Sunday, July 22, 2012

Week in Review: July 15-July 21

The week started off reasonably well with a win in the final game of the Rays series, and taking three out of four from the White Sox.  Then the Blue Jays came to town and the Red Sox seem to have massive problems with them.  The Jays won the first two games of the series to close out the week.

Jon Lester's terrible season continues as he looked horrible against the White Sox.  Josh Beckett and Aaron Cook also had trouble with the Blue Jays.

The week started promisingly enough with Carl Crawford being activated from the disabled list finally and Dustin Pedroia came back later in the week.  Brent Lillibridge and Mauro Gomez were jettisoned to make room for them.  Crawford contributed three stolen bases in the loss to the White Sox.

Cody Ross hit three three-run home runs over the course of the week and could be named Player of the Week for the AL.

Underrated Player of the Year: 2002

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.
Casey Fossum emerged as a full-time pitcher for the Red Sox in 2002. He was never really a top prospect, he just kind of arrived. Fossum was very versatile in his time with the Red Sox and this was the year that he showed this versatilty the most. Fossum pitched in 43 games in 2002, starting twelve, finishing thirteen, and coming in somewhere in the middle in the other nineteen.

Fossum generally pitched pretty well too. He went 5-4 with a 3.46 ERA and 101 strikeouts in just over 106 innings. Decent numbers for someone without a clear role. He did walk a lot of batters and gave up a lot of hits, but he mostly limited the damage.

Fossum would later be the key piece the Diamondbacks got in the Curt Schilling trade, but he never pitched as well as he did in 2002.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 24: Trot Nixon

Trot Nixon was not a completely unknown player. He was the seventh overall pick in the 1993 draft and of course he was a big player on the 2004 World Champion Red Sox. But Nixon did not develop into the player he was expected to be when he was drafted and he was never an All Star. Nixon never received a single MVP vote. He played well, but he mostly played under the radar.

Nixon had a couple of brief stints with the Red Sox in 1996 and 1998 before making the big leagues for good in 1999. He immediately showed the kind of player he would become with a high on-base percentage, some power, and strong defense. Nixon emerged as a very good player in 2001 when he hit .280/.376/.505 with 27 home runs and 88 RBIs. He was one of the most consistent offensive players on the team that year.

He had a similar power year in 2002, but his batting average and on-base percentage dropped. Then in 2003, he had his best season, hitting .306/.396/.578 with 28 home runs and 87 RBIs. He finished in the top ten that year in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Yet he was not an All Star or received an MVP vote, even though the Red Sox were in contention that year.

Injuries started to take their toll in 2004, though he was healthy by the time the World Series came around and he hit .357/.400/.507 in the Series. He was back to being a regular in 2005, but his numbers were not as impressive and they declined even more in 2006. The Red Sox let him go to Cleveland after the season signing the similar J.D. Drew instead. Nixon was done as a regular though and did not play much with the Indians. He ended his career with 11 games with the Mets in 2008.

Nixon is the original Boston Dirt Dog and he will always be remembered fondly.

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 15: Smoky Joe Wood

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.
"Can I throw harder than Joe Wood? Listen, my friend, there's no man alive can throw harder than Smoky Joe Wood!" - Walter Johnson.

I came across a website recently where a lot of fans were espousing their beliefs that Smoky Joe Wood should be in the Hall of Fame. I have personally never really considered that because his pitching career only lasted seven full seasons and then he attempted a comeback as an outfielder that was ultimately unsuccessful.

Wood was certainly a great pitcher in his time. He finished his career with a record of 117-57, a .672 winning percentage. He also had a career ERA of 2.03, a shockingly low number. Wood was actually a high-strikeout pitcher for a couple of years when that was fairly rare. He struck out 231 in 1911 and 258 in 1912. His other years were more pedestrian. Wood is fifth in career ERA and tenth in career winning percentage.

Wood was certainly a famous player, pitching for the World Champion Red Sox in 1912 and putting together one of the greatest pitching seasons ever that year by going 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA. He went 3-1 in the World Series that year.

Unfortunately, Wood suffered an arm injury that curtailed his pitching career. He was basically done as a pitcher in 1915, though he did pitch well that season. Many of the aforementioned commenters felt that Wood should be in because Sandy Koufax is in. There may be something to that as Koufax had only six great seasons as a pitcher, but Koufax's career as a pitcher last twelve seasons, compared to Wood's eight. I just do not think that is close enough to get Wood in, especially since he was only great for six.

