Friday, June 28, 2013

A Quick Forum Trade and a Package from Zippy Zappy

I give blog trades their own post, but since the forum trade was kind of small, I did not think it would steal too much of the thunder.
I did a forum trade in which I gave up a couple of Twins cards for these two Day Glo Archives parallels.

1.  2013 Topps Archives Day Glo Dustin Pedroia.  I have no idea why my scanner makes these look pink.

2.  2013 Topps Archives Day Glo David Ortiz.  You can barely tell these are the Day Glo parallels at all, even without the bad scan.

And next is the big package that I got from Kenny, aka Zippy Zappy.  Originally only supposed to include six cards, he saw fit to dump a bunch of his Red Sox stuff on me, something I greatly appreciate, particularly since there were so many I needed. 
3.  2013 Topps Opening Day Blue Sparkle Jacoby Ellsbury.  I love these parallels.  I think I like them even more than the Emerald parallels.  Speaking of...

4.  2013 Topps Emerald Daniel Nava.  What a season Nava is having.  He is making a case for inclusion on the All Star team.

5.  2012 Elite Extra Edition Pat Light.  Hopefully Light will step things up a little bit and be one of the bright spots from the 2012 Draft that has thus far been fairly disappointing.

6.  2000 Just 2K Jim Chamblee.  I remember Chamblee.  He was a big prospect for a little while with a lot of power for second base.  He eventually moved off of the position and his power was not nearly as impressive.  He did make the Majors for all of two at-bats for the Reds and struck out both times.

7.  1998 Pacific Wil Cordero.  Fresh off of his domestic assault charge.  Cordero had a decent 1997 season, hitting 18 home runs, but that did not look all that great because he hit them as a left fielder instead of a middle infielder.

8.  2012 Prizm Dustin Pedroia.  These things are still weird looking.

9.  2012 Bowman Sterling Next in Line Will Middlebrooks/Jackie Bradley Jr.  A nice-looking card of two young, up-and-coming players.  Middlebrooks has been sent back to Pawtucket but should be back soon.  Bradley could be in line for a starting role next season.

10.  2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects Travis Shaw.  Jeff Shaw's son.

11.  2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects Jamie Callahan.

12.  2013 Bowman Brock Holt.  Holt won the IL batting title last year and probably would have been called up this week when Boston was looking for infield reinforcements, but he has been injured lately.

13.  2013 Bowman Prospects Purple William Cuevas.

14.  2012 Sega Card Gen Daniel Bard.  These cards are the original cards that were to be included in the trade.  I have never seen these before.  They appear to be from an MLB Showdown-like game.  The backs are written in Japanese and Kenny saw fit to include a handwritten translation.  I really appreciate that.

15.  2012 Sega Card Gen Cody Ross.  There are very few Cody Ross Red Sox cards.  I have to get all the ones I can find.

16.  2012 Sega Card Gen Josh Beckett.  I still like getting Red Sox cards of Josh Beckett.

17.  2012 Sega Card Gen Mark Melancon.  Melancon was a part of not one, but two bad Red Sox trades. First, there was the one where he was acquired.  He struggled for Boston while Jed Lowrie had a breakout season.  Then they traded him away and he has flourished in Pittsburgh while Joel Hanrahan struggled and promptly had Tommy John surgery.

18.  2012 Sega Card Gen Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  I love this card.

19.  2012 Sega Card Gen Andrew Bailey.  He struggled once more today.  He has to be hurt.  He can not be this bad.

Thanks Kenny!  I owe you some more Yankees.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pack Breaks from Topps Series 2

I was recently at Wal Mart and decided to pick up a blaster of Topps Series 2 since I did not have much of the Red Sox base team set.  Unfortunately they did not have any blasters so I picked up two of the hanging packs.  Immediately after buying them I was a little annoyed with myself because I remembered how badly collated they were from buying several over the last couple of years.

Soon after opening my second one, I found I was correct.  I have at least 20 duplicates from those two packs, but I did have a nice turn-out for Red Sox:
1.  2013 Topps John Lackey.  What a nice season Lackey is having coming back from injury.  This is one card of which I have duplicates.

2.  2013 Topps Ryan Lavarnway.  This is another.  I now have the gold parallel and the base card for Lavarnway.

3.  2013 Topps Wal Mart Blue Clay Buchholz.  It would appear he will not be back until after the All Star Break.  I now have the red and blue versions of this card.

4.  2013 Topps Wal Mart Blue Jose Iglesias.  Is it time to start thinking Rookie of the Year?  I still think it's early, but he is playing very well.  I also have the red version of this as well.

5.  2013 Topps Chasing History Holofoil Gold Fred Lynn.  There were a lot of these gold versions of these in the packs.  I suspect that is normal based on the sheer number of them.

I wanted to show off my tradebait, but forgot to bring it all in to work.  I did bring this one though and it is undoubtedly the highlight.  My luck with relics and autos continued: 
Of course it was just announced that Bundy will be undergoing Tommy John surgery, so I may hang on to this for a little while (unless I am blown away by an offer).  But I should point out it is serial-numbered 10/10.  One hell of a pull.

