Friday, May 27, 2016

Red Sox With No Cards: 1998

Pacific helped avoid a lot more players appearing on this list.  Online featured the only cards available of players like Mark Lemke, Brian Shouse, Mike Benjamin, Rich Garces (though he would later appear in more sets), and Jim Corsi.  Butch Henry appeared in two different Pacific sets.  Unfortunately, not everyone could appear in Online and there were a few players to not appear on cardboard with the Red Sox.

This long-time Dodgers prospect-in-waiting was gifted with a ton of power, but he could just never crack through the lineup for any significant amount of time.  The most games he ever played in was 81 in 1995.  He hit eight home runs that year, and nine the next year.  Just prior to the 1998 season, the Dodgers gave up on him and released him.  Boston signed him for some bench depth.  He made it into 13 games for Boston, hitting .292/.346/.792 with three home runs, three doubles, and seven RBIs.  Not bad for such a short stint.  That was it for his Major League career though.

Johns was a journeyman infielder who played for a number of organizations, but only made it to the Major Leagues in one season.  He played in just two games in 1998 with the Red Sox, but only had one plate appearance.  He did draw a walk in that plate appearance though.  Johns played two innings at second base in one of the games with an assist, a double play, and a put-out.  He continued to bounce around after 1998.

1998 was Mahay's third season with the Red Sox, and his second as a lefty out of the bullpen.  Mahay pitched in 29 games, his career high to this point, and again pitched fairly well.  He was 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA.  Unfortunately he walked more batters than he struck out and he gave up a hit per inning pitched.  Ultimately Boston cut ties with him because he was just not effective enough.  He was placed on waivers just prior to the 1999 season and was claimed by the A's.  He bounced around quite a bit after that.

The long-time Pirates star (by default since Pittsburgh purged their roster of most good players after 1992) spent a very short amount of time in Boston.  He was acquired at the trading deadline along with fellow No Card member Greg Swindell for a few minor leaguers from the Twins.  Swindell was the player Boston really wanted though.  Merced appeared in nine games with the Red Sox, with 12 plate appearances.  He did not get a single hit.  He walked twice, though he did have two RBIs.  He was released a month later and picked up by the Cubs, his third team of the year.

Kevin Mitchell's cousin did not have the same level of talent.  Mitchell was never quite able to crack into the Majors for good, or for more than one season at a time.  After short stints with the Braves, Mariners, and Reds, it was time for him to try his hand with the Red Sox (one of three teams for whom both he and his cousin played).  Mitchell made it into 23 games and hit reasonably well.  His slash line was .273/.400/.333, and he drove in six runs.  Despite being just 28, Mitchell never made it back to the Majors.
A lot of Boston's mid-season trade acquistions were denied cards.  Reyes was picked up in a trade with the Padres along with a couple of players yet to come in this post.  Jim Leyritz was sent to the Padres in the deal.  Reyes was the best of the players the Red Sox received in this trade.  He pitched in 24 games with a 3.52 ERA.  After the season though, he returned to the Padres, and had a pretty good year.

Romero was one of the other players to be acquired from the Padres in the Leyritz trade.  Romero was a backup catcher for the Red Sox and played in just 12 games.  He hit .231/.375/.308.  He hit one double among his three hits.  The next season he was traded to the Mets for Kelly Ramos, a minor league catcher who never made it to the Majors.  Romero would resurface in the Majors with the Rockies in 2003.  Romero did appear in some minor league sets in 1999.

After a few seasons as a backup infielder for the White Sox, Boston picked up Snopek in a minor deal in which they gave up former first round pick Corey Jenkins.  Snopek played in just eight games with the Red Sox though, spending almost equal time at second, third, and designated hitter.  He had two hits and two runs batted in over 14 plate appearances.  1998 was his last year in the Majors, despite playing for a number of other organizations.

Once an All Star starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, Swindell enjoyed a career renaissance as a relief pitcher in the mid 1990's.  The southpaw was acquired from the Twins in the same trading deadline deal as Merced above.  Swindell was the primary piece Boston wanted and he pitched fairly well down the stretch.  He pitched in 29 games and had a 2-3 record with a 3.38 ERA.  He made it onto the postseason roster and pitched an inning and a third of scoreless relief.  After the season, he was signed to a free agent deal with the Diamondbacks.

Valdez previously appeared in just 11 games with the Giants in 1995.  He pitched in just four games for the Red Sox in 1998 and did not allow a run.  He had a 1-0 record and struck out four while walking five in 3.1 innings.  He pitched in Japan in 1999.  Valdez did appear on some minor league cards with the Red Sox organization.

The last of the three players Boston acquired in the Leyritz deal, Veras was another relief pitcher.  He was the least-used of the three players.  He pitched in just seven games, and with a 10.13 ERA, it is not hard to see why that may have been.  He gave up 12 hits and walked seven in just eight innings, while only striking out two.  He played all over the world after 1998.

West was a well-traveled left-hander who returned from Japan to the  Majors in 1998.  1998 was his last appearance in the Majors and he made it into just six games.  He had a 27.00 ERA over two innings as a lefty reliever.  He did strike out four, but walked seven.  The West experiment did not work out and was abandoned quickly.

Of these players, I would most like to have seen Swindell get a card.  He was a valuable bullpen piece and even played in the postseason with the Red Sox.  I liked Swindell a little bit when I first started following baseball too.

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