Saturday, August 31, 2019

Lindor Set

I talked about the Francisco Lindor Topps online set the other day on my Sandy Alomar Jr. blog.  I bought two cards from the same seller, including the Alomar.  The Red Sox card was an easy choice:
Yep, current manager Alex Cora.  Honestly, I did not know what to expect with this card.  I was surprised to see Cora in the set at all.  I figured with the emphasis on Puerto Rican players, maybe the card would show him as a manager.  He is the first Puerto Rican manager to win a World Series after all.  But no, it shows him playing, and as a Red Sox player even though he was inarguably more successful as a Dodger.  I'm not complaining, I love adding cards like these of obscure and lesser-known players.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Topps Heritage High Number Blaster

I saw this staring at me at Walmart the other day and decided to take a chance on it.  I had never even checked out the checklist and did not know this was a thing.  But I knew if I pulled any Red Sox, they would not be duplicates, so that made the decision easy.
Eh, I did not do great.  The Betts insert is kind of neat and definitely a retro insert.  I like that Eovaldi was included.  I was kind of surprised he was not in the base set, but I guess they were waiting to see if he signed somewhere else.  Eovaldi is having a rough season.  Hopefully he turns it around.

Here is the breakdown:
COLORADO ROCKIES: 6
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 5
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: 4
SEATTLE MARINERS: 4
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 3
CINCINNATI REDS: 3
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: 3
MIAMI MARLINS: 3
NEW YORK YANKEES: 3
SAN DIEGO PADRES: 3
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: 3
ATLANTA BRAVES: 2
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: 2
BOSTON RED SOX: 2
CHICAGO CUBS: 2
CLEVELAND INDIANS: 2
HOUSTON ASTROS: 2
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 2
NEW YORK METS: 2
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: 2
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: 2
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: 2
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 2
TAMPA BAY RAYS: 2
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: 2
DETROIT TIGERS: 1
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: 1
MINNESOTA TWINS: 1
TEXAS RANGERS: 1
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: 0

And the updated total:
BOSTON RED SOX: 94
ATLANTA BRAVES: 83
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 82
NEW YORK YANKEES: 81
HOUSTON ASTROS: 79
CLEVELAND INDIANS: 76
NEW YORK METS: 70
CHICAGO CUBS: 69
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: 68
WASHINGTON NATIONALS/MONTREAL EXPOS: 63
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: 60
TAMPA BAY RAYS: 59
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: 59
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: 58
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: 58
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 55
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: 55
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: 54
SAN DIEGO PADRES: 54
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: 53
DETROIT TIGERS: 53
MINNESOTA TWINS: 51
COLORADO ROCKIES: 50
MIAMI MARLINS: 50
SEATTLE MARINERS: 50
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: 48
CINCINNATI REDS: 46
TEXAS RANGERS: 45
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 43
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 40
OTHER: 16

It seems likely Boston will be the first to 100.  They have an 11 card lead and are six cards away.  That's one good blaster or two to three fair ones. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #s 934-936

Here are three new additions to my Jason Varitek collection.  As I said recently, he has been appearing in sets this year. 

1.  2019 Topps Allen & Ginter X Mini.  This is the mini parallel from the online-only version of Allen & Ginter.

2.  2019 Topps Allen & Ginter Gold Border.  This is a parallel of the base card, which I still need to get.

3.  2019 Topps Diamond Icons Red Ink Autographs.  This is one of the better Varitek cards I have picked up in a long time.  Something about that red ink with the light-blue name plate just pops.  Plus it is numbered to just 25.  It also did not cost me nearly as much as I thought it would.  I am just thrilled to have it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Reminder of the Painful London Series

I would prefer not to remember the debacle that was the London Series against the Yankees.  Boston's pitching was apparently still operating on U.S. time.  Nevertheless, it was an opportunity for some new sets and I decided to add some of the rarer players to appear in one of the sets.

1.  Christian Vazquez.  One of the biggest surprises on the team this year, Vazquez homered in the second game and drove in four runs over the weekend. 

2. Steven Wright.  Despite his off-field problems, I still like Wright because he throws a knuckleball.  I think his Red Sox career is likely over after the season.  He pitched three innings over the weekend, giving up two runs in the first game and struck out three.

3.  Marco Hernandez.  I told you there would be another Hernandez card coming.  Hernandez doubled in the second game of the Series. 

The Series was rough, but adding cards of the above players is always welcome.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Topps Chrome and A&G Blasters

After my luck changed with the Stadium Club blaster, I decided to see if I could pull some decent cards out of two new sets: Chrome and Allen & Ginter.  A&G in particular appealed to me because I knew Jason Varitek was in the set.  I started with the Chrome and pulled zilch.  Then I went for the A&G and things were looking real bad, until in the last pack, I pulled these:
This folks, is why I buy packs.  I have not pulled a Red Sox relic or auto since 2013.  I keep track.  It quickly turned around my luck.  Sure, it's not a great relic pull, but it is still exciting.  Especially because of how rare it is that I pull a Red Sox card.  Of course Rick Porcello is not a huge name and will be one of the more obscure pitchers to win a Cy Young Award, but it is still a relic card.  And for an added bonus, I pulled the Yaz card as well.