A Rockies Sweep

It was a short two-game series against the Rockies in Fenway Park this week.  Of course these two teams met in the 2007 World Series where the Red Sox flattened them in a four game sweep.  Three members of the Rockies who played in this two-game set were members of the 2007 team.  Troy Tulowitzki would have made four.  The Red Sox also had three players from the 2007 team in uniform this week.

06/25:  Red Sox 11 (46-33) Rockies 4
The Red Sox rolled in this one with four players collecting three hits apiece.  Ryan Dempster pitched well for six innings and collected the win.  Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Daniel Nava, and Jose Iglesias provided the offense.

DUSTIN PEDROIA:  3 for 5, 2 runs, 4 RBIs, double, stolen base.

06/26:  Red Sox 5 (47-33) Rockies 3
John Lackey was the story of the game as he pitched very well.  Shane Victorino had a three hit game and Daniel Nava drove in two for the win.

JOHN LACKEY:  7 innings, 8 hits, 2 runs, 12 strikeouts

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 6: Harry Hooper

Years with Boston:  1909-1920 (.272/.362/.367, 30 home runs, 497 RBIs, 300 stolen bases)
Best Year in Boston:  1920 (.312/.411/.470, 7 home runs, 53 RBIs, 17 triples)
Harry Hooper is one of the more obscure players inducted into Cooperstown.  If you asked the casual baseball fan, they would probably not be able to name Hooper or provide much information about him at all.  Hooper was often overshadowed on his own team by the bigger stars of his era.  Players like Tris Speaker, Smokey Joe Wood, and Babe Ruth gathered most of the headlines during his tenure but Hooper was a very consistent performer.

Hooper made his Major League debut for the Red Sox in 1909, two years after Tris Speaker.  He was the second member of the Red Sox famed outfield trio of Hooper/Speaker/Lewis to come to the Red Sox.  Hooper was largely considered one of the greatest defensive rightfielders in the game's history and that is by and large the reason for his induction into Cooperstown.

Hooper was a consistent performer for the Red Sox at the plate but did not really do anything outstandingly well.  He hit over .300 just twice and never hit more than seven home runs in a season with the Red Sox.  This was during the Dead Ball Era so that was not unusual.  He never drove in more than 53 runs nor scored more than 100.  He did steal a lot of bases and still holds the team record for career stolen bases, which could be in jeopardy if Boston retains Jacoby Ellsbury beyond this season.  As mentioned before, it is Hooper's defense that got him into Cooperstown.

Hooper played on four World Champion Red Sox teams in 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918.  He performed particularly well in the 1915 Series, hitting .350/.435/.650 with two home runs and three RBIs.

Unlike a lot of Red Sox stars in the late 1910's, Hooper was not traded to the Yankees.  He was traded to the White Sox for Shano Collins and Nemo Leibold.  Hooper continued to play well for the White Sox and actually produced more home runs in his five years with the White Sox than he did in his 12 for the Red Sox.  This is largely due to the more juiced-up balls than those used in the Dead Ball Era.

Hooper was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971 by the Veterans Committee.  He died three years later.  Hooper is in the Hall of Fame due mostly to his time with the Red Sox.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Unknown Heroes Before My Time Pt. 6: Bill Lee

Nicknamed "Spaceman", Bill Lee was one of a kind.  He had a flamboyant personality that was often difficult for his managers to deal with.  Don Zimmer in particular had his issues with Lee.  Lee nicknamed him "Gerbil" and the nickname stuck.  He was well-known for his advocacy of marijuana and other counter-cultural issues.  He was also very outspoken.  He connected with Boston-area college students of the time period because of his alternative viewpoints on a number of issues.

But, beyond all of that, Bill Lee was a very good, sometimes great, pitcher.  Lee made his Major League debut in 1969.  He spent the first four seasons of his career pitching mostly out of the bullpen.  He generally pitched pretty well, particularly in 1972 when he went 9-2 with a 2.74 ERA.  He pitched 102 innings mostly out of the pen and racked up 74 strikeouts and 46 walks.

In 1973 Lee was transitioned into spending most of his time in the starting rotation, starting 33 out of his 38 games.  It was also probably his most successful season as he finished the year with a 17-11 record, 2.75 ERA, and 120 strikeouts versus 76 walks in 284 innings.  He also made his only All Star team that year.  He followed that season up with two more 17 win seasons in 1974 and 1975, the year the Red Sox went to the World Series.  His performance in 1975 earned him some MVP votes.  He pitched well in the World Series, starting two games and having an ERA of 3.14 with no record.  He started Game 7 and was in line for the win until Roger Moret gave up a game-tying hit.  He also had a hit in the game.

1976 began the downturn in his career.  Lee injured his shoulder in a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees.  He only pitched in 24 games that season and his record was a disappointing 5-7 with a 5.63 ERA.  He pitched slightly better the next two seasons but he was deep in Zimmer's doghouse.  After the 1978 season in which he was 10-10 with a 3.46 ERA, he was traded to the Montreal Expos for no-name infielder Stan Papi.  It was a terrible trade for Boston as Lee rebounded somewhat and Papi played in just 51 games over two seasons.

