Friday, September 30, 2016

Cards from Chris

Recently, a reader named Chris reached out to me asking me to take some Red Sox cards off of his hands.  Of course I am always willing to oblige and recently received a nice, fat package of cards in the mail from him.  Most of the cards were from the mid to late 2000's, a time period that I was far more focused on my Jason Varitek collection, so there were a surprising amount of new cards in the package.  Here are the new ones:
Jonathan Papelbon:  Tons of Papelbon cards were in this package, including five of these Generation Now cards.  I once considered going for the entire run of these cards, but never really got around to it.  Papelbon is Boston's all-time saves leader and had some terrific seasons.

Kyle Larson:  I had no idea who Kyle Larson is.  I don't really care for these First Pitch cards.  They just don't do anything for me.

Daisuke Matsuzaka:  There were a number of Matsuzaka cards as well.  One of my favorite Matsuzaka memories is of him getting a base hit and driving in a couple of runs in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series.

Manny Ramirez:  And there were a lot of Manny Ramirez cards.  Manny had just a ton of cards issued during his Boston career.  It would have been very easy for me to get 1,000 cards of him, but I just never really wanted to do that.  I did not have to chase them, they would find me.
Josh Beckett:  Beckett was the 2007 ALCS MVP for the Red Sox as well as the 2003 World Series MVP for the Marlins.  He was an incredible clutch performer.

Julio Lugo:  He led the team in stolen bases in 2007, but was otherwise a disappointment.  He did perform well in the World Series though, so no real complaints there.

Mark Loretta:  Loretta spent just one season with Boston, but hit .285, played excellent defense and was voted to start in the All Star Game in 2006.  All in all, that was a pretty good season, but Dustin Pedroia was ready to take over.
Hideki Okajima:  Boston's top middle reliever in 2007 was voted into the All Star Game that year in the final vote.  I always liked Okajima a little better than Matsuzaka.  Okajima came at the same time but was generally more effective, mostly because he did not nibble at the corners so much.

Jed Lowrie:  Lowrie never seemed to put it together in Boston, and still seems to be having that problem.  He did have some moments where he looked like a potential star, including a very impressive run in early 2011 where he was hitting .400 through the first month of the season.

Michael Bowden:  Drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2005 draft, Bowden was one of five players to be picked by Boston in the first round.  All five made the Majors, but Bowden and Craig Hansen did not play long in the Majors.  Jed Lowrie, Clay Buchholz, and Jacoby Ellsbury all became regular Major Leaguers though.

Manny Delcarmen:  For a couple of years, Delcarmen was one of Boston's most reliable middle relievers.  He had a terrific season in 2007 and was very good in 2008.  He declined after that and was out of the Majors after the 2010 season.

Jonathan Van Every:  Van Every spent just a handful of games with Boston in three straight seasons, but he actually pitched a little bit in two of those seasons.  Not many position players can say that.

Thanks for the cards, Chris!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Redemption Received Very Quickly

I bought a redemption card from someone a couple of months back because he was offering a good price and it seemed like it would be a pretty good card.  I know full well Topps's shaky history with redemptions.  Just last year I gave up on a redemption that had been pending since 2013.  But I thought I would take a shot.  I received it in the mail a couple of days ago, only a few weeks since redeeming it.  Here it is:
That is a Hanley Ramirez autograph with a huge patch, numbered out of just 10.  I am very happy with this, and particularly since it did not take much time at all to receive.  Hanley is having a terrific season this year and needs just one more home run in the next four games to become the third Red Sox to hit 30 home runs this year (Mookie Betts and David Ortiz are the other two), for the first time since 1977 (George Scott, Butch Hobson, Jim Rice).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Heritage High Numbers Break

I have been very excited about Topps Heritage High Numbers.  After reviewing the checklist, I noticed that a ton of new players for the Red Sox are appearing in the set.  So when I saw that it had hit the shelves, I had to buy one.
Unfortunately, my Heritage break was not that exciting.  Aaron Hill is the only new player I received.  Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled about about getting new cards of David Price and Junichi Tazawa, but there are cards of Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz, Brad Ziegler, Chris Young, and Sandy Leon, all of whom I am very excited about.  I did get Aaron Hill though, so it is not all bad.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The #8 Card on My Top 10 and More

Several packages arrived in the mail today.  Included among them were a Topps Now card, some random wantlist hits, and the #8 card on my Most Wanted list.
1.  Rafael Devers.  This card was a one-card trade package.  For some reason I did not include these on my wantlist.  I only had the Rusney Castillo (because of course I did) before.  Devers is one of Boston's top prospects and has the best power potential in their system.

2.  Yoan Moncada.  This represented the high point of Moncada's season.  Unfortunately he started striking out at an alarming rate and has since been buried on the bench.  He remains a work in progress.  Moncada remains Boston's #1 prospect and one of the top prospects in the game however.

3.  Curt Schilling.  This was the #8 card on my Most Wanted List.  This is a short-printed image variation and shows Schilling with the Red Sox instead of the Diamondbacks as the regular version showed.

