Saturday, January 31, 2015

A New Varitek

I completed a trade with an Australian Varitek collector recently, using one of my non-Red Sox Varitek cards as bait.  Here is the new card:
This is a 2008 SPx Winning Materials jersey card numbered out of 99.  I don't get to add too many more Varitek cards anymore.  There just are not that many out there that I don't already have anymore.  But this is card #876 for my Varitek collection.  I hoped to get up to 900 this year.  That is very unlikely.

Season in Review: 2009

Getting back into some of my old series here.

In 2009, Boston once again won the Wild Card with a record of 95-67.  They were swept out of the first round of the postseason by the Angels.

Jason Bay
Bay proved to be a very good replacement for Manny Ramirez.  He was incredibly productive as a hitter and was voted to the All Star game.  For the year, Bay hit .267/.384/.537 with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs.  He was a little bit of a liability in the field though and was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season.  He finished seventh in the MVP race and won the Silver Slugger.

Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis had his second consecutive outstanding season at the plate in 2009.  He hit .305/.413/.548 with 27 home runs and 94 RBIs.  He was an All Star and finished sixth in the AL MVP race.

Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia followed up his MVP season with another great year.  He was an All Star for the second time and ended up leading the league in runs with 115.  He also hit .296/.371/.447 with 15 home runs and 72 RBIs, while stealing 20 bases.  He walked 74 times versus just 45 strikeouts.

Jon Lester
Lester emerged as the ace of the rotation in 2009, going 15-8 with a 3.41 ERA and 225 strikeouts in 203.1 innings.  He was just 25 years old at the time and it appeared that the sky was the limit for Lester.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury put his speed to great use in 2009.  He lead the American League in stolen bases with 70 and triples with 10.  His stolen base mark shattered the Red Sox previous record of 54 set by Tommy Harper in 1973.  Ellsbury could also hit, putting up a line of .301/.355/.415.

Josh Beckett
Beckett had another excellent season in 2009.  He lead the team in wins, going 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA and 199 strikeouts.  He was an All Star for the second time in his term with the Red Sox.

Jonathan Papelbon
Papelbon continued his terrific work out of the bullpen, making it to the All Star team for the fourth time in a row.  He saved 38 games with a miniscule 1.85 ERA and racked up 76 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched.

Tim Wakefield 
As a 42-year-old, the knuckleballer was named to his first All Star team.  Unfortunately he never made it into the game.  Wakefield went 11-5 with a 4.58 ERA.  His numbers were a little better at the break.

Takashi Saito
Saito was signed as a low-cost option for the bullpen and was very effective.  He was 3-3 with a 2.43 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 55.1 innings, saving two games.  Saito parlayed this season into a multi-year deal with the Braves.

Rocco Baldelli
The long-time Rays outfielder attempted to come back from his mitochondrial issue with Boston as a fourth outfielder.  Baldelli was effective in limited work, but was not ready to return full-time.  He hit .253/.311/.433 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs.

Victor Martinez
The Red Sox acquired the Indians catcher for a package headed by Justin Masterson at the trading deadline after Jason Varitek continued to decline.  Martinez was terrific down the stretch for his new team and hit .336/.405/.507 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs in just 56 games.

Daniel Bard
It is hard to remember now, but Bard was terrific early in his career.  The rookie right-hander was a big boost for the bullpen, saving one game and going 2-2 with a 3.65 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 49.1 innings pitched.

Brad Penny
Boston took a chance on the former 20 game winner, hoping to fill out their rotation.  Despite the occasional decent start, Penny ultimately ended up with a 7-8 record and a 5.61 ERA.  He was cut loose and caught on with the Giants and turned his season around.

John Smoltz
The future Hall of Famer was entering his last season.  He failed to impress in 8 games, going 2-5 with an ERA of 8.33.  Convinced he was finished, Boston released him as well.  He finished his final season with the Cardinals with a slightly more respectable record.