Lee was definitely a character, the kind of character that keeps things interesting.  Unfortunately his career was over when I was still too young to even know about baseball.  So I never got to watch Lee personally.

Pickups from the Weekend

I am going to throw all of this stuff into one scan because it's kind of annoying to do multiple scans for one or two cards each.
1.  2013 Topps Turkey Red Autographs Jerry Sands.  This will likely be the only card of Sands with the Red Sox unless he ends up going back someday.  Sands was part of the big Dodger trade last year but was not officially acquired by the Red Sox until after the season because he had to clear waivers.  Then, he was traded to Pittsburgh in the ill-fated Joel Hanrahan trade.  So yeah, that picture is airbrushed.  Sands never appeared in a Red Sox uniform.

The Turkey Red cards were only available online in five-card boxes for $24.99.  That's why I never bought any.

2.  2013 Topps Archives 4-in-1 Ted Williams/Frank Robinson/Carl Yastrzemski/Miguel Cabrera.  This card shows the last four players to win the AL Triple Crown.  Williams won it twice.  I got it and the next card in exchange for the Day Glo parallel of Derek Jeter.  I personally dislike Jeter but he has a huge fanbase so it is pretty easy to trade them off for cards I want.

3.  2013 Topps Archives Mini Tallboy Fred Lynn.  I need just the Mike Greenwell now to have all five Red Sox Tallboy inserts.

4.  2013 Topps Mike Napoli.  I bought a blaster of Topps Series 2 after my good break the last time.  This one was not quite as good...

5.  2013 Topps Target Red Shane Victorino.  ...Though it did get me this one.

Here are the remaining highlights from the break:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Unknown Heroes Pt. 31: Bob Zupcic

Who?  Well, why do you think he is mentioned as an Unknown Hero?  Bob Zupcic kind of came out of nowhere.  He was drafted in the first round in 1987 but I do not think I heard anything about him until he was suddenly in the Major Leagues in 1991.  He did not hit real well in the minors, although he did have an 18 home run season in 1991 leading up to his Major League call-up.  He played in 18 games in 1991 for the Red Sox, never really doing much.

In 1992 though, Zupcic became a personal favorite of mine.  He lead the team in hitting with a .276 average which tells you how bad Boston's offense was that season.  But it was the home runs that really helped.  On June 30, Zupcic came up against Mike Henneman and the Tigers.  The Red Sox were behind 5-4 and had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th.  Zupcic hit a walkoff grand slam home run.  Then on July 10, he came up again with the bases loaded and Boston losing 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th and again hit a grand slam against Bobby Thigpen.  He only hit one other home run on the season, but those grand slams were huge.

Zupcic played regularly in 1993, getting into 141 games all over the outfield.  His versatility in the outfield was what kept him around.  His numbers were not terribly impressive though, with a slash line of .241/.308/.360 with two home runs and 26 RBIs.  Zupcic was released early in 1994 and found his way to the White Sox.  I actually saw him play with the White Sox that year.  It was the last time he was in the Majors.

Ugh, the Tiger Series...

The Tigers are pretty damn good, so it's not horrendously surprising that Boston struggled.  It's the way that they struggled.  Boston lost three out of four.  But in two of those games, they had the lead late in the game.  The bullpen has been troublesome lately, to say the least.

06/20:  Tigers 4 Red Sox 3 (44-31)
This was the worst one.  Boston lead 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth.  Enter embattled closer Andrew Bailey who immediately gave up a walk then a two-run walkoff home run to Jhonny Peralta.  Lost in that was a good performance by John Lackey, a home run by David Ortiz, and Jose Iglesias continuing to shock the world.

JOHN LACKEY:  7 innings, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

06/21:  Red Sox 10 (45-31) Tigers 6
Jon Lester's struggles continued.  He had one bad inning but it lead to four Tiger runs.  He gave up five runs once again.  Shane Victorino had a huge game and Jose Iglesias and Stephen Drew each had three hits.

SHANE VICTORINO:  4 for 5, run, 5 RBIs, home run

06/22:  Tigers 10 Red Sox 3 (45-32)
Allen Webster was once again called up to make a start and he struggled early, giving up a grand slam to former Sox Victor Martinez but then settled down.  He struck out five on the night.  The bullpen was dreadful though with Franklin Morales giving up four runs and Alex Wilson giving up one.

DAVID ORTIZ:  2 for 4, home run

06/23:  Tigers 7 Red Sox 5 (45-33)
Boston managed to tire out Justin Verlander, knocking him out after five innings, but Felix Doubront did not fare much better.  Boston was ahead into the bottom of the 7th when the tying run scored and then the bullpen melted down in the 8th, giving up three runs.  There was a questionable call in the 8th that hurt quite a bit.

