Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wantlist Hits from Puerto Rico

I recently worked out a trade with a forum member in Puerto Rico.  That trade led to a lot of cards being deleted from my wantlist:
1.  Jeff Suppan.  Suppan spent two stints with the Red Sox.  He came up as a highly regarded starter.  After a 7-3 season in 1997 (5.69 ERA), he was left unprotected in the expansion draft and selected by the Diamondbacks.  He returned in a bad trade with the Pirates in 2003.  All told, he was 12-10 with a 5.87 ERA for the Red Sox.  Not good.

2.  Iggy Suarez.  This was the last 2008 Bowman Prospect card I needed.  Suarez never made it to the Majors, though he did make it to Pawtucket.  He could just never hit.

3.  Hanley Ramirez.  I have mentioned before that I collected Hanley Ramirez quite a bit when he was first getting Red Sox cards in 2003.  His trade after just two games with Boston was a disappointment.  He is back now though and he had an excellent season in 2016.

4.  Ted Williams.  This is the 65th Anniversary insert card of Ted Williams.  It would be great to have the 1954 Topps Williams, but not likely.

5.  Ted Williams.  Unfortunately this is a duplicate.

6.  Jon Lester.  This is the purple chrome refractor of 2014 Topps Heritage.  Lester will be remembered for his time in Boston, which consisted of winning the clinching game of the 2007 World Series, throwing a no-hitter, and being the top pitcher on the 2013 World Championship team.  His trade to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes eventually worked out as Boston moved Cespedes to Detroit for last year's Cy Young Award Winner Rick Porcello.
7.  Will Middlebrooks.  This came out at a time when Middlebrooks still had a lot of promise.  He always had power, but he had massive holes in his swing and was a limited defensive player.  He just wasn't good enough to overcome his flaws.

8.  David Ortiz.  The Ortiz cards have slowed down now that he is no longer with the team, but he is still in a fight with Pedro Martinez for #3 in my collection.

9.  Nomar Garciaparra.  This card celebrates Nomar's first career home run in just his second Major League game on September 1, 1996.  I fully expect that Nomar may eventually overcome Jason Varitek for the largest player in my Red Sox collection.  He is just 20 cards behind and there are a lot more Nomar cards out there that I need than Varitek cards.

10.  Bob Montgomery.  I have talked a lot about backup catchers lately.  Monty was a good one as Carlton Fisk's primary backup.  Expect a post about him soon.

11.  Rick Wise.  Wise led the team in wins in 1975 AL pennant-winning team when he was 19-12 with a 3.95 ERA.

Friday, December 30, 2016

My First '56

I spend a lot of time reading other peoples' blogs.  One of my favorites is Night Owl, who has an affinity for 1956 Topps cards.  Well, for some reason I did not own a single 1956 Topps card in my Red Sox collection.  That is not massively surprising.  It has only been within the last five or so years that I have really started collecting vintage cards.  So I was wasting time on Ebay one day last week and I came across a seller listing some 1956 Red Sox cards (among other teams I assume), for some low prices.  I snagged this one for just over a buck:
This is Mickey Vernon, who had a long and successful career, mostly with the Washington Senators.  He won two batting titles with Washington and also led the league in doubles twice.  He was an All Star seven times.  He was in his first season with the Red Sox in 1956 after being acquired in a multi-player deal.  Vernon had a good season in 1956 hitting .310/.403/.511 with 15 home runs and 84 RBIs.  He was an All Star that season.  Unfortunately, he declined significantly in 1957 with Boston and was placed on waivers.  He bounced around a little after that.

All in all, I am rather pleased with my first 1956 Topps card.  I can definitely see the appeal.  This Vernon was one of the cards that I wanted most from the set, but all of the cards are currently on my want list.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Red Sox Team of the Decade 1940-1949

The 1940's were a decade of promise for the Red Sox.  A number of young players were becoming stars all at the same time.  Unfortunately, World War II intervened and a lot of players spent significant time serving their country.  This led to some disappointing years from 1943 to 1945 when a lot of their young stars were gone.  They all came back to make 1946 a magical year.  The loaded Red Sox finished 104-50 and cruised to the pennant.  Boston lost the World Series in seven games to the Cardinals, hamstrung by an injury in a meaningless exhibition game to Ted Williams.  The team declined somewhat in 1947 but bounced back in 1948 to eventually meet (and lose to) Cleveland in a one-game playoff to decide the AL pennant.  Boston also had a chance in 1949 and pushed the Yankees to the last weekend before faltering.  For all the promise that the 1940's showed, it ended with a loss in the World Series, a loss in a one-game playoff, and bitter disappointment.

CATCHER - BIRDIE TEBBETTS
Catcher continued to be a mostly weak position for the Red Sox in the 1940's.  A number of players were decent, but there were very few stars.  Hal Wagner had an All Star season in 1946, but he had fairly weak offensive numbers.  Birdie Tebbetts takes the honor with two All Star seasons and some decent contact-hitting numbers.  Tebbetts never had a lot of power, but he could get on base and he was a well-regarded defensive catcher with a good relationship with his pitchers.  Tebbetts was acquired in a trade with the Indians in May of 1947 for the aforementioned Wagner.  Tebbetts hit .299 in 90 games with the Red Sox that season.  He was an All Star in 1948 and 1949.  For his time in Boston, Tebbetts hit .287/.367/.374 with 19 home runs and 189 RBIs.  He spent almost all his time in Boston in the 1940's, except for one of the best offensive seasons of his career in 1950.  Hal Wagner and Johnny Peacock are the runners-up.

FIRST BASE - JIMMIE FOXX
A few players had decent seasons at first base for the Red Sox in the 1940's.  But there were no players who played more than a couple of seasons for them.  So it came down to Foxx for the second decade in a row, and it was a less-than-overwhelming vote.  Foxx did play from 1940 to 1942, but the results were widely varied.  He was terrific in 1940, hitting .297/.412/.581 with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs.  He was an All Star and finished sixth in the MVP vote.  In 1941, he declined somewhat but still had a good year, hitting .300/.412/.505 with 19 home runs and 105 RBIs.  1942 was the beginning of the end of his career and he hit just .270/.392/.460 with five home runs in 30 games before he was placed on waivers and claimed by the Cubs.  Rudy York is the runner-up with a very good 1946 season, but he only played a little more than one year in Boston, though he had a great World Series.  Billy Goodman was also considered.