Here's the breakdown:
CHICAGO CUBS: 6
MIAMI MARLINS: 5
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: 4
SAN DIEGO PADRES: 4
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: 4
NEW YORK METS: 3
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: 3
SEATTLE MARINERS: 3
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: 3
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: 2
BOSTON RED SOX: 2
CINCINNATI REDS: 2
CLEVELAND INDIANS: 2
HOUSTON ASTROS: 2
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: 2
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 2
NEW YORK YANKEES: 2
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: 2
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 2
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: 1
ATLANTA BRAVES: 1
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 1
DETROIT TIGERS: 1
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 1
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: 1
MINNESOTA TWINS: 1
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: 1
TAMPA BAY RAYS: 1
TEXAS RANGERS: 1
COLORADO ROCKIES: 0

Of course with A&G, the non-baseball cards are plentiful:
OTHER: 14

And the new totals:
BOSTON RED SOX: 92
ATLANTA BRAVES: 81
NEW YORK YANKEES: 78
HOUSTON ASTROS: 77
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 77
CLEVELAND INDIANS: 74
NEW YORK METS: 68
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: 68
CHICAGO CUBS: 67
WASHINGTON NATIONALS/MONTREAL EXPOS: 60
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: 59
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: 59
TAMPA BAY RAYS: 57
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: 56
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: 55
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 53
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: 53
DETROIT TIGERS: 52
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: 52
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: 51
SAN DIEGO PADRES: 51
MINNESOTA TWINS: 50
MIAMI MARLINS: 47
SEATTLE MARINERS: 46
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: 44
COLORADO ROCKIES: 44
TEXAS RANGERS: 44
CINCINNATI REDS: 43
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 40
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 38
OTHER: 16

The Red Sox are still creeping ahead, but a lot of teams made some moves.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Stadium Club Blaster

I was still trying Stadium Club.  I just love the photos and it would be a shame to not pull any Red Sox.  So, I gave it another shot.  And it looks like some of my luck returned, because out of 40 cards, I pulled four Red Sox:
I love that the photos of Fisk and Yaz are photos we have not seen a hundred times before.  These are just terrific shots.  The Bogaerts is a little boring, but I do like most cards that feature the Green Monster.  Finally, that Betts card is perhaps my favorite photo of the year.  Just terrific.  And coming off a season in which Boston won another championship is that much better.

Let's check out the breakdown:
BOSTON RED SOX: 4
HOUSTON ASTROS: 4
ATLANTA BRAVES: 3
CLEVELAND INDIANS: 3
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 3
NEW YORK YANKEES: 3
MIAMI MARLINS: 2
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: 2
NEW YORK METS: 2
SAN DIEGO PADRES: 2
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: 1
CHICAGO CUBS: 1
CINCINNATI REDS: 1
COLORADO ROCKIES: 1
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: 1
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 1
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: 1
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: 1
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: 1
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 1
SEATTLE MARINERS: 1
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: 1
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: 0
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 0
DETROIT TIGERS: 0
MINNESOTA TWINS: 0
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: 0
TAMPA BAY RAYS: 0
TEXAS RANGERS: 0
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: 0

Not surprisingly, Boston leads (tied with Houston).  It's hard to top a team that was represented by 10% of the total cards.

BOSTON RED SOX: 90
ATLANTA BRAVES: 80
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 76
NEW YORK YANKEES: 76
HOUSTON ASTROS: 75
CLEVELAND INDIANS: 72
NEW YORK METS: 65
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: 65
CHICAGO CUBS: 61
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: 58
WASHINGTON NATIONALS/MONTREAL EXPOS: 57
TAMPA BAY RAYS: 56
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: 55
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: 55
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: 53
DETROIT TIGERS: 51
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 51
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: 51
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: 49
MINNESOTA TWINS: 49
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: 48
SAN DIEGO PADRES: 47
COLORADO ROCKIES: 44
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: 43
SEATTLE MARINERS: 43
TEXAS RANGERS: 43
MIAMI MARLINS: 42
CINCINNATI REDS: 41
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 39
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 36
OTHER: 2

Not much movement.  The Red Sox extend their lead.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Tzu-Wei Lin Card #108

There have not been many Lin cards popping up lately.  I suspect due to the injury, people are not parting with them, hoping he will make it back again.  I unfortunately missed one recently that I needed.  I simply spaced on checking Ebay for a while and missed one that sold pretty low.  This one though I got.  This is the Red Wave Refractor from 2013 Bowman Chrome.  It was graded when I bought it, so I had to break a grading case and probably paid more than I should have for it, but I have not seen one of these since I started the Lin collection. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

More Total Red Sox

I have complained about this once before, but it bears repeating.  I hate what Topps has done with this set.  Topps Total was a perfect low-cost set with a lot of player selection.  It still has the player selection, but it is now $10.00 for a 10-card pack and you can only get it online.  And so, buying singles is the only way to go with this set.  I picked up this lot on Ebay for less than it would have cost for one pack and got five cards I needed instead of a shot at one.

1.  Mitch Moreland.  Moreland had been doing quite well before injuries sank his season.  Now, he can barely crack the lineup because of how well Sam Travis is suddenly hitting.  This is likely Moreland's last season in Boston.

2.  Mookie Betts.  Probably one of the more expensive cards in this set for the Red Sox (Chavis and Devers will be more I think), so it was pretty good to get it in this lot.  Betts is having a down season, sort of.  He is still one of the top players in the league.

3.  Hector Velazquez.  One of the reasons I picked this lot was because of Velazquez who simply does not have enough cards.  Sure, he's not real good, but that's why Topps Total was so endearing.

4.  Jackie Bradley Jr.  I fear we may be seeing the end of JBJ's time in Boston.  I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it.  With the contract issues coming up, I do not see Boston keeping him.  He is not a free agent until 2021, but he may be trade bait.