 DUSTIN PEDROIA:  3 for 4, 2 runs

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Failed Prospects Pt. 15: Craig Hansen

Craig Hansen is a good example of why the draft can be a crapshoot.  Hansen was selected in the first round of the 2005 draft, 26th overall.  He was considered the closest to being Major League-ready.  It was largely speculated that Boston could bring him up right away for relief help down the stretch.  It was a move that was met with positive reviews, especially by Peter Gammons.  He was expected to be the closer of the future and fairly quickly.

Hansen did make the Major Leagues in 2005, but he only pitched in four games with a 6.00 ERA.  He was not ready yet.  He did make it back to the Major Leagues in 2006 and spent quite a bit of time there, but he was passed on the depth chart for closer by Jonathan Papelbon, who had a phenomenal rookie season.  Hansen struggled in 32 games, going 1-3 with a 6.63 ERA and 30 strikeouts versus 15 walks in 38 innings.  He showed some signs of the talent that made him a first-round pick.  He was still considered a work-in-progress.

Fearful that he had been rushed to the Majors and dealing with some injuries, Boston left him in the minors for the entire 2007 season and he did have a good year with a 3.86 ERA in 40 games.  In 2008 he was expected to make his return.  He had been diagnosed with sleep apnea and was taking some medication.  It was thought that that had contributed to his struggles.  He pitched well briefly in Pawtucket at the start of the season and was called back up to Boston in late April.  Unfortunately, he again struggled.  He pitched in 32 games with Boston in 2008, going 1-3 with a 5.58 ERA and walked almost as many as he struck out.

It was becoming clear than Hansen was not going to develop into the relief prospect he was expected to be in Boston, so he was shipped to Pittsburgh in the three-way Manny Ramirez deal.  Things actually got worse for the Pirates.  He pitched in 16 games with a 7.47 ERA and 20 walks versus just seven strikeouts.  He then only made it into five games for the Pirates in 2009, which was the last time he pitched in the Major Leagues.  He was in the Mets system as recently as a year ago, but has not been seen this year.

A Museum-Worthy Card

I have mentioned before that I do not buy much of the higher-end sets.  Rather than spend a bunch of money on packs or boxes, I usually prefer to just go for a couple of singles.  I hate spending a bunch of money on packs and boxes and not getting any Red Sox.  I really do not care to get high-end autos or relics of non-Red Sox.  I usually end up trading or selling them for stuff I do want.  

Enough of that.  Here is a Jumbo Lumber Relic of Shane Victorino.  My first relic of the new Red Sox outfielder.  He had a four hit game last night with a home run and five RBIs.  So he is starting to come around a bit.  This is my second single from Museum Collection, joining a Will Middlebrooks autograph, although I do have one redemption coming that I will show off when I get it, hopefully.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Topps Series 2 Blaster and a Mailday (Lots of Tradebait)

I get excited when a new product is about to be released.  It represents a new start, a blank slate, more Red Sox to get.  It also means that no cards in the first few packs are likely to be doubles.  So I have been strongly anticipating Topps Series 2.  Especially because a bunch of the team's new acquisitions were slated to be in the set as well as young players like Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway, and the rookie card of Jackie Bradley Jr.

So I picked up my first blaster of the year yesterday.  And it was pretty good to me:
1.  2013 Topps Target Red Clay Buchholz.  Buchholz is hurt right now but will hopefully be back in the rotation next week.

2.  2013 Topps Making Their Marks Will Middlebrooks.  Yet another Middlebrooks.  Again, hopefully he gets his bat going soon.

3.  2013 Topps Target Red Jose Iglesias.  Iglesias is on a tear right now.  No, it's probably not sustainable, and no he is not this good, but man has it been fun to watch.

4.  2013 Topps Gold Ryan Lavarnway.  You can't go wrong with a serial-numbered card out of a pack.

5.  2013 Topps David Ortiz.  My only Red Sox base card from the blaster.  I just wish it had been the photo variation.

My tradebait will be at the bottom of this post.

I also got this package in the mail.  It was a forum trade.  I sent a bunch of duplicates I had of Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield and got these:

6.  2004 Fleer Inscribed Black Curt Schilling.  I feel like Schilling is not as big in my collection as he should be.  This is due to my focus on Jason Varitek at the time he was in Boston.  So I always like adding more cards of him.

7.  2006 Topps Co-Signers Changing Faces Blue Curt Schilling/Matt Clement.  It is too bad Clement took that line drive to the face.  He was never the same pitcher after that and he looked pretty good in the first half of 2005, even making the All Star game.

8.  2007 Topps Chrome White Refractor Josh Beckett.  I never really warmed up all that much to Josh Beckett.  I liked him quite a bit in the 2007 season, but that was it.  He was pretty inconsistent in Boston, having a great season and then a bad one.  Still though, there are some good memories associated with Beckett.

9.  2006 Upper Deck Gold Josh Beckett.

10.  2006 Upper Deck Epic Josh Beckett.

11.  2006 SP Authentic Josh Beckett.  As you can see, I added a lot of Beckett cards.

12.  2006 SP Authentic Manny Ramirez.

13.  2006 Topps Co-Signers Changing Faces Gold David Ortiz/Curt Schilling.  I love these cards.  I need to add more from all years of this set.

