Thursday, March 31, 2016

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 16: Bobby Doerr

Years with Boston: 1937-1951 (.288/.362/.461, 223 home runs, 1,247 RBIs)
Best Year in Boston: 1944 (.325/.399/.528, 15 home runs, 81 RBIs)
Bobby Doerr was the first young player acquired by owner Tom Yawkey to become a star.  After a few years of acquiring veteran stars, he changed tactics somewhat and began going after young players to build around.  Doerr and Ted Williams were signed on the same West Coast trip.

Doerr was the second-baseman for the Red Sox over the course of his entire career.  He came up briefly in 1937 then became a regular in 1938.  Doerr started to become a star in 1939 hitting .318/.365/.448 with 12 home runs and 73 RBIs.  These were strong numbers for a second-baseman.  The next season, Doerr hit more than 20 home runs and drove in more than 100 runs for the first time in his career while hitting .291.

Doerr was a nine-time All Star, beginning in 1941 and was part of the core of the Red Sox team that was being assembled in the early 1940's.  Doerr had his best season of his career in 1944, one of the years baseball was decimated by World War II.  He lead the league in slugging percentage and had the highest batting average of his career while being named to the All Star team and finishing in the Top 10 for the AL MVP.

The next season, Doerr served in WWII and did not play at all in the Majors.  He came back the following season along with other stars such as Williams, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky and Boston rolled to the World Series.  Doerr was a big part of the team's success, though his batting average dipped, as he drove in a then-career high 116 and finished third in the AL MVP race.  Boston unfortunately did not hit well as a team in the World Series as they fell to the Cardinals in seven games, but Doerr was a bright spot as he topped the team with a .409/.458/.591 line with a home run and three RBIs.

The next few seasons saw Doerr continue to hit well.  His power actually increased over the next few years as he hit 27 home runs twice and drove in well over 100 runs three times.  He lead the league in triples with 11 in 1950.  Doerr was still a productive hitter in 1951, his final season, at the age of 33.  He hit just under .300 with 13 home runs, however, chronic back problems forced him to retire.

Doerr could have been a Hall of Fame inductee much sooner than he was had he had a few more good seasons.  Unfortunately, with his early retirement due to injuries, Doerr was not elected until the Veterans' Committee inducted him in 1986, one of the better selections by the oft-maligned committee.  Doerr's uniform number 1 was retired by the Red Sox that same season.  Doerr is one of four Hall of Famers to spend his entire playing career with the Red Sox.  He is also currently the oldest living Hall of Famer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Aramis Ramirez Bat Card Yielded This:

The other guy really, really wanted that Aramis Ramirez bat card.  He offered all of these up and I asked him what he would be willing to give up for that one card and he insisted on sending all of these.  I didn't argue, though I did tell him it wasn't necessary.  I did throw in some extras though.

1.  Matt Thornton.  Carrying on with my recent Red Sox focus, Thornton was acquired by Boston during the 2013 season to be a lefty out of the pen.  He was injured though and did not play a lot for Boston.  He missed the playoffs entirely and left as a free agent.

2.  Rafael Devers.  Devers is one of Boston's top prospects, in particular their #2 prospect by most prospect lists, though Keith Law had him as their top prospect and the #7 prospect in all of baseball.

3.  Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia has declined a bit but if he can put up a few more good seasons, his Hall of Fame likelihood will be that much more assured.

4.  Michael Kopech.  Boston's #5 prospect has fallen onto some hard times recently with his suspension last year and now hurting his hand in a fight with a teammate.  Hopefully he can turn things around because he has talent.

5.  Wade Boggs/Bob Ojeda.  This is one of the buybacks from this year.  Boggs was my first favorite player and is of course a Hall of Famer.  Ojeda was a pretty good left-hander that Boston probably should have kept.  He helped the Mets win the 1986 World Series over the Red Sox.

