Wednesday, May 27, 2020

2014 Factory Team Set

There are a few of these Factory Team Sets out there that I still needed, so I recently grabbed a couple of them.  The first one was the 2014 set, which is mostly made up of players from the 2013 World Championship team, the Boston Strong team. 
1.  Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia had a typically great season in 2013, being voted to his fourth All Star game and winning his third Gold Glove.  He hit .301/.372/.415 with nine home runs and 84 RBIs.  He also stole 17 bases.  I remember I had him on my Fantasy Team that year, picking him late in the first round.  I finished in the money that year.

2.  A.J. Pierzynski.  This was the only new acquisition in the set.  Pierzynski was signed to replaced the departed free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  This signing did not work out.  He played in 72 games before being released, hitting just .254/.286/.348 with four home runs and 31 RBIs.  It was a far cry from his previous two seasons in Texas.  He also did not work well with Jon Lester apparently.

3.  David Ortiz.  Ortiz was an absolute monster in the postseason in 2013, winning the World Series MVP.  He was also an All Star during the regular season after hitting .309/.395/.564 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs.

4.  Junichi Tazawa.  Tazawa was an underrated hero in the bullpen, becoming the primary setup man.  He pitched in 71 games, striking out 72 while walking just 12 in 68.1 innings with a 3.16 ERA and a 5-4 record. 

5.  Jonny Gomes.  Gomes had some major clutch hits during the regular season, walking off a couple of games and delivering several pinch-hit home runs.  In a mostly platooned role with Daniel Nava, he hit .247/.344/.426 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs.

6.  Xander Bogaerts.  Bogaerts made his Major League debut in 2013, and essentially took over at third base when Will Middlebrooks struggled.  Bogaerts played in just 18 games, but he did hit his first Major League home run and hit .250/.320/.364.

7.  Jake Peavy.  Peavy was the major trading deadline pickup in 2013, acquired from the White Sox in a three-team deal that cost Boston Jose Iglesias.  He pitched reasonably well down the stretch, making ten starts and going 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA while striking out 45 and walking 19 in 64.2 innings.

8.  Mike Napoli.  Napoli was signed to take over first base and did a terrific job.  He had a very good season, hitting .259/.360/.482 with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs.  He struck out a ton, 187 times, but he also drew 73 walks.  Napoli was an outspoken leader in the clubhouse as well.

9.  Koji Uehara.  Uehara was one of my favorite players in 2013.  He was simply a joy to watch.  He was acquired to be the setup man to newly-acquired Joel Hanrahan, but eventually took over the closer role, and had one of the greatest seasons as a Red Sox closer of all time.  He was 4-1 with a 1.09 ERA, saving 21 games.  He pitched in 74.1 innings, striking out 101 while walking nine, for a 0.565 WHIP.  Damn he was good.
10.  Jackie Bradley Jr.  JBJ also made his Major League debut in 2013 after a terrific Spring Training performance.  He did not do nearly as well in the season though and was sent back to the minors for more seasoning.  He hit just .189/.280/.337 with three home runs.

11.  Jon Lester.  The ace of the Red Sox staff in 2013 went 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA, pitching 213.1 innings.  He struck out 177 and walked 67.  He was terrific in the postseason as well, as usual for Lester.

12.  John Lackey.  After missing the entire 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Lackey finally proved to be worth his contract in 2013 turning in a 10-13 record, but with a 3.52 ERA, striking out 161 while walking 40 in 189.1 innings.  He also turned in some gutsy performances in the postseason. 

13.  Will Middlebrooks.  A lot was expected of Middlebrooks after he took over for Kevin Youkilis and started strong.  Unfortunately, Middlebrooks hit just .227/.271/.425 with 17 home runs and 49 RBIs.  He would eventually lose his starting job and never returned to his 2012 success.

14.  Felix Doubront.  Doubront had a nice sophomore season, going 11-6 with a 4.32 ERA, striking out 139 and walking 71 in 162.1 innings.  Doubront mostly pitched out of the bullpen in the postseason, but he was very impressive.

15.  Clay Buchholz.  There is no way to tell how good Buchholz's 2013 season might have been had he stayed healthy.  He was named to the All Star team for the second time in his career and was the favorite for the Cy Young Award until he went down with an injury.  His regular season numbers were a 12-1 record and a 1.74 ERA.  He notched 96 strikeouts and 36 walks in 108.1 innings.

16.  Shane Victorino.  The signing of Victorino drew a lot of criticism, but he had a terrific season, hitting .294/.351/.451 with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs, while stealing 21 bases.  He had some huge hits in the postseason, including a grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS that drove the nail in the Tigers' season.  Finally, he won a Gold Glove Award. 

17.  Fenway Park.  Boston clinched the World Series at Fenway, for the first time since 1918.  It was also the site of the famous Ortiz speech after the Boston Marathon bombing. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

One-Card Post

Just a one-card mailday today.  This is the 2017 Heritage short print of Jackie Bradley Jr., when he was coming off of his best Major League season, hitting .267/.349/.486 with 26 home runs and 87 RBIs.  He was an All Star that season for the only time in his career thus far.  He has always been a very streaky hitter, but that was the best year of his career so far.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Another GQ Blaster

We really need some more products released soon.  I really want to open some packs, but there are so few sets out right now and even fewer that have a decent number of Red Sox cards I need.  Gypsy Queen was one, so I tried out another blaster.  This one went better than the last one, but there was one duplicate, and it was the Pedro Martinez short print I pulled a few weeks ago.  That was disappointing.  The break was decent though.
Devers is the second green parallel I have pulled for the Red Sox.  Then there are the base cards of Brock Holt, possibly one of the last Red Sox cards of him that will be released, and the player that is essentially his replacement, Michael Chavis.  If only that Pedro card had been Ted Williams or Carl Yastrzemski, this would have been a really good break.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Xander Bogaerts Lot