14.  2006 Topps Turkey Red Chrome Manny Ramirez.  
This was the final card in the trade.  It is kind of strange, I have never seen anything like it.  It's an Authentic Lithocard numbered 18 out of 25 of Jacoby Ellsbury.  Strange, but pretty cool.

And now for the trade bait.  Feel free to comment or email if you want anything.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Group Break from Nachos Grande

I recently had an opportunity to do my first group break on the blogosphere when I took part in the 2013 Archives break over at Nachos Grande.  I do not always have the best luck in the world with packs and boxes so I figured I would rely on someone else to pull some good Red Sox for me.  I had bought in on some breaks last year on ebay that did not go terribly well, but I figured with three boxes, I should get something.

Here are the new Red Sox cards:
1.  2013 Topps Archives Will Middlebrooks.  Middlebrooks is getting very large in my collection.  Hopefully his bat will start to come around, otherwise he might find himself on the way out.

2.  2013 Topps Archives Ted Williams.  I love that The Splendid Splinter has found his way into Topps sets this year.

3.  2013 Topps Archives David Ortiz.

4.  2013 Topps Archives Mini Tallboy Dwight Evans.  I still think he belongs in the Hall.

5.  2013 Topps Archives Mini Tallboy Will Middlebrooks.  More Middlebrooks.

6.  2013 Topps Archives Mini Tallboy Ellis Burks.  Burks was an early favorite player of mine.  He won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 1990 for Boston.

7.  2013 Topps Archives Fred Lynn SP.  Nice 1975 design here.  Lynn of course had his RC in 1975 Topps

8.  2013 Topps Archives Ellis Burks SP.

9.  2013 Topps Archives Dwight Evans SP.  And thus I have all of the SPs for the Red Sox from the set.

So there you have it.  I just wish there had been an auto.  If anyone has the Dennis Boyd auto, I really need it..

Thanks Chris!

Another Series Win Against Rays

I am a little late to this.  I was in court all day today.  The Red Sox played three games in two days against the Rays and won the doubleheader but lost the single game.  Pretty weird huh?

06/18 Game 1:  Red Sox 5 (43-29) Rays 1
In a game that featured a nearly three hour rain delay, the Red Sox held off the Rays.  Alfredo Aceves got another spot start and took the win despite only pitching five innings and not having quite his best stuff as he walked three and gave up three hits.  Jacoby Ellsbury came within a home run of the cycle.

JACOBY ELLSBURY:  3 for 5, 3 runs, double, triple.

06/18 Game 2:  Red Sox 3 (44-29) Rays 1
Felix Doubront pitched very well through eight innings and was taken out with the lead.  But Andrew Bailey, who has been becoming a big issue closing games, gave up a game-tying home run.  Luckily Jonny Gomes came through with a walkoff two-run homer.

FELIX DOUBRONT:  8 innings, 3 hits, 6 strikeouts

06/19:  Rays 6 Red Sox 2 (44-30)
Boston had a chance until the bullpen unraveled in the seventh inning with Craig Breslow and Alex Wilson giving up three runs.  Pedro Beato made his first appearance for the Red Sox.  Jose Iglesias saw his 18 game hit streak come to an end.

JONNY GOMES:  2 for 4, 2 RBIs

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

No More Waiting Til Next Year

Recently I had the occasion to make a trade with another blogger.  Tom from Waiting 'Til Next Year posted some cards he got from the recent Archives promotion and included among those cards was the Jacoby Ellsbury.  I knew my chances of getting any Red Sox from this was pretty slim so I approached him about a trade and we managed to work something out.

Before we begin, he actually found one of the cards from my Top Ten.  Unfortunately it was one that was just purchased and I had it coming in.  Nevertheless, I really appreciated the care in finding stuff that I needed.
1.  2013 Topps Archives Day Glo Jacoby Ellsbury.  I have no idea why these cards keep coming off as pink on my scanner.  They are actually retina-scarring orange.  This is the card that started it all and I am thrilled to get it.

2.  2009 Tristar Obak Mini Junichi Tazawa.  I love that Tazawa is pitching well this season and being used a lot because it means that maybe, just maybe, there will be some more cards of him.  There are very few right now.  

3.  2009 Tristar Obak Junichi Tazawa.  With these two, I have doubled my cards of Tazawa.

4.  2009 Tristar Obak Lars Anderson.  Anderson was still expected to be the first baseman of the future at this point.  It did not work out.

5.  2009 Tristar Obak Ted Williams.  This card depicts Ted playing for the San Diego Padres, the minor league team in the 1930's that also produced Bobby Doerr and the DiMaggio brothers.

6.  2012 Triple Play Focus Dustin Pedroia.  I am not the biggest fan of Triple Play in its latest incarnation.  That being said, my love for cards outranks my dislike of individual sets.  I will definitely accept Triple Play in trades, I just likely won't buy them myself.

7.  2012 Triple Play Adrian Gonzalez.

8.  2012 Triple Play Dustin Pedroia.

9.  2012 Triple Play Jacoby Ellsbury.