So this was a pretty successful trade on my part, I feel.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Unknown Heroes Pt. 41: Tony Fossas

I have previously mentioned on this blog that I have an odd fascination with left-handed pitchers.  There is just something kind of interesting about seeing a card of a southpaw pitching.  I also like cards of middle relievers.  Along with utility players and backup catchers, middle relievers are criminally underrepresented in card sets.  The LOOGY (Left-Handed One Out GuY) is the ultimate in underrepresented players.  
The LOOGY was a phenomenon that exploded in the late 1980's/early 1990's after being an experiment for years before that.  The idea was for a team to keep a left-handed reliever as a specialist to get left-handed batters out in the later innings.  Tony Fossas was one of the first players that I remember that made a career out of being a left-handed specialist, and of course since he was so successful against lefties and he started around the time that I was just getting into baseball, he was a player that I really liked.  It seemed like Boston had a very effective weapon to employ in the later innings.
Fossas was a 31-year-old rookie for the Milwaukee Brewers when he was finally able to crack the Major Leagues for good in 1989.  He was signed as a free agent by the Red Sox in 1991 and was immediately inserted into the bullpen as more of an all-purpose reliever.  It was not until later that he became a specialist.  He was reasonably successful in 1991, going 3-2 with a 3.47 ERA, though he walked nearly as many as he struck out.  He did have a rather pronounced platoon split though with right-handers hitting .266/.372/.347 and lefties hitting .190/.277/.298.
It was 1992 that Fossas found his true baseball purpose.  That year Boston greatly limited his exposure to right-handed batters, which was good because they hit .345 against him in 67 plate appearances.  He walked 11 right-handers and only struck out three.  But lefties only hit .214 against him and struck out 16 times, versus just three walks.  Fossas was even better against lefties in 1993, but struggled quite a bit against right-handers, which ballooned his ERA to 5.18 on the season as opposed to the 2.43 that he had in 1992.  
1994 was Fossas's final season with the Red Sox, and that season was more of the same.  He was incredibly effective against left-handers but extremely hittable against right-handers.  For his Red Sox career, Fossas went 7-5 with a 3.98 ERA and struck out 118 versus 72 walks in 160.2 innings over 239 games.  And therein lies the most interesting aspect of the LOOGY.  He pitched against just one batter so many times that he had 80 more games than innings pitched.  Fossas went on to pitch another five years for five teams.  As a very effective LOOGY, he was always in demand.  There have not been many LOOGYs better than Fossas over the years.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Underrated Player of the Year: 2014

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.
Boston's acquisition of Joel Hanrahan for 2013 was one of those deals that just did not seem to work out well for the Red Sox.  They made a number of those trades, particularly for closers, over the years.  Mark Melancon turned into an All Star right away for Pittsburgh and Hanrahan went down for the rest of the year after just a handful of inconsistent games.  But there was a right spot as Brock Holt also came over in that deal.  

Holt had played in 24 games for Pittsburgh in 2012 and won the Triple A batting title before being traded to the Red Sox.  He made it into 26 more games in 2013, then broke out in 2014 as he played mostly regularly in the Majors for the first time.  Holt was officially a rookie in 2014 and even managed to finish eighth in the Rookie of the Year voting, though admittedly that was only one vote.

Versatility was the primary reason that Holt stuck around.  He played in 104 games for Boston, pretty much all over the field.  He played every position except pitcher and catcher, but spent most of his games at third base.  He really stepped up when Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts faltered at third.  He also made some impressive defensive plays.

On top of his defensive versatility, Holt actually could hit a little bit too.  He finished the season with a slash line of .281/.331/.381 with four home runs and 29 RBIs.  He lead the team in stolen bases with 12.  

Of course, the best was yet to come for Brockstar.  He would be named to the All Star team in 2015 while continuing to be a very versatile defender and good contact hitter.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

More Trade Packages

A number of trade packages came in all in one day.  
This first scan shows a bunch of Chrome singles, including a new Mookie Betts purple refractor and a Mookie Betts Sepia Refractor.
Keeping up with some rare Mookie cards is this camo photo variation.  After that though, things get really interesting.  I remember Morgan Burkhart being kind of an interesting story.  He was in the independent leagues before signing on with Boston.  Peter Gammons used to talk quite a bit about him.  He did have a brief stint in the Majors, but did not last real long.  Grady Sizemore did not last long in Boston, but did have a memorable Opening Day in 2014, hitting a home run, and he did get a very nice card.  I decided I should add a few parallels of the card.  I have now doubled the number of Sizemore Red Sox cards in my collection.  I added these two MLB Showdown cards as well, which are great examples of the player selection.  Damon Buford and Mark Portugal did not have many cards from their brief Red Sox stints.  Finally, the last card in the scan is the 1960 Topps Coaches card.  Rudy York was a hero for the 1946 team.  The other three are Billy Herman, Sal Maglie, and Del Baker.
Finally, this scan includes a parallel of A.J. Pierzynski, who did not have many cards with Boston, and a couple of cards of Craig Hansen and Mike Lowell.  The last three are all players that are expected to produce for Boston in 2016.

