Sunday, March 31, 2013

Random Awesome Photo: 1996 Score #108 Mike Macfarlane

I love photos of catchers in action and this is one of the best ones I have seen in my Red Sox collection.  This is clearly the aftermath of a collision at the plate with Mike Macfarlane on the ground on his back, holding the ball up to show the umpire that he held on.  I can not identify who that is next to him that tried to score though.  I can not even really tell what team that is.  I am pretty sure it is the Orioles though.

Mike Macfarlane spent only one season with the Red Sox.  He played with them in 1995 when they won the AL East.  He did not hit particularly well, but he did contribute 15 home runs.

Score became known early on for their action photos.  This definitely shows why.  This is one of my all-time favorite catcher photos.

Showing Off Again

Tonight I am showing off my favorite Wade Boggs card.  As I have mentioned before on this blog, Boggs was my first favorite player.  I only got to watch him for two years and one of those years was 1992, which was easily the worst year of his career.  Boggs was great in 1991 though so it was not all bad.

After he retired, I started getting a lot of cards of him again.  I added this one after he was elected to the Hall of Fame.  I figured at that point I needed an autograph of him.  The patch was just gravy.  It is from a Red Sox road uniform in the 1980's when they went with a pretty boring uniform.

I always wanted to go to Cooperstown when a big Red Sox player was elected.  Boggs was one of the options I considered.  Unfortunately, I was still in law school at the time, so I could not make it to Cooperstown to watch this one.  Maybe when Pedro gets elected...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Special Unknown Heroes Two-fer: Alfredo Aceves and Vicente Padilla

Last year's Red Sox bullpen was one of the most frightening bullpens in history.  And not because it was particularly good really.  No, last year's Red Sox bullpen was frightening because of the presence of Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves.  To say that they were a little bit unhinged is a massive understatement.  Both pitchers were well-known for some rather unsavory characteristics.
Padilla made some waves when he made some comments about the Yankees' Mark Teixeira.  To put it bluntly, Padilla made comments about Teixeira being better off playing a woman's sport.  Padilla was one of the more consistent arms out of the bullpen, appearing in 56 games and finishing with a 4-1 record and a 4.50 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 50 innings.  He only walked 15.  Padilla was known for occasional use of the eephus pitch.  Padilla is headed to Japan for 2013.
Aceves came into the season as one of Boston's better options as a setup man.  He loosened up in Spring to possibly become a starter but when Andrew Bailey went down with an injury, Aceves was turned into the closer.  He definitely had the confidence to be a good closer, but he did not always have the best results.  Aceves finished the year at 2-10 with a 5.36 ERA.  He did save 25 games though.  He struggled down the stretch, but had been having a decent season early on.  He will likely return to a setup and swing man role in 2013.

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 1: Cy Young

Years with Boston: 1901-1908 (192-112, 2.00 ERA, 1,341 strikeouts, 0.970 WHIP)
Best Year with Boston: 1901 (33-10, 1.62 ERA, 158 strikeouts, 0.972 WHIP)

Cy Young jumped to the new Boston American League team in March of 1901 and instantly gave the team some credibility on the mound.  He had been a star in the National League for over a decade first with Cleveland and then with St. Louis.  He had already won nearly 300 games before he even joined Boston and would win his 300th in his first year with the team.

It was definitely a different time for pitching in the early 1900's.  Young pitched well over 350 innings in each of his first four years.  He also compiled a lot of wins for the young team.  He won 30 games twice and 20 games four more times.  He lead the league in wins three times, losses once, ERA once, strikeouts once, and several other pitching categories in his time with Boston.

While Cy Young's career would have likely gotten him into the Hall of Fame without his time with Boston, that time certainly helped in getting him into Cooperstown.

Unknown Heroes Before My Time Pt. 1: Marty Barrett

I started watching the Red Sox in 1991.  Marty Barrett still had cards showing him with the Red Sox that came out in 1991, but he had moved on to the Padres.

Barrett was a slick-fielding, singles-hitting second baseman for the Red Sox for the greater part of the 1980's.  He did not have a lot of power but was a decent table-setter for Boston.  He made his Major League debut in 1982 but did not have a full rookie season with the team until 1984.  He had a decent rookie season, hitting .303/.358/.383.  He would continue to have numbers close to those through 1988.  Of particular interest was Barrett's ability to walk far more often than he struck out.  He was one of the most difficult hitters to strike out.

1986 was possibly Barrett's best season.  He hit .286/.353/.381 with four home runs, 60 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases.  He lead the league in sacrifice hits, as he would for the next two seasons as well, and was among the league leaders in at-bats and several defensive categories.  In addition, Barrett performed very well in the postseason.  He won the ALCS MVP by hitting .367/.406/.433 with eleven hits and five RBIs.  His success continued in the World Series when he collected 13 hits and ended with a line of .433/.514/.500 with four RBIs.  His 24 hits in the postseason were a record at the time.  It certainly was not Marty Barrett's fault that Boston did not win the 1986 World Championship.

Barrett continued to play reasonably well for a middle infielder of that time period through the 1988 season.  He started to have injury problems though in 1989, suffering a knee injury that would plague him the rest of his career.  His career only lasted an additional three seasons, during which time he only played in 160 games.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Unknown Heroes Pt. 26: Doug Mirabelli

I know that I am not the only one who became a big fan of Doug Mirabelli.  He just always seemed like a regular guy who happened to play baseball.  He did not really look like a ballplayer, he was a little pudgy.  But he did play baseball and for a few years, he was one of the best backup catchers in baseball.

Mirabelli was acquired in a trade with the Rangers in 2001 for Justin Duchscherer when Jason Varitek went down with an injury and Scott Hatteberg could not throw out baserunners to save his life.  Mirabelli basically took over the catcher position that year and hit pretty well, .270/.360/.518 with nine home runs.  Boston traded Hatteberg away after the season signifying that Mirabelli would be there to stay as Varitek's backup.

The next couple of seasons were fairly typical for a backup catcher.  He posted low batting averages and on-base percentages, but he had a little bit of pop in his bat.  His job quickly became the personal catcher for knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.  His fielding statistics were never terribly impressive after that, because it is very hard to be a good defensive catcher while catching knuckleballs.

In 2004, he had the best year of his career for the World Champion Red Sox.  He hit .281/.368/.525 with nine home runs and 32 RBIs.  He combined with Varitek to form the best offensive catching tandem in the game that year.

He was back to normal in 2005, and at 34 years old, he was starting to look like he was going to be done soon.  After the season, Boston traded him to San Diego for Mark Loretta, who made the All Star game in 2006 as a starter for the Red Sox.  It was a decent trade.  But, when new backup Josh Bard proved completely incapable of catching Wakefield's knuckleball the Red Sox rushed into a trade with the Padres, packaging Bard and relief prospect Cla Meredith to re-acquire Dougie.  Mirabelli was able to get Wakefield back on track, but other than his power, his hitting was atrocious.

2007 would prove to be Mirabelli's final season in Boston.  He once again put up poor offensive numbers and at the end of the year it was clear Boston was looking at other options.  Kevin Cash was given an extensive tryout and proved capable of catching the knuckler as well.  Mirabelli played only one game in the postseason as Wakefield was injured for much of it.  That would be the last time he played in the Major Leagues.

Mirabelli reported to the Red Sox in 2008 but was cut before the end of Spring Training.

Mailday 03/28

Today I received two packages in the mail.  It was a bit of a low-end day, but I am not one to ever complain about that.