For whatever reason it seems like Xander Bogaerts cards elude me.  I had a number of sets on my tradelist that only had one card on them: the Xander Bogaerts card.  I have no idea why that is.  So, I decided to do something about it when I found a 40 card lot of Bogaerts cards on Ebay.  Not every single one of them was new, but 14 of them were.  And here they are:

There are a number of highlights to this lot, including the 2014 Topps Chrome RC, the 2012 Bowman Chrome Futures Game and the 5 Tool card.  And yes, several of these cards completed team sets.  With Bogaerts becoming the major veteran star in the Red Sox lineup, it was time to fill in some of those gaps.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Manager Autographs

I can imagine it would be fairly disappointing to pull a manager autograph as the big hit in a break.  Managers do not typically have a big following, so selling or trading the card would be somewhat difficult.  There are exceptions of course.  I suspect even a manager autograph of someone like Don Mattingly would have a market.  This is because he had such a huge following when he was a player.  But someone like John Farrell, who managed the Red Sox during the 2013 World Championship season, probably does not have much of a market.  So I can imagine the seller of the below card might have been somewhat disappointed with this pull:
I was perfectly willing to shell out a few bucks for this one.  I think it is kind of interesting to have a manager autograph card.  This one will look good next to my Don Zimmer relic card.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Gypsy Queen Blaster

Well, this blaster break was not great.  Technically, I pulled four Red Sox cards.  Here is the scan of my new Red Sox pulls:
You may have noticed that I did not scan four cards, or three, or even two.  Somehow, I pulled three duplicates, even though I have nowhere close to the team set from this release.  I pulled the Mookie Betts green card again (I am pretty sure my green packs was exactly the same as the prior one), Eduardo Rodriguez and J.D. Martinez.  At least I also pulled the Rafael Devers.  It was not a total loss.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Etopps and SPs

My recent batch of maildays have included a bunch of random Etopps cards (you know, the original online-only cards) and short prints and photo variations.  Not sure why that is, it just worked out that way:
1.  Keith Foulke.  Foulke only had one successful season with the Red Sox, but he was a huge reason for the team's World Championship run.  He pitched to a 2.17 ERA and saved 32 games.  Then, he was unstoppable in the postseason, giving up just one run in 14 innings and striking out 19 while notching three saves and a win.
2.  Xander Bogaerts.  This is a Heritage short-print.  I have not been doing a great job at grabbing these things all the time.  For some reason Bogaerts in particular often eludes me.

3.  Eduardo Rodriguez.  I had forgotten this card existed until deciding to look for some E-Rod cards I needed.  Nice cameo by former manager John Farrell here.
4.  David Ortiz.  This is a photo variation depicting Ortiz celebrating presumably the team winning the AL East title in 2013.  Just basing that on the t-shirt.  

5.  Pablo Sandoval.  Another Heritage short print.  I remember specifically wanting Boston to sign Sandoval.  Things did not work out well.
6.  David Wells.  More Etopps cards.  Wells started the only game I have seen at Fenway Park to date.  He took the win, though he was hit in the kneecap with a line drive and had to leave. 
7.  Josh Beckett.  Beckett was maddeningly inconsistent from year to year.  There were times he was an ace, but others where he was dreadful.  But he was a huge part of the 2007 World Champions.
8.  Carlton Fisk.  I really want to go through my collection and find all the cards commemorating Fisk's walkoff home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.  Here is yet another one.  I suspect there will be a fair number. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

20 Team Sets Completed

Recently, I found a seller on one of the forums who was breaking up a bunch of sets that he had put together.  A lot of them were sets that I still needed some Red Sox cards from my want list.  This deal was very successful for my collection, closing out 20 sets for me and making significant progress in several more.  
1.  Nomar Garciaparra.  A Boston writer recently made a lot of enemies on Twitter when he posted an article explaining that Nomar was actually better than Jeter.  For a period from 1997 through 2003, that is undeniably true.  Unfortunately, injuries ruined Nomar.  Yes, Jeter had the better career and certainly had longevity on his side, but Nomar's peak was better. 

2.  Troy O'Leary.  Pedro Martinez gets all the credit for being a hero in Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS against the Indians, but he would not have won without O'Leary's heroics.  Twice Indians pitchers intentionally walked Nomar to get to O'Leary, once to load the bases and once to put two runners on.  Both times O'Leary homered. 

3.  Brian Daubach.  Daubach came out of nowhere to have a very good rookie season in 1999 when he hit .294/.360/.562 with 21 home runs and 73 RBIs.  He was a 27-year-old rookie who had spent several seasons bouncing around previously.  He stuck in Boston for a little bit, turning in four straight 20 home run seasons.

4.  Jose Offerman.  By and large, Offerman's tenure in Boston was a bust, but he did have a very good season in 1999, making the All Star team and hitting .294/.391/.435 while leading the Majors in triples.  It was widely derided at the time that Boston was essentially replacing Mo Vaughn with Offerman, but Offerman might have been a little more valuable than Vaughn.  I am not saying that it was a good move, but it was not as bad as it was thought to be at the time.  If Vaughn hadn't declined, it would have been much worse.

5.  Butch Huskey.  With the loss of Vaughn and Reggie Jefferson's decline, Boston needed some more offense in 1999 and acquired Huskey at the trading deadline.  He hit seven home runs in 45 games, but had a slash line of just .266/.305/.484, not quite what Boston had in mind.

6.  John Valentin.  I have written a lot about how good Valentin really was.  He is one of the most underrated Red Sox players of my lifetime.  He was a steady defensive player who could play short, second and third, and a very good hitter.  His 1995 season was terrific.

7.  Pedro Martinez.  I still think he should have been the 1999 AL MVP.  But his 2000 season was probably even better.  I am not sure I will ever see a more dominant pitcher, but Clayton Kershaw has definitely come close.

8.  Mo Vaughn.  No, Mo Vaughn probably did not deserve the 1995 AL MVP, but his time in Boston was very impressive as he had a line of .304/.394/.542 with 230 home runs.  He is deserving of his team legend status.