4.  John Valentin.  Several Valentin cards have found their way into my collection recently.  I am not complaining.

5.  David Ortiz.  I really like this shot of Ortiz's pre-at bat routine.  This is a short-printed card and was on my want list.  Once again, Ortiz finds his way into a package today.

6.  Xander Bogaerts.  Another wantlist hit.  Bogaerts has been struggling a bit lately, but he still managed to get to 20 home runs for the first time in his career.

7.  Will Middlebrooks.  I love this card.  First, there is the action shot, one of the best photos in recent memory for a Red Sox regular Topps card.  Then, there is the fact that this is the red refractor and is numbered to just 25.

8.  Clay Buchholz.  This came in the same trade package as the Middlebrooks, a rare high-end trade for me.  

9.  Team Card.  Finally, this card came from Peter of Baseball Every Night who contact me and offered to send this card and some other base mostly because I needed this one card.  That is Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts in that shot, Boston's "Killer Bees".  Thanks Peter!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Red Sox with No Cards: 2004

2004.  The year Boston won it all for the first time in 86 years.  Afterwards, a number of commemorative sets were released and a lot of players who likely would not have received any cards, did.  Players like Curtis Leskanic, Dave McCarty, Ricky Gutierrez, Adam Hyzdu, Lenny DiNardo, Terry Adams, Mark Malaska, Phil Seibel, and Joe Nelson all had very few cards released, but they still were better off than these players.

The left-handed Anderson had been a starting pitcher for a few years with the Pirates, while the Pirates were pretty much terrible.  He was 24-42 with the Pirates with an unsightly 5.17 ERA.  Control was always an issue.  He bounced around a little bit before 2004 and started the season with the Cubs.  He was traded to Boston in July for a minor leaguer.  Anderson pitched in just five games for the Red Sox, six innings total.  He walked three and struck out three and had an ERA of 6.00.  Anderson did not return to the Majors after his stint with the Red Sox.

Astacio had been a promising pitching prospect with the Dodgers at about the same time another pitcher named Pedro had been starting to make his mark with the team.  Astacio had some good years, including winning 14 games in 1993.  Later, he was traded to the Rockies, where his ERA ballooned, but he managed to win 17 games one year and struck out more than 200 batters.  He pitched well enough, though it is hard to be a good pitcher in Colorado.  He then spent some time with the Astros and Mets before finding himself in Boston as a 35 year old trying to stick around.  Astacio pitched in just five games for the Red Sox, with a 10.38 ERA.  He started just one of the five games.  He struck out six and walked five in 8.2 innings.  After the season he spent some time with the Rangers, Padres, and Nationals.


After an impressive Spring Training in 2004, Crespo made the Red Sox as a utility infielder.  He did not perform particularly well at the Major League level.  Crespo had been in the Majors for the Padres in 2001 and 2002 and hit .203 with four home runs in 80 games.  Crespo made it into 52 games with the Red Sox into July before being sent to the minors.  He hit just .165/.165/.215 in 79 at-bats with two doubles and a triple.  He stole two bases.  Crespo filled in at shortstop, second, and all three outfield positions.  Crespo does have a team-issued postcard and some minor league cards, but no standard cards with the Boston Red Sox.

For a couple of seasons in the late 1990's, Bobby Jones was a regular starting pitcher with the Rockies, in the same rotation as Astacio.  Jones had a 6.33 ERA in 1999 though, with a 6-10 record, and was traded to the Mets for another struggling starter Masato Yoshii.  He bounced around after that, never making it into more than 16 games in the Majors again.  Jones had been signed by the Red Sox in 2003 and played in the minors for them in 2004.  He pitched in three games for Boston in April, pitching 3.1 innings with an ERA of 5.40.  He struck out three, but walked eight.  He continued bouncing around after that, but never made the Majors again.

A backup catcher for several seasons, Sandy Martinez originally came up with the Blue Jays, though he started in the Dodgers organization.  Martinez also spent some time with the Cubs, Marlins, Expos, and Indians before coming to the Red Sox as catching depth in September after a cash deal with Cleveland.  Predictably, Martinez was a much better defensive catcher than a hitter.  He played in just three games with the Red Sox in 2004 with four at-bats.  He did not record a hit and struck out twice.  He had a passed ball as a catcher and six putouts.  Martinez continued to bounce around after 2004, but never made it back to the Majors.

The winner for the most obscure player on this list is Earl Snyder, whose entire Major League output consisted of 19 games over two seasons, 18 of them for the Indians in 2002.  He played just one game for the Red Sox in 2004.  Snyder had a good year in Pawtucket, hitting 36 home runs and driving in 104 while hitting .273/.323/.558.  He played his only game for Boston in mid-August, playing third base and registering a single and a strikeout in four at-bats.  He left as a free agent after the season and continued to hit well in the minors, but never was called up again.  Snyder does have cards issued with Pawtucket.

