About two years ago I picked up my first (and to this point, only) T206. That card was Tubby Spencer, a little-used catcher who played in just 28 games with the Red Sox in 1909. Recently, I added my first T205. It is another catcher, but this time, one that spent ten seasons with the Red Sox and was also the team's manager for back-to-back World Championship seasons:
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Monday, January 30, 2017
A member on one of the trading forums that I frequent was selling a Red Sox lot for $10.00 delivered. I took one look at it and jumped on it. The below scan shows just the cards that I did not already have. There were a few duplicates but none terribly exciting.
2. 1970 Topps Gary Peters. Ah, air-brushing. Peters was a very good starting pitcher for the White Sox during the 1960's and had a couple of decent seasons with the Red Sox in 1970 and 1971. He was 16-11 with a 4.06 ERA in 1970.
3. 2016 Bowman's Best Mirror Image Xander Bogaerts/Dansby Swanson. With this card, Bogaerts becomes the second member of Boston's Killer B's to make it to 100 cards in my collection.
4. 2009 Upper Deck Ballpark Collection Quad Materials Jonathan Papelbon/Manny Ramirez/Travis Hafner/Victor Martinez. I was a little disappointed when I saw this card. Manny is listed as being with the Dodgers and has a Dodgers logo on the back. Therefore only Papelbon gets credit in my Red Sox collection for this card. Still a nice card though.
5. 2007 SP Legendary Cuts When it was a Game Jim Rice. One of the more recent Red Sox Hall of Famers. Rice's 1978 season was one of the greatest offensive seasons of Red Sox history as he accumulated a staggering 406 total bases. At the time, it was the most total bases in a season since Joe DiMaggio had 418 in 1937.
6. 2007 SP Legendary Cuts Legendary Lineage Joe Cronin. Another Red Sox Hall of Famer. Cronin was a rare power-hitting shortstop during the 1930's and 1940's. Defensively he was probably better suited to playing third base, but when you are also the manager, you get to make the calls.
7. 2014 Topps Supreme Styling Garin Cecchini. Definitely the most obscure player in the lot, but probably my favorite card. Cecchini's Major League career consists of just 13 games over two seasons in 2014 and 2015. He was once a top prospect in Boston's system, but he has likely hit his ceiling at this point.
I thought this was a pretty good buy for $10.00.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Ryan Hanigan has signed with the Phillies.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
This was a trade package that knocked a bunch of cards off of my wantlist, which is always a good thing. It is quite a range of cards.
2. Nomar Garciaparra. This is the only Nomar from the package though. He is starting to fall farther behind Varitek now that I have been focusing on cards of him quite a bit more.
3. Pedro Martinez. This is number 2.
4. Wade Boggs. I always liked the Greats of the Game sets. Sometimes Fleer picked outside-the-box players like Johnny Pesky and Bernie Carbo. Boggs was a much more common player to appear.
5. Xander Bogaerts. And in the race between Bogaerts and Bradley to 100, both players are now at 99.
6. Pedro Martinez. And here is #3 to take the lead back from Ortiz.
8. Chris Carter. Not the good Chris Carter unfortunately. This one never homered for Boston despite being a power hitter.
9. Jon Lester. Lester's Bowman rookie card. Could he be a future Hall of Famer?
10. Carl Yastrzemski. Yaz had a lot of "Golden Moments" over the course of his career.
11. Jimmie Foxx. I always enjoy finding Foxx cards with Boston, for obvious reasons. Even though he is in the Hall of Fame wearing a Red Sox cap, he still seems more remembered for his time with the A's.
12. Rafael Devers. Devers is one of the few remaining elite prospects in Boston's system. I would like them to hold onto him if possible. They have traded away so much young talent.
13. Carl Yastrzemski. And the last card is another Yaz.
So, not a lot of really exciting cards, but each of them crossed another card off of my wantlist.
Friday, January 27, 2017
The Jason Varitek quest is still going strong for now:
2. 2016 Topps High Tek Lines. Here is yet another High Tek variation. I now have seven variations from this set. There appear to be about 30.
And just for good measure I added a card of another player who I once focused on:
Thursday, January 26, 2017
I missed work on Wednesday due to the bad weather in Northeast Nebraska. Most roads were impassable, particularly the highways. I live outside of town about half an hour and was not able to make it in. So this one card is particularly appropriate.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
This is the second part from yesterday's COMC package. I could not resist adding some other Red Sox to my collection.
