Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Hall of Fame Ballot

Luis Tiant was passed over again in the Veterans' Committee ballot and based on the names, I think it is pretty safe to say that no former Red Sox player will be entering Cooperstown again this year.

This is the ballot, results will be announced in a few days:

JEFF BAGWELL
JEROMY BURNITZ
VINNY CASTILLA
JUAN GONZALEZ
BRIAN JORDAN
BARRY LARKIN
JAVY LOPEZ
EDGAR MARTINEZ
DON MATTINGLY
FRED MCGRIFF
MARK MCGWIRE
JACK MORRIS
BILL MUELLER
TERRY MULHOLLAND
DALE MURPHY
PHIL NEVIN
RAFAEL PALMEIRO
BRAD RADKE
TIM RAINES
TIM SALMON
RUBEN SIERRA
LEE SMITH
ALAN TRAMMELL
LARRY WALKER
BERNIE WILLIAMS
TONY WOMACK
ERIC YOUNG

Overall, I am not terribly impressed with a lot of those names. There are a couple of candidates on there that I think deserve serious consideration, but I will discuss them later.

On to the former Red Sox:

JEFF BAGWELL
Bagwell came up through the Red Sox minor league system and never actually played a game with Boston, but I thought he merited at least a little bit of discussion because he was a part of one of the more lopsided trades in recent memory. Boston traded Bagwell, a future ROY and MVP to the Astros in 1990 for reliever Larry Andersen, who admittedly pitched well, but in only 16 games before bolting as a free agent. This is Bagwell's second year on the ballot and he was unfairly looked over due to some kind of steroid conspiracy despite never being caught or otherwise implicated. Bagwell is one of the players who I think will make it in this year.

JAVY LOPEZ
Lopez is on his first year on the ballot. I can see him getting 5% to stay on the ballot, but not ever getting elected. Lopez was a power-hitting catcher for the Braves for several years, regularly hitting more than 20 home runs. One year, he mashed 43. His Red Sox career consisted of 18 forgettable games and his career was over at only 35, so he will definitely not get much consideration, but for a few years, he was one of the top power-hitting catchers in the game.

BILL MUELLER
Mueller is also on his first year on the ballot. He was a decent hitter, and a good defender at third base, but he really has no shot at sticking on the ballot past this year. Mueller came to the Red Sox in 2003 and won the batting title that year and hit two grand slams from either side of the plate in one game. He was a gritty player that was fun to watch. Unfortunately, he just did not rise to the level of a star player. Good, but only really great in 2003 when he hit .326 with 19 home runs and 85 RBIs while winning the Silver Slugger for Boston.

LEE SMITH
Smith has the most realistic chance of the three players that actually played real games for the Red Sox (Bagwell will likely get in, but as explained, does not really count). Smith is on his 10th year on the ballot and was the one-time saves record holder. Unfortunately, with Mariano Rivera way ahead of Smith now on the all-time list, it looks less and less likely that Smith will ever get in. His vote percentage dropped a little last year and he has never gotten more than 48% of the vote in any of his ten years. In fact it has stayed relatively close in the mid 40% area. I just do not see him getting in at this point, which is sad.

Two players appeared in Spring Training with the Red Sox from this list as well. Juan Gonzalez attempted to resurrect his career with the Red Sox in 2006, but never caught on. He hit 434 home runs in his career, but was basically washed up at 32 and had a poor work ethic. Tony Womack actually had a card as a Red Sox in 2004, but other than three years where he lead the league in stolen bases early in his career, he never did anything remotely interesting. My only real memory of him was the Yankees using him as an outfielder sometimes in 2005 with hilarious results.

PREDICTIONS:
Jeff Bagwell and Barry Larkin will be inducted this year. Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez, and Larry Walker will all make strides and possibly be eventually inducted.

Bernie Williams will be the only new name that will make it past the 5% mark.

Tony Womack, Phil Nevin, Eric Young, Terry Mulholland, and Brad Radke will not receive a single vote for the Hall of Fame.

Andrew Bailey Trade, News and Notes

Well, let's start with the big one. Boston acquired closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney from the A's the other day for Josh Reddick, Miles Head, and Raul Alcantara.

Bailey is the centerpiece and immediately becomes the best option for the closer position, joining the recently acquired Mark Melancon and holdovers Bobby Jenks, Franklin Morales, and Matt Albers in a much stronger-looking bullpen. Bailey has been a two time All Star and Rookie of the Year. Last year he was 0-4 with a 3.26 ERA and 24 saves. Sweeney is a possibility for a platoon in right field. He is very good defensively, but not a very potent bat, particularly against left-handers.

Boston gave up Reddick, who could be a solid major leaguer in time, but has no real eye at the plate, Head who has power but little else, and Alcantara who is a ways away.

NEWS AND NOTES
-Boston has signed minor league relievers Doug Mathis and Jesse Carlson and re-signed Rich Hill. Mathis last appeared in the Majors in 2010 with Texas. He had decent numbers in 2009 but has not been overly impressive. Carlson also last appeared in 2010 with Toronto and was a big part of the Blue Jays pen in 2009. Hill appeared to be a decent lefty specialist before going down with an injury for Boston last year.

-Erik Bedard signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. No real loss there.

-Brett Carroll signed as a minor league free agent with the Nationals. I had no idea he was even in the Red Sox system.

-Hideki Okajima joined the Yankees on a minor league contract. Okajima has been nowhere near the pitcher he was in the last few years, so this is basically meaningless.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Red Sox Acquire Mark Melancon, Sign Nick Punto, News and Notes

Link.

The Red Sox added a piece to their bullpen by acquiring Mark Melancon from the Houston Astros for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland. Melancon was the closer for the latter part of the season for the Astros and will likely be given the same opportunity in 2012. Melancon came up through the Yankees system and was traded to Houston in the Lance Berkman trade. Last year, he was 8-4 with a 2.78 ERA and 20 saves. To get him, they gave up Lowrie who always showed potential but could never stay healthy and Weiland, who could become the pitcher Melancon is now.

The Red Sox also signed utility infielder Nick Punto as a free agent. Punto is a good glove man with a good eye at the plate. He will take over Lowrie's role.

RULE 5 RESULTS
Boston lost Cesar Cabral to the Royals, who turned around and traded him to the Yankees. They selected Marwin Gonzalez and promptly traded him for former Mexican Leaguer Marco Duarte. Basically a non-story. Boston also picked up minor league catcher Gerardo Olivares from the Rays.

Red Sox Sign Kelly Shoppach

Link.

This likely means the end of Jason Varitek's career with the Red Sox, which is a shame but not surprising. Shoppach was actually Boston's top draft pick in the 2001 draft, being taken in the second round. He made his Major League debut with Boston in 2005 but was traded to Cleveland after the season as part of the Coco Crisp deal.

Since then, Shoppach has played with the Indians and Rays and was initially a decent hitter with questionable defensive skills. Last year, that reputation was reversed as he lead the league in caught-stealing percentage, but was pretty atrocious with the bat.

Shoppach will be the backup catcher next season to the improving Jarrod Saltalamacchia. With Ryan Lavarnway just about ready to step up to the Major Leagues full time next season, there is seemingly no room for Varitek to return.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

News and Notes

I have been away for a little while, so let's get caught up on Red Sox news.

BOBBY VALENTINE NAMED MANAGER
This is the biggest news so far. I am kind of indifferent to managers most of the time, so I am not sure what to think.

DAVID ORTIZ ACCEPTS ARBITRATION
Ortiz will be back next year and the Red Sox will continue to negotiate on a two-year deal.

JACOBY ELLSBURY FINISHES SECOND IN A.L. M.V.P.
This was disappointing, but I saw it coming. I did not really think he had that great of a chance at the award with the way the season finished. A lot of people are upset that Justin Verlander won it due to his being a pitcher. I do not have a problem with pitchers winning the M.V.P., hell I think Pedro Martinez deserved it in 1999. So, it was a disappointment, but not surprising. Hopefully Boston will lock him up long-term now.

HALL OF FAME VETERAN'S COMMITTEE VOTE RESULTS
Ron Santo finally gets in after his unfortunate death. Luis Tiant only got three votes. I think he is a borderline case and would love to see him in, but it may never happen. He has a lot of ground to make up and several players in front of him, not to mention that his era only gets voted on once every few years.