9.  Mike Greenwell.  It is sort of odd to think about now, but there was a period of time when Greenwell was one of the best players in the game.  He finished second in the MVP vote in 1988 when he hit .325/.416/.531 with 22 home runs and 119 RBIs.  He also stole 19 bases.  His power disappeared afterwards as he never hit more than 15 home runs again, but he maintained a good batting average, hitting .303 for his career. 
10.  Rafael Orellano.  Yes, Bartolo Colon is on this card too, and he is the only one who had any kind of Major League career.  Orellano was once part of a group of strong pitching prospects for the Red Sox that included Frank Rodriguez, Brian Rose and Carl Pavano, none of whom made much impact with Boston, though Pavano had some good seasons after being traded.  Boston has an issue with developing pitching.

11.  Tim Naehring.  After Naehring became the full-time third-baseman, he started to break out and continued improving until a knee injury ended his career in 1997.  It's a shame because he was finally starting to reach his potential and looked like he was having a career year.

12.  Roger Clemens.  The best year of Clemens's Red Sox career may have been one in which he did not win the Cy Young Award.  In 1990, he was 21-6 with 209 strikeouts and a 1.93 ERA, yet he lost out on the award to Bob Welch, who won 27 games with a juggernaut A's team, even though his other numbers paled in comparison to Clemens.

13.  Mo Vaughn.

14.  Wade Miller.  Signing Miller was a low-risk, high-reward signing in 2005.  He was coming off an injury-plagued season and had been very good previously.  Unfortunately, it did not work out as Miller pitched in just 16 games and failed to impress.  Sometimes these things just do not work.

15.  Fred Lynn.  Lynn could be a Hall of Famer if he had spent his entire career in Boston.  He was a decent player later in his career, but nothing like his .308/.383/.520 line.  Those numbers are a great year for most players.  That was seven years for Lynn.

16.  Ted Cox.  The only player whose name rhymes with "Red Sox", Cox was a hot prospect with Boston who hit very well in his short time with the team.  After the season though he was part of the package sent to the Indians for Dennis Eckersley.  And Cox never did a lot after that.

17.  Bill Campbell.  I talked before about how Campbell's season was nearly as impressive as Sparky Lyle's year, and Lyle won the Cy Young Award.  Lyle had Campbell beat in a few categories, but it was a lot closer than one would have thought.  It is probably telling that Campbell won the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award instead of Lyle. 

18.  Ellis Burks.  Burks looked like a star after 1990, but injuries slowed his development.  He would eventually reach his potential, but not until after leaving Boston.  I was incredibly disappointed when he was allowed to leave as a free agent after 1992.  Of all the players the team lost after that season, Burks had the most left in the tank.  It would have been nice to have him in center field for the rest of the decade instead of the revolving door they had.
19.  Carl Yastrzemski.  This card celebrated the 3,000th hit of both Yaz and Lou Brock.  Both players came into the Majors the same season, though Brock only played in four games that year.  Brock would retire after 1979, but Yaz would hang around through 1983. 

20.  Joel Finch/Garry Hancock/Allen Ripley.  This is not the most inspiring of prospect trios.  Finch only pitched in 15 games in 1979.  Hancock was a backup outfielder through the 1984 season, having one semi-successful season with Oakland.  Ripley pitched through 1982 and mostly bounced around.  None of them had anywhere close to a really good season.

21.  Phil Plantier.  Plantier was the first rookie sensation I remember, becoming a Red Sox fan in 1991.  I remember his Upper Deck and Stadium Club cards used to be quite valuable.  My understanding of his downfall in 1992 was his unwillingness to work on his defense and accept coaching when he struggled.  This was from Lou Gorman's book.  Thus, he fell out of favor and was traded for a seldom-used reliever named Jose Melendez (who was decent when he was healthy in 1993, which wasn't much).  It was still a really bad trade though as Plantier hit 34 home runs in 1993 for San Diego.  He never did much after that.

22.  Roger Clemens.  I really love this photo.  That is John Marzano, who became Clemens's personal catcher in the photo.

23.  Wade Boggs.  As much as I like the Clemens photo, this one is even better.  Boggs is the first Red Sox player who was active (and with the team) when I started paying attention to baseball to make the Hall of Fame.  I wanted to go to the ceremony, but I was still in law school at the time and, well, did not really have money.

24.  Carlos Rodriguez.  One of four players with the surname Rodriguez to play with the Red Sox in the mid 1990's, Rodriguez was not really too bad of a hitter for a utility infielder.  He had virtually no power though. 

25.  Rob Welch.  None of the players here made any lasting impact in the Majors.  Only Greg Hansell played for more than a year.  Welch never made the Majors.  He made it as far as High A ball.

26.  Luis Ortiz.  Ortiz was the least-successful of the players on this card even though he was the furthest along.  Jason Giambi of course became a big star and won the MVP with the A's in 2000 before moving on to the Yankees.  David Bell was a very good defensive third-baseman (like his father) and had some decent seasons while jumping from team to team.  Arias mostly hung around for a few seasons, but played in 173 games.  Ortiz though only played in 60 total games, most of them for Texas after being traded for Jose Canseco.

27.  Tim Wakefield.  I talked about low-risk, high-reward moves when I talked about Wade Miller.  Wakefield was the ultimate pitching example of one that worked out in my lifetime.  He had a highly successful rookie season with the Pirates in 1992, then struggled afterwards.  Pittsburgh cut him loose and Boston took a flyer in 1995 where he thrust himself into the Cy Young discussion.  He then went on to pitch for Boston through 2011.  He was not always great, but he was reliable.
28.  David Ortiz.  I love the photo here of Ortiz in front of the Stars and Stripes.  Ortiz of course was the ultimate example of the low-risk, high-reward Red Sox signing in my lifetime (or almost anyone else's lifetime for that matter).  He was cut loose by the Twins after the 2002 season in which he hit 20 home runs.  He was a bench player early in the 2003 season, but he just kept hitting (and Jeremy Giambi didn't), and quickly became the primary DH.  Now, he looks like he will be elected to the Hall of Fame soon after leading the team to three World Championships, shattering the single season home run record, and all kinds of other feats.

