (Hideo Nomo, Derek Lowe, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester). WAR=23.1

TOTAL WAR=41.5

Mariners get: RP Heathcliff Slocumb

See. Slocumb in two years with Seattle was awful. He went 2-9, 4.97 ERA and 13 saves. WAR=0.4

1998
Red Sox get: P Pedro Martinez

Do I really have to talk about what Pedro did? Okay, 117-37, 2.52 ERA, 1,683 strikeouts in 1,383.2 innings. Two-time Cy Young winner (1999, 2000), four-time All Star. Looks to be headed to the Hall of Fame, with a Red Sox cap on his plaque. WAR=47.6

Expos get: P Carl Pavano and P Tony Armas Jr.

Pavano went 24-35 in five seasons for the Expos. He had a 4.83 ERA and 304 strikeouts in 452.2 innings. WAR=2.0

Armas Jr. pitched for eight seasons with the Expos and Nationals, as he was with the team when they relocated. He went 48-60, 4.45 ERA, and 680 strikeouts in 925.2 innings. WAR=7.7

TOTAL WAR=9.7

2004
Red Sox get: P Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling went 53-29, with a 3.95 ERA and 574 strikeouts in 675 innings. He won 21 games in 2004 and lead the league in wins and winning percentage. He was an All Star that year and finished second in the Cy Young race. He basically ruined his career with his heroics in the 2004 postseason, but had a couple of solid seasons afterwards. WAR=14.5

Diamondbacks get: P Casey Fossum, P Jorge De La Rosa, P Brandon Lyon, and OF Michael Goss

Casey Fossum spent one year in Arizona going 4-15 with a 6.65 ERA. WAR=-1.3

Jorge De La Rosa was traded a few days later as part of a large package to Milwaukee for Richie Sexson. WAR=0.0

Brandon Lyon spent four years in Arizona and went 11-15, 4.03 ERA and 42 saves. WAR=1.7

Michael Goss never made the Major Leagues. WAR=0.0

TOTAL WAR=0.4


THE WORST

1996
Red Sox get: OF Darren Bragg

Bragg spent three years in Boston with a slash line of .264/.346/.395/.741 with 20 home runs and 21 stolen bases. WAR=5.4

Mariners get: P Jamie Moyer

Moyer spent 11 years with Seattle and went 145-87 with a 3.97 ERA. He won 20 games twice for the Mariners. WAR=32.4

1998
Red Sox get: C/DH Jim Leyritz and OF Damon Buford

Leyritz was a very good player for Boston but did not like being a part-timer and forced a trade to San Diego where Boston got three spare parts (Mandy Romero, Dario Veras, Carlos Reyes). Leyritz went .287/.385/.519/.904 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs. WAR=0.7

Buford spent two years as a backup outfielder going .259/.317/.453/.770 with 16 home runs, 80 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases and played great outfield defense. WAR=1.8

TOTAL WAR=2.5

Rangers get: P Aaron Sele, C Bill Haselman, RP Mark Brandenburg

Sele spent two years in Texas going 37-20. WAR=5.7

Haselman was a backup catcher with power. WAR=0.6

Brandenburg did not make the Major Leagues with Texas. WAR=0.0

TOTAL WAR=6.3

2000
Red Sox get: RP Hector Carrasco

Carrasco was terrible with Boston. He went 1-1 with a 9.45 ERA with seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings and was a free agent after the season when he returned to Minnesota. WAR=-0.4

Twins get: OF Lew Ford

Ford played five seasons for the Twins with a slash line of .272/.349/.402/.751 with 32 home runs and 47 stolen bases. WAR=3.2

2003
Red Sox get: P Jeff Suppan, RP Brandon Lyon, RP Anastacio Martinez

Suppan was supposed to help stabilize the rotation for the stretch run. He went 3-4 with a 5.57 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 63 innings. WAR=0.2

I will not consider the WAR values of Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez as they were reacquired from Pittsburgh due to some complaints about Lyon's shoulder. Both were with the Red Sox earlier in the season.

Pirates get: 2B Freddy Sanchez, RP Mike Gonzalez

Sanchez spent six years in Pittsburgh with a slash line of .301/.338/.424/.761. He won the batting title in 2006 and lead the NL in doubles. He was a three time All Star. WAR=11.6

Gonzalez was reacquired by Pittsburgh for the same reason as Lyon and Martinez above. This trade was just a mess.

