Thursday, February 28, 2013

One-Year Wonder Pt. 14: Bill Hall

Every once in awhile, the Red Sox pick up a veteran player for a year, or just the stretch run that was a star at one point that I become fascinated with. It's a player that is basically only a role player at that point in their career, but may show flashes of their old brilliance. It's so unusual to see them as a member of the Red Sox, that I try to find as many of their cards as possible. This series will be about some of those players.
Bill Hall was acquired in a trade with the Mariners in January of 2010 for Casey Kotchman.  The Mariners picked up most of Hall's salary, and that turned into one of the best deals the Red Sox made that year.  

Hall was extremely versatile, playing every position but right field, first base, catcher, and designated hitter.  His batting average was not terribly high, and neither was his on-base percentage, but his versatility, power, and speed were all important to the team.  Hall hit .247/.316/.456 with 18 home runs and 46 RBIs.  He also stole nine bases.  He was an important piece, all the more so due to the extreme number of injuries Boston suffered in 2010.  He was able to cover for injuries to Dustin Pedroia, Mike Cameron, and Jacoby Ellsbury.

I was disappointed after the year that Boston did not bring him back.  But he played well enough to get a starting role and the Astros picked him up.

02/28/2013 Red Sox 16 Pirates 6

The Red Sox walked 15 times today.  Hopefully that is more of a sign of the patience of the Red Sox hitters than the wildness of the Pirates' pitchers.  We will see.

Player of the Game: Jackie Bradley Jr (3 for 5, 3 runs, stolen base).   Bradley may force the Red Sox to find a spot for him right away.

02/27/2013: Orioles 5 Red Sox 3

Junichi Tazawa has had a rough spring so far.  Hopefully he'll get back on track.  I would love to see him stick in the Major Leagues all year, especially after his incredible season last year.

Player of the Game: Pedro Ciriaco (2 for 4, 3B, RBI)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

02/26/2013: Cardinals 15 Red Sox 4

Rough game today.  It's only Spring Training though, so not a big deal.

Player of the Game:  Ryan Dempster (2 IP, 0 hits, 2 strikeouts)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Busts Pt. 20: Daisuke Matsuzaka

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.
We can talk about this now.  Matsuzaka was the subject of the highest posting fee in baseball history to that point.  The Red Sox paid $51,111,111.11 just to talk to Matsuzaka about playing for them.  They outbid the Rangers, Mets, and Yankees among other teams.  Matsuzaka was supposed to be an ace for whoever got him.  They then signed him for a $52 million, six-year contract.  It was the highest contract anyone ever got coming from Japan.

2007 proved to be a reasonably decent rookie year.  Matsuzaka pitched to a 15-12 record with a 4.40 ERA and 201 strikeouts in 204.1 innings.  Not bad, but not quite what was expected.  He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote and won Game 3 of the World Series.  He even helped himself with a two-run single.  All in all it was a fairly successful season.

His 2008 season was even better.  He won 18 games against just three losses and a 2.90 ERA with 154 strikeouts in 167.2 innings.  He finished fourth in the Cy Young race.  He did show a tendency to nibble at the corners at the plate and throw a lot of pitches.  But nonetheless, his numbers looked great on paper.  He looked like he could be the great pitcher the Red Sox thought they were getting.

In 2009 however, the injuries and tendency to throw a lot of pitches started to accumulate.  The next four seasons saw his numbers dramatically decline.  He pitched in only 56 games over the next four years with a 17-22 record and a 5.53 ERA with 254 strikeouts.

At the end, the injuries and the number of pitches did him in.  When he was aggressive, he was good, when he nibbled he had a tendency to get hit hard.  The money just was not worth it at the end.  

02/25/2013: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2; Rays 6, Red Sox 3

Today the Red Sox played two split-squad games, one against the new-look Blue Jays and R.A. Dickey, and the other against the Rays.  Boston countered Dickey with their own knuckleballer, Steve Wright.