First up, a one-card base trade in which I received the 2009 Topps Update Tim Wakefield All Star card.  I had no idea this even existed until a couple of weeks ago.  I had to have a card commemorating Wakefield's only All Star appearance.  That and I picked up the jersey card from the same set a couple of weeks before that.  That is Kevin Youkilis and Jonathan Papelbon flanking him.
Then I got this small package of some low-end parallels and inserts.  The Ellsbury is my favorite.  I like the minis quite a bit, though I am not as crazy for them as other bloggers.
Both trades were made on Sports Card Forum.

Spotlight: 2005 Zenith

2005 was one of the years that I was not quite as active as usual in buying new cards.  Much of the reason for this is that I was in law school at the time and did not have a lot of time or money.  In addition the Red Sox had just come off of a long-awaited World Series victory so most cards were coming at a premium price.  I did collect in 2005, but I was focusing most of my attention on Jason Varitek cards.

One of the sets that did jump out at me in 2005 was Zenith.  It was a throwback to some of the Pinnacle brands in the mid 1990's.  The Museum Collection and Artist's Proof parallels were all very impressive with the dufex finish.  They made very attractive cards.  The parallels and inserts with the finish were definitely the big draws here.  As a Varitek collector at the time, I managed to pick up one of each of the parallels.

Of course many of the inserts also had the dufex finish.  Later on I went and grabbed some of those inserts as well.  I am always on the look out for some more of these cards.  So if anyone has any of the Museum Collection or Artist's Proof Red Sox parallels, I could definitely use some.  I have all three Varitek parallels as well as the Johnny Damon Museum Collection and Curt Schilling Artist's Proof.

The scan below shows the Red Hot insert of Ted Williams, Team Zenith card of Schilling, Z Team card of Damon, and Positions card of Manny Ramirez.
The team set was reasonable for a set from this time.  Boston had 12 cards in the set, including most of the big-name players from the World Championship team.  It also had a couple of Hall of Famers and a Rookie Prospect card of Hanley Ramirez.  All in all, it was a very nice set and one of my favorites from 2005.  It was not terribly heavy on game-used and autographs, instead its primary focus was on nice-looking parallels and inserts.  Certainly a rarity in that year.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One-Year Wonder Pt. 15: Cody Ross

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.
One of the biggest things that I hate about the Topps monopoly is knowing that if a player only plays one year for the Red Sox, there will be very few cards available of him.  Take Cody Ross for example.  Even though he had a pretty big year for the Red Sox, he only appeared in 2012 Topps Series Two.  He did get a card in the high number series of Topps Heritage and does have a hard-to-find insert in Topps, but that's it.  I have only been able to track down three cards of Ross so far.  And the biggest issue is that his Topps base card is photoshopped to show him with the Red Sox.

Ross was signed in late January to help solidify the outfield.  He actually ended up being the most consistent offensive player during the 2012 season.  His clutch hits and versatility in the outfield made him a very valuable member of the team.  Ross was able to play all three outfield positions.

For the season, Ross hit a respectable .267/.326/.481 with 22 home runs and 81 RBIs.  He also chipped in 34 doubles.  He did strike out a lot, 129 times in fact, but he put up a pretty good season.  Boston did not bring him back after the season though, choosing instead to go after Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes.  

For his efforts in his sole season with the team, Ross was named the team MVP.   

Mailday 03/27

It was not a real exciting mailday today.  Just one card, but it is definitely one I am happy about.
It looks like a standard base card until you flip it over and see this:
Yep, it's a Venezuelan black back card.  I do not know how rare these are, but I know out of two blasters and a couple of rack packs, I had only pulled one.  So I was happy to add this to my growing Felix Doubront collection.  I have been a big fan of his since he made his debut and last year he looked like a rising star.  Hopefully he builds on that.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lyle Overbay, We Hardly Knew Ye

Boston cut ties with Lyle Overbay today.  After trading for Mike Carp, there was not much room for Overbay.  He immediately found work with the Yankees though, who seem intent on signing every single over-the-hill position player they can find to act as stopgaps until their regulars come back from injuries.

Failed Prospects Pt. 13: Juan Pena

Juan Pena was once one of Boston's most highly-touted pitching prospects.  He ended up making his Major League debut in 1999 after performing well for a few years in the minors.  He made it into two games for the Red Sox and performed really well.  He won both of his starts, pitching 13 innings in the two starts while striking out 15 and walking three.  His ERA was a remarkable 0.69.  It was really an incredible start to his career.

Unfortunately that was pretty much it for Pena.  He missed the entire 2000 season due to injuries.  He was never the same after that.  He continued to pitch in the Red Sox system for another couple of years before moving to the Blue Jays system.  He never made it back to the Major Leagues though.

Injuries did Pena in.  It's a shame.  He had a very promising start.

Mailday 03/25

Since I figured out how to use the scanner at my office, and it is my office, I am a sole proprietor, I figure I will start updating normally when I get new Red Sox.

Yesterday's mailday yielded two packages, one a trade with someone on one of the trading forums of which I am a member.  One of the best things about Topps Heritage SPs is that you can usually get something decent for them because they are always in high demand.  In this particular trade, I got two refractors and an xfractor.  Not bad at all.

I have not been a terribly active pursuer of relic cards lately.  Several years ago they were my favorite things.  I still get them occasionally though and I bought a large lot off of ebay that had five Red Sox game-used cards and an additional insert in it.  It also replenished my trade bait quite a bit.  The Smoltz and Gagne cards picture the players with their previous team's uniform but Red Sox logos.  Those are Red Sox cards in my book.  It is my first jersey card of Smoltz.  I had several other versions of the Varitek jersey, but not that one.  The Beckett is an All Star game jersey from 2007.  All in all, this was well worth the money.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Busts Pt. 21 Carl Crawford

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.
This one hurts.  I have always been a big fan of Carl Crawford, even before he signed with the Red Sox.  A big part of this is likely the knowledge that Crawford was once recruited to play quarterback for Nebraska.  Obviously, living in Nebraska, that was a big deal.  

Most of the reason this one hurts so much is because Crawford was never the player he was with the Rays.  He drove Boston pitchers and catchers nuts.  He was never that player with the Red Sox.  He started off slow in 2011 and just could never get things going.  Even parts of his game that were once strengths did not shine through.  He only stole 18 bases and was caught six times.  He made critical errors in the outfield, particularly one ball he dropped in the last game of the season that lead to Boston losing, and falling out of postseason contention.  In 2011, he was just bad, hitting only .255/.289/.405.  It was just a terrible season.

Then, in 2012 he was injured early on.  He only played in 31 games for the Red Sox, hitting .282/.306/.479 before ending his season early.  He had a decent attitude about things, it just did not work out.  

I was looking forward to seeing Ellsbury and Crawford steal 100 bases between them.  It just never happened.

Crawford was traded as part of the big White Flag trade to the Dodgers in 2012.  He has yet to play for them.  

Pack Breaks 03/25

Today, between court hearings, I picked up a few packs.  For those that have not picked up on it, I am an attorney, I go to court a lot.

Anyway, I bought three rack packs today, two from 2013 Opening Day and one from 2012 Topps Chrome.  I do not buy a lot of either set, but I am getting to the point that I have most of the stuff from Flagship and Heritage.  I was a little apprehensive about the Chrome, because I was only getting 15 cards.  But for reasons that will become apparent, this was the best buy of the day.

The Opening Day stuff was not terribly impressive, especially since I now have three of several cards, including Mike Trout, which is a good problem to have.  Anyone want a 2013 Opening Day base Mike Trout?  Have any Red Sox from my wantlist?  Let me know.  I did pull some inserts as well.  Here is the breakdown:

Play Hard: Jay Bruce
Mascots: Bernie Brewer
Superstar Celebrations: Mike Olt
Ballpark Fun: Jurickson Profar
Opening Day Stars: Felix Hernandez
Blue Sparkle: Adam Wainwright
Base: Just ask

I did get #41 Dustin Pedroia for my Red Sox collection.