THE VERDICT: I just can not justify putting Wood in with only an eight-year pitching career, no matter how great those years are. His hitting stats were not good and do not rise to the level of getting him in either.

Is Jimmy Collins in the HOF as a Red Sox?

After doing Herb Pennock yesterday, I was looking at plaques and came across Jimmy Collins.  Collins spent seven years with the then-Boston Americans and is likely in the HOF mostly on the basis of those years.  He was one of the best position players in the early years of the American League.

This is his plaque:

There is no cap on his plaque.  The only thing we have to look at is the collar and the tie.  Luckily we also have this online exhibit from Dressed to the Nines.

Clicking on that link will lead you to what the Boston uniforms looked like in the early 1900's and the tie matches that on this uniform.  I think it is clear Collins is wearing a Boston Americans uniform on his HOF plaque.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Season in Review: 1991

1991 was the first season I watched baseball.  I was 10.  I do not remember watching too many games that season.  More than anything, I just collected cards.  The Red Sox finished in second place in the A.L. East that season.  Joe Morgan managed the team in his final season as the team's manager.

Wade Boggs: 
Boggs was my first favorite player.  He was far and away the team's best hitter, even though he did not have a lot of power.  In 1991, he hit .332/..421/.460 with eight home runs and 51 RBIs and 42 doubles.  Boggs finished second in the batting race that year and made the All Star team.

Ellis Burks:
Burks was the best pure athlete on the team in 1991.  Coming off a season in which he won the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger, Burks slumped quite a bit in 1991.  He hit only .251/.314/.422 with 14 home runs, 56 RBIs, and six stolen bases.  Far cries from his previous seasons.  The talent was still there, he just did not play well.

Roger Clemens:
Clemens was without a doubt the best and most popular player on the team by this point in his career.  Clemens won his third Cy Young award in 1991 by going 18-10 with a 2.62 ERA and 241 strikeouts.  He lead the league in ERA, strikeouts, games started, shutouts, and innings pitched.  He also made the All Star team in 1991.

Mike Greenwell:
Greenwell was no longer the great hitter he was in 1988 and 1989, but he was still pretty decent.  Greenwell hit .300/.350/.419 with nine home runs and 83 RBIs.  He lead the team with 15 stolen bases.  He finished second on the team in most offensive categories.

Carlos Quintana:
Quintana was playing in just his second full season with the Red Sox in 1991 and had already shown himself to be a decent contact hitter and a surprisingly good defensive first baseman.  He hit .295/.375/.412 with 11 home runs and 71 RBIs.

Tony Pena:
Pena was fascinating to watch behind the plate.  He had one of the most bizarre crouches of any catcher I have seen.  Pena was not much of a hitter, but he was a good defensive catcher and won the Gold Glove in 1991.  Pena lead the league in a number of defensive categories in 1991.

Jeff Reardon:
I have long been a fan of closers and that the case from the start as Reardon was the closer for the Red Sox in 1991.  He had his tenth season in a row of 20+ saves and saved 40+ games for his third team.  Reardon saved 40 games, setting a team record that would last several seasons.  He also made the All Star team.

Jody Reed:
Reed was a scrappy second baseman with doubles power and a good eye at the plate.  He was a pesky contact hitter who hit .283/.349/.382.  He was a reliable defender at second base and also had his third straight season of more than 40 doubles.

Jack Clark:
Clark was acquired as a free agent from the Padres prior to the year.  He was the Red Sox's best power hitter, leading the team with 28 home runs and 87 RBIs from the designated hitter position.  He hit .249/.374/.466 in 1991 and lead the team with 96 walks.

Phil Plantier:
Plantier only made it into 53 games for the Red Sox down the stretch but he played so well that his cards were on fire.  He hit .331/.420/.615/1.034 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs.  Unfortunately he really did not have a position as the Red Sox had reliable starters at all three outfield positions and designated hitter.

Is Herb Pennock in the HOF as a Red Sox?

The cap a player wears on his Hall of Fame plaque is important.  It is meant to signify the team the player made his most indelible mark with.  The Hall of Fame takes this very seriously.  But sometimes there are some unusual choices.  Dave Winfield decided to go in as a San Diego Padre instead of the New York Yankees while Nolan Ryan chose the Texas Rangers and Reggie Jackson chose the New York Yankees.  There are some players whose logos cannot be seen at all, such as Catfish Hunter.

This brings us to Herb Pennock.  Pennock pitched 11 seasons with the Yankees, going 162-90 with a 3.54 ERA.  He pitched in nine seasons with the Red Sox over two stints going 62-59 with a 3.67 ERA.  He was on two World Champion teams with the Red Sox and was a decent pitcher, but not a star.

