Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Unknown Heroes Before My Time Pt. 8: Mark Clear

I have mentioned my affinity for closers before.  Mark Clear was kind of a closer, though he pitched at a time when relief roles were not as well-defined as they are now.  Nevertheless there was no dispute that Mark Clear was a relief pitcher.  He pitched in 225 games with the Red Sox and never started a single one.  In fact, he started precisely one game in his entire career, in his ninth season.  Clear never really picked up a lot of saves, his career high was 16.  He did win a lot of games in a relief role though.

Clear was acquired in a trade with the Angels prior to the 1981 season along with Carney Lansford and Rick Miller for Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson.  Unlike the other trade with the Angels before the '81 season, this one worked out reasonably well for Boston.  Lansford won the batting title in '81 and kept third base warm for Wade Boggs.  Miller was a regular outfielder for a couple of years.  And of course Clear was a valuable member of the Red Sox bullpen for a few years.

Clear had his best season with the Red Sox in 1982.  He was an All Star that season and went 14-9 with a 3.00 ERA and 109 strikeouts and 61 walks in 105 innings.  He also saved 14 games.  Clear did have a tendency to walk too many batters, which was a big problem for him throughout his career, but he also racked up very nearly a strikeout an inning for his career (804 strikeouts in 804.1 innings).  Clear had a bad year in 1983 but rebounded nicely in 1984 and 1985.  He was then traded to the Brewers for utility infielder Ed Romero, a less than good trade for the Red Sox.

Mark Clear was not the most effective reliever, but he got the job done more often than not, plus he had one hell of a mustache.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Welcome to Boston Jake Peavy

The Red Sox today made a move to bolster their starting rotation by trading for White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy in a three-team deal.  Peavy won the Cy Young Award for San Diego back in 2007.  This year he was 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA and 76 strikeouts.  He missed some time due to a broken rib but that appears to be healed.  The acquisition of Peavy likely means that Boston is concerned about Clay Buchholz coming back.

Boston gave up Jose Iglesias, who goes to the Detroit Tigers.  I will definitely miss Iglesias's defense.  He had been hitting well this year until the last few weeks.  He is not a .330 hitter and Tigers fans expecting him to be are in for a rude awakening, but the defense is real.  I am disappointed because I loved watching Iglesias play, but to get a starting pitcher, you have to give up something and Iglesias is much more preferable to Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley Jr.  Boston also gave up J.B. Wendelken, Francellis Montas, and Cleulius Rondon,  to the White Sox, none of whom were on the 40 man roster and all of whom are a long way away from the Majors.

Boston will also get Brayan Villareal in the trade.  Villareal throws hard but does not have much of an idea of where it is going.  Avisail Garcia goes from the Tigers to the White Sox as well.

Massive Mailday

I recently completed a very large trade on the forums with another Red Sox fan.  It started off with his thread offering some higher-end cards for whatever cards he needed.  I picked out four cards to begin the trade:
1.  2011 Topps Throwback Manufactured Patch Adrian Gonzalez.  I still like getting good A-Gon cards, even if he is in L.A. these days.

2.  2010 Topps Update Cy Young.  This is one of the Legend short prints.  For some reason Topps put the Boston American franchise leaders in several categories.  Which is weird, because the Boston Americans are the Boston Red Sox.

3.  2012 Topps Update David Ortiz.  This is the short print version of this card.

4.  2011 Topps Hope Diamond Anniversary Josh Beckett.  I really wanted one of these parallels.  I had one card from a pack that was an Athletic, but it was traded a long time ago.  I finally added a Red Sox.  Even if it is Josh Beckett.  I just wanted one.

Most of the rest of the cards filled gaps in my collection.  But I am still very happy with every single one of them:
5.  1996 Ultra Alex Delgado.  I had no idea Delgado had another card.  I have the 1997 Pacific card, but that was the only one I was previously aware of.

6.  1996 Ultra Dwayne Hosey.  Hosey had a terrific stretch run in 1995 that got him the starting job in 1996, but he was not good enough to keep it.

7.  1996 Ultra Jose Malave.

8.  1996 Ultra Heathcliff Slocumb.  Slocumb actually had a WAR of 3.1 in 1996.  Pretty impressive for a closer.

9.  1996 Ultra Jeff Suppan.  Suppan was a highly touted prospect in 1996 but he did not really pan out, even though he did have a fairly long career.

10.  1996 Pinnacle Tom Gordon.  Gordon holds the team records for saves in a season.  I had the foil parallel of this previously.

11.  1996 Stadium Club Mike Stanton.  Not Giancarlo.  The other Mike Stanton.

12.  1996 Fleer Stan Belinda.

