Friday, May 27, 2016

Red Sox With No Cards: 1998

Pacific helped avoid a lot more players appearing on this list.  Online featured the only cards available of players like Mark Lemke, Brian Shouse, Mike Benjamin, Rich Garces (though he would later appear in more sets), and Jim Corsi.  Butch Henry appeared in two different Pacific sets.  Unfortunately, not everyone could appear in Online and there were a few players to not appear on cardboard with the Red Sox.

This long-time Dodgers prospect-in-waiting was gifted with a ton of power, but he could just never crack through the lineup for any significant amount of time.  The most games he ever played in was 81 in 1995.  He hit eight home runs that year, and nine the next year.  Just prior to the 1998 season, the Dodgers gave up on him and released him.  Boston signed him for some bench depth.  He made it into 13 games for Boston, hitting .292/.346/.792 with three home runs, three doubles, and seven RBIs.  Not bad for such a short stint.  That was it for his Major League career though.

Johns was a journeyman infielder who played for a number of organizations, but only made it to the Major Leagues in one season.  He played in just two games in 1998 with the Red Sox, but only had one plate appearance.  He did draw a walk in that plate appearance though.  Johns played two innings at second base in one of the games with an assist, a double play, and a put-out.  He continued to bounce around after 1998.

1998 was Mahay's third season with the Red Sox, and his second as a lefty out of the bullpen.  Mahay pitched in 29 games, his career high to this point, and again pitched fairly well.  He was 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA.  Unfortunately he walked more batters than he struck out and he gave up a hit per inning pitched.  Ultimately Boston cut ties with him because he was just not effective enough.  He was placed on waivers just prior to the 1999 season and was claimed by the A's.  He bounced around quite a bit after that.

The long-time Pirates star (by default since Pittsburgh purged their roster of most good players after 1992) spent a very short amount of time in Boston.  He was acquired at the trading deadline along with fellow No Card member Greg Swindell for a few minor leaguers from the Twins.  Swindell was the player Boston really wanted though.  Merced appeared in nine games with the Red Sox, with 12 plate appearances.  He did not get a single hit.  He walked twice, though he did have two RBIs.  He was released a month later and picked up by the Cubs, his third team of the year.

Kevin Mitchell's cousin did not have the same level of talent.  Mitchell was never quite able to crack into the Majors for good, or for more than one season at a time.  After short stints with the Braves, Mariners, and Reds, it was time for him to try his hand with the Red Sox (one of three teams for whom both he and his cousin played).  Mitchell made it into 23 games and hit reasonably well.  His slash line was .273/.400/.333, and he drove in six runs.  Despite being just 28, Mitchell never made it back to the Majors.
A lot of Boston's mid-season trade acquistions were denied cards.  Reyes was picked up in a trade with the Padres along with a couple of players yet to come in this post.  Jim Leyritz was sent to the Padres in the deal.  Reyes was the best of the players the Red Sox received in this trade.  He pitched in 24 games with a 3.52 ERA.  After the season though, he returned to the Padres, and had a pretty good year.

Romero was one of the other players to be acquired from the Padres in the Leyritz trade.  Romero was a backup catcher for the Red Sox and played in just 12 games.  He hit .231/.375/.308.  He hit one double among his three hits.  The next season he was traded to the Mets for Kelly Ramos, a minor league catcher who never made it to the Majors.  Romero would resurface in the Majors with the Rockies in 2003.  Romero did appear in some minor league sets in 1999.

After a few seasons as a backup infielder for the White Sox, Boston picked up Snopek in a minor deal in which they gave up former first round pick Corey Jenkins.  Snopek played in just eight games with the Red Sox though, spending almost equal time at second, third, and designated hitter.  He had two hits and two runs batted in over 14 plate appearances.  1998 was his last year in the Majors, despite playing for a number of other organizations.

Once an All Star starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, Swindell enjoyed a career renaissance as a relief pitcher in the mid 1990's.  The southpaw was acquired from the Twins in the same trading deadline deal as Merced above.  Swindell was the primary piece Boston wanted and he pitched fairly well down the stretch.  He pitched in 29 games and had a 2-3 record with a 3.38 ERA.  He made it onto the postseason roster and pitched an inning and a third of scoreless relief.  After the season, he was signed to a free agent deal with the Diamondbacks.

Valdez previously appeared in just 11 games with the Giants in 1995.  He pitched in just four games for the Red Sox in 1998 and did not allow a run.  He had a 1-0 record and struck out four while walking five in 3.1 innings.  He pitched in Japan in 1999.  Valdez did appear on some minor league cards with the Red Sox organization.