SECOND BASE - BOBBY DOERR
Already a pretty good player, Bobby Doerr turned into a star in the 1940's.  He missed just one season in the decade, 1945 when he was in the service for World War II.  Doerr was an All Star seven times during the decade and was eventually a Hall of Famer who spent his entire career in Boston.  Doerr had the best season of his career in 1944 when he hit .325/.399/.528 with 15 home runs, 81 RBIs, and 95 runs.  He led the league in slugging percentage by contributing 30 doubles and ten triples.  Doerr turned into a much bigger power threat towards the end of the decade, hitting a career-high 27 home runs in 1948 and driving in over 100 runs five times in the decade.  Doerr was also a very talented defensive second-baseman.  This choice was overwhelming.  Doerr was the starter at second every season except 1945.  That season Dick Newsome played the position and was decent, but he was no Bobby Doerr.

SHORTSTOP - VERN STEPHENS
This was a tough decision, but I found a way to make it work.  Two players with terrific, but significantly different careers, were considered.  And I had to disregard Joe Cronin, a Hall of Famer, who had a couple of good years in the 1940's, but he was the shortstop on the 1930's team.  Ultimately I chose Vern Stephens because he only played at short during the decade and he had a couple of huge seasons in 1948 and 1949.  Stephens was acquired in a big trade with the Browns prior to the 1948 season along with pitcher Jack Kramer for a number of role players.  In 1948, he was .269/.350/.471 with 29 home runs and 137 RBIs.  He had the best season of his career in 1949, hitting .290/.391/.539 with 39 home runs and tied for the league lead with a stunning 159 RBIs with teammate Ted Williams.  He also walked 101 times.  Stephens was a very rare power-hitting shortstop before there were such things.  Joe Cronin and Johnny Pesky were also considered.

THIRD BASE - JOHNNY PESKY
This is how I made shortstop work.  Johnny Pesky was moved to third base to accommodate newly-acquired Vern Stephens in 1948.  He played two full seasons at the hot corner, and though his numbers were not quite as impressive at third as his seasons at shortstop, he was still one of the better third base options.  Pesky came up in 1942 as a shortstop and led the league in hits his first three full seasons, each of which came as a shortstop.  He had his best seasons at short, but he hit .281/.394/.365 in 1948 and .306/.408/.384 in 1949 as a third-baseman.  Pesky never had a lot of power, his career high in home runs was three in 1948 and 1951, but he was an excellent contact hitter who also played good defense.  He was a terrific table-setter and number two hitter who accepted his job was to get on base.  And he did a great job of that with a career OBP of .394.  Because of the difficulty in dealing with Pesky and Stephens, "Rawhide" Jim Tabor was left off of the team despite having six straight double digit seasons in home runs at third.

RIGHT FIELD - LOU FINNEY
Right field was kind of underwhelming during the 1940's, particularly in light of the players in center and left field.  Lou Finney was one of a number of players Boston acquired from the Philadelphia Athletics and he was not really a star when he was picked up.  He had hit over .300 a couple of times while with the A's, but he really found Boston to his liking.  In 1939, he hit .325, albeit in just 95 games.  But he proved that was no fluke in 1940 when he hit .320/.360/.463 with five home runs and 73 RBIs.  He was named to his only All Star game that year and even received some down ballot MVP votes.  His average declined the next couple of seasons, but it was still a more than respectable .288 and .285.  Finney was also a decent right fielder.  He transitioned into the first-baseman as a result of Foxx's decline.  Finney spent the 1943 season in service but returned, in a lesser role, for the 1944 and 1945 seasons before being sold to the St. Louis Browns early in 1945.  Catfish Metkovich, Al Zarilla, and Sam Mele were all considered for the right field position.

CENTER FIELD - DOM DIMAGGIO
Not much of a contest here as Dom DiMaggio is one of the best center fielders in team history and the 1940's were the best part of his career.  He also spent almost the entire decade in center.  He started the 1940 season in right due to the presence of Doc Cramer, but he moved over in 1941 and, other than three seasons in military service, played the rest of the decade there.  DiMaggio, Joe's little brother, was a terrific defensive center fielder, possibly even better than his more famous brother.  He was also a pretty good hitter, though he did not possess the power of Joe.  DiMaggio holds the Red Sox record for longest hitting streak with a 34 gamer in 1949.  DiMaggio was a seven-time All Star who hit .298/.383/.419 in his career, with 1,680 hits and 100 stolen bases.  He was difficult to strike out, whiffing just 571 times while walking 750 times in 6,478 plate appearances.  He was a borderline Hall of Famer whose career ultimately did not last long enough to make it in.  He missed three prime seasons for military service and ended up retiring somewhat early.  I did not consider anyone else for this position, DiMaggio was marked down automatically.

LEFT FIELD - TED WILLIAMS
You were expecting anyone else?  Bob Johnson had two decent seasons during the war years, but Ted Williams is one of the greatest hitters of all time, if not THE greatest.  Williams moved to left field in 1940 full-time and did not change, as long as he was active.  Picking his greatest season of the 1940's is exceedingly difficult.  Is it 1941, when he hit .406?  1942 when he won the Triple Crown?  1946 when he was the MVP of the AL?  1947 when he won his second Triple Crown?  Or 1949 when he was again the MVP?  Williams was an incredible hitter who worked tirelessly at his craft.  He was stubborn enough to only swing at the pitches he wanted to hit, which led to remarkably high on-base percentages.  He is first all-time in on-base percentage.  Williams was at the top of his game in the 1940's and he is the runaway choice for this position.  He should have won five MVPs in the decade, instead of two, but that does not diminish his incredible numbers.