5.  Brandon Workman.  Here is the other main reason I got this lot.  Workman has very few cards and has been one of the better surprises for Boston this season.  He has been the best pitcher out of the bullpen.  I think he will finally start to show up more now.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Topps Now: June 24, 2019

Well, of course I am going to pick up a Topps Now card of Marco Hernandez.  Hernandez has very few Red Sox cards.  Coming into this release, he appeared in Donruss Optic in 2017, which of course has his uniform air-brushed.  Now, I expect, given his play this year, that he will start appearing more and more, and in fact I already have another card with him that will be shown soon. 

Hernandez singled for a walkoff win on June 24.  He has had a number of clutch hits this season.  I find it impossible to dislike him, even though he is basically keeping Tzu-Wei Lin from making it back to the Majors.  You just don't need three utility infielders that bat left-handed. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

I Cheated

When last I checked in with a pack breaks post, I was lamenting the sudden shift in my luck.  Suddenly I could not pull a Red Sox card if my life depended on it.  Seeking to reverse that luck, I picked up hanger packs of Series 2 and Opening Day.  I knew that the Series 2 pack would contain two Mookie Betts inserts, so I felt reasonably sure I would get something.  I actually pulled six cards, all from Series 2.  The Opening Day pack was a bust yet again.  But these were the only new Red Sox cards:
Yep, all but the two Betts inserts were duplicates.  I don't know how that keeps happening.  There are still plenty of Red Sox base cards I need.  So, add two more Betts cards to the collection.

Here is the breakdown:
TEXAS RANGERS: 7
BOSTON RED SOX: 6
NEW YORK YANKEES: 6
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: 6
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: 5
CHICAGO CUBS: 5
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: 5
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: 5
CLEVELAND INDIANS: 4
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 4
NEW YORK METS: 4
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: 4
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 4
TAMPA BAY RAYS: 4
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: 4
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: 3
ATLANTA BRAVES: 3
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 3
COLORADO ROCKIES: 3
DETROIT TIGERS: 3
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 3
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: 3
SAN DIEGO PADRES: 3
HOUSTON ASTROS: 2
MINNESOTA TWINS: 2
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: 2
CINCINNATI REDS: 1
MIAMI MARLINS: 1
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: 1
SEATTLE MARINERS: 1

Yeah, so Boston still finished second.  I counted the duplicates because I am 99.9% sure that most of that hanger pack was duplicates anyway.

Here is the updated breakdown:
BOSTON RED SOX: 86
ATLANTA BRAVES: 77
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 75
NEW YORK YANKEES: 73
HOUSTON ASTROS: 71
CLEVELAND INDIANS: 69
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: 64
NEW YORK METS: 63
CHICAGO CUBS: 60
WASHINGTON NATIONALS/MONTREAL EXPOS: 57
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: 56
TAMPA BAY RAYS: 56
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: 54
TORONTO BLUE JAYS: 54
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: 52
DETROIT TIGERS: 51
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: 51
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: 49
MINNESOTA TWINS: 49
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 48
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: 47
SAN DIEGO PADRES: 45
COLORADO ROCKIES: 43
TEXAS RANGERS: 43
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: 42
SEATTLE MARINERS: 42
CINCINNATI REDS: 40
MIAMI MARLINS: 40
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 39
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 35
OTHER: 2

Boston is still in the lead.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #933

The other day I read a post by Night Owl, in which he complained about Jason Varitek appearing in Allen & Ginter, among other sets this year.  He also expressed a preference for seeing Rick Burleson.  I can definitely get behind the desire to The Rooster, but I am happy as hell that Tek is making appearances this year.  It makes it that much more likely that one of these days I may accomplish my goal.

Here is card #934, the 2019 Museum Collection Archival Autographs card of Varitek.  This is the most common version of this card, numbered to 199.  I will be picking up more Varitek cards this year again.  He still ranks as my all-time favorite player after all.  And I am thrilled to see him in sets again.  I just wish he had been in Archives for a Fan Favorites auto.  He certainly qualifies.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

All-Time One-Year Wonder: Right-Handed Starting Pitcher

I'm going to do something a little different with the One-Year Wonder posts. I have decided to go position-by-position and see if I can determine who the best player at each position would be who only spent one year with the Red Sox. This requires a lot of time and research. I am not naming every single player who spent just one season with the Red Sox at each position, but just the better-known players. At the end of the post, I will pick the single best player for each position.

RIGHT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
TED LEWIS - 1901
Though his career lasted just six seasons in the Majors, Lewis had some big success.  He had been a 20 game winner twice while with the Boston National League team before he was poached by the upstart American League team.  A member of the inaugural Boston rotation in the American League, Lewis had a record of 16-17 and an ERA of 3.53 over 316.1 innings.  Lewis led the league in home runs allowed with 14.  Though he led the team in losses, Lewis also tied for second on the team in wins and strikeouts (103).  Though he was just 28, he never appeared in the Majors again.

TULLY SPARKS - 1902
Sparks is not a household name, but he turned in a number of good seasons for the Phillies from 1903-1910, including a 20 win season in 1907 when he had a 2.00 ERA.  Sparks started the 1902 season with the New York Giants but was picked up as a free agent by Boston in August of 1902.  Despite coming to the team so late, Sparks was a workhorse, starting 15 of 17 games with a 7-9 record and a 3.47 ERA.  He struck out 37 and walked 40 in 142.2 innings.  After the season, he jumped to the Phillies where he had his most career success.