2007
Red Sox get: RP Eric Gagne

Gagne was 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA but had 22 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. WAR=-0.4

Rangers get: OF David Murphy, P Kason Gabbard, OF Engel Beltre

Murphy has been with the Rangers for four seasons so far and put up a slash line of .283/.342/.459/.802 with 46 home runs, 210 RBIs, and 30 stolen bases. WAR=5.3

Gabbard was 4-4 with a 5.14 ERA. WAR=0.0

Beltre is a top prospect in the Rangers system. WAR=0.0 (so far)

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 3: Jackie Jensen

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.

JACKIE JENSEN
For six seasons, Jackie Jensen was one of the best players in the game. Possessing all-around abilities, Jensen was a force in the mid to late 1950's. But, is that enough for the Hall of Fame?

Coming to the Major Leagues in 1950 with the New York Yankees, Jensen was blocked in center field by Mickey Mantle, so he did not play often. He was eventually traded to the Washington Sentators, where he was finally able to play full-time. His numbers in two full seasons with the Senators were not particularly noteworthy and he was traded to the Red Sox for Tom Umphlett and Mickey McDermott.

Jensen immediately blossomed with the Red Sox and began his six year span where he was one of the best players in the game. His numbers those years were as follows:
1954 .276/.359/.472/.831, 25 home runs, 117 RBIs, 22 stolen bases
1955 .275/.369/.479/.848, 26 home runs, 116 RBIs, 16 stolen bases
1956 .315/.405/.497/.903, 20 home runs, 97 RBIS, 11 stolen bases
1957 .281/.367/.469/.836, 23 home runs, 103 RBIs, 8 stolen bases
1958 .286/.396/.535/.931, 35 home runs, 122 RBIS, 9 stolen bases
1959 .277/.372/.492/.863, 28 home runs, 112 RBIs, 20 stolen bases

Jensen also went to the All Star game twice during this period, was the AL MVP in 1958, and won the Gold Glove in 1959. He was one of the best-fielding rightfielders in Red Sox history.

Surely a peak like this would get a 1950's era player in the Hall of Fame right? Well, no. Unfortunately, these were the only six seasons that Jensen was really a good player. He spent two seasons where he was blocked and only played a third of the season. He spent two seasons as a regular for the Senators where he was above-average, but not good, and he retired for the 1960 season. He then came back in 1961, but it was clear that the year off did not do him any good.

If Jensen had continued playing after 1959, instead of retiring for the season, due to his fear of flying, he may have continued to put up strong numbers into the mid 1960's. Then his case may have been different.

THE VERDICT
Jensen's career only spanned 11 Major League seasons and he was a part-timer for two and not a good player for three. His six seasons where he played regularly for Boston were great and would have been able to propel him into the Hall of Fame, had he had some other decent years to back them up. He retired for a season in 1960, when he was still playing at a high level, but the time away hurt him and he was not as good when he returned in 1961. Unfortunately, these circumstances hurt his case irreparably and he is not a Hall of Famer.

Questonable All Stars Pt. 3: Gerry Moses

The All Star selection process is such a subjective procedure that sometimes deserving players get left off. Then there are times when players who do not deserve to be All Stars are named to the team.

GERRY MOSES
I promised yesterday that I would do something on this player. When I first discovered that he was an All Star in 1970, I was pretty surprised. I have done quite a bit of research, and I still cannot explain it.

Gerry Moses played in 92 games for the Red Sox in 1970. His final slash line was .263/.313/.384/.697. He hit 18 doubles, 1 triple, and 6 home runs. He drove in 35 runs and walked 21 times compared to 45 strikeouts. So, the final statistics are not all that impressive.

So, what about his first half stats? His slash line was .278/.316/.394/.710. He had three home runs, 23 RBIs 14 doubles, and his only triple. So, it is true that the greater amount of his production was in the first half.

This was Moses's only All Star appearance, and the only time he played a majority of the season. Moses did not play in the game, even after Pete Rose ran over catcher Ray Fosse.

But, let's look at the other American League catchers that year,except the Tigers' Bill Freehan and the Indians' Ray Fosse as they were All Stars, and their slash lines:
BAL Elrod Hendricks .242/.317/.382/.699
CAL Joe Azcue .242/.292/.302/.594
CHW Ed Herrman .283/.356/.505/.861
KCR Ed Kirkpatrick .229/.319/.406/.725
MIL Phil Roof .227/.306/.377/.683
MIN George Mitterwald .222/.291/.388/679
NYY Thurman Munson .302/.386/.415/.801
OAK Frank Fernandez .214/.327/.413/.740
WAS Paul Casanova .229/.251/.354/.605

Pretty weak year for catchers, but Munson, Herrman, Kirkpatrick, and Fernandez were each much more deserving candidates for the All Star game that year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Red Sox Trade for Andrew Miller

Link.