STARTING PITCHER- JOE DOBSON
Joe Dobson was not the flashiest of pitchers, but he was incredibly consistent, probably the most consistent of the Red Sox starters in the 1940's.  Dobson was acquired from the Indians in December of 1940 and went on to record a 106-72 record over nine seasons with the Red Sox.  Dobson was 13-7 with a 3.24 ERA in the pennant-winning 1946 season and was 1-0 in three games in the World Series.  He struck out ten and walked three in 12.2 innings.  Dobson had his best season in 1947 when he was 18-8 with a 2.95 ERA and 110 strikeouts versus 73 walks in 228.2 innings.  He appeared in his only All Star Game in 1948 when he was 16-10 with a 3.56 ERA.  Dobson was a very good pitcher who was often overlooked because of the bigger stars in the rotation.

STARTING PITCHER - BOO FERRISS
Boo Ferriss had two absolutely amazing seasons to start off his career, but faded almost as quickly.  Too many innings probably ultimately did him in.  Ferriss arrived in 1945, a war year, and was 21-10 with a 2.96 ERA.  He was fourth in the MVP vote and likely would have won the Rookie of the Year had the award existed in 1945.  There were some concerns about whether Ferriss's year was a fluke due to the weaker competition since a number of top players were still in service.  But he erased those doubts with a 25-6 record and a 3.25 ERA.  He struck out 106 while walking 71.  Ferriss picked up a win in two games in the World Series in 1946 and had a 2.03 ERA.  Unfortunately, he declined to 12-11 with a 4.04 ERA in 1947 and 7-3 in 1948.  He never won another Major League game.

STARTING PITCHER - TEX HUGHSON
Like Ferriss, Tex Hughson was a pitcher with a good nickname who came on strong at the beginning of his career but declined quickly due to injuries.  He pitched a little in the 1941 season but broke through in 1942 when he was an All Star and led the league in wins (22), complete games (22), innings (281), and strikeouts (113).  He finished sixth in the MVP vote.  Hughson followed that up with All Star seasons in 1943 and 1944.  He was terrific in 1944, going 18-5 with a 2.26 ERA.  He missed the 1945 season due to military service, but came back strong in 1946 when he was 20-11 with a 2.75 ERA and a career high 172 strikeouts.  He declined a little in 1947, but arm injuries caused him to break down early.  He lasted a while longer than Ferriss, but ultimately his career ended the same way.

STARTING PITCHER - MEL PARNELL
I considered leaving Parnell to show up just in the 1950's, but that would have discounted the best season of his career, and Parnell was a huge part of the 1948 season as well.  He pitched in just 15 games in 1947, but was a major reason for the Red Sox pennant drive in each of the next two seasons.  In 1948, he was 15-8 with a 3.14 ERA.  He likely should have been the starting pitcher in the one-game playoff against the Indians, but manager Joe McCarthy played a hunch and started Denny Galehouse.  He had the best season of his career in 1949 when he was 25-7, leading the league in wins, ERA (2.77), complete games (27, wow), and innings (295.1).  He was an All Star for the first time and also finished fourth in the MVP vote.  Parnell had a few more good seasons in the 1950's but injuries eventually piled up.

PITCHER - ELLIS KINDER
Like Parnell, Ellis Kinder could not be ignored simply because of his role in the 1948 and 1949 stretch drives.  Kinder only has those two seasons to his credit in the 1940's, as he was acquired in a terrific trade for the Red Sox from the Browns before the 1948 season.  Kinder pitched a little in relief those two seasons, but became primarily a reliever in the 1950's.  He was 10-7 with a 3.74 ERA in 1948.  He had his best season as a starter in 1949 when he was 23-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 43 games.  He started 30 of those games and led the league in winning percentage and shutouts (6).  He struck out 138 and walked 99 in 252 innings.  Kinder was nicknamed "Old Folks" due to making his Major League debut at 31 years of age.  

RELIEF PITCHER - MIKE RYBA
A number of relievers, including Earl Johnson and Mace Brown were considered here, but it was Mike Ryba's longevity and consistency that led to his selection.  Ryba was with the team from 1941 through 1946 and was 36-25 with a 3.41 ERA during those seasons.  He was later credited with 16 saves for the Red Sox.  His best season was 1944 when he was 12-7 with a 3.33 ERA in 138 innings.  Ryba was reliable enough to get the occasional spot start, though he never started more than nine games any season in Boston.  It was as a reliever that he was the most valuable.  Even more impressive, Ryba was 38 when he first came to Boston.  It was unusual for the time period for a pitcher to keep going that long.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

1991-2016 All-Underrated Team: Infield

I have been watching baseball for 26 years now. In that time, I have been obsessed with under-the-radar players. These are my picks for an All-Underrated Team. I have picked one player for each position and their best season.
John Valentin's 1995 season was a terrific season that did not receive the attention that it deserved, but he at least received the Silver Slugger Award and placed ninth in the MVP voting.  His 1997 was another very good season, but it pretty much went completely under the radar. 
It started with a change in positions.  Nomar Garciaparra, Boston's top prospect, was ready to take over at shortstop.  Boston already had John Valentin at the position, but since Nomar was such a special player and had never played another position, the organization asked Valentin to move.  Valentin was not happy and requested a trade.  Boston explored several options, particularly with the Padres but was not able to get an appropriate return and ended up keeping Valentin.  At the beginning of the season, Valentin played second base and appeared in 79 games at the position.  But later on, third-baseman Tim Naehring went down with a career-ending injury and Valentin moved to the hot corner for 64 games.  He would end up playing third for most of the rest of his career.  Jeff Frye took over at second for the rest of the season.  Valentin was an impressive fielder at both positions.
But it was on offense that Valentin was really impressive.  For the first time in his career, he led the American League in a traditional offensive category, doubles.  Valentin hit 47 doubles, his second season with more than 40.  He also hit over .300 for the second time, something he did not do in his phenomenal 1995 season.  For the season, Valentin hit .306/.372/.499 with 18 home runs, 95 runs, and 77 RBIs.  He also stole seven bases and had a career-high 176 hits and five triples.  It was a very impressive season that went by unnoticed because of the huge seasons by Nomar and Mo Vaughn.
Unfortunately, 1997 was Valentin's last great season, though he still had a good year in 1998.  Valentin quickly declined after that.  It must be remembered though that for a six-year stretch from 1993 to 1998, Valentin was a very good player with a lot of great moments.  He played in relative obscurity though. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Favorite Card of 2016