Jonathan Papelbon
Boston failed to impress in the ALDS.  But Game 3 appeared to be going their way, until Papelbon blew the save, giving up three runs after Boston handed him a two-run lead.

Friday, January 30, 2015

1992 O-Pee-Chee Exclusives

I am not referring to the O-Pee-Chee Premier set here.  This is the Canadian version of Topps.  Most of the time these cards were basically the same as the Topps cards, except for the French text and the brand logo.  But sometimes, O-Pee-Chee deviated somewhat.  This may have been by not including cards, updating the team logo, and once in awhile, providing a card that was not in Topps at all.

These are the cards that O-Pee-Chee had in their set that were absent from Topps:
1.  John Dopson.  Dopson was a 12 game winner in 1989, but injuries derailed his career after that.  He pitched in just four games in 1990 and one in 1991.  No wonder he did not appear in many 1992 sets.  But he returned in 1992, going 7-11 in 25 games.

2.  Matt Young.  Young was a fairly high-profile signing for the Red Sox in 1991.  It did not work out well.

3.  Mike Brumley.  This is the card that I was most-excited by.  Brumley was originally a Red Sox draftee, but was traded to the Cubs along with Dennis Eckersley for Bill Buckner.  He returned to Boston in 1991, but I only ever had one card of him, his 1992 Score card.  I had no idea until recently that another Red Sox card of him even existed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Bunch of 2014 Wantlist Hits

Here we have a package that knocked a bunch of stuff off my wantlist:
1.  2014 Topps Allen & Ginter Roger Clemens

2.  2014 Topps Allen & Ginter Dustin Pedroia.

3.  2014 Topps Update World Series Heroes Manny Ramirez.  Ramirez was the MVP of the 2004 World Series. 

4.  2014 Stadium Club Future Stars Xander Bogaerts.  Technically this was not on my wantlist, but a die cut card is always exciting.

5.  2014 Stadium Club Shane Victorino.  Love the photo here of Victorino being mobbed after a clutch hit, possibly during the postseason.

6.  2014 Stadium Club Pedro Martinez.  The lighter side of Pedro.

7.  2014 Stadium Club Roger Clemens.  Celebrating his 20 strikeouts in the 1986 game.

8.  2014 Stadium Club Ted Williams.  Nice shot of him during his military service.

9.  2014 Stadium Club Wade Boggs.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Plethora of Papis

In one package, I added a bunch of new Ortiz cards, pulling me to within two cards of my goal of 500.  Several of these were parallels that I had not yet added, with a couple of nice inserts for good measure.  My favorite is the Elite die-cut card numbered to just 34.  I love a good die-cut.  With just two cards to get to get to 500 now, that resolution is firmly within reach.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Oh Sure, Smoltz Can Have a Post Too...

Pedro Martinez is not the only former Red Sox pitcher to make it into the Hall of Fame this year.  Of course, John Smoltz is not in the Hall of Fame because of his time with Boston.  Smoltz was just 2-5 with a 8.33 ERA in eight games with Boston.  So his time with Boston was rather forgettable.  These are just two out of the ten Red Sox Smoltz cards I have, along with my only relic.  I just thought I would show him a little appreciation since I did the huge Pedro post yesterday.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In Honor of Pedro Entering the Hall with the Red Sox...

I promised some time ago that I would show off some Pedro Martinez cards.  On Thursday it was announced that Pedro would be depicted with a Red Sox cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.  It was kind of an obvious selection, but at any rate, I figured in honor of that announcement I would show off some Pedros:

In this first scan, you can see my very first Pedro Martinez card, the 1998 Fleer Tradition.  Sure that is actually him in an Expos uniform, but I still felt I should show off the card that started it all.  I got that one in a pack and was very excited.

The third card in the scan is from the 2001 Post set, possibly the last time cards appeared in boxes of cereal.  It was not much of a surprise as this card was visible on the box.

The fourth card was my first Pedro game-used card, only my third game-used Red Sox card overall.
The second card in this scan is one of the rare bat cards, also with teammates Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon, and Shea Hillenbrand.