MINOR SIGNINGS
The Red Sox have signed a number of players to minor league or split free agent contracts and have lost a few as well. The Red Sox have signed left-handed relievers Jesse Carlson and Justin Thomas, and right-handed relievers Will Inman and Khorye Spoone. They re-signed Tony Pena and Andrew Miller and Tommy Hottovy and Drew Sutton have signed elsewhere.

That's it. The offseason has been fairly stagnant for the Red Sox so far. The Marlins and Angels have both made big splashes, but Boston and the Yankees have been oddly silent.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Veteran's Committee Ballot Announced

This actually happened a few days ago, so I am a little late to posting about it. There are ten names on this year's ballot, as laid out below:

Buzzie Bavasi
Ken Boyer
Charlie Finley
Gil Hodges
Jim Kaat
Minnie Minoso
Tony Oliva
Allie Reynolds
Ron Santo
Luis Tiant

Finley was an owner for the Athletics and Bavasi was a GM. Obviously the player I am most interested in is Tiant. I looked at his Hall of Fame potential some time ago and came out somewhat borderline. I hope he gets in, but I would not be shocked if he does not. Santo seems to me to be the most likely to get in, partially due to the dearth of third basemen in the Hall.

Friday, November 11, 2011

See Ya Jonathan Papelbon

Link.

This actually does make me a little sad. Apparently Paps is on his way to Philadelphia for four years and $50 million. Daniel Bard is first in line to become Boston's closer, although the Red Sox will look at Ryan Madson and Heath Bell. I think it came down to Boston was simply not willing to give Papelbon that much money. I can't really blame them. Boston now has an easy decision to make by offering arbitration to Papelbon so they can likely get Philadelphia's first round draft pick next year as well as a supplemental pick. Not bad.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2011 Silver Sluggers

American League
C - Alex Avila, Tigers
1B - Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
2B - Robinson Cano, Yankees
SS - Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
3B - Adrian Beltre, Rangers
OF - Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
OF - Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
OF - Curtis Granderson, Yankees
DH - David Ortiz, Red Sox

National League
C - Brian McCann, Braves
1B - Prince Fielder, Brewers
2B - Brandon Phillips, Reds
SS - Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B - Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
OF - Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
OF - Matt Kemp, Dodgers
OF - Ryan Braun, Brewers
P - Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks

This one was a surprise. I predicted one Red Sox Silver Slugger, that being Ortiz. I thought Miguel Cabrera would beat out Adrian Gonzalez and that they would try to separate the outfield positions like they did with the Gold Gloves and therefore Granderson winning in center field. Not because he was clearly a better hitter, all around Ellsbury was better, but that the voters would not be able to ignore Granderson's home runs and RBIs.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 Rawling's Gold Glove Awards

American League:
C - Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B - Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
2B - Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
SS - Erick Aybar, Angels
3B - Adrian Beltre, Rangers
RF - Nick Markakis, Orioles
CF - Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
LF - Alex Gordon, Royals
P - Mark Buerhle, White Sox

National League
C - Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B - Joey Votto, Reds
2B - Brandon Phillips, Reds
SS - Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B - Placido Polanco, Phillies
RF - Andre Ethier, Dodgers
CF - Matt Kemp, Dodgers
LF - Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks
P - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

So, as I predicted, three Red Sox won a Gold Glove, and all three arguably deserved it. Pedroia also won the Fielding Bible award for his position this year. So, it was a good year for this award for the Red Sox. It is the first time three Red Sox won the award in the same year since 1979 when Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn, and Rick Burleson all won it.

Some Quick Notes

I have been pretty bad about posting lately, and I meant to keep up with the news in the offseason. Anyway...

-Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals on their World Series win and to David Freese for being named MVP.

-Ben Cherington was officially named the Red Sox general manager. Now it is time to retool.

-Marco Scutaro's option was picked up so he will be back next year.

-The team declined the options on Dan Wheeler and Scott Atchison.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bill Buckner

A few days ago was the 25th Anniversary of the infamous Game 6 of the 1986 World Series between the Red Sox and Mets. Of course that was the game in which Bill Buckner let Mookie Wilson's groundball roll through his legs, scoring the winning run from second base. Ultimately the Red Sox lost the World Series despite being just one strike away in Game 6, a pain the Texas Rangers just learned this week.

Anyway, this is obviously a very famous play in World Series history and has become the major event Buckner is known for, which is a shame. Buckner actually was a decent player, even in his time with the Red Sox. He had his best years with the Dodgers and Cubs, but he was a decent player with the Red Sox.

Buckner played two stints for the Red Sox, first from 1984 through the first half of 1987, and then returning for 22 games in early 1990. Buckner was acquired from the Cubs in a deal for Dennis Eckersley and Mike Brumley. Eckersley actually did not develop his Hall of Fame career until later and Brumley never did much in the Major Leagues at all.

Buckner's first year in Boston was not terribly good as he hit only .278/.321/.410 with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs. But his 1985 was his best season with the Red Sox as he batted .299/.324/.447 with 16 home runs and 110 RBIs. He lead the team in stolen bases with 18, a far cry from his much more plodding play in 1986 due to his surgically repaired ankles. 1986 was another good year as he hit .267/.311/.421 but contributed 18 home runs and 102 RBIs. In 1987, his numbers dropped a great amount, possibly due to the pressure from the fans, but he was also 36 years old.

Buckner returned in 1990 and hit an inside the park home run, but that was about it for highlights. His career was over later in the year.

But the one thing most people remember about Bill Buckner with the Red Sox is that one error. It is a shame.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Underrated Player of the Year: 1999

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.1999 - BRIAN DAUBACH
Brian Daubach came out of nowhere. He played in just ten games at the Major League level prior to 1999 when he played for the Marlins the prior year and did very little in 17 plate appearances. So it was a move with no fanfare when Boston signed him as a free agent in December of 1998. Who knew that the 27 year old rookie would be the team's principal first baseman and a contender for the A.L. Rookie of the Year by the end of 1999?

Daubach went on a tear late in the season and ended up leading A.L. rookies in on base percentage and slugging percentage while hitting 21 home runs and driving in 73. Daubach was not too bad in the field either and would actually improve over the course of his career.

Daubach never really got the attention he deserved due to his status as a former scab player, but 1999 was the beginning of a four-year stretch where he hit 20 plus home runs and drove in more than 70 runs each year as Boston's first baseman.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ben Cherington Named General Manager

Well so long to Theo Epstein, who will be missed. Ben Cherington takes over the reins as G.M. for the Red Sox. Hopefully his years of apprenticeship under Epstein will pay off and the organization will not miss a beat. Hopefully.

In other news, John Lackey will have Tommy John surgery meaning he will be out for the season. Which makes two Boston starting pitchers in the last year with Matsuzaka being the other one. Hopefully the Red Sox will be able to fill in the rotation behind Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz. Perhaps Wakefield will be back next year.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Underrated Player of the Year: 1998

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.

1998 - JIM CORSI
Jim Corsi came to the Red Sox before the 1997 season, in what was actually his second tour of duty with the organization. He was in their minor league system in 1985 through 1986 before being released and catching on with Oakland. Corsi was a decent bullpen option in 1997 but was even better in 1998 and was the unheralded hero of the relief corps, which already featured Tom Gordon and Dennis Eckersley.

Corsi was a 1.3 WAR relief pitcher in 1998, going 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA and 49 strikeouts versus 23 walks in 66 innings over 59 games. Corsi finished nine games for Boston and notched two saves. His WHIP was a decent 1.227.

Corsi did return in 1999, but at 37, he was ineffective and ultimately released. He found his way into the Baltimore bullpen and for 13 games was relatively decent, but that was it for his Major League career.

David Ortiz Wins Roberto Clemente Award

Another award went to a Red Sox player recently as David Ortiz won the Roberto Clemente Award, an award given to a player who excels off the field. Ortiz is very active in the community and has his own charitable fund which helps children receive medical care in the Dominican Republic and United States. It is the second year in a row a Red Sox player received this award. Tim Wakefield won it last year.