As for Chrome, I had a pretty good break.  The usual base cards, three orange retail refractors, and a regular refractor.  Here is the breakdown:

Refractor: Will Middlebrooks
Orange Refractor: Devin Mesoraco RC, Austin Romine RC, Ryan Howard
Base: Just ask

Obviously the Middlebrooks is the big one.  I am having pretty good luck with Middlebrooks cards in packs.  I have pulled three Middlebrooks parallels, and I only have 14 cards of him so far.  I also got the base Adrian Gonzalez, so two Red Sox, including a refractor, out of 15 cards.  Yep, the Chrome was well worth the money.  This time.

I apologize for the bad scan.

The non-Red Sox are for trade.

Season in Review: 1997

The Jimy Williams era did not start off well at all.  Of course the biggest issue was the departure of Boston icons Roger Clemens and Mike Greenwell and the trade of Jose Canseco.  GM Dan Duquette did not do a whole lot to make up for those losses either, choosing to pick up a bunch of reclamation projects and low-risk players.  Two rookies came through though so it was not all doom and gloom.  Just mostly.  Boston finished in fourth place at 78-84.

Mo Vaughn
The Hit Dog had another big year for the Red Sox in 1997, but some cracks were beginning to show in his image.  He dealt with injuries for a big chunk of the year, got in some trouble with the law, and there were starting to be serious concerns about whether he would stay with the Red Sox.  Nevertheless, he hit .315/.420/.560 with 35 home runs and 96 RBIs.

John Valentin
Valentin was the subject of trade rumors coming into the season as he was set to lose his starting shortstop job to Nomar Garciaparra.  Eventually he agreed to move to second base.  Then after Tim Naehring went down for the season, he moved to third base where he played much of the rest of his career.  He very quietly put together a good season, hitting .306/.372/.499 with 18 home runs and 77 RBIs.

Tim Wakefield
Wakefield had moments where he looked like the 1995 version of himself.  He ended up with only a 12-15 record, but his ERA was a decent 4.25 and he pitched more than 200 innings.  He struck out 151 and pitched four complete games with two shutouts, both leading the team.  He was the definition of a workhorse and that was something Boston sorely needed in 1997.

Tom Gordon
Flash started the season as the team's ace by default.  He was the most consistent starter for the Red Sox but ended up with a losing record due to a lack of offensive support when he was on the mound.  After the trading deadline, Gordon was moved to closer, a role in which he flourished, as will be seen in 1998.  For the season, Gordon was 6-10 with a team-leading 3.74 ERA and 159 strikeouts.  He also chalked up 11 saves after moving to the bullpen.

Reggie Jefferson
Jefferson had the highest batting average in the league for quite awhile but did not qualify for the title since he was platooning with Mike Stanley for most of the year.  By the time he started to get enough at-bats to qualify, his average had dropped quite a bit.  He still ended up hitting .319/.358/.470, leading the team in average.  He also hit 13 home runs and drove in 67.  He had a 22 game hitting streak in 1997 as well.

Aaron Sele
Sele showed flashes of brilliance but for the most part was very inconsistent.  He ended up leading the team with 13 wins, against 12 losses, but his ERA was an unsightly 5.38 and he ended up with 122 strikeouts in 177.1 innings.

Troy O'Leary
After a bit of a down season in 1996, O'Leary came back to be the most consistent Red Sox outfielder, which really is not saying much when the outfield consists of Darren Bragg and Wil Cordero.  Still, he hit .309/.358/.479 with 15 home runs and 80 RBIs.  Acceptable numbers for an outfielder, but nothing horribly impressive.

Tim Naehring
Naehring was having a breakout season in 1997, hitting .286/.375/.467 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs through 70 games.  Then he went down with an injury.  He never played again.

Jeff Frye
Frye came into the season as a jack-of-all-trades utility man and played every position but pitcher and catcher at some point in the season.  He quietly put together a very nice season and ended up winning the starting second base job after Naehring got hurt and Valentin moved to third.  He ended up hitting .312/.352/.433 with three home runs, 51 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases.

Jim Corsi
This is how bad Boston was at picking up new players.  Their best acquisition was a middle reliever who pitched in 52 games.  Corsi was pretty decent in the little work that he did, ending up with a nice 3.43 ERA and a 5-3 record, and he struck out almost twice as many hitters as he walked, but there is not much else to say.

Shane Mack
I remember reading some analysts calling this a potential steal.  Mack played in Japan the prior season.  He ended up with a nice batting line, but only played in 60 games due to injuries.  He hit .315/.368/.438, but only hit three home runs and drove in 17.

Bret Saberhagen
The biggest name acquisition the Red Sox got coming into the season was former two-time Cy Young winner Saberhagen.  But due to an injury the prior season, he was not able to make his debut with the Red Sox until very late in the season and only ended up pitching in six games the entire year.  How's that for making people forget about Roger Clemens?

Derek Lowe
Boston made one trade at the deadline, trading off closer Heathcliff Slocumb who was getting bombed a lot to the Mariners for Lowe and Jason Varitek.  It was one of the greatest trades the team ever made, though neither player did much in 1997.  Lowe ended up pitching in eight games out of the bullpen, taking two losses, but with a decent 3.38 ERA.

Jason Varitek
Varitek had one at-bat and singled.

Nomar Garciaparra
Could it be any one else?  This is one of the greatest rookie seasons ever.  Garciaparra was the leadoff hitter in 1997 and ended up hitting .306/.342/.534 with 30 home runs, 98 RBIs (a leadoff hitter record), and 22 stolen bases.  He lead the league in at-bats, hits, and triples and finished second in runs and total bases.  It was an incredible rookie season that ended up with him winning Rookie of the Year unanimously.  He was also the team's lone All Star.

Scott Hatteberg
Hatteberg actually had a somewhat impressive rookie season as well that was completely overshadowed by Nomar's incredible season.  He ended the season taking over the starting catcher job from Bill Haselman by hitting .277/.354/.434 with ten home runs and 44 RBIs.  He actually drew more walks than the dangerous Garciaparra, an ability that would serve him well in his career.

Steve Avery
Like Saberhagen, Avery was a former star pitcher Boston picked up as a reclamation project.  Avery was mostly healthy though, he was just really bad.  The left-hander ended up going 6-7 with an awful 6.42 ERA and 51 strikeouts versus 49 walks in 95 innings.  He also got paid a lot of money to do it, then managed to have his contract for 1998 vest, meaning Boston was stuck with him for another year.

Wil Cordero
Cordero had been moved to left field where his fielding was actually decent for the first time in his career and he was hitting relatively decently for awhile too, that is until he was arrested for domestic assault, then gave a thoroughly embarrassing interview about it.  That was it for Cordero with the Red Sox.  He did hit 18 home runs though, so there is that.

John Wasdin
Seriously, this is all Boston could get for Jose Canseco after a very good 1996?  Wasdin was at least versatile, but he ended up with an ugly 4-6 record and a 4.40 ERA.  He did pitch 124.1 innings and was used as a starter and reliever, even finishing ten games.  His versatility was the lone good thing about him though.  He coughed up 18 home runs, leading to the nickname "Way Back" Wasdin.

Robinson Checo
Another pitcher picked up on the cheap to help Boston fans forget Clemens.  Checo had previously pitched in Japan and was expected to be a decent long-term investment.  It did not work out that way.  He ended up making it into only five games but did have a 3.38 ERA and struck out 14 in 13.1 innings.  Unfortunately this was the high point of his career.