It is getting close to the end of the year, so I decided to enter the Eamus Catuli contest and show off my favorite card of the year.
This is the card that kicked off a new mini player collection.  Throughout the years there have been a number of players that I have collected within my Red Sox collection.  Jason Varitek, Felix Doubront, and Jackie Bradley Jr. have been a few of these, but this year I started in on Steven Wright.  The knuckleballer had a breakthrough season, being named to the All Star team in his first full season in the Majors.  Even though Wright has been in the Majors off an on since 2013, he had not had a card released showing him with the Boston Red Sox until this card released from the Topps Now set.  He did pop up in a few late-season sets, but this card was the very first Red Sox card for Wright.

The Topps Now set is a very interesting one.  The idea was to take advantage of recent news and events, and even though they carried things too far at times and were a little expensive, it was a nice way to keep up with current events.  This card celebrates Wright's first career shutout, at the expense of the Dodgers.

Even though I have added a number of other Steven Wright cards since this one, this is the card that started everything.  And since it kicked off a new mini player collection, I think this is an easy choice for my Favorite Card of 2016.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Loyalty and Longevity Pt. 6: Carl Yastrzemski

In this series, I look at players who played their entire Major League career with the Red Sox, as long as said Major League career lasted at least ten years.
I have covered Yaz fairly extensively on this blog.  And with good reason.  It is hard to have a blog devoted to the Red Sox without covering a player like Yastrzemski.  He is after all the team leader in a ton of categories and the longest tenured player in team history.
Yaz was the son of a potato farmer who also played a lot of amateur baseball.  He was groomed for most of his life to be a baseball player and grew up a Yankees fan.  However, his father refused to allow him to sign a contract with the Yankees after the scout threw a pencil in disgust after his father suggested a signing bonus of $100,000.00.  Yaz ended up signing with the Red Sox for $108,000.00 in 1958 and was brought to Spring Training to learn from Ted Williams in 1960.  He did not play in the Majors that season and was originally brought up as a second-baseman, but Boston planned to move him to left field to replace Williams.
He played a full season in his debut season of 1961, but Yaz was not the best rookie on the team.  Pitcher Don Schwall won the Rookie of the Year and Chuck Schilling had a very good season as well.  It was a couple of years before Yaz started to look like the player he would become.  He started to show some power by hitting 43 doubles and 19 homers in 1962, but he had his first great season the next year.  That year, he led the league in hits, doubles, walks, batting average, and on-base percentage.  He was an All Star for the first time.
1967 was an iconic year for the Red Sox in general, and Yastrzemski in particular.  He won the Triple Crown and quite possibly had the best offensive season in team history.  He was incredible in the clutch, catching fire in the last week of the season and hitting .400 with three home runs in the World Series.  Yaz was the easy choice for MVP but he was not the unanimous choice.  For some baffling reason, a Twins player named Cesar Tovar received a first place vote, the only one Yaz did not get.
Yaz had a couple more dominant seasons and then entered a different phase of his career in 1971.  From then on, he was a very good, sometimes great player, but was the elder statesman of the Red Sox.  He started playing more first base and designated hitter and was still capable of hitting home runs, but he would never hit more than 30 again and he never again hit .300 after 1974.  He did continue to go to All Star Games (he won the MVP in 1970), and he racked up the hits.  
Carl Yastrzemski retired after the 1983 season.  He spent 23 seasons in the Major Leagues, all of them with the Red Sox.  He is one of the longest tenured players to spend his entire career with one organization.  He is the team record holder in a number of categories and remains the only Red Sox player to record his 3,000th hit with Boston.  He is one of the greatest players of all time and an easy choice for the Hall of Fame in 1989.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Super Trader Group Anyone?

I missed out on this trend last year and wanted to see if anyone out there would like to work out a mutually beneficial agreement.  I like to buy packs but I don't like having all the clutter from cards that I will likely never look at again.  Ideally I would like to find one person per other team.

The way this would likely work would be that exchanges would be done once a month or so.  I would send out packages of cards to people with each other team and they would do the same for everyone in the group.  I don't expect people to send out really high-end cards.  I doubt anyone would want to part with a 1/1 patch auto of Mike Trout for example.  But most other cards would be reasonable.

Anyone interested?  Email me or comment here and let me know which team you would be interested in.  This is a commitment of time and money (postage, the cards, etc.), so please be serious about committing to it.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Unknown Heroes Pt. 45: David Ross

I received the below card recently.  This the black parallel numbered to 63 and I really like this photo.  Ross is showing off his World Series ring he won with the Red Sox in 2013.  Of course Ross recently played a big role in winning a World Championship with the Cubs.  I was planning on doing a post on Ross and getting this card gives me a reason to go ahead and do it.
David Ross was well-known for being a great teammate and the kind of player who could be counted on to do the little things to win ball games.  Ross had an incredible moment at the end of this season when he hit a home run late in Game 7 of the World Series for the Cubs, helping the team to eventually win their first World Series Championship since 1908.  A lot of Cubs fans have adoped Ross as "Grandpa Rossy".  I still personally remember him as a great backup catcher with the Red Sox.  Ross has two World Series rings (or will soon), and the first of those came from his 2013 season with Boston.

Originally coming up with the Dodgers, Ross possessed a lot of power.  He hit 10 home runs in 40 games in his first full season.  Later on, he hit 21 and 17 home runs for the Reds in 2006 to 2007.  Oddly, he was released by the Reds just one year later in August.  Boston picked him up for the first time that same month.  But Ross only played in eight games and only had one hit in nine plate appearances.  He was one of four catchers that season for Boston behind starter Jason Varitek and backup Kevin Cash.  Boston also had a promising young catcher in George Kottaras, so Ross was the odd man out after the season.  He caught on with the Braves and had four good seasons as a backup.