Player of the Game (Blue Jays): Jackie Bradley Jr. (3 for 3, double, RBI, run)

Player of the Game (Rays): Dustin Pedroia (1 for 3, home run)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

1991 Topps #70 Ellis Burks

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps.  This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
Ellis Burks was one of my favorite players early on.  He was a rare power/speed threat for the Red Sox at the time.  Burks won the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger in 1990.  He hit .296/.349/.486 in 1990.  He lead the team with 21 home runs, 89 RBIs, and nine stolen bases.  His stolen bases were down quite a bit, and he was caught eleven times.  He also made his first All Star team.  He looked like a rising star at only 25 years old.  Unfortunately he would have two injury-riddled, down seasons before Boston let him go.  

Season in Review: 1994

1994 was the year of the strike.  There was no postseason and no World Series.  As a young fan this was devastating.  I was only 13 years old at the time.  I did not really understand what was going on and I kept hoping they would come back and finish the season.  But they did not.  Boston was fairly underwhelming that year, going 54-61 under Butch Hobson.  It was Hobson's last season as manager.

Mo Vaughn
Vaughn was on the verge of an even better year than his 1993 season.  At the time of the strike he was hitting .310/.408/.576 with 26 home runs and 82 RBIs.  He could have easily broken his career marks with a full season.  He was becoming an offensive force for the Red Sox by this point.  And the best was yet to come.

John Valentin
By this point, Valentin was one of the most underrated players in baseball.  Valentin was hitting .316/.400/.505 with nine home runs and 49 RBIs.  His biggest moment of the 1994 season was turning an unassisted triple play.

Roger Clemens
He did not have a great record, but for the most part Clemens was back to his usual form.  He only finished 9-7 but Boston was not terribly good that year.  He did finish second in the league with a 2.85 ERA and 168 strikeouts.  So for the most part it was back to being a dominant pitcher for Clemens.

Scott Cooper
Cooper had his second straight All Star selection in 1994 and his numbers for the most part were better.  He was hitting .282/.333/.453 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs.  He also hit for the cycle against the Royals.  I remember listening to that game on the radio, I lived close enough to Kansas City to hear the games on the radio.

Andre Dawson
Dawson was definitely on his last legs as a Major Leaguer by this point, but I still enjoyed watching him because I knew he would be in the Hall of Fame some day.  His batting line was a less than impressive .240/.271/.466, but he did hit 16 home runs.

Aaron Sele
Following up his successful rookie season, Sele emerged as a decent number two starter for Boston.  His record was only 8-7 but he did pitch to a 3.83 ERA and 105 strikeouts.

Tom Brunansky
Bruno was re-acquired in a trade with the Brewers early in the season for Dave Valle after right-fielder Billy Hatcher was traded to the Phillies.  Bruno helped to add some offense, something that was lacking for the team that season.  He finished the season hitting .237/.319/.475 with ten home runs.  He was done as a Major Leaguer after 1994.

Mike Greenwell
Greenwell was hurt often in 1994, playing only 95 games.  His numbers were down to .269/.348/.453 but he did hit 11 home runs.

Otis Nixon
I had been watching the Red Sox for only four years as of 1994, and the most stolen bases in one season I had seen was Scott Fletcher's 16 in 1993.  So I was excited to see Otis Nixon acquired by the Red Sox.  Finally they had someone who could steal a lot of bases.  Nixon hit .274/.360/.317 in 1994.  His OBP and average were actually better than his career numbers, so it was a successful season for him.  He stole 42 bases and would have easily broken the team record if not for the strike.

Rich Rowland
Acquired in a trade prior to the season for catcher John Flaherty.  Rowland had played in September in each of the prior four seasons and finally got a chance to play in 1994.  He became the backup to Damon Berryhill but showed some impressive power, hitting nine home runs with a .483 slugging percentage in 46 games.

Dave Valle
Valle was acquired as part of a complete catcher overall in 1994.  Gone were Tony Pena, Bob Melvin, and John Flaherty.  Valle, Berryhill, and Rowland were all new to the organization.  Valle was expected to be the starter, but only hit .158/.256/.250 and was shipped to the Brewers for Brunansky.

