Monday, February 29, 2016

My First Strata Card, and More

Keeping going with a bunch of recent trades, I had a recent package of stuff come in on Friday with a lot of 2015 cards that I needed.  Unfortunately I am not making much headway on my wantlist.  Only one of the following 11 cards was on my wantlist.
Here is the first batch, with a Coco Crisp parallel leading things off, as he often did for the Red Sox in his three years with the club.  Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury are the subjects of cards celebrating their first home runs, both with Boston obviously.  Then there are various cards of Matt Barnes, Brock Holt, and Rick Porcello to round things out.
The Brock Holt All Star Access card is the card that knocked a card off my wantlist.  Holt was Boston's only All Star in 2015 and stole a base in the game.  After that we have cards of Rookie Sensations Dustin Pedroia and Ted Williams.  I still think Sandy Alomar Jr. should have been in this set.  Then there is a Mookie Betts card.  Betts is quite possibly going to break out into a Top 5 player in the game this season.  And finally we have the promised Strata card.  Strata is a bit out of my price range for buying boxes.  But getting a card in a trade is much cheaper.  This is a fairly decent sized jersey piece and an on-card autograph of Rick Porcello.  Not a bad card, hopefully Porcello will pitch better this season.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Underrated Player of the Year: 2013

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.
Hey, I haven't done one of these in a long while.  Daniel Nava was always one of my favorite under-the-radar players, ever since making a huge splash by hitting a grand slam on the very first pitch he saw as a Major Leaguer.  He has such an interesting story, due to his size he was never really a highly sought-after player in high school, he walked on to his college team, then played in an independent league until Boston took notice and signed him for very little money.  He was always underestimated, yet he eventually proved that hard work pays off by making it to the Major Leagues.

In 2013, Nava had a terrific season, hitting .303/.385/.445 as a regular in the outfield and at first base.  His defense was very strong and he also contributed 12 home runs and 66 RBIs.  It was quietly a terrific season.  

Nava was never really a star on the team, and even had some trouble getting playing time over the likes of Jonny Gomes, who showed a flair for clutch hits, but when he was in the lineup, he produced.  He was an inspirational player who proved you did not have to be the most athletic person as long as you have a strong work ethic.  Daniel Nava will always be one of my favorite players for his brief time in Boston, and in particular for his contributions to the 2013 World Champion Red Sox.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why I am Not a Prospect Collector (The Red Sox and the Draft)

I have been thinking about this quite a bit with the recent issues with players not getting signed who have qualified offers from their previous clubs.  Drafting players is such a crapshoot.  I have been thinking a lot about Boston's top picks in the draft over the years and there are only a handful of players that really panned out that well.  And only one of those top picks really stands much of a shot at a Hall of Fame career.

That has lead me to rank the top picks Boston has had from 1990 (the year before I started collecting) through 2012 by their contributions to the Red Sox, either through their own stats or the player they were traded for.  I did not rank the players since 2013 because none of them have made it to the Majors yet or been traded away.  Their records are too incomplete.  This is a completely subjective ranking based entirely on my own opinions.

1.  DUSTIN PEDROIA (2nd Round, 2004)
His stats may not be as gaudy as #2's, but Pedroia stands the best chance at being inducted into the Hall of Fame when all is said and done.  He has been with Boston since 2006, won the Rookie of the Year in 2007 and the AL MVP in 2008.  He has been to the All Star Game four times, won four Gold Gloves, and one Silver Slugger, and he has been a part of two World Championship teams.  He needs a few more good seasons but he looks to be on his way.  Pedroia, by the way, was a second round pick but was Boston's first pick because they signed Keith Foulke from the Athletics.  Sometimes those second-rounders are just as good as the first-rounders.

2.  NOMAR GARCIAPARRA (1st Round, 1994)
If only he hadn't completely broken down, Nomar might be looking at a better Hall of Fame argument.  He was a monster in Boston, winning two batting titles, the 1997 Rookie of the Year, and making the All Star team five times, but injuries decimated his career and he was traded a few months before Boston finally won the World Series.  The trade worked out well for Boston, getting Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz, who solidified Boston's defense.  He will always be a personal favorite of mine, but he falls just short of #1 on this list due to Pedroia's tenure and two World Championships.