However, let's look at his Hall of Fame plaque:

It is often stated that the reason Pennock is in the Hall of Fame is due to his work with the Yankees, but this plaque seems to show him with the Red Sox.  It is not completely obvious, but it looks like the bottom of a "B" can be seen just above the bill of his cap.  It certainly does not look like an "NY" and the only other team he played for was the Philadelphia A's.  

Then there is this picture, which looks a lot like it might have been the picture, or at least from the same set of pictures as the one used to create the plaque.  

Notice the piping on the uniform shirt and the hat and the facial features.  This looks like it proves that the cap Pennock is wearing on his Hall of Fame plaque is a Red Sox cap.

Underrated Season: Scott Fletcher 1993

A lot of people are saying "what the hell?" right now.  It's true though when you look at WAR numbers, Scott Fletcher had a surprisingly good season in 1993.  His WAR was 4.6 that season.  About half of that is due to his defensive value which was probably his biggest asset at that point in his career.  He was the second most valuable position player on the team in 1993 when looking at WAR.  Only John Valentin was more valuable.  Fletcher was in the top five that year in fielding percentage, total zone runs, and range factor.

Beyond his defense, Fletcher was a decent offensive second-baseman.  He hit .285/.341/.402 with five home runs, 45 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases.  Decent numbers, especially for a middle infielder at the time.  He also scored 81 runs, was caught stealing only three times and struck out only 35 times, compared to 37 walks.

Fletcher was not a big-name player.  He was a complementary part, but he was a particularly valuable one for the Red Sox in 1993.

1991 Topps #14 Dennis Lamp

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps.  This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.

This was one of my very first cards.  I got this card in my first pack along with Tom Bolton.  Lamp was a journeyman middle reliever who was one of workhorses of the team.  He pitched in 47 games in 1990, covering 105.1 innings with a 4.68 ERA, going 3-5.  Lamp was 37 that year and he only pitched two more seasons.

Underrated Player of the Year: 2001

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.
Doug Mirabelli did not start out the season with the Red Sox. The catching platoon was supposed to be handled by Jason Varitek and Scott Hatteberg. And that would have been the case had Varitek not gone down with an injury after threatening to break out in a major way. Hatteberg simply was not a good enough defensive catcher to shoulder the full-time role, he had major problems with stolen bases. Hatteberg would not even be a catcher after 2001.

So Boston had to do something. They traded Justin Duchscherer to the Texas Rangers for Mirabelli. Duchscherer was a promising pitching prospect so it was a difficult move, but they needed a catcher.

Mirabelli played in 54 games with the Red Sox that season and finished in the top ten in assists and runners caught stealing for the year. He was also a pleasant surprise offensively as he batted .270/.360/.518 with nine home runs. Mirabelli would be a very capable backup catcher for the rest of his career with the Red Sox.

A Developing Ace?

Felix Doubront has been one of the Red Sox best pitchers so far this year.  He leads the team in wins, ERA, and strikeouts while being second in WHIP.  He has been throwing a lot of pitches and looks like he will be held to an innings limit this year, but the potential is there for him to develop into a much better pitcher.  He has shown four above-average pitches which has contributed to his success.  I said last year that I thought he could make the leap to the starting rotation this year.  It looks like I was correct.

One-Game Wonder: Jack Chesbro

Jack Chesbro is a Hall of Famer.  He is somewhat of a questionable choice, most of his merits have been tied into his 1904 season when he won 41 games, pitched an incredible 454.2 innings and had a microscopic 1.82 ERA.  Outside of that season, he is a somewhat less-than-deserving choice.

But that's not why we're here.  Chesbro pitched for the Red Sox for only one game in 1909.  One.  Game.

It was the end of his career and he was picked up off of waivers from the Yankees.  He pitched six innings, giving up seven hits and four runs, three earned, taking the loss.  He struck out three and walked four.  And that was the end of his career.

Update to Previous Post

Last year, I made a post about relatives to play for the Red Sox here.  Last year there was a new addition to that list with the acquisition of Mike Aviles.  Mike Aviles's uncle Ramon Aviles played for the Red Sox as well:

Ramon Aviles 1977: one game, one at-bat.
Mike Aviles: 2011-present: Aviles has been a serviceable shortstop and has been putting together a nice season.  He has hit .298/.416/.714 with 12 home runs as a member of the Red Sox.