Rudy Pemberton
Like Dwayne Hosey in 1996, Pemberton came off an incredibly strong September the year before to win a starting outfield job.  Also, like Hosey, he tanked.  Pemberton was the starting right-fielder and ended up hitting .238/.314/.365 with two home runs in 27 games.  He was done as a Major Leaguer.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

1991 Topps #155 Dwight Evans

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps.  This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
What a great shot of Dwight Evans on this one.  I still feel that Evans should get some more serious consideration for the Hall of Fame.  Maybe the Veterans' Committee will get him in.  I hope.  Evans was a very good player for a long time, but he possessed a skill set that was not as apparent at the time he played.  Evans was a terrific defensive player who drew a lot of walks.  

This is Evans's final base Topps card with the Red Sox.  He went on to spend his final season with the Orioles in 1991.  He had a bit of a down season in 1990, hitting only .249/.349/.391 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs.  But he was 38 years old so it was not terribly surprising to see him slow down.

There are two versions of this card.  I only have the correct version.  The error version is missing the diamond next to his 162 games leading the league.  In fact I have four correct versions.  I am not one to try to track down errors so I have never sought out that version.

This is easily my favorite card from 1991 Topps.  I think the shot is just amazing.  

Game Summaries?

I have decided to discontinue the Game Summaries until the season starts.  Spring Training just does not count.  That is all.

Underrated Player of the Year: 2009

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.
Boston usually has one really good season from a reliever that seems to come out of nowhere.  That is something of the case with Ramon Ramirez in 2009.  Though he did have a quality season in the Royals pen in 2008, it was somewhat surprising to see him do as well as he did in 2009.  Relievers are fungible and you can never really tell from one year to the next what you are going to get.

Ramirez was acquired in a trade with the Royals in which Boston gave up Coco Crisp.  In 2009, Ramirez was one of the most consistent members of Boston's bullpen, compiling a record of 7-4 with a sparkling 2.84 ERA in 69.2 innings.  His walks and strikeouts were not really anything to write home about, but he came in an got the job done.  Ramirez actually lead the team in pitching appearances that year.  

Of course, he did not pitch nearly as well in 2010 and was eventually dealt to the Giants, where he re-gained his touch for the eventual World Champions.

My Top 10 Wanted Cards

I have seen several other bloggers list their Top 10 Wants along the side of their blogs, so I figured why not? I will put this on the side as well and will update whenever one gets marked off.

1. 2012 Topps Update #US-5B James Loney 
This is very likely to be the only Red Sox card ever of James Loney and it is a super short-printed card, making its value very high for a less-than-impressive player.

2. 2009 SP Legendary Cuts #145 Oil Can Boyd 
Boyd was always more infamous than famous, but somehow he ended up getting a card in Legendary Cuts.  This one is also short-printed and difficult to find.

3. 2006 Flair Showcase Hot Gloves #14 J.T. Snow
I loved these inserts and for a long time I had no idea that Snow was pictured with the Red Sox in this one.  I have the Varitek and even a printing plate for the Varitek.  This one has eluded me however.  It's definitely a cool card for a player who spent a very short time with the Red Sox.

4. 1995 Collector's Choice #572 Rheal Cormier 
These extended cards were available through a mail-in offer, you had to pull the card that permitted you to order a certain number of cards.  I have all of the cards you could mail in to get the extended cards, but not until well after the deal was available.  So I missed out.

5. 1992 Topps Gold #127 Carlos Quintana (Not the Winners card, I have that one)
At one point I tried to get all of the Carlos Quintana cards in existence.  I made several attempts to get this one, but I kept getting the Winners card.

6. 1994 Score Rookie/Traded Changing Places #CP5 Otis Nixon
Similar to the Quintana card above, I kept getting sent the base card.  There is an insert out there, I am sure of it.

7. 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP137 Yamaico Navarro
He did not last long as a Red Sox, and this is the only base card available of him, but I do not have it, so I want it.

8. 1985 Donruss #40 Charlie Mitchell
I have always loved the Rated Rookies subsets in Donruss from 1984 through 1993.  This is the only Red Sox Rated Rookies card I do not own.

9. 2010 Topps Attax #30 Mike Cameron 
One thing that you will find out about me is that I love getting non-base cards of players that do not have a lot of them.  This card of Mike Cameron qualifies.

10. 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter #46 Jarrod Saltalamacchia
This one just eludes me for some crazy reason.  Every time I work out a trade for 2012 A&G cards, the other party never seems to have this one.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Season in Review: 1996

Kevin Kennedy's second and final season as the Red Sox was a letdown after their AL East Championship season of 1995.  There was again a lot of roster turnover and Boston consulted with an individual more known for rotisserie (fantasy) baseball which lead to some slightly unusual personnel decisions.  The team got off to a dreadful 6-19 start which they never really recovered from, despite the fact that they were one of the top teams during the summer.  This was a year when they traded off a lot of players.  Unfortunately, most of the players they acquired did very little.  They finished the season at 85-77, in third place

Mo Vaughn
After his MVP season of 1995, Vaughn was under some pressure to repeat his performance.  If anything, he was better.  Vaughn was the sole All Star for the Red Sox in 1996 as he hit .326/.420/.583.  He lead the league in plate appearances and finished in the top ten in just about every major offensive category.  He hit 44 home runs with 143 RBIs.  It was a monster season for the Hit Dog.

John Valentin
Unlike Vaughn, Valentin was not able to continue his success from the previous season.  He was still decent though, if a little bit more average in 1996.  Valentin ended the season at .296/.374/.436 with 13 home runs and 59 RBIs.  He also stole nine bases while being caught ten times.  His numbers across the board were down.  With the impending emergence of Nomar Garciaparra, Valentin's name started getting bandied about in trade rumors.

Roger Clemens
Despite a losing record, The Rocket was back in fine form.  He finished the season with a 10-13 record, but lead the league with 257 strikeouts and had a 3.63 ERA.  Clemens also replicated his record 20 strikeout game late in the season, this time against the Tigers.  Unfortunately this was the final season for Clemens in Boston.

Jose Canseco
Canseco was on his way to one of his best seasons until missing a month and a half with an injury.  He ended up only playing in 96 games, but finished with a batting line of .289/.400/.589 with 28 home runs and 82 RBIs.  Had he played the full season, he would have likely ended up with 40 home runs and 100 RBIs.

Tim Wakefield
The knuckleballer was nowhere near as impressive in 1996 as he had been the previous season.  He still won 14 games, but lost 13 and finished with an ERA of 5.14.  But he was a workhorse, pitching 211.2 innings and striking out 140.  Such is the plight of the knuckleball pitcher.

Tim Naehring
The longtime prospect continued to improve.  He looked like a good bet to become a star after hitting .288/.363/.444 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs.  He did only get 16 doubles, which is kind of an odd thing for someone with that many home runs.

Mike Greenwell
It was Gator's final season in Boston.  1996 ended up being his final season in the Major Leagues despite an attempt with the Reds.  He ended up only appearing in 77 games, but had a high point when he had a nine RBI game, accounting for all of Boston's runs, a record.  His season line was .295/.336/.441 with seven home runs.

Reggie Jefferson
Jefferson had bounced from team to team for years before finally breaking through in 1996.  He was able to play in over 100 games for the first time due to injuries to Canseco and Greenwell.  He responded with a terrific season, hitting .347/.388/.593 with 19 home runs and 74 RBIs.