3.  JON LESTER (2nd Round, 2002)
Boston lost their first round pick to Oakland in 2002 as well after signing away Johnny Damon.  Lester made it to Boston in 2006 and was instrumental in helping Boston win World Championships in 2007 and 2013.  Lester was a three-time All Star and finished in the top five in Cy Young Award voting in 2010 and 2014 (when he was traded to Oakland at the trading deadline).  Boston acquired Yoenis Cespedes in trade from Oakland for Lester.

4.  JACOBY ELLSBURY (1st Round, 2005)
Ellsbury was a monster in 2011 and probably should have won the MVP with his 30/30 season (the first ever by a Red Sox player).  But that was his only real great season, and most other years he was merely decent.  He did help Boston to two World Championships though and set a Red Sox record for stolen bases in a season with 70.  Ellsbury lead the league in stolen bases three times.  

5.  TROT NIXON (1st Round, 1993)
Nixon was actually a very good player for a number of years, but might have been better had he been able to hit left-handers and not been injured as often.  Nixon put together some terrific years in the early 2000's and helped Boston immensely in the postseason.  An underrated player, Nixon's contributions were often lost in the shadow of players like Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz.

6.  AARON SELE (1st Round, 1991)
You can tell we are already circling the drain here.  Sele finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1993 and was an injury-prone and inconsistent starter for Boston through the 1997 season.  He looked like a star early on, but injuries derailed him in 1995.  He was traded to Texas for Damon Buford and Jim Leyritz prior to the 1998 season and blossomed into a pretty decent starter for Texas and Seattle.

7.  MATT BARNES (1st Round, 2011)
This is optimistic because Barnes has not done much, but he has done more than the next few guys and he is still with the team with the chance to make the bullpen in 2016.  Boston had four picks early in the 2011 draft and the worst of them was Barnes (the others were Jackie Bradley Jr., Blake Swihart, and Henry Owens).  Barnes made it to the Majors briefly in 2014 and then made it into 32 games in 2015 and showed flashes of brilliance.  He is a dark horse candidate to crack Boston's bullpen this year.

8.  KELLY SHOPPACH (2nd Round, 2001)
And now we are running into players who spent very little time in Boston before getting traded away.  Shoppach was Boston's top pick in 2001 because they lost their first-round pick to Cleveland after signing Manny Ramirez.  Shoppach made it to Boston for all of nine games in 2005 before being traded to Cleveland (oddly) in the Coco Crisp trade.  Shoppach though made it back to Boston after being signed as a free agent to be their backup catcher in 2012 and did fairly well before being traded to the Mets.

9.  DAVID MURPHY (1st Round, 2003)
I grappled with the #8 and #9 picks quite a bit before deciding on their rankings.  Shoppach came back to Boston and played well, whereas Murphy only had his pre-trade stats to go on, and Shoppach's trade resulted in a better player coming to Boston.  Murphy made it into 20 games in 2006 and hit a home run with a .227/.346/.409 line and then came back for three games in 2007.  He was one of the pieces sent to Texas for Eric Gagne (ugh).

10.  DEVEN MARRERO (1st Round, 2012)
Marrero made his Major League debut in 2015 and played in 25 games.  He has a chance to make it back to Boston as a utility player, but is most likely blocked in that department by Brock Holt.  He is blocked around the infield at virtually every position.  He is most likely a defensive specialist, though he did hit a home run last year.  He has the potential to climb this list a little bit.

11.  FRANKIE RODRIGUEZ (2nd Round, 1990)
I remember Rodriguez being a huge deal when I started collecting.  He was supposed to be the next big Red Sox star.  Well, it did not quite work out that way.  Rodriguez made it to the Major Leagues in 1995 and pitched in nine games for Boston, going 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA in just over 15 innings.  He was traded at the trading deadline for Rick Aguilera, who helped solidify Boston's bullpen.