The seventh card was my first patch card of Pedro.

The next one shows the massive size difference of the two most dominant pitchers of the late 1990's.
Here we have a couple of very low-numbered Pedro relics.  The Diamond Kings bat/jersey is numbered out of 25 and the Playoff Honors patch is numbered out of 10.  I love those Leaf Exhibits cards in the first row.
We have some unusual items in this scan.  The first card is a game-used ball card and the second card features two game-used base pieces.  I think I like those Sportscasters inserts even more than the Exhibits.  

So there you go.  Some of my favorite Pedro Martinez cards.  Now that he is a Hall of Famer, I suspect we will see even more cards of him this year.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Nice Trade Package

I have made a number of trades lately that will help fill some holes.  There are a ton of 2014 cards on my wantlist right now, so this definitely helped with that.  

The first trade was for a few Cardinals cards and resulted in this:
1.  2014 Bowman Chrome Mini Xander Bogaerts.  Xander has been growing in my collection.  Hopefully he is ready to become the star we suspect he will be this year.

2.  2014 Bowman Prospects Purple Trey Ball.  Ball improved as the season went on last year, which is good, because he is one of the highest draft picks Boston has had in years.

3.  2014 Topps Update Future is Now Mookie Betts 1.  Betts is going to be one of the fastest growing players in my collection in 2015.  I am up to 10 now.  It is likely I will be near 30 or 40 by the end of the year.

4.  2014 Topps Wal Mart Blue Koji Uehara.  Uehara was one of the fastest growing players last year.  He is currently one of my favorite players to compile cards of.

5.  1995 Fleer Update Vaughn Eshelman.  Eshelman was one of the rare Rule 5 players Boston picked up that stuck around for a while.  He was immediately successful winning his first three starts in 1995.

6.  1995 Fleer Update Lee Tinsley.  Tinsley was a fairly decent regular for Boston in 1995, hitting .284/.359/.402 with seven home runs and 18 stolen bases.

7.  1996 Fleer Dwayne Hosey.  Hosey had a terrific stretch in the end of 1995, displacing Lee Tinsley and Willie McGee while hitting .338/.408/.618 with three home runs in 24 games.  He was given the starting job in 1996, but could not hold on to it.

8.  2014 Bowman 1989 Wade Boggs.  There were a few of these nice-looking inserts last year for the Red Sox.  I have the Bogaerts, now I have the Boggs.  I think there is an Ellsbury as well.  I am not as excited about the Ellsbury for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

1991 Topps #530 Roger Clemens

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
I have been neglecting some of my ongoing series for a long time.  I am going to try to get back into them.  This is yet another example of a great photo from this set.  We have the Rocket standing in front of the Green Monster next to the words "Strike Out".  A great-looking picture.

Clemens was one of the best pitchers in the game at this time.  He should have won the Cy Young Award in 1990, which would have been his third award.  Bob Welch of the A's took it home though, almost exclusively due to his 27 wins.  Welch was 27-6 with a 2.95 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 238 innings.  Clemens, on the other hand, was 21-6 with a league-leading 1.93 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 228.1 innings.  Other than the victories, Clemens was pretty obviously the better pitcher.

He would go on to win his third Cy Young Award in 1991 though.  It would be his last with the Red Sox, though he would win four more in his career with three other teams.  The less said about those years, the better.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Love Free Stuff

I received this today for free:
This is a jersey card from last year's Panini Immaculate Collection of Carl Crawford.  The jersey piece is green, so it may be from a St. Patrick's Day game, or it could be from his Tampa Bay days.  I have no idea.  The important part is, it was free.  Awesome.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Let's See Some Variteks

There was a thread topic recently about whether anyone had any complete player runs with all parallels from one set.  That got me thinking about my Varitek collection, since I am a ways away from anything impressive with my Sandy Alomar Jr. collection.  I do have a couple of runs with Varitek.  And since things have been slow on this blog recently, not many new Red Sox cards to show off of late, though that will change soon, I thought I would show them off.