Now, the question becomes, do the Red Sox bring him back next year?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jacoby Ellsbury Named AL Comeback Player of the Year

Well deserved if you ask me. After playing only 18 games last year, he rose to superstar status while becoming the Red Sox first ever 30-30 man. He may win a few more awards by the time all is said and done this year.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Underrated Player of the Year: 1997

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.1997 - JEFF FRYE
Jeff Frye played the most games of his career in 1997. For the first time in his career, he was looked at as a regular player from the very beginning. Frye was the Red Sox second-baseman entering the season and he held on to the position for a large chunk of the season while also filling in at other positions on occasion.

Frye was also pretty good with the bat that season as he hit .312/.352/.433 and even stole 19 bases. Frye was an extremely integral part of the Red Sox lineup that season as he provided a very good bat with the occasional pop, speed on the basepaths, and versatility in the field.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Underrated Player of the Year: 1996

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.1996 - REGGIE JEFFERSON
In 1996, Reggie Jefferson finally broke through when he was given the opportunity. Jefferson received a lot of at bats at designated hitter and in left field, covering for injuries to Jose Canseco and Mike Greenwell, respectively. Jefferson proved to be one of the most consistent hitters in the Red Sox lineup that season. His season lessened the impact of the trade of Canseco and the retirement of Greenwell after the season.

Jefferson contributed a slash line of .347/.388/.593 with 19 home runs and 74 runs batted in. It was Jefferson's best season of his career. He became the full time designated hitter the next year as his defensive abilities were highly suspect.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Underrated Player of the Year: 1995

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.1995 - STAN BELINDA
The 1995 season saw a lot of changes for the Red Sox. They brought in new players at second base, catcher, right field, and designated hitter, as well as overhauling their rotation and bullpen, and letting young players take over at third base and center field. Stan Belinda was a part of the new look bullpen when he was signed as a free agent in April of 1995.

Prior to joining the Red Sox, Belinda was reasonably successful with the Pirates and the Royals as a reliever, but he arguably had his best year with the Red Sox. Belinda lead Red Sox pitchers with 63 games pitched in the shortened 1995 season. He struck out 57 in 69.2 innings versus 28 walks. Belinda finished the year at 8-1 with 10 saves and a 3.10 ERA solidifying the bullpen for the AL East champs. Together with Mike Maddux and Rheal Cormier, the Red Sox setup men in 1995 were the best group the team had in years.

2011 Season Wrap-Up Pt. 4

For the last post, I will look at the other pitchers.

SCOTT ATCHISON
I expected Atchison to be around a lot more than he was, but he was blessed (cursed?) with remaining options so he could be shuttled between Pawtucket and Boston as often as management wanted. He did make it into 17 games in about six different stints with the Red Sox, with an ERA of 3.26 and 17 strikeouts versus only six walks in 30.1 innings. Not bad. I have no idea if he will be back next year or not.

MICHAEL BOWDEN
Bowden is another player who appears to be running out of time to make a difference on the big league club. He has now played parts of four seasons in Boston, never making it into more than 15 games in a season. He is still relatively young, but I think it is time to have him stick in Boston or trade him. Enough jerking him around back and forth.

FELIX DOUBRONT
Doubront apparently did not show up to Spring Training in shape this year and he struggled some in the minors. By the end of the season though, he was in Boston. Perhaps next year is the year that Doubront makes it to Boston full time. He is a left-hander and I previously mentioned Morales might be able to make it as a starter. Doubront has that ability as well.

RICH HILL
Rich Hill completely overhauled his pitching motion and was getting terrific results. The left-hander pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and three walks, while striking out twelve. Then he got hurt and his season was over. He was making progress, hopefully Boston sticks with him a little longer.

TOMMY HOTTOVY
I had no idea Hottovy was even still in the Red Sox system until I saw that he was called up to Boston this summer. Hottovy has languished since 2003 in the minor leagues. His persistence finally paid off and he was brought up when Hill went down with an injury. However, he was not terribly impressive, with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP, so he likely will not be back.

ANDREW MILLER
The 2006 first round pick of the Tigers has yet to harness his awesome ability, but he did show some flashes this year. Miller had a few good starts for the Red Sox, but far too many where he simply walked too many batters. It is still too early to give up on him completely though, he is still just 26. If he can harness his command, he could make the starting rotation next year. But that is a pretty big "if".

TREVER MILLER
Miller was acquired towards the end of the season as veteran left-handed relief. He pitched just two innings, without giving up a run, hit, or a walk. Not bad, but it's hard to imagine him coming back next year.

HIDEKI OKAJIMA
Okajima lost favor pretty quickly in Boston and it looks like his Red Sox career, if not his Major League career, is over. Okajima notoriously was upset that Boston sent him down to the minors and refused to come back to Boston when they attempted to recall him. He demanded a trade a couple of times. Too bad it had to end this way, as I really liked him coming into the season.

DENNYS REYES
Reyes broke camp with the Red Sox then had four miserable games to start the season. He was sent to the minors and never returned.

JUNICHI TAZAWA
Tazawa made it all the way back from Tommy John surgery and made it to the Red Sox bullpen by the end of the year. He has pretty good stuff and could be ready to make an impact in the rotation or the bullpen next year.

KYLE WEILAND
I am sure I am not alone in suggesting that Weiland was rushed to the Major Leagues this year. He was simply not ready to face big league hitters. That said, he could be ready to be a setup man next year in Boston as he did perform well in that role late in the season, or he could be trade bait.

RANDY WILLIAMS
Another left-hander that pitched in fewer than ten games as Boston was looking for a good southpaw option in the bullpen. Williams did not fare much better than Reyes, Okajima, or Hottovy. He likely will not be back next year.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Underrated Player of the Year: 1994

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.1994 - KEN RYAN
Ken Ryan was not really a complete surprise. He was touted to be a potential closer-in-waiting, but in 1994 he took the next step. Boston entered the season with Jeff Russell as the incumbent closer, but ineffectiveness and the rise of Ryan eventually lead to him being traded to the Indians for Chris Nabholz and Steve Farr.

Ryan had his best season as a closer that year, saving 13 games and finishing the year with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.313 WHIP.

Ryan was given the closer position in 1995 from the start of the season, but he struggled and was eventually replaced when Boston acquired Rick Aguilera. Ryan was dealt after the season for another closer Heathcliff Slocumb.

2011 Season Wrap-Up Pt. 3

Today I will be looking at the position players who were on the bench, or only played a partial season.

LARS ANDERSON
Lars Anderson will probably be traded this offseason. He was almost traded at the deadline in July to Oakland for Rich Harden, but Boston was concerned about Harden's medical status and withdrew from the trade. Anderson has nothing left to prove in the minors, and with Adrian Gonzalez locked up in Boston for the next seven years, it is time to move him. Anderson simply did not develop into a legitimate Major Leaguer in time.

MIKE AVILES
I was confused by this trade when it happened, but Aviles definitely prove to be worth it. Aviles hit .317/.340/.436 with two home runs and four stolen bases since arriving in Boston. Even more valuable was his versatility as he played five positions for the Red Sox. Aviles will be back next season as a super utility man.

MIKE CAMERON
Cameron was injured and ineffective for the Red Sox who did not get their money's worth on his contract. Cameron was traded to Florida early in the season and only played 33 games for Boston with an atrocious batting line of .149/.212/.266. He had a nice career, but his time with Boston was not a highlight.

JOEY GATHRIGHT
Gathright only made it into seven games for Boston, mostly as a pinch hitter. He was one for two in stolen base attempts and likely will not be back next year.

JOSE IGLESIAS
We did not see much of Iglesias, which surprised me. His bat is not ready yet for the Majors, but his glove certainly is. It is a shame we have not seen him in the field much yet. He could make an impact next year.

CONOR JACKSON
An injured knee limited Conor Jackson since being acquired from Oakland. He made it into only 12 games with the Red Sox and did not do much other than some sparkling defensive plays when he played. He will likely not be back next year as he is a free agent.

RYAN LAVARNWAY
It may be time to put Lavarnway in the Majors full time. He could play at catcher and designated hitter. His bat is definitely ready as he proved on the next to last game of the season when he hit two home runs. His defensive skills have also improved.

JED LOWRIE
Time is running out on Lowrie. Every time it seems he has locked up the shortstop position, he goes down with an injury. Since coming back from that injury, he did not hit well. He could still be a valuable utility infielder, but with Mike Aviles around, does Boston really need two? Who knows. Lowrie could be a better offensive shortstop than Marco Scutaro, but his defense needs work.