12.  CASEY KELLY (1st Round, 2008)
And now we are getting into players who never actually played for Boston.  Kelly was a very good prospect and looked ready to make the leap to the Major Leagues after the 2010 season, but then he was traded to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez trade.  The injuries slowed things down a little bit.  He has made it to the Majors finally but has failed to impress so far.  But he did get Boston one terrific season of Adrian Gonzalez and one half of another good season as well.  That trade also cost Boston Anthony Rizzo though.

14.  NICK HAGADONE (1st Round, 2007)
Hagadone was technically a supplemental first rounder.  Boston lost their top pick to the Dodgers for signing away J.D. Drew.  Not much was ever really expected of Hagadone but he has turned into a fairly reliable middle reliever.  Of course that has occurred after being traded away in midseason 2009 to Cleveland in exchange for Victor Martinez.  That trade also worked out pretty well for Boston.

14.  REYMOND FUENTES (1st Round, 2009)
I never really thought much of Fuentes.  I was taken aback when I saw that Boston drafted him with their first pick.  Unfortunately Mike Trout was taken just two picks ahead of Fuentes.  Tanner Scheppers, Chris Owings, Garrett Richards, and Brad Boxberger were all drafted after Fuentes.  But Fuentes was also used in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, which worked out reasonably well for Boston.  Fuentes made it to the Majors briefly in 2013 but has not made it back since and is now in the Kansas City system.

15.  ADAM EVERETT (1st Round, 1998)
Weirdly, Adam was traded for another Everett, Carl Everett, before the 2000 season.  He was never much of an offensive player, being an elite defensive shortstop, though he never won a Gold Glove.  Everett never played in the Majors before being traded to Houston, but spent several seasons in the big leagues.  Carl Everett though was an All Star in 2000 and then terrible in 2001 and was a bit of a distraction the whole time.

16.  PHIL DUMATRAIT (1st Round, 2000)
Dumatrait was traded to the Reds during the 2003 season in order to acquire Scott Williamson.  Williamson was lights-out in the postseason during the 2003 season, in particular against the Yankees in the ALCS, but had trouble staying healthy.  Dumatrait finally made his Major League debut in 2007 with the Reds and then spent some time in the Majors with the Pirates and Twins.

17.  RICK ASADOORIAN (1st Round, 1999)
Boston's first round pick in 1999 didn't last long in their system before being sent off to St. Louis in a trade for Dustin Hermanson.  Asadoorian was not exactly ripping the cover off the ball and never really came around.  He bounced around the minors for years and eventually started pitching.  But he never did make it to the Major Leagues.  Hermanson pitched in 12 games for Boston in 2002 with a 7.77 ERA.

18.  JOSH GARRETT (1st Round, 1996)
And now we get to players who never played in the Majors, but were not traded before stagnating.  Garrett pitched for several seasons in the minor leagues with Boston but never made it above AA ball.  He also never won more games than he lost and other than a short time after he was drafted, never had an ERA below 4.50.  The best Red Sox player Boston drafted in 1996 was Shea Hillenbrand and Jason Marquis, who had a long career in the Majors, was picked after Garrett in the first round.

19.  JASON PLACE (1st Round, 2006)
Despite some impressive power numbers, particularly in 2008, Place just never developed enough as a hitter to make it past AA ball.  Injuries may have played a role.  Place was eventually released and picked up by the Yankees but continued to struggle and was out of baseball by 2012.  Justin Masterson and Daniel Bard (another first-rounder) are two players from the 2006 draft class that made more of an impact in Boston.  I personally wanted Boston to draft Joba Chamberlain because he was from Nebraska, but Chris Coghlan was a first-rounder who was more successful in the Majors drafted after Place.