First off, the 2005 Leaf Certified Materials run:
The base did not show up well, but that is the non-game-used portion.  The Mirror Black is at the bottom and is numbered 1/1.

And here is the game-used portion:
Oddly, the emerald cards were the last ones that I got of each of these.  It is my understanding that there is supposed to be a Mirror Black Autograph, but I have never seen that one.  The Emerald bat was the last one that I picked up, which did not happen until 2009. 

And now, my favorite one, the 2000 Pacific Prism complete run:

This one took some time to complete too.  None of the cards were terribly rare, but not a lot of people really opened much Pacific for some reason.  I love this set personally.  It is disappointing that the Prism set that Alomar appeared in did not have as many parallels.

And now, just because I can, I am going to show off some of my favorite Varitek cards:
 This button card was my first really high-end Varitek card and still one of my favorites. 
My first MLB Logo patch card.  I actually have three different Varitek MLB Logo cards.
This was my second one and my favorite.

Now for some high-end cards with teammates:
Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Manny Ramirez.
David Ortiz, oddly listed as a 1B, and Jonathan Papelbon.
And Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Curt Schilling.

Finally, my all-time favorite Varitek card, my bat barrel:
Thanks for stopping.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Congratulations Pedro Martinez! (And John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, and Craig Biggio)

We have for new Hall of Famers today, two of whom have had some time with the Red Sox.  I liked Biggio and Johnson, but since this is a Red Sox blog, Smoltz and Martinez are the big names.  Smoltz spent just a small part of his career with the Red Sox and was not terribly impressive, but hey, it was his last season and he definitely deserves this.

But Pedro Martinez will likely make it into the Hall of Fame wearing a Red Sox cap on his plaque.  So, he is definitely the highlight here for me.  So because of that, I am showing off my favorite Pedro Martinez card in my collection.

As for the other Red Sox:

-Curt Schilling actually increased his vote total, as did Roger Clemens

-Nomar Garciaparra stays on the ballot, getting just over 5% of the vote

So there you go.  Some day, I will dig out a bunch of my Pedro Martinez cards, and I have a lot, over 600 in fact.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Topps Chrome Blaster

I complained earlier that I had horrible luck with packs last year.  Well on Friday I decided to see if my luck had changed with the new year.  Spoiler alert: Yes.
1.  Koji Uehara.  The first pack yielded a base card of Koji Uehara, one of my current favorite players.

2.  Xfractor Xander Bogaerts RC.  Damn nice pull if I do say so myself.  A terrific parallel of the X-man.

3.  David Ortiz.  Now up to 489, 11 to go to meet my goal.

4.  Purple Refractor Jon Lester.  I will miss Lester.  He has been a big part of the team since he was drafted in 2002.  I remember when he was almost traded to the Rangers along with Manny Ramirez for Alex Rodriguez.

And here is the tradebait:
As usual, I am taking offers for Red Sox I need.  Mookie Betts is a priority right now, as well as anything on my wantlist.  Of course Sandy Alomar Jr. cards would also help.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

First New Card of 2015

1.  2014 Topps Chrome 1989 David Ortiz.  I did a one for one trade that lead to this card.  A nice insert of Ortiz.  I am one card closer to one of my 2015 goals.

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Annual Hall of Fame Post

As I (try) to do every year, I am going to be looking at the Hall of Fame ballot and give my unsolicited opinions.

This is probably the biggest "huh?" on the ballot.  I do remember when Aurilia was a pretty good player for the Giants.  He had a great year in 2001.  Still, if he gets a single vote, I will be very surprised.

He is statistically one of the Top 10 first-basemen in history.  For some reason steroid rumors have plagued his candidacy despite the fact that he was never really implicated when he played.  I will always wonder what he could have done had he never been traded from the Red Sox.  Boston had Mo Vaughn though who was almost as good for a few years.

He should be getting in this year after falling just two painful votes short last year.  He had a unique career, coming up as a catcher and then moving, successfully, to second base, with some center field thrown in a couple of times.  He also racked up over 3,000 hits.