10.  2013 Triple Play David Ortiz.

11.  2012 Triple Play Sticker Adrian Gonzalez.

12.  2012 Topps Opening Day Jon Lester.  I had a bunch of 2012 Opening Day on my wantlist.  Tom apparently looked at it and nailed the rest of the set that I needed.

13.  2012 Topps Opening Day Carl Crawford.  I just love this picture.

14.  2012 Topps Opening Day Josh Beckett.

15.  2012 Topps Opening Day Kevin Youkilis.

16.  2011 Topps Opening Day Mascots Wally the Green Monster.  Mascots are another thing that I don't typically seek out myself but am perfectly happy to add to my collection some other way.

17.  2012 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations Jacoby Ellsbury.  This one I love.  I like this insert set a lot.

18.  1992 Topps Kids Mike Greenwell.  Greenwell is one of my favorite players from the late 80's/early 90's.  He had a couple of great seasons early in his career and was just a consistent player for years afterwards.

19.  1988 Fleer Baseball's Best Roger Clemens.

20.  2013 Bowman Hometown/International William Cuevas.

21.  2012 Bowman International Brandon Jacobs.  I hope Jacobs can turn things around.  Since his breakthrough 2011 season, he has struggled significantly.

22.  2013 Bowman Chrome Cream of the Crop Bryce Brentz.  My second card from this insert set, I just need three more.  Anyone have them?

Thanks a ton for the trade Tom!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Additions from a Busy Weekend Plus Tradebait

I have quite a few new additions to show off from the last few days.

Up first is from some random packs of Archives.  I bought a couple of packs recently and also got some of the promotion packs the other day.  That got me the Wade Boggs and Dustin Pedroia base cards below.  The tradebait is at the end of the post.

Up next is a forum trade in which I gave up a jersey card and some other random stuff, but got these in return:
1.  2009 Topps Chrome Refractor Dustin Pedroia.

2.  2010 Topps 206 Mini Old Mill Jon Lester.

3.  2010 Finest Dustin Richardson Manu Patch/Auto RC.  This is the card I was really after.  Richardson did not last long for Boston, but this is a pretty cool looking card nonetheless.

Next was a trade for a 2013 Bowman Gold Parallel of Tony Cingrani.  I got a bunch of oddball and filler cards that I did not previously have.
4.  1988 Score Marc Sullivan.  Sullivan likely only got drafted in the second round because his dad was the general manager.  He was pretty terrible.

5.  1994 Topps Gold Aaron Sele.  Sele was very inconsistent from 1996 to 1997 and was traded to Texas where he managed to resurrect his career.  He went on to play several more seasons, mostly for Seattle.

6.  1996 Score Dugout Collection Erik Hanson.  Hanson had his only All Star berth with the Red Sox in 1995 where he went 15-5.

7.  1992 Leaf Black Gold Tim Naehring.

8.  1992 Leaf Black Gold Greg Harris.

9.  1989 Classic Travel Orange Mike Greenwell.

10.  1989 Classic Travel Orange Mike Boddicker.

Up next is another minor trade, this one for an Astros parallel I have had for more than ten years now.  It is the Gypsy Queen Mini SP of Ted Williams.  It was supposed to be the base, but I won't argue.

Finally, a small package that I picked up at the local card shop.  Just a couple of parallels of Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz.  The Ellsbury is the A&G back and the Ortiz is numbered to 99.

And here is the trade bait, mostly from Archives.  The bottom vintage cards are from the Vault Redemptions.  If anyone wants anything, let me know.

Monday, June 17, 2013

One-Year Wonder Pt. 20: John Olerud

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.
I really have not done John Olerud yet?  Huh.  A lot of people may not remember that Olerud played for Boston.  It was brief.  Very brief.  He had been with the Yankees in the latter part of 2004 but did not play well in the ALCS against the Red Sox.  He did not get a Major League contract until May of 2005 with the Red Sox.  He actually played briefly in Pawtucket, the Red Sox's AAA team, which was, believe it or not, the first time Olerud ever played in the minors.

John Olerud was kind of a big deal in my house growing up.  He was the first baseman for the Blue Jays for his first several seasons.  My younger brother was a big Blue Jays fan at the time.  Olerud was one of his favorite players and it was his trade to the Mets that started to sour him on baseball.  It was a pretty bad trade after all.

Olerud played in 87 games for the Red Sox in 2005.  He got quite a bit of time in due to injuries to Kevin Millar, among others, and actually played quite well.  Olerud finished the season with a line of .289/.344/.451 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs.  Not bad numbers, actually pretty decent.  Given that he was 36 at the time, they are actually fairly impressive numbers.

Unfortunately Olerud only made it into the 2005 Topps Update set.  He had the parallels of those cards as well.  It's a shame there are not more cards of Olerud with the Red Sox.

It was to be Olerud's last season in the Major Leagues.  I still think he should have gotten a little more consideration for the Hall of Fame.  He may not be quite worthy, but he should not have fallen off the ballot after the first year.

