Thursday, July 21, 2022

2021 Topps Update Group Break

I did another of those group breaks on Ebay for Topps Update.  There were a lot of players I was excited about in the set.  

Here is the break:

1.  Manny Ramirez.  This is one of the Silver Pack cards from jumbo boxes.  Ramirez is one of the few massive free agent contracts that actually worked throughout the life of the contract.  He ended up spending just under eight seasons with Boston and hit .312/.411/.588 with 274 home runs and 868 RBIs.  He was an All Star every season and won six Silver Sluggers, as well as being named the World Series MVP in 2004.  He was absolutely worth the money.

2.  Franchy Cordero.  Cordero was the only player with Major League experience acquired in the Andrew Benintenti deal.  He struggled greatly in 2021, but was starting to play pretty well at the beginning of this season.  He has been slumping recently.  This is a Rainbow Foil parallel.

3.  Garrett Richards.  Richards pitched in a variety of roles in 2021, starting in the rotation and then pitching out of the bullpen.  He even notched a few saves.  At times he was virtually unhittable, but had difficulty remaining consistent.

4.  J.D. Martinez.  This is an All Star insert.  Martinez was one of five Red Sox All Stars, including Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Barnes, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts.

5.  Martin Perez.  Perez was an All Star this year with the Rangers.  I do not think anyone expected that after he was 10-13 with a 4.65 ERA for Boston the last two seasons.  He notably had a complete meltdown in the ALCS against the Astros.

6.  Franchy Cordero.  This is the base card.

7.  Garrett Whitlock.  What a find Whitlock was.  The Rule V pick out of the Yankees organization was 8-4 with a 1.96 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 17 walks in 73.1 innings pitched.  He picked up a couple of saves as well.

8.  Marwin Gonzalez.  The utility player extraordinaire did not really work out in Boston.  He hit just .202/.281/.285 with two home runs and 20 RBIs.  It was an ugly season.

9.  Adam Ottavino.  Ottavino was essentially acquired for nothing.  Boston agreed to take on his contract from the Yankees and also got a decent reliever prospect.  Ottavino went 7-3 with a 4.21 ERA and saved eleven games, second on the team.  He struck out 71 and walked 35 in 62 innings pitched.  

10.  Alex Verdugo/Enrique Hernandez.  Verdugo and Hernandez were teammates with the Dodgers for a few seasons before Verdugo was traded to Boston.  After a season away from each other, Hernandez came over to Boston to be reunited with his old teammate.  I like this shot because of the City Connect jerseys.

11.  Hunter Renfroe.  Renfroe had a big season in 2021, leading the league in assists and hitting .259/.315/.501 with 31 home runs and 96 RBIs.  He was traded after the season for Jackie Bradley Jr. and a couple of prospects.

12.  Hirokazu Sawamura.  Sawamura came over from Japan prior to the season.  The sinkerball specialist turned in a nice season overall.  He had a record of 5-1 with a 3.06 ERA.  He struck out 61 and walked 32 in 53 innings pitched.

13.  Rafael Devers.  2021 was Devers's first All Star appearance.  He should have been an All Star in 2019.  

14.  Bobby Dalbec.  Dalbec had a nice rookie season and was great in the second half.  He hit 25 home runs and drove in 78 runs.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Topps Now: October 15, 2021

October 15, 2021

Man, Enrique Hernandez was such a good pickup for Boston in 2020.  He settled into the leadoff spot and became one of the best defensive center fielders in the league.  He was also an absolute force in the postseason.  Boston lost the first game of the ALCS to the Astros, but not because of Hernandez.  He had a four hit game with a double and two home runs.  He drove in two runs.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

HUGE COMC Order - Plus The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #s 972 and 973

Lots to unpack here.  Oh boy.  I placed this order to fill in some random holes, get some vintage, and a whole lot more.  I am also writing this on the day of the All Star Game, so that will be a big part of this post.

1.  Ken Keltner.  Keltner spent almost his entire career in Cleveland.  Except for 13 games in his final season, which he spent in Boston.  He hit .321 with a couple of doubles in 1950 for Boston though.  Keltner was a seven-time All Star.

2.  Rafael Devers.  It is becoming impossible to ignore Devers.  Boston NEEDS to lock him up long term.  He is having a terrific season.  Devers was named to his second All Star team this year and was voted to start.

3.  Andrew Benintendi.  Benny is an All Star this season with Kansas City, his first such appearance.  He is a free agent at the end of the season and possible trade bait by the deadline.

4.  Al Evans.  Evans spent almost his entire career in Washington.  Except for 12 games in his final season, which he spent in Boston.  He hit .125 though and was not really a star player.  Most of his career, he was a backup catcher.  He still got a card with Boston though.