The last of the three players Boston acquired in the Leyritz deal, Veras was another relief pitcher.  He was the least-used of the three players.  He pitched in just seven games, and with a 10.13 ERA, it is not hard to see why that may have been.  He gave up 12 hits and walked seven in just eight innings, while only striking out two.  He played all over the world after 1998.

West was a well-traveled left-hander who returned from Japan to the  Majors in 1998.  1998 was his last appearance in the Majors and he made it into just six games.  He had a 27.00 ERA over two innings as a lefty reliever.  He did strike out four, but walked seven.  The West experiment did not work out and was abandoned quickly.

Of these players, I would most like to have seen Swindell get a card.  He was a valuable bullpen piece and even played in the postseason with the Red Sox.  I liked Swindell a little bit when I first started following baseball too.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

One-Year Wonder Pt. 27: Rey Sanchez

Every once in awhile, the Red Sox pick up a veteran player for a year, or just the stretch run that was a star at one point that I become fascinated with. It's a player that is basically only a role player at that point in their career, but may show flashes of their old brilliance. It's so unusual to see them as a member of the Red Sox, that I try to find as many of their cards as possible. This series will be about some of those players.

Rey Sanchez was a very good-fielding middle infielder who did not hit a lot.  He came up with the Cubs and played mostly shortstop for them for several years.  He moved over to second base after Ryne Sandberg retired.  Sanchez bounced around a little bit after that, playing with the Yankees, Royals, Giants, and Braves.  He solidified his reputation as a good defensive player while hitting just enough to stay in the lineup.  

Boston signed him prior to the 2002 season to solidify second base after purging the roster of Mike Lansing, Jose Offerman, Lou Merloni, and Chris Stynes the previous season.  He proved to be everything he was advertised to be as he hit .286/.318/.345, decent numbers, but certainly not dazzling.  But he was once again terrific in the field.  He never hit for much power, but he managed to hit his first home run since 2000 that season.  For the season, he was a 1.4 WAR player, much of that coming from his defensive prowess.

Sanchez was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season.  Boston decided to go with a more offensive player at second base, picking up Todd Walker, himself only lasting one season.  But where Walker was better with the bat, he was a significant step down with the glove. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

One-Card Wonder Pt. 29: Tim Young

Tim Young's Major League career consisted of just 18 games over two seasons, spread across three years.  He was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1996, yet managed to move quickly through their system, making his Major League debut in 1998.  He did not pitch well in 10 games and did not make it back to the Majors until 2000, after he had signed on with the Red Sox.

Young pitched in eight games with the Red Sox, mostly in May.  Again, he did not pitch well.  The southpaw pitched seven innings, giving up five runs.  He struck out six and walked just two over those seven innings, but gave up seven hits as well.

After the season, Young was sold to the Hiroshima Carp of Japan.  He signed back with the Boston organization before the 2002 season, then bounced around from team to team, never making it back to the Majors.  As a left-handed pitcher though, he was a valuable commodity, even if he didn't make it back to the big leagues.  He left baseball after the 2004 season.

Somehow he managed to appear on a Major League card with the Red Sox, despite sharing it with Israel Alcantara.  He did have a few cards with the Expos previously as well.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Topps Now May 8, 2016

The next Topps Now card features David Ortiz and Carl Yastrzemski.  On May 8, Ortiz hit two home runs, the first to tie Carl Yastrzemski's Red Sox home run mark, and the next one passed him.  Ortiz is now #2 on the Red Sox all-time home run record.  If Ortiz does indeed retire this year, he will not have a chance to break Williams's mark.  As of today, Ortiz has hit 456 home runs with the Red Sox.  Williams hit 521.  So Ortiz is still quite a way off from the all-time team record.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 19: Lou Boudreau

Years with Boston: 1951-1952 (.265/.350/.393, 5 home runs, 49 RBIs)
Best Year in Boston: 1951 (.267/.353/.396, 5 home runs, 47 RBIs)
Another player who was past his prime when he was acquired by Boston was longtime Cleveland Indians shortstop and player-manager Lou Boudreau.  Boudreau had long been a tormentor of the Red Sox, having guided his team to a one-game playoff win over Boston in 1948.  He was named MVP that year and was a one-man wrecking crew in the one-game playoff, hitting two home runs in four hits.  He was also one of the managers to utilize the shift against Ted Williams.

Boston acquired him in late 1950 largely with an eye towards him taking over as manager.  Boudreau did not play a lot in 1951, his first year with Boston.  Johnny Pesky was still going strong as the shortstop, with Vern Stephens also still in the fold.  Steve O'Neill had taken over as manager the previous season after Joe McCarthy was fired.  Boudreau was reasonably productive in 82 games, hitting .267/.353/.396 with five home runs.