13.  1997 Fleer Jose Malave.
14.  1997 Fleer Tim Naehring.

15.  1998 Fleer Tradition Jeff Frye.  I like this shot.  Frye appears to be sliding into third just ahead of the throw.  You can see the ball coming in as well.

16.  1994 Donruss Danny Darwin.  Darwin had a great 1993 season that was completely unnoticed.  He lead the league in WHIP that season.

17.  1994 Ultra Paul Quantrill.  Quantrill had a long, successful career that included an All Star season in Toronto as a middle reliever.

18.  1994 Stadium Club Tony Fossas.  Fossas was the first LOOGY that I was aware of.  He last four seasons with the Red Sox and was a player I kind of liked that went under the radar.

19.  1994 Stadium Club Jeff McNeely.  McNeely was a speedy outfielder whose arrival was highly-anticipated for awhile.  He did not live up to it.

20.  1994 Stadium Club Danny Darwin.

21.  1994 Stadium Club Andre Dawson.  You can't go wrong with The Hawk, a Hall of Famer recently.  Though his best seasons were with the Expos and Cubs, Dawson's acquisition was really exciting to me when I was little.  

22.  1994 Stadium Club Greg Harris.
23.  1994 Stadium Club Andre Dawson/Tim Raines.  Both former outfielders with the Expos, both wearing Sox in this card.

24.  1994 Stadium Club Joe Hesketh.

25.  1994 Stadium Club Jeff Russell.  Russell took over as closer in 1993 and had a nice season, but disastrous in 1994.

26.  1994 Pacific Aaron Sele.  Coming off a season in which he was third in the AL ROY vote, Sele had a decent 1994, but injuries derailed his career.

27.  1994 Pacific Tim Naehring.

28.  1994 Pacific Mike Greenwell.

29.  1993 Donruss Scott Cooper.  Two-time All Star, believe it or not.  I recently had a discussion with someone online about whether he was a result of the every-team-represented rule.  I still think Boston had more deserving choices at other positions that could have been picked both years.  They just weren't.

30.  1993 Donruss Tony Fossas.

31.  1993 Donruss Scott Taylor.
32.  1993 Donruss Luis Rivera.

33.  1993 Donruss Billy Hatcher.  Hatcher had a rare straight steal of home for the Red Sox in 1992.

34.  1993 Donruss Tim Naehring.  He was highly-touted for years before finally settling in at third base in 1995, then suffered a career-ending knee injury in 1997.  Just bad luck.

35.  2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Justin Masterson.

36.  2009 Topps Heritage Takashi Saito.  Saito had a nice single season for Boston in 2009.

37.  2008 Upper Deck Timeline Justin Masterson.

38.  2008 Upper Deck Timeline Jonathan Van Every.  Van Every had a short stint in Boston which included an appearance on the pitching mound.

39.  2008 Upper Deck Timeline Chris Smith.  I like this card.  It is only my second card of Smith, who had a short stop in the majors with Boston.  This is the 1994 SP Diecut design.

40.  2008 Upper Deck Timeline Jacoby Ellsbury.  This is the 2004 Timeless Teams design.
41.  2008 Stadium Club Jason Bay.  I did not have much from 2008 Stadium Club.

42.  2007 Topps Update and Highlights Julian Tavarez.

43.  1995 Topps Wes Chamberlain.

44.  1995 Donruss Carlos Rodriguez.

45.  1995 Donruss Otis Nixon.  If not for the strike, Nixon would have bested Tommy Harper's club record for stolen bases.

46.  1995 Donruss Wes Chamberlain.  I love this shot too.  I wish I could figure out what is going on in it.

47.  1995 Donruss Andre Dawson.

48.  1995 Flair Mark Whiten.

49.  1995 Collector's Choice Rheal Cormier.  This was previously #3 on my Top 10 Most Wanted.  This card was only available as a mail-in offer.
50.  1996 Fleer Update Jose Malave.

51.  1996 Fleer Update Heathcliff Slocumb.

52.  1996 Pinnacle Aficionado Mike Stanley.

53.  1993 Select Update Scott Fletcher.

54.  1993 Select Update Scott Bankhead.

55.  1993 Leaf Scott Fletcher.

56.  1993 Stadium Club Frank Viola.

57.  1993 Pinnacle Carlton Fisk.  Nice Then & Now subset card here.

58.  1993 Pinnacle Joe Hesketh.
59.  1993 Pinnacle Jeff Russell.

60.  1993 Pinnacle Tim Naehring.

61.  1992 Conlon Smoky Joe Wood.  This card celebrates Wood's no-hitter.  I think he deserves another look for the Hall of Fame.

62.  1992 Conlon Dusty Cooke.  Cooke had a nice couple of seasons in Boston soon after Tom Yawkey took over.  It was a rare trade with the Yankees that worked out better for Boston.