Red Sox Year by Year Hall of Famers

I was curious as to which Hall of Famers played for the Red Sox each year.  Here is the breakdown:

1901: Jimmy Collins, Cy Young
1902: Jimmy Collins, Cy Young
1903: Jimmy Collins, Cy Young
1904: Jimmy Collins, Cy Young
1905: Jesse Burkett, Jimmy Collins, Cy Young
1906: Jimmy Collins, Cy Young
1907: Jimmy Collins, Tris Speaker, Cy Young
1908: Tris Speaker, Cy Young
1909: Jack Chesbro, Tris Speaker
1910: Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker
1911: Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker
1912: Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker
1913: Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker
1914: Harry Hooper, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker
1915: Harry Hooper, Herb Pennock, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker
1916: Harry Hooper, Herb Pennock, Babe Ruth
1917: Harry Hooper, Herb Pennock, Babe Ruth
1918: Harry Hooper, Babe Ruth
1919: Harry Hooper, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Babe Ruth
1920: Harry Hooper, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock
1921: Herb Pennock
1922: Herb Pennock
1923: NONE
1924: Red Ruffing
1925: Red Ruffing
1926: Red Ruffing
1927: Red Ruffing
1928: Red Ruffing
1929: Red Ruffing
1930: Red Ruffing
1931: NONE
1932: NONE
1933: Rick Ferrell
1934: Rick Ferrell, Lefty Grove, Herb Pennock
1935: Joe Cronin, Rick Ferrell, Lefty Grove
1936: Joe Cronin, Rick Ferrell, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Heinie Manush
1937: Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Rick Ferrell, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove
1938: Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove
1939: Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Ted Williams
1940: Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Ted Williams
1941: Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Ted Williams
1942: Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams
1943: Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Al Simmons
1944: Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr
1945: Joe Cronin
1946: Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams
1947: Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams
1948: Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams
1949: Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams
1950: Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams
1951: Lou Boudreau, Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams
1952: Lou Boudreau, George Kell, Ted Williams
1953: George Kell, Ted Williams
1954: Ted Williams
1955: Ted Williams
1956: Ted Williams
1957: Ted Williams
1958: Ted Williams
1959: Ted Williams
1960: Ted Williams
1961: Carl Yastrzemski
1962: Carl Yastrzemski
1963: Dick Williams, Carl Yastrzemski
1964: Dick Williams, Carl Yastrzemski
1965: Carl Yastrzemski
1966: Carl Yastrzemski
1967: Carl Yastrzemski
1968: Carl Yastrzemski
1969: Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski
1970: Carl Yastrzemski
1971: Luis Aparicio, Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski
1972: Luis Aparicio, Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski
1973: Luis Aparicio, Orlando Cepeda, Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski
1974: Carlton Fisk, Juan Marichal, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1975: Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1976: Carlton Fisk, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1977: Carlton Fisk, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1978: Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1979: Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1980: Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Tony Perez, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1981: Dennis Eckersley, Tony Perez, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1982: Wade Boggs, Dennis Eckersley, Tony Perez, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1983: Wade Boggs, Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski
1984: Wade Boggs, Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice
1985: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice
1986: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, Tom Seaver
1987: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice
1988: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice
1989: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice
1990: Wade Boggs
1991: Wade Boggs
1992: Wade Boggs
1993: Andre Dawson
1994: Andre Dawson
1995: NONE
1996: NONE
1997: NONE
1998: Dennis Eckersley
1999: NONE
2000: NONE
2001: NONE
2002: Rickey Henderson
2003: NONE
2004: NONE
2005: NONE
2006: NONE

Some notes:

1.  I only went through 2006 because players who retired after 2006 are not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame.

2.  Red Ruffing only pitched in eight games in 1924 and never really hit his stride as a good pitcher until after he was traded to the Yankees.

3.  Joe Cronin only played in three games in 1945, his last season as a player.

4.  Jack Chesbro, Heinie Manush, Al Simmons, Juan Marichal, Tom Seaver, and Rickey Henderson were all well past their prime before joining the Red Sox.  None of them were regular players or played all that much.  Henderson was still useful as a backup outfielder however.

5.  Waite Hoyt was just getting his career started when he was with the Red Sox.

6.  Dick Williams is in the Hall of Fame as a manager, not as a player.

7.  The years with no current Hall of Famers are 1923, 1931, 1932, 1995-1997, 1999-2001, and 2003-2006.  There are no potential Hall of Famers in 1923, 1931, or 1932 to be elected by the Veterans Committee.  Roger Clemens still has a shot at being elected covering 1995 and 1996.  Pedro Martinez will likely be elected covering 1998-2004.  Curt Schilling looks like a decent shot for 2004-2007.  That leaves 1997.  I would still argue that Nomar Garciaparra stands a chance given his dominance at a prime position from 1997-2003.  From 2008 forward, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz look like outside shots.