20.  KOLBRIN VITEK (1st Round, 2010)
It is hard to imagine now but Vitek was considered an elite prospect when he was drafted.  He was one of the top college hitters available that year.  Unfortunately, after a very good season in Class A in 2011, Vitek stagnated and never made it past AA.  Boston's most successful draft pick from 2010 is Brandon Workman so far, though Sean Coyle has been impressive in the minors.  Boston missed out on Christian Yelich, Taijuan Walker, and Noah Syndergaard in picking up Vitek, though they had two other first-round and supplemental picks.  Bryce Brentz and Anthony Ranaudo have both made it to the Major Leagues, albeit not as full-time Major Leaguers, yet.

21.  JOHN CURTICE (1st Round, 1997)
Curtice was a bit of a wild child and a free spirit when he was drafted out of high school.  He also never progressed above High-A ball despite encouraging seasons in 1997 and 1998.  Injuries probably played a part in this.  He was out of baseball by 2001 at just 21 years of age.  This was a bad draft class for Boston.  Only Angel Santos spent any time with the big league club, although David Eckstein was the most successful draftee of the year for Boston.  They were pretty foolish in letting him go on waivers.  Players picked after Curtice in the first round included Adam Kennedy, Jayson Werth, and Jack Cust.

22.  TONY SHEFFIELD (2nd Round, 1992)
No relation to Gary, Tony Sheffield never made it above High-A ball.  He never stole more than 11 bases, nor hit better than .263.  He was a complete bust.  Boston lost their first-round pick to the Mets due to the free agent signing of Frank Viola.  Lou Merloni was probably Boston's best draft pick that year, which really shows how bad this draft was for Boston.  Jason Giambi was picked just two spots behind Sheffield.  Ouch.

23.  ANDY YOUNT (1st Round, 1995)
Yount might have made it, but we will never know.  After visiting the grave of a friend who died senselessly in an accident, he squeezed a bottle in anger so tightly that it shattered lacerating several tendons in his pitching hand.  Several surgeries later and Yount was eventually released.  He attempted a comeback a few years later in the Tigers system, but never made it above High-A.  He pitched in just 13 games in the Red Sox system.  Boston's most successful signee in 1995 was Paxton Crawford, so yet another bad draft.  Juan Pena looked to be a star but injuries ended his career.  Boston drafted Pat Burrell but he did not sign.  Roy Halladay was picked just two places after Yount.

Since 2012, Boston's top picks were Trey Ball, Michael Chavis, and Andrew Benintendi, respectively.  Ball and Chavis have struggled, though it is still too early to give up on them entirely.  Benintendi, on the other hand, looks like he could make it to the Majors sooner, rather than later.  It is obvious that a variety of things can happen to make drafting top talent an iffy proposition.  That is why I think teams frequently over-value their draft picks and why I don't spend a ton of time and money collecting players before they make it to the Major Leagues.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Colorful Mailday

My latest trade package arrived with some nice, colorful parallels:
We have a green Pablo Sandoval doing something he needs to do a little more often this year, hitting a home run.  Edward Mujica, who was a bit of a disappointment in Boston, nevertheless is the subject of a nice pink parallel that is numbered to just 50.  Jake Peavy checks in with a gold version, which is fitting since he helped Boston win the 2013 World Series.  The last of the colors is the black Stadium Club Hanley Ramirez card.  This is a painful reminder of just how horrifically awful Ramirez was in left field.  Hopefully he will be a better first-baseman.  Finally, we have a buyback of 2007 World Champion and All Star Hideki Okajima.  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Season in Review: 2012

Did I say "Ugh" with the 2011 season?  Well, this one was quite a bit worse.  Nothing went right in 2012, injuries decimated the team, players underperformed, and there was practically a riot against new manager Bobby Valentine at one point.  Then, of course, Boston traded away three high-paid stars for salary relief and some spare parts, most of whom were traded away just as quickly.  Valentine was not the right move for manager and was dismissed after the season.  Boston finished in last place for the first time since 1992.

David Ortiz
Ortiz was not immune to the injury bug in 2012.  He was having a terrific season up until that point, hitting .318/.415/.611 with 23 home runs and 60 RBIs and was the team's lone All Star.  He went down with an injury in mid July then came back for one game late in August and was shut down for the remainder of the season.

Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia was relatively healthy in 2012, only missing 21 games over the course of the season.  He turned in some pretty impressive numbers too, hitting .290/.347/.449 with 15 home runs, 65 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases for one of his better years.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Oddly, Saltalamacchia was the Red Sox home run leader in 2012 after hitting a career high of 25.  Otherwise, the catcher's offensive stats were not terribly impressive.  He finished with a slash line of .222/.288/.454 and 59 RBIs.

Clay Buchholz
Buchholz ended up tying for the team lead with 11 wins.  Yeah, it was that kind of year for Boston.  He was dreadful early in the season but started pitching quite well in the second half with an ERA nearly two runs lower.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury is another player whose career was cut short by injury.  He was injured early in the season and did not make it back until late in the first half.  He made it into 74 games and stole 14 bases.  It was not the best way to build on his terrific 2011 season.

Alfredo Aceves
Boston acquired two closers prior to the 2012 season, giving up talented young players Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie in the process.  Yet it was Aceves who turned out to be the primary closer for the Red Sox, saving 25 games despite losing 10 games and having a 5.36 ERA.

Daniel Nava
Nava returned to the Majors in 2012 after not appearing in 2011 and performed reasonably well.  Nava hit .243/.352/.390 with 6 home runs and 33 RBIs in 88 games, primarily as the left-fielder.  He would build on this season with a greater 2013.

Mike Aviles
Aviles ended up being the starting shortstop after Boston (foolishly) traded both Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro prior to the season.  Aviles was very impressive defensively but not quite as good at the plate, though he did hit 13 home runs and steal 14 bases.

Pedro Ciriaco
Ciriaco was an under-the-radar acquisition who paid some big dividends.  Ciriaco played almost every position and had an impressive season with the bat.  He hit .293/.315/.390 and was second on the team with 16 stolen bases.

Junichi Tazawa
Tazawa started becoming one of the team's most trusted middle relievers after striking out 45 in 44 innings and ending up with a 1.43 ERA.  He solidified his spot on the roster with the terrific season, leading into becoming a very valued part of the bullpen in 2013.

Cody Ross
He was not expected to be one of the team's top hitters, nor even one of the best outfielders, but Cody Ross put together a very good season quietly and may have been the team's MVP.  Ross hit .267/.326/.481 with 22 home runs and 81 RBIs.

Vicente Padilla
Together with Alfredo Aceves, Boston had a very intimidating bullpen.  The general theory was that both Padilla and Aceves were a little bit nuts.  Padilla would occasionally surprise batters with an eephus-like pitch and ended up with a 4-1 record and a 4.50 ERA in 56 games.

Craig Breslow
Breslow was acquired from Arizona for Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik at midseason and had a terrific stint with Boston with a 2.70 ERA in 23 games, striking out 19 and walking nine in 20 innings.  It was Breslow's second stint in Boston.  Making that trade even better for Boston is the fact that Podsednik was released by Arizona and came back to Boston.

Felix Doubront
I went to my first Red Sox game since 2006 in 2012 and Doubront was the starter.  He did not pitch particularly well, but ended up with the win.  On the season, Doubront lead the team in strikeouts with 167 in 161 innings, and tied for the team lead in wins with 11.  It was a decent season for the southpaw.

Will Middlebrooks
The hitting star of the game I went to was Middlebrooks who took over at third base for the rapidly declining Kevin Youkilis.  Middlebrooks hit two home runs in that game and 15 home runs on the season and looked like a rising star before he too was injured.

Jon Lester
The pitching staff was one of the biggest disappointments of the year.  John Lackey underwent Tommy John surgery, Clay Buchholz was inconsistent, and Josh Beckett was eventually traded in the big Dodgers trade.  But Lester was the biggest problem, going 9-14 with an ugly 4.82 ERA.

Andrew Bailey
As bad as the starters were, the relievers were even worse.  Boston has a bad track record in trading for relievers and this was definitely one of the bad trades.  Boston acquired Bailey and Ryan Sweeney for Josh Reddick and two minor leaguers.  Bailey had control issues and injuries and ended up 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA and only six saves.  Meanwhile, Reddick hit 32 home runs and won a Gold Glove for Oakland.