2. Carl Yastrzemski. This is my favorite picture from this whole package. Stadium Club is of course known for terrific photography and this is definitely one of the best photos I have seen for the Red Sox from last season.
3. Xander Bogaerts. This card would be really awesome with an MLB license.
4. Xander Bogaerts. With this card, Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are now tied at 98 cards apiece.
5. David Price. It uses the same photo as the insert card from earlier. I missed National Baseball Card Day. Not having a local shop kind of sucks.
6. Drew Pomeranz. I counted this as a wantlist hit, even though the regular Chrome was the one listed. Hey, I got one of them.
7. David Price. I added three new Price cards from this package, which is well behind Varitek, but he is up in the 30's now. He could make it to 100 by the end of the season.
8. Mookie Betts. Obligatory Mookie card here.
And now, the cards that I am the most excited about from the entire package, yes including the Varitek cards:
1. Doug Mirabelli. Varitek's longtime backup catcher spent seven years over two stints with Boston. His best season was 2004 when he was .281/.368/.525 with nine home runs in 59 games. He was the backup on the 2004 and 2007 World Championship teams.
2. Dick Drago. Like Mirabelli, Drago had two stints with the Red Sox and was an important bullpen piece for the 1975 AL Champions, which is likely when this picture was taken. Drago led the team in saves that season with 15. After a couple of seasons away, Drago returned to Boston in 1978 and continued to be a decent reliever for three more seasons. Notably, Drago gave up Hank Aaron's final home run.
I really like these cards.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the other players that show up in this scan. Most importantly is Daisuke Matsuzaka on the last card, because of course he pitched to Varitek quite a bit. And then there is the catchers card that includes two other players that appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot. Ivan Rodriguez was elected and Jorge Posada, like Varitek, was eliminated from future ballots.
This brings me up to 909 Jason Varitek cards.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Saturday, January 21, 2017
I have decided that Jason Varitek should be the largest player in my entire collection. He is already the largest player in my Red Sox collection, although not really by that many over Nomar Garciaparra (and there are a lot more Nomars on my wantlist than Variteks). The first step in doing that is by going for a big milestone.
Friday, January 20, 2017
I was recently watching an MLB Network documentary on the 1990 World Champion Cincinnati Reds. The major thing that anyone remembers about that team is The Nasty Boys, their incredible three-headed bullpen monster made up of Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble, and Randy Myers. Teams are trying to replicate that success, with the 2015 Royals and the 2016 Yankees being particularly notable. The documentary referred to the three pitchers' SO/9 numbers as the best evidence of their dominance (though it erred when it said all three had more than 10 strikeouts per nine as Charlton only had 6.8). I decided to use 9.0 SO/9 as a base line and find years in which the Red Sox had two or more relief pitchers with a higher number (using 50 innings pitched as a minimum). It is not perfect, not even close really, but it is a start.
THE PITCHERS: Lee Smith (12.2 SO/9) and Rob Murphy (9.2 SO/9). #3 was Joe Price with 6.7.
Lee Smith was a monster. He was the closer in 1989 and was 6-1 with a 3.57 ERA, striking out 96 in 70.2 innings. He walked 33 for a 2.91 SO/BB ratio. He racked up 25 saves. His ERA was a little high for a closer but that SO/9 ratio was incredible.
Southpaw Rob Murphy was in his first year with the Red Sox after being acquired in a trade with the Reds that also included Nick Esasky. Boston gave up Todd Benzinger, which worked out well for Boston. Murphy was awesome in 1989 going 5-7 with a 2.74 ERA. He led the team in games pitched (74), and struck out 107 in 105 innings. He saved nine games.
THE PITCHERS: Jonathan Papelbon (10.2 SO/9) and Daniel Bard (9.2 SO/9). #3 was Scott Atchison with 6.2.
In his prime, Papelbon was one of the most dominating closers in Red Sox history. At this point, he is the greatest closer in Red Sox history. 2010 was a bit of a down year for him, but he still managed to save 37 games, striking out 76 and walking 28 in 67 innings. Even in a down year he was striking out 10.2/9 innings.
Daniel Bard, on the other hand, was at his best in 2010. He saved three games and had a 1.93 ERA in 74.2 innings. He racked up 76 strikeouts and walked 30.
THE PITCHERS: Jonathan Papelbon (12.2 SO/9), Matt Albers (9.5 SO/9), and Daniel Bard (9.1 SO/9). #4 was Dan Wheeler at 7.1.