Greg Harris
One year after a great season out of the bullpen, Harris's ERA ballooned to 8.28.  The amount of work the season prior must have taken a toll on the 38 year old.

02/24/2013 Red Sox 5, Cardinals 3

Player of the Game: Jon Lester (2 IP, 1 strikeout).  It took Lester only 24 pitches to make it through two innings.  Hopefully he will return in a big way this year.

02/23/2013: Rays 4, Red Sox 3

It was the first official Spring game.  Boston lost, but it's only Spring Training. 

Player of the Day: Jose Iglesias 1 for 2, home run, error.  Iglesias is fighting for the Red Sox shortstop position.  He spent most of the offseason working out with Dustin Pedroia.  He definitely started out strong though with a home run in his first game.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Underrated Player of the Year: 2005

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.
Another year, another second baseman.  Mark Bellhorn, the subject of the 2004 post, started the year but his numbers were way down and he was eventually released.  Alex Cora had been acquired but he was definitely more of a utility player than a regular.  Eventually, Boston made a trade with the Royals for Tony Graffanino, giving up Chip Ambres and Juan Cedeno.  

Graffanino played in 51 games for the Red Sox and put together a strong batting line of .319/.355/.457 with four home runs and 20 RBIs.  He also stole four bases.  Graffanino solidified second base and turned in a quality performance at the same time helping the Red Sox to the playoffs.

Of course, Graffanino made a crucial error in the ALDS that lead to the White Sox sweeping the Red Sox.  But that should not diminish the impact he made during the regular season.

Graffanino was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season and returned to the Royals.  He would not be as good a hitter again.    

Spring Games Have Begun

Boston played two games today against college teams.  They won both, but that is not terribly excited.  What is exciting is that they are starting to play games again.  I am excited for this year.  I really am.  I don't remember being this anxious in a long time.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 25: Scott Cooper

I have been a little hard on Scott Cooper on this blog in the past, calling him an undeserving All Star, among other things.  But the fact of the matter is that when I was young, I really did like Cooper.  Most of the reasoning for that is the fact that he was the team's lone All Star at a time when I thought that really meant something.  I knew Mo Vaughn deserved it more, but Cooper was the only one they sent two years in a row.

Of course Cooper was also indirectly responsible for the loss of not one, but two, great players.  In 1990, Boston traded third baseman Jeff Bagwell to the Astros because he was expendable since he was behind Wade Boggs and Cooper on the third base depth chart.  Then Boston figured they could afford to let Boggs walk as a free agent after the 1992 season because Cooper was developing into a decent major leaguer.

Cooper made his ML debut in 1990 but only made it into two games.  He had another brief shot in 1991 and hit .457/.486/.686 in 14 games.  He was nearly a full-time player in 1992 but bounced around the infield quite a bit.  He actually played more games at first base than third base due to the struggles of Vaughn in his first full season and the presence of Boggs in his last with the Red Sox.  He also chipped in at second and short briefly.

1993 saw him take over third base full-time and he hit .279/.355/.397 with nine home runs and 63 RBIs.  Cooper was also a very strong defensive player.  He was credited with a lot of errors but that had more to do with Vaughn's defensive issues than Cooper's.  Cooper had a very strong throwing arm at third that was actually his best asset.  He then hit .282/.333/.483 in 1994 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs in the strike-shortened season.  His biggest moment was hitting for the cycle in a ridiculous 22-11 drubbing of the Royals.

After the 1994 season, Cooper was traded to the Cardinals with Cory Bailey for Mark Whiten and Rheal Cormier.  He would never come close to his numbers with the Red Sox.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Moves I Did Not Care For

I have been called a homer in the past.  Mostly on baseball forums.  I do not think I am a homer, but no one really does.  I am a fan.  I try not to be overly critical of my team to other people.  That does not mean that I love everything they do.  The Red Sox have made some ridiculous moves in the past.  Obviously the big ones are the Ruth sale and the Bagwell trade.  Both of those occurred before I was a fan.  The Bagwell trade occurred just one year prior.