Mark Melancon
Boston made two trades for closers coming into the season and neither of them worked out.  Melancon was acquired for Jed Lowrie and immediately struggled.  He spent a lot of time in the minors and ended up 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA and one save.  Lowrie hit 16 home runs as the Astros starting shortstop.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Short Two-Card Mailday

I am trying to pick up some of the cards I missed out on from last year.  This quick trade finished off my last Topps Update base and one of the inserts.  Travis Shaw is one of my favorite under-the-radar players after his terrific season last year.  Nomar Garciaparra and Jim Rice are very large in my collection already, with Garciaparra being the player I have the second-most cards of: 861.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Getting Back Into Trading

I have not been active much on the trading forums or in doing any blog trades lately, but I have been making a concerted effort to change that over the last week.  Here is the first batch:
Here we have a couple of Bowman parallels of guys from the 2013 World Championship team, including a really nice card numbered out of 50 for Daniel Nava, and a couple of Xfractors from guys on the much less distinct 2010 team.  I have decided I just enjoy getting Red Sox cards in general lately.  They don't have to be any certain players, it is just nice to be getting some cards again.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Red Sox With No Cards: 1992

In this series I take a look at players who played for the Boston Red Sox but, for some reason, never had a Major League card produced of them with the team.

I have decided there is an easier way to do this.  I figured I would go year by year starting in 1991, which was the first year that I started watching the Red Sox.  Maybe some other time I will start to go backwards from there.  Well, there were no players without cards in 1991, so that brings us to just one player in 1992:

The younger brother of longtime Red Sox second-baseman Marty Barrett, Tom also played second base.  He was originally drafted by the Yankees but made his Major League debut with the Phillies and played in 50 games over parts of two seasons.  He did not play in the Majors at all in 1990 and 1991 but re-appeared in 1992 with the Red Sox.  This was two years after Marty made his last appearance in Boston.  Tom made it into just four games without getting a hit in three at-bats.  He did walk twice and scored a run.  He had four assists and three putouts in the field.  Barrett does have a couple of minor league cards with the Red Sox organization but no Major League cards.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

1991 Topps #605: Jeff Reardon

In this series, I will look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
Jeff Reardon was coming off of his first season as the Red Sox closer.  I am not quite sure why they signed Reardon as a free agent when they already had Lee Smith installed as closer.  Smith had a couple of decent seasons as the closer and did not much care for the fact that Boston now had two closers, so he requested a trade.  Boston moved him to St. Louis in exchange for Tom Brunansky and Reardon was now the sole closer on the team.

Reardon finished the 1990 season with a 5-3 record, a 3.16 ERA, and 21 saves.  It was a decent season, but Smith had a terrific season after moving to St. Louis.  Reardon went on to more success over the next two seasons, saving 40 games and appearing in the All Star Game in 1991 and setting the all-time saves record in 1992.  

I liked Reardon right away because I really liked closers early on.  And Reardon was a pretty good one.  Unfortunately his life since baseball has not been nearly as positive.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

One-Card Wonder Pt. 24: Scott Schoeneweis

I just got this card and rather than do a post about receiving it and then later doing a One-Card Wonder post, I figured I would just get it out of the way now.

This is another oddball card, like the Royce Clayton card from a few days ago.  This is from the ongoing Jewish Major Leaguers set that gets updated seemingly every couple of years to reflect new players and team changes.  This one is from 2014 and reflects Schoeneweis's final season in the Major Leagues when he suited up for Boston in 2010.  This is very likely to be the only card of Schoeneweis with the Red Sox as he did just pitch in 13.2 innings over 15 games.

The left-hander was a middle reliever, who are frequently underrepresented in sets, had a short stint with Boston, and frankly was not all that good.  He struck out 13, walked 10, and ended up with an ERA of 7.90.  It was a pretty forgettable season.  But I love getting cards of as many players as possible, particularly from the years I have been watching the team, so when I realized this card existed, I had to get it.