This might have been big news a couple of years ago when Andrew Miller was still supposed to make something of himself. Miller, 25, was 1-4 with an 8.54 ERA for the Marlins last year, and was pretty bad in the minors too. He had 28 strikeouts in 32.2 innings. He's still young, so it may be too early to call the former first round draft pick (6th overall) a bust, but he has pitched for parts of five seasons without anything close to success.

It cost them Dustin Richardson, who, despite bouts of wildness looked like a pretty decent option to be a left-handed reliever out of the pen next year. He did take a major step backwards last year though after showing considerable promise in 2009.

I do not do not know how to feel about this trade right now, but I guess we will see. The Red Sox did not really give up much and it is possible that at the least, Miller will be the left-handed relief option that Richardson would have been. Miller does have some high upside as a former top draft pick, so he could be salvageable.

Busts Pt. 3: Dave Valle

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

DAVE VALLE
The Red Sox suffered through some terrible production out of their catchers in 1993. Tony Pena was the starter, going .181/.246/.257/.502 in 347 at-bats. Bob Melvin went .222/.251/.313/.564 in 190 at bats and John Flaherty went .120/.214/.200/.414 in 29 at-bats. So the team decided to bring in a couple of better hitters in 1994, letting Pena and Melvin go and trading Flaherty. Dave Valle was a decent-fielding, good-hitting catcher who went .258/.354/.395/.748, with 13 home runs for Seattle in 1993.

He would not replicate that success for Boston. Valle ended up only playing 30 games for the Red Sox in 1994 and was terrible. His line for Boston was .158/.256/.250/.506 with only one home run and five RBIs. He lost his starting job to fellow new pickup Damon Berryhill due to his inability to hit and later lost the backup job to rookie Rich Rowland who was acquired for John Flaherty. Valle had a bad year behind the plate too, giving a total WAR of -0.4.

Valle was traded in June to the Brewers for Tom Brunansky and hit well for 16 games. At least Brunansky performed reasonably well in his return to the Red Sox. That is about the best thing to say about Dave Valle's Red Sox tenure.

Failed Prospects Pt. 3: Greg Blosser

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.

GREG BLOSSER
Greg Blosser was the Red Sox first draft pick in the 1989 draft (16th overall), even picked before Mo Vaughn. That draft produced a lot of busts and Blosser is certainly worthy of being included with the likes of Tyler Houston, Roger Salkeld, Jeff Jackson, Donald Harris, Paul Coleman, Earl Cunningham, and others. Blosser's big weapon was power. He was expected to be the Red Sox left-fielder of the future, eventually taking over for Mike Greenwell.

In 1990, Blosser hit 18 home runs for Single A Lynchburg. He had a down season in 1991, but hit 22 for New Britain in 1992 and 23 for Pawtucket in 1993. He was brought up to the Majors for the first time in 1993. He had 30 at-bats for Boston in 1993 and only had one extra-base hit, a double and one RBI.

In 1994, he hit 17 home runs again for Pawtucket and made it back to Boston for 15 more at-bats. This time, he could not manage a single extra base hit. Blosser would never make it back to the Majors. His MLB line: .077/.200/.103/.303. Pretty bad. Blosser bounced around for several teams in the minors, continuing to hit lots of home runs, but never making it back.

That is a bust.

One-Card Wonder Pt. 3: Chris Nabholz

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).

CHRIS NABHOLZ
I am pretty sure this is the only Red Sox card of Chris Nabholz in existence. Nabholz was supposed to be a rising star with the Expos in the early 1990's. He never really developed into the kind of pitcher he was supposed to be though. The Expos traded him to the Indians before the 1994 season for two minor leaguers who never panned out.

During 1994, the Indians sent Nabholz and Steve Farr to the Red Sox for Jeff Russell. Nabholz only pitched in eight games with Boston, going 3-4 with a 6.64 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 42 innings and 29 walks. The Red Sox non-tendered him at the end of the season and he caught on with the Cubs for 34 unimpressive games in relief.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 4: Hideo Nomo

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.

HIDEO NOMO
Hideo Nomo was a sensation in 1995 with the Dodgers. He was the first Japanese pitcher to make a major impact at the Major League level. His pitching windup was kind of funky and lead to a lot of strikeouts. He even pitched a no-hitter, in Colorado of all places. Unfortunately, by the time he came to the Red Sox, he was at a bit of a career crossroads. He had bounced from the Dodgers to the Mets to the Brewers to the Tigers in the previous three years and was not putting up the numbers he put up his first three seasons in LA.

