Monday, April 25, 2016

Red Sox With No Cards: 1996

1996 was more of the same as 1995.  Boston used a ton of players in 1996 and a lot of them spent only a short amount of time with the Red Sox, particularly with regard to the pitchers.  Most sets were still smaller and focused on the big stars.  Role players, short-term call-ups, utility players, and middle relievers were in short supply in sets.

A sidearm relief pitcher, Brandenburg was acquired at the 1996 trading deadline along with fellow No Red Sox card member Kerry Lacy for lefty reliever Mike Stanton.  He made his Major League debut with the Rangers earlier in the year.  Brandenburg pitched in 29 games down the stretch after being acquired by the Red Sox and was a very effective pitcher, with an ERA of 3.81 and a 4-2 record.  He struck out 29 in 28.1 innings and only walked eight.  Brandenburg was part of a reformed bullpen that helped Boston get back into contention down the stretch.  Brandenburg had no cards made of him after 1996, despite being a big part of the Red Sox bullpen in 1996 and 1997.  Brandenburg was traded back to the Rangers along with Aaron Sele and Bill Haselman for Jim Leyritz and Damon Buford, though he did not pitch in the Major Leagues again.

Despite coming up through the minor leagues as a catcher, Clark only played a handful of games at the position, likely due to defensive deficiencies.  Clark had a little bit of pop in his bat and the ability to play a number of positions.  He made his Major League debut in 1992 with the Tigers, then spent a couple of years with the Padres before joining the Red Sox in 1996.  He spent most of the year with the Pawtucket team and even appeared in a Pawtucket Red Sox team set.  He played in just three games for the Red Sox at the end of April picking up just three at-bats without a hit, while playing first, third, and DH.  Clark played in Japan after 1996.

Alex Cole is frustrating from a card standpoint.  He has cards issued with the Cardinals, Padres, Indians, Rockies, and Twins, even though he never actually played for the Cardinals or Padres.  He did play for the Red Sox though, yet has no cards issued of him with them, though he does appear in a Red Sox minor league set.  Cole was known for his speed as he stole 40 bases in his debut season, then had three other seasons of more than 25.  Cole started the 1996 season with the Red Sox and played in 24 games with them, hitting just .222.  He did steal five bases, but if he could not get on base, it was not worth keeping him around.  He spent most of the season in Pawtucket and never made it back to the Major Leagues.  Cole has had some legal issues since his playing career ended.  

Once one of Detroit's top prospects, Cuyler was never really able to make it all click.  Cuyler's rookie season in 1991 was reasonably impressive as he stole 41 bases and finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote.  Unfortunately that was the last season that he played in 90 games or more.  The Tigers eventually grew tired of waiting and released him.  The Red Sox picked him up prior to the 1996 season and he appeared in 50 games for them.  But like Alex Cole, Milt Cuyler really did not hit for the Red Sox, batting just .200 in 134 at-bats.  He hit two home runs and stole seven bases.  Cuyler did not play in 1997, but did re-emerge in 1998 with the Rangers. 

John Doherty was once a promising young pitcher with the Tigers.  He was a 14 game winner for a decent Tigers team in 1993, but he struggled in 1994 and found a place in the bullpen in 1995.  He was placed on waivers by the Tigers just prior to the season in 1996 and was picked up by the Red Sox.  Doherty spent most of the season in the minor leagues and did have a couple of cards for Red Sox minor league teams.  He pitched in three games for Boston in April, throwing 6.1 underwhelming innings.  That was it for his Major League career.

This one kind of makes sense.  Grundt was in the Major Leagues for such a short period of time that his Baseball Reference page shows the headshot from the card above.  Grundt came up through the Giants system and also spent some time in the Rockies system, but he did not make his Major League debut until 1996 with the Red Sox.  He pitched one-third of an inning and gave up a run for a 27.00 ERA.  And that was it for 1996.  Grundt did pitch three innings over two games in 1997, but that was it for his Major League career.  Grundt does have some minor league cards in the Red Sox system, but never had a Major League card issued.

Eric Gunderson was covered in the last post.  He spent two years with the Red Sox and pitched in 28 games for Boston in 1996.  Unfortunately he was not very impressive and went 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA.  Despite pitching in 28 games, Gunderson had just 17.1 innings since he was primarily used against just one left-handed batter.  Gunderson would have a successful season for the Rangers in 1997.

The former first-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 1987, Harris was plucked away by the Athletics in the Rule V Draft before the 1990 season.  As such, he was required to be kept on the Major League roster all year and thus made his Major League debut that year.  He did only pitch in 16 games that year, but he had some success.  He made it back to Boston in 1996, just his third season in the Majors despite making his debut in 1990.  Harris only made it into four games though, with a 12.46 ERA.  He did strike out four in his four and a third innings, but walked five.  He was let go after the season and then pitched in 50 games as a reliever for the Phillies in 1997.  He would not pitch in nearly as many games again.  Harris does have a number of minor league cards with the Red Sox, he was after all a first round pick by the team.

Like Gunderson, Hudson was in his second year with the Red Sox in 1996.  He came up through the minor leagues with the Red Sox and has a number of cards in the organization.  Hudson was one of the major arms in the Red Sox' bullpen, pitching in 36 games, but with a 5.40 ERA.  He did pick up a save but walked 32 while striking out just 19 in 45 innings.  Not a great year.