63.  1992 Conlon Herb Pennock.  I am almost positive that this is the picture that was used for Pennock's Hall of Fame plaque.

64.  1992 Conlon Johnny Marcum.

65.  1992 Conlon Lou Finney.  Finney was an All Star in 1940 when he had a very good season for Boston.

66.  1992 Triple Play Greg Harris.  I finally got it.  What a great picture.
67.  1992 Pinnacle Matt Young.  That just looks painful.

68.  1992 Pinnacle Peter Hoy.

69.  1992 Pinnacle Mike Gardiner.

70.  1992 Pinnacle Joe Hesketh.

71.  1992 Pinnacle Luis Rivera.

72.  1991 Stadium Club Jeff Reardon.  I found I had a lot of holes from Stadium Club's first set.

73.  1991 Stadium Club Greg Harris.

74.  1991 Stadium Club Tom Brunansky.

75.  1991 Stadium Club Jeff Gray.  Gray had a very successful 1990 season and was doing well in 1991 before suffering a stroke.  His career was over.
76.  1991 Stadium Club Tim Naehring.

77.  1991 Stadium Club Luis Rivera.

78.  1991 Topps Archives 1953 Topps Dizzy Trout.  I would love to add the original card to my collection.  This is not bad for now.

79.  1990 Upper Deck Tom Brunansky.  I have no idea why I did not previously have this one.

80.  1990 Bowman Tony Pena.  Or this one.

81.  1993 Pinnacle Scott Fletcher.

82.  1981 Topps Traded Frank Tanana.  Acquired in a terrible trade in which Boston gave up Fred Lynn, Tanana had a bad year, was allowed to leave as a free agent, so Boston had nothing to show for losing Lynn.

83.  1981 Topps Traded Mark Clear.

84.  1981 Topps Traded Carney Lansford.  Also acquired in a trade with the Angels, this one was much better as Lansford won the batting title in 1981 while Rick Burleson suffered injuries and Butch Hobson's career was basically over.
86.  1981 Topps Traded Rick Miller.  Miller, Clear, and Lansford were all acquired in one trade with the Angels in which Boston gave up Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson.

87.  1981 Topps Traded Joe Rudi.  Rudi was acquired in the same trade as Tanana from the Angels.  Rudi of course was almost acquired in 1976 along with Rollie Fingers but the trade was nullified.

88.  1981 Donruss Win Remmerswaal.  The rare Dutch player who came to the United States to play baseball.  Remmerswaal unfortunately ran into injury problems and never reached his potential.

89.  1976 Topps Rico Petrocelli.  I really wanted some vintage cards of Rico.  I got two in this trade.

90.  1974 Topps Rico Petrocelli.

91.  1963 Topps Gene Conley.  Conley also played for the Celtics in the NBA while playing baseball.  He is most notable for his decision to walk off the team bus and attempt to fly to Jerusalem after a game.  He was gone for several days.

92.  1962 Topps Pumpsie Green.  Green of course was the first African American to play for the Boston Red Sox.

93.  1959 Topps Ike Delock.  At one point I considered trying to put together the 1959 Topps team set, as a fairly inexpensive one.  I still may do that.  

94.  1984 Donruss Mike Brown.
95.  1984 Donruss Rick Miller.  It says "Mike", but it's Rick.

96.  1984 Donruss Glenn Hoffman.

97.  1984 Donruss Mark Clear.

98.  1984 Donruss Ed Jurak.

99.  1984 Donruss John Henry Johnson.

100.  1984 Donruss Dave Stapleton.

101.  1984 Donruss Gary Allenson.

102.  1984 Donruss John Tudor.  I love this shot.  Tudor was part of a terrific wave of young pitchers Boston developed in the early 1980's that included Bruce Hurst, Bob Ojeda, Roger Clemens, and Oil Can Boyd.  They probably should have kept them together and they could have won a few pennants.

103.  1984 Donruss Luis Aponte.
104.  1985 Donruss Jackie Gutierrez.

105.  1985 Donruss Tony Armas.  Armas lead the league in home runs and RBIs in 1984.

106.  1985 Donruss Oil Can Boyd.

107.  1985 Donruss Marty Barrett.

108.  1985 Topps Jackie Gutierrez.

109.  1989 Upper Deck Rob Murphy.

110.  1990 Bowman Danny Heep.

111.  1990 Topps Box Bottom Jim Rice.  One of these days I am going to look into what Box Bottom cards I am missing.  I always liked these.

So there you go.  This is the second biggest trade I have ever pulled off.  I had a lot more holes than I thought I did.