JACK CHESBRO - 1909
There will be several Hall of Famers in this post and Chesbro is the first.  He would also fit into a one-game wonder post as Chesbro's Red Sox stint lasted one single game.  Chesbro had been a very good starting pitcher for the Pirates and New York Highlanders, leading the league in wins twice, including the record of 41 wins in a single season with New York in 1904.  He also led the league in starts (55), complete games (48) and innings pitched (454.2).  His career slowly declined after that, leading into the 1909 season which he started with the Highlanders.  But after an 0-4 start, he was placed on waivers.  Boston picked him up to start a game late in the season.  He pitched six innings in the final start of his career and took the loss, giving up four runs, walking four and striking out three.  His Red Sox record was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA.  

RAY CALDWELL - 1919
Caldwell had been a consistent member of the Yankees rotations for the entire decade leading into 1919.  He had come close to 20 win seasons twice.  His best season was in 1914 when he was 18-9 with a 1.94 ERA.  In one of the early trades between the Yankees and Red Sox which peaked with the sale of Babe Ruth to New York, Caldwell was sent to Boston along with three spare parts and $15k for Boston stars Ernie Shore, Dutch Leonard and Duffy Lewis.  This was not a great trade for either team as none of the players did much for their new teams.  Caldwell was the best of the group for Boston, going 7-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 86.1 innings.  Decent numbers today, but at the time they were less than impressive.  They were so unimpressive that Caldwell was released later in the season and snagged by Cleveland.  He won 20 games for Cleveland the next year, but was done shortly thereafter.

BOBO NEWSOM - 1937
To say that Bobo Newsom was well-traveled is a massive understatement.  Over his long 20-year career, Newsom pitched for more than half of the teams in existence, including four stints with Washington and three with the St. Louis Browns.  He was a four-time All Star (1938-1940, 1944) and was a 20 game winner three times.  For his career, he was 211-222 with a 3.98 ERA.  His record is misleading though due to his extensive time pitched for bad teams in Washington and St. Louis.  Newsom started the 1937 season with Washington, but was just 3-4 with a 5.85 ERA when he was traded along with Ben Chapman to Boston for both Ferrell brothers and Mel Almada.  Newsom made it into 30 games for his new team, going 13-10 with a 4.46 ERA in 207.2 innings.  He did not get along with player/manager Joe Cronin though and was deemed too disruptive.  He was traded to the Browns before the 1938 season along with Red Kress and Buster Mills for Joe Vosmik, who was helpful, but Boston could have used the pitching help in 1938.  Newsom won 20 games.  He continued pitching through 1953.

ELDEN AUKER - 1939
Auker had been a very good pitcher with the Detroit Tigers for most of the 1930's, leading the league in winning percentage in 1935.  That year, he won 18 games with a 3.83 ERA.  After a rough season in 1938, Auker was traded to the pitching-starved Red Sox along with two spare parts for a package including Pinky Higgins.  Auker did not find Boston to his liking, compiling a 9-10 record with an ugly 5.36 ERA in 151 innings.  He struck out 43 while walking 61.  Prior to the 1940 season, Auker was sold to the St. Louis Browns where his luck improved and he turned in three decent seasons.

JOE WOOD - 1944
Though his career does not really merit his inclusion in this post, there is a reason why Joe Wood is here.  Wood's Major League career was made up of just three games and he was 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA.  All three of those games occurred in 1944.  So, why is he here?  His name probably gives it away.  Joe Wood was the son of the legendary Red Sox deadball-era pitcher Smoky Joe Wood.  So there you go.

DIZZY TROUT - 1952
Like Auker, Dizzy Trout had a successful career with the Tigers leading into his acquisition by the Red Sox.  Trout was even better though, as he was an All Star in 1944 and 1947 and led the league in wins and shutouts in 1943.  He had his best season in 1944 when he was 27-14 with a league-leading 2.12 ERA.  He and Hal Newhouser provided a very effective 1-2 punch in the Tigers rotation.  By 1952, Trout was nearing the end of his career and started the season 1-5 with Detroit.  He was traded to the Red Sox along with Hoot Evers and George Kell for a package involving Johnny Pesky and Walt Dropo.  Both teams traded fan favorites.  Trout pitched in 26 games for Boston, going 9-8 with a 3.64 ERA, striking out 57 and walking 68 in 133.2 innings.  Trout retired temporarily after the season but made a comeback attempt with the Orioles in 1957 before retiring for good.

JUAN MARICHAL - 1974
Here is the second Hall of Famer.  Marichal was a longtime San Francisco Giants ace and a nine-time All Star, led the National League in wins twice, and ERA once.  With the Giants, he was 238-140 with a 2.84 ERA and 2,303 strikeouts.  It is his time with the Giants that led to him being a Hall of Famer.  He was with San Francisco through the 1973 season.  Boston purchased him from the Giants prior to the 1974 season, but injuries derailed his season.  He ended up pitching in just eleven games, but was 5-1 with a 4.87 ERA.  He struck out 21 and walked 14 in 57.1 innings.  Before the 1975 season, Marichal joined his longtime rival Dodgers before his career ended.  He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1983.  

DON AASE - 1977
Mostly known for his time as a reliever, and for his glorious mustache, Aase actually started his career as a promising starting pitcher for the Red Sox.  He came up in 1977 and pitched in 13 games, all of them starts for Boston.  He was 6-2 with an impressive 3.12 ERA, striking out 49 batters while walking just 19 in 92.1 innings.  He threw two shutouts among his six wins.  After the season, he was shipped to the Angels in a one-for-one deal for second-baseman Jerry Remy.  Aase was not able to do quite as well for the Angels and was eventually moved into the bullpen.  Later, he was an All Star closer for the Orioles in 1986 when he notched 34 saves with a 2.98 ERA.  He also pitched for the Mets and Dodgers before retiring.