5.  Chris Sale/J.D. Martinez/Andrew Benintendi/Mookie Betts.  Kind of an odd-looking card here.  It reminds me of the Score All Star cards in the early 1990's.  All the players had big heads.  Sale was an All Star with Boston twice.  Martinez has been an All Star four times.  Betts was an All Star four times with Boston.

6.  Mitch Moreland.  I am not sure how Moreland did not get a Major League job this season.  He will always be remembered for his clutch home runs, particularly the three-run pinch-hit shot in Game 4 of the World Series in 2018.  Moreland was an All Star for the first and only time in his career in 2018.

7.  Blaze Jordan.  Jordan is one of the top power prospects in the Red Sox system.  If he can develop into a decent hitter, that power will make him an interesting player.

8.  Mitch Moreland.

9.  Jackie Bradley Jr.  JBJ probably is not going to be a big league regular for much longer.  He has struggled greatly this season.  Still great defensively though.  Bradley was an All Star for Boston in 2016.

10.  Jimmie Foxx.  The Beast was an All Star six times with the Red Sox.  Only three times with the A's.  Of course, All Star games did not start until well into his career.  So that explains that.  Foxx wears a Red Sox cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

11.  Babe Ruth.  Ruth had most of his success prior to the inception of the All Star Game.  Thus, he was only twice named to the game, both while with the Yankees.

12.  Carl Yastrzemski.  Notably, Yaz was the All Star Game MVP in 1970, after he had a four-hit game, including a double.   Yaz was an All Star 18 times.  That is incredible.  

13.  Christian Vazquez.  I was disappointed that Vazquez was not named to the All Star team this year.  He has better all-around numbers than Jose Trevino, for example.  Vazquez has not been an All Star yet.

14.  Ted Williams.  Williams holds the team record with 19 All Star Game appearances.  He has generally played well in the games too.  He also holds the career record in OBP.  .482.  That's right.  For his CAREER, he got on base just under half the time.

15.  Carlos Quintana.  I used this order to fill in a few holes in my Carlos Quintana collection.  Quintana was never an All Star.

16.  Jackie Bradley Jr.

17.  Mo Vaughn.  Vaughn made three All Star teams and started in the 1996 game.  He probably should have made a couple more, but first base was LOADED in the 1990's.  Frank Thomas had a stranglehold on the position, but there were several other big stars there too.

18.  Alex Verdugo.  Verdugo has yet to be an All Star.  Maybe some day.  He is having an uneven season, but has been decent in the past.    

19.  Alex Verdugo.

20.  Xander Bogaerts.  Bogaerts was named to his fourth All Star team this season.  Boston will have a decision to make with him after the season.  Hopefully they will keep him.

21.  David Ortiz/Rafael Devers.  Ortiz was an All Star nine teams.  He is the only Red Sox player to win the Home Run Derby, which he did in 2010.  Ortiz will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next weekend.

22.  Eduardo Rodriguez.  I still think E-Rod should have been an All Star in 2019, when he was Boston's best pitcher.  I was disappointed when he signed with the Tigers last offseason.  He was always a favorite of mine.  

23.  Rafael Devers.

24.  Darren Lewis.  Lewis was brought in for his speed and defense in 1998.  He led the team in stolen bases his first season with 29.  He won a Gold Glove for the Giants in 1994.  

25.  Pete Runnels.  Two-time batting champ Runnels was an All Star three times with the Red Sox.  Those were his only appearances in the Game.  He probably should have made a couple of other appearances.  Runnels was the batting champ in 1960 and 1962 and came in second in 1958, to Ted Williams.

26.  Carl Yastrzemski.

27.  Murray Wall.  I may have to look into this one.  Wall apparently was traded by the Red Sox to Washington, along with Billy Consolo for Dick Hyde and Herb Plews.  But, three days later, Wall and Hyde were returned to their respective teams.  Wall managed to appear in a game for Washington, but Hyde did not play for Boston.  Wall played parts of three seasons with Boston.  

28.  Joe Cronin.  Cronin was an All Star five times with the Red Sox, and twice with Washington.  He was the starting shortstop in the first All Star Game.  This was the only relic in the entire order.

29.  Tim Wakefield.  Despite his long career and several very good seasons, Wakefield was only an All Star once.  That happened in 2009 and seemed like more of a recognition for his career.  2009 was not one of his best seasons overall, but he did have a really good first half.

30.  Gene Stephens.  No relation to Vern, Gene Stephens was a highly-regarded outfielder when he came up.  But he never lived up to his potential and could not break into a Red Sox outfield that was filled with stars Ted Williams, Jackie Jensen and Jimmy Piersall.  His best season was 1953.  That year, he hit .293/.374/.459 with three home runs and 18 RBIs.   