29.  Curt Schilling.  I think it is likely that Schilling will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next year.  He received 70% of the vote this year.  I would love it if he had a Red Sox cap on his plaque, as a result of his high-profile status as part of the 2004 World Championship team, but I am realistic.  He will likely go in as a Phillie.

30.  Garin Cecchini.  After highly impressive 2012 and 2013 seasons in the minors, Cecchini's numbers declined significantly.  He made a couple of a stops in the Majors anyway, but never did much.  After the 2015 season he played in the Brewers and Royals systems, but never made it back to the Majors.

31.  John Otness.  Otness looked like a prospect after hitting .331/.398/.461 in A-ball in 2005.  Unfortunately that was the high point of his career.  He stagnated in Double A.  That's kind of the weird thing about Bowman cards.  So many of the players never actually make the Majors.

32.  David Ortiz.

33.  Ryan Brasier.  Brasier returned to the Majors after a four-year absence in 2018 to become a major part of the Red Sox bullpen.  He pitched in 34 games with a 1.60 ERA and struck out 29 while walking just seven in 33.2 innings.  He struggled at times in 2019, but remains a big part of the bullpen should the 2020 season ever start.

34.  Rafael Devers.  This is my 100th Devers card.  I have no idea who the quickest to 100 was (though it is likely that it was Nomar Garciaparra).  Devers was pretty quick though.  And if he builds on his 2019 season, he could rise through the ranks quickly.

35.  Edward Mujica.  I had high hopes for Mujica, thinking he could do for the 2014 team what Koji Uehara did for the 2013 team, though not to the same degree obviously.  He came to the team after an All Star season in St. Louis.  He was not bad for Boston, but a 3.90 ERA is nothing to write home about for a reliever. 

36.  Kevin Youkilis.  Youkilis was a terrific player for a few years for Boston and finished third in AL MVP voting in 2008 and sixth in 2009.  He was one of the best hitters in the game and won the Hank Aaron Award in 2008 when he hit .312/.390/.569 with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs. 
37.  Marco Scutaro.  Scutaro spent two seasons as the Red Sox shortstop and was an underrated performer.  His best season was 2011 when he hit .299/.358/.423.  He would eventually make his first All Star team with the Giants in his last full season.

38.  Jonathan Papelbon.  Papelbon is the team's career saves leader with 219.  He was the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year in 2006 when he had a sparkling 0.92 ERA and 35 saves.  He was a four-time All Star for the Red Sox and a part of the World Championship team of 2007. 

39.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.  I choose to remember Dice-K's first two seasons with the Red Sox when I think of him.  In those years he was 33-15 with a 3.72 ERA and 355 strikeouts.  He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote in 2007 and fourth in the Cy Young vote in 2008.  Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.

40.  David Ortiz.  There is quite the collection of talent on this card.  Featuring no-doubt Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, recent inductee Derek Jeter, future inductee David Ortiz...and Prince Fielder who was really good for awhile.

41.  Wade Miller.  Two Wade Miller cards?  Yep.

42.  Manny Ramirez.  If Ramirez ever makes the Hall of Fame, the cap will be essentially a coin flip between the Red Sox and Indians.  For Cleveland, he hit .313/.407/.592 with 236 home runs.  For Boston, he hit .312/.411/.588 with 274 home runs.  The home runs are really the only big difference.

43.  David Ortiz.

44.  Coco Crisp.  Crisp just was not very good in his three years in Boston.  His numbers for the Red Sox included a line of .271/.330/.390 with 21 home runs and a 137 RBIs.  He stole 70 bases.  He was generally much better in his time with Cleveland and Oakland.

45.  Team Card.
46.  Mike Lowell.  Lowell was a monster in 2007, finishing fifth in the AL MVP vote after hitting .324/.378/.501 with 21 homers and 120 RBIs.  He was steady and dependable in his other seasons in Boston.

47.  Curt Schilling.

48.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.

49.  David Ortiz.

50.  Josh Beckett.  Beckett was the ALCS MVP in 2007 when he was 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA, striking out 18 and walking just one in 14 innings.  He was similarly dominant the rest of the post-season.  Beckett was a beast in the post-season that year.

51.  David Ortiz.

52.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.

53.  Craig Breslow.  Breslow had two stints in Boston.  In 2006 he pitched in 13 games with a 3.75 ERA but was claimed via waivers by the Indians.  He was traded back to the Red Sox (by the Diamondbacks) in 2012 and was an important part of the bullpen through the 2015 season.  His best season was 2013 when he was 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA and the primary lefty out of the pen.

54.  Manny Ramirez.
55.  Trot Nixon.  I love this photo.  Nixon was a hard-nosed player and this shot exemplifies that grittiness.  He was one of my favorite players in the early 2000's and had a great three-year stretch.

56.  Jantzen Witte.  Witte is running out of time to make the Majors.  He is now 29 years old and still in the minors.  It is unlikely at this point that the 2013 draft pick ever will.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

I Can't Think of a Good Title

Eh, whatever, here's some new cards:
1.  Xander Bogaerts.  This is a Topps Now card from the Player's Weekend set.  Bogaerts's nickname is the obvious "X".  Hey, it works.

2.  Michael Chavis.  Just a few days after my first Living Set card, here is the second.

3.  David Price.  I could have sworn I had this already.  I always liked Price, at least since he signed a lucrative free agent with the Red Sox.  I hated him when he was with the Rays.  So I am surprised I did not get this one already.

4.  Dustin Pedroia.  This is from the 5 Tool insert set, which was a cool insert set, with a lot of Red Sox cards in it.  Even better.