The next season, Boudreau was named player-manager, though he did not play very often.  He appeared in just four games, without a hit.  He would manage the team through the 1954 season, attempting to bring in an infusion of youth.  He alienated many of the team's stars, leading to the retirements of Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio and the trade of Pesky.  His managerial record with Boston was 229-232.

Boudreau is in the Hall of Fame for his time with the Indians.  He was a great player with Cleveland and won the MVP in a terrific 1948 season.  His time in Boston is not terribly relevant to his Hall of Fame career, and his managerial stint is best forgotten.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

1991 Topps #702: Tim Naehring

In this series, I will look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
Though he was not the most heralded rookie in 1990, Tim Naehring would actually go on to have the best career of all of the players to make their Major League debuts with Boston that season.  Phil Plantier was the rookie that received the most fanfare, and with good reason at the time.  But Naehring was impressive in his own rights.  Naehring was an eighth round draft pick in 1988 and moved quickly through the system.  It would take him a few years to make the Majors for good due to injuries and ineffectiveness, but he had a good start to his career.

Naehring played in 23 games for Boston, coming up in July to provide some middle infield depth.  He spent most of the time in 1990 at shortstop which was his expected position early on.  He hit .271/.333/.412 with two home runs and 12 RBIs.  His impressive output positioned him to be the starting shortstop on Opening Day in 1991.  Unfortunately he did not play well, and was injured and Luis Rivera reclaimed his job.

Naehring became a regular 1994, mostly playing second base in place of Scott Fletcher, but he also played shortstop and third base.  In 1995, Naehring was the starting third-baseman, which is where he stayed until suffering a career-ending knee injury in 1997.  He had been a productive and consistent player until that time.   

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Red Sox With No Cards: 1997

1997 was a little bit better from a card standpoint.  Oddly, most of the players who have no Red Sox cards are players who have appeared in one of these posts before.  So a number of these players have actually been with the Red Sox spanning multiple years.  Yet, they have no cards.

Borland had been a fairly important part of the Phillies bullpen for several years coming into the 1997 season.  The year before, he pitched in 69 games with a 7-3 record and a 4.07 ERA.  The Phillies traded him to the Mets prior to the 1997 season with Ricardo Jordan for Rico Brogna.  He appeared in 13 games for the Mets before being traded to the Red Sox for fellow No Card Member Ricky Trlicek.  Borland pitched in just three games for Boston, with a 13.50 ERA.  He never pitched in more than 18 games again after 1997.  Toby Borland was not related to former Red Sox pitcher Tom Borland.

1997 was Brandenburg's second season with the Red Sox and his last season in the Major Leagues.  He was used frequently by Boston, pitching in 31 games, but was inconsistent at best.  He finished the season 0-2 with a 5.49 ERA.  The side-arming reliever did pick up 34 strikeouts versus 16 walks in 41 innings.  After the season, Brandenburg was traded back to the Rangers along with Aaron Sele and Bill Haselman for Jim Leyritz and Damon Buford, though he did not pitch in the Majors for them.

After a one-game stint with the Red Sox in 1996, somehow Ken Grundt made it back to the Big Show in 1997.  This time, he pitched in two games, but he wasn't much better than he had been the previous season.  He pitched three innings, compared to the 0.1 inning he pitched in 1996, though with a 9.00 ERA.  Grundt pitched one more season in the minor leagues in 1998 before hanging it up.  Despite pitching for four organizations, Grundt only ever pitched in the Major Leagues with the Red Sox, and never had a Major League card.

Hudson's third season with the Red Sox was his best one yet.  Yet, he still did not get a proper Major League card with Boston.  He pitched in 26 games with a 3-1 record and a 3.53 ERA.  He did have a little trouble with the free pass, walking 14 while also striking out 14 in 35.2 innings.  Hudson did not pitch in the Majors for the Red Sox in 1998, despite staying in the organization.  He was traded at the trading deadline to the Brewers for Eddy Diaz in a very minor trade.  Diaz never played for Boston and Hudson made it into just one game for Milwaukee.  That was his last appearance in the Majors.

For a short amount of time in 1997, it looked like Kerry Lacy might emerge as the Red Sox closer.  He picked up three saves over the course of about 12 days.  That was his save total for the season though.  Lacy's opportunity arose as a result of Heathcliff Slocumb's ineffectiveness.  Lacy was also in his second season with the Red Sox after being acquired in the same trade as Mark Brandenburg (for Mike Stanton).  Unfortunately, Lacy's overall season was not very impressive.  He had a 6.11 ERA over 45.2 innings and issued more walks than strikeouts.  He never appeared in the Majors again after 1997.