R.I.P. Boomer

Former Red Sox first-baseman George Scott died on Sunday.  Nicknamed "Boomer", Scott was a beloved teammate.  He was a terrific defensive player who won eight Gold Glove Awards and even moved across the diamond to play third base for a couple of years.  Scott was second in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1966 and was in the top ten for MVP twice.  Scott came up through the Red Sox system and played there from 1966 through 1971 before being traded to the Brewers.  He lead the league in home runs and RBIs in 1975 while with the Brewers and then was traded back to the Red Sox where he played through part of the 1979 season.  He then played with the Royals and Yankees before retiring.

I never saw Scott play, nevertheless I love getting cards of him.  His 2004 Fan Favorites autograph was the first Red Sox autograph I pulled from a pack.

Orioles and Rays, Oh My

What a stupid title.  Anyway, I am a bit behind, so here is a catch-up post.

07/26:  Orioles 6 Red Sox 0 (61-43)
Boston continued to have problems scoring runs, as they did the entire series with the Rays.  This time Chris Tillman utterly shut them down.

DRAKE BRITTON:  1 IP, 2 strikeouts.

07/27:  Red Sox 7 (62-43) Orioles 3
Ryan Dempster was the stopper in this one, which featured three home runs, one which had to be reviewed.  This also featured some fireworks from David Ortiz, who argued a strike call on a 3-0 count, then was ejected.  He took his anger out on the bullpen phone which was replaced by cans with string by Dempster and Jonny Gomes.

STEPHEN DREW:  3 for 5, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs, 3 runs.

07/28:  Red Sox 5 (63-43) Orioles 0
Jon Lester may have gotten his earlier problems under control as he pitched seven strong, shutout innings and struck out eight.

DAVID ORTIZ:  4 for 4, Home Run, 2 Runs, 2 RBIs.

07/29:  Rays 2 Red Sox 1 (63-44)
David Price once again shut down the Red Sox offense.  Boston should have tied the game on a fly ball in the eighth but the umpire missed Daniel Nava slide in safe.  He later admitted to the mistake, but it cannot be undone.  Frustrating loss.

BRANDON SNYDER:  1 for 3, Home Run.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Unknown Heroes Pt. 33: Darren Bragg

If Darren Bragg were not the only player Boston received in the trade of Jamie Moyer to the Seattle Mariners I think a lot of people would have liked him more, or at least remembered him more fondly.  Bragg was the type of player that Boston fans love.  He was not the most talented player in the world, but he played hard all the time.
The acquisition of Bragg coincided with the resurgence of the team in 1996.  He added a spark to the top of the lineup.  He did not play particularly well, from a numbers standpoint, but his energy rubbed off.  For the rest of the 1996 season, which he mostly spent in center field, Bragg hit .252/.357/.365 with three home runs and six stolen bases.  He walked almost as much as he struck out.
The 1997 season saw Bragg play in a career-high 153 games as the team's regular center fielder.  He hit .257/.337/.386 with nine home runs, 57 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases.  He was also a terrific defensive player, finishing first in fielding percentage and third in defensive WAR that season.  

1998 was his final season in Boston and Bragg had his best season.  He hit .279/.351/.423 with eight home runs, 57 RBIs, and 29 doubles.  Bragg also continued to play terrific defense despite becoming more of a fourth outfielder.  Boston had Darren Lewis and Damon Buford to go along with Darren Bragg between right and center field. 

My fondest memory of Bragg is this play off of future Red Sox star David Ortiz:

Bragg was non-tendered after the 1998 season and bounced around for several seasons, never again playing as much as he did for Boston from 1996 through 1998.

Season in Review: 2004

2004 is easily the most memorable season in Red Sox history.  This is the season they won the World Series for the first time since 1918.  They won the Wild Card, finishing second in the AL East to the Yankees.  They quickly swept the Anaheim Angels in the ALDS and then met the Yankees in the ALCS.  After falling behind three games to none, including a 19-8 drubbing in the third game, Boston came all the way back to take the AL pennant in dramatic fashion.  They caused Mariano Rivera to blow saves in both the fourth and fifth games.  Then they swept the Cardinals in an anticlimactic World Series in which they never trailed at any point.  This was the first season for Terry Francona as manager.

David Ortiz
Ortiz's second season in Boston proved that his 2003 season was not a fluke.  Ortiz was a first-time All Star, won the Silver Slugger as he finished second in the league in home runs, RBIs, and slugging percentage.  Ortiz hit .301/.380/.603 with 41 home runs and 139 RBIs as he finished fourth in the MVP vote.  The best was yet to come in the postseason.