In this post I want to show that I do sometimes disagree with Boston's moves.  These are moves I disliked at the time, not with hindsight.  Some moves may have worked out.  Other moves that I did like may not have worked.  These are moves I disliked when they happened.

I was a big fan of Jeff Reardon.  I have always liked closers and Reardon was the first one I watched.  It helped that he had just broken the career saves record.  Obviously he was expendable.  He was set to be a free agent and he was older.  Boston was in last place and had no real need for a good closer, but they definitely did not have an adequate replacement.  It also did not help that the players the Red Sox got, Sean Ross and Nate Minchey, never really did anything for the Red Sox.

Boggs was my favorite player.  He had a bad year and Scott Cooper was ready to take over, but Cooper was never going to be an adequate replacement.  He just was not projected to be a star.  Boggs was a Hall of Famer.

Just one year prior, Plantier was untouchable.  But then his numbers dropped in 1992 and suddenly Boston could not get rid of him fast enough.  For them to trade a previously untouchable player for a middle reliever was particularly frustrating.  He was still just 24 years old.  Right field was a black hole for the Red Sox in 1993, and Plantier hit 34 home runs with 108 RBIs for the Padres.  Melendez pitched in 19 games over the two years he spent with Boston.  Plantier never did as well again, but he would have been a big help in 1993.

This one actually worked out but not for the reasons that it should have.  Cormier had the best year of the three players involved.  But I liked Cooper.  I was still a young fan at the time so I did not like it when Boston gave up players I liked.  Cooper was not a great player, or even really a very good one, but I liked him.  I did try to think positively about it though.  Whiten was supposed to be a decent player and they also got Cormier.

It reminded me of the Bagwell trade.  Rodriguez was Boston's top prospect.  For a few years I had heard about what a great pitcher he was going to be.  Then he was traded when Boston found it could not contend without a good closer.  Suddenly their top prospect was gone.  This one was okay as Rodriguez was never a very good pitcher.  But I had no idea at the time.

Whiten was terrible for Boston and he was personally miserable.  But it just felt like they were giving up on him.  It seems like they do that every few years or so.  Whiten of course went on to play well for the Phillies. Hollins played five games for the Red Sox.

Darren Bragg really?  That's all they could get for Jamie Moyer?  Moyer was not quite the well-reputed pitcher at that time that he was years later.  But he was 7-1 and he was left-handed.  Bragg was an acceptable player, but even then it did not seem like enough for Boston's best pitcher to that point.

The Red Sox let Clemens go.  Clemens had not pitched great in a few years, but he did lead the league in strikeouts in 1996, a sign that the old Clemens was on his way back.  Of course now we know that he had some help.  But Boston did not really have a pitcher ready to take his place.  They signed two reclamation projects and an unknown quantity.  Saberhagen was recovering from a major injury and would barely pitch that year but would be decent in 1998 and 1999.  Avery was terrible in his two years with Boston.  Checo never developed.

Leyritz was unhappy with his lack of playing time.  He was originally brought in to spend time at catcher, first base, and designated hitter, but the development of Jason Varitek meant that he was not needed at catcher.  He was very productive to that point so it was a bit of a loss.  Eventually he was replaced by Mike Stanley who served the same capacity.

I always liked Merced with the Pirates and Blue Jays.  I was excited when he was acquired along with Greg Swindell, but Boston never had much use for him and he was released after 12 hitless plate appearances.  They would do the same thing with Gary Gaetti and Jose Cruz Jr. later on.

I would have no problem with Offerman as a complementary piece.  He had a nice year in 1999.  But as a replacement for Vaughn?  No.  You cannot replace a power-hitting first baseman with a light-hitting second baseman.  It just does not work.  Vaughn was another favorite that Boston let leave as a free agent.

This never seemed like it would work.  And it didn't.  Both pitchers were bad in 1999 and played a big role in Boston having to settle for a Wild Card.  They could have been better.