After a season away from the Majors, Mahay made it back to Boston in 1997.  This time, he was a left-handed relief pitcher after transitioning away from the outfield.  Mahay was very impressive in his first season as a reliever, showing up in 28 games, oftentimes as a lefty specialist.  His ERA was a sparkling 2.52 and he was 3-0 with 22 strikeouts versus 11 walks in 25 innings.  Mahay would bounce back and forth between the minors and majors over the next couple of seasons but would eventually have a long Major League career as a lefty reliever.  Mahay did not appear on many cards over his career, which had more to do with his status as a former replacement player than it did as a reliever.

The longtime Twins pitching prospect made the Opening Day roster for the Red Sox in 1997 after a coming over from Minnesota toward the end of the 1996 season.  Mahomes pitched in ten games over the first month of the season before being sent to the minors, and eventually Japan.  Mahomes was 1-0 with an 8.10 ERA.  One of the major things that sunk his season was giving up 10 walks in just 10 innings and only striking out five.  He would make it back to the Majors in 1999 with the Mets, for whom he turned in a good season.  He would then pitch in the Majors for a few more years.

McKeel played a bit more often than he had in his debut season in Boston in which he appeared just once, as a defensive replacement.  He still appeared as a defensive replacement a couple of times, but he actually accumulated three at-bats.  Four of his games were as a catcher, with one as a first-baseman.  McKeel did not get a hit in his three at-bats and struck out once.  He would resurface with the Rockies in 2002 and actually pick up four hits in 13 at-bats.

Pride was always an interesting player.  He was the first deaf player in Major League baseball since 1945.  He was coming off a fairly successful season with the Tigers in 1996 and played reasonably well again for Detroit in 1997.  He was picked up as a free agent in late August by Boston and made it into two games for the Red Sox, both as a pinch hitter.  In one of those at-bats, he homered.  Pride would bounce around a bit over the next several seasons, and even returned to Boston in 2000.  He was a fascinating story.

Making his second appearance on one of these posts, Trlicek last appeared for Boston in 1994.  Since that time, he bounced around several organizations, playing in the Majors for the Mets in 1996.  Trlicek began the 1997 season on the Opening Day roster for Boston and pitched in 18 games for the Red Sox, going 3-4 with a 4.63 ERA.  Not good, but not terrible either.  He walked 18 though and just struck out 10 in 23.1 innings, which was definitely not good.  Trlicek was eventually traded back to the Mets for Toby Borland and pitched in nine games with an 8.00 ERA.  That was his last appearance in the Majors.

If I had to pick just one player from this group who I would most like to see in a Red Sox uniform on a card, I would pick Curtis Pride.  His story is inspirational.  Deaf from birth, he had to overcome a lot to make it to the Major Leagues.  And in just two pinch-hit at-bats with Boston, he picked up a home run.  I would have liked to see bullpen stalwarts like Mark Brandenburg, Joe Hudson, Kerry Lacy, and Ron Mahay as well, and we likely would have had 1997 been more like the early 1990's when companies were producing cards of many more players.  Someone like Ken Grundt or Walt McKeel likely would never have seen any cards.  Their Major League careers consist of just a few games each.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Gypsy Queen Trade and a Random Piersall

Maildays have become more and more infrequent lately.  I have not been as active on the trading forums and I have been cutting back my Ebay spending.  Not really sure why.  Boston has been playing very well and certain players have been a lot of fun to watch.  Today I received two packages, one including a small trade that I worked out, entirely made up of Gypsy Queen cards, and the other a one-card buy off of Ebay.

1.  Xander Bogaerts.  Bogaerts has begun to emerge as the best shortstop in the American League.  He is flashing a bit more power this year and won the Silver Slugger last year.  He has also been better defensively.

2.  David Ortiz.  Ortiz has continued his own hot streak.  He had a huge game against the Yankees last week, tying the game in the ninth and winning it in the 11th.

3.  Blake Swihart.  Swihart was called back up today, to play left field while Brock Holt is injured.

4.  Carson Smith.  Unfortunately, Smith finally made it back from injury, only to be hurt once again.

5.  Jimmy Piersall.  Piersall is one of the all-time characters in Red Sox history.  He was also a very good player, and an excellent defensive outfielder.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

One-Year Wonder Pt. 26: Chris Stynes

Every once in awhile, the Red Sox pick up a veteran player for a year, or just the stretch run that was a star at one point that I become fascinated with. It's a player that is basically only a role player at that point in their career, but may show flashes of their old brilliance. It's so unusual to see them as a member of the Red Sox, that I try to find as many of their cards as possible. This series will be about some of those players.
Coming off a very good season for the Reds in 2000 in which he hit .334/.386/.497 with 12 home runs, Stynes was acquired by Boston in exchange for Donnie Sadler and Michael Coleman, two former prospects who were largely disappointing.  It was hoped that Stynes was a rising young star and the trade was lauded.