Boston re-signed Ross for a second term to a two-year deal to become the backup to starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Ross was one of my favorite signings that year, and there were many.  He was an experienced catcher with strong defensive abilities and leadership skills.  Ross did not play a lot in his first season in Boston, he made it into just 36 games, and he did not do a lot on offense when he played.  He hit .216/.298/.382 with four home runs, 10 RBIs, and five doubles, though he had a 4 for 4 game against Houston in which he hit two home runs.  Nevertheless, he was a 0.7 WAR player due to his strong defensive abilities.  He made just one error and caught 41% of attempted base stealers.

It was in the postseason that Ross was really valuable.  Saltalamacchia was a limited defensive catcher and Boston used Ross quite a bit.  He had a double in each of the two American League rounds leading to the World Series.  Ross ended up playing in the last four games of the six-game World Series against the Cardinals, mostly due to Saltalamacchia's deficiencies.  Ross had a huge moment in Game 5.  With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the 7th, Ross broke the tie with a ground-rule double that scored Xander Bogaerts with what turned out to be the winning run.  This was a mere preview of what he would eventually do with the Cubs.  Ross caught the final strike of the World Series and the image of Koji Uehara jumping into his arms is an enduring image from the World Series.

In 2014, Ross entered the season as the backup catcher, this time to A.J. Pierzynski, and then later to Christian Vazquez.  Ross played a little bit more, making it into 50 games.  His numbers declined to .184/.260/.368, but he hit seven home runs and drove in 15 with seven doubles.  Ross's defensive numbers also declined as he caught just 22% of attempted base stealers.  After the season Ross was allowed to leave as a free agent and he ended up following former teammate Jon Lester to the Cubs, where he continued as his personal catcher.

I have been finding backup catchers fascinating lately and Boston has had some good ones between Bob Montgomery, John Marzano, Doug Mirabelli, and David Ross.  It is clear that Ross's popularity has skyrocketed since he became a Cub, but he was a very popular player during his time in Boston as well.  Ross has a book coming out in May of 2017 and I will at least look at it.  If he is really covering his entire career, I will likely read it.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Pre-Holiday Mailday Roundup

I've got nothing.  Let's just get this going.  It is going to take awhile.
1.  Rico Petrocelli.  I realized I had two of the same Milton Bradley game cards in my collection.  This one is a little bigger and features the stat line on the bottom, so I decided to just replace one of the cards.

2.  Tony Conigliaro.  Conig was second in the league in RBIs in 1970.  One season after his return to the Majors from being hit in the eye with a pitch, he had the best season of his career, reaching career highs in home runs (36) and RBIs (116).  Unfortunately he was still having residual problems from his beaning and it was downhill from there.

3.  Rick Burleson.  Burleson was actually a very valuable player when he was healthy.  Unfortunately, after he was traded to the Angels, that did not happen nearly often enough.  He was a decent hitter, and a tremendous fielder.

4.  Joe Sambito.  Sambito had been a great reliever with the Astros for several years and spent his last two years in Boston.  He had 12 saves in 1986, but with a 4.86 ERA and it ballooned to 6.93 in 1987.

5.  Tony Armas/Jim Rice/Reggie Jackson.  I am annoyed that this card has three players on it, including two Red Sox, and Reggie Jackson is the player that shows up in the scan.  The purpose of this card was to show players with multiple AL home run crowns.  Jackson had four, Rice had three, and Armas had two (one with the Red Sox).

6.  Wade Boggs.  This is from the Donruss All Stars set.

7.  Bruce Hurst.  Hurst finished in a tie for 4th place in the AL in wins (18) in 1988.  And then he was gone to the Padres as a free agent.

8.  Marty Barrett.  This post will be full of holes that I was not aware of until I spent a week poring over checklists and my collection.  This is one of those random holes I was not aware of.

9.  Mike Greenwell.  And here is another one.
10.  Roger Clemens.  Clemens probably should have won a couple more Cy Young Awards with the Red Sox.  His 1990 and 1992 seasons should have given him five Cy Young Awards just with Boston.

11.  Scott Fletcher.  I apparently had the Museum Collection parallel, but not the base card.

12.  Frank Viola.  There was a lot of hope that Viola and Clemens would lead Boston to a pennant or two.  But Viola was past his prime, though he did have a couple of decent seasons with Boston, and one really bad one.

13.  Nate Minchey.  I always like pitchers that used the high leg kick.  Minchey was one of the players Boston received when Jeff Reardon was traded to the Braves but after winning his ML debut (complete game, one run, no walks, five strikeouts against the Indians), he didn't do much afterwards.

14.  Greg Harris.  Harris was one of my favorite underrated players early on when I started watching baseball.  He had a great 1993 season that saw him set a team record for games pitched with a staggering 80.  He pitched in almost half of the team's games that season.  That is remarkable.

15.  Roger Clemens.  Studio has had some odd designs over the years and the credit card design was certainly one of them.

16.  Troy O'Leary.  Awesome throwback uniform on this card.  This uniform was worn in 1908.

17.  Michael Coleman.  Coleman was a bust.  He had a ton of talent and had some good years in Pawtucket, but could not do anything in the Majors.

18.  Derek Lowe.  Another card that I had parallels, but not the base card.
19.  Curt Schilling.  Based on early reports, it does not look likely that Schilling will be elected to the Hall of Fame this year.  Disappointing, but not surprising.

20.  Jon Lester.  Lester is a player I feel is underrepresented in my collection.  I will be working on that.

21.  Manny Ramirez.  Ramirez also looks unlikely to be elected this year.  Again, disappointing but not surprising.

22.  Tim Wakefield.  I do hope that Wakefield gets one vote for the Hall.  It would be a shame not to get a single vote.

23.  J.D. Drew.  Drew is yet another player on the ballot this year, though he seems unlikely to get any votes.  He was a much better player than given credit for.  I think people just thought he didn't care and he did a lot of things well that were not immediately obvious, like getting on base and playing defense.

24.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Dice-K is attempting a comeback this year.  Might be something to watch out for.

25.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.