The Red Sox signed Nomo as a free agent to help stabilize the rotation after Pedro Martinez. Nomo would go on to be the team's top starter that year, due mostly to Pedro's injury, but he did have a good year.

Nomo went 13-10 with a 4.50 ERA. He lead the American League in strikeouts with 220 and strikeouts per nine innings with 10.0. He also lead the league in walks with 96. His WAR was 2.9. Nomo also pitched the first Red Sox no-hitter since 1965 (Dave Morehead) against the Baltimore Orioles in his first start of the season. It was certainly a decent year.

I was very disappointed when Boston did not bring Nomo back in 2002. They could have used him, as John Burkett, who was signed to basically replace Nomo, did not have as good of a year as Nomo did for the Dodgers in 2002.

Baseball Card Spotlight: Topps Fan Favorites

One of my favorite sets of all time was the Topps Fan Favorites sets. Topps had been doing Archives for a couple of years and then decided to take things in a slightly different direction. The decision was to continue with the idea of Archives, but to feature cards of players who were fan favorites and put new pictures on old card designs. The idea was fresh and original. The company also decided to include autograph versions of most of the cards. The players were a collection of stars, minor stars, and players who were beloved by the fans.

2003
As I mentioned, I really liked this set. I bought three retail boxes of the 2003 set and eventually compiled all of the Red Sox from the set in those boxes, not often that I can do that. The Red Sox that year included:

21 Carlton Fisk
48 Dwight Evans
54 Luis Tiant
73 Jim Piersall
77 Fred Lynn
78 Jim Rice
121 Carl Yastrzemski
147 Wade Boggs

All of those players also have autographs in the set. But then there was a card that did not have a non-autographed base version, Bill Lee.There were also game-used cards of Jim Rice and Fred Lynn in the set.

The only disappointment I had was that the original autograph checklist included Oil Can Boyd and Mike Greenwell, who were never actually released.

2004
The next year, the company released another set. That year, the team set for the Red Sox was not nearly as large, only four cards this time.

17 George Scott
75 Carl Yastrzemski
103 Dennis Eckersley
112 Jim Rice

I bought a hobby box of this product and it was pretty easy to get all of the Red Sox this time. I also managed to get the George Scott autograph card in the box.

2005
2005 was the last year Topps produced Fan Favorites. It was the only year I did not pick up any packs of the set, so I bought all the cards myself. The set was more varied for the Red Sox this year, and there were more than in 2004, but not as many as 2003.

The Red Sox team set was:
69 Jim Lonborg
78 Carl Yastrzemski
97 Johnny Pesky
101 Marty Barrett
125 Wade Boggs
141 Theo Epstein

The inclusion of Epstein was definitely interesting. I bought the autograph card of Marty Barrett.

Unfortunately, Topps stopped doing Fan Favorites the next year. I would have liked to see them continue as it was a great set.

Some players I wanted to see:
Mike Greenwell
Oil Can Boyd
Bruce Hurst
Ellis Burks
Reggie Smith
Jackie Jensen
Ted Williams
Frank Malzone
Dick Radatz
Dom DiMaggio
Ken Harrelson
Tony Conigliaro
Rico Petrocelli

Boxscore: May 26, 2006 Red Sox 8 vs. Devil Rays 4

This is the only game so far that I have attended at Fenway Park.

My parents took me to Boston as a gift for graduating from law school. We spent a long weekend there doing a bunch of tourist stuff. The main reason for going though was to see this game. We were lucky to see a game at all as it was raining pretty hard immediately before the game.

David Wells started the game and pitched pretty well for 4.1 innings until being taken out after a line drive caught him in the knee. He gave up five hits and one earned run on a home run to Carl Crawford. Julian Tavarez came in to pitch 2.1 innings to pick up the win. He gave up two more runs. Keith Foulke pitched .1 innings and gave up another run. Rudy Seanez then came in to pitch 1.2 innings and handed it off to Jonathan Papelbon, the rookie closer who saved the game, getting the last out. The Red Sox bullpen got the job done, but it was pretty ugly. That was not a good year for the bullpen other than Papelbon.

The offensive star was Mike Lowell who had three hits, including a home run and a double. He drove in two runs. David Ortiz also added a double and single, driving in four. The other two runs were driven in by Mark Loretta and Trot Nixon. Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek, and Wily Mo Pena each had a single and a run. Alex Gonzalez had three hits and a run. Manny Ramirez also had a single and Willie Harris appeared as a defensive replacement for Pena.

All in all, this was a great game and is still the only time I have been to Fenway Park.