5.  Chris Sale.  This is the variation card.  Not the most exciting alternate photo, but still.

6.  Roger Clemens.  This photo actually looks like it came from 1983.  Not really, because Clemens was just drafted that year, but The Rocket looks super young here.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Bucky Walters

I have long wanted to do a post about Bucky Walters and now is the perfect time to do so given that I recently added this Helmar Art Stamp.  This is of course not from the original set.  More of a later continuation of it.

Walters had a fascinating career.  He came up with the Boston Braves 1931 where he played sparingly.  In 1933 the Red Sox purchased his contract from a minor league team.  With the Red Sox, he primarily played third base, with the occasional game at second.  He was with the Red Sox into the 1935 season, making it into 75 games and hitting .244/.301/.420 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs.  Not exactly eye-opening numbers.  So why the interest?

In June of 1934, the Red Sox sold his contract to the Phillies and his career changed overnight.  Walters had a strong arm and the Phillies eventually turned him into a pitcher.  And Walters was one of the best pitchers in the game for a stretch in the late 30's to early 40's.  He was a 6-time All Star and won more than 20 games three times, including a high of 27 in 1939.  He also led the league in ERA twice as well as a host of other categories.  Walters finished his career with a 198-160 record and a 3.30 ERA.

This is another example of the Red Sox not quite knowing what they really had.  Boston obviously had Babe Ruth early in his career when he was a pitcher, though he was basically a regular position player by 1919, the year before he was sold to the Yankees.  They had Lefty O'Doul briefly in the 1920's when he was a pitcher before he went on a tear for the Giants, Phillies and Dodgers, with a high of .398.  And here they had Walters, who went on to stardom as a pitcher, playing third base at a time when they could have used some better arms.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Forum Deal

Still on the lookout for some of the Topps variations, I completed another deal that also brought in some nice inserts and parallels:
1.  Andrew Benintendi.  My favorite Donruss cards are the ones where it doesn't matter that the company does not have a Major League license agreement.  This Benintendi is one such card. 

2.  Andrew Benintendi.

3.  J.D. Martinez.  This is one of the aforementioned variations.  Not the most exciting one though. 

4.  Michael Chavis.  It seems like he shows up in every post lately.

5.  Wade Boggs.  Boggs may actually have been underrated if one looks at his career from an analytical standpoint.  For Boston, he hit .338/.428/.462 with an OPS of .890 and an OPS+ of 142.  Those numbers are insane.

6.  Ted Williams.  Of course one of my favorite stats of all time is that for his career, Williams's OBP was .482.  That number is the best of all time.  Also, his career OPS+ is 190. 

7.  Wade Boggs.

8.  Pedro Martinez.  Here is the second variation in the package.

9.  Brock Holt.  This is the black parallel of Holt. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pack Breaks

I had to make a supply run to Walmart the other day.  If I can get close to the baseball cards, I try to grab some.  This time, I managed to grab hanger packs of Opening Day and Gypsy Queen.  I pulled a few random Red Sox.
1.  Michael Chavis.  I seem to be pulling him a lot.  I expect him to be in a lot of sets early on since he was the hot young player for the team last year, even if his final slash line and prolific strikeout numbers are not super exciting.

2.  Eduardo Rodriguez.  I seem to be seeing more of him lately as well.  I am fine with that.  I have been predicting breakout for him for some time.

3.  J.D. Martinez.  Obviously he is in everything as the big power bat in the Red Sox lineup.  His numbers dipped a bit last year, but are more in line with his career numbers.  2018 was the outlier as an insane season.  Either way, he is a fantastic hitter and a worthy successor to David Ortiz as the team DH.

Friday, May 15, 2020

More Online-Only Cards

A couple more online-only cards found their way to me:
1.  Christian Vazquez.  This is my first Topps Total card from the year.  I still like the idea of this set, but I hate that it is online only and so damn expensive.  Nevertheless, I will still add the cards I can.

2.  Mo Vaughn.  Sometimes, these weekly Throwback Thursday sets baffle me.  This one in particular looks like Topps drew names out of a hat.  What the hell do Luis Robert, Yordan Alvarez, Shogo Akiyama, Mo Vaughn, Dave Winfield and Mark McGwire have in common?  No really, I'm asking.  I have no idea.  I will gladly add the Mo Vaughn though.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

2020 Topps Now Road to Opening Day

As I do most years, I picked up the Topps Now Road to Opening Day Red Sox team set.  This year, there was no autograph version of the set, which was a tad disappointing.  There was the addition of a parallel in every set though, so there's that.

Up first is the parallel:
Andrew Benintendi.  Oddly, this card lists him as a catcher.  I'm pretty sure Benintendi has never played catcher professionally.  This card is numbered to 25.

And now for the set:
1.  Andrew Benintendi.

2.  Alex Verdugo.  I was surprised to see him in the set.  According to the checklist, he was not going to be in it and Dustin Pedroia would have a card.  Nothing against Pedroia, but I would prefer to see the team's top acquisition than a guy who might be lucky to play this year at all (assuming there is a season).

3.  J.D. Martinez.

4.  Jackie Bradley Jr.

5.  Xander Bogaerts. 

6.  Michael Chavis.  My wife likes this card.

7.  Rafael Devers.

8.  Darwinzon Hernandez.  Nice to see him get in the set, even if his role is less than clear.  Will he start?  Close?  Set up?

9.  Christian Vazquez.  My wife also likes this card.
10.  Chris Sale.

11.  Eduardo Rodriguez.

12.  Nathan Eovaldi.  When healthy, he's terrific.  Unfortunately, he's rarely healthy.

13.  Mitch Moreland.  I like Moreland, I really do, but I was surprised to see Boston bring him back, especially with Chavis around.  That kind of muddies the waters with the bench roles, impacting the chances of Tzu-Wei Lin and Marco Hernandez, as well as Rule V draftee Jonathan Arauz.  You can't have all three.  Even two is stretching it, especially with Chavis around.

14.  Ryan Brasier.  I am surprised to see Brasier here instead of Brandon Workman.  Brasier was a revelation in 2018 but was returned to the minors at one point in 2019.  Workman on the other hand has the inside track on the closer role.