TOM SEAVER - 1986
This is one of my favorites.  Tom Seaver is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, three-time Cy Young Award winner and the third Hall of Famer in this post.  Seaver made his biggest mark with the New York Mets, winning the NL Rookie of the Year in 1967 and the Cy Young Award in 1969, 1973 and 1975.  During the 1977 season, the Mets shockingly traded him to the Reds, where he continued to shine.  Later in his career he started to bounce around, returning to the Mets and then moving on to the White Sox.  He won his 300th game with Chicago in 1985, still having plenty left in the tank.  He started the 1986 season with the White Sox.  The Red Sox were on their way to the World Series and needed a pitcher with some postseason experience and Seaver was declining.  Boston sent utility man extraordinaire Steve Lyons to Chicago for Seaver.  Seaver pitched reasonably well for Boston, appearing in 16 games and throwing 104.1 innings, with a 5-7 record and a 3.80 ERA.  He struck out 72 and walked just 29.  Unfortunately, Seaver developed an injury and missed the postseason entirely.  He attempted a comeback with the Mets in 1987 but retired for good before the season.  Seaver's last game of his remarkable Hall of Fame career was in a Red Sox uniform.

ERIK HANSON - 1995
There are not too many All Star seasons in these posts.  Thus far, it has just been Adrian Beltre at third and Mark Loretta at second.  Add Erik Hanson to the list.  Hanson came up with the Mariners and was an 18 game winner in just his third season.  He was in the same rotation as Randy Johnson, but was more of a control pitcher.  Hanson led the league in losses with 17 in 1992 and his stock fell.  After a season with the Reds in 1994, Boston picked him up to help solidify the rotation after Roger Clemens and Aaron Sele.  Hanson though was the team's best pitcher for most of the 1995 season, holding it together while both Clemens and Sele were injured and only getting help when Tim Wakefield was brought in.  Hanson was 15-5 with a 4.24 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 186.2 innings, only missing the 200 innings mark because it was a shortened season.  Hanson was an All Star, but did not appear in the game.  He pitched eight hard-luck innings against the Indians in his only postseason start, losing the game by giving up four runs.  After the season, he signed a free agent contract with the Blue Jays but was not nearly as successful again.

MARK PORTUGAL - 1999
Portugal was in his 15th and final season in the big leagues in 1999.  He had come up with the Twins, but had most of his success with the Astros.  His best season was in 1993 when he led the NL in winning percentage with an 18-4 record and a sparkling 2.77 ERA.  He bounced around quite a bit after that though because he was never again quite as good.  He pitched for the Giants, Reds and Phillies before returning to the American League with the Red Sox in 1999.  Boston's offense that season was very good, but pitching beyond Pedro Martinez was tough.  The Red Sox picked up both Portugal and the next pitcher in order to solidify the back end of the rotation.  It did not go as planned.  Portugal was brutal, finishing with a record of 7-12 and an unsightly 5.51 ERA.  He struck out 79 and walked 49 in 150.1 innings.  He never even finished the season, being released in September.  He attempted a comeback in 2000 with the Reds but did not make the team.

PAT RAPP - 1999
If Boston had gotten anything out of Portugal and Rapp in 1999, they might have had a better showing in the postseason, but they did not.  Rapp started his career with the Giants, then moved to the expansion Marlins in 1993.  He had a decent season in 1995, then led the league in losses in 1996 with 16.  He was traded to the Giants during the 1997 season, missing the Marlins World Series championship.  Then he had a rough season with the Royals in 1998.  Boston brought him in on a free agent contract, and he was not nearly as bad as Portugal.  Rapp finished with a 6-7 record and a 4.12 ERA.  He struck out 90 and walked 69 in 146.1 innings.  Rapp was a free agent after the season and pitched for the Orioles and the Angels for a year each, though not particularly well.

HIDEO NOMO - 2001
"Nomo-mania" was huge in 1995 and was one of the most exciting elements bringing fans back to the game.  Nomo was the first in a line of players imported to the Majors from the Japanese league in the 1990's.  He won the Rookie of the Year in 1995 for the Dodgers and led the league in strikeouts, appearing in his only All Star Game that season.  After a couple more decent seasons, his numbers started to decline and he bounced from the Dodgers to the Mets to the Brewers to the Tigers before landing in Boston.  Nomo had a rough Spring Training and it looked like more of the same disappointment.  Then he made his first start with the Red Sox and it was electric.  Nomo pitched a no-hitter against the Orioles in his first start with Boston, his second no-hitter of his career, and the first Red Sox no-hitter since Dave Morehead in 1965.  He was inconsistent for most of the season, but he always struck batters out.  He ended up leading the league in both strikeouts (220) and walks (96).  He was the team's best pitcher in 2001, partially due to the injury to Pedro Martinez, but he was 13-10 with a 4.50 ERA in 198 innings.  He resurrected his career and returned to the Dodgers, where he two more good seasons before bouncing around again, appearing in games for the Devil Rays and Royals before ending his Major League career. 

