Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Varitek Printing Plate

I have not been getting too many Varitek cards lately, though he was once the major focus of my collection.  Obviously the fact that he is now retired is a major reason for that.  But recently I was randomly checking out some Ebay auctions and I found this card and had to try for it:
This is the yellow printing plate from 2008 Topps of Varitek.  I have a number of printing plates already of Varitek.  I don't think I am being arrogant when I say that I may have the premier Varitek collection of anyone.  My bat barrel, four MLB logos, and two button cards are proof enough of that.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

2015 Heritage Group Break Results

After my pretty good luck with the 2015 Topps Series One break with Nachos Grande,  I decided to bite the bullet on his Heritage break.  The results were not overly impressive, other than the sheer number of cards I received.  Probably the last group break for me for a little while.
1.  Carlos Rivero/Dan Butler.  Neither of these guys are likely to appear in Boston this year.  Butler was traded to Washington.  Rivero was a minor league free agent.  Between them, they played 11 games for Boston.  It is kind of neat to have an actual Major League card of them though since I value player selection above all else.

2.  Daniel Nava.  I love getting cards of Nava.  He just does not get enough.

3.  Mike Napoli.  And Mike Napoli's beard.

4.  Mookie Betts.  Betts has been terrific this spring.  He could be headed for a big year.  

5.  Christian Vazquez.  I'm very happy to see him get a card.  Terrific defensive catcher.

6.  Rusney Castillo/Anthony Ranaudo.  Ranaudo is gone, but Castillo will be another interesting young player to watch.

7.  Joe Kelly.  Love the glasses Joe.

8.  Clay Buchholz.  I think Buchholz could surprise people this year.  It was not that long ago that he was completely dominating.

9.  Team card.  Celebrating last place.  Alright!

10.  Rick Porcello.  Hopefully he will continue to build on his success from last season.

11.  Allen Craig.  One of my biggest surprises of Spring is that he is still with the team.

12.  Brock Holt.  Like Nava, I just love getting cards of Holt.  Overlooked player.

13.  Wade Miley.  Another new addition to Boston this year.

14.  Matt Barnes/Edwin Escobar.  I expect both of these pitchers to be helpful out of the bullpen or rotation this year.

15.  Koji Uehara.  With some rest, hopefully Koji is ready for the season.

16.  Will Middlebrooks.  Topps must have missed that he was traded.  Also, had a brutal year.  Probably not deserving of a card this year.

17.  Garin Cecchini.  Probably tradebait at this point.

18.  Pablo Sandoval.  I am most excited about seeing Panda in Boston this year. 

19.  John Farrell.  The only set that still produces manager cards.  This is why I am hoping Sandy Alomar Jr. gets a managerial position soon.

20.  Bryce Brentz.  I don't care about the other guy.

21.  Hanley Ramirez SP.  Hopefully playing in the outfield will cut down on the injuries.  Ramirez can be a beast when healthy.

22.  Xander Bogaerts SP.  It was a tough year last year, but he is just 22.

23.  David Ortiz SP.  Showing no signs of slowing down yet...

24.  Dustin Pedroia SP.  If he can stay healthy, he should have a good year.

25.  Dustin Pedroia Chrome.  Nice parallel here of the Boston veteran.

26.  Rusney Castillo/Anthony Ranaudo Chrome Purple Refractor.  Easily the best card of the break for me here.  Nice to get a decent parallel of Castillo.  Ranaudo is gone as I mentioned earlier.  Castillo is the big draw here.

Thanks Chris!

Friday, March 13, 2015

And I Thought the Sportlots Order was Big...

I made a huge, expensive purchase over on COMC recently to fill in some holes and generally to get a bunch of cards, many of which I had no idea existed.  I am not going to discuss each individual card, but I might highlight a few.  Beware, this is going to be a very large post:
Mel Parnell was a terrific left-handed pitcher who may have been even better if elbow and shoulder issues hadn't derailed his career.

Israel Alcantara had some decent minor league numbers but will always be remembered for kicking a catcher in the chest protector just before charging the mound.

The Roger Clemens Aces card is one of those cards I knew about for years but either could not find or could not afford.  Now I finally have it.  There are a few more like that in here.

The major reason I love Conlon cards is the player selection.  The 1920's were a miserable decade for the Red Sox, bereft of stars.  It is nice to be able to find cards of players from that decade.  Val Picinich is one of those players you likely will not see anywhere else.