And that's it for this mailday.  Lots of random stuff there.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Heritage Blaster Break

I had not been having the best of luck pulling base cards from 2016 Heritage, but that changed a little with the latest blaster break.
I am not sure what is going on with Clay Buchholz's hat here.  It must be some kind of 4th of July special cap.  Carson Smith is one of the new Boston acquisitions in the set.  The picture is photoshopped, but it is my first card of the new setup man.  And then we have Jackie Bradley Jr. and a Yaz insert.  Yaz tied for the Major League lead in 1967 with Harmon Killebrew, but it was the year he won the AL MVP and the Triple Crown.

Not a bad break for my Red Sox collection.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Just Commons Order and a Top 10 Hit

I decided my wantlist was not getting any smaller lately, so I decided to place an order with Just Commons to see if I could knock off a bunch of stuff.  In fact, my wantlist has actually been getting bigger lately.  I have been spending a lot of time adding stuff on to it, such as Stadium Club base cards and Pacific base cards.  

Well, here is the Just Commons order:
Stadium Club was one of my primary goals recently, mostly due to amazing photography that the brand is known for.  There are a few such examples in the above scan.  The Mo Vaughn card shows how awkward of a fielder Vaughn was.  He did not get a ton of errors, but his shortstops typically did.  He was just not that great at picking the throws and his range was basically non-existent.  The Jeff Frye card on the other hand is a terrific action shot of him sliding into home.  It is definitely my favorite shot from this entire order.
The next scan includes nine needed 1994 Pacific cards.  What I have always loved about Pacific has been the brand's player selection.  Unfortunately there are not really any impressive examples here.  All of these players were fairly common in 1994 brands.
Here we have some more Pacific and then some random stuff.  The Blake Swihart in the bottom left is my favorite here.  This is one of the 1989 Bowman is Back inserts.
Some more randomness here.  The Xander Bogaerts completes my mini refractor Top 5 insert set.  Jon Lester was one of the two All Stars in 2014 for Boston.  That is a very interesting cap.
1997 Ultra is probably my favorite Ultra set.  It had some nice photography and the Gold Medallion inserts included different photos.  The MIke Stanley is a terrific action shot of a play at the plate that likely did not go Boston's way.
And here we have some more random cards, followed by two vintage cards at the end.  Dick Radatz was one of the best relievers in the game in the 1960's.  He was starting a downward slide when this card was released.  He was traded early in the 1966 season.  Willard Nixon was one of the better Red Sox starters in the mid 1950's.
And some more vintage here.  The first card celebrates Rico Petrocelli's two home runs in Game 6 of the 1967 World Series against the Cardinals.  Yaz and Reggie Smith also homered in that game.  There is also a card of Pumpsie Green, Boston's first black player here.

The last card did not come from the Just Commons order, but it was one of the Top 10 Most Wanted.  This is Herb Pennock's Hall of Fame plaque which appears to depict Pennock wearing a Red Sox cap.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Season in Review: 2013

John Farrell was hired to replace Bobby Valentine as the manager and the Red Sox spent a lot of the money that they saved after trading away the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett.  Some of the more injury-prone players also came back in a big way.  Pretty much everything went right, and the result was their third World Championship since 1918.  They won the AL East, then beat Tampa Bay in the ALDS three games to one, beat the Tigers in the ALCS in six games, and finally won the World Series over the Cardinals in six games.

Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia had his first All Star season since 2010 and also won a Gold Glove, his third.  It was an impressive season for the second-baseman as he hit .301/.372/.415 with nine home runs, 84 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases.  He only missed two games all season.

David Ortiz
David Ortiz hit 30 home runs for the first time since 2010 and came back from an injury-shortened 2012 season to lead Boston's offense in batting average, home runs, and RBIs.  Of course he had a legendary postseason at the plate.  He hit .309/.395/.564 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Like Ortiz, Ellsbury missed a significant chunk of time in 2012, and came back to have a more typical Ellsbury season, nothing like his monstrous 2011 season.  He hit .298/.355/.426 with nine home runs and stole 52 bases to lead the league in his final season for the Red Sox.