Papelbon was back at the top of his game in 2011, though he did take the loss in the final game of the season that eliminated the Red Sox from making the postseason. He was 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA, striking out 87 and walking just 10 in 64.1 innings.
Bard, on the other hand, was starting his downward spiral. He still pitched well enough in 2011, finishing with a 3.33 ERA, but a 2-9 record. He struck out 74 and walked 24 in 73 innings for an impressive 3.08 SO/BB ratio, so that was not the problem. Bard would struggle greatly after 2011 though.
For the first time, Boston had three relievers with more than a strikeout an inning. Albers struck out 68 and walked 31 in 64.2 innings, but he had a 4-4 record and 4.73 ERA. He was not great, other than the strikeouts.
THE PITCHERS: Koji Uehara (12.2 SO/9) and Junichi Tazawa (9.5 SO/9). Andrew Miller (14.1 SO/9), Andrew Bailey (12.2 SO/9), and Brandon Workman (10.2 SO/9) all did very well in shorter work.
The World Champs had a top-flight closer, having an amazing season. Uehara was 4-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 21 saves. He struck out 101 and walked just nine for an incredible 11.22 SO/BB ratio in just 74.1 innings. He won the ALCS MVP.
Tazawa was a very underrated member of the Red Sox bullpen for years. He was 5-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 68.1 innings. He racked up 72 strikeouts and walked just 12 for a 6.00 SO/BB ratio.
THE PITCHERS: Same culprits as 2013. Koji Uehara (11.2 SO/9) and Junichi Tazawa (9.1 SO/9). Andrew Miller (14.7 SO/9) once again excelled, though in just 42.1 innings, and this was the season he was traded to Baltimore.
Not quite as impressive as 2013, but Koji was still 6-5 with 26 saves and a 2.52 ERA in 64.1 innings. He struck out 80 and walked just eight. His impeccable control was his biggest strength.
Tazawa had some better numbers in 2014, going 4-3 with a 2.86 ERA. He struck out 64 but walked 17 in 63 innings. His SO/BB ratio dropped to 3.00, which was still a pretty decent number.
THE PITCHERS: Craig Kimbrel (14.1 SO/9), Matt Barnes (9.6 SO/9), and Robbie Ross Jr. (9.1 SO/9). Junichi Tazawa (9.8 SO/9), Koji Uehara (12.1 SO/9), Joe Kelly (10.8 SO/9), and Brad Ziegler (9.4 SO/9) just missed the innings cut-off.
Kimbrel's first season in Boston had its ups and downs, but he was still a strikeout machine, notching 83 in 53 innings. His SO/BB ratio was down to 2.77 and his other numbers were down somewhat as he had a 2-6 record and 3.40 ERA. He picked up 31 saves.
In his first full season in the Red Sox bullpen, Barnes put together a solid year. He had a 4.05 ERA mostly as a result of a few bad outings due to overwork. He struck out 71 and walked 31 in 66.2 innings. Barnes could get even better.
Ross has quietly been a very impressive member of the Red Sox bullpen as the primary lefty. He had a strong season that should get him some more notice in 2017 (I'm talking to you Topps, we need Robbie Ross cards). He was 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA, walking 23 and striking out 56 in 55.1 innings.
One team that just missed the cut that I was somewhat surprised by was the 1993 team. Four relievers had over 8.0 SO/9, but less than 9.0. That quartet was made up of closer Jeff Russell (8.7 in 46.2 innings), Greg Harris (8.3), Ken Ryan (8.8), and Tony Fossas (8.8 in 40 innings). That was a very underrated pen.
I personally remember the 2013 season very fondly, for obvious reasons. I did not even discuss Craig Breslow and Felix Doubront who also pitched well in relief. Injuries kept that pen from being even better. Bailey and Miller were both lost for the season early on. Of course, if Bailey had not been hurt, Boston may not have gotten the year it did from Uehara. The bullpen in 2013 was one of the team's strengths and a big reason why they won the World Series.
