Saturday, April 23, 2016

One-Year Wonder Pt. 25: Luis Alicea

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.
Boston needed a second-baseman coming into the 1995 season as Scott Fletcher struggled in 1994 and Tim Naehring was expected to take over at third base.  So Boston acquired the switch-hitting Alicea from the Cardinals for Jeff McNeely and Nate Minchey, two players who were basically spare parts at the time.

Alicea was an underrated part of the 1995 team that won their division.  He did a lot of the little things to help the team win.  He hit .270/.367/.375 for the season and hit six home runs.  In one game he hit home runs from both sides of the plate.  Alicea also stole 13 bases and came in second in the league for sacrifice hits and sixth for sacrifice flies, showing a willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team.
Defensively, Alicea had his best season yet, finishing in the top five AL second-basemen in a number of categories, including assists, putouts, and led the league in double plays turned.  It was a sparkling defensive season that was overlooked because of the presence of Roberto Alomar at the position in the AL.

In the postseason, Alicea was one of the few players that played well in the three game sweep at the hands of the Indians.  He had six hits in the three games and hit a home run, a double and stole a base.
Unfortunately Boston wanted more offense in 1996 and declined to bring Alicea back.  He returned to the Cardinals as a free agent and Boston acquired Wil Cordero to play second.  Cordero could hit, but was forced to move to left field in 1997 due to his defensive inadequacies.
Alicea did eventually return to Boston, as a first-base coach in 2007 and 2008.

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