DAVID CONE  - 2001
Cone was an electrifying pitcher for a number of years in the 1980's and 1990's.  He came up with the Royals, then was part of a bad trade to the Mets.  He was 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA in his second full season.  He was a four-time All Star in his career, leading the league in strikeouts twice and winning the Cy Young Award with the Royals in 1994.  Cone was a part of the Yankees rotations that won the World Series four times in five seasons from 1996 through 2000.  He also pitched a perfect game in that time period.  After a rough 2000 season, Cone's career was on the downward slide.  Boston brought him in with the hope that he had something left.  Unfortunately he did not seem to have much left and he was 9-7 with a 4.31 ERA in 135.2 innings.  He struck out 115 and walked 57.  He did not pitch in 2002, but attempted a comeback in 2003 with the Mets, that was not successful.

WADE MILLER - 2005
Miller was a pretty good pitcher for the Houston Astros in the early 2000's.  He had three straight strong seasons for the Astros from 2001-2003.  After a lackluster 2004 season, he was non-tendered by Houston and the Red Sox took a flyer on him.  He was brought in along with Matt Clement and David Wells to try to make up for the loss of Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe.  Unfortunately, Miller continued to have injury issues and made it into just 16 games with Boston and was 4-4 with a 4.95 ERA, striking out 64 and walking 47 in 91 innings.  After the season he continued to try to resurrect his career with the Cubs, but failed to do so.

BARTOLO COLON - 2008
Colon has been a fan favorite for a very long time.  Initially appearing in the Majors with the Indians, Colon was a four-time All Star and won the Cy Young Award with the Angels in 2005 when he was 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA and 157 strikeouts.  He dealt with injuries for the two seasons after that and looked to be on the downward swing of his career when the Red Sox brought him in as a low-cost starting pitching option.  Colon appeared in just seven games with the Red Sox, but he was 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 39 innings.  He continued to bounce around a little before he resurrected his career with the Athletics in 2012.  He had a brilliant second stage of his career for a few years before finally appearing for the last time with the Rangers in 2018 at the age of 45.  Not bad for someone who was in questionable shape for much of his career.

BRAD PENNY - 2009
Penny originally came up through the Diamondbacks system, but was traded to the Marlins before making his Major League debut.  He had a few decent seasons was 14-10 with a 4.13 ERA and 138 strikeouts for the World Championship 2003 Marlins team.  He won two games in the World Series against the Yankees.  He was traded the next season to the Dodgers where he had his most success.  Penny was a two-time All Star with the Dodgers in 2006 and 2007, finishing third in the Cy Young vote in the latter season.  After an injury-plagued 2008, Penny signed a free agent contract with the Red Sox.  Unfortunately his fortunes did not improve and he was just 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 131.2 innings.  The Red Sox released him in August and he caught on with the Giants.  He bounced around after that, pitching for the Cardinals and Tigers before returning to the Marlins, never approaching his Dodgers success.

JOHN SMOLTZ - 2009
Here is the fourth and final Hall of Famer in this post.  Smoltz is primarily known for being part of the great Braves rotations of the 1990's.  He was usually the number three starter, though he was an All Star eight times and won the Cy Young Award for Atlanta in 1996 when he won a league-leading 24 games and struck out 276, which also led the league.  After an injury wiped out his 2000 season, Smoltz made a comeback as a closer and excelled in his new role.  He led the league with 55 saves in 2002 and followed that with seasons of 45 and 44 saves.  In 2005 he returned to the rotation and continued to put up big numbers until an injury-plagued 2008 season.  He joined the Red Sox as a free agent in 2009, the first time he had played for a Major League team other than the Braves (it is worth noting that he was originally drafted by the Tigers but was traded prior to his debut).  Smoltz made just eight starts for the Red Sox and was 2-5 with a dismal 8.33 ERA.  He struck out 33 and walked eight in 40 innings, but it was safe to say that he was not providing anything close to decent numbers.  Boston released him in August and he caught on with the Cardinals to finish out his season, and his career.  

AARON COOK - 2012
Cook was one of the more successful pitchers for the Colorado Rockies, spending ten years in their rotation and appearing in the 2008 All Star Game.  He was a part of the rotation that went to the World Series in 2007 that was swept by the Red Sox and started the final game, which he lost but pitched well.  After a couple of rough seasons, Cook signed with the Red Sox as a free agent.  The move was lauded at the time, but it simply did not work out well.  Cook was injured for most of the season and when he finally made it to the mound, he struggled.  He finished the year 4-11 with a 5.65 ERA.  His WHIP was an unsightly 1.468 and he walked 21 while striking out just 20 in 94 innings.  The Red Sox were bad in 2012, and starting pitching was a large reason why.  Cook attempted a comeback with the Rockies in 2013, but was not able to make it back to the Majors.

RYAN DEMPSTER - 2013
The only pitcher from this post to play in a World Series with Boston is Dempster.  He was originally drafted by the Rangers but was traded to the Marlins as part of a package for John Burkett in the Marlins' first fire sale.  He was an All Star for the Marlins before being traded to the Reds and then landing with the Cubs.  It was with the Cubs that Dempster had his most success, closing for them for awhile and then becoming an All Star starter.  Boston originally tried to acquire him at the trading deadline in 2012, but he was sent to the Rangers instead.  Boston then signed him as a free agent.  2013 was Dempster's final year in the Majors and he turned in a 8-9 record with a 4.57 ERA in 32 games.  He notched 157 strikeouts and 79 walks in 171.1 innings.  He was used out of the bullpen in the postseason and appeared in one game in each series.  He gave up one run in the postseason out of three innings and did not get a decision.  Dempster was technically still on the team in 2014, but he was injured and decided to retire at the end of the season.