His second year as Boston manager was not nearly as successful as his first year as the Red Sox failed to make it to the postseason.  They started out terribly, going 6-19 in their first 25 games.  But the Red Sox heated up down the stretch and made it back into contention but fell short.  It was not enough to save Kennedy's job.  No sets included managers for several years in the mid to late 1990's so Kennedy has just one Major League manager card to his name.  Even that, he has to share with Jim Riggleman of the Padres.

Brent Knackert only played parts of two seasons in the Majors.  He pitched in 24 games with the Mariners in 1990, but had a 6.51 ERA.  He did not make it back into the Majors again until 1996, when Boston tried him out of the bullpen.  Lefty relievers often have long careers, but only if they can actually get someone out.  He pitched in eight games for Boston with a 9.00 ERA.  Knackert does have a Pawtucket Red Sox card, but all of his Major League cards are from 1990 and 1991 with the Mariners.

Acquired along with Mark Brandenburg from the Rangers for Mike Stanton, Kerry Lacy was another reasonably impressive arm out of the bullpen for stretches.  Lacy pitched in 11 games for the Red Sox in 1996, but had a 3.38 ERA and a 2-0 record for the Red Sox.  He would make it back to Boston in 1997 and even spent a little bit of time as a closer option, but would not pitch for anyone else in the Majors.

Once one of the Twins' top prospects, Pat Mahomes had some trouble putting it together in the Major Leagues.  He spent a few seasons moving up and down between the Twins and their AAA team.  After 20 games with a 7.20 ERA with the Twins in 1996, Mahomes was traded to the Red Sox for 1995 No Red Sox Card Member Brian Looney.  Mahomes was 2-0 with a 5.84 ERA for the Red Sox in 11 games.  Mahomes would return to Boston in 1997, but struggled again.  He would resurrect his career in 1999 with the Mets.

Just one year after hitting 17 home runs with the Orioles, Jeff Manto found himself starting the season in Japan in 1996.  He was signed by the Red Sox in May to provide a little bit of pop in the infield.  He played 10 games with Boston before being traded to the Mariners for Arquimedez Pozo.  He did hit two home runs in those 10 games.  Manto was then re-acquired by Boston after Seattle placed him on waivers after 21 unimpressive games.  Manto played 12 more games for Boston, but continued to struggle at the plate.  Manto did play every infield position for the Red Sox over his 22 games in two stints for them.  Manto became quite the journeyman over the next few years, playing for the Indians, Tigers, Yankees, and Rockies.

McKeel was a third-round draft pick by the Red Sox in 1990.  He could hit a little bit in the minors but never really distinguished himself as a prospect.  I personally do not remember knowing much about him at all when he was called up.  He played in just one game in 1996 with the Red Sox, and even that game was just as a defensive replacement at catcher.  He did not get an at-bat.  He played a bit more in 1997, making it into three games, and actually had three at-bats for Boston.  He does not have any Major League cards at all.

Yet another lefty reliever that Boston tried out in 1996, Pennington was actually fairly successful in his role.  He was 0-2 in 14 games, but with a terrific 2.77 ERA and struck out 13 in 13 innings.  Unfortunately, he also walked 15.  Pennington had come up with the Orioles and also pitched briefly for the Reds.  The Red Sox tried to pass him through waivers and he was picked up by the Angels.  He struggled with them and did not make it back to the Majors until 1998.  He pitched for the Rays then and failed to get an out in his one appearance while giving up a run for an infinite ERA.  That was it for Pennington in the Majors.

Pirkl was a power-hitting prospect with the Mariners for a few years that could never quite make the next step to full-time Major Leaguer.  He did hit six home runs in 19 games with the Mariners in 1994.  After seven games with the Mariners in which he failed to make an impact, the team tried to pass him through waivers, but the Red Sox picked him up.  Pirkl made it into just two games with Boston, both times as a pinch-hitter and did not get a hit either time.  He never made it back to the Major Leagues.

There were a number of players with the surname Rodriguez that played for the Red Sox between 1994 and 1996.  Carlos, Steve, Frankie, and Tony were not related, but did all play for Boston and Pawtucket during those three years.  Tony is the only one to not have a Major League card with the Red Sox, though he did have a number of minor league cards.  Tony Rodriguez played in 27 games, mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement.  He was a pretty steady defensive player, mostly at shortstop.  Rodriguez did hit a home run, but ended with a slash line of only .239/.292/.299 and never made it back to the Majors.

A professional pinch hitter for the Rockies in 1993, Tatum led the league in hits off the bench.  Tatum did not play in the Majors at all in 1994 but came back to the Rockies in 1995.  Tatum was picked up by the Red Sox in 1996, but only played in two games with Boston.  He played third base in both games for the Red Sox and had eight at-bats.  He did get a hit, a single, and scored a run.  The Padres purchased him from the Red Sox later in the summer and he played a few more games with them.  He ended up with the Mets in 1998 and played in a handful of games.


  1. Really like the concept for this post.

  2. Wow. This must be the most obscure bunch yet. Back in the mid to late 90's I attended meant Pawsox games.( I live closer to Pawtucket than Boston) So I saw many of these guys play down there