31.  Joe Dobson.  One of the best pitchers on the team in the late 1940's, Dobson was an All Star in 1948, a year after his best season.  Dobson had a 106-72 record with Boston over nine seasons and had a 3.57 ERA.  In 1948, he was 16-10 with a 3.56 ERA.  

32.  Carlton Fisk.  Fisk was an All Star with Boston seven times.  He was an All Star with the White Sox just four times.  That kind of surprised me, given his reputation.  There were a few years that were particularly surprising.  The only seasons he missed with Boston were due primarily to injuries.

33.  Xander Bogaerts.

34.  Tim Wakefield.

35.  Carlos Quintana.

36.  Don Buddin.  Buddin's defense was so suspect that he was often called "Bootin' Buddin".  Buddin was a decent hitter for a middle infielder in the late 1950's/early 1960's.  His best season was in 1961 when he hit .263/.394/.398 with six home runs and 42 RBIs.  He was traded after the season for the actually good Eddie Bressoud.

37.  Mo Vaughn.  

38.  Carlos Quintana.

39.  Tom Brewer/Dave Sisler.  Brewer was an All Star for the Red Sox in 1956 when he was 19-9 with a 3.50 ERA in 244.1 innings pitched.  He spent his entire eight-year career with the Red Sox.  Sisler, the son of Hall of Famer George Sisler, never made an All Star team.  He never quite reached his potential with Boston.  Later in his career, he was a decent reliever.

40.  Chris Sale.  Sale started both All Star Games he pitched in for Boston.

41.  Jason Varitek.  Varitek was a three-time All Star for Boston.  He was voted the last man in 2003 and voted to start in 2005, the year after Boston won the World Series.  

42.  Jason Varitek.  These two Stadium Club variations are the two new cards for the Varitek collection.

43.  Mookie Betts.  

44.  George Scott.  Boomer was an All Star three times in his career, including twice with Boston.  He was an All Star in his rookie season of 1966 and then in 1977.  In 1977, he hit a home run in the game, in Yankee Stadium.

45.  Dennis Eckersley.  Eck was only an All Star six times in his career.  Four of those were as the closer for the A's.  He appeared in a game with Cleveland and one with Boston.  Despite great seasons for the Red Sox in 1978 and 1979, Eck only made it to the 1982 game with Boston.  

46.  Carlos Quintana.

47.  Tim Naehring.  Had he not gotten hurt, Naehring may have been headed to the All Star Game in 1997.  He was hitting .286/.375/.467 with nine home runs, 18 doubles and 40 RBIs in 70 games before he went down with an injury in mid-June.  That was it for his career unfortunately.

48.  Smoky Joe Wood.  Wood also played his entire career well before the inception of the All Star Game.  He almost certainly would have made it in 1912 when he was the best pitcher in the game.  That year he was 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA and 258 strikeouts in 344 innings pitched.

49.  David Ortiz.

50.  Nathan Eovaldi.  Eovaldi made his first All Star team in 2021.  That year, he finished fourth in the AL Cy Young race.  He led the league in games started, FIP and walks per nine innings.  

51.  Ted Williams.

52.  Eduardo Rodriguez.

53.  Bobby Dalbec.  Dalbec may not last longer in Boston if he doesn't get something figured out pretty soon.  I like Dalbec, but he has struggled immensely all season.

54.  Xander Bogaerts.

55.  Rafael Devers.

56.  Carlton Fisk.

57.  Kevin Pillar.  Pillar only spent the first half of 2020 with Boston.  In 30 games, he hit .274/.325/.470 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.  He was traded to Colorado at the trading deadline.  

58.  Carl Yastrzemski.

59.  Alex Verdugo.

60.  Gilberto Jimenez.  One of the prospects in this package.  Jimenez is a decent outfield prospect.  His numbers are down a bit this season and he could find himself on the move since he could be part of the roster crunch at the end of this season.

61.  Tony Pena.  This is some kind of prototype card for Pacific.  I was pretty happy to find it.  He was a five-time All Star, four with the Pirates and once with the Cardinals.  He did win a Gold Glove with Boston though.  He just was not much of a hitter by the time he came to the Red Sox.

62.  Jarren Duran.  Duran has blazing speed.  If he can be a passable hitter and defender, he could be an outfielder for a long time.  

63.  Kevin Pillar.

64.  Rafael Devers.

65.  Jackie Bradley Jr.

66.  Jim Rice.  Rice was an All Star eight times, obviously all with Boston.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 and spent his entire career with the Red Sox.  His best year was in 1978 when he was the A.L. MVP and had 406 total bases.