Jon Lester
Another player with a bounceback season was the left-handed Lester, who was Boston's best starting pitcher.  He lead the team in wins (15) and strikeouts (177) while pitching to an ERA of 3.75 and then was lights-out in the postseason.

Clay Buchholz
Had he stayed healthy, Buchholz could have won the Cy Young Award.  He was that good.  Instead, he had to settle for an incredible 12-1 record with a 1.74 ERA in 16 games.  He was named an All Star for the second time.  Unfortunately, it was obvious he was out of gas by the postseason.

Felix Doubront
The Venezuelan southpaw followed up a successful rookie season with a slightly better sophomore year.  His strikeouts were down slightly, but his rate stats all improved and he won the same number of games, while losing fewer.  He was impressive in the postseason out of the bullpen.

Daniel Nava
Nava had a breakthrough season in 2013, splitting time between the outfield and first base.  He hit .303/.385/.445 with 12 home runs and 66 RBIs.  Nava was in the Top 10 in the league in average and on-base percentage.

Junichi Tazawa
Tazawa settled in as the primary setup man after a brief failed audition for closer.  He pitched in 71 games, going 5-4 with a 3.16 ERA and 72 strikeouts versus just 12 walks in 68.1 innings.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia
One season after leading the Red Sox with 25 home runs, Saltalamacchia dipped to just 14 in 2013 but the rest of his hitting stats were more impressive.  Saltalamacchia, in his final season with the Red Sox, hit .273/.338/.466 and became the first Red Sox catcher to hit 40 doubles in a season.  He had a big moment with a walkoff hit in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Tigers.

John Lackey
Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Lackey had his best season to date for the Red Sox in 2013, winning 10 games and leading the team with a 3.52 ERA.  He had a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio.  Lackey won the final game of the World Series, completing a terrific comeback season.

Shane Victorino
Boston signed a number of middle-tier free agents for the 2013 season, but none had a better year than Victorino.  The right-fielder won the Gold Glove award and hit .294/.351/.451 with 15 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases.  He was particularly impressive down the stretch after giving up on switch-hitting.  Victorino had two huge moments in the postseason, hitting a grand slam in the final game in the ALCS and a bases-clearing double in the final game of the World Series.

Mike Napoli
The co-ringleader of the beard committee, along with Jonny Gomes, Napoli was supposed to be the biggest free agent signing.  He did hit 23 home runs and drove in 92 runs while learning a new position: first base.  He hit .259/.360/.482 for Boston and played a terrific first base.  He should have won a Gold Glove himself.

Koji Uehara
Something of an under-the-radar signing, nonetheless Koji was perhaps the biggest acquisition of all.  After Joel Hanrahan was injured, Boston needed a closer.  Koji stepped in and had one of the greatest seasons as a closer for the Red Sox of all time.  He saved 21 games with a 4-1 record and a mind-boggling 1.09 ERA while striking out 101 and walking nine in just 74.1 innings.  He was even better in the postseason, winning the ALCS MVP.

Jake Peavy
Unfortunately, Peavy cost Boston Jose Iglesias, but he helped solidify the rotation while Buchholz was hurt.  He was 4-1 in 10 games with a 4.04 ERA.  He was the only major pickup Boston obtained during the season.

Jose Iglesias
It is true that Iglesias was traded away at the trading deadline, but he was the only Red Sox rookie hitter to play any significant amount of time in 2013.  His glove was never a concern, but Iglesias actually hit very well with a slash line of .330/.376/.409.  His numbers declined somewhat with the Tigers, but he still finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote.

Brandon Workman
Workman made it into 20 games and struck out 47 in 41.2 innings.  He started three games and finished with a record of 6-3 and a 4.97 ERA.  He pitched his way onto the postseason roster and pitched his way to 8.2 innings without allowing an earned run.

Joel Hanrahan
Yet another trade for a closer gone awry.  Hanrahan cost the Red Sox Mark Melancon who became an All Star with the Pirates, as well as some young players.  Hanrahan only pitched in nine games, saving four, before going down for the season and had a 9.82 ERA.  His injury paved the way for Koji Uehara to become a dominant closer though.

Will Middlebrooks
After a strong rookie showing, Middlebrooks had trouble at the plate, hitting just .227/.271/.425.  He did hit 17 home runs, but struck out 98 times in only 348 at-bats and generally performing poorly in the field.  Boston eventually replaced him with Xander Bogaerts.