DARNELL MCDONALD
McDonald started very slowly, but started picking up towards the end of the season. He finished with a batting line of .236/.303/.401, not the best numbers, but they seem worse because of his dreadful start. McDonald is a versatile outfielder with power and speed, so he could stick as the fourth outfielder next year.

YAMAICO NAVARRO
Navarro was being groomed to be a utility infielder until he was dealt to Kansas City in the Aviles trade. He is expected to be a similar type of player.

JOSH REDDICK
Overall, Reddick had a nice season. He struggled down the stretch but ended up with a nice line of .280/.327/.457. He should compete with Ryan Kalish for the full time right field job next season. But Kalish has more potential, so we will see what happens.

NATE SPEARS
Not much to say about Spears, he made it into three games and did not produce a hit. He is 26, pretty old to just now be breaking into the Majors. If he makes it back, it will not be as more than a role player.

DREW SUTTON
Sutton was actually fairly impressive in short work as a utility infielder. His line was .315/.362/.444. I am not sure why he did not stick at the Major League level. He may not be back next year with Lowrie and Aviles around.

JASON VARITEK
The Captain will be 40 next year and he still wants to play. He was somewhat valuable this year, as he did hit 11 home runs as a backup catcher. But his defensive skills have continued to decline. It is getting hard to justify keeping him around, especially with Lavarnway ready to step in, but it will be just as hard to let him go, as much as he has done for the organization. It will be an interesting decision-making process.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Underrated Player of the Year: 1993

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.1993 - GREG A. HARRIS
I would have picked Danny Darwin for this post, but I have already covered his surprising 1993 season in another post. So, here we are with the remarkably versatile Greg A. Harris.

After two okay seasons in the rotation, Harris was moved to the bullpen full time in 1992 and responded with a pretty good season. In 1993, Harris was essentially the long man out of the bullpen, but his numbers were very impressive. He lead the league with 80 games pitched, which was a Red Sox record for some time. Think about that, there are 162 games in a season, and he pitched in 80 of them. No wonder he blew his arm out in 1994. He threw 112.1 innings, which is unheard of out of relievers these days. Harris finished the year at 6-7 with a 3.77 ERA and 103 strikeouts versus 60 walks. His WHIP was 1.380.

1993 was still fairly early in the reformation of bullpen roles, so Harris's season stands out quite a bit today. He was an absolute workhorse that year. He was the most consistent reliever on the team and helped in a variety of ways, even picking up eight saves. The bullpen would have been in a lot of trouble without Harris.

2011 Season Wrap-Up Pt. 2

Today, I am going to look at the main starters and relievers.

JOSH BECKETT
Beckett was possibly the ace of the staff this year as he had the most consistent year, other than his final two disastrous starts against the Orioles. Beckett was an All Star for the third time with the Red Sox and lead the team in ERA with 2.89. For a while, he was considered to be a Cy Young Candidate. However, his last couple of starts have more than likely taken him out of the running for any votes at all. It was a nice bounceback year after his awful 2010 though. Hopefully he stays motivated and comes back next year in shape and ready to pitch. Boston desperately needs him.

JON LESTER
Lester took a little bit of a step backwards this year after contending for the Cy Young Award last year. Something just was not right with him parts of the year and he had a lot of trouble with his command down the stretch which lead to three awful starts in a row. Nevertheless, he lead the team in wins and strikeouts with 15 and 182 respectfully. Hopefully this year was not a sign of things to come for Boston's young ace and he gets back to his dominating stuff next year.

JOHN LACKEY
To say John Lackey was bad this year is a massive understatement. I still do not quite understand how this free agent acquisition turned out this badly. Lackey has not been the pitcher that he was with the Angels the entire time he has been in Boston. It is a shame because he could have given the Red Sox another ace-level starting pitcher. Lackey had an absolutely awful year, going 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA. I have no idea what it will take to get him back on track, but something needs to be done over the offseason.

TIM WAKEFIELD
At this point, Wakefield is just hanging on trying to get the Red Sox record for career victories. He has not been pitching very well and most teams run at will on him. He finally got career victory number 200 earlier this year and is six wins away from the Red Sox record. I do not really have a problem with him coming back for that record next year if he is pitching well in Spring Training. Otherwise, I just can not see how a team striving for the postseason can keep him around in anything other than a bullpen role. He finished the year a disappointing 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA. Not his best year.

CLAY BUCHHOLZ
Along with Youkilis, Clay Buchholz's injury was a crushing blow that the team could not overcome. They did not have the pitching depth to cover for the loss of their third ace. Buchholz struggled to start the season but was beginning to figure it out when he went down with a stress fracture in his back. He finished 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA. There was talk that he was ready to pitch in the postseason so he should be back to full health in 2012.

DAISUKE MATSUZAKA
Another injury that Boston could not overcome, though on a lesser scale, was the one to Matsuzaka. Matsuzaka continues to disappoint in Boston ever since his 18 win 2008 season. He still nibbles at the corners way too much which leads to a lot of walks and he gets hit hard. It is about time to characterize his acquisition as a bust. He likely will not make it back until late in the year next year from Tommy John surgery and will be a free agent after the season. It is possible that he has pitched his last game for the Red Sox.

ERIK BEDARD
Bedard was acquired from the Mariners at the trading deadline in order to make up for the losses of Buchholz and Matsuzaka. It just did not work out that way. He had a few solid games, but came away with only one victory and an awful lot of questions. His strikeout numbers were good and his ERA was not bad for a fourth or fifth starter, but he was expected to be more than that. We have probably seen the end of Bedard in Boston and lost four decent prospects to get him.

JONATHAN PAPELBON
Like Beckett, Papelbon had a very good bounceback season for the Red Sox in 2011. His season was even better and he dramatically increased his possible value on the free agent market this year. Papelbon became the first closer to save 30 or more games in each of his first six full seasons. His strikeout numbers were ridiculous, striking out 87 in 64 innings and his ERA was 2.94, which is not overly impressive, but he had one or two bad outings. Now the question is, will he be back next year?

DANIEL BARD
Bard was being groomed to take over Papelbon's spot at closer should he leave, but it is important to have a good setup man too. Bard mysteriously struggled down the stretch but had some good games in the middle too. He is not as dominating as he was last year, but it may have just been a down year. I would not be comfortable going into next season with him at closer without any fallback options, but it is not my decision to make. Who knows, he could excel at the position.

ALFREDO ACEVES
The hero of the season from the pitching staff was Aceves, whose acquisition from the Yankees drew little notice at first. Some astute Yankees bloggers were a little upset that he was let go, but he was deemed expendable by the team. Boston's front office does not agree. Aceves finished 10-2 with a 2.61 ERA, and fit in a variety of roles. He started four games and even had a save. Next year, he should be groomed as a starter. That would go a long way to fixing some of the rotation issues. His stuff is that good.

DAN WHEELER
Wheeler's overall numbers do not look that great, but that was more because of his disastrous first month. He was pitching much better later on until he too went down with an injury. If Wheeler had not been hurt, Aceves could have been moved into the rotation. He has an option and Boston should consider picking it up. A veteran bullpen arm is not always easy to come by, especially one as good as Wheeler.

BOBBY JENKS
He is only in this wrap-up because of the expectations at the beginning of the season. Jenks was acquired as a backup option at closer if Papelbon struggled and otherwise to be a co-setup man with Bard. He only pitched in 19 games though with an ERA of 6.32. His strikeout numbers were good, but he also issued a lot of walks. Hopefully his injuries are healed and he can be ready to come back next year, he is still under contract after all.

FRANKLIN MORALES
A shrewd pickup early on, Morales came in and anchored the pen from the left side. He had some struggles at various points, but by the end of the season, he was every bit as reliable as Bard or Aceves. Morales is another player who could be sent in to the starting rotation, his stuff is electrifying. He finished the season with a 3.61 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 32.1 innings, against 11 walks. Morales was once one of Colorado's top prospects and he started to show why this year.

MATT ALBERS
Matt Albers looked like the under-the-radar pickup of the year for the Red Sox at one point when his ERA was below 2.00. It did not end up that way as he had a string of games in which he was hit all over the field. He was still a somewhat dependable arm out of the bullpen, with some good strikeout numbers, 68 in 64.1 innings. He should be back next year, just not in a setup role.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Late Congratulations to Jacoby Ellsbury on 30/30

Ellsbury has been the team's biggest bright spot all season and he accomplished on Sunday, a feat which no other Red Sox player has ever done, stealing 30 bases and hitting 30 home runs in the same season. I have been waiting a long time to see someone from this team do that and it finally happened. I will be honest, I did not think he would do it coming into the year as his career high in home runs prior to this season was only nine.