26.  Josh Beckett.  Like Lester, I feel Beckett is underrepresented in my collection.  I feel that way about a lot of starting pitchers.  That will be my primary focus this next year.

27.  Jacoby Ellsbury.  I am only really disappointed that Ellsbury was not healthy enough to set a new Red Sox record for stolen bases in a career.  The record was 300 by Harry Hooper and Ellsbury stole 241.  He might have gotten close with full seasons in 2010 (18 games, 7 stolen bases) and 2012 (74 games, 14 stolen bases).  His average when he was healthy in Boston was 53 stolen bases a season.  Had he done that, he would have had the record.  
28.  Jacoby Ellsbury.

29.  David Ortiz.  Ortiz and Pedro Martinez are duking it out for the #3 most Red Sox cards in my collection.  Ortiz pulls ahead, but Pedro comes charging right back.

30.  Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia was terrible in his first shot in Boston in 2006 and during the first month of 2007.  But he has really come back to being a potential Hall of Famer.  

31.  Edgar Renteria.  I feel like Renteria should have been given another chance.  But the trade did bring Andy Marte, who was a top prospect at the time.  Boston wisely flipped him to Cleveland.  Marte never amounted to anything.

32.  David Ortiz.

33.  Pedro Martinez.  And here comes Pedro, charging back.

34.  Pedro Martinez.

35.  Pedro Martinez.

36.  Mike Lowell.  Lowell really had a good career.  I forgot how good he was in Boston, other than his great 2007 season.  He had strong seasons every season except his last.  In Boston, he hit .290/.346/.468 with 80 home runs and 374 RBIs in four seasons.  He was also a good defensive third-baseman.
37.  Mike Lowell.

38.  George Kottaras.  Kottaras was acquired by the Red Sox for David Wells in 2006 and was the Red Sox backup catcher for the first part of the 2009 season.  He had some decent seasons as a backup afterwards.

39.  Joel Hanrahan.  It is a good thing Brock Holt was also acquired in this deal, even though they gave up Mark Melancon.  Hanrahan barely played for Boston and was shaky more often than not.

40.  Dante Bichette.  Bichette is a player who made his mark in the thin air of Colorado, but he did hit 19 home runs in 137 games with the Red Sox at the end of his career.  I liked Bichette and had a mini player collection of him when he was with the Rockies.

41.  Mookie Betts.  Mookie is likely going to win the race to 100 against JBJ and X-Man.  This is #99.  Bradley is at 97 and Bogaerts is at 92.

42.  Josh Beckett.

43.  Yoan Moncada.  I made this trade before the Sale trade.  I am disappointed that Moncada is no longer in Boston, but I am excited about Sale joining David Price and Rick Porcello in the rotation.

44.  Yoan Moncada.

45.  Andrew Benintendi.  And Boston still has Benintendi.
46.  Andrew Benintendi.

47.  Michael Meyers.  Meyers is still in the Red Sox system, but the story behind this card is that I really wanted a Blue Wave Refractor from 2012 Bowman Draft.  I received a free five-card package of the cards from the Topps/Bowman promotion they had that year.  No Red Sox in the pack.  I did get a 2013 Blue Wave, but the card stock was thinner and I did not like it as well.  The player did not matter here, I just wanted the card.

48.  Josh Beckett.

49.  Jon Lester.

50.  Mark Loretta.  I remember being disappointed that Loretta was not brought back in 2007, but Pedroia took over, so it worked out just fine.  Loretta had a decent year and probably could have won a Gold Glove.

51.  Julio Lugo.  Lugo had a very good postseason for Boston in 2007, but was mostly forgettable the rest of his tenure.  Bad hitting and bad defense and his speed abandoned him after stealing 33 bases in 2007.

52.  Will Middlebrooks.  Middlebrooks is one of just two Red Sox I have personally seen hit multiple home runs in a game.  He hit two.  Jason Varitek had a three-homer game.

53.  David Murphy.  A first-round draft pick, Murphy had some decent seasons after being traded to the Rangers for Eric Gagne.

54.  Jonathan Papelbon.  I was kind of hoping Papelbon would come back to Boston in 2016 when he was a free agent.  He was not guaranteed to be a closer, and I think that was his reasoning for not coming back.
55.  Wily Mo Pena.  Pena hit the longest home run I have personally witnessed in Kansas City.

56.  Edgar Renteria.

57.  Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia is now the longest-tenured Red Sox and it is not at all close.  Several players came up in 2013, while Pedroia has been there since 2006.

58.  Billy Harrell.  Harrell played in 32 games for Boston in 1961 as a backup infielder.  He hit just .162/.184/.216.

59.  Xander Bogaerts.  Bogaerts needs to work on being a more consistent hitter.  He had a great first half, but terrible second half.  I still think we have not seen the best of him, and here is a player who finished second in the batting race one season and hit 20 home runs in another.  He could be very, very good.

60.  Vicente Romo.  Romo had a couple of seasons as an impressive reliever in 1969-1970.  This was well before relievers became even more specialized.

61.  Bill Werber.  I love these Yawkey Red Sox cards.  A lot of the players were obscure.  Werber was a very good player who I have talked about a number of times.  But this is my first card of him.

62.  Heinie Manush.  The Hall of Famer spent just one season in Boston.  I now have two cards of him.

63.  Dennis Eckersley.  Eckersley has been covered on this blog recently, and it looks like he will have another post soon.
64.  Williams Jerez.  Jerez was a bust as an outfielder and is trying to resurrect his career as a relief-pitcher.  He made the 40 man roster last year, but struggled and was designated for assignment earlier this year.  He passed through waivers though and is still in the Red Sox organization.

65.  Blake Swihart.  One of the biggest questions for the next season is who will be the catcher.  I am betting Swihart will eventually become the primary catcher.

66.  Max Bishop.  Nicknamed "Camera Eye" for his impressive ability to draw walks.  He recorded eight seasons of 100 or more walks in a row.  He spent his last two seasons with the Red Sox after the first ten with the A's.

67.  David Ortiz.  I love this picture.

68.  Rocco Baldelli.  Baldelli was a tragic story.  His rare illness kept him from becoming the great player he could have been.  He had a lot of natural talent.