Okay, my view on PEDs: if it was legal at the time in the game, then it should not keep players out.  Bonds was one of the best players in the game before the steroids.  Bonds is the all-time and single season home run leader.

His candidacy is based entirely on his ALCS-winning home run.  That came against the Red Sox.  He has a colorful nickname because of it.
MY VOTE: No.  And not just because of his moment against the Red Sox.

Clark had some nice seasons for Detroit after moving Cecil Fielder out of town.  He was also a well-respected leader during the labor crisis of 2002, which was his only season in Boston, also his worst season.  But he was never really a great player.

Like Bonds, he should be in despite the steroid rumors.  Clemens was an all-time great pitcher who won multiple Cy Young Awards, an MVP, and a ton of other honors.  He is one of the greatest Red Sox pitchers ever.

Delgado quietly put together a fine career but was largely overshadowed by bigger sluggers during his career.  He actually came fairly close to 500 home runs, which I had no idea.  I remember him mostly due to my little brother's fandom.  Unfortunately if you are going to play a power position like first base, you better be incredible to get in the Hall.

A fine player with some fine seasons.  But again, other than some select moments, such as the 2005 World Series, he was largely overshadowed by players on his own team.  Not a good sign for Hall of Fame candidacy.

I was a big fan of Erstad.  Being a Nebraskan, I remember him from his college days as our best hitter and the kicker on our football team.  So I have always had a soft spot for him.  But other than his terrific 2000 season in which he racked up 240 hits, he was never really a star player.

Floyd was the subject of a lot of hype when he was in the minors with the Expos.  But he did not quite live up to the hype.  Sure, he had a good career, but he was never really in the discussion as one of the top players in the league in any season.

Yes his career was a little short.  Yes, he declined significantly after being traded from the Red Sox.  But from 1997 to 2003, he was one of the best players in the league.  And he was a shortstop.  I am probably biased on this one because Nomar was one of my favorite players.  But he was a two-time batting champ and a Rookie of the Year.  I think he should be in.

Giles was a pretty good outfielder for the Indians, Pirates, and Padres.  He had a career .902 OPS, which is impressive, and surprising since I was only sort of aware that he was playing most of the time.

Flash had quite the varied career.  He was a starter in Kansas City, a dominant closer in Boston, and then became a very good setup man.  He had a great season in 1998 for the Red Sox, but not much else that distinguished him.

Everyday Eddie was a pretty solid closer for the Twins for a few years, but to get in as a closer, you have to be really special.  Guardado just wasn't and he only ended up with 187 saves for his career.  That is not going to get it done.

A lock for the Hall of Fame.  One of the best left-handers ever.  No question.
MY VOTE: Yes.  

Kent was one of the best-hitting second basemen of all time.  He did it kind of quietly until he got to San Francisco when he won the 2000 MVP.  He and Bonds were an offensive force.

Paul Molitor and Frank Thomas have paved the way for a full-time designated hitter to get into the Hall of Fame.  DH is a position, though it is a specialized position.  We have closers in the Hall, though it is necessary for them to be really special.  DH should be the same way.  Edgar was special.

Three-time Cy Young winner.  Had one of the greatest seasons by a pitcher ever in 1999.  Yes, his career was short, but he was electrifying.  One of two shoe-ins for the Hall.

It is probably a bit hypocritical of me to vote Nomar in, but not Mattingly.  Mattingly had a similarly short peak when he was one of the best hitters in the game.  One difference makes me more comfortable with that.  Position.

If he had made it to 500 home runs, his chances would have been better.  McGriff was always a very good hitter, but he was seldomly the biggest star on his own team.  He very quietly put together a great career, but he never really felt like a Hall of Famer when he was playing.

Yes, steroids were a big issue.  Yes, he is being punished, though his 1998 season helped bring baseball back to the masses.  A relatively shorter career and several injury-marred years make his candidacy a little tougher.  But he did hit 563 home runs, albeit in a time when everyone was hitting home runs.
MY VOTE: Yes, for 1998.