Jason Varitek
2004 was one of the Boston catcher's best seasons.  He achieved career highs in hits, stolen bases, batting average, and on-base percentage.  Varitek hit .296/.390/.482 with 18 home runs and 73 RBIs.  He also stole 10 bases on the season.  He was also a calming presence behind the plate and had a memorable scuffle with Alex Rodriguez in July.

Manny Ramirez
After being put on irrevocable waivers the previous winter and subject to trade rumors, Ramirez returned to have quite possibly his greatest season with the Red Sox.  Ramirez lead the league in home runs with 43 and slugging percentage and OPS.  He hit .308/.397/.613 with 43 home runs and 130 RBIs.  He was also an All Star, won the Silver Slugger, and finished third in the MVP vote.  He was the World Series MVP as well.

Pedro Martinez
The great right-hander was slightly more human in 2004 and particularly had difficulties with the Yankees.  It was his final season in Boston, but he still finished the season 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 217 innings.  He was fourth in the Cy Young vote.

Johnny Damon
After suffering a concussion in the ALDS in 2003 from running into Damian Jackson, Damon returned with long hair and a full beard.  He had a terrific all-around season in 2004 hitting .304/.380/.477 with 20 home runs, 94 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases.  He also had an impressive performance in the playoffs, hitting two home runs with six RBIs in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Derek Lowe
It was not a successful season for Lowe, despite winning 14 games.  He had an ERA of 5.42 and lost 12 games.  However, he won the deciding games in all three playoff series.  It was his final season in Boston as well, but he had a memorable stint with the team.

Trot Nixon
The original Dirt Dog was injured for a large chunk of 2004 and only made it into 48 games in the regular season, but when he did return he hit .315/.377/.510 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.  He also hit particularly well in the World Series.

Kevin Millar
Millar followed up his successful 2003 season with another good season in 2004.  He hit .297/.383/.474 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs.  He lost a little playing time after the acquisition of Doug Mientkiewicz.

Bill Mueller
The third-baseman also had a solid season in 2004.  It was not quite as impressive as his 2003 season, but Mueller still hit .283/.365/.446 with 12 home runs and 57 RBIs.

Curt Schilling
Schilling had been in the Red Sox system before.  He was drafted by the team and was traded to the Orioles in 1989.  He returned in a blockbuster trade around Thanksgiving and immediately paid dividends.  He lead the league with 21 wins and finished second in the Cy Young race.  He was 21-4 with a 3.26 ERA and 203 strikeouts and of course was one of the biggest heroes in the postseason after he had an experimental surgical procedure on his ankle.

Keith Foulke
The major thing Boston lacked in 2003 was a shutdown closer.  They got that with Foulke in 2004.  Foulke saved 32 games with a 2.17 ERA and was lights out in the postseason.

Orlando Cabrera
Acquired in the four-team trade which sent Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs and also brought Doug Mientkiewicz to the Red Sox, Cabrera had some big shoes to fill.  But he performed well, hitting .294/.320/.465 with six home runs and 31 RBIs and played terrific defense.

Dave Roberts
Roberts's acquisition flew under the radar a little bit but he proved to be an exceptionally valuable player off the bench.  He only stole five bases in the regular season but he stole a base against Mariano Rivera in Game 4 of the ALCS that was the turning point in the series.

Kevin Youkilis
Filling in for injuries to Bill Mueller, Kevin Youkilis made his Major League debut in 2004.  He displayed his impressive ability to get on base but only hit .260/.367/.413 with six home runs and 35 RBIs.  He was on the postseason roster but only played in one game.

Nomar Garciaparra
Nomar was hurt by his inclusion in trade rumors and the inability to reach a contract agreement.  He was also hurt physically.  He played well when he was active, hitting .321/.367/.500 with five home runs and 21 RBIs, but he was clearly angry and definitely hurt.  Boston decided it could not rely on him that season and did not see it as likely that he would re-sign and traded him to the Cubs.

David Ortiz
There were a number of heroes in 2004.  Curt Schilling, Alan Embree, Keith Foulke, Johnny Damon, Mark Bellhorn, Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon, Derek Lowe, and Jason Varitek all were memorable for one reason or another.  But when one looks back at the 2004 postseason, one thinks of David Ortiz who had walkoff hits in three games and hit five home runs.

Friday, July 26, 2013

1991 Topps #356 Mike Marshall

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
I would bet that most people had no idea that Mike Marshall, the one-time Los Angeles Dodger slugger, ever played for the Red Sox.  But he did, for about 52 games over two seasons.  Marshall was not that far-removed from being a productive player.  He was just 30 years old in 1990 and had hit 20 home runs in 1988.  He declined significantly in 1989 and then was traded to the Mets in a deal for Juan Samuel.

