Thursday, September 1, 2016

Red Sox with No Cards: 2002

The combination of Topps Total and Upper Deck 40 Man eliminated a number of players that otherwise would not have appeared on cardboard with Boston.  Players like Willie Banks, Darren Oliver, and Bob Howry only appeared in one of those two sets.  A number of other players like Rey Sanchez, Doug Mirabelli, Lou Merloni, and Dustin Hermanson were rare, but managed to appear occasionally.  As such, there were not a lot of players that did not get cards in 2002, and even fewer that made any sort of an impact.

A fan favorite with the Mets, Benny Agbayani had some decent seasons around the turn of the century.  He had slowed down though during the 2001 season and only played in 91 games.  The Mets traded him to the Rockies in a three team deal before the 2002 season that also resulted in the Rockies getting Todd Zeile, the Mets getting Jeromy Burnitz, and the Brewers getting Glendon Rusch among several other players for each team.  Agbayani struggled in 48 games with his new team though and was placed on waivers in August.  Boston put in a claim and he played in 13 games for the Red Sox down the stretch.  He actually hit reasonably well though, hitting .297/.395/.324 with eight RBIs.  Agbayani was released before the 2003 season due to a lack of room on Boston's roster and bounced around a bit afterwards.  But he never played in the Majors again.

Shane Andrews was once a top prospect with the Montreal Expos, and though he never quite rose to his expectations, he had a few nice seasons.  He hit 25 home runs as the third-baseman in 1998.  The strikeouts and low on-base percentages are ultimately what did Andrews in.  He was traded to the Cubs in 1999 and then suffered injuries that derailed his career.  He spent all of 2001 in the Cardinals minor league system when he was not hurt.  Andrews was signed as a free agent by the Red Sox before the 2002 season but spent most of the year in Pawtucket where he hit 22 home runs.  He was  rewarded with a call-up to Boston in September.  He played in 13 games but only picked up one hit, a double, in 15 plate appearances.  He was let go as a free agent after the season and signed with the Twins, but like Agbayani, never played in the Majors again.  Andrews did appear in a minor league set for the Red Sox.

No, not that Kevin Brown.  This Kevin Brown was a catcher who came up with the Rangers in 1996.   He played in only a few games in 1996 and 1997 before becoming Toronto's backup catcher in 1998.  He performed reasonably well in that role.  The next year though, he was back to playing very little in the Majors.  He played for the Brewers for two seasons after leaving Toronto.  He started the 2002 season in the Rays system but did not make it back to the Majors.  He spent most of the season in Pawtucket before getting called up as catching depth late in the season.  He played in just two games for Boston, once as a defensive replacement.  He was flawless in the field but hitless in his only at-bat.  He too, never appeared in the Majors after 2002.  Brown did appear in a Pawtucket Red Sox set.

Formerly a Phillies reliever, Wayne Gomes was yet another player who was heading towards the end of his career when he showed up in Boston in 2002.  Gomes had been a frequently-used, if not terribly impressive reliever in Philadelphia.  He even picked up 19 saves in 1999, though he walked almost as many hitters as he struck out.  He appeared in a career-high 73 games that season.  Gomes appeared in 55 games with the Phillies and Giants in 2001 and combined for a 6-3 record, though with a 5.29 ERA.  That was enough to get him a trial with the Red Sox in 2002 after he was released just prior to the season.  Gomes made it into 20 games for the Red Sox with a 1-2 record, a 4.29 ERA, and one save.  He still walked almost as many as he struck out though.  He was a free agent after the season and bounced around the league, though never again making it to the Majors.

Chris Haney had been a starter on some very bad Kansas City Royals teams in the mid 1990's.  He finished 10-14 with a 4.70 ERA in his best year in 1996 with the Royals.  But it was downhill from there and Haney barely appeared in the Majors in 1999 and 2000, and did not appear at all in 2001.  Haney was released by the Rangers during the 2002 Spring Training and was signed by Boston a few days later.  Haney appeared in the most games of all of the pitchers in this post, though he still only played in 24, all in relief.  The Red Sox experimented with him as a lefty reliever, but left-handed batters actually hit him better than right-handers.  Haney ended up pitching in 30 innings with a 4.20 ERA.  He had no record, but did pick up a save.  He struck out 15 and walked 10.  Haney was released in August and hung it up for good.  Haney does appear in a Pawtucket Red Sox set.

It took Bry Nelson nine years to make the Majors.  In that time, he played for five organizations.  But finally, in 2002 Nelson made it.  Nelson was originally a 44th round draft pick by the Houston Astros in 1993.  The baseball draft does not even go that high anymore.  So it was extremely unlikely that Nelson would ever make it.  He did not have a lot of power, and he did not have a lot of speed, but he was versatile and he could hit over .300.  Eventually, that was enough to bring him to Boston for 25 games in 2002, frequently as a defensive replacement.  Nelson played at second base and all three outfield positions.  He actually performed reasonably well at the plate, hitting .265/.342/.353 with three doubles and two RBIs in 39 plate appearances.  Unfortunately that was it for his Major League career.  He bounced around a little bit after being let go as a free agent.  As of this date, Nelson is still playing at the age of 42 in independent leagues.  Nelson does appear in a Pawtucket team set.

None of these players played more than 25 games, so none were egregious absences.  None of the six had been prior All Stars, though Agbayani and Andrews could be characterized as fan favorites for their first teams.  Nelson played in the most games.  If I had to pick one player that is the most disappointing miss, it would be Agbayani who is a player I kind of enjoyed watching on the Mets teams of the turn of the century.

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