Mike Stanley
One of the rare players to come to the Red Sox directly from the Yankees and actually do well.  Stanley was 33 years old but a terrific hitter.  He was not quite the same behind the plate though and 1996 would be his last season as a full-time catcher.  He ended up hitting .270/.383/.506 with 24 home runs and 69 RBIs.  He also walked more than he struck out, unusual for a catcher.  It was the best offensive season by a Red Sox catcher since Carlton Fisk.

Tom Gordon
The diminutive right-hander was brought to Boston to be a number two starter, but he did not end up having a terribly good year.  His record was 12-9 which was a little deceptive because his ERA ended up being 5.59.  He did strike out 171 hitters in 215.1 innings though.

Heathcliff Slocumb
Since Rick Aguilera left as a free agent, Boston swung a trade with the Phillies to acquire closer Slocumb.  He got off to a horrific start but calmed down to become one of the most reliable closers in the league.  He ended up with 31 saves for the Red Sox and 88 strikeouts in 83.1 innings.

Darren Bragg
As I mentioned earlier, Boston traded off a number of players in 1996, including Mike Stanton, Jamie Moyer, Kevin Mitchell, and Jeff Manto.  Bragg was acquired in the Moyer trade and ended up having the longest tenure in Boston of any of the new players.  He hit .252/.357/.365 with Boston and became the team's starting center fielder.  He was always a hard-nosed player which endeared him to the fans.

Mark Brandenburg
This is the closest I could find to a decent rookie in 1996.  The side-arming Brandenburg was acquired in the Stanton trade and ended up with a 4-2 record, 3.81 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 28.1 innings.  Not bad.

Kevin Mitchell
After playing in Japan in 1995, Mitchell returned to the Major Leagues with the Red Sox and was one of the more unusual acquisitions by the team.  He was expected to add some extra pop to the lineup but ended up playing only 27 games.  He hit reasonably well with a line of .304/.385/.413 but only hit two home runs and drove in 13.  He was later dealt to the Reds for two players who never made the Red Sox big league team.

Wil Cordero
Cordero was yet another player acquired because of his offensive ability, despite the fact that he was something less than a wizard in the field.  He was more a disappointment due to getting hurt early on and only playing in 59 games.  He did hit .288/.330/.404 with three home runs and 37 RBIs.  Boston ended up getting Jeff Frye to make up for losing Cordero for most of the season.

Alex Cole
This one is more personal.  I am not sure anyone really expected much out of Alex Cole, but I always liked him.  He was fast and he wore goggles.  It was endearing.  He ended up only playing in 24 games with the Red Sox with a terrible .222/.296/.319 line.  He did steal five bases, but he was caught three times.  Not impressive at all.  He was only brought in, along with Milt Cuyler, in case Dwayne Hosey was a fluke, which he was, but neither Cole nor Cuyler were any good either, so Boston did the sensible thing and brought Lee Tinsley back and then acquired Bragg.  It worked out, sort of.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Want List

Here is a list of the stuff I am looking for:

Non-Specific Red Sox Wants
2012 and 2011 Die-Cuts from Finest, Golden Giveaway

2005 Zenith: Any Museum Collection, Artist's Proof, or other Dufex Cards

Vintage Cards: Tony Conigliaro, Rico Petrocelli, Luis Tiant

2010-2013 Topps SPs

2010-2013 Topps Silk Cards

2012 Topps Archives Wants:
Short Prints: Luis Tiant 217

Gold Foil: Carl Crawford 27, Jacoby Ellsbury 30, Jon Lester 33, Wade Boggs 43, Josh Beckett 57, Clay Buchholz 87, Adrian Gonzalez 101, Dustin Pedroia 122, David Ortiz 136, Kevin Youkilis 164, Jim Rice 184, Andrew Bailey 196

Fan Favorites Autographs: Bill Lee, Luis Tiant

1977 Cloth: Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis

1967 Stickers: Carl Yastrzemski

1969 Deckle Edge: Carl Yastrzemski

1982 In Action: Jacoby Ellsbury

Team Set Wants:
2013 Topps Heritage: Andrew Bailey, Clay Buchholz SP, Jacoby Ellsbury, Joel Hanrahan, Brock Holt/Kyle McPherson, John Lackey, Daniel Nava, David Ortiz SP, Dustin Pedroia SP, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

2013 Topps: Craig Breslow, Daisuke Matsuzaka

2012 Topps Allen & Ginter: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew Bailey, Adrian Gonzalez SP, Jon Lester SP, Carl Crawford SP

2012 Topps Archives: Luis Tiant SP

2012 Topps Opening Day: David Ortiz, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Clay Buchholz

2012 Topps Heritage: David Ortiz SP

2012 Topps Wal Mart Blue: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Erik Bedard

2012 Topps Update: James Loney SP

2011 Topps Gypsy Queen: Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis, Daniel Bard, Marco Scutaro

2011 Topps Chrome Refractor: Kevin Youkilis

2011 Topps Update: Carl Crawford

2011 Bowman Draft: Jose Iglesias

2011 Bowman: Josh Beckett

2010 Upper Deck: Mike Lowell, George Kottaras, Josh Beckett

2010 Topps Attax: Mike Cameron

2009 UD Ballpark Collection: Jason Varitek

2009 Topps Heritage: Jon Lester, John Smoltz, Kevin Youkilis AS, Dustin Pedroia AS, Takashi Saito, Aaron Bates, Daniel Bard, Victor Martinez, Ramon Ramirez, Rocco Baldelli

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter: Dustin Pedroia, Justin Masterson, Jed Lowrie

2009 Topps 206: Josh Reddick, Jon Lester, Mike Lowell, David Ortiz

2009 O-Pee-Chee: Jed Lowrie, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Kevin Youkilis

2008 Bowman Chrome Prospect: Yamaico Navarro

2006 Flair Hot Gloves: J.T. Snow

2005 Sweet Spot: Oil Can Boyd

2005 Studio: Abe Alvarez

2005 SP Legendary Cuts: Carlton Fisk, Lefty Grove, Rick Ferrell

2005 Leaf Limited: Johnny Damon, Edgar Renteria, David Wells, Trot Nixon, Keith Foulke, Manny Ramirez

2005 Donruss Team Heroes: Abe Alvarez, David Ortiz, Dwight Evans, Hanley Ramirez

2005 Diamond Kings: Manny Ramirez, Keith Foulke, Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, Edgar Renteria

2005 Cracker Jack Mini: Mark Bellhorn

2005 Bowman's Best: Willy Mota, Matt Van Der Bosch

2002 Diamond Kings: Ted Williams

1995 Collector's Choice: Rheal Cormier, Vaughn Eshelman, Mike Macfarlane (TRADE cards)

1994 Score Rookie/Traded Changing Places: Otis Nixon

1992 Topps Gold: Carlos Quintana

1991 Red Sox Pepsi: Carlos Quintana

1988 Star Sam Horn Set

1974 Topps: Carlton Fisk

Miscellaneous Cards I Don't Have of the Following Players: (Red Sox Only)
Ryan Lavarnway
Jose Iglesias
Felix Doubront
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Daniel Nava
Junichi Tazawa
Jason Varitek
Carlos Quintana
George Scott
Luis Tiant
Dick Radatz
Babe Ruth

and Sandy Alomar Jr. (Obviously not a Red Sox Player)

If anyone has anything off this list and wants to make a trade, please let me know.  

More Game Summaries 03/18/13 - 03/20/13

I am getting pretty burned out on Spring Training right now.  I am ready for the season to start.  It certainly does not help that Boston has lost the last three games.