69.  Jimmie Foxx.  The Beast wears a Red Sox cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

70.  Koji Uehara.  I got this in a lot of six relic cards off of Ebay.  Only the Koji card makes it into my personal collection.

71.  Jason Varitek.  I am considering pushing Varitek back over the top of Sandy Alomar Jr.  That could be challenging.  There simply are not that many Varitek cards out there that I need.  I have 895 Varitek cards and 1,083 Sandy Alomar Jr. cards.

72.  Curt Schilling/Jonathan Papelbon.
73.  Mike Lowell.

74.  Jacoby Ellsbury.

75.  Clay Buchholz.  I worked out this trade before Buchholz was traded too.  I wish him luck.

76.  Pedro Martinez.

77.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.

78.  Carl Yastrzemski.  His 1967 season is probably the greatest season of all time by a Red Sox player.  It was a remarkable 12.4 WAR season.

79.  Mark Loretta.

80.  Jonathan Papelbon.

81.  Kevin Youkilis.  It's a shame his career wound down so quickly.  His numbers with Boston were very impressive: .287/.388/.487 with 133 home runs and 564 RBIs.  He was one of my favorites from 2006 through 2011.
82.  Manny Ramirez.

83.  Curt Schilling.

84.  Luis Tiant.  I am anxious to see if Tiant can make it in to the Hall of Fame via the Veterans' Committee, but none of those committees seem to be electing anyone.  I am getting annoyed with them.

85.  Manny Ramirez/Johnny Damon.  Damon will have an interesting Hall of Fame case.  If he had been more productive for another couple of seasons, he may have had a better chance.

86.  Manny Ramirez.

87.  Daniel Nava.  Does anyone know if he has appeared on any cards since leaving Boston?  I have not seen any.

88.  Luis Tiant.

89.  Tim Wakefield.

90.  Tim Wakefield.
91.  Derek Lowe.  Lowe is one of just a handful of players with a 20 win season and a 40 save season.  He had some nice moments in Boston.

92.  Rick Porcello.  I had to get the Topps Now card for his Cy Young win.

93.  David Ortiz.  This was a free holiday bonus card.  I'm just glad Ortiz is on it.

94.  Bob Montgomery.  I have been collecting a lot of backup catchers lately.  Montgomery is a player I never saw, but I like getting cards of him.  David Ross, Doug Mirabelli, and John Marzano are some of my other favorites.

95.  Phil Gagliano.  He had a very impressive 1971 season as a backup, hitting .324/.413/.397 in 47 games.

96.  Mike Nagy.  Nagy was great in his rookie season, going 12-2 with a 3.11 ERA.  He only won eight games the rest of his five seasons in the Majors.

97.  Duane Josephson.  Josephson hit a career high 10 home runs for the Red Sox in 1971 as their starting catcher.

98.  Reggie Smith.  Smith is another player I think should be re-examined for the Hall of Fame.  He was a terrific player that never really got the attention he deserved.

99.  Bill Lee.  Lee had a three-year stretch where he won 17 games each season.  He was a very good pitcher for a number of years.  I think that kind of gets glossed over because he was such an unusual character.
100.  John Kennedy.  Nicknamed "SuperSub", Kennedy really only played second, short, and third.  He had one game at first and ten as a DH, but all of the rest of his time was spent between the other infield positions.  He never played in the outfield, caught, or pitched.

101.  Doug Griffin.  Griffin finished fourth in the AL ROY vote in 1971 and won a Gold Glove in 1972.  I likely would have really liked him.  Injuries unfortunately did the slick-fielding second-baseman.

102.  Ken Tatum.  Like Romo, Tatum was a pretty good reliever during his time with Boston.  He was acquired in the trade that sent Tony Conigliaro to the Angels and then was traded away along with Reggie Smith for Rick Wise and Bernie Carbo.  Two very important trades.

103.  Luis Tiant.

104.  Brady Anderson.  Anderson was famously traded to the Orioles along with Curt Schilling for Mike Boddicker, a good trade for both teams.  Anderson started the 1988 season with the Red Sox and played in 41 games, hitting .230/.315/.304.  At the time he was more of a speed player and stole four bases with five doubles and three triples.  It wasn't until 1992 when he became a good player.

105.  Chuck Stobbs.  A few weeks ago I was annoyed because a Chuck Stobbs card that I bought featured him in a Red Sox uniform but the card back identified him with the Senators.  Despite winning more than 10 games in three straight seasons with the Red Sox he had no cards issued while he was active with Boston.  I was worried that there were no Red Sox cards of Stobbs out there.  I then found this one from the Boston Globe set of the early 1980's that featured almost every player that played with Boston during the 1950's and 1960's.  I love this set and would like to find more of them.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Red Sox With No Cards: 2008

Wait a minute.  We skipped 2007?  Yes, yes we did.  Thanks to winning the World Series and getting a bunch of commemorative sets made (including Topps, Upper Deck, and the ever-popular Danbury Mint), every single player that suited up for the Red Sox for even one game that season got a card.  That includes Brenden Donnelly, Bryan Corey, Bobby Kielty, Joel Pineiro, Kevin Cash, and even Royce Clayton.  If only that were the case with the 2013 team that did not receive any commemorative sets.
I had to show off this Clayton card, his only one with Boston.

That brings us to 2008.  The residual effect of the 2007 World Championship was that a lot of players already had cards with the Red Sox.  A number of new players that did not play much somehow managed to get included in sets, so players like Chris Carter, Jonathan Van Every, David Aardsma, Mark Kotsay, Paul Byrd, and others did get included later on.  David Ross made a brief appearance with Boston (8 games) and might have made this list if he were not the primary backup catcher in 2013-2014.  However, two players still never managed to appear on any cards with the Red Sox.