I love the hockey style catchers' masks.  Unfortunately very few Red Sox catchers wore them.  That is why I like this Creighton Gubanich card.  Incidentally, his only home run was a grand slam and it was his first hit.
I always liked seeing pitchers with the high leg kick.  I can't think of anyone else who does them, but that's why I like this Nate Minchey card, even if his career was brief.

I always wanted this Mark Loretta All Star relic.  I just never got around to getting it.

Pedro Martinez's older brother Ramon makes an appearance here with a refractor.

The Phil Plantier card is a Leaf Preview card that calls to mind the fact that Plantier was once one of the hottest prospects in the hobby.

Mark Whiten's Red Sox stint was very short and he managed to complain his way out of Boston in record time.

This Mo Vaughn card is far more impressive in person.  The picture of Vaughn is transparent.

I love this Dave Valle picture.  He also had a very short stint in Boston, but has a number of nice-looking cards regardless.

This John Valentin card borders on obscene.

I have no idea what this Line Drive set was, but it's Don Baylor pictured with the Red Sox.  Can't go wrong there.

I saw this David Cone card on Nick's blog and knew I had to have it.  Cone is another well-known player who had a short stint with the Red Sox.

I had a Manny Ramirez card with the Indians like this awesome Pacific insert of Nomar Garciaparra.  I sold it a long time ago, but now I have the Nomar.
Bret Saberhagen is shown here celebrating the 1985 World Championship with the Royals, but the team listed is the Red Sox and he is shown on the back with the Red Sox.  Kind of odd.  I think SI made a mistake by doing this and should have listed him with the Royals.  But I won't complain.

John Wasdin was acquired from the Athletics for Jose Canseco in a trade that did not work out well.  He gained the nickname Way Back Wasdin for reasons that do not need further explanation.

I love Hideo Nomo cards with the Red Sox.  There will be a number here.

Wily Mo Pena hit the longest home run I have seen in person in a game against the Royals in 2006.  The ball came within a few feet of completely leaving the Royals stadium. 

Fleer's Metal Universe is the most 90's set possible.  Decent player selection though as this Luis Alicea will show.

I like the multiple exposure shots.  There have not been a ton of Red Sox with that effect, which is whty I added this Classic Roger Clemens.

Johnny Damon is here showing bunt.

I loved Diamond Kings, so I had to add this Koji Uehara.

Denny's hologram cards were very underrated in my mind.  This Ellis Burks card is the last of the Denny's cards I needed for my Red Sox collection.
Panini actually listed Tom Seaver with the Red Sox?  Yes they did.  Awesome.

The Shane Victorino card shown here was actually on my Top 10 Most Wanted list.  It was replaced by George Scott's rookie card.

The Crown Contenders Clemens card is another one that I have wanted for years.

This is one of the rare moments where Ted Williams looked like he was having a good time.

Shano Collins and Baby Doll Jacobson are a couple more 1920's Red Sox brought to us by Conlon.  The Babe Ruth also came from Conlon but came from the Ruth set.  I always wanted to buy a box of it to try to get a bunch of the Red Sox cards.

Some terrific Stadium Club shots here.  Mike Stanley reacting to a high pitch.  Adam Everett backhanding a ball to turn a double play.  Rick Asadoorian climbing the wall to make a catch.  Unfortunately neither Everett not Asadoorian ever played for Boston.  Everett was traded before making it and Asadoorian never made it.

I am creeping along to get all of the Diamond Kings inserts.  I still need the 1996 Mo Vaughn.

This Hideo Nomo is awesome.  The plaque is made of wood and sticks out from the card, detailing his no hitter in 2001.

Sang-Hoon Lee was a short-lived experiment.  Dan Duquette was obsessed with trying to find talent in Asia.  Unfortunately none of the pitchers he brought over turned into stars and only Tomo Ohka and Sun Woo Kim made it as Major Leaguers for any real amount of time.

I love the Shane Victorino card celebrating his Gold Glove in 2013. 

Another Conlon 1920's player here with Ken Williams who was a pretty good hitter.

I have wanted the Ted Williams pitching card for a long time and I finally managed to get it.
The two Clemens cards in this scan are two more cards I have wanted for a long time. 

Mookie Betts is on fire in Spring Training.  He is quickly becoming one of my favorite players.

Hey, a Jamie Moyer sighting.  Most people probably forget he was once a Red Sox.