Pirates 4 Red Sox 3
Player of the Game:  Ryan Lavarnway (1 for 3, 2 RBIs).  Lavarnway looks like he could make it onto the Opening Day roster due to the injury to David Ortiz.  I predict that by the end of this season he will be starting catcher somewhere.

Orioles 8 Red Sox 7
After being down 7-0 in the eighth, Boston came roaring back to tie it, only to lose on a home run by former Red Sox Danny Valencia.
Player of the Game:  Will Middlebrooks (2 for 3, double)

Yankees 4 Red Sox 0
Player of the Game:  Jackie Bradley Jr. (2 for 4, double).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pack Breaks 03/19/13

Yesterday I had to put my cat that I have had for half of my life to sleep.  It was a thoroughly depressing day and I was feeling pretty bad this morning still.  So since I was at Wal Mart picking up envelopes to mail cards for trades accomplished on one of the trading forums, I decided to pick up something cheap.  I saw rack packs of 2013 Opening Day, a product I don't typically pick up, and they were cheap, so I bought some.

I got two Red Sox:

42 Jon Lester

Ballpark Fun 1 Dustin Pedroia.  This is my favorite of the two cards.  Any time I add a Red Sox insert or parallel, I consider it a very successful buy.  I just don't seem to do it all that often.

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Top 15 Red Sox Starting Lineup Figures

I was pretty late to the Starting Lineup craze.  I think the first time I picked one up was in 1997, just a few short years before they were discontinued.  And of course by that time they were releasing fewer and fewer figures.  When I discovered Ebay though I was able to go back and get a bunch of figures that I never was able to get before.

I liked the figures themselves, but it's the fact that they included cards that really sold them for me.  I could add a card to my collection and display a figure.

So without further ado, these are my Top 15 Red Sox Starting Lineup figures.

15.  PEDRO MARTINEZ (1999)
This was one of my most anticipated pieces.  It was the first one of Pedro with the Red Sox.  There is not much to the pose, but it was Pedro.  And he was quickly becoming the greatest pitcher in the game.  I have three pieces of Pedro.  Always on the lookout for more.

14.  MO VAUGHN (1998)
It is kind of a neat pose and it was a nice piece of one of my favorite players.  But that is about all I really have to say about it.

It is really the pose that makes this one interesting.  I am pretty sure there are others out there like it, but this is the only Red Sox one like it.  It definitely stands out in my collection.

This one made it this high because it was my first special edition SLU.  The pose is kind of boring unfortunately but it is the only Yaz I have.  He does have some other pieces in other special edition sets, but I have not gotten around to getting any of those.

11.  JOHN VALENTIN (1996)
This one has a couple of things going for it, helping it to place so high.  For one, this is the only John Valentin figure released by Kenner.  Secondly, and most importantly, this was my very first SLU.  The pose is not anything to write home about, but it was my first.  I remember seeing it on the wall of a local card shop with a low price tag, and I decided to take the plunge.

10.  SCOTT COOPER (1995)
Again, the pose is not all that interesting, but this was the only Scott Cooper figure issued.  I remember hearing about its existence from a Beckett magazine, but I never actually saw it until I got on Ebay.  What makes this one particularly interesting is that Cooper is not actually pictured on the card, instead it is Damon Berryhill.

Much of the reason for this placement is the pose.  I prefer the fielding poses personally over the hitting poses.  There just is not all that much you can really do with the hitting poses.  This is the only Greenwell figure I have, but I am aware of a few other figures in existence.

8.  NICK ESASKY (1990)
Again, I love the pose on this one.  Esasky stretching to make the catch from another infielder.  This is the only Esasky SLU showing him in a Red Sox uniform, obviously since he only spent one year with the team.  The only downside to this one is that one of the cards shows Esasky with the Reds.  I would almost consider picking up the Todd Benzinger SLU just to switch the rookie year cards.  Benzinger has the same pose.

7.  WADE BOGGS (1990)
I have a couple of Boggs SLUs, he was my first favorite player after all.  But this one is my favorite because of the fielding pose.  The others all show him hitting.  I also love the two cards along with it.  This is one that I searched for for a long time.  I almost bought it at the store when I bought the Valentin, but someone else grabbed it when I set it down for a moment.  It was years before I saw it again.

I do not have a lot of the special edition figures, but this Cy Young was one I had to add.  I love the vintage uniform and the old-style glove and pitching pose.  Plus, it's Cy Freaking Young.  There actually are a couple of other Cy Young figures out there, but this is the only one I have managed to get.

One of the other few special editions I have.  I had to add one of the best hitter in Red Sox history.  I do like this hitting pose and the uniform and card both look great here.  Williams has another piece and one day I might pick it up.  It has been awhile since I bought one.

4.  ELLIS BURKS (1990)
Ellis Burks has some nice SLUs, but none of them come close to matching the awesomeness of this one.  This is the only Red Sox SLU I have seen where the player is on the basepaths.  That added to the fact that there are two cards included and you have a great piece.

How could I possibly pass up The Babe in a Red Sox uniform?  There just is no possible way to do it.  Plus the great pose that I have never seen on another piece and of course the card.  It's Babe Ruth, come on.

It is a great pose and also Nomar's very first SLU piece.  This was a little expensive when it first came out, but my grandparents bought it for me for my birthday when I turned 17.  It was a great gift.

1.  LEE SMITH (1989)
I really do not know what it is about this one.  The pose is not terribly exciting.  Maybe it's the fact that it's Lee Smith, and maybe it's because there are no other Red Sox closers who had SLUs.  I am a big fan of Smith's even though I never actually got to see him pitch for the Red Sox since I started watching the team the year after he was gone.  He is one of those players I just try to pick up as much Red Sox stuff as possible.  And this was definitely a goal.

I have just a couple of disappointments from these.  One, they stopped making them.  Two, Boston never got a catcher.  There was a large team piece that had Rick Cerone, but no individual pieces.  And I don't think the team piece had any cards.  If it had gone longer, we might have gotten a Carlton Fisk Cooperstown collection or a Jason Varitek.  It would have been nice if Tony Pena had gotten a piece, but no.  So no catchers, and that is a shame.  It also would have been nice if the Bruce Hurst figure had been released.  Prototypes exist but are hard to find.  That was the only southpaw SLU made for the Red Sox.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Underrated Player of the Year: 2008

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.
Part of the reason that it took me awhile to warm up to Victor Martinez on the Red Sox was due to the fact that Boston had to trade Justin Masterson to get him.  Masterson proved to be a hero down the stretch during the 2008 season.  He was able to come in to the game in relief and pitch a couple of innings due to being a starter in the minors.  He even performed well in the postseason.

Masterson made his Major League debut in 2008 and quickly turned into a major weapon.  He started nine out of 36 games that year, pitching to a 6-5 record and a 3.16 ERA.  He also racked up 68 strikeouts in 88.1 innings.  He was particularly tough on right-handed batters, allowing a .196 batting average to them compared to a .238 average to lefties.  In the postseason, he had a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings with nine strikeouts. 

Masterson started out slow in 2009 and was traded to the Indians as the major piece in the Victor Martinez trade.  Boston has been rumored to have tried to reacquire him several times.

1991 Topps #123 Greg Harris

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps.  This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
My older brother was a big reason that I got into both of my major hobbies.  He listened to bands like Metallica, Faith No More, Danzig, Alice in Chains, Megadeth, and White Zombie at a time when I was beginning to discover my own musical tastes.  These bands were instrumental in me becoming a big metalhead, which I have continued to this day, even though he grew out of them.  He also collected baseball cards for a few years prior to me getting into them.  He got back into them as I was getting involved.