Underrated Player of the Year: 1992

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.1992 - TOM BRUNANSKY
The second year I was a fan of the Red Sox, they were terrible, finishing in last place for the only team since I have been a fan. The major reason for their last place finish was an almost complete lack of offense. All of their regulars who were counted on for the last several years had down years, even Wade Boggs whose batting average dipped down to the .250s. It was incredibly bad.

Tom Brunansky was the only Red Sox regular to have even a decent year. Bruno was the only Red Sox player with an above-average OPS+ in 1992. That said, his numbers were still not on par with some of his earliest years. Bruno never cracked 20 home runs with Boston, odd for a right-handed power hitter, but his best years were definitely behind him.

1992 was Brunansky's best year in Boston as he batted .266/.344/.445 with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs, both of which lead the team that year. That is how bad Boston's hitters were in 1992. Brunansky also lead the team in doubles, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Without Brunansky it's kind of scary to think where Boston would have ended up.

After the season, Brunansky was allowed to walk as a free agent to join the Brewers and the Red Sox replaced him with Andre Dawson and Ivan Calderon. In 1994, Bruno was re-acquired in a trade for Dave Valle and finished his career with the Red Sox, hitting ten home runs in 48 games for the team.

2011 Season Wrap-Up Pt. 1

I have not been posting much because the last month of the season has been very hard. Boston quite simply played like shit the last month and it is extremely upsetting. With the payroll that this team had, it is unacceptable that they did not make the playoffs at all. Some changes need to be made and it sounds like that change is that Terry Francona will not return next year. Francona had a nice run and was the longest-lasting Red Sox manager since Joe Cronin, but the way this team finished has to have a root cause, and I think it's management. I think Theo Epstein should be on a short leash too right now. His big-money acquisitions have not worked out, and the team has not been able to develop much pitching beyond Papelbon, Bard, Lester, and Buchholz.

There were some nice things to develop out of the season. The biggest one was the development of Jacoby Ellsbury into a legitimate superstar. His motivation was called into question last offseason, but he took things to the next level this year.

Let's look at each of the regulars today and spread this wrap-up out over the next couple of days. Tomorrow will be the pitching staff and principal relievers, then the next post will cover the bench players and short season players.

CATCHER - JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA
Saltalamacchia proved that he was basically ready to be a full-time player. He also proved that he will always be just a little bit inconsistent. I hate using that word because of Joe Morgan, but there is no other way to describe it. Salty was terrible the last month and his numbers really suffered because of it. He is not a particularly good catcher at stopping the running game, but that may be more due to the pitchers on the mound. He really struggled defensively the last month. His offensive numbers were decent: .235/.288/.450 with 16 home runs, but they would have looked better had he done ANYTHING in the last month. I think he will be on a short leash moving forward as Ryan Lavarnway looks ready to take over.

FIRST BASE - ADRIAN GONZALEZ
Gonzalez had a nice season and nearly won the batting title. He should win a Gold Glove as he was a great defensive first-baseman. I was personally a little disappointed with his season, despite nearly winning the batting title and being among the league leaders in RBIs and hits because his home run numbers were down significantly. After the All Star Break, he simply had a power outage. He finished the year with only 27 home runs, his lowest total since his first full season in 2006. Apparently he had some nagging injury in his left shoulder that sapped his power. If that is the case, he should be back to full strength next season. He is only 29 right now, so it is too early to start the decline phase of his career and his numbers were impressive otherwise.

SECOND BASE - DUSTIN PEDROIA
It is hard to imagine but Dustin Pedroia may have had his best season of his career this year. He has already won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in his young career and he just keeps getting better. This year saw him increase his power and base-stealing numbers. He hit a career high 21 home runs with 91 RBIs and stole 27 bases. I made a prediction earlier on this blog that Pedroia would soon join the Red Sox 20/20 players and he did do that. Pedroia's slash line was an impressive /307/.387/.474 and he contributed with some outstanding defense. Pedroia should be in line to receive his second Gold Glove this year.

SHORTSTOP - MARCO SCUTARO
Scutaro was one of the few players who actually improved his numbers over the last month of the season. Early in the year it looked like he would play out his contract and leave unceremoniously as he battled injuries and the Red Sox looked to replace him with Jed Lowrie, Mike Aviles, or Jose Iglesias. But Scutaro played his heart out over the last month and finished the year at .299/.358/.423, and yes those numbers are better than Derek Jeter's numbers. He was also an impressive defensive player. I have no idea whether Scutaro will be back next year or not. Lowrie has more upside as an offensive player and Iglesias will be better defensively but both players are limited on the other side.

THIRD BASE - KEVIN YOUKILIS
One of the most damaging injuries of the year was the one that limited Kevin Youkilis to 120 games. Youkilis's overall batting numbers were down most of the year, particularly his batting average. Despite that, he turned in a decent line of .258/.373/.459 with 17 home runs and 80 RBIs. Not his best numbers, but nothing to get too worked up over. Youkilis was not a great defensive third-baseman, but he was decent enough. If he returns to full strength next year, there will be nothing to worry about. Otherwise Will Middlebrooks is lying in wait to take over.

RIGHT FIELD - J.D. DREW
J.D. Drew had his worst season ever. He was bothered by frequent injuries, which is not unusual, but this season was particularly bad, even for him. Drew has definitely played his last season in a Red Sox uniform. Drew played only 81 games in 2011 with a line of .222/.315/.302, horrible numbers for a corner outfielder. It is time for him to leave Boston. He had some nice moments, but his salary was probably too high for his production over the course of the contract. I am a Drew apologist as he was pretty damn good a couple years, but this year was horrendous.

CENTER FIELD - JACOBY ELLSBURY
Jacoby Ellsbury has become a star. He made his first All Star Game and has a shot at the MVP award. I do not think he will get it, but his overall numbers are incredibly impressive. Ellsbury became the first Red Sox player ever to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. He hit .321/.376/.552 and lead the Majors in total bases. He also had more than 200 hits, more than 100 RBIs, and more than 100 runs. Ellsbury also played very well in center field and should give the Red Sox three Gold Glove awards. It is time for Boston to lock up their young star for years to come and hope that this is the player he truly is.

LEFT FIELD - CARL CRAWFORD
Crawford had an absolutely miserable year in his first year in Boston. He was my biggest disappointment personally because I was absolutely thrilled when he signed as a free agent. His line was a terrible .255/.289/.405 with only 18 stolen bases. He also played uncharacteristically bad in left field, just one season removed from a Gold Glove himself. Let's hope that this is just a bad season and not a downward trend. Crawford will only be 30 next year, so he should not be entering his decline yet and he still has several years and a lot of money left on his contract. I genuinely like Crawford, I hate seeing him play like this.

DESIGNATED HITTER - DAVID ORTIZ
Ortiz is a free agent this year as well and I honestly do not know whether we have seen the last of him. He hit well down the stretch, but not for nearly enough power. He finished the season just shy of 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. He improved his batting average significantly and for once actually hit left-handers well. Ortiz will also be 36 next year. He can not keep this up forever. I would like to see him back next year at possibly a reduced cost. There are not a lot of great DH options out there, unless Boston decides to go with a committee. Still Ortiz has been the heart and soul of the team for awhile. I think he should retire as a Red Sox.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Underrated Player of the Year: 1991

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.

1991 - JOE HESKETH
Joe Hesketh was a barely-noticed acquisition for the Red Sox at the end of June in 1990 after being released by the Braves. He only pitched in 12 games for the Red Sox in 1990, mostly out of the bullpen, and his numbers were not real impressive. Hesketh had bounced around for several years and never really captured the promise of his rookie season in 1985.