Stynes was expected to step in and solidify the third base position.  That position had been a disaster in 2000 for Boston due to injuries and ineffectiveness by John Valentin, Wilton Veras, Ed Sprague, Lou Merloni, and Manny Alexander.  However, rookie Shea Hillenbrand had a terrific spring and carried his hot start into the season.  Stynes ended up in a platoon at second base with Jose Offerman and Mike Lansing, while also spelling Hillenbrand at third base, despite the fact that Stynes was a better player than all of them.  Stynes also appeared occasionally in the outfield.
Unfortunately Stynes had some injury issues, missing significant time early in the season.  In just 96 games, Stynes ended up hitting .280/.322/.410 with eight home runs.  Solid numbers, though disappointing after his breakthrough year with the Reds in 2000.  It was still better than Sadler or Coleman produced for the Reds, so in that respect the trade worked out better for Boston, though Coleman was part of a trade with the Yankees for Wily Mo Pena.

That was Stynes's only season in Boston.  After the season, Boston non-tendered Stynes in December and he left to join the Cubs.  He never did really return to his 2000 form, though he did play almost every day for the Rockies in 2003.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

One-Card Wonder Pt. 28: Tim Harikkala

Tim Harikkala is the definition of journeyman pitcher.  Originally drafted in 1992 by the Mariners, he actually made his Major League debut in 1995.  He pitched in one game that year and one game the year after.  After that, it was not until 1999 that he made it back to the Major Leagues, this time with the Red Sox.

Harikkala made it into seven games with the Red Sox, all as a relief pitcher.  He pitched in 13 innings, giving up 15 hits, walking six, and striking out seven.  He ended up with a 6.23 ERA.  Somehow, he made it onto this card, despite such a short stint in Boston.  He was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season.

After his time with Boston, Harikkala signed with the Brewers, though he did not make it back to the Majors.  He made it back to the Major Leagues with the Rockies in 2002 and actually spent a large part of the season as a somewhat dependable reliever, making it into 55 games.  The following year he was back to shuttling between the minors and majors with the Athletics.  He returned to the Rockies in 2007.  And that was the last time he appeared in the Major Leagues.

This is one of just a small handful of Major League cards of Harikkala, and the only one with Boston.  Oddly he does not appear on a card with the Rockies, despite that being the only team for whom he spent any significant amount of time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 18: Al Simmons

Years with Boston: 1943 (.203/.248/.263, one home run, 12 RBIs)
Best Year in Boston: 1943 (.203/.248/.263, one home run, 12 RBIs)
The seasons during World War II were kind of weird for Major League Baseball.  Due to the draft being in place, virtually every able-bodied young man was sent to war.  This had a profound impact on the sport because a number of young stars were gone.  This lead to a lot of players who ordinarily would not have made it to the big leagues being thrust into the spotlight.  In addition, a lot of players who were well past their prime were able to hang out.  Al Simmons was an example of the latter for Boston in his one season.

"Bucketfoot" (so named due to his odd batting stance) was 41 years old in 1943 and likely was only there due to a lack of other players.  Boston was hit particularly hard by the war and turned to a number of over-the-hill players.  Simmons did not even play the previous season and only made it into 40 games for the Red Sox.  He did not hit particularly well either.

Simmons had his best years with the Philadelphia Athletics, but played for a number of other teams over the course of his career.  He accumulated nearly 3,000 hits and hit 300 home runs with a .334 career batting averge.  His Hall of Fame plaque has an A's cap on it.  His time with Boston is mostly irrelevant to his consideration for Cooperstown.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Another Bowman Blaster and a One-Card Mailday

I bought another Bowman blaster.  I pulled a bunch of Red Sox doubles, which is kind of ridiculous since I only had six cards previously.  The only new cards were the chrome versions of a couple of prospects that I had already: Rafael Devers and Mauricio Dubon.

Then I had a one-card mailday that landed me the 1982 insert of Xander Bogaerts from this year's Donruss set.  I noticed right away that these cards had some great photography and the Bogaerts did not disappoint either.  Plus, you can't tell there is no MLB license on this card.  Even better.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

1991 Topps #675: Tom Brunansky

In this series, I will look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
Tom Brunansky was acquired early in the 1990 season in a somewhat unfortunate trade.  Despite having Lee Smith as a closer, Boston made the somewhat baffling decision to also sign Jeff Reardon as a free agent prior to the season.  Predictably this caused a little bit of friction, and despite the fact that Smith was having a better season early on, he was traded to St. Louis for Brunansky.