67.  Travis Lakins.  The only autograph from the package, Lakins pitched in 16 games for the Red Sox in 2019 and had a 3.86 ERA.  He made three starts as the opener that season.  He had a record of 0-1 with 18 strikeouts and ten walks in 23.1 innings pitched.  He was traded to the Cubs before the 2020 season.  Boston probably could have used him that season as he turned in a decent season for the O's in relief.

68.  Eduardo Rodriguez.

69.  David Ortiz.

70.  Rafael Devers.

71.  Christian Vazquez.

72.  Ted Williams.

73.  Carlton Fisk.

74.  Xander Bogaerts.

75.  Nick Yorke.  My first card of Yorke.  Yorke was Boston's first round draft pick in 2020 and tore up the league in 2021.  He has dealt with injuries this season but still has a bright future.  

76.  Wade Boggs.  Boggs notably hit a home run in the 1989 All Star Game immediately after Bo Jackson.  He was an All Star eight times with the Red Sox and four times with the Yankees.

77.  Carlton Fisk.

78.  J.D. Martinez.

79.  Carlos Quintana.

80.  Mo Vaughn.

81.  Pete Runnels/Dick Gernert/Frank Malzone.  Gernert had a few decent seasons with the Red Sox.  He hit 101 home runs with Boston, hitting more than 20 twice.  His high was 21 in 1953.  Frank Malzone is one of the better third-basemen in Red Sox history.  He was an All Star six times with the Red Sox.  Oddly, he was not an All Star in 1962 when he hit a career high 21 home runs.  

82.  J.D. Martinez.

That was exhausting.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Topps Now: October 11, 2021

These things are going to be a little out of order from this point on.  It took some sellers a long time to get stuff to me.  Others were very fast.  Hence why we have cards of the last game of the ALDS well before even the Wild Card Game.

October 11, 2021

Game 4 of the ALDS proved to be the deciding game.  Boston sent Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound, and he was good enough, pitching five innings and giving up just two runs.  The bullpen blew it though.  Garrett Whitlock ended up pitching the final two innings and eventually got the win.  Rafael Devers, who was terrific in the postseason, went 3-4 and hit a three-run home run in the third inning.  Enrique Hernandez, who was also terrific in the postseason, eventually won the game on a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning, driving in Danny Santana.  It was quite the ending to a surprising series.  Boston was not expected to take out the Rays. 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Another Silk Card

I always kind of liked these Topps Silk Collection cards.  They made a big deal about them for a few years about ten years ago, but you do not really see them anymore.  I still track them down occasionally though.  I showed off my Jose Iglesias a few days ago.  Here is my latest:

This Bill Hall is one that I always wanted.  Hall only played the one season for Boston in 2010 and his only cards are variations on his Update card.  That's unfortunate.  I really liked Hall.  He was so versatile that he was my All-Time One-Year Wonder utility player.  He played all three outfield positions, second, third, shortstop and even pitched a game.  Most of the time was split between left field and second base.  Hall played in 119 games, hitting .247/.316/.456 with 18 home runs, 46 RBIs and nine stolen bases.

Friday, July 15, 2022

2021 Bowman Chrome Blaster

I tried my luck at a Bowman Chrome blaster.  Not bad.  Not great, but it could have been much worse.

1.  J.D. Martinez.  Martinez is now in his fifth season with the Red Sox and is probably the second or third best designated hitter in team history.  David Ortiz is obviously number one.  The competition is Jim Rice, I think.  Martinez has been an All Star four times and won two Silver Sluggers.  He has hit 123 home runs with the Red Sox.

2.  Jeter Downs.  This is one of those Mojo Prospect Refractor cards.  Downs was one of the big pieces Boston acquired in the Mookie Betts deal.  He recently made his Major League debut and had a big series against the Yankees last weekend, driving in the tying run and scoring the winning run in the third game.  Downs could be trade bait at this point, unless Boston is unable to lock up Xander Bogaerts.  Even then, Marcelo Mayer and Nick Yorke are coming.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Plawecki Auto

I had to grab this card:

Autographs and relics have generally not been as important to me as they were about 15 years ago, but I still generally try to grab at least one for each player.  So when something shows up for say, a backup catcher, you know I have to track it down.  That is what happened here.

Kevin Plawecki has been the Red Sox backup catcher since 2020.  He was my Underrated Player of the Year that first year.  Generally, defense has been his strong point, but Plawecki has shown an impressive ability for contact hitting.  He was very good at putting the ball in play last year, which led to him being used in some important clutch moments.  Unfortunately, he has declined dramatically this season, leading likely to the end of the road for Plawecki in Boston.

This is the purple version of the Donruss Optic Signature Series card.