15.  Matt Barnes.  Barnes is Workman's primary rival in getting the closer role, but he generally does much better as a setup man.

I would have liked to see a couple of the other new guys.  Jose Peraza, Martin Perez, Collin McHugh, Kevin Plawecki and Jonathan Lucroy are all on the team this year.  Perhaps they could have gotten a couple of them in.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A 2020 Zippy-Zapping

Another PWE Zippy-Zapping made its way into my mailbox recently.  Two 2020 cards fell out. 

1.  Rafael Devers.  This is one of the Utz cards, a nice food issue from Topps.  These are apparently a regional issue, because I have never heard of the brand before there were cards last year.  This year's was even better because the design and pictures are not just a rehash of the Topps design of the year.

2.  Eduardo Rodriguez.  Yes, this is a Red Sox card, forget those two Astros guys.  E-Rod had a terrific year last year and started to gain some recognition.

Thanks Kenny! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

One-Card Wonder Pt. 46: Ken Poulsen

Recently I did a post about a set covering the 1967 Red Sox Impossible Dream season.  Unfortunately, not every player who played for the team that year made it into the set.  It was missing Tony Horton, Bill Landis and Ken Poulsen.  Horton appears in some oddball sets for the Red Sox, but Landis does not.  At first, I thought Poulsen also did not have any cards, until I came across this Fritsch One Card Winner, an oddball set devoted to adding cards of players who did not previously appear on cardboard.  I love this set, and I have Merlin Nippert from it as well. 

Poulsen's Major League career consisted of five games with the Impossible Dream Red Sox.  He doubled in five at-bats.  After the season Poulsen bounced around the Yankees system for a few years, but never again made the Majors. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

2018 World Champion Autos

As with relics, I do not target autographs quite like I used to.  I do try to get at least one of each player I can though.  And that brings me to my recent mailday (from two different sellers):
1.  Steve Pearce.  Pearce, of course, was the 2018 World Series MVP after hitting three home runs.  He also had a big game against the Yankees early after his acquisition when he hit three home runs against them.  Unfortunately last year was something of a lost season and he has recently retired.  But his last full season was one to remember.  This card came from Topps Big League last year.

2.  Eduardo Núñez.  Núñez was acquired during the 2017 season and went on a tear down the stretch.  He was a useful bench option in 2018, even if his defense was suspect.  He also hit an important home run in the World Series in Game 1, a pinch-hit three-run shot that drove a stake through the Dodgers' chances in the game.  This card came from Panini Prizm last year.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

My First Living Set Card

For the last few years, Topps has been releasing a couple of cards each week as part of an ongoing "living set".  The cards, like most of the online-only releases, are not cheap.  Also, since there are only a couple a week, there have not been a ton of Red Sox cards.  It is a mix of retired players and current players.  I decided early on I would treat it just like Topps Now and get things sporadically, and maybe jump on an unusual player choice.  Given the nature of the set, I did not have a lot of expectation for many of the latter.  Until this one: 
Now, Eduardo Rodriguez broke out last year, but he is still not exactly the kind of household name or hot prospect that one would expect for the set.  He has yet to appear in an All Star Game, even though he did receive some Cy Young votes last year.  Nevertheless, Topps decided to include him.  There had not even been a Mookie Betts card, until just recently with the Dodgers.  Yet we have an Eduardo Rodriguez.  I'm not complaining.  Just surprised.  Pleasantly.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Blog Trade

It had been awhile since I had a trade through my blog, other than the Zippy Zappings of course.  But then, Michael contacted me and offered to send me some Red Sox cards.  I was not expecting a huge brick of cards.  But I definitely am not complaining.  There was a pretty good haul of cards I needed too:
1.  Michael Bowden.  This is probably the biggest "hit" of the package, but that is not the biggest concern of mine.  What I like is that Bowden is not super huge in my collection, despite having been a big prospect at one time.  Bowden was traded to the Cubs for Marlon Byrd in 2012, a player who has no Red Sox cards.

2.  Carl Crawford.  I had high hopes for Crawford, I really did.  I always enjoyed him with the Rays, and he is notable because he was a Nebraska quarterback recruit at one point.  Unfortunately, his time in Boston was less than impressive.  A lot of the guys I really wanted Boston to sign did not work out: Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, Crawford, Pablo Sandoval...

3.  David Ortiz. 

4.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.  A couple of players dominate this package.  One is Matsuzaka who had an inordinate number of cards for his performance in the Major Leagues.  His first two seasons were good, but he struggled after that.

5-9.  Kevin Youkilis.  The other is Youkilis, who was one of my favorite players when he was with the team.  I am not sure how there were so many cards I did not have.
10-13.  Kevin Youkilis.

14-15.  Daisuke Matsuzaka. 

16.  Pedro Martinez. 

17-18.  Hideki Okajima.  Okajima was surprisingly good for a couple of seasons.  I do not think Boston realized quite what they were getting when he signed, but he was an extremely valuable member of the bullpen for about four seasons.  He was even an All Star in 2007. 
19.  Hideki Okajima.  Unfortunately, I realized after I scanned these cards, that I already had this one, it was mis-labelled in my collection list.

20.  Manny Ramirez.  I think I have complained about the Documentary set before.  The cards each highlight one game for the team, but the photos are not necessarily representative of the best player for the game, or the game itself.  There were about 10 or so pictures that were just re-used over and over and over again.  It was an interesting idea, but really bad execution.

21.  Johnny Damon.  A wantlist hit.  This is pre-Caveman Johnny Damon. 

22.  Kevin Youkilis.

23.  Mo Vaughn.  I swear I already had this card, but it is not on my collection list, and I have not been able to find it in my actual collection either. 

24.  Tomokazu Ohka.  This is one of those rare foil cards from MLB Showdown.  I do not have a lot of these because they were often pricey.  I liked Ohka and wished Boston had given him more of a chance before trading him.