Brian Rose was supposed to be a top prospect but that is not the issue that I had.  I did not understand getting Mike Lansing.  I guess they really wanted Rolando Arrojo and taking on Lansing's terrible contract meant that they did not have to give up any major parts.  But Boston was already overloaded on bad contracts with Valentin, O'Leary, Lewis, and Offerman.  If they had not gotten Lansing's contract, maybe they would have been able to bring in Mike Mussina to go along with Manny Ramirez in 2001.

Boston tried to find a hidden well of talent in Asia in the late 1990's.  Ohka, Kim, and Song were the most talented players they found.  Ohka and Kim showed flashes of that talent on occasion and Song was Boston's top prospect at the time.  None of them made big impacts in the majors and Urbina and Floyd were both successful in their short stints in Boston, but after years of hearing about the Asian scouting, it was proving to be all for naught.

Nomo had a good year in 2002.  He lead the AL in strikeouts and pitched a no hitter.  Plus he was fun to watch.  He seemed like the perfect pitcher to re-sign and make a good number two starter.  With him in the rotation along with Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, Boston could have made it to the World Series in 2003.

There were more parts to this.  The full trade was Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez for Jeff Suppan, Anastacio Martinez, and Brandon Lyon.  The reason for the trade was to make up for an earlier trade in which Boston got Gonzalez and Scott Sauerbeck for Lyon and Martinez.  Lyon was hurt apparently.  Suppan was terrible in his first stint with Boston and was not much better the second time around.  Sanchez could have solved Boston's long-standing problems at second base.

I get the idea.  It is better to use your best relievers when the game is on the line and anyone can finish the game.  But baseball players are human and prefer to have defined roles.  So maybe it could work in some situations, but only if you have the 1990 Reds bullpen.  Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Chad Fox, Ramiro Mendoza, and Brandon Lyon are not an adequate group to pull off the closer by committee.  None of them had much closing experience.  The results were awful right away and lead to the trade of Shea Hillenbrand for Byung Hyun Kim.

It worked out in the end, but Garciaparra was again a favorite player.  He was the franchise player.  And Boston got Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz in the trade.  It never seemed like enough.

Two of the World Champion team's top three pitchers left town and they signed Wells, Clement, and Miller to replace them.  Miller was a reclamation project, Wells was old and had never been successful at Fenway Park, and Clement had never pitched in the AL.  Wells was okay and Clement was good for the first half of the first year, but none of the pitchers had long term success.

This one worked out for both teams as Ramirez was a great player for a few years.  Beckett and Lowell helped Boston to the 2007 World Championship.  But once again, a top prospect that I had been waiting for  over the previous several years was gone.  I liked that Boston got Beckett and Lowell, but hated that Ramirez had to go.

I hate it when a beloved player goes to play for the Yankees.  Boston traded for Coco Crisp to replace him, which of course never really worked out as well as it should have.

Arroyo had just signed a team-friendly contract and had a decent year in 2005.  But there was a supposed pitching surplus and Boston needed some more power.  So Arroyo was shipped away for Pena, who was a terrible defensive player which meant that he did not make it into the lineup much.  He did have power, but that was it.

I liked Doug Mirabelli and was disappointed when they traded him away for Mark Loretta, but that turned out to be a decent trade.  Unfortunately Boston could not find someone to catch Tim Wakefield's knuckleball and they had to make a desperate trade to get Mirabelli back.  That meant that Meredith, a promising reliever, had to be sacrificed.

I liked that they picked up Martinez, but giving up on Masterson seemed premature.  I liked Masterson and thought that he had a decent future with the Red Sox.  Martinez was necessary as catcher was proving to be a black hole, but it was disappointing to lose Masterson.

I still think they should have re-signed Beltre, who had a great year in 2010, and kept Youkilis at first.  I liked the Adrian Gonzalez trade, but I wanted Beltre to stay.

I never had a lot of hope for Bedard to pitch well for Boston and they gave up a lot of minor leaguers to get him.  Tim Federoicz, Stephen Fife, Juan Rodriguez, and Chih Hsien Chiang were all let go in the trade and Boston just did not get much out of it.