JOE THURSTON
I did recently show a minor league Joe Thurston card, but he never appeared on a card with the Major League team.  Thurston was a speedy infielder who came up through the Dodgers system, but he never seemed to be given much of a chance to stick in the Majors.  He appeared in parts of three seasons with the Dodgers from 2002-2004.  He next made the Majors with the Phillies in 2006 for 18 games and then again made it to the Majors, this time with the Red Sox in 2008.  He played in just four games for Boston with nine plate appearances.  He walked once, but that was all he had to show for his time in Boston.  He played in left field for all of his appearances on the field.  He had a successful season in Pawtucket with a .316/.367/.456 line with 11 home runs and 19 stolen bases.  Thurston did somehow play a full season with the Cardinals in 2009 but batted .225/.316/.330 with little power and speed.  He last appeared in the Majors for one game with the Marlins in 2011.  

GIL VELAZQUEZ
2008 was one of two seasons during which Gil Velazquez made an appearance in Boston.  It was also his Major League debut.  Velazquez was drafted by the Mets in the 1998 draft and bounced around a little bit before finally making his debut ten years later.  His 2008 season consisted of just three games and eight plate appearances.  He did notch his first career hit and RBI that season though.  He played both second base and shortstop without committing an error.  He had been decent in Pawtucket, hitting .260/.310/.417 with 10 home runs.  Velazquez would appear briefly in Boston in 2009 then return to the minors for the entire 2010 season.  He made brief appearances in the Majors from 2011 to 2013 with the Angels and Marlins.  Velazquez had a number of minor league cards from his time in Pawtucket, but he has never had a Major League card with any team.  

Honestly, neither of these players is terribly exciting.  They certainly did not do much in Boston.  Velazquez probably had the most success, as he actually picked up a hit and an RBI.  He also generally played better defense, and then he came back the next season.  Coupled with the fact that he has never had a Major League card, I think I would pick him as the player I would most want to have a card.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Boston Dumps Clay Buchholz

Well, that was disappointing.  I knew it was likely that Buchholz would be traded.  But I kind of hoped Boston would try to add a decent prospect or two in the deal.  That did not really happen as Buchholz was traded to the Phillies for a player named Josh Tobias, who I will discuss later.
Buchholz was the longest tenured player on the pitching staff, and the second-longest on the team behind Dustin Pedroia.  He was a first round pick in the same 2005 draft that also produced Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Bowden, Jed Lowrie, and Craig Hansen, an incredible amount of talent for one draft.  It could have been even better too, as Boston failed to sign draftees Pedro Alvarez, Charlie Blackmon, and Jason Castro.  Buchholz made his Major League debut in 2007 and took the game by storm by throwing a no-hitter in his second Major League start.   He ended up the season 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA in four games and was ticketed to a spot in the starting rotation the next season.
Unfortunately, 2008 was the first disappointment in Buchholz's career, and there would be many.  He did not adapt well to the Majors and spent considerable time in the minors.  He ended up just 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA.  He struck out 72 but walked 41 in 76 innings.  He bounced back in 16 games in 2009 and was 7-4 with a 4.21 ERA and his strikeout-to-walk ratio improved slightly.  He looked like he might have finally made it.
2010 was Buchholz's first full season in the Majors, and it was a breakout season.  Buchholz was terrific all season and was named to his first All Star team.  He finished sixth in the Cy Young vote with a record of 17-7 record and a sparkling 2.33 ERA.  He struck out 120 and walked just 67 in 173.2 innings.  He led the league in ERA+ and was second in ERA and WAR for pitchers.  Only his comparatively few innings really kept him from finishing higher.  At just 25 years old, Buchholz looked like he had finally arrived.  Unfortunately things would not really work out in the years ahead.
Throughout his career, Buchholz has shown a distressing tendency to be extremely hit-or-miss.  He tends to go through long stretches where he is terrible, and he tends to go down with injuries when he is having a great season.  2011 was the first season where injuries took a major toll.  He ended up pitching in just 14 games, but was impressive when he was on the mound.  He was 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA and an almost 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.  Unfortunately he went down with an injury in June and could not make it back the rest of the season.  Boston could have used him down the stretch as fatigue to the starting rotation mostly doomed the team after holding a huge lead and they missed the postseason.
After starting off really ugly, Buchholz was able to turn around his 2012 season and was the best pitcher on a really bad team.  He finished 11-8 with a disappointing 4.56 ERA but was much better in the second half.  2013 saw Buchholz become the best pitcher in the league, until going down with an injury that curtailed his effectiveness when he returned and made him tough to rely upon in the postseason.  But when he was healthy, he was virtually unbeatable and his final numbers for the season were a 12-1 record and a remarkable 1.74 ERA.  He was named to his second All Star team that season and would have been a Cy Young candidate had he managed to stay healthy.  2014 saw a mostly bad Buchholz and he finished with an 8-11 record and an ugly 5.34 ERA.
Bouncing back in 2015, Buchholz had the best strikeout-to-walk and strikeouts per nine innings of his career by a sizable margin.  But as has been his pattern, it also included a lengthy amount of time on the disabled list.  He was able to make it into just 18 games.  Finally, in 2016 Buchholz was as inconsistent as he has ever been.  He went from being a major question mark, to being relegated to the bullpen, to not pitching at all, to being on fire down the stretch.
Buchholz has finished his Red Sox career after ten seasons.  He was 81-61 with a 3.96 ERA.  He struck out 899 batters and walked 417.  He was a two-time All Star and received Cy Young votes in 2010.  He was maddeningly inconsistent but could put together stretches where he looked like the best pitcher in the league.  Buchholz will be missed, particularly since he is one of the few good pitchers the Red Sox have developed over the last decade.
The player the Red Sox received was Josh Tobias, a soon-to-be 24-year-old second-baseman who is likely to be in either High A or AA.  He was not one of the Phillies' top ten prospects, nor was he particularly close.  Tobias had a decent year with the bat in Low A, but was old for the league, so those numbers may be misleading.  I would be surprised if he turned out to be a decent prospect, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
I don't like this trade.  Buchholz was frustrating because his numbers rarely matched his considerable talent.  But him going to the National League may result in him putting up fantastic numbers.  This was a salary dump plain and simple.  They do not have to pay any of his $13.5 million salary, but they did not really get anything of value in return, other than the salary relief.  It is a disappointing end to a good career in Boston.