So there you have it.  A massive influx of cards for my Red Sox collection.  Easily one of the largest buys I have ever made.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A New Pedro

I love 1998 Topps Tek, mostly because of my ongoing quest to get all of the Sandy Alomar Jr. patterns.  But I also pick up Red Sox cards when I can.  The other years are not as important to me, though I do continue to get the Red Sox cards.  I was still interested when Topps released High Tek in 2014, though I was not about to pick up any boxes or packs due to the extremely high price.  I did want to get a few singles, at least one per player.  Recently I received my first card, Pedro Martinez:
This is the Disco Diffractor of Pedro and it is serial-numbered out of 50.  Pedro will be getting many more cards this year thanks to his election to Cooperstown, but it looked to have started in 2014.  Not sure how many more of these cards I will be going after, but I do want at least one of each remaining player: Fisk, Garciaparra, Napoli, and Pedroia.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Season in Review: 2010

2010 was a less-than-stellar season.  Boston finished in third place at 89-73.  Ultimately, injuries likely did them in as virtually every regular spent some time on the disabled list at some point.  It was just a frustrating year.

Kevin Youkilis
Youk was one of many players who lost a significant chunk of time due to injury.  He was a snub from the All Star Game despite putting together a terrific season.  It was his last season as a regular first-baseman and Youk hit .307/.411/.564 with 19 home runs and 62 RBIs.  He played in just 102 games.

David Ortiz
Ortiz was one of the few big-name players who did not miss a significant chunk of time with an injury.  Ortiz came back from a couple of bad seasons with a terrific comeback year, hitting .270/.370/.529 with 32 home runs and 102 RBIs to lead the team.  He also returned to the All Star Game in 2010.

Jason Varitek
Varitek took his demotion to backup catcher really well.  With Victor Martinez in fold, Varitek became the best backup catcher in the game.  Varitek proved his true value as a leader by stepping aside for the much better offensive catcher.  He did manage to hit seven home runs in part-time work.

Victor Martinez
In his only full season with the Red Sox, Martinez proved to be an offensive force.  Martinez was named an All Star and hit .302/.351/.493 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs.  Unfortunately he was not a good defensive catcher and would not stay behind the plate for long.  And that was why he did not return to Boston after the season.

Jon Lester
Lester had his best season in 2010.  He had a record of 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA and 225 strikeouts in 208 innings.  He was named to the All Star Game for the first time and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award race.

Clay Buchholz
Buchholz broke out in 2010 after a couple of mediocre seasons.  He was one of two pitchers to be named to the All Star Game as he finished with a record of 17-7 and was second in the league with a 2.33 ERA.  He finished sixth in the AL Cy Young Award race.

Dustin Pedroia
Unfortunately Pedroia was one of the players a major chunk of the season with an injury.  Pedroia played in just 75 games in 2010.  When healthy, Pedroia had a terrific season.  He hit .288/.367/.493 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs.  He also stole 9 bases.  Pedroia's injury left Boston scrambling for a player at second base.

Jed Lowrie
Lowrie was an important utility player in 2010 and received quite a bit of playing time due to Pedroia's injury.  Lowrie missed some time himself early in the season due to mono.  He was a great hitter when he was on the field though, hitting .287/.381/.526 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs, providing a nice spark.

Adrian Beltre
Beltre had a terrific season in his only year in Boston.  He was signed to a low cost, high reward deal and it definitely paid off for Boston as Beltre belted his way to an All Star appearance and won the Silver Slugger at third base.  He should have won the Gold Glove as well.  Beltre finished with a line of .321/.365/.553 with 28 home runs and 102 RBIs. 

Bill Hall
Hall was acquired in a trade with the Mariners before the season for Casey Kotchman.  Hall played almost every position in his only season with the Red Sox.  He spent a lot of time at second and in the outfield.  Hall provided a lot of power and some speed.  He had a line of .247/.316/.456 with 18 home runs and 46 RBIs while stealing nine bases.

Darnell McDonald
McDonald was actually acquired earlier in the season when a number of outfielders went down with injuries.  McDonald provided a spark to the offense and was a decent defensive outfielder.  He finished the season with a line of .270/.336/.429 with nine home runs, 34 RBIs, and nine stolen bases. 

Ryan Kalish
Kalish played in 53 games for the Red Sox, but he managed to lead the team in stolen bases with 10 and played some great defense.  Kalish did not provide much offensive value otherwise, though he did contribute four home runs.

Daniel Nava 
Nava had one of the great first at-bats in history.  On the very first pitch he saw at the Major League level, he nailed a grand slam.  Unfortunately that was the highlight of his season and despite playing 60 games in 2010, he would not make it back to the Majors until 2012.