DOUG FISTER - 2017
The unfortunately-named Fister started his Major League career with the Mariners in 2009.  He was later traded to the Tigers for the similarly unfortunately-named Charlie Furbush in 2011.  Fister turned into a pretty decent back-of-the-rotation starter for Detroit, despite not having overpowering stuff.  He was one of the top starters on the team in 2013 when they made it to the ALCS when he had a 14-9 record.  He had his best season for the Nationals in 2014 when he was 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA.  He struck out only 98 batters, but walked just 29 in 164 innings.  He started the 2017 season with the Angels, but never made it to the Majors and the Red Sox picked him up off waivers to strengthen the rotation.  Fister had a number of strong starts, but finished the season just 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA.  His strikeout rate improved as he picked up 83 in 90.1 innings.  Fister was roughed up in his only start in the postseason by the Astros.  He pitched for the Rangers in 2018, but had not been seen this season.

THE BEST ONE-YEAR RIGHT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
This one came down to Erik Hanson, Ted Lewis or Hideo Nomo.  Lewis had the most wins and a WAR value of 3.0, but he also had far more losses and led the league in home runs allowed.  It was largely considered a bad season for Lewis, so he was eliminated.  So Hanson or Nomo?  Hanson was an All Star and had a very good record.  Nomo, despite leading the league in walks and having a worse record, also led the league in strikeouts and had a higher WAR in more innings pitched.  We are most likely at a draw.  So what's the tie-breaker?  How about Nomo's no-hitter?  And thus, the decison was made.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Red Sox with No Cards: 2017

Here we go again.  The Red Sox in 2017 once again finished in first place in the AL East, in the final season under John Farrell.  Unfortunately, they ran into a buzzsaw in the first round of the postseason and were eliminated by the Astros in four games.  Players like Ben Taylor and Kyle Martin managed to find themselves on some cardboard, but a number of arguably more-deserving players were still left off.
I will never understand how some middle relievers get cards, but others do not.  This is why we need a real Topps Total release again.  Abad was in his first full season with the Red Sox, and his second overall.  This time around though, Abad pitched in 43.1 innings over 48 games (almost a third of the season).  He was impressive, with a 3.30 ERA and a 2-1 record.  He struck out 37 and walked just 14 in those innings.  He tended to give up a lot of hits, but was otherwise effective, particularly against left-handed batters.  He did not appear in the postseason.  Abad was a free agent after the season, but did not appear in the Majors again until this season with the Giants.  Abad does appear in a team-issued photo set.

Boyer was a well-traveled relief pitcher when he came to Boston as a free agent early in the 2017 season.  He had been a veteran with the Braves, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, Twins and Brewers.  He had been successful at times, but never really kept his success going from year to year.  He was 35 coming into the season, but still had something left.  Boyer appeared in 32 games, throwing 41.1 innings with a 1-1 record and a 4.35 ERA.  He struck out 33 and walked 14.  Boyer played for the Royals in 2018, but has not been seen since.  Boyer does appear in a minor league set.

Okay, this one I get.  d'Arnaud, the older brother of current Rays/former Mets slugger Travis d'Arnaud, is more of a utility infielder.  He made his debut in 2011 with the Pirates and has played with the Phillies and Braves, before joining Boston as a waiver wire pickup.  2016 was the only season in which he played in more than 50 games in the Majors, while he was with the Braves.  d'Arnaud spent most of his stint with Boston in the minors, but appeared in two games, one as a pinch defensive replacement at second and the other as a pinch runner  He picked up a hit in his only at bat as a Red Sox and scored two runs.  He was later placed on waivers and picked up by the Padres.  He played with the Giants in 2018.

Davis was an August trading deadline pickup for the Red Sox in order to add some speed to the lineup.  Davis had been a veteran of twelve years and had appeared with the Pirates, Giants, Athletics, Blue Jays, Tigers and Indians.  He had some clutch moments for the Indians in the 2016 postseason and led the league in stolen bases that season.  Davis appeared in 17 games for the Red Sox down the stretch and hit .250/.289/.306 with three stolen bases in 38 plate appearances.  He scored seven runs and drove in two runs.  Davis appeared in one game in the postseason, but did not have a plate appearance.  After the season, he returned to the Indians and has been with the Mets in 2019.

Elias was in his second season with the Red Sox, but appeared in just one game at the Major League level.  The acquisition of Elias and Carson Smith for Wade Miley did not work out as planned.  In 2018, Elias appeared in just one game, ending the game with one-third of an inning, walking one and striking out one.  He did not do much in the minors for the Red Sox organization either.  Early in 2018 he was traded back to the Mariners, and he impressed out of the bullpen.  He started the 2019 season with Seattle, but was then traded to the Nationals.  

Boston signed Kendrick as a low-cost starting pitcher primarily as organizational depth.  When the Red Sox had some injuries to the rotation, Kendrick was called up to start a couple of games.  He had previously been a consistent, if somewhat ordinary, starting pitcher for the Phillies for several seasons winning double digits six times.  He had a disastrous 2015 season with the Rockies and did not appear in the Majors in 2016.  Kendrick lost both of his starts with Boston and had a 12.96 ERA in 8.1 innings, giving up 18 hits, striking out three and walking three.  He has not been back in the Majors since.  Kendrick does appear in a minor league set.

This is the third time that Ramirez has appeared in one of these posts.  Ramirez had been a fourth round pick of the Red Sox in 2011 and has appeared in a number of minor league sets, but never made it into a Major League set with the Red Sox.  2017 was his final season in Boston before being waived in August.  The Angels picked him up and he has had some success in their bullpen since.  With Boston in 2017, Ramirez appeared in just two games, throwing 4.1 innings and notching four strikeouts.  He had a 3.86 ERA.  If it's any consolation, Ramirez has not appeared on a card with the Angels either, despite being a big part of their bullpen.