In 1990, Marshall started the season with the Mets and then a few days before the trading deadline, the Red Sox sent three minor leaguers to New York to add some pop to their offense.  Marshall hit reasonably well for Boston that season.  He finished his time in Boston with a line of .286/.316/.464 but hit just four home runs and drove in 12.  He also struck out 26 times versus just four walks.  1991 saw him hit .290 with no walks in 22 games and then he was released.  

Mike Marshall is one of the players I have the fewest cards of from the 1991 Topps set.  That is mostly due to his short stint in Boston.  Still a nice picture though.

Red Sox With No Cards Pt. 8: Scott Atchison

This one bothers me.  Well, they all bother me a little bit.  But this one is pretty inexcusable in my eyes.  Scott Atchison pitched for three years in Boston and made it into 102 games.  He pitched 141.2 innings out of the bullpen and was often a very good pitcher.  I hate that he did not get a single card in those three years in Boston.

Atchison was originally acquired in 2007, but was sold to Japan.  He came back in 2009 after the season.  In 2010, he was 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 43 games.  He struck out 41 and walked 19 in 60 innings.  In 2011, he was up and down quite a bit and only pitched in 17 games, but he did have a 3.26 ERA.  Then in 2012, he was very good.  Atchison pitched in 42 games and 51.1 innings.  He had a sparkling ERA of 1.58 and struck out 36 versus just nine walks.  Atchison was let go after the season and signed with the Mets.  He has been pretty good this year for them too.

Now how did he get missed when the Update set came around?  See, this is why we need Topps Total back.

Cracks are Showing

Boston has started to stumble a little bit lately.  Hopefully the ship will be righted soon, but the way Tampa Bay has been playing lately, it may not happen while they are still in first place.  This week was a scheduled four game set at Fenway against the Rays, but the last game was rained out.  When the clouds cleared, Boston was clinging to a half game lead after losing two of the three against the Rays stellar pitching.

07/22:  Rays 3 Red Sox 0 (60-41)
Matt Moore completely shut down the Red Sox.  Brandon Workman pitched well, but the offense completely stalled.  The only hits were from David Ortiz and Mike Napoli.

BRANDON WORKMAN:  6 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, Loss.

07/23:  Red Sox 6 (61-41) Rays 2
Boston's only win of the series came on the strength of Jon Lester's arm as he pitched as well as he has in weeks.  The Red Sox did execute a rare double steal of second and home with Pedroia taking second and Victorino taking home on the throw, which included an error.

JON LESTER:  6.1 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts, Win.

07/24:  Rays 5 Red Sox 1 (61-42)
Boston again had a strong starting pitching performance, but the Rays again had a better one.  Mike Napoli homered off David Price, but that was all the offense could muster against the reigning Cy Young Award Winner.

FELIX DOUBRONT:  6.2 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, Loss.

An Incredible Vintage Mailday

Before I get to the big one that I got in the mail yesterday, I wanted to start off with a smaller one, but one I am still very happy with.
1.  2012 Topps Golden Moments Jim Rice.  You can't go wrong adding cards of any Hall of Famer.  Rice took a long time to get in, but he did, and whatever your feelings are about his inclusion, you can't take him out.

2.  2012 Topps Update Target Red Matt Albers.  I like this one because the Update set is the only set that Albers appeared in with the Red Sox even though he had already been traded for Craig Breslow by the time this came out.

3.  2012 Topps Update Target Red Felix Doubront.  I am a big Doubront fan.  Even moreso now that he has been pitching so well.

4.  2001 Topps Archives Reserve Jim Piersall.  I need to see Fear Strikes Out at some time.  Piersall is of course one of the more colorful characters in Red Sox history.  Unfortunately the time in which he played was not very good at understanding mental illness and Piersall was definitely mentally ill.

5.  2001 Topps Archives Reserve Dom DiMaggio.  Joe's little brother was at least as good as Joe in the outfield and a fine hitter in his own right.  I do think that had he not missed three full seasons of his prime to military service he may be a candidate for the Hall of Fame.  

And now for the big one: 
6.  1940 Play Ball Moe Berg.  I have never before bought a graded card but I made an exception here.  I wanted a pre-WWII card for quite some time and I really wanted a Moe Berg card from his playing days.  I have read The Catcher was a Spy in the past and am fascinated with his career.  He is probably the most well-known third-string catcher in history.  So the competing interests came together last weekend and I splurged a little and bought this.  I don't really care for the graded aspect of it, but I figured if I was going to own an old card, it might as well be protected.  And the price was not much different from a non-graded card.  It is now my oldest card in my collection.