My first several packs were all 1991 Topps.  My first two packs yielded Dennis Lamp, Tom Bolton, and Dana Kiecker.  Even though I knew with 15 cards in a pack, I was not going to be getting Red Sox cards in every pack, it still bothered me that my third pack contained no Red Sox at all.  Well my brother got the Harris card in the pack that he bought at the same time I bought mine.  He offered to trade me his Harris for the checklist card I got in my pack.  I never forgot that.  We have had our problems over the years, but I still remember that day.  It was my first ever trade.

Harris had a good year in 1990 as the third starter behind Roger Clemens and Mike Boddicker.  He finished 13-9 with a 4.00 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 184.1 innings.  It was the first year that he started more than half of the games he appeared in, starting 30 out of 34 games.  For his first full season as a starter it was decent.  He returned to the bullpen the next year.

Harris was one of my first unknown heroes, along with Jody Reed and Carlos Quintana, players that made an impact but were not superstars.  I also always liked the fact that Harris was ambidextrous, like me.

Game Summaries: 03/15/13-03/17/13

Catching up here.  Spring Training will only last a couple more weeks.  It is looking more and more likely that Stephen Drew, David Ortiz, Franklin Morales, and Craig Breslow will all start the season on the Disabled List.  This could lead to Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway, and Jackie Bradley Jr. all making the big league club, as well as delaying a tough decision on Clayton Mortenson, who was impressive last year, and Daniel Bard, who has looked good this year.  I still think we will see a trade before the season.

Red Sox 3 Orioles 3
Game 1 of a split-squad doubleheader ended in a tie.  Boston had a few chances to put the game away but just could not do it.
Player of the Game:  Bryce Brentz (1 for 2, home run).  Making his Spring Training debut after shooting himself in the leg, Brentz wasted little time in showing that he is one of the best power-hitting prospects in the Red Sox system in years.

Red Sox 5 Twins 0
Game 2 of the doubleheader went to Boston without any doubt.
Player of the Game:  Felix Doubront (4 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts).  Doubront looks pretty good after a slow start to the Spring.  Looking forward to him this year.

Red Sox 9 Rays 2
Alfredo Aceves started the game on his return to the team from the WBC.  He almost managed to start a brawl.  Aceves is crazy, not Vicente Padilla-crazy (who is?) but he's crazy.
Player of the Game:  Ronald Bermudez (3 for 4, run, 2 RBIs)

Red Sox 5 Rays 2
The Red Sox wore green today and beat the Rays in at least the 417th time they have played them this year. These two teams are going to be very familiar with each other by the time the season starts.
Player of the Game:  Jon Lester (6 IP, 6 strikeouts).  The Red Sox had a perfect game through eight innings and man, Lester looks ready to put 2012 behind him.  Good thing too.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pack Breaks 03/14/2013 and Game Summaries 03/10-03/14

I am going to start posting my latest pack breaks.  I used to do this regularly a while ago, but it's time to keep it up.  I like buying packs and getting good cards out of them  It is very satisfying to get a good Red Sox card, unfortunately it is also very rare.

Today on my way back to my office from Court, I stopped off at Target to try my hand at a blaster of 2013 Heritage.  I like Heritage pretty well because Topps puts in some efforts to put a lot of different players in the set and it is usually the first one featuring players in new uniforms.

Today, I got two Red Sox:
155 Red Sox Sockers featuring Will Middlebrooks and David Ortiz.  This is an homage to the 1964 card with Chuck Schilling and Carl Yastrzemski.

385 Pedro Ciriaco.  This one is my favorite of the two.  There are tons of Ortiz cards and a steadily increasing number of Middlebrooks cards, but I really like cards of lesser-known players.  This is the first Red Sox card of Ciriaco.

I also actually got a jersey card today, something that has become increasingly rare.  Frustratingly it is a Rangers jersey card of Mike Napoli.  Oh if only he had signed his contract with the Red Sox sooner.  Then this might be a Red Sox card.

Red Sox 6 Rays 2
John Lackey was a little hittable in this one but still got the win.  He could surprise some people this year.

Player of the Game:  David Ross (1 for 3, 3 run home run).

Marlins 8 Red Sox 7
Boston blew a big lead with Rubby De La Rosa and Chris Carpenter taking beatings.  It outshined a decent offensive day which featured home runs by Mike Carp, Will Middlebrooks, and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Player of the Game:  Jackie Bradley Jr. (3 for 4, run, 2 RBIs, home run, double)

Red Sox 5 Blue Jays 3
Clay Buchholz is having a nice Spring Training.

Player of the Game:  Clay Buchholz (4 IP, 3 hits, 1 strikeout)

Red Sox 7 Twins 3
Player of the Game:  Jacoby Ellsbury (2 for 3, 2 runs, RBI, double).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sorry for the Delay in Posts and a Big Thank You

Last week I received a nice-sized box of cards from Adam over at Thoughts and Sox.  It was my first blog trade and it was a great one.  I am just sad I don't have a scanner right now to show off some of the pickups.  Adam must have spent a long time pouring over my Have List to come up with well over 200 cards I did not have.  I don't even know where to start with the highlights, there are some great ones in here.  So in no particular order here are some of my favorites:

-2009 Topps 206 and 2009 UD Goodwin Champions Jason Varitek.  There are not a lot of Varitek cards out there I do not have.  Just look at the list on the right, but Adam found a couple.

-2008 Topps Heritage T205 Clay Buchholz.  I loved the Topps 205 set from 2003, so I was excited to see this further throwback to the early set.

-2010 Topps Ring of Honor Inserts:  I only had Varitek and Manny Ramirez previously, but now have Curt Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jacoby Ellsbury.

-2008 Masterpieces Cards:  I always liked this set, but for some reason never bought much of it.

-Vintage Cards:  Lots of vintage goodies, including cards of Diego Segui, Danny Cater, Rick Burleson and Mike Nagy from the 70's, Mike Fornieles and Mike Higgins from the 60's, and a very interesting Dave Sisler from the 50's.

All great stuff, thanks a lot.

Some of My Cards

I don't have a scanner so I can't really get around to showing off some of my stuff.  But at one point that was different.  So I dug up my old photobucket account and I am going to show some stuff off once in awhile.

So here is the first scan:

From left to right, top to bottom:

1.  2004 Timeless Treasures Home Away Gamers Dual Jersey Ted Williams.  A dual jersey of Ted Williams.  This thing was not terribly cheap but who could pass up a dual jersey card of the greatest Red Sox ever?

2.  2004 Sweet Spot Sweet Threads Prime Manny Ramirez.  What a great-looking patch from Manny.  This is from the 100th Red Sox anniversary patch the team wore in 2001, I think.  I have a Trot Nixon jersey with this patch on the shoulder that was a gift from a former girlfriend.

3.  2004 Absolute Memorabilia Tools of the Trade Material Combo Manny Ramirez.  Nice Manny cards are reasonably inexpensive and I think I got this for under $20.00.  It has two jersey pieces, a bat piece, glove piece, and a shoe piece.  

4.  2003 Bowman Chrome Xfractor Autograph Kevin Youkilis.  Sometimes you have to get in before the player becomes a star.  I got it during his rookie season, it would have been a lot more later on.

5.  2003 Topps Tribute World Series Relics Carlton Fisk.  A great picture from his walkoff home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series complete with a bat piece and a piece of the Green Monster.

6.  2002 SP Legendary Cuts Autographs Billy Goodman.  I wanted a cut auto from Legendary Cuts for a long time but they were in very high demand.  So I had to narrow my focus to some lesser known players.  I ended up with this one, still my only one.  Goodman won the batting title in 1950 but never really had a permanent position.