So it was a pretty big surprise when Hesketh proved to be a very valuable member of the pitching staff in 1991. The lefty made it into 39 games that year, including starting 17 and finishing five. Along the way, he managed to win 12 games, the most in his career while only losing four, leading the league in winning percentage. Hesketh also turned in 104 strikeouts in 153.1 innings. His WHIP was a decent 1.272 and his ERA was 3.29. His WAR was 3.0, not bad for a journeyman left-hander.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Failed Prospects Pt. 12: Eric Wedge

In the early 1990's, the Red Sox had a number of highly-touted catching prospects in the minor leagues. Scott Hatteberg, John Flaherty, and Eric Wedge were all expected to one day star in the Major Leagues. All three players made it, but none of them were really stars at all. Wedge was perhaps regarded the highest of the three players and did the least of the three at the Major League level.

Wedge was a third-round pick in the 1989 draft and skyrocketed through the Red Sox system, making his Major League debut in 1991 with one at-bat on the last day of the season. He singled.

In 1992, he got a bit more of an extended stay in the Big Leagues, playing in 27 games and bashing five homers in just 68 at-bats. He had a line of .250/.370/.500 in those 27 games. Then, he was left unprotected in the expansion draft and the Rockies plucked him away.

Wedge only played in nine games for the Rockies in 1993 and was back in Boston for 1994, but only made it into two games. That was the end of his Major League career. Wedge bounced around the minors for a couple more years before giving up in 1997. He was 29 when he retired.

Since then, Wedge has made it back to the Major Leagues as a manager for the Indians and now Mariners. He has been far more successful as a manager than he ever was as a player.

Underrated Season: Tom Gordon 1998

Seeing that Mariano Rivera saved his 600th game last night made me think about Red Sox closers. Boston has had some good ones over the years, and Jonathan Papelbon is likely the best closer in Boston history. But there is one season that kind of goes by unnoticed now. It was big at the time, but few people really remember it now.

In 1998, former starter Tom "Flash" Gordon turned in his first full season as a closer. And what a season it was. Gordon lead the league in saves and games finished that year. He blew only one save all season and set a record for consecutive saves that was eventually broken in 2003 by future Red Sox Eric Gagne.

In the meantime, Gordon had a WHIP of 1.008 with 78 strikeouts versus 55 hits and 25 walks allowed in 79.1 innings. He went 7-4 with a 2.72 ERA that year. Gordon's out pitch was a devastating 12-6 curveball. When that pitch was working, Gordon was unhittable and it was definitely working all year in 1998.

Gordon made it to his first All Star Game that year and even garnered some MVP consideration based on his saves record. He finished 13th, but it was still higher than any Red Sox closer has in years.

Unfortunately, Gordon's saves record did not last long and he was lit up in the postseason. Gordon also never had another season like it. He was injured and ineffective in 1999 and missed the entire 2000 season. He did eventually make it back as a pretty decent setup man with the Yankees and then closed for another season with the Phillies, although his postseason troubles did continue. Those are the likely reasons Gordon's 1998 is not considered among great closer seasons.

Congratulations to Tim Wakefield on Earning Win #200!

He finally did it on his seventh or eighth try. He needs only six more wins to match Roger Clemens and Cy Young for all-time wins with the Red Sox. He might get one or two more this year and have to come back next year for one more season to make it.

Search for BoSox: 2011 So Far

I haven't been doing this much lately, even though I have been continuing to get cards once in awhile.

The big pulls of 2011 so far (inserts, parallels, SPs):
Topps Wal-Mart Black Border Jonathan Papelbon
Topps Toppstown Dustin Pedroia
Topps Toppstown Victor Martinez
Topps 60 Clay Buchholz
Topps 60 Jon Lester
Topps Lineage Cloth Sticker Carl Crawford
Topps Allen & Ginter Jon Lester SP

and the pull of the year so far...
2010 Bowman Chrome Green Xfractor Will Middlebrooks

Yes it's a 2010 card, but that doesn't really matter. Middlebrooks is having a huge year in the minors and this is a great card.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Unknown Heroes Pt. 23: Alex Cora

I have no idea why I sometimes like the utility infielders so much. It is not as if Alex Cora were a great player, or even really a good one. Yet, I liked Cora. He was valuable in that he could play multiple positions, in his time with Boston he played every infield position. But that is where his value ended. He had virtually no power, and while he did have some speed, he did not get on base nearly often enough to utilize it. Yet here we are. Alex Cora was a part-time player, but that did not mean I liked him any less.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unknown Heroes Pt. 22: Jeff Reardon

As I believe I have mentioned before, I have always been a fan of closers for some reason. I also mentioned that I am a big fan of the 1991 team, as the first team that I really watched. So it's not such a surprise that Jeff Reardon is a player that I have a lot of reverence for.

Reardon was not really a dominating closer by the time he arrived in Boston, but he was nonetheless impressive. Reardon was originally brought in at a time when Boston already had Lee Smith, but his arrival meant that Smith was trade bait, which was in hindsight probably a mistake. Reardon saved 21 games in his first Boston season with a 1.130 WHIP. It was not a great season, but he did have an excellent 1991, saving 40 games, a then-team record. He also appeared in the All Star Game that year, the first Red Sox closer to do so since Bob Stanley.

Reardon pitched into the 1992 season for the Red Sox and was typically effective. He had his career highlight that year, breaking the all time saves record with his 342nd save late in the year. That proved to be the reason the last place Red Sox were holding on to him and he was traded before the waiver wire deadline to the Atlanta Braves for Nate Minchey, who would eventually make a few starts for the Red Sox, and Sean Ross, who never made it to the Majors.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Former Cornhuskers to Play for the Red Sox

I am a University of Nebraska graduate, graduating in 2003 with my bachelor's degree in psychology and in 2006 with my Juris Doctorate. As such, I watch former Cornhuskers closely. Unfortunately, the Red Sox have only had three former Cornhuskers make their Major League roster at any point so far, and one of those was during the 1970's before I was even born. And none of those players have many baseball cards showing them with the Red Sox.

BUDDY HUNTER (1971, 1973, 1975)
Buddy Hunter is the only former Cornhusker to be drafted by the Red Sox and make it to the Major Leagues so far. Hunter was born in Omaha, NE and was drafted in the third round of the 1969 draft. He played parts of three seasons with the Red Sox, and never more than 13 games. His slash line is not bad really: .294/.478/.412, but he never stuck in the Majors. Hunter played second, third, and DH for the Red Sox.

KIP GROSS (1999)
Kip Gross showed up in Boston in 1999, despite not pitching a single game in the Majors since 1993. Gross went 0-2 with a 7.82 ERA in 12.2 innings, striking out nine while walking eight. Needless to say, Boston did not really want to keep him around at the Major League level for very long. He was released at the end of the year, but spent most of his only year in the organization in the minor leagues. Gross was a native of Scottsbluff, NE.

ADAM STERN (2005-2006)
The Canadian-born Adam Stern did not last long with the Red Sox. He played a total of 46 games with the Red Sox, mostly as a reserve outfielder. Stern was plucked from the Braves in the 2004 Rule V draft and was injured much of the 2005 season, allowing him to stay on the Red Sox Major League roster which meant that Boston did not have to offer him back to the Braves. In those 46 games over parts of two seasons, Stern hit just .143/.189/.257 with one home run, six RBIs, and two stolen bases. Stern was traded to the Orioles for Javy Lopez toward the end of the 2006 season.

Red Sox Trade for Conor Jackson

Link.

Last night at the August 31 trading deadline, the Red Sox acquired Conor Jackson from the A's in exchange for 25 year old Jason Rice.

Conor Jackson is only 29, but it feels like he has been around for a long time. He was once a highly-regarded prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks system, but never really reached his potential. He had a couple of 15 home run seasons early in his career but stagnated after that and was traded to Oakland in 2010. This year, Jackson is batting .249/.315/.342 while playing all four corner positions. It is this versatility that lead Boston to acquire him. He helps shore up the depth a little bit for the stretch drive. He will likely not play much.

Jason Rice was a fairly successful reliever in the minors who has just not taken the next step. He was likely to be claimed in the Rule V draft this winter if Boston did not move him now. We will see how he develops.

Bobby Jenks was transferred from the 15 day to the 60 day DL, effectively ending his disappointing first season in Boston.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Red Sox Defensive WAR Leaders

This year, the Red Sox have three players that could win Gold Gloves, with Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury all having great years at their respective positions. I was curious as to Red Sox players who have been considered the best defensive players in the league, regardless of position. I used Defensive WAR, which is certainly not perfect, but I figured it was one way of checking.