Forgotten Stars Pt. 4: Rico Petrocelli

When a team that has as long a history as the Red Sox it is natural to have players who have been largely forgotten.  These are some players who simply do not get mentioned anymore or are largely forgotten.
For a few decades the A.L. single-season home run record for shortstops was held by Rico Petrocelli.  This was well before the days of Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Alex Rodriguez.  For a long time, shortstops just did not hit that many home runs.  Yet Petrocelli hit 40 in 1969.  What is even more odd is that Petrocelli never hit more than 29 home runs in any other season.

Rico Petrocelli arrived in Boston in the mid 1960's, a time when the team's fortunes were down quite a bit.  Petrocelli was a slick-fielding shortstop with some pop, but not a consistent hitter.  He hit .232/.309/.412 with 13 home runs and 33 RBIs in 103 games his first full season.  He played in more games and his power numbers increased the following season.  

Petrocelli would be one of the central players on the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox.  The shortstop was named a starter on the All Star team as he hit .259/.330/.420 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs.  He was also an exceptional defensive player that year.  In the World Series, Petrocelli hit two home runs.

1968 was a bit of a down year as he dealt with some injuries, but in 1969, his numbers exploded.  He hit .297/.403/.589 with 40 home runs and 97 RBIs, having one of the best offensive seasons for a shortstop to that point.  WAR did not exist at that time, but his 10.0 was tops in the league retroactively.  He also walked 98 times, versus 61 strikeouts.  He was an All Star for the second time in his career.

Unfortunately he would never hit quite that well again.  1970 saw him hit .261/.334/.473 with 29 home runs and 103 RBIs.  In 1971, Petrocelli moved to third base due to the acquisition of future Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio.  Petrocelli continued to play very well on defense.  1971 was also his last big offensive season as he hit .251/.354/.461 with 28 home runs and 89 RBIs.  He would never again hit more than 15 home runs.

Petrocelli played through the 1976 season and was the regular third baseman through 1975.  He made another World Series appearance in '75 and hit .308 with four RBIs.  

Petrocelli had a nice career but largely falls into the good-but-not-great category.  He played 13 seasons and had career numbers of .251/.332/.420 with 210 home runs and 773 RBIs.  But for three seasons, Petrocelli had some of the biggest offensive seasons of any shortstop to that point in history.  He was the rare player who had a lot of power, yet played very well on defense.  It was exceptionally rare for a middle infielder.    

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dime Boxes and Nachos Grande

My trial is over and I am able to breathe a sigh of relief and focus on some baseball cards.  Excellent.  Today I am showing off a couple of packages that I received from a couple of prominent bloggers.

First up is a few cards that I got from Nick, he who specializes in the Dime Boxes.  Nick recently showed off some Pacific Online cards that he had.  I noticed that many of them were red, which was apparently the color of the retail base set.  I realized later I did have the Jason Varitek card from this, which is not unusual for me.  Anyway, I asked about Red Sox he received because I love this Pacific set, based entirely on the terrific player selection.  Online is my favorite of the big team collector sets because all of the players played in the Major Leagues, unlike Topps Total and UD 40 Man.
1.  1998 Pacific Online Web Cards Steve Avery.  The gold-foil parallel came one-per-pack.  Avery was signed to a contract soon after Roger Clemens left town.  He had been a big winner with the Braves in the early 90's, but he had been struggling for several years by the time he joined the Red Sox.  And he was pretty bad both years in Boston.

2.  1998 Pacific Online Red Darren Bragg.  It is a shame that Bragg is all Boston had to show for the Jamie Moyer trade because he was the kind of scrappy, hard-nosed players that fans love.  He played hard all the time.  I remember one time he fell into the stands in right field making a catch of a home run ball, just a great play.

3.  1998 Pacific Online Red Jim Corsi.  Corsi was a local boy from Newton, MA and so he was an immediate fan favorite.  He was a very important part of the bullpen in 1997 and 1998.  Yet this is the only set he appeared in.  I wish there was still one set out there that had a huge player selection so the Jim Corsis (Andrew Miller, Scott Atchison, etc.) of the world could still get cards.

4.  1998 Pacific Online Red Pedro Martinez.  The Great Pedro.  Surefire Hall of Famer.  What else is there to say?

Thanks Nick!

And next is a part of a group break that I participated in over at Nachos Grande.  This was a two box break of 2012 Archives and 2013 Topps.  I took a chance on it, even though I already had a lot of the stuff from both.  Up next are the new cards I got in this break:
5.  2013 Topps Jonny Gomes.  Gomes embodies the spirit of the Red Sox team this year more than anyone.  He plays hard, even though he is not the most talented guy in the world, yet he gets things done and he comes through in the clutch.  He has already won a couple of games on walk-off home runs this year.  I foresee an Unknown Heroes post.

6.  2013 Topps Koji Uehara.  He has become the team's closer.  He was an underrated signing that has come through in a big way.  I wish he could have been an All Star.  I voted for him.