Red Sox Lose 3 out of 4 to O's

Well you can't win them all.  It was a rough weekend for Boston as they lost three games against the Orioles.  Sometimes teams just have your number and I guess Baltimore has been pretty tough against the Red Sox lately.

06/13:  Orioles 5 Red Sox 4 (41-27)
Boston managed to come back from down 3-0 and 4-2 to tie it in the seventh then could not come up with another run in the 13 inning game.  The winning run scored off of Alex Wilson on a bloop single with two outs.  The bullpen was impressive, but the offense sputtered.

ANDREW MILLER:  2 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts.

06/14:  Orioles 2 Red Sox 0 (41-28)
The offense could not come through at all.  Boston only managed three hits, two by Jose Iglesias.  Ryan Dempster pitched very well and deserved better than taking the loss.

JOSE IGLESIAS:  2 for 4, double

06/15:  Red Sox 5 (42-28) Orioles 4
They finally came through in this game with John Lackey pitching very well and getting offensive contributions from Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes.  They nearly gave it up however when Andrew Bailey struggled but they got out of it due to a baserunning gaffe by Alexi Casilla.

JONNY GOMES:  2 for 4, home run, 2 runs, RBI

06/16:  Orioles 6 Red Sox 3 (42-19)
And back to losing.  Jon Lester struggled yet again.  He did not walk anyone and struck out eight but gave up five runs in the losing effort.  

WILL MIDDLEBROOKS:  1 for 4, home run, 3 RBIs

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Red Sox Baseball in the Days of Ike and Elvis: The Red Sox of the 1950's

I am going to do something a little bit unusual here.  Father's Day coming up tomorrow has brought to mind one of the things that my dad has passed down to me: his love of reading.  My dad has always loved reading books, but unlike many people, he is a non-fiction reader.  It is this enjoyment that I have inherited from him. My dad has dozens of books about World War II.  If I am ever at a lack of something to get him for his birthday, Christmas, or Father's Day, I know I can always pick up a WWII book and that he will enjoy that.  I am the same way, except instead of WWII, I read anything and everything about the Red Sox.

My younger brother bought me this book for my birthday last month.  It was on my Amazon want list which he had access to.  I chose this book because it is a period that I have not read a lot about.  The Red Sox were mostly mediocre in the 1950's.  Sure they had some star players but they did not have much pitching and their refusal to dip into the talented Negro Leagues for players began to have a negative impact on the team's fortunes on the field.  The Red Sox had a highly talented team in 1950, lead by an incredible offense which collectively hit .302.  Yes, the team as a whole batted higher than .300.  That is incredible.  Unfortunately that was the height for the Red Sox in the 1950's and they declined significantly over the course of the decade.

The book is organized as short biographies on individual players for each chapter.  It sought to discuss some of the more notable names from the team over the decade.  I was a little surprised that Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky were all omitted, though most of their impact was felt in the 1940's rather than the 1950's.  All three would have two full seasons in the 1950's.

Obviously Ted Williams was the biggest star and he does have a lengthy section devoted to him.  But it is the lesser players that are far more interesting.  There are some fascinating stories about the failed bonus baby signings such as Marty Keough, Frank Baumann, Don Buddin, Ted Lepcio, and others.  These players had to be in the Major Leagues for two seasons following their signing without being sent to the minors, a practice that probably stunted their growths as Major League players and lead to disappointing careers.  Boston tried to develop young players but just had a lot of trouble getting anyone good, leading to a highly disappointing stretch of time in Boston.  Jimmy Piersall had a nervous breakdown and exhibited some bizarre behavior.  And of course there is the tragic story of Harry Agganis, one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of Boston but died in just his second season for the Red Sox of a pulmonary embolism.

Of course there were some good players.  Mel Parnell was the top pitcher and Tom Brewer had some good years.  Jackie Jensen was an MVP in 1958, but retired after the 1959 season due to a paralyzing fear of flying.  Dick Gernert had a couple of good seasons, along with underrated catcher Sammy White.  And then there are Vern Stephens, Frank Malzone, Pete Runnels, Bill Goodman, and Mickey Vernon.

Much of the reason that Boston struggled so much in the 1950's was the institutional refusal to sign black players.  Integration in the game helped many teams play better.  Here was a massive number of talented players that could be signed relatively cheaply.  Yet Boston was slow to respond, whether due to ownership or the general manager, it did not really matter.  Pumpsie Green was the team's first black player in 1959, a full 12 years after Jackie Robinson.  Boston had a chance with Robinson, Willie Mays, Sam Jethroe, and others.  But they did not take it.  And that hurt the team for years.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit.  It covered a number of players I did not know that much about and that is always what I look for in a book about the Red Sox, easily my favorite subject.

Season in Review: 2002

2002 was a season of transition for the Red Sox.  The team had been sold by the Yawkey Trust to a group headed by John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner.  Dan Duquette was almost immediately ousted as general manager and Mike Port was named interim GM.  There was hope from the beginning.  Grady Little had taken over as manager and Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, and Jason Varitek were all returning from injuries.  Boston finished in second place at 93-69, but missed out on the playoffs.