John Lackey
Lackey signed a big free agent contract with the Red Sox prior to the season and was expected to help make the Boston rotation one of the best in the league.  Unfortunately it did not work out that way as he finished with a 4.40 ERA despite winning 14 games and leading the team in innings pitched.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury was probably the most significant injury as he played in just 18 games.  He stole seven bases but had no power.  His injury left Boston scrambling for outfielders.

Mike Cameron
Cameron was brought on to be Boston's centerfielder with Ellsbury moving to left.  The idea was to give Boston a terrific defensive outfield.  But Cameron only played in 48 games and did not really hit when he was healthy.

My 1st Hanley..

...At least from his second stint.  Of course Hanley Ramirez came up through the Red Sox system and was expected to be a big star.  He made his Major League debut with Boston in 2005 with two at-bats in two games at the end of the season.  He struck out in both at-bats.  After the season he was traded during the brief period that Theo Epstein was not the general manager.  He was the big prize that the Marlins received in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston.  Ramirez turned into a big star immediately, winning the Rookie of the Year in 2006.  It would have been a bad deal if only 2006 counted.  Luckily Beckett and Lowell were vital elements of the 2007 World Championship team, each winning one of the two postseason MVP awards.  This season, Hanley Ramirez is coming back to the team he started with.  Topps has already been busy making airbrushed cards of him in his new (old) uniform:
Ramirez will be manning a new position this season.  He has never been a very good defensive shortstop and he will be moving to left field this season.  That should be interesting. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Massive Just Commons Mailday

I was recently in the mood to add a bunch of cards to my Red Sox collection.  I decided I would see if I could knock a bunch of stuff off of my want list the cheap way, by going through Just Commons.  It was a good decision:
I loved the Panini Golden Age set in 2013, but I never really managed to get the cards from 2014.  Cy Young and Dom DiMaggio were the only Red Sox representatives in the base set, both players that are somewhat rare, making them nice to see on occasion.  I love the John Burkett photo blowing the bubble.  I also really like the shot of Newman.  Nice camera angle, not something seen very often.
Here we have a really horrible aftermath of a swing by Tim Naehring with Wade Boggs watching in the background.  Otis Nixon is one of my favorite one-year wonders and there are several cards of him in this purchase.  We have a nice action shot of a bunt attempt in progress and a more familiar running shot done horizontally for some reason.  Valentin is making a nice backhanded play in the Select card as well.
Mo Vaughn always seemed like kind of an affable guy.  Always seemed to be having fun, such as in this dugout shot.  Knowing Jose Offerman, he probably misplayed this ball.  Then we have a double dip by Naehring, who appears quite a bit in this purchase as well. 
The 94 Upper Deck is probably the best shot of Naehring I have yet seen.  It is nice to see a little vintage, particularly of the 1975 variety.  These were some of the cards I wanted the most from that set.  It is kind of rare to see a real action shot of Bob Stanley for some reason.  Then we have kind of an interesting dugout shot of Darren Bragg.
Here we have some terrific shots from 2014 Stadium Club.  I have wanted the Mike Napoli hoisting the World Championship trophy for some time.  Pedroia is turning a double play while wearing the camo uniforms.  I have not seen these on a card yet.  I am thrilled that Masterson is back in Boston.  This and the two Buchholz cards are from 2008 Upper Deck Timelines.  I am getting closer to completion of that set.

Fleer Metal Universe is one of the most quintessentially 90's sets of all time.  We also have a nice stretching shot of Otis Nixon and a rare card of 94 backup catcher Rich Rowland.

And finally Cliff Floyd and Daniel Nava make appearances.  I am not sure I want to know where Nava's hands are.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

1991 Topps #542 Rob Murphy

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
It may seem strange, but I really like action shots of left-handed pitchers.  I have no idea why.  It does not seem like that impressive of a thing, but a decent action shot of a southpaw really appeals to me.  This was one of the first ones I really remember.

Rob Murphy was a lefty reliever acquired by the Red Sox in the same trade that brought Nick Esasky from the Reds.  Murphy was a valuable member of the bullpen in 1989, finishing with a record of 5-7 with a 2.74 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 105 innings.  He also saved nine games as a second closing option to Lee Smith.  Unfortunately, 1990 was a complete bust for Murphy.  His record was a terrible 0-6 and his ERA ballooned to 6.32 and his innings slipped to 57.  He did save seven games though.  A tired arm may have had something to do with it as his 1989 innings count was a career high.

After the 1990 season, Murphy was allowed to leave as a free agent to the Seattle Mariners.