David Ortiz
Was there any doubt?  Ortiz had a postseason for the ages.  He hit two home runs against Tampa Bay in the ALDS, both off of David Price.  Then he hit a dramatic game-tying grand slam off of Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS which Boston later won.  Then he went completely nuts in the World Series, hitting an otherworldly .688/.760/1.188 slash line, for an utterly insane 1.948 OPS.  He was the obvious choice for World Series MVP.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

4 Small Packages in One Scan

Rather than doing one small post for each of the four packages I received in the mail all in one day, I decided to throw them all together.

The first four cards all came from one trade.  I gave up a bunch of 2016 Heritage singles.

1.  Fred Lynn.  This card is one of many celebrating Lynn's rookie year, which was one of the greatest of all time.  Lynn was, of course, the first player to win the Rookie of the Year and the MVP in the same season.

2.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  This is one of the retail-only parallels from 2014 Topps.  I had Matt Thornton previously.

3.  Jim Rice.  Rice was almost as good as Lynn in 1975.  Boy, that Red Sox outfield in the 70's (Dwight Evans, Lynn, and Rice) would have been incredible to see.

4.  Jackie Bradley Jr.  This year's outfield could be terrific defensively though.  Bradley will be in center, Mookie Betts in right, and Rusney Castillo in left.

Up next is a card that was on my Top 10.  It was pretty low on the list, but it was still on there.

5.  Alexi Ogando.  Technically I had the base version of this on my list, but I am going to count this.  I only had one card of Ogando previously in my Red Sox collection.  He made it into 64 games in 2015 and was generally unimpressive.  But, this is my first autograph of Ogando, and only my second card.

Next is a two-card trade for a couple of former highly regarded pitching prospects.

6.  Dustin Richardson.  Richardson made it into 26 games with Boston in 2010 as a lefty option in the bullpen.  After the season, he was traded to Florida for Andrew Miller, a trade that worked out well for Boston, but poorly for Florida as Richardson never pitched in the Majors again.

7.  Daniel Bard.  Bard was so good for a couple of seasons and it is really sad that he completely fell apart.  He has not pitched in the Majors since a bad two-game stint in 2013.  He can not find the strike zone any more and has bounced from organization to organization.

Finally, a quick Ebay buy.

8.  Babe Ruth.  This was a card that was only available in Topps factory sets.  This card commemorates Ruth's three World Championships with Boston.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

1991 Topps #629: Wes Gardner

In this series, I will look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
This is certainly not the most exciting of photos from this set.  Here we have just a profile shot from Spring Training.  Gardner was not the most exciting of pitchers in Boston either.  Gardner was acquired in the same trade that brought Calvin Schiraldi over from the Mets.  Boston sent Bob Ojeda and others to New York in that deal.  

Gardner typically pitched in relief while with the Red Sox, though not typically with a lot of success.  In 1990, Gardner was 3-7 in 34 games, starting just nine of them.  His ERA was a less-than-good 4.89 and his WHIP was a frightening 1.448.  

Boston apparently grew weary of Gardner not reaching his potential and traded him to the Padres in December for two minor leaguers who never made it to the Majors.  Gardner did not last long in San Diego either and was released in May.  He caught on with the Royals, continued to not pitch well and was done as a Major Leaguer.

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Most Wanted has Been Caught

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that my Top 10 Most Wanted has had a little bit of a shake-up at the top.  That is because the #1 card on the Top 10 was added to my collection:
This card has been #1 on that list since I acquired the only Red Sox card of James Loney ever made (2012 Topps Update SSP) and then shortly later an Oil Can Boyd card some time back in 2013.  This card has spent more than two and a half years as the #1 card on my Most Wanted list, longer than either of the other two.

As I have mentioned before on this blog when talking about this card, this is just an incredibly cool-looking card of a player who was not with the team for very long.  It is a die-cut card of J.T. Snow, who only played in 38 games for Boston in 2006, and is just my fourth card of Snow in my Red Sox collection.  There was a Jason Varitek card from the same set, which I picked up right away as it was during a time when picking up Varitek cards was my highest priority.

Snow had been acquired by the Red Sox as something of a stop-gap option at first in case Kevin Youkilis did not work out.  Ultimately, Youkilis turned into a terrific first-baseman and Snow was superfluous.  It helped that Snow only hit .205/.340/.205 with no power whatsoever.  He was released in June.