Here are the Red Sox players to lead the league in Defensive WAR:
2008 Jacoby Ellsbury 2.2 (lead Majors)
2007 Coco Crisp 2.6 (lead Majors)
1997 Darren Bragg 2.1 (tied with Ivan Rodriguez)
1993 John Valentin 2.2 (tied with Luis Gonzalez for ML lead)
1974 Dwight Evans 2.3 (lead Majors)
1966 Carl Yastrzemski 2.4 (lead Majors)
1956 Jim Piersall 3.1 (lead Majors)
1955 Jim Piersall 2.5 (lead Majors)
1946 Bobby Doerr 1.3
1921 Everett Scott 1.8
1914 Tris Speaker 1.9
1901 Jimmy Collins 1.6

Of those players, not one won the Gold Glove that year. Piersall, Yaz, and Evans all eventually won Gold Gloves, but not for those seasons. Strange.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 21: Jody Reed

I first started my obsession with the Red Sox in 1991, so a lot of the players from that team are remembered fondly. Jody Reed is just another one of those players, joining Carlos Quintana, Greg Harris, and Tony Pena as underrated favorites of mine.

Jody Reed came up to Boston for good in 1988 and played shortstop down the stretch for the AL East champs. He was a short player, only 5'9" and he did not have much power, but he was a pesky little sparkplug for the team who was tough to strike out. He became the team's No. 2 hitter for much of his career with the Red Sox and provided mostly solid defense in the middle infield.

Reed was a solid hitter, hitting .280/.358/.372 for his Red Sox career which included an awful 1992 season. In general, he was a little better than that. Reed finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1988 and had his best season in 1990, when he tied for the league lead with 45 doubles.

As mentioned, Reed had a bad 1992 and he was left unprotected in the expansion draft where he was selected by the Colorado Rockies and was immediately traded to the Dodgers. Reed was one of many longtime Red Sox who was let go after the 1992 season, which was kind of devastating for a young fan like myself.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 13: J.T. Snow

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.J.T. SNOW
J.T. Snow was a slick-fielding first-baseman who won six straight Gold Gloves from 1995 through 2000 while with the Angels and Giants. Snow was also a pretty good hitter for quite some time on those two teams. Snow was brought to the Red Sox as a 38 year old part-timer for the 2006 season. Not much was expected of him, other than to help ease Kevin Youkilis's transition from third to first. That's about all that Snow provided.

Snow made it into 38 games with the Red Sox and only had 53 plate appearances, so he was mostly a late-inning defensive replacement. Snow only hit .205/.340/.205 with no extra base hits and only four RBIs. He had also clearly lost a step defensively.

Snow was released in mid June. He did show up back in San Francisco in 2008 for one game, but was otherwise finished.

Busts Pt. 19: Julio Lugo

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.JULIO LUGO
I could do an entire series just on the disappointing Red Sox shortstops. Just as I KNEW Boston would sign Edgar Renteria during the 2004 season, I KNEW Boston would sign Julio Lugo during the 2006 season. Boston had tried to acquire him on a couple of earlier occasions and they of course were going to have a vacancy at the position since Alex Gonzalez was only on a one-year contract and did not hit terribly well.

In theory, this was a good idea. Lugo was a decent offensive shortstop with some major speed. He was not a good defensive shortstop, but his offensive output was usually enough to make up for it.

Unfortunately, it just did not work out.

Lugo's speed was an asset in 2007 as he lead the team with 33 stolen bases, but his offense was a disappointment. Lugo hit .237/.294/.348 with eight home runs and 73 RBIs his first year and was brutal defensively. He was only slightly better the next season, but missed about half the season. In 2009, he again was injured a lot and Boston finally decided to cut him loose after Jed Lowrie emerged, sending him to the Cardinals in a trade for Chris Duncan, who barely played for Boston.

Minor Moves: Trever Miller and Joey Gathright

Over the last two days, the Red Sox have made a couple of very minor moves.

Yesterday, the Red Sox picked up left-handed reliever Trever Miller after he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays. Miller had been terrible this year with a 4.19 ERA in 19 innings and a WHIP of 1.914. He had been successful in the past, but he is 38. He could be a warm body in the bullpen.

Today, the Red Sox picked up speedy centerfielder Joey Gathright from an independent league team Yuma Scorpions. Gathright last appeared in the Major Leagues with the Red Sox in 2009. He was on the postseason roster and was mostly utilized as a pinch runner. Gathright has stolen 80 bases in 109 attempts over his career. He will likely be a pinch runner for the Red Sox down the stretch as well, sort of a Dave Roberts-type role.

One-Card Wonder Pt. 20: Brendan Donnelly

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).

BRENDAN DONNELLY
I have discussed Brendan Donnelly briefly in the past here as a former replacement player. So that was already one strike against Donnelly for having more than a couple of cards. He also only spent one season with the Red Sox and was injured for a large portion of the year. So that does not help either. Donnelly's Red Sox career lasted all of 27 games and 20.2 innings.

Donnelly's only two Red Sox cards are from special sets. I only have the Red Sox gift set, so that is my only card of Donnelly.

Donnelly was acquired prior to the 2007 season in a trade with the Angels for minor leaguer Phil Seibel. He was brought in to shore up the bullpen a little bit, and he was successful for the short amount of time he was active. He pitched to an ERA of 3.05 with a 15/5 strikeouts/walks. Unfortunately, the injuries caught up to him and he did not make an appearance in the postseason.

The next year, Donnelly was one of the players whose name appeared in the Mitchell Report as being connected to performance enhancing drugs. Donnelly was allowed to leave as a free agent to the Indians.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Busts Pt. 18: Jeremy Hermida

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

JEREMY HERMIDA
They try sometimes. Every team tries to pick up a player for a low cost that they think could be a highly rewarding player. Boston traded a couple of spare parts to Florida for Jeremy Hermida, a player with a lot of power potential who was becoming too expensive for the Marlins. Hermida was expected to step into Boston's hallowed left field and start hitting home runs. Unfortunately it did not work out that way.

Hermida was injured a lot and when he was not hurting, he also was not hitting. Boston stuck with him for 52 games during which he put up a line of .203/.257/.348/.605 with five home runs. Not the numbers expected. Not even close. He was released and caught on with Oakland, but it appears he will never be the hitter he was expected to be when he was the 11th overall pick in the 2002 draft.

One-Card Wonder Pt. 19: David Aardsma

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).

DAVID AARDSMA
I have this 2008 Topps Update card of David Aardsma which is still my only card of the player with the Red Sox. Boston had Aardsma one year too early. His 2008 showed very little of the player who would emerge into the topflight closer for Seattle in 2009 and 2010. Aardsma was 4-2 with a 5.55 ERA. He did have 49 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings, but his WHIP was an astronomical 1.726. Who knew he would turn into a good closer? Certainly not Boston who traded him after the season for Fabian Williamson, who never made it to Boston. Kind of a bad trade in hindsight.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 20: Julian Tavarez

To say Julian Tavarez was a little crazy was a complete understatement. Well-known for his volatile temper, and some downright quirky behavior, you never knew quite what to expect next from Tavarez.

Tavarez was brought to the Red Sox as a free agent prior to the 2006 season to help solidify the bullpen. His stats were never terribly impressive. In his first year, he put up a 4.47 ERA and a 1.561 WHIP. The next year, he was a starter and a long man in the bullpen for the World Series Champion Red Sox. He had a bad record and bad stats, but he remained entertaining. Tavarez was released after nine games in 2008. He never had much success with the Red Sox. But that's not why he was so interesting.

Tavarez was suspended for the first ten games of the 2006 season after he got into a fistfight with Joey Gathright of Tampa Bay. Tavarez placed a tag on Gathright when he was covering home on a relay and then before Gathright could get, Tavarez was punching him. Tavarez was also known for rolling the ball to first base on occasion.

Tavarez was not much of a player, but he was a hell of an entertaining player.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Catchers

I have always been partial to catchers. It's probably due to the fact that a catcher's job is markedly different and much more difficult than perhaps any other position. A catcher is in charge of calling the pitches and keeping an eye on the baserunners. He is also the last obstacle between a baserunner and scoring a run. It could also be the cool equipment.

Anyway, as a Red Sox fan and a fan of catchers in general, I always keep a close eye on the player behind the plate. I have been paying close attention since 1991. In that time, Boston has had a number of different starting catchers and backups. Out of pure boredom, I wanted to look at them.