This was bittersweet for me.  I wanted Carl Crawford to be the player he was with the Rays when he completely flustered Boston catchers.  I wanted Adrian Gonzalez to be the 40 home run threat he was with the Padres.  Boston did not get either of those things.  James Loney was just going to be a stopgap and Jerry Sands and Ivan DeJesus were never expected to do all that much.

I am concerned about this one.  Boston traded Jed Lowrie and Josh Reddick last year in trades for potential closers.  Both players had good years and the closers, Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey, were both disappointing.  Now they are trading for another closer and gave up Melancon, Sands, Stolmy Pimentel, and DeJesus to get him.  Will Sands be the next Reddick?  It's possible.

I like watching Jose Iglesias.  Drew stands in his way.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt 17: Wes Ferrell

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
Wes Ferrell, like Carl Mays, is a player whose name comes up every year when the Veterans' Committee when they vote on the Old Timers ballot.  Ferrell's brother Rick is in the Hall of Fame as a catcher for the Red Sox.  The brothers actually played together with the Red Sox and Senators.

Ferrell was a workhorse who lead the American League in games started twice, and complete games and innings pitched three years in a row.  Ferrell won 20 games in six seasons and won 170 games in the 1930's, fourth behind Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell, and Red Ruffing.  Ferrell though typically pitched for mediocre teams, spending his most productive years with the Browns, Red Sox, and Senators.

The major argument against Ferrell is his ERA.  His career ERA was 4.04, which is similar to the argument against Jack Morris, whose career ERA was 3.90.  Ferrell's ERA+ though is 116 so relatively speaking, it was not that bad of a number.  Still most voters these days seem to have some difficulty with context, in particular those on the Veterans' Committee.

Ferrell is probably a pretty borderline candidate, but his numbers seem to warrant more consideration.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Season in Review: 1993

1993 was quite a bit different than 1992.   There was a lot of player turnover and a lot of my favorite players (Boggs, Burks, and Reardon in particular) were gone.  Unfortunately a season that was once very promising took a bad turn and Boston finished 80-82.  Most of the problem was due to inconsistent pitching as Roger Clemens had a bad year.

Mo Vaughn
Vaughn really came into his own as a force to be reckoned with in 1993.  It was his first full season with the Red Sox and he became one of the most productive first basemen in the league.  He hit .297/.390/.525 with 29 home runs and 101 runs batted in.  He also started to show some impressive leadership qualities.  One of my favorite moments was him clotheslining a charging George Bell after being hit by an Aaron Sele pitch.

Scott Cooper
No he was not a great player, or even a particularly good player, but the third-baseman had a strong arm and was the team's lone All Star.  Although he did not really deserve it.  Cooper hit .279/.355/.397 with nine home runs and 63 RBIs.

Danny Darwin
Darwin was Boston's top starting pitcher in 1993, leading the team in wins (15), innings pitched (229.1), and WHIP (1.068).  He also struck out 130 batters and had a 3.26 ERA.  He came close to pitching a perfect game, allowing only a Dan Pasqua triple that would have been caught if Billy Hatcher were just a couple inches taller.

John Valentin
Valentin, like Vaughn, started to come into his own in 1993 as a player.  He hit .278/.346/.447 with 11 home runs and 66 RBIs.  He also proved to be a very good defensive shortstop.  This was Valentin's first full season with the Red Sox as well, though he did not start on Opening Day.

Mike Greenwell
Greenwell came back from a rough 1992 season to lead the team in batting average in 1993.  Greenwell hit .315/.379/.480 with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs, both second only to Vaughn.  This was another solid season for the outfielder who built a career on solid, but not terrific seasons.  Greenwell also lead the team with 170 hits that year.

Greg Harris
Harris was one of the most productive middle relievers in 1993 pitching in 80 games which was a team record and lead the league.  He pitched to a 6-7 record with a 3.77 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 112.1 innings pitched.  He also wound up with 8 saves.