I am thrilled with this pickup.  Now, there is a new #1 on my Top 10 Most Wanted.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

1 for 1 SP Trade

I traded my 2016 Topps Heritage Buster Posey short print for this Red Sox short print from the same set:
That was a pretty good trade in my eyes.  I am looking forward to Mookie Betts building upon his successful career so far in 2016.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The New MLB Showdown?

I was browsing around Ebay looking for some cards of Red Sox players without many cards, when I stumbled upon this kind of odd-looking Ryan Hanigan card.  Apparently, there was a game kind of similar to MLB Showdown released last year.  The game is apparently pretty much the same, and the game came with 30 cards.  I bought a number of the cards after discovering them:
As you can see, there is no MLB license, and the pictures of the players have been altered quite bit, leaving the pictures looking like video game graphics.  But that is fine.  I am pretty happy with this selection of players.  There are more Red Sox, but I picked up a bunch that I was excited about.  Here is a brief discussion of each player:

1.  Allen Craig.  Craig has been a big disappointment in Boston after being acquired in the trade with Joe Kelly that sent John Lackey to St. Louis.  Craig has hit .139/.236/.197 with just two home runs for the Red Sox.  A far cry from his numbers in St. Louis.

2.  Anthony Varvaro.  Varvaro was picked up from the Braves after putting up a very impressive season in 2014.  Unfortunately, he did not do nearly as well for Boston.  He only pitched in nine games and was 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA and spent most of the season in the minors.  This is the first card of Varvaro with the Red Sox that I have seen, and so I had to have it.

3.  Brock Holt.  Holt is the player that is the largest in my collection from these six cards.  But I really like Brock Holt so I jumped at a chance to add an unusual card of Boston's sole All Star in 2015.

4.  Robbie Ross.  Ross was picked up in a deal with the Rangers in exchange for Anthony Ranaudo.  Ross was one of the principal members of Boston's rotation over the course of the 2015 season.  The left-hander pitched in 54 games with a 3.86 ERA and went 0-2 with 6 saves.  Like Varvaro, this is the first card I have seen of Ross, so again, I had to have it.

5.  Wade Miley.  Miley was traded this offseason to Seattle in a pretty good trade that brought Boston Roenis Elias and Carson Smith.  Miley lead Boston in innings pitched in 2015.

6.  Ryan Hanigan.  This is the card that lead to me buying these singles.  I only had one card of Ryan Hanigan from before.  I have not had the greatest luck getting Hanigan cards with the Red Sox.  His 2015 base card is the last one I need to have the full team set.  I still have not gotten his 2016 Topps card either.  He is expected to be Boston's backup catcher in 2016.

I would like to see this game continue in the future.  I loved MLB Showdown for its player selection, and this set seems to be in the same vein.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Barely Serious Ebay Bid

Every once in awhile, I will see something ending in just a few minutes and throw a bid out just for fun.  If I don't get it, fine, but if I get it, great.  Recently I did one of those which resulted in this beauty:
If you can see the bottom right-hand corner, it is a serial number 4/5.  This is the red refractor of up-and-coming southpaw Henry Owens.  Owens is hoping for a rotation spot in 2016 as he is coming off of a season in which he went 4-4 with a 4.57 ERA and 50 strikeouts versus 24 walks in 63 innings over 11 games.  It was a fairly successful brief stint in Boston.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Pile of Base Cards from My Wantlist

I have mentioned before that my wantlist is kind of my major goal right now.  I missed out on a bunch of 2015 cards, so there are quite a few cards on my wantlist.  This trade knocked off a bunch of my 2015 and 2014 needs:
There are not a lot of really interesting cards here.  The Rusney Castillo at the end commemorates his first home run and the Daniel Nava card talks about his grand slam which he hit on the first pitch he ever saw as a Major Leaguer.  That is just one of the reasons that Nava was such a fascinating player.  The rest of the cards are fairly basic base cards.  Nothing massively exciting, just some cards that I missed out on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Current Red Sox Focus Is... not focus on any one or more players and just get as wide a variety as possible.  Sure, it's nice to get players that are currently with the team, particularly young up and coming stars like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts.  But I also like getting cards of the players that had short stints with Boston and did not get too many cards.  That is why I have been particularly happy with my recent acquisitions of cards of players like Kelly Johnson, Scott Schoeneweis, Heinie Manush, Edward Mujica, and others.  And it is why I am happy with this card, that only cost me a couple of cards that did not have a place in my collection:
This is Jeff Bailey.  Bailey was your classic 4A player, too good to be in Pawtucket, not good enough to play in Boston.  He had some big power numbers for a years in Pawtucket, but could never stick around in the Majors.  It didn't help that he did not make his Major League debut until he was 28.  He spent parts of three seasons in Boston, hitting six homers in 159 plate appearances.  He just could not crack a Red Sox roster that already featured Kevin Youkilis at first base.  Bailey is listed as an outfielder here, but he mostly played first.