25.  Dwight Evans.  This is the error version of this card.  Apparently, Topps forgot to put a diamond next to the italicized games-played in 1982 to show that he tied for the league lead.  I had the corrected version which had the diamond.  Not the most exciting error in the world.

26.  Josh Reddick.  I remember this game.  Reddick had singled to walk off a Red Sox win off of Mariano Rivera and the Yankees.  I remember thinking Reddick would become a pretty good player for the Red Sox.  Then he was traded to the A's for Andrew Bailey, a deal that did not work out for Boston.

27.  Nomar Garciaparra. 
28.  Jose Canseco.  I remember my dad looking at the paper one Sunday morning and asking me if Jose Canseco was a good player (he wasn't much of a baseball fan, college football is his sport).  I said he was really good a few years ago and asked why.  He told me because the Red Sox had traded for him.  My young mind was blown.

29-31.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.  More Dice-K cards.  I particularly like the Stadium Club card.  Those are not easy to find these days and I still need a lot of them.

Thanks for the trade Michael!  Your cards will be shipped very soon.  I apologize for the delay.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Random Forum Lot

I have not been active much on the trading forums of late, mostly because my tradelist is woefully out of date.  I need to work on it before I can really return to trading, which has always been one of my favorite things to do.  I did buy a bunch of random cards recently from a seller though, and there are some big ones in this lot.

And here we go:
1.  Xander Bogaerts.  Technically, Dustin Pedroia is the largest current Red Sox player in my collection with nearly 400 cards.  But of course, given Pedroia's uncertain future, Bogaerts would be most likely to take over that distinction.  At the very least, I need to get him above Mookie.

2.  Matt Barnes.  Barnes has been an underrated performer in the Red Sox bullpen.  He will be a free agent at the end of the season and it will be intriguing to see if Boston brings him back.

3.  Andrew Benintendi.  Benintendi has been on a bit of a downward slide for the last year and a half.  Hopefully that will change if the 2020 season ever gets under way.

4.  Mookie Betts/Ted Williams/David Ortiz.  The idea behind this card was to find a current player, a recent player and a historical player that are the most notable players for the franchise.  Of course Williams and Ortiz remain important, but now that Betts has gone, Rafael Devers or Bogaerts are likely the current face of the franchise.

5.  Michael Chavis.  Chavis, Benintendi, Barnes and Bradley are all first round draft picks of the Red Sox that are currently on the team. 

6.  Xander Bogaerts.

7.  Mike Carp.  I have been thinking a lot about the 2013 team for some reason lately.  Mike Carp was such an important bench player for that team, hitting .296/.362/.523 with nine home runs.  His biggest moment though was hitting a grand slam in the tenth inning of a game against the Rays which eventually won it.

8.  Rafael Devers.  I was very excited to see how Devers built upon last season.  He became one of the most exciting players on the team last year after having a season in which he eclipsed 100 runs, 100 RBIs, 200 hits, 30 home runs, 50 doubles and a .300 batting average.  Those numbers are insane.

9.  Roger Clemens.  This is one of my favorite cards from the lot, one of the photo variation cards.  It is a photo I have never seen before, which is one of the great things about these variations. 
10.  Rafael Devers.

11.  Rafael Devers. 

12.  Mike Gardiner.  One day I was thinking about how with some players, I may never get another new Red Sox card, and it kind of made me sad.  Luckily, there are things like buybacks occasionally to help out.  Gardiner was not real good with Boston, but I still like adding cards of players like this.

13.  Bobby Poyner.  This is one of those Advanced Stats parallels and it is numbered to 150.  Poyner was impressive in 2018 as a lefty reliever, but struggled in 2019.

14.  Brock Holt.  Holt does not qualify as an Unknown Hero for my series, the All Star appearance in 2015 disqualifies him, but as a utility man who has had a number of important accomplishments (hit for the cycle twice, including becoming the only player to do so in a postseason game), he was a huge fan favorite.

15.  J.D. Martinez.  Here is another of the photo variations, though it is not quite as good.  Especially since it shows him at Yankee Stadium. 

16.  Eduardo Rodriguez.  E-Rod finally broke through last year.  He was acquired in a deal with the Orioles back in 2014 for Andrew Miller and has long been considered a promising starter but he really showed why last season.

17.  Eduardo Rodriguez.

18.  Shane Victorino.  Another member of the 2013 team, I remember Victorino being absolutely on fire down the stretch.  He then had some huge hits in the postseason. 
19.  Chris Sale.  Sale is one of the best pitchers to never win a Cy Young, and I am not sure he has a strong likelihood of returning to form after his Tommy John surgery.  He will be 32 next year, which is not old for a pitcher, but it is not young either.

20.  Chris Sale.

21.  Christian Vazquez.  Of course I added a Vazquez card.

22.  Ted Williams.  Here is the third photo variation, this one showing Williams engaging in his other great passion, fishing.  He was actually a world-renowned fisherman and is actually in the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame as well as Cooperstown.

23.  Carl Yastrzemski.  And my favorite card of the package, the fourth variation.  This is a terrific picture of Yaz. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Player-Only Case Breaks (Take 2 and 3)

Well after that last debacle when two cases produced a whole bunch of base cards of Christian Vazquez, and the Donruss four-box break managed to not get me the entire team set, I tried a couple more times.  

Up first was a two-case break of Heritage where I was looking for Christian Vazquez, who was a short-printed card in the set.  There was a possibility of some parallels, but that was about it.  I did not spend much though.  I ended up with two versions of the one short print:
So, not great, but not bad. 

And up next was another crack at Gypsy Queen, this time it was a four-case break.  I again ended up with a lot of base cards, but this time, I also added a couple of parallels:
The first one is the Missing Nameplate parallel.  The second is the blue parallel, numbered to 250.  And of course I got a bunch of other base cards.  This one went much better.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #950 (And a Fisk Cameo)

Who is the best catcher in Red Sox history?  I am not sure that is a controversial question.  Both of the top contenders appear on this card, but it is quite clearly Carlton Fisk who wins.  Varitek does have him beat though in some major categories, mostly as a result of simply playing in more games than Fisk.  But of course there is that one major thing: Fisk is a Hall of Famer, Varitek only received two votes. 