7.  2013 Topps Felix Doubront.  He has improved quite a bit and become one of the most reliable starters on the team.

8.  2013 Topps Gold Jackie Bradley Jr.  Easily my favorite card I received in this package.  I am looking forward to his return.  I just hope it does not mean Jacoby Ellsbury's departure.

9.  2013 Topps Joel Hanrahan.  Boston is having bad luck trading for closers and has lost a number of good young players trying it.  Hanrahan is the latest failure as he blew a couple games and then was lost for the season.  Too bad.

Thanks Chris!

More Trades

A couple of quick trades from the old forums here today.  I have been pretty busy at work these past few days, trial scheduled for tomorrow and all.  But anyway, here we go:

Up first was a trade that got me a couple of dufex parallels and inserts from 2005 Zenith.  I love these cards and am always on the lookout for more.
1.  2005 Zenith Artist's Proof Tim Wakefield.  I love cards of the knuckleballer.  He could be maddening to watch when that knuckleball was not knuckling, but he was such as important part of the team for so long.

2.  2005 Zenith Artist's Proof Wade Boggs.  Boggs was a hitting machine.  And he was my first favorite player.

3.  2005 Zenith Positions David Ortiz/Todd Helton/Albert Pujols.  I don't really understand this card.  You would think it would be three players that played the same position, but Ortiz really is not a first-baseman and the National League doesn't have the DH.  I don't get it.

4.  2005 Zenith Z Team Curt Schilling.  I saw Schill on TV tonight.  He has gained a lot of weight.  And he is kind of annoying.  But still, Game 6 of the ALCS and Game 2 of the World Series in 2004 have a way of making up for all of that.

After that was a big trade that got me quite a bit of good stuff:
5.  2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Black Border Carl Yastrzemski.  Nice mini here of Yaz.  I have been reading a book about the Red Sox lately and Yaz's preparation for games was unmatched during his time.  He was not blessed with as much natural talent as others, but he certainly worked hard.

6.  1982 Topps Sticker Mark Clear.  Clear was a major reliever for the Red Sox in the early 1980's and was an All Star in 1982.

7.  1982 Topps Sticker Carney Lansford.  Before Boggs, Carney was the team's third-baseman and won the batting title in 1981.

8.  1982 Topps Sticker Dwight Evans.  Evans could be on the Veterans' Committee ballot this Fall.  Hopefully he will get some more consideration than he got on the BBWAA ballot.  He really was one of the best players of the 1980's, a decade that is getting very little love.

9.  1989 O-Pee-Chee Sticker Dwight Evans/Don Robinson/Mark Davis.  These are interesting.  The Davis picture is on the back.

10.  1989 O-Pee-Chee Sticker Bruce Hurst/Cal Ripken Jr.  This is what the backs of these things look like.

11.  2013 Topps Archives Day Glo Ted Williams.  This was the card that set this whole trade in motion.  I love getting cards of The Splendid Splinter.

12.  1995 Fleer Update Jose Canseco.  Canseco, on the other hand, not as much.  But as a Red Sox fan, I have to get everything.

13.  2009 Upper Deck Starquest Gold Rare Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia got his contract extension yesterday.  Well-deserved if you ask me.

14.  2009 Upper Deck Starquest Gold Rare Josh Beckett.
15.  2009 Upper Deck X Xponential Dustin Pedroia.

16.  2009 Upper Deck X Xponential Jacoby Ellsbury.

17.  1996 Collector's Choice Gold Signature Mo Vaughn.  The Hit Dog was another early favorite player of mine.  After Boggs left for the Yankees, Vaughn became the team's best hitter.

18.  2012 Bowman Chrome Refractor Carl Crawford.  It's nice to see him playing well again for the Dodgers.  But I am disappointed he never played this well in Boston.

19.  2012 Topps Chrome Refractor Kevin Youkilis.

20.  2012 Topps Chrome Refractor Jacoby Ellsbury.

21.  2012 Topps Chrome Orange Refractor Adrian Gonzalez.  Gonzalez's one full season in Boston featured an All Star selection, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger.

22.  2012 Topps Chrome Purple Refractor Ryan Lavarnway.  His chances of becoming the starting catcher are starting to dwindle I think.  Especially since Boston appears loaded at catcher in the minors, thanks to Christian Vazquez, Dan Butler, Blake Swihart, and Jon Denney.

23.  2012 Topps Chrome Purple Refractor Will Middlebrooks RC.  I will always remember Middlebrooks fondly for the two home runs he hit in the game against the Royals I attended last year.  Jose Iglesias is starting to struggle, so Middlebrooks may be back up soon.