2009 was a great Upper Deck set.  Not only did they have Bailey with the Red Sox, but the set also featured cards of Mark Kotsay, George Kottaras, Javier Lopez, Takashi Saito, and Jonathan Van Every, a bunch of players who had very few cards for their Red Sox stints.  That is my kind of set.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Red Sox With No Cards: 1994

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.

We are skipping 1993 since there were no players that played for the Red Sox that did not have at least one card made, including Ernie Riles, Jeff Richardson, and Jim Byrd, who each only had one card.  The strike season of 1994 produced a few though and there would be a number almost every year after that as card companies produced progressively smaller sets and skipped the players that only had a handful of games.

Todd Frohwirth was a side-arming middle reliever and Boston always seems to get screwed out of getting cards of side-armers.  I may only be basing that on Frohwirth and Chad Bradford, but still.  Frohwirth pitched in 22 games with the Red Sox in 1994, going 0-3 with a scary 10.80 ERA and 13 strikeouts versus 17 walks.  He had previously been a pretty decent middle reliever with the Orioles, particularly in 1991 when he was 7-3 with a 1.87 ERA in 51 games.  Frohwirth does have a minor league card with the Pawtucket Red Sox, but nothing with the Major League club.

Litton was a pretty versatile role player while with the Giants and Mariners before joining Boston in 1994.  He only made it into 11 games with the Red Sox and only picked up two hits and an RBI in 21 games.  But he appeared at second base in four games, three games at first base, two games at third base, and one at designated hitter.  Litton's Major League career was over after 1994.  Like Frohwirth, Litton has a minor league card with Pawtucket from the same set.

Another player whose versatility helped him make it to the Major Leagues, Royer had previously appeared in Major League games with the Cardinals after being one of the players involved in the deal that brought Willie McGee to Oakland in the 1990 season.  Felix Jose was the major piece that moved to St. Louis in that trade.  Royer could play both corner infield spots.  Royer was placed on waivers in July and was picked up by the Red Sox.  He appeared in just four games with the Red Sox and only had one hit and one RBI while appearing in three games at third and one at first.

Tomberlin was in only his second Major League season in 1994.  He made it into 18 games, mostly as an outfielder, and managed to hit a home run pinch-hitting for Luis Ortiz against the Royals.  He also picked up a triple and a stolen base but only had a slash line of .194/.310/.333.  He had his greatest success with Boston though on the pitching mound.  He pitched the last two innings in a game that Boston was losing 21-2 to the Twins and actually managed to keep the Twins from scoring any more runs while only giving up a hit and a walk.  He recorded one strikeout.  That should have been worth a card.  Tomberlin did appear in the same minor league set as Frohwirth and Litton.  Tomberlin went on to play for the Athletics, Mets, and Tigers, but only had a couple of team issued cards and one Pacific card for those teams, despite actually playing in 147 games over the next four years.

Another waiver wire pickup early in the season, Trlicek had appeared in 41 games for the Dodgers in 1993, but was squeezed out of the bullpen picture in 1994.  Trlicek appeared in 12 under-whelming games for the Red Sox in 1994.  He was 1-1 with an 8.06 ERA, but the real trouble was with his control.  He only struck out seven batters compared to 16 walks in 22.1 innings.  Trlicek would not have any Major League cards released after his 1994 Dodgers cards and certainly none with the Red Sox, but he would appear in 32 more Major League games over the next few seasons, including a return to the Red Sox in 1997.

If I had to pick just one of these players that it is most disappointing to not see commemorated on cardboard, it would have to be Andy Tomberlin.  None of the players performed particularly well, and as much as I like the idea of a nice side-arm action shot of Todd Frohwirth, I think having a card showing Tomberlin pitching would be pretty cool.