Frank Viola
One of two supposed aces coming into the season, Viola actually had a decent season for the Red Sox in 1993, but was injured for a chunk of the season.  He ended up with a record of 11-8 with a 3.14 ERA (which lead the team among pitchers who qualified) and 91 strikeouts.  His overpowering days were over but he proved to be a somewhat crafty southpaw.

Scott Fletcher
Fletcher was a terrific defensive second baseman who actually had a pretty decent season with the bat.  He hit .285/.341/.402 with five home runs and 45 RBIs and lead the team with 16 stolen bases.  Not bad numbers for a middle infielder at that time, particularly a second baseman.

Andre Dawson
Boston replaced the departed future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs with another future Hall of Famer.  Of course Dawson was well-past his prime by the time he came to Boston and his knees forced him into playing all but 20 of his games as the team's designated hitter.  He hit .273/.313/.425 with 13 home runs and 67 RBIs.

Aaron Sele
Sele was the team's first selection in 1991 and made an immediate impact.  He finished the season with a 7-2 record and a 2.74 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 111.2 innings.  He finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year vote behind Tim Salmon and Jason Bere.

Roger Clemens
After a terrific 1992 season, a lot was expected of Roger Clemens in 1993.  Unfortunately this was probably his worst season in his career.  Clemens finished with a losing record for the first time, going only 11-14 with a 4.46 ERA and only 160 strikeouts in 191.2 innings, all his worst numbers since 1985, before he became the dominant pitcher he was.

Ivan Calderon
One of many new, talented players picked up by the Red Sox prior to the 1993 season, acquired in a trade with the Expos for Mike Gardiner and Terry Powers.  Calderon was acquired to man right field in case Carlos Quintana and Bob Zupcic were not up to the task.  However, Calderon was hurt and ineffective, playing only 73 games before being replaced by Rob Deer and hitting just .221/.291/.291 with one home run and 19 RBIs.

1991 Topps #37 Tom Bolton

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps.  This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
Along with Dennis Lamp, this was my first Red Sox card.  I got the two cards in my very first pack of baseball cards.  Bolton was the number four starter for the Red Sox in 1990 and had a decent, if unspectacular year.  He went 10-5 with a 3.38 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 119.2 innings with 47 walks.  He started 16 out of his 21 games.  The left-handed Bolton was always a player that Boston had high hopes for but he was never really able to put it all together.  He came closest in 1990.

Underrated Player of the Year: 2004

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.
Boston had been having a lot of trouble finding a long term solution at second base.  Bellhorn did not really fix that problem as he had one good year in 2004 then struggled a lot before being released in 2005.  

Bellhorn hit .264/.373/.444 for the World Champions.  It was his ability to get on base that made the team pick him up and he definitely came through.  Bellhorn drew 88 walks that year, a surprising number and a career high by quite a bit.  He also hit 17 home runs and drove in 82 runs while playing good defense at second.  He did strike out 177 times, a team record, but he was by and large a very productive player.

Finally, he showed up in a big way in the postseason, hitting two crucial home runs against the Yankees in the ALCS and hitting .300/.563/.700 in the World Series with the go-ahead home run in Game 1 against the Cardinals.

Unfortunately, he was not nearly as productive in 2005 and was given his release.

Spring Training Has Begun

I can't wait for this season.  Last season ended miserably, but the team picked up a bunch of new players who should provide steady, if not great production.

Lyle Overbay was recently inked to a minor league deal, but I don't think he will make the team.  Here is my prediction for the 25 man roster to start the season:

Alfredo Aceves
Daniel Bard
Craig Breslow
Clay Buchholz
Ryan Dempster
Felix Doubront
Joel Hanrahan
John Lackey
Jon Lester
Andrew Miller
Junichi Tazawa
Koji Uehara

David Ross
Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Pedro Ciriaco
Stephen Drew
Brock Holt
Will Middlebrooks
Mike Napoli
David Ortiz
Dustin Pedroia

Jacoby Ellsbury
Jonny Gomes
Daniel Nava
Shane Victorino

I am predicting trades of Franklin Morales and Andrew Bailey by the end of Spring Training.