THE STARTERS:
TONY PENA
Tony Pena was the Red Sox starting catcher when I first started paying attention to baseball. Pena was not much with the bat, but he was a tremendous defensive catcher with a strong throwing arm. Beyond that, he had such an interesting catching stance that it was hard not to be intrigued by him. Pena won the Gold Glove in 1991 as the best fielding catcher in the league that year.

DAVE VALLE
Dave Valle was brought to the Red Sox for the 1994 season. Pena was allowed to leave as a free agent the prior year and Valle was supposed to be his replacement. Valle had a reputation as having a decent bat, but not being a real great defensive catcher. But in Boston, he was not able to contribute on either side of the plate. He was ultimately traded to Milwaukee after 30 games for Tom Brunansky.

DAMON BERRYHILL
Damon Berryhill, like Dave Valle, was acquired for the 1994 season. Unlike Valle, Berryhill was able to stick through the year. He was also not a great hitter, although he did bat .263/.312/.416/.727 with six home runs. Adequate numbers for a more defensive position. Berryhill was not a terribly effective defensive catcher though and did not hit well enough to make up for it. He was gone after the year.

MIKE MACFARLANE
Longtime Royal Mike Macfarlane was the next player brought in to be the starting catcher. Macfarlane also lasted only one year with Boston, but he brought significantly more home run power. His 15 home runs in 1995 were the most by a Red Sox catcher since Rich Gedman hit 16 in 1986. Unfortunately that was about the only part of his offensive game that was an improvement. He did catch 35% of runners attempting to steal, the best mark by a Red Sox catcher since Pena.

MIKE STANLEY
Next up was Mike Stanley who was one of the best players the Red Sox took from the Yankees in decades. Stanley had been an All Star with New York when he hit 26 home runs in 1993. He almost matched his power numbers in his first year with Boston, hitting 24 home runs with a slash line of .270/.383/.506/.889. Unfortunately, he was not nearly as impressive behind the plate and the next year became a first-baseman/designated hitter.

SCOTT HATTEBERG
Scott Hatteberg was the first starting catcher developed by the Boston Red Sox since Gedman. Hatteberg came up at the end of 2006 and became the starting catcher in 2007. Hatteberg had the rare ability in catchers to draw a lot of walks. With Boston, his OBP was an impressive .357. Hatteberg's problem though was his inability to throw out baserunners, his caught-stealing percentage was a low 21%.

JASON VARITEK
When it was determined that Hatteberg simply could not throw out runners attempting to steal, Jason Varitek became the starting catcher. Varitek was acquired in a terrific trade with the Seattle Mariners in 1997 and quickly became a rising star. Varitek could draw a walk, hit with power, and was a strong defensive catcher. Injuries curtailed his promising career somewhat in 2001 and it took until 2003 before he started to really impress again. He was a 3-time All Star, Boston's first All Star catcher since Gedman, won a Silver Slugger, and a Gold Glove. He has caught a record four no-hitters, and is considered a great game-caller. He gracefully moved to a backup role in 2009. Varitek will one day be in the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

VICTOR MARTINEZ
Victor Martinez was acquired in a blockbust deadline deal from Cleveland in 2009. Boston wanted a better hitter behind the plate as Varitek's best days were behind him. Martinez certainly qualified. Though he had a little trouble with throwing out runners early in 2010, Martinez's bat carried him. He batted .313/.368/.497/.865 with 28 home runs and 120 RBIs in his short season and a half with Boston. He was not brought back after 2010 due to his expense and the unlikelihood that he would be able to continue at catcher.

JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was long coveted by the Red Sox front office. Theo Epstein saw an opportunity to acquire him at the deadline in 2010 and swooped in, giving up three minor leaguers with little chance of developing into stars to the Texas Rangers in one of the quieter moves of the deadline. Saltalamacchia did not play much in 2010 and started off very slowly in 2011. Since then, he has started to come into his own. He currently has 13 home runs and has become a much better defender as the season has worn on. One of the great questions is whether Saltalamacchia will continue to have a chance in Boston due to the development of Ryan Lavarnway.

THE BACK UPS:
JOHN MARZANO
Hard to imagine but at one point John Marzano was a first round draft pick. I am not sure he really fulfilled the expectations of the front office. Marzano was a serviceable backup for several years with the Red Sox, though it was not until 1990 that he really stuck with the big league club. He did not have a lot of power outside of hitting five home runs in 1987, his first chance with the team. He was an adequate defensive catcher and that is the only thing that kept him with the team. After being released by Boston in 1993, he did not make it back to the Major Leagues until 1995.

BOB MELVIN
Bob Melvin became the backup to Tony Pena in 1993 after Marzano was released. Melvin was a journeyman catcher with the Tigers, Giants, Orioles, and Royals before joining Boston. Melvin really did not provide much more than a warm body behind the plate in his short time with Boston. He was not particularly good at any aspect of the game. He and Pena provided pathetic offense at the position in 1993.

RICH ROWLAND
Rich Rowland was acquired in a challenge trade of young catchers from Detroit. Boston gave up John Flaherty who had some promise but had yet to harness it. Rowland was already 30 and a career minor leaguer to that point, but he had some power. Rowland hit nine home runs as the backup catcher in 1994 with a .483 slugging percentage. His defense was decent as he caught 36% of attempted base stealers. Unfortunately he did not hit at all in 1995 and was quickly forgotten.

BILL HASELMAN
Bill Haselman, the longtime Rangers backup and Nolan Ryan's personal catcher, came to Boston after the 1994 season and cemented the backup catcher position. Haselman was decent with the stick and adequate behind the plate. He hit .252/.313/.409/.722 in parts of four seasons. He once hit a broken-bat home run over the Green Monster in left. He started the 1997 season as the starting catcher before injuries caught up with him. At the time, he was among the league leaders in doubles, but did not play much the rest of the year. After the year he was traded to Texas. He returned briefly in 2003.

DOUG MIRABELLI
Doug Mirabelli is perhaps the most famous backup catcher in Red Sox history. Acquired in 2001 when Jason Varitek went down with an injury and Scott Hatteberg's throwing problems became too glaring, Mirabelli settled into a decent role. He had a good year in 2001, hitting .270/.360/.518/.877 with nine home runs down the stretch. He became Tim Wakefield's personal catcher with his ability to catch the knuckleball and was one of the best-hitting backup catchers for several years. He and Varitek made quite the pair. Mirabelli put up am .893 OPS in 2004. His bat slowed after that, but he was still highly-regarded. He was traded after the 2006 season, but was re-acquired after Josh Bard could not catch a knuckleball and was famously police-escorted to the ballpark to catch Wakefield. He was released for good prior to the 2008 season.

KEVIN CASH
During the 2007 season, Kevin Cash proved he too could catch the knuckleball. Cash was not much of a hitter but became the backup catcher for the 2008 season after Mirabelli was released. Cash was a better defensive catcher than Mirabelli and at the point was a bit more reliable with the bat. He hit a dramatic postseason home run for the Red Sox during the ALCS against Tampa Bay. He moved on to the Yankees after the season but returned briefly during the 2010 season.

GEORGE KOTTARAS
Originally acquired from the Padres in 2006 when the Red Sox traded David Wells, it took Kottaras until 2008 to make his Major League Debut. He became the principal backup in 2009 when he also showed the ability to catch Wakefield's knuckler. Kottaras did not hit much, hitting only .237/.308/.387/.696 with one home run, but he was a decent defensive catcher. He developed a bit more power after being selected off waivers by the Brewers.

One-Year Wonder Pt. 12: Carlos Pena

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 PENA
Carlos Pena played for the Red Sox? Yep, for 18 games in 2006, the Rays nemesis was with the Red Sox. This was of course before he really became the power-hitting first baseman we think about now. The once highly-touted prospect bounced around a few times, never really finding his niche. Boston was his last stop before finally finding a home in Florida.

He was not too bad in Boston, hitting .273/.351/.424. He did hit one home run and was okay in the field. After the year, Pena was allowed to leave as a free agent. Kevin Youkilis was already firmly entrenched as the starting first-baseman, so Pena did not have a position. Too bad. The next year, he hit 46 home runs and finally became the home run threat he was always rumored to be.