Brunansky had hit 20 home runs for eight consecutive seasons coming into the 1990 season, but he would never hit 20 home runs again.  Smith would have a terrific season in 1990 and finish second in the Cy Young vote in 1991.  Brunansky was decent enough in 1990, but not the power hitter Boston thought they were getting.  He hit .267/.342/.438 with just 15 home runs and 71 RBIs.  He did make a terrific catch in the final game of the 1990 season which clinched the division title though, so there is that.  

Brunansky's average tumbled in 1991, but hit 16 home runs.  1992 was his last season with Boston in his first stint and he was the the best hitter on the team that season, hitting .266/.354/.445 and lead the team with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs.  He left after the season as a free agent and signed with Milwaukee.

In 1994, Brunansky was again acquired by the Red Sox in a trade, this time for Dave Valle.  Brunansky hit 10 home runs in 48 games for Boston in his final season.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

David Ortiz Topps Now

This is the second Red Sox card from the Topps Now innovative set.  It is also the second David Ortiz card from the set.  This one commemorates Ortiz's home run off of Dellin Bettances of the Yankees in the April 29th 4-2 win.  Bettances has had a bit of trouble with Boston this year.  This moment is one of several big Ortiz moments this year.  He just pulled off a couple more earlier today, tying the game in the 9th, and then winning it in the 11th.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Schilling Jersey and Some Wantlist Hits

I'm caught up.  I am writing this today.

Here we have a recent trade that was centered around a Curt Schilling jersey card, but was expanded to include a bunch of other stuff, most of which was from my wantlist:
1.  Henry Owens.  Owens has been an enigma in the Major Leagues.  He has been terrific in the minors, but he just walks too many hitters at this point to be an effective Major League pitcher.  He could end up being tradebait.

2.  David Ortiz.  He has been so good that it is starting to become questionable that he will actually retire at the end of the season.  I still believe that he will.

3.  Xander Bogaerts.  For some reason a bunch of Bogaerts cards are all I need from 2016 Donruss on my wantlist.  This cuts it down to the Diamond King subset card and the 1982 insert.

4.  Xander Bogaerts.

5.  Hanley Ramirez.  After a slow start to the season, Hanley has started to hit a little better.  Nothing compared to some of the other players, but he has been hitting.

6.  Koji Uehara.  Now that Carson Smith is back, Boston's bullpen has become a big strength.
7.  Henry Owens.

8.  Edwin Escobar.  Escobar was recently lost to the Diamondbacks on waivers.

9.  Curt Schilling.  Schilling's mouth cost him his job with ESPN.  I can't say I am all that surprised.  Hopefully he learned something.

10.  Wade Boggs.  I was not aware of these Heroes of Baseball cards, but I like them quite a bit.  Boggs will have his uniform number retired by Boston this year.

11.  Jim Rice.

12.  Carlton Fisk.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

2014 Update Cards

I was recently looking for some Christian Vazquez cards, with a couple in particular in mind.  I picked up a small number of cards on Sportlots from a seller that had the two Vazquez cards I needed:
I really like the Donruss Rookies card.  The catchers' gear covers up the fact that Donruss can't use team logos.  The Heritage cards are kind of boring from a photo perspective, but three of the four of these guys are major parts of the Red Sox team.  

I know these were not the most exciting cards in the world, but they all came off of my wantlist so I am happy about them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Birthday Blasters

The other day I decided to pick up a couple of blasters since my birthday was coming up.  This was my only chance for some baseball cards on my birthday.  Initially I planned on just getting a Bowman blaster, but I saw a Diamond Kings blaster too, so I took a shot.  Both blasters worked out pretty well, and the Diamond Kings blaster produced an autographed patch card of Peter O'Brien of the Diamondbacks.
The Diamond Kings box produced a Ted Williams mini and a Xander Bogaerts base card.  Not bad, but the Bowman blaster really came through.  Rafael Devers and Anderson Espinoza are two of Boston's top four prospects and both are playing well this season.  Mauricio Dubon is a rising prospect in Boston's system.  I am very pleased with the Espinoza card in particular.  I also really like the Swihart insert card.  Swihart is currently in the minors learning how to play left field.  There is nothing wrong with his bat, but Christian Vazquez is so good defensively that it is hard to justify not playing him.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Leaf Sportscasters