Boston's big trading deadline pickup was Reed, who had been having a very good season with the Mets as the team's closer.  Reed had notched 19 saves and a 2.57 ERA for the Mets and was in high demand.  He had previously been a pretty good closer for the White Sox, picking up 40 saves in 2013.  Boston though had Craig Kimbrel, who was having a great season at closer, so Reed was not expected to close for the Red Sox.  They gave up a number of pitching prospects, including Gerson Bautista to get Reed.  Reed did his job for the Red Sox, pitching in 29 games down the stretch and accumulating a 1-1 record and a 3.33 ERA over 27 innings.  He struck out 28 batters and walked nine.  He appeared in three games in the postseason against the Astros, but had an ugly 7.71 ERA.  After the season he joined the Twins as a free agent, but had a rough season and has been injured in 2019.

Due to injuries, Selsky was actually on the Red Sox Opening Day roster.  He had made his Major League debut with the Reds in 2016 and played in 24 games, hitting a couple of homers and batting .314.  He had impressed in Spring Training in 2017 and made the roster as a backup.  Selsky though played in just eight games with the Red Sox, and had just one hit in nine plate appearances.  That hit was a double, for a .111/.111/.222 line.  Boston released him and the Reds picked him back up.  He played all of 2018 in the minors and apparently is out of baseball.  Selsky does appear in a minor league set.

Of the players missing, I think Addison Reed probably qualifies as the most surprising given the fact that he was an important pickup for the team at the trading deadline.  Granted, he was not a closer, but he was highly sought-after.  It was a bad year to be a Red Sox reliever because both Blaine Boyer and Fernando Abad were important members of the bullpen as well.  Rajai Davis also arguably should have received a card.  I would probably pick Abad as the player I most wanted to see.  He pitched the most innings and had a legitimately good year as a lefty out of the pen.  He narrowly beats Reed.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 28: Hugh Duffy

HUGH DUFFY
Years in Boston: 1921-1922 (136-172)
Best Year in Boston: 1921 (75-79)
Like the last post in this series (Frank Chance), Hugh Duffy is far more known for his playing career than his managerial career and it is his managerial career that brought him to the Red Sox.  Duffy spent 17 seasons in the Majors and had his best seasons prior to the 20th century.  He nearly won the Triple Crown as an outfielder for the Boston Beaneaters (later, the Braves) in 1894 when he hit .440/.502/.694 with 18 home runs and 145 RBIs.  He was something of a slugger of the time period, hitting double digits in home runs three times.

Duffy was a player/manager for a few years late in his career, but was mostly out of Major League baseball after 1911.  The Red Sox hired him to be their manager in 1921 and he inherited a team that had lost a ton of talent to the New York Yankees.  The 1921 team still had Herb Pennock, Bullet Joe Bush and Everett Scott and had just acquired Del Pratt.  That team was not terrible, finishing four games under .500, which was an improvement from the prior season.  Hopes were high.

Unfortunately, the team jettisoned more talent going into 1922, shipping away Bush, Scott and Stuffy McInnis.  New acquisitions were Jack Quinn and George Burns.  Despite a few decent seasons from Burns, Pratt and Joe Harris, the pitching was in shambles and the team finished 61-93.  That was it for Duffy as manager.  Duffy though remained in the Boston organization, mostly as a scout until 1953.  He died in 1954.

Duffy's time with the Red Sox is largely irrelevant to his presence in Cooperstown.  He was not a successful manager and his career as a scout is mostly a footnote. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 16: Rick Miller

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?
Rick Miller was a second round draft pick by the Red Sox in the 1969 draft, the same draft that produced Dwight Evans (fifth round).  He made his debut for the Red Sox  just two years later and spent the first seven seasons in Boston, mainly as a platoon outfielder and injury insurance.  He had a few decent seasons, but was never really all that good.  He did have some speed though, which was an element in short supply in Boston in the 1970's.  After the 1977 season, Miller signed with the California Angels, where he played the next three seasons.

In December of 1980, Miller was re-acquired by the Red Sox along with Mark Clear and Carney Lansford in the deal that sent Butch Hobson and fan favorite Rick Burleson to California.  The deal ended up working out well for Boston as Hobson was immediately a non-factor and Burleson's career was derailed by injuries.  Miller was the least impressive part of the return, but he was the team's regular center-fielder in 1981.  

Miller had one of his better seasons in 1981, hitting .291/.349/.377.  He had next to no power, hitting just two home runs and his speed had declined (three stolen bases and caught five times).  Unfortunately, Boston did not really have too many other options at center (Lynn had been traded) and his hitting and defense were decent enough.  The problem was that they kept putting him out there for a couple more years.

Miller stayed with Boston through the end of his career in 1985 despite diminishing returns each season.  He was a regular in 1982, despite a bad year, then was replaced in center by Tony Armas in 1983.  He was a utility outfielder the rest of his career.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Topps Now: May 22, 2019

Time to get going again.

On May 22, 2019, Michael Chavis won the game in the 13th inning against the Blue Jays in a wild game.  Boston led by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning, but couldn't get the job done (a frequent problem this year unfortunately).  The Blue Jays tied the game.  Boston took the lead in the 12th inning on a Mookie Betts home run, but again, the bullpen gave it back to Toronto.  Michael Chavis, who was on a tear in May homered in the 13th inning, and this time, Heath Hembree held onto the lead to give Boston the win.  Chavis has cooled significantly since May, but is still having a very good rookie campaign.