Nomar Garciaparra
Nomar returned from the wrist injury that sidelined him for almost all of 2001 and picked up right where he left off.  His average dipped to .310 but he hit 24 home runs and drove in 120 runs while scoring 101.  He came close to 200 hits and lead the league with 56 doubles as well.  It was a very impressive comeback season for the shortstop.

Pedro Martinez
Like Nomar, Pedro returned from a season-ending injury as well.  Martinez also made a strong comeback and finished in second place for the AL Cy Young Award with a record of 20-4 and leading the league in ERA (2.26), strikeouts (239), and WHIP (0.923).  He probably should have won it but this was still at a time when wins were considered most important.

Manny Ramirez
In his second year for the Red Sox, Manny had another terrific season, winning the AL batting title with a .349 mark and yet another Silver Slugger.  Ramirez also lead the team with 33 home runs and finished second to Nomar with 107 RBIs in just 120 games.  He also lead the league with a .450 on-base percentage.

Jason Varitek
Varitek is the last of the trio to return from injuries in 2002.  But his numbers were not nearly as impressive.  He struggled for most of the season and looked like a trade candidate after the season.  He hit .266/.332/.392 with 10 home runs and 61 RBIs.  Not bad numbers for a catcher but not as impressive as his previous seasons.

Derek Lowe
Lowe emerged as a somewhat surprising AL Cy Young candidate, finishing third in the vote when he won 21 games.  He pitched to a 2.58 ERA and struck out 127 in 219.2 innings.  The high point of his season was his no hitter against the Rays at Fenway Park, the first one since 1965 by a Red Sox pitcher.

Trot Nixon
Nixon built on a strong 2001 season with another good season.  He never really quite got the praise that he deserved as he hit .256/.338/.470 with 24 home runs and 94 RBIs, but was not named to the All Star game.  He was largely overshadowed by the other Red Sox outfielders.

Ugueth Urbina
In his first full season with the Red Sox, Urbina was named to the All Star team and picked up 40 saves while striking out 71 in 60 innings.  He was 1-6 with a 3.00 ERA but was let go after the season.

Shea Hillenbrand
The sophomore third-baseman had a good season in 2002 which would have been even better had he not slowed down a little bit in the second half.  Nevertheless he was elected to start the All Star game and looked like a rising star.  He hit .293/.330/.459 with 18 home runs and 83 RBIs.

Tim Wakefield
The knuckleballer had a good year in 2002 pitching in a variety of roles.  He started 15 games and finished 10 out of 45 total games.  He had a record of 11-5 with a 2.81 ERA and 134 strikeouts for one of his best seasons of his career.

Johnny Damon
Signed as a free agent from the Oakland Athletics, Damon gave the Red Sox a speed threat at the top of their lineup.  He was named to the All Star team in the first time fans were given the final vote.  Damon stole 31 bases and hit .286/.356/.443 with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs and lead the league with 11 triples.

Carlos Baerga
Baerga returned to the Major Leagues for the first time since 2000.  His role was limited and he only played in 73 games.  But it was his role in the clubhouse that made him a valuable player.  Baerga kept things loose and got along well with everyone.  He only hit .286/.316/.379 with two home runs, but he was nonetheless a valuable member of the team.

Rickey Henderson
It is not every day a future Hall of Famer comes to play for your favorite team.  Henderson had already secured his spot in Cooperstown by 2002 but he did not want to quit playing.  He still had a little bit left in the tank, hitting just .223 but he put up a .369 on base percentage, hit five home runs, and stole eight bases in just 72 games.

John Burkett
Burkett had a long career with the Giants, Marlins, Rangers, and Braves prior to joining the Red Sox rotation as a middle of the rotation starter.  He went 13-8 with a 4.53 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 173 innings.

Cliff Floyd
Floyd had an interesting year in 2002.  He started the season with the Marlins then was traded in early July to the Expos, then was traded later that month again to the Red Sox.  He hit well in his short time in Boston with a line of .316/.374/.561 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs.  After the season he was allowed to leave as a free agent, joining his fourth team in less than a year.

Alan Embree
The Red Sox needed some left-handed relief help and got a good one when they made a deal with the Padres for Embree.  Embree finished with a 1-2 record, 2.97 ERA, two saves, and 43 strikeouts in 33.1 innings.

Casey Fossum
Like Wakefield, the southpaw Fossum was a valuable member of the pitching staff due to his ability to pitch in a variety of roles.  Of his 43 games, Fossum started 12 and finished 13.  He had a 5-4 record with a 3.46 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 106.2 innings.

Tony Clark
The longtime Tiger had been placed on waivers after the 2001 season and was picked up by Boston.  It was a move that was largely praised but Clark failed to produce, hitting a horrendous .207/.265/.291 with just three home runs in 90 games, a far cry from his 20 home run days with the Tigers.

Darren Oliver
Carl Everett was traded to Texas and in exchange Boston got Oliver.  It was more of an addition by subtraction move, but it would have been nice if Oliver pitched well.  He did not, finishing with a 4-5 record and a 4.66 ERA and being released in July.