In the mid-2000's Donruss was the parallel kings.  Many of their parallels were inexplicable and extremely difficult to keep track of.  The Sportscasters inserts were one of my favorite insert sets from the time period, but there were so many different variations of the cards, it was very difficult to know what you had.  These cards are based on the 1970's multi-sport sets of oversized cards and have a similar design.  I just recently picked up these two Yaz cards in an Ebay auction.  They are my first Yaz cards from the insert set, but I did previously have a Pedro Martinez.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Couple of Foils

It is my birthday today, but I don't have anything terribly exciting to show off.
These are two of the 2015 Topps Opening Day Foil cards that I just received.  Not the most inspiring choice of players, I know.  Clay Buchholz has fallen out of favor with fans due to his extreme inconsistency.  When he is good, he is almost an ace.  When he is bad, he is cringe-worthy.  Unfortunately, he has been bad far more often lately.  Pablo Sandoval likely had the worst season of any position player last year and this year has not been any better.  He has yet to get a hit and was lost to a mysterious shoulder injury.  Oh well.  I just like adding Red Sox cards.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Venezuela Comes Through

Backup catcher Sandy Leon seemed destined to be a Red Sox player without any cards.  The defensive-minded catcher from the 2015 team only played in 41 games and was not much with the bat, hitting just .184/.238/.202 with three RBIs.  He had not appeared in any regular sets, and I was not optimistic.  With Christian Vazquez coming back from injury and Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart making the opening day roster, Leon was not likely to see any time in Boston this year.  So I figured I would never see a card of Leon with Boston.

Then one day recently, I was browsing Ebay and found this:
I had to have it.  Apparently there have been cards made in Venezuela for years.  Many of the cards specialize in Venezuelan players, and there have been a number of Venezuelan players I have really liked.  Carlos Quintana and Felix Doubront have been two of the major players.   So I may be revisiting some Venezuelan cards.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Yes, Bartolo Colon Played for Boston

This trade package came from a member on a trading forum and includes a couple of pitchers that did not have a lot of cards of their Boston stints.  It started out centering around the Marketside Dustin Pedroia, but expanded into a pretty interesting lot of cards.

1.  Bartolo Colon.  Yep, he pitched for the Red Sox.  For seven games in 2008.  He was attempting a comeback from some pretty serious injuries.  He pitched reasonably well, but there were some concerns about his motivation and his conditioning.  Eventually Boston simply shut him down.  He had not yet become the lovable pitcher that he is now in New York.

2.  Dustin Pedroia.  This is the remaining Marketside card I needed and was the initial centerpiece of the trade.

3.  Mookie Betts.  This is the photo variation of the mini card and was a bit tougher to talk the other trader into.  But I ended up with it.

4.  Carl Yastrzemski.  This card was a wantlist need.  It celebrates Yaz's 1967 MVP when he won the Triple Crown and almost single-handedly willed Boston into making it to the World Series.

5.  Brian Johnson.  Nice to see Johnson get a bunch of cards this year, but I have to wonder, why has he gotten so many?  He pitched in one game for Boston last year.  Steven Wright still has not appeared on a Major League card with the Red Sox, despite pitching in 26 games over the past three years.

6.  Rubby De La Rosa.  The centerpiece of Boston's side of The Nick Punto Trade never really got things going.  He would have flashes of brilliance but then be maddeningly inconsistent.  Boston eventually moved him and their other top acquisition in the trade, Allen Webster, for Wade Miley, which worked out reasonably well, though De La Rosa had a decent year for Arizona.

7.  Ted Williams.  I love a trade that closes out with The Splendid Splinter.  This is actually a more unusual photo.  Topps seems to use the same two or three all the time, but this one is different.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Talkin' S.Mack About My Wantlist

Jimmy of S.Mack Talk recently contacted me about trading for some of my Opening Day mascots cards and some other stuff.  As those cards don't really appeal to me, I was perfectly willing to work something out.  It turned out that he had some of my wantlist needs and sent me the following cards:
I really like the Whatever Works inserts.  Each one focuses on a player's superstitions or quirks.  Nomar Garciaparra of course had an odd routine before each pitch: tugging on his batting gloves, kicking the dirt, and much more.  I have known of a few people that absolutely hated his batting ritual, but I found it endearing.  The Wade Boggs card highlights his chicken meal before every game.  It says "fried chicken" but I don't recall it necessarily being fried.  I was aware he ate chicken before every game.  He also had some other eccentricities as well.