I am coming around on Mussina's candidacy.  A very consistent pitcher over the course of his career.  I wanted Boston to sign him in 2001 originally instead of Manny Ramirez.  No real eye-popping statistics though.
MY VOTE: No, but I could be convinced.

Another closer, though with a lot better stats than Guardado.  I remember him as a particularly nasty closer for the Angels.  Still not enough.

Probably miscast as a catcher, but he could really hit.  Steroid cloud hanging over him though it is pretty much all speculation.

Overshadowed by Rickey Henderson, but he was a terrific base-stealer and leadoff hitter for the Expos.

A surprisingly strong case when looking past the low number of wins.  He was one of the best control pitchers of all time.  He was also a terrific postseason performer.  His late-career stint as one of the best pitchers in the game from 2001 to 2004 propels his candidacy.

Kind of a head-scratcher on this ballot.  Occasional good seasons but not enough of them and not good enough.

A great hitter for a long time, he did manage to get to 500 home runs.  May have been more of a product of his era.  Did use steroids, though he claims it was mistakenly.
MY VOTE: No, but I can be convinced.

Once held the career saves record.  That mark has since been obliterated.  I really liked Lee Smith but if he is not in yet, he likely never will be.
MY VOTE: No, regrettably.

More than 200 wins and a Cy Young Award as a starter.  More than 150 saves as a closer.  Part of a terrific Braves staff that already features two Hall of Famers.  Smoltz makes three.

Another steroid guy.  He hit 60 home runs three times and had 600 for his career, but that is pretty much it.
MY VOTE: No, but I could be convinced.

At least as good as Ripken, Ozzie Smith, and Barry Larkin.  One of the best shortstops of the 1980's before Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra revolutionized offense for the position.  Nevertheless, he should be in, as so should his double play partner.

This one is tough.  Other than a terrific 1997 season, he was never really one of the best players in the league.  His stats may have been inflated by Coors Field, though I have not studied them in depth.  A great hitter though and a tough choice.
MY VOTE: Probably not, but I could be convinced otherwise.

So my picks are Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, Randy Johnson, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, and Alan Trammell.

If I was forced to do just ten, I would drop Kent, Edgar, McGwire, Raines, and Trammell, but I would have a hard time doing it.

Welcome to the Hall Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez.  Bagwell and Piazza barely miss.  Nomar barely gets 5% to stay on the ballot.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015: Looking Ahead

I don't typically make collecting goals, so this is going to be a little weird.  Nevertheless, here we are:

1.  Knock a couple of cards off of my Top 10 List. 

As of today, that list is:
  • 1. 2006 Flair Showcase Hot Gloves #14 J.T. Snow
  • 2. 2013 Topps Archives 1989 All Stars Retail #WM Will Middlebrooks
  • 3. 2005 Diamond Kings #325 Edgar Renteria
  • 4. 2013 Topps Turkey Red #52 Dustin Pedroia
  • 5. 2011 Topps Heritage #500 Peter Bourjos/Ryan Kalish/Daniel Nava/Chris Heisey/Logan Morrison SP
  • 6. 1996 Donruss Diamond Kings #2 Mo Vaughn
  • 7. 2009 Topps Heritage #445b John Smoltz
  • 8. 2014 Donruss Signatures #36 Daniel Nava
  • 9. 2013 Panini Hometown Heroes Nicknames #16 Shane Victorino
  • 10. 2010 Topps Tribute #89 Babe Ruth T205
Some of those should be easy.  Some of them will be pretty difficult.  I would love to add the #1 card, if I can ever find it.

2.  Get up to 500 David Ortiz cards.  I have 487 so this should not be hard.

3.  Get up to 900 Jason Varitek cards.  I have 875 so this will be a little tougher, especially since there are not a ton still out there.

So nothing too difficult here.  I would love to make some more trades, move some more of my stuff I don't want, and knock a bunch of stuff off my wantlist.  Pretty easy.