7.  2003 Topps Pristine Yellow Printing Plate Hanley Ramirez.  I always liked printing plates for some weird reason and this was one of my first ones.  I also jumped on this before Hanley became a big star.  I have a lot of decent cards of Hanley which would have been better if he had more than two at-bats with Boston.  I was always disappointed that Boston moved him.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

03/09/2013 Orioles 5 Red Sox 2

Boston continued to have problems with the Orioles last night.  Part of that was presumably due to the lineup looked more like the 2013 Pawtucket Red Sox than the Major League team.

Player of the Game:  Felix Doubront (3 IP, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts).  It was not a very good game.

Friday, March 8, 2013

03/08/2013 Twins 2 Red Sox 0

Dempster gave up two runs for his first faulty start of the season but he did pick up a couple of strikeouts.  The offense was virtually non-existent.  Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Sweeney, Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp, and Christian Vazquez contributed the only hits.  Stephen Drew was out with a mild concussion.  Iglesias time?

Player of the Game: Christian Vazquez (1 for 2, double)

Underrated Player of the Year: 2007

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.
One of the biggest reasons that Boston was so successful in 2007 was their bullpen.  Anchored by Jonathan Papelbon and also featuring strong years from Hideki Okajima, Javier Lopez, and the ageless Mike Timlin, their bullpen was one of the best they have had in a long time.  2007 was also the second full season by Manny Delcarmen, the Boston native.  

Delcarmen pitched in just 44 games due to starting the season in Pawtucket, but he made it to the Red Sox to stay in mid-June and made a big impact.  Delcarmen pitched to a very impressive ERA of 2.05 and struck out 41 in 44 innings against 17 walks.  He also finished with a nice WHIP of 1.023.  It was a very strong season and Delcarmen made the case to become the principal right-hander out of the pen for the next couple of years.    

Delcarmen was effective again in 2008 as the main setup man but then began to falter in 2009.  He struggled in 2010 before being traded to the Rockies.  It was his last year in the Majors.  Delcarmen has been bouncing from team to team trying to make it back since.

Season in Review: 1995

1995 was another abbreviated season as the strike continued to early in the year.  Replacement players reported to Spring Training, some of whom would eventually make it back to the Majors later.  There was no free agency between the seasons so all of the new players were acquired in trades.  Boston was very active on that front as there was a massive overhaul of the team.  It was successful as they won the AL East with an 86-58 record under Kevin Kennedy for the first time.

Boston played the juggernaut Indians in the ALDS and were swept in three games.

Mo Vaughn
The 1995 AL MVP won the award mostly due to the fact that he was not a complete asshole like Albert Belle who actually had vastly superior numbers.  Vaughn was probably elected the MVP due to his intangibles more than his numbers, though he certainly had good numbers.  Vaughn hit .300/.388/.575 with 39 home runs and tied for the league lead for RBIs with 126.  He also shockingly stole 11 bases in 1995.

John Valentin
As good as Vaughn was, Valentin was probably better, certainly because he played a tougher position.  Valentin hit .298/.399/.533 with 27 home runs and 102 RBIs.  He also stole 20 bases becoming the first Red Sox 20/20 man since Ellis Burks.  He was also very good defensively.  He lead the Majors in WAR in 1995, which was not really a thing at that time.  It was a terrific season that has mostly gone unnoticed.  He did win the Silver Slugger and finished ninth in the MVP race.  Had it happened around this time, he may have won it.

Roger Clemens
Clemens did not have a great year in 1995.  He was injured the first part of the year and he did finish the year with a 10-5 record.  He also struck out 132 batters in 140 innings pitched, but his ERA was a decidedly unimpressive 4.18.  It was a good thing that Boston had other pitchers to pick up the slack.

Tim Naehring
After years of being so close to cracking the starting lineup, Naehring finally got a chance to prove himself in 1995.  He became the full-time third-baseman after the trade of Scott Cooper to the Cardinals and instantly responded.  Naehring hit .307/.415/.448 with ten home runs and 57 RBIs, all the while playing good defense.  Naehring looked to be a rising star in 1995.

Mike Greenwell
Greenwell managed to put together a fairly successful season as well.  He hit .297/.349/.402 with 15 home runs and 76 RBIs.  It was a fairly typical year for the Gator.

Lee Tinsley
Tinsley became the starting center fielder after Otis Nixon was traded away, though he had a couple of threats to his job in the acquisition of Willie McGee and the rise of Dwayne Hosey.  His numbers were not bad, but Boston never seemed to totally trust him.  He ended the season with a .284/.359/.402 line and seven home runs, not bad numbers for a leadoff hitter.  He also stole 18 bases.

Jose Canseco
My young mind was blown when Boston traded for Jose Canseco, one of the biggest stars I was aware of when I started watching baseball.  And he was not that far removed from those days.  Canseco struggled through some injuries but put up some big numbers when he was healthy.  He ended the year with a .306/.378/.556 line with 24 home runs and 81 RBIs.

Tim Wakefield
Wakefield had been a success for the Pirates in 1992 but struggled the next couple of years.  He was a low-risk, high-reward reclamation project.  It definitely paid off in 1995 as Wakefield finished third in the Cy Young race and 13th in the MVP race.  He struggled a bit down the stretch, otherwise he would have won the Cy Young.  He finished the season 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA and 119 strikeouts, a great season for the knuckleballer.

Erik Hanson
Hanson started out the season as the most reliable Red Sox starter and quietly put together a very good season.  He was named to the All Star team for the first time, though he never pitched in the game.  He finished the year 15-5 with a 4.24 ERA and 139 strikeouts.

Troy O'Leary
Another low-risk, high-reward signing, O'Leary was waived by the Brewers and picked up when Mark Whiten was struggling.  O'Leary ended up hitting .308/.355/.491 with ten home runs and 49 RBIs.  They were not great numbers, but for his first real crack at a Major League job, they were nothing to sneeze at.

Rick Aguilera
1995 was the first year I was really aware of the trading deadline.  I realized that Jeff Reardon was traded away and Rob Deer was acquired at the deadlines, but this was the year I really learned about it.  Boston was contending but Ken Ryan was failing as a closer, so they sent top prospect Frank Rodriguez to the Twins for Aguilera who ended up compiling 20 saves for the Red Sox and really helped them make the playoffs.  Of course he returned to the Twins after the season.

Vaughn Eshelman
Eshelman had a very good start to his career, winning his first three Major League games, not bad for a Rule V pick.  He ended the season with a 6-3 record and a 4.85 ERA.  Not bad, but certainly not great numbers for the rookie southpaw.

Mark Whiten
I had high hopes for Mark Whiten.  Two years before, he hit 25 home runs for the Cardinals.  He was picked up in the trade for Scott Cooper.  Both Cooper and Whiten disappointed for their new teams.  Whiten was hurt a lot and ended up hitting only .185/.239/.241 with just one home run in 32 games.  He was eventually traded for Dave Hollins who played just five games for Boston.

Aaron Sele
Sele pitched on Opening Day and was expected to bust loose for the Red Sox after two decent seasons to start his career.  Unfortunately he was shut down with a season-ending injury early on and only ended up pitching in six games for the Red Sox in 1995.

Luis Alicea
Alicea had a decent year all the way around in 1995 but he really shined in the ALDS.  He had six hits in only ten at-bats and also had two walks, ending up with a line of .600/.667/1.000.  He also had a home run, a double, and an RBI.  Boston had a miserable ALDS, but it was not Alicea's fault.

Mo Vaughn
Vaughn was quite frankly, terrible in the 1995 ALDS.  He did not have a single hit and struck out seven times in 14 at-bats.  Miserable numbers that did not help the team at all.