From a strikeout standpoint, the 2016 team was probably the most impressive. It is kind of amazing how many of these teams have come in the last five years. This is definitely becoming a primary focus in bullpens. The 2017 team could be the best yet. Barnes, Ross, and Kelly will all be back, with a better idea of what their roles will be. Kimbrel could have a bounceback season. And new setup man Tyler Thornburg had a 12.1 SO/9 ratio last season.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Three players were elected to the Hall of Fame today by the BBWAA. None of the three played for the Boston Red Sox, although one did play in the minors for them. Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching all three players. Jeff Bagwell was a terrific hitter and first-baseman, and of course the questions of what might have been were always present. I will count down my favorite Bagwell cards in my collection later in the post. Ivan Rodriguez was a terrific defensive catcher, and could hit a little bit too. Finally, I missed the best of Tim Raines, but he was still a decent player with the White Sox, and was one of the few Yankees I actually liked.
The representatives of the Boston Red Sox did not fare as well. Here is a quick rundown, in descending order by vote total:
ROGER CLEMENS (239 votes)
Clemens took a big step forward and received 54.1% of the vote. It now looks likely that he will be inducted in the next couple of years or so.
CURT SCHILLING (199 votes)
Schilling's mouth got him in a whole bunch of trouble and he saw a 31 vote decrease this year. It may be a one-year thing, hopefully. His political opinions and his Twitter comments, neither of which were at all related to his baseball performance, seem to have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
LEE SMITH (151 votes)
It was Smith's final year on the BBWAA ballot. Next stop: Veteran's Committee.
MANNY RAMIREZ (105 votes)
Manny's biggest problem is the fact that he tested positive for PEDs twice at the tail end of his career. Nevertheless, he did reasonably okay on his first ballot. Time will tell if he can build enough momentum to make it in. Strictly based on stats, he should be in.
BILLY WAGNER (45 votes)
Wagner was a terrific closer who has a better case than a lot of people realize. Is he a Hall of Famer though? I guess time will tell.
EDGAR RENTERIA (2 votes)
His two votes mostly recognize the fact that he had the World Series-clinching hit in two World Series. He will no longer be on the ballot.
JASON VARITEK (2 votes)
I predicted one or two votes for my all-time favorite player and I was apparently right on point. His numbers do not measure up, though there is an increase in appreciation for his defensive skills such as pitch-framing. He was an elite pitch-framer. He drops off the ballot as well, though I am not surprised by this.
TIM WAKEFIELD (1 vote)
I am surprised by the one vote Wakefield received. He will always be a favorite of mine, but his chances at the Hall of Fame were always slim to none.
J.D. DREW (0 votes)
Drew was a much better player than his reputation. He deserved a little more of a look.
FREDDY SANCHEZ (0 votes)
He won a batting title in a terrific 2006 season with the Pirates. Like Bagwell, he was part of a bad trade, but he was never going to make it to the Hall.
ORLANDO CABRERA (0 votes)
Cabrera will always be remembered as the shortstop on the 2004 Red Sox World Championship team. That is good enough.
MATT STAIRS (0 votes)
Stairs was a lot of fun to watch, mostly because he did not look like a professional baseball player, but he was not getting in.
MIKE CAMERON (0 votes)
Cameron is another player that I think should have gotten a few more votes. He was a pretty good player for quite awhile. He was a fantastic defensive outfielder who had some pop. No, I don't think he should have gotten in, but I am surprised he received no votes at all.
The biggest surprise among players that dropped off the ballot in their first year was Jorge Posada. I really thought that he might stick on the ballot for several seasons and possibly build some support. He received just 17 votes.
Now, as promised, my countdown of my favorite Jeff Bagwell cards in my collection:
Not much to say about this one. I kind of like the border on it, but this is as generic as they come.
Slightly less generic than the first one, though the border is annoying. He looked very young at this point, and even has a wisp of a mullet.
Of course the reason that Bagwell never appeared in a Major League game with the Red Sox is all because of this guy:
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
I recently made a trade with a guy for a few Bowman Draft singles. Nothing real exciting, just a couple of cards from my wantlist and a refractor of one of Boston's draft picks.
2. Roger Clemens. The Rocket was the 19th pick in the 1983 Draft. None of the previous 18 picks came close to the career Clemens had. Of course Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Boston was lucky Clemens fell to them.
3. Mike Shawaryn. Boston's fifth round pick from the 2016 Draft fell in the draft due to a loss in velocity, but he was very successful in his first stint as a professional, going 0-1 with a 2.87 ERA with 22 strikeouts versus seven walks in 15.2 innings.
I was a little surprised when I opened up the package with those three cards in it to find one of these:
These are the Upper Deck Fan Paks issued by the company for the Red Sox and Yankees with slightly modified versions of Upper Deck brand cards. I had a lot of these already, but out of the 25 cards, I did get these seven new ones: