Friday, August 30, 2013

Assorted Cards, 1953 Archives, and Pinnacle

Lots of stuff in today.  A couple of packages that came in featured a fairly large number of new cards.  That is always fun.  

The first one is a buy I pulled off on one of the forums.  It filled in a bunch of holes from the 80's and 90's, with a few other cards thrown in.
1.  2013 Bowman Hometown/International Jacoby Ellsbury.  The biggest question of the offseason is whether or not Boston will re-sign their center-fielder.  He stole his 50th base of the season last night.  His personal record (and the team's) is 70.  He stands an outside shot at beating that number.

2.  1983 Fleer Bruce Hurst.  One of the best left-handed pitchers in Red Sox history.  Hurst was named the 1986 World Series MVP right before the team unraveled in the sixth game.

3.  1994 Topps Gold Tim Naehring.  It would have been interesting to see how good Naehring could have been had injuries not ended his career.

4.  1994 Topps Gold John Dopson.

5.  1994 Pinnacle Billy Hatcher.

6.  2009 Upper Deck Spectrum Mike Lowell.  Lowell actually was the World Series MVP, in 2007.

7.  2009 Upper Deck Spectrum J.D. Drew.  I am a Drew supporter.  I think he had a very good term for the Red Sox.

8.  2009 O-Pee-Chee Daisuke Matsuzaka.

9.  2009 O-Pee-Chee Jed Lowrie.
10.  2009 Upper Deck Spectrum David Ortiz. 2004 ALCS MVP.

11.  2008 Topps Heritage New Age Performers Manny Ramirez.  Another World Series MVP, this one in 2004.

12.  2008 Topps Heritage New Age Performers Josh Beckett.  2007 ALCS MVP.

13.  2007 SP Rookie Edition Curt Schilling.  Schilling should be in the Hall of Fame.

14.  2008 Upper Deck First Edition Coco Crisp.

15.  2007 Upper Deck First Edition Craig Hansen.  A 1st round draft pick bust.  Luckily Boston picked up Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz in the same draft.

16.  2005 Topps 1st Edition Trot Nixon.  One of my favorite players in the early 2000's.

17.  2005 Topps 1st Edition Terry Francona.  Easily the most successful manager in Red Sox history, Francona could be considered for the Hall of Fame himself, particularly if he helps the Indians improve.

18.  2008 Bowman Josh Beckett.
19.  1995 Ultra Mike Macfarlane.  Yes he is shown in a Royals uniform, but that Red Sox logo is all that matters for me.

20.  1998 Score Rookie/Traded Michael Coleman.  I had high hopes for Coleman, but he simply never got a real shot.

21.  2005 Topps 1st Edition Johnny Damon.  Complete with long hair and beard.

And next we have a trade that got me almost the entire team set from the 1991 Topps Archives set reprinting the 1953 set, with some new additions.  I had Dom DiMaggio and Dizzy Trout already.  I still need Mel Parnell now.
22.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Gene Stephens.  One of the biggest problems with the Red Sox in the 1950's was not letting prospects play.  That was the problem with Gene Stephens who could have been a decent outfielder if he had been given a chance.  Instead, he rotted away on the bench and by the time Boston started to play him, it was too late.

23.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Sid Hudson.

24.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Milt Bolling.  Another problem was rushing players.  Bolling fell into that camp.  He simply was not ready.

25.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Jimmy Piersall.  This is one of the new additions to the set that was not in the 1953 set.  Piersall was a fantastic defensive player, but he had a mental breakdown.  After spending some time in an institution, he returned and became a star.  He wrote his autobiography Fear Strikes Out which was also adapted into a movie.

26.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Hoot Evers.  Another new addition, Evers was acquired in the trade that sent icon Johnny Pesky to Detroit.

27.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Lou Boudreau.  Another new addition and a Hall of Famer with the Indians.  He is credited with the Ted Williams shift.

28.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Ted Williams.  I have no idea why Williams was not in this set.

29.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Billy Goodman.  Goodman won the batting title in 1950 despite not having a permanent position.  He played a lot of third and left field, as well as a variety of other positions. 

30.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Ted Lepcio.  Another prospect that was rushed to Boston.
31.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Willard Nixon.

32.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Faye Throneberry.  Marv's brother.

33.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Maurice McDermott.  He was a fascinating personality and lived life a little bit too hard.  He was Bill Lee before Bill Lee, and he was a southpaw.

34.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Gus Niarhos.

35.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Dick Brodowski.  One of Night Owl's favorite cards is the original of this one.

36.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives William Kennedy.

37.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives George Kell.  Kell was also acquired in the Pesky deal.  Kell had a decent stint with the Red Sox and is in the Hall of Fame.

38.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Sammy White.  White was an underrated catcher for the Red Sox in the 1950's.

39.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Bill Werle.  
40.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Al Zarilla.

41.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Hal Brown.

42.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Clyde Vollmer.

43.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives John Lipon.

44.  1991 Topps 1953 Archives Ellis Kinder.  A terrific pitcher who apparently pitched a lot better drunk than sober.  That is certainly interesting.

Finally, a quick trade for some Pinnacle singles.
45.  2013 Pinnacle Shane Victorino.  Victorino is red-hot this week.  He is having a surprisingly good season and looks well-worth his contract.

46.  2013 Pinnacle Dustin Pedroia.

O's What a Series

Another bad pun.  I am terrible.

08/27:  Red Sox 13 (78-55) Orioles 2
An offensive explosion behind the impressive pitching performance of Felix Doubront.  This is the way it should be.  Anyone have Doubront cards to trade?

SHANE VICTORINO:  3 for 3, 4 runs, 7 RBIs, 2 home runs, double, walk, hit by pitch.

08/28:  Red Sox 4 (79-55) Orioles 3
Mike Carp had the winning hit, a blooper just over Manny Machado's outstretched glove in the eighth inning.

DUSTIN PEDROIA:  1 for 2, 2 run single to tie the game.

08/29:  Orioles 3 Red Sox 2 (79-56)
Boston cannot seem to solve Chris Tillman and David Ortiz cannot solve Brian Matusz.

DANIEL NAVA:  3 for 4, run, 2 doubles.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 18: Vern Stephens

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.
Vern Stephens is a player that I believe merits some more Hall of Fame consideration.  Stephens was a rare power-hitting shortstop in the 1940's and 1950's.  At that time period most shortstops were defensive specialists and those that were good hitters were contact hitters (such as the Red Sox Johnny Pesky).  Stephens lead the league in home runs once and RBIs twice, something that was pretty rare for a shortstop at the time.

Stephens put together a career line of .286/.355/.460 with 247 home runs, 1,859 hits, and 1,174 RBIs.  His batting average was higher than such shortstop Hall of Famers as Ernie Banks, Pee Wee Reese, Cal Ripken, Jr., Phil Rizzuto, and Robin Yount.  He had a higher OBP than Banks, Ripken, Rizzuto, and Yount as well.  His slugging was better than the career marks of all shortstops in the Hall of Fame other than Banks, Joe Cronin, and Honus Wagner.  He had more hits than Lou Boudreau, Travis Jackson, Hughie Jennings, Rizzuto, and Joe Tinker.  He had more home runs than every shortstop in the Hall of Fame except Banks (who played a lot of first base), Yount (who played a lot of center field), and Ripken.  And he had more RBIs than all but Banks, Cronin, George Davis, Ripken, Wagner, and Yount.  It is very clear that Stephens's offensive numbers put him high among shortstops already in the Hall of Fame.

So, what happened?  Why is Vern Stephens not in the Hall of Fame?  After some extensive Google searching, the best reason I can come up with is that voters felt that he was a product of Fenway Park.  While it is certainly true that his best seasons occurred in Boston, he was a star shortstop for years in St. Louis with the Browns before he came to Boston.  Of course that stretch in Boston was huge.  In three seasons from 1948 to 1950, Stephens hit .285/.367/.507 with 98 home runs and 440 RBIs.  He was never quite that good before or since.  Those numbers certainly inflated his numbers, but he had been a good player before that.  He had been an All Star three times before those seasons and finished in the Top 10 in the MVP vote for the league four times as well.  

Stephens is possibly hurt a little bit as well by his success during the WWII seasons.  He was a strong player from 1942 through 1945 when a number of star players were serving in the War.  Finally, the strong crop of offensive shortstops in the 1990's hurts his chances. 

Stephens was basically washed up by the time he was 32, but he was a very productive shortstop for several years.  I think he deserves some more consideration.

Free A&G Cards and a Julio Lugo Hit (?)

There are some kind people on the forums sometimes.  It is pretty rare, most people insist on trading by Beckett value, which I find sometimes unrealistic.  I also don't subscribe to any price guides so I do not myself operate that way.  But there are some decent folks out there too.  Just recently I created a thread about my recent A&G blaster which got me one Red Sox card.  I offered to trade anything and everything from the blaster for Red Sox.  I got one response and he offered to send me the following base cards for nothing.  That is very kind.
1.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Ted Williams.  I am so happy Williams is getting a lot of cards this year.  What a fantastic hitter.

2.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Bobby Doerr.  Doerr has a ton of cards these days.  I am happy with that personally but I think there are some other players that should get cards.

3.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Jon Lester.

4.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Dustin Pedroia.

5.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter David Ortiz.

6.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Will Middlebrooks.  He is back and hitting right now.  Hopefully he can still become the star he looked like last year.

7.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Jim Rice.  Another Hall of Famer, the most recent player to enter the Hall as a Red Sox.

And now the promised Julio Lugo hit:

8.  2008 Topps World Series Commemorative Patch Julio Lugo.  These were made to celebrate the 2007 World Championship.  I only had the Jason Varitek previously.  Lugo never did much for Boston but he will be remembered for being on a World Championship team.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Yay Red Sox Cards!

A couple of packages to show off here today.  Up first is a group of cards I bought together from one seller on the forums for pretty cheap:

1.  2006 Topps Wal-Mart Exclusive Ted Williams.  I think these were only available in complete sets from Wal-Mart.  Not sure of that exactly though.  I love the 1987 Topps design, so this was a pretty cool card, possibly my favorite of the day.

2.  2008 UD A Piece of History Franchise Members 3 Josh Beckett/Daisuke Matsuzaka/Curt Schilling.  I always like cards with more than one Red Sox player on them.  This one has the top three starters from the 2007 World Championship team.

3.  2009 Upper Deck Goudey Fred Lynn SP.  Lynn of course was the first player to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season.  Injuries unfortunately derailed a potential Hall of Fame career.

4.  2006 Flair Showcase Mark Loretta.  Loretta was an All Star in his only season for the Red Sox, elected over Robinson Cano.

5.  1998 Donruss Preferred Grandstand Carl Pavano.  Pavano never actually played for the Red Sox.  He was drafted by them and traded to Montreal in the Pedro Martinez trade.  That one worked out well for Boston.  This is a die-cut parallel.

6.  2006 Fleer Greats of the Game Pewter Rico Petrocelli.  Petrocelli was a great offensive shortstop in the late 1960's.  He was also a very good defensive player.  Unfortunately hardly anyone outside of Red Sox fans remember him.

7.  2005 UD Origins Old Judge Bobby Doerr.  You just can't go wrong with a Hall of Famer.  Doerr is the oldest living Hall of Famer.

8.  2006 UD Future Stars Clear Path to Greatness Jermaine Van Buren AUTO.  I take it back, this is probably my favorite card of the day.  Van Buren had some nice moments in 2006.  You can't tell from the scan, but the player profile is transparent on the card.  Pretty neat card actually.

Up next is a trade I made for a couple of Brewers cards:
1.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Across the Years Wade Boggs.  Boggs was actually born in Omaha, Nebraska, just one reason he became an early favorite player.

2.  2013 Bowman Platinum Dustin Pedroia.

3.  2013 Bowman Platinum Jackie Bradley, Jr.  He should make it for good next season.

4.  2013 Bowman Platinum Prospects Deven Marrero.  A good fielding, decent-hitting shortstop in the Red Sox system.  He was the team's first round draft pick last year.

5.  2013 Bowman Platinum Prospects Chrome Matt Barnes.  He was just called up to AAA last night.  He is on track for the Majors.

6.  2013 Bowman Platinum Prospects Chrome Xfractor Allen Webster.  He has struggled a bit in the Majors, but remains one of the big pieces from last year's Dodgers trade.

7.  2013 Pinnacle Mike Napoli.  Only my third Napoli card.

8.  2013 Pinnacle David Ortiz.

9.  2013 Pinnacle Brock Holt RC.  He has had some decent moments this year.  He could be a decent utility infielder.
10.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Dustin Pedroia.  My first mini from this year's A&G set.

11.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Wade Boggs.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Red Sox With No Cards Pt. 11: Scott Podsednik

In this series I take a look at players who played for the Boston Red Sox but, for some reason, never had a card produced of them with the team.
I always kind of liked Scott Podsednik.  I remember when he first came up with the Mariners and made his first big impact with the Brewers.  He was a speedy player, stealing 70 bases in his rookie season and finishing second in the Rookie of the Year vote.  He next made an impact with the White Sox in their World Series Championship season.  After that he bounced around for a little while.

Podsednik was acquired by the Red Sox from the Phillies in May, 2012 when most of the team's starting outfielders and several reserve players went on the disabled list.  Podsednik made an immediate impact in his first start for his new team, hitting a home run and having two hits.  Podsednik played well for a couple of months but was sent to the minors when Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford came back.

Podsednik was traded to the Diamondbacks along with Matt Albers for Craig Breslow at the trading deadline.  He never played for the Diamondbacks though and found his way back to Boston within a few days.  He continued to play through the end of the season.

For his time in Boston, Podsednik hit .302/.322/.352 with one home run, 12 RBIs, and eight stolen bases.  He did not appear on any cardboard as a member of the Red Sox.

Welcome to Boston, Quintin Berry

Today Boston sent Clayton Mortensen to the Royals for Quintin Berry.  Mortensen was the reliever the Red Sox got when they traded Marco Scutaro to the Rockies.  He had moments of impressive work but was maddeningly inconsistent at times, though he had a 3.21 ERA in 26 games last year.  He never had a Red Sox card made of him.  A shame.  Berry has not appeared in a Major League game this year but stole 21 bases in Detroit last year.  I sense a designated pinch-runner role down the stretch.  Much like Joey Gathright was a couple of times.

Zippy Zappy Comes Through and an Ill-Fated A&G Pack

I recently posted the disappointing results of an A&G blaster.  There were a couple of A-Rod cards in there, a player whom I loathe these days, for pretty obvious reasons.  Well Kenny, aka Zippy Zappy still wanted them so I shipped them off and received the below package in return.
1.  2012 Sega CardGen Adrian Gonzalez.  He hit a home run off of Jake Peavy on Sunday, but the Red Sox won anyway so it was okay.  I liked Adrian Gonzalez quite a bit even though he was only there for a season and a half.

The rest of the cards will not make it into my Red Sox collection.  I had the Hanrahan and the other two are Team USA cards, though they are both Red Sox prospects.  They are still very much appreciated.

Thanks Kenny!

I picked up a rack pack of A&G yesterday to try my luck again and was once again met with failure.  No Red Sox and these were the inserts:
Blech.  If anyone wants anything, let me know.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Forgotten Stars Pt. 7: Dick Radatz

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.
In keeping with the closer theme, we come to Dick Radatz, who was without a doubt one of the most dominating relievers of all time.  For a few years anyway.  Red Sox fans remember the Monster but by and large Radatz is a mostly forgotten player as the closer role became more and more defined.  The Monster was an imposing presence, 6'6" and 230 lbs. in his playing days.  And he threw hard.

Radatz was converted into a relief pitcher in the minor leagues by his manager Johnny Pesky.  Pesky wanted to turn Radatz into a weapon, and he did.  Radatz made his Major League debut in 1962 and lead the American League in games (62), games finished (53), and saves (24).  Radatz was 9-6 with a 2.24 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 124.2 innings.  Radatz finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting.  The best was yet to come.

In 1963, Radatz went 15-6 with a 1.97 ERA and 25 saves.  He struck out 162 in 132.1 innings.  Radatz was named to the All Star game and was the first pure reliever to make the team.  Radatz finished fifth in the AL MVP voting that season.  In 1964, he was 16-9 with a 2.29 ERA and once again lead the league in saves (29).  He struck out 181 in 157 innings.  He was once again an All Star and finished ninth in the AL MVP vote.  Unfortunately his numbers would decline from this point.

Radatz slumped in 1965, finishing with a record of 9-11 with a 3.91 ERA.  He saved 22 games but only struck out 121 in 124.1 innings.  1966 saw Radatz start the season slowly, saving four games with a 4.74 ERA before being traded to the Indians.  Radatz bounced around to several teams after that, never again reaching the incredible highs of the 1962-1964 seasons. 

For his career, Radatz saved 122 games, 104 with the Red Sox.  He was one of the first pure closers.  Pesky succeeded in turning him into a weapon.     

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 10: Red Ruffing

Years with Boston: 1924-1930 (39-96, 3.47 ERA, 1,122.1 innings, 450 strikeouts, 459 walks)
Best Year in Boston: 1928 (10-25, 3.89 ERA, 289.1 innings, 118 strikeouts, 96 walks)
No, those records are not typos.  Red Ruffing really did have that bad of a record after his first five-plus seasons.  That was mostly due to the fact that the Red Sox teams that Ruffing pitched for were, in a word, terrible.  Ruffing actually pitched reasonably well compared to most of his teammates.  He was probably a little too young to be the ace of the staff, but he was the ace by default.

Ruffing led the league in losses twice while with the Red Sox.  In 1928 he led with 25, and then in 1929 he lost 22.  But Ruffing also led the league in complete games in 1928 with 25.  He pitched a lot of innings because he was one of the few Red Sox pitchers who could actually pitch.  But his record never got any better in Boston.

After four games in Boston in 1930, Ruffing was traded to the Yankees for Cedric Durst and $50,000.00.  Yes, it was another bad deal for the Red Sox with the Yankees.  Durst played the rest of the season but was then out of the Majors for good, while Ruffing went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Yankees.  Harry Frazee was not behind this trade, but the result was the same.

If anything, Ruffing's time in Boston is a hindrance to his Hall of Fame numbers, though it does make for a more fascinating story.

Dodging a Bullet

Get it?  Dodging, as in Dodgers?  Horrible.

08/23:  Dodgers 2 Red Sox 0 (75-55)
Despite a great job on the mound, John Lackey got the loss because the offense simply could not deliver.  They were held to two singles.

JOHN LACKEY:  Complete game, 8 innings, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 6 strikeouts, Loss.

08/24:  Red Sox 4 (76-55) Dodgers 2
Jon Lester came back to provide another great pitching performance and this time the offense came through with four runs in the first inning, highlighted by a Jonny Gomes home run.

JON LESTER:  7.1 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts, Win.

08/25:  Red Sox 8 (77-55) Dodgers 1
ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball game featured a third straight great pitching performance, this one from new acquisition Jake Peavy.  The offense was impressive and featured home runs from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Shane Victorino, and Mike Napoli.  Dustin Pedroia had three hits and Xander Bogaerts had two, along with his first RBI in his second start.

JAKE PEAVY:  Complete game, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, Win.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Unknown Heroes Before My Time Pt. 10: Bill Campbell

I am sure that a visible pattern is becoming obvious.  A lot of relief pitchers have ended up in these posts.  Here is yet another one.

Bill Campbell was the first high-profile free agent contract the Red Sox signed.  He had previously been a highly successful reliever for the Twins and had won the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year award in 1976.  In 1977 he went to the Red Sox on a five-year contract, a shocking contract at the time, and too many years for a reliever now.
1977 was Campbell's only great season under the new contract.  He went 13-9 with a 2.96 ERA and 31 saves.  He struck out 114 and walked 60 in 140 innings.  He finished 60 out of the 69 games he appeared in.  This was at a time when the closer position was becoming more prominent.  Sparky Lyle won the AL Cy Young award that season as a closer and Campbell actually finished fifth in the voting with his impressive season.  Lyle's and Campbell's seasons were not really all that different.  Lyle had a better ERA by a decent-sized margin, 2.17 to 2.96.  Lyle also had four fewer losses and walked only 33 to Campbell's 60, but Campbell had five more saves, three more innings, 19 fewer hits, and 46 more strikeouts.  Campbell was a 4.8 WAR pitcher compared to Lyle's 3.7.  The Yankees also won the division, which was probably a large part of the reason that Lyle won the award.  Campbell did win both the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year and the AL Fireman of the Year awards so it was pretty clear that his season was at least on par with Lyle's, if not better.

Unfortunately that was pretty much it for Campbell as an elite reliever.  In 1978 he was decent, going 7-5 with a 3.91 ERA but only saved four, pitching in just 50.1 innings.  In 1979 he saved nine and was 3-4 with a 4.28 ERA in 54.2 innings.  1980 saw his ERA rise again to 4.79 and he did not notch a single save.  1981 was his last season in Boston and his numbers improved somewhat as he saved seven and had a 3.17 ERA.
 After his last season of his five-year deal, Campbell signed with the Cubs.  He bounced around after that but never rose to the same level of play again, though he did appear in 82 games one season for the Cubs and held on through the 1987 season.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Unknown Heroes Pt. 35: Arquimedez Pozo

This is probably the most obscure Unknown Hero yet.  I have always liked players with unusual names, and so here we have Arquimedez (Quimy) Pozo.  Pozo was acquired in a trade with the Seattle Mariners for Jeff Manto in 1996.  Manto was eventually re-claimed off of waivers by the Red Sox, so essentially Boston got Pozo for 21 games worth of Manto.

Pozo made an immediate impact in Boston.  In his first game with the Red Sox, he singled and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.  In his second game he tripled and singled, driving in three runs and scoring once in a 9-5 win over the Twins.  His third game was his best yet as he hit a grand slam home run and drove in five runs.  He hit a double in his fourth game and singled in his fifth before he slowed down.  Unfortunately that was pretty much it for his productivity for his Major League career.

Pozo split his time between second base and third base for the Red Sox in 1996.  He was a little better at third than second.

For the 1996 season, Pozo ended with a line of .172/.210/.310 with one home run and 11 RBIs.  In 1997, Pozo spent most of the season at Pawtucket and had a great season.  He hit .284/.358/.512 with 22 home runs and 70 RBIs as the team's third-baseman.  He received another call-up to the Majors, but played just four games and hit .267/.250/.333 with one double and three RBIs.  That was the last time he appeared in the Majors.

Pozo again had a decent season for Pawtucket in 1998.  He hit .305/.352/.494 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs.  He ended up in Japan the next season.

Due to Pozo's very brief career in the Majors, he only had one card issued, plus all of the parallels and variations of that one card, 1997 Score.

Season in Review: 2006

The 2006 Red Sox finished in third place, 86-76.  The team was doing well until a complete and utter collapse in August and September brought about partially due to a number of players hitting the D.L. and some bad pitching.  The highlight of the season was the terrific infield defense from Kevin Youkilis (1B), Mark Loretta (2B), Alex Gonzalez (SS), and Mike Lowell (3B).  It was one of the best infield defenses Boston has ever had and it is a shame that no one won a Gold Glove.

David Ortiz
Ortiz had a monster season in 2006 and could have been in the running for AL MVP if the team had done better.  As it was, he finished third after leading the league in home runs (54), RBIs (137), walks (119), and total bases (355).  He set a new team record for home runs, breaking Jimmie Foxx's old mark.  Just a huge season.

Jason Varitek
Varitek was very disappointing in 2006, spending a lot of time on the D.L. and being a poor hitter when healthy.  Varitek hit just .238/.325/.400 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs, numbers that were down significantly from his great 2005 season.  His injury left the team scrambling for a catcher and lead to the acquisition of Javy Lopez, who also disappointed.

Manny Ramirez
Manny also had a good season, despite missing some considerable time with injuries.  He still managed to hit .321/.439/.619 with 35 home runs and 102 RBIs.  He also walked 100 times.  Ramirez was still a very dangerous hitter.

Curt Schilling
Schilling came back from an injury-riddled 2005 season to have a successful year.  He lead the team in ERA (3.97) and went 15-7 at the age of 39.  Schilling also struck out 183 in 204 innings while walking just 28.  It was a pretty good year for the old pitcher.

Kevin Youkilis
In his first full season as a regular, Kevin Youkilis made an impact, batting out of the leadoff spot a lot and playing terrific defense at a new position, first base.  Youkilis had a successful season with the bat too, hitting .279/.381/.429 with 13 home runs, 72 RBIs, and 100 runs.  He displayed some hopeful signs of increased power too, hitting 42 doubles.

Trot Nixon
It was yet another injury-plagued season for Nixon in 2006.  He played in just 114 games, hitting .268/.373/.394 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs.  His injuries meant increased playing time to Willie Harris, Dustan Mohr, and Wily Mo Pena, among others.

Tim Wakefield
Wakefield was another injured star for Boston.  He pitched in just 23 games, starting all of them.  He managed just a 7-11 record with a 4.63 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 140 innings.

Keith Foulke
Foulke came back from a bad year in 2005 to do a decent job as a setup and mop-up man.  He pitched in 44 games, finishing 16 but did not record a save.  His record was 3-1 and he had a 4.35 ERA while striking out 36 and walking just seven in 49.2 innings.

Mike Lowell
Acquired in a massive trade with the Marlins before the season, Lowell did what he does best, hit consistently and play terrific defense.  Lowell had been on the decline in Florida, but found Fenway to his liking by hitting .284/.339/.475 with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs.  He lead the team with 47 doubles.

Wily Mo Pena
Pena was acquired in a trade with the Reds and was expected to be a bench player for the season but found his way into the lineup due to injuries.  His power was impressive and he was a better hitter than expected but did not walk much and played badly in the field.  He hit .301/.349/.489 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs.

Mark Loretta
Another player acquired in a trade, Loretta came over from the Padres and played so well to start the season that he was voted the starting second-baseman in the All Star game, beating out Robinson Cano of the Yankees.  Loretta hit .285/.345/.361 and lead the team with 181 hits.  Loretta also played great defense.


Jonathan Papelbon
What a terrific season.  Papelbon finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote and could have won it had he not gone down with an injury over the final month.  He made the All Star team though and had one of the greatest seasons as a closer in Red Sox history.  Papelbon saved 35 games and had an outstanding ERA of 0.92 while striking out 75 in 68.1 innings.