Underrated Player of the Year: 2000

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.
You might have been wondering when I would get to Rich Garces. He could have been in 1998 or 1999 as well, but I am trying to only list a player once. 2000 was not his best year numbers-wise, but it was the first year as a full-time player. He pitched in 64 games which was a career high. He also won eight games, striking out 69 in 74.2 innings with 24 walks and a 3.25 ERA. His WHIP was an impressive 1.165. He was worth 1.9 WAR which is a pretty good number for a middle reliever.

Beyond the numbers, El Guapo had become a fan favorite mostly for his portly physique. He did not look like an athlete at all. But he was reasonably successful. Unfortunately his success was not long-lasting. He had similar numbers in 2001 but collapsed completely in 2002 and was out of the major leagues. Such is the fungibility of middle relievers.

My Thoughts on the Kevin Youkilis Trade

I am late to this.  I was very disappointed that Boston decided to trade Youkilis on one hand, but on the other, it was clearly time to move on.  Youkilis had not been playing well this season and there were really no indications that he would start anytime soon.  With his salary, he could not simply ride the bench.  But yet Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Will Middlebrooks all deserved to play, meaning there was nowhere to play Youkilis.

Youkilis was one of my favorite players and had been since his debut.  So it is weird seeing him in another uniform.  It is even worse seeing him do so well for the White Sox while Middlebrooks has been going through some growing pains in Boston.

The worst part about all of this is that Boston did not really get anything worthwhile from the White Sox in the trade.  Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart came over and Boston contributed money in the deal.  Lillibridge had a 13 home run season last year in part time work but was struggling this year.  His best asset is his versatility as he can play in the infield and outfield.  He played in ten games with the Red Sox before being designated for assignment.  He hit .125/.125/.125 with two singles in 16 plate appearances.  Thus far he has not been picked up by another team, so hopefully there is a chance at salvaging him.  Stewart was once considered one of the best pitching prospects in the majors.  He has been traded a couple of times in the last few years.  In five games since the trade, he is 1-1 with a 3.81 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 28.1 innings   with six walks and 31 hits allowed.  Not great numbers, but reasonably promising.  It is clear Stewart is the "prize" such as it is in this trade.

So, Youkilis is gone now and it is disappointing.  He has brought Red Sox fans a lot of fond memories.

Boxscore: May 7, 2012: Red Sox 11 Royals 5

For my birthday this year, my wife bought tickets to the Red Sox visiting the Royals on May 7.  This was the first game in six years that I been to, luckily it was another big offensive game for the Red Sox.

Felix Doubront took the mound for Boston on this night.  It was one of his big games after a Red Sox loss.  Doubront pitched 6.1 innings scattering seven hits.  He did give up five runs, only three of which were earned as Will Middlebrooks made an error in the game.  He struck out two and walked three.  This was not one of his better games, but it was enough.  Vicente Padilla pitched the rest of the game for a save.  His eephus pitch was used a few times that night.

The offensive hero of the night was Middlebrooks who connected for a three run home run in the first to right field and then a two run home run in the eighth to left.  He also doubled, going 3 for 5 on the night.  Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run home run and David Ortiz hit a solo shot as well.  Ortiz's was deep to center field.

Every Red Sox starter had at least one hit.  Pedroia and Cody Ross doubled, everyone else contributed at least a single.  Mike Aviles, Darnell McDonald, and Kelly Shoppach each had one hit.  Adrian Gonzalez and Marlon Byrd had two, with Gonzalez driving in a run.  Aviles and Pedroia each stole a base.  Nick Punto made it into the game at the end as a defensive replacement.

There was not a lot to say about the Royals offense.  Mike Moustakas doubled, but all of their other hits were singles.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Current State of the Red Sox

This has been a very frustrating year.  The injury bug has really taken a toll with about half the team spending time on the disabled list at some point.  Carl Crawford and Andrew Bailey still have yet to play in even one game this year.  Many players have been struggling as well.  Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester have performed below expectations this year.  I was also disappointed that the Red Sox only had one All Star, David Ortiz.  So yeah, this year has been frustrating.  I am planning to post a little more often in the near future with some information on current team issues as well as a look at past players.