Thanks Jimmy!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Bunch of Minis and Some Other Parallels

This package was stuffed full of parallels from a variety of brands.  Parallels are a lot of fun, but I don't frequently include them on my wantlists.  I just like to pick them up here and there.  I am not sure whether I have any complete team sets for parallels.  I just don't really keep track.  
So there is the package.  The five minis are all very interesting.  The Allen Craig is numbered out of 50.  Then the next six are all other parallels from other brands.  Two A.J. Pierzynski cards did wonders for his status in my collection.  There were also two Mike Napoli cards.  I definitely prefer Napoli to Pierzynski personally.  The Kevin Youkilis card is the best action shot of the package.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cards from 83 Bats and a Gypsy Queen Trade

Recently, Mark from the very interesting blog 83 Bats contacted me to offer up some cards from my wantlist.  Well I certainly wasn't going to turn that down.  He also sent some other random cards my way.  He really helped out in my SSPC needs.  Here is the package:
1.  Rus Laribee.  Laribee never made the Major Leagues, but he did have an impressive season in Double A in 1980 and had some pop.  He made it to Triple A for one season but stopped playing after that.  He has the distinction of striking out seven times in a 33 inning game.

2.  Dave Koza.  Koza also never played in Boston, but he had a much longer career.  He also made it to Triple A but languished there for six seasons.  He also had some impressive power in his bat.  

3.  Scott Hatteberg.  There were a ton of SPs in 2001 Topps Heritage for the Red Sox.  It has made it a pretty slow set to collect.  Hatteberg had his worst season in 2000 and could no longer play catcher.  He would have his career resurgence in Oakland at first base in 2001.

4.  Carl Yastrzemski.  1983 saw the retirement of three great players.  Johnny Bench and Yaz were two of the greatest players in history for their respective teams.  Gaylord Perry also retired but for some reason did not appear on this card. 

5.  Bob Montgomery.  Montgomery is one of the more obscure players to have a career lasting at least ten seasons all for one Major League team.  He was a career backup catcher to Carlton Fisk and others.

6.  Jim Willoughby.  Willoughby was Boston's top reliever for a couple of seasons, including the 1975 season when he played a critical role in the team's ascendance to the World Series.

7.  Jim Burton.  Burton replaced Willoughby in the final game of the 1975 World Series.  It was a pretty big mistake as Burton allowed the winning runs to score.  

8.  Dick Drago.  Drago spent two stints with the Red Sox.  He was a relief specialist who also spot-started occasionally.  Drago had some impressive seasons with the Red Sox in his second stint, toward the end of his career.

9.  Dwight Evans.  He looked so young in this picture.  I had to look at the back of the card to see who this was.  Evans of course is one of the longest tenured Red Sox players ever, playing with the team from 1972 to 1990.  

10.  Tim Blackwell.  Blackwell is one of the most obscure players in this set for the Red Sox.  Despite having a long career and playing in 103 games for the Red Sox in two seasons, this is his only mainstream card with the Red Sox.  He does appear in a Boston Herald set though.  No Topps cards.

11.  Rick Miller.  Like Drago, Miller was a Red Sox player in two different stints.  He was an impressive defensive player and could hit a little bit.  Miller left Boston as a free agent and was traded back as part of the deal that sent Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson to the Angels for Miller, Carney Lansford, and Mark Clear.

12.  Rico Petrocelli.  Petrocelli was another long-term Red Sox player.  He was a terrific defensive player who started at shortstop then moved to third when Boston acquired Luis Aparicio.  Petrocelli hit 40 home runs one season.

13.  Jim Rice.  Yet another long-term Red Sox player.  Rice is of course a Hall of Famer, one of the more controversial choices.

14.  Doug Mientkiewicz.  I was shocked I did not have this card.  Mientkiewicz made the final putout of the 2004 World Series, then was traded to the Mets for Ian Bladergroen who never played for Boston.

Thanks a lot for the cards Mark!

And next came a package of Gypsy Queen cards I needed: 
There is a nice selection of base cards here, including yet another photo-shopped Red Sox hat that doesn't exist on David Price.  I love the Betts Glove Stories.  This was a game-saving catch to nail down a complete game victory for Rich Hill.  Unfortunately Hill will likely never have a Red Sox card.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Topps Now and an E-Rod Auto

One of the new ideas Topps has had was the Topps Now set.  Each day, a new card or two are put up for sale on their website to celebrate a strong performance.  It is an interesting idea.  I am looking forward to seeing some interesting Red Sox cards.  Unfortunately there have not been a ton of noteworthy performances by Red Sox players so far.

The only Topps Now card of a Red Sox player so far is this one:
David Ortiz got off to a hot start in his final season with the Red Sox and hit a home run in his first game.  This was the fifth card released.  One of the interesting aspects of these cards is that they are only on sale for a day.  Once that day is done, Topps releases a print run.  This card had a print run of 471.

On the same day I received the above Ortiz, I also received this:
This is my second autograph card of Eduardo Rodriguez.  He should be coming back from injury in early May.  The Red Sox rotation could certainly use him.  His signature is not very pretty.