Coco Crisp
Crisp was another big trade acquisition and looked ready to have a huge season in Spring Training.  Unfortunately, an injury derailed his season.  When he came back, he was not the player he was expected to be, hitting just .264/.317/.385 with eight home runs, 36 RBIs.  He did steal 22 bases though and was outstanding in the field.

Josh Beckett
Beckett was picked up in the same trade as Mike Lowell and was expected to become the ace of the staff.  He did lead the team with 16 wins, but he lost 11 and had an ERA of 5.01.  Not the numbers that were expected.

1991 Topps #450 Wade Boggs

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
This was the card that was staring at me on the front of the team set package when I picked it up.  The Boggs card is one of the greatest cards from this team set.  The background with the cloudy sky makes this card one of the more interesting cards in the entire set.  This was not my first Wade Boggs card, in fact it was my third, I had the Donruss and Score cards from 1991 first, but it was definitely one of my early favorites and possibly had a large part to do in making Boggs my first favorite player.

Boggs of course was an outstanding hitter, but he was coming off his worst season to date in 1990.  Boggs hit just .302/.386/.418 with six home runs and 63 RBIs.  A good season by most players' standards, but not by Boggs.  He was still an All Star though and had a decent season.

Boggs would come back to have his last great season with the Red Sox in 1991 before having his worst season in 1992.  After the season he signed with the Yankees as a free agent.  It took a long time before I forgave him for that.  This card though represents a better time.

Book Review: The Babe in Red Stockings

I have actually had this book for a very long time.  It was not my first Red Sox book, that honor belongs to The Curse of the Bambino by Dan Shaughnessy, but it was one of the earliest.  I had read something about its upcoming release and decided it was one that I really wanted.

I had previously read a book about Babe Ruth, but the Red Sox portion of his career took up just one chapter.  It was disappointing to me as a Red Sox fan.  This book strives to be the most complete chronicle of the all-time great's first five seasons, all spent in Boston.  The amount of detail in this book is truly remarkable as it follows a chronological story of the development of George Herman Ruth into the superstar he eventually became.

What is often lost in the legend of Babe Ruth is that he was already a massive baseball star prior to his acquisition by the Yankees.  Ruth was widely considered the best pitcher in the league as early as 1916, just his second full season.  And his hitting was already making waves as well.  Of course Ruth would not last as a pitcher because his bat became much too important to not use everyday.

This book briefly discusses Ruth's early life until the point that he was signed by the Red Sox, almost as an afterthought, when the team sought to pick up Ernie Shore, a great pitcher in his own right.  Ruth spent most of the 1914 season in the minors but managed to pitch a few games for the Red Sox.  He then burst upon the scene in 1915.

The book covers Ruth's World Series history in great detail, emphasizing his incredible scoreless innings streak.  It also tells numerous humorous stories, such as the time that Ruth tossed his piano into a pond and his frequent difficulties remembering names.  It discusses the number of times Ruth attempted to jump the team.  Ruth was apparently quite the handful and it was likely part of the reason that Harry Frazee sold him to the Yankees.

Of course the sale to the Yankees is a major portion of this book.  It attempts to look into the various reasons why that sale came to be.  It was most likely a combination of factors, financial and baseball-related.  The theory was that Ruth was sold and the money gained was to be used to purchase another star as the Yankees did not have enough talent to make a trade even.

It is quite clear from reading this book that Babe Ruth was already a force to be reckoned with in baseball even early with the Red Sox.  This is a fascinating read for Red Sox fans and even general fans of baseball.  There just is not enough information out there about Babe Ruth in his Red Sox days.  This book is a fantastic in-depth look at that time period.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Giants Series

08/19:  Red Sox 7 (74-53) Giants 0
JON LESTER:  8.1 innings, 6 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, Win.

08/20:  Giants 3 Red Sox 2 (74-54)
Boston lost this one on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning.  That's just downright embarassing.
SHANE VICTORINO:  1 for 3, home run.

08/21:  Red Sox 12 (75-54) Giants 1
FELIX DOUBRONT:  8 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, Win.