I love the Jewish Major Leaguers set.  It is a great source of history of players who otherwise do not get a lot of attention, because it is devoted to covering all Jewish players, and not just the big stars like Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg, and Shawn Green.  I have cards in my Red Sox collection of Gape Kapler and Adam Stern.  I keep meaning to look into getting some others as well.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Topps Blaster

I bought a Topps blaster the other day, figuring I would try my luck some more.  It worked out pretty well actually.  Just one base card, but two inserts were added to my collection.  The base card is Clay Buchholz.  I would have liked some of the lesser-known players personally, but a Red Sox card is a Red Sox card in my book.  The Carlton Fisk card is a Walk Off Wins insert, celebrating his home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.  The Rusney Castillo card is easily my favorite.  It is a beautiful photo of him running out of the dugout with Fenway Park in its full glory behind him.  These Perspectives inserts are awesome.  I need the David Ortiz.

Friday, February 12, 2016

One-Card Wonder Pt. 23: Royce Clayton

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).
I mentioned this card once before in a comment on a blog post by Nick at Dime Boxes.  This is Royce Clayton's only card with the Red Sox and it comes from the Danbury Mint 22 kt. gold set commemorating the Red Sox's 2007 World Championship.  This was Clayton's final season in the Major Leagues.  Clayton started the season with Toronto then was acquired by Boston late in the year and only appeared in eight games.  He had six at-bats and no hits.  He mostly appeared as a late-inning defensive replacement.  

I loved the Danbury Mint cards.  I have several in my Red Sox collection, including both sets commemorating the World Championships in 2004 and 2007.  I also have three in my Sandy Alomar Jr. collection.  I just wish they would have updated Alomar every time he changed teams.  I have the Rockies, White Sox, and Indians represented, but it would be nice to have the Rangers, Dodgers, and Mets as well.

This is the only card of Royce Clayton I am aware of with the Red Sox and it makes a nice curiosity in my Red Sox collection.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Forgotten Stars Pt. 9: Tex Hughson and Boo Ferriss

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 brief time period in the late 1940's, Boston had a terrific team that was expected to compete with the Yankees for multiple American League pennants.  Anchored by a star-studded lineup including future Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr and other stars such as Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky, the 1946 team was favored to win the World Series against the Cardinals.  Lost in that was the fact that the pitching staff also excelled and we simply do not hear as much about those pitchers as the impressive hitters on that team.
Tex Hughson was the elder statesman of the rotation, at just 30 years of age.  Hughson came up to Boston briefly in 1941 before making a big statement with his terrific sophomore season of 1942 when he won 22 games and lead the league in wins, complete games, innings and strikeouts (albeit with just 113, pitchers did not strike out a lot of batters in those days).  In 1943, his record declined slightly but his other numbers stayed relatively constant.  In 1944 he was 18-5 with a 2.26 ERA then missed the 1945 season due to military service.  He came back strong in 1946 though and was 20-11 with a 2.75 ERA and 172 strikeouts.  1947 saw a little bit of a decline and then arm problems derailed him the rest of his career.  Hughson was a three-time All Star.
Dave "Boo" Ferriss won 21 games as a rookie in 1945.  Granted it was a war-time year and the competition was not real strong, but it was still a strong showing.  In 1946, he won 25 games with a 3.25 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 274 innings.  Unfortunately, he also declined sharply in 1947 and then also had arm problems that basically ended his career.  Ferriss was an All Star in 1946. 

Joe Dobson and Mickey Harris also provided some impressive seasons in 1946.  Harris was 17-9 with a 3.64 ERA and Dobson was 13-7 with a 3.24 ERA.  The four pitchers together were one of the best rotations in Red Sox history.

Much of the reason that these players are largely forgotten is the fact that both players declined significantly and were gone shortly after 1946.  Mel Parnell and Ellis Kinder both took over in the rotation when Hughson and Ferriss faltered.  But for one brief period in 1946, Boston had two young 20 game winners leading their rotation.