This is a very nice card of the two Red Sox catching legends.  It is definitely not the only one out there though.  It just makes sense to put these two together.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

2020 Donruss 1/4 Case Break

I talked about my one-player case break with Christian Vazquez in Gypsy Queen.  I decided to try out a multi-box break of Donruss because I still needed a number of cards and thought it would be a decent chance at some parallels.  This one did work out fairly well.

Here are the base cards:
1.  Rafael Devers.  This is the "Beantown" variation, which is only on the back.  It is kind of a dumb variation, but it's a new Devers card.

2.  Xander Bogaerts.

3.  Eduardo Rodriguez.  I expect E-Rod to appear in a lot of sets this year after his very good year last year.  

4.  Roger Clemens.  I still would have liked to see Donruss think a little outside the box with these cards.  How about Bill Buckner?  Bruce Hurst?  Rich Gedman?  Don Baylor?

5.  Rafael Devers.  Here is the Diamond King card.  I have mentioned before that I love the Diamond Kings subsets.  It is one of my all-time favorites.  I am considering doing a Diamond Kings project here.  Devers was a good choice after his terrific 2019 season, in fact he was probably the best choice.  Donruss has not always made the best choice.  For instance, the 1986 Red Sox Diamond King was Tony Armas, who was coming off of a season in which he played 103 games and hit 23 home runs, a year after leading the league with 43.

Here are the parallels:
I received the blue holo parallels of both Devers variations, Clemens, Martinez, Rodriguez and the Devers Diamond King.  Then there was the 100 Emoji parallel of the Beantown variation of Devers, numbered to 100 and the Milestone Statline parallel of Christian Vazquez. 

Oddly, for a four-box break, I did not get all the Red Sox base cards I needed.  I still need the Chris Sale card.  How that card was missed in FOUR boxes is kind of amazing.  So yeah, I do not have the full team set yet.

Monday, May 4, 2020

The Holy Grail of Red Sox Relics

I have a lot of relics in my Red Sox collection, and there are a lot of Hall of Famers in there.  Some of which are even players from decades ago.  Of course I have Ted Williams.  I even have Rick Ferrell, Joe Cronin and Jimmie Foxx.  I even have Tris Speaker.  But there is one player, I never thought I would be able to find.  Until now:
Yep, Babe Ruth.

This is from the Leaf Immortal Collection, a set focused on Ruth.  I had a couple of priorities before I grabbed one from this set.  For one, it had to be a picture likely from Ruth's Red Sox days.  This card talks about his pitching and does appear to show him in a Red Sox uniform, even without the team name on the front.  Second, Leaf had two bats that they used, one purportedly used when Ruth was with Boston, and the other with New York.  I had to pair the Red Sox picture with the Boston bat.  I found one.  The price was not insane, and so I grabbed it.  I now have a Babe Ruth relic card in my Red Sox collection.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

2020 Topps Gypsy Queen Blaster Break

I decided to try out a Gypsy Queen blaster.  It went okay:
1.  Mookie Betts.  Just like every Red Sox star that went elsewhere, I will continue to grab Mookie's Red Sox cards.  This is the retail-only green parallel, which came out of a five-card pack of them.  I don't often have good luck in those special packs, but I did this time.

2.  David Price.  I think the Dodgers trade is haunting me.  I keep pulling either Mookie or Price in everything.

3.  Pedro Martinez.  Here we go.  This is a short print.  And they must be somewhat rare because I did not pull one in the other blaster.  I need to get the Williams and Yaz too, but this was a nice start.

I did not pull a lot of Red Sox, but a retail-only parallel and a rare short print is nothing to sneeze at.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #949

Is it weird when the "silver" parallel is rarer than the "gold" parallel?  Well that is what we have here with the 2009 SP Authentic Silver parallel.  This card is serial-numbered to 59 and may be the first one I have seen of Varitek.  Maybe.  As I have said before, from late 2008 onward is when my Varitek collection was not as much of a focus.  I was still getting them, but not with the same fervor.  A couple of things happened around that time that caused that:

1.  Varitek was no longer an effective player.  Despite appearing in the All Star Game in 2008, Varitek hit just .220/.313/.359, with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs. 

2.  Varitek would not be an everyday player much longer.  In 2009 the Red Sox would trade for Victor Martinez to take over behind the plate.  Varitek would be a backup for the rest of his career to Martinez and then Jarrod Saltalamacchia in 2011.

3.  The card well was running dry as a result of Varitek not being an elite player at his position.  Most sets were small around that time and focused on the big stars.  2009 was still okay, but a far cry from previous years and by 2010, he was in just two sets. 

4.  On a personal note, I started dating the woman who I would eventually marry in late 2008, so I was not as likely to spend money on cards at this time.  And finding trade partners with the Varitek cards I needed was difficult.

I am making up for that lost time now though. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #948

I was not even aware of this card.  Varitek card #948 is the 2009 Upper Deck 20th Anniversary Memorabilia insert.  The 20th Anniversary set was a multi-sport set obviously commemorating Upper Deck's years in the hobby.  It was a huge set, but featured multiple versions of each athlete, all of which had the same photo.  So, like Documentary, it was kind of a lazy way to make a huge set.  This card though is pretty nice. 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

2020 Topps Opening Day Blaster

I continue to have issues with pulling Red Sox cards this year.  I don't know what the deal is.  This is my second blaster.  My first blaster revealed zero Red Sox cards.  Out of something like 80 cards.  That is ridiculous.  This one went much better.
As you see, we have most of the big stars from the team, of course that's all Opening Day is anyway.  The last card is an insert showing Pesky's Pole.  I have several cards showing that and just lump them under "Fenway Park" in my collection.  It would be kind of interesting to show a picture of Johnny Pesky next to the pole next time.  Just a thought.