Of these players, Cesar Crespo played the most for the Red Sox.  None of the other players even played in more than five games.  Pedro Astacio is the most well-known player, having had a 15 year career in the Majors with some success.  If I had to pick one player I would have liked to have seen on some cardboard wearing a Red Sox uniform, it would likely be between Crespo and Astacio.  I would probably pick Astacio.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

One-Card Wonder Pt. 35: Casey Kotchman

Casey Kotchman was once one of the hottest prospects in baseball.  He was the 13th overall pick in the 2001 draft by the Angels and made his Major League debut in 2004.  Unfortunately, he never quite lived up to those expectations.  He had some decent seasons, but took a few years before he became a regular player.  He did hit .296/.372/.476 with 11 home runs and 68 RBIs for the Angels in his first full season in the Majors.  He was having a decent season in 2008 before he was traded to the Braves in the deal that brought Mark Teixeira to the Los Angeles.

He started the 2009 season with the Braves and was hitting .282/.354/.409 with six home runs when he was traded to the Red Sox in a deadline deal for Adam LaRoche, who Boston had just acquired the week before.  Boston had been suffering from some injury problems, particularly to third-baseman Mike Lowell.  The Red Sox had to move Kevin Youkilis to third and get creative at first base.  They used rookie Jeff Bailey there, but needed a more permanent solution.  So, first they acquired LaRoche, and then flipped him for Kotchman.

Kotchman did not produce much with the bat in his short stint with the Red Sox, but he was a good defensive first-baseman, as per his reputation.  He only hit .218/.284/.287 with just one home run and seven RBIs in 39 games.  Kotchman's playing time started getting squeezed by Victor Martinez and Mark Kotsay.  He was on the postseason roster, but was used primarily as a defensive replacement.  He had just one at-bat and was hitless.

After the season, Kotchman was on the move yet again, this time traded to the Mariners in exchange for utility man Bill Hall.  The Mariners also helped pay Hall's contract.  It was a trade that worked out well for the Red Sox.  Kotchman continued to bounce from team to team.

Kotchman's only card with the Red Sox is from the Topps Update set in 2009, a set that has been quite good to Boston players over the years.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

More Wantlist Help and a Bowman Platinum Blaster

Friday saw two new packages and a Bowman Platinum blaster arrive.  A lot of stuff from my wantlist came off as well, plus a bunch of totally random stuff.  Good times.  
1.  John Valentin.  Valentin is somewhat forgotten now, but in the 1990's, he was one of Boston's best players.  He turned an unassisted triple play in 1994, hit for the cycle in 1996, and was a 20/20 player and won a Silver Slugger in 1995.  Valentin led the Majors in WAR for position players in 1995, second only to Randy Johnson overall.  He led the league in doubles with 47 in 1997.  But he was never an All Star.  Go figure.

2.  Darren Lewis.  This wasn't on my wantlist, I just decided I wanted a Darren Lewis card.  Lewis was a terrific defensive outfielder and baserunner, who was just past his prime when he arrived in Boston.  He still had a decent 1998 season, leading the team with 29 stolen bases and hit eight home runs.

3.  John Valentin.  Neither of the Valentin cards were on my wantlist either, I just wanted to pick up a couple of Valentin cards.

4.  Frank Rodriguez.  Once one of Boston's top prospects, Rodriguez struggled with Boston and was eventually traded to the Twins for Rick Aguilera, who later returned to the Twins.  Boston didn't have anything to show for it long-term, but Aguilera helped them to the postseason and Rodriguez never met his potential.

5.  Steve Rodriguez.  One of four players with the surname Rodriguez to play for Boston in the mid 1990's, Steve made it into just six games in 1995 and didn't hit much.  He was placed on waivers and claimed by the Tigers.

The next three cards are why I placed this particular order, all three are from the hard-to-find 1990 Score/Pepsi Red Sox set.

6.  Rob Murphy.  Murphy was a shutdown, lefty reliever in 1989 for the Red Sox, and the opposite of good in 1990.  He did pick up 16 saves in his two seasons.

7.  Wes Gardner.  Gardner and Calvin Schiraldi were acquired by the Mets for Bob Ojeda, not one of Boston's better trades.  Gardner had a lot of talent, but never really put it together other than some minor success in 1987 and 1988.

8.  Mike Boddicker.  I was reading a book recently talking about Boston's lack of pitching in 1990, but Boddicker was their #2 starter, won 17 games, and the Gold Glove, Boston's only pitcher to do so.  He was pretty good.

And next, a trade package:
1.  Cy Young.  I do wish companies would dig a little more to see if there are some better pictures of Young out there, especially since this one shows him with Cleveland, yet gets used on Red Sox cards frequently.

2.  Mo Vaughn.  If he hadn't left Boston, what would his career numbers have been?  He was just 31 and already had 230 home runs and 752 RBIs.  He also had 1,165 hits and a .304 batting average.  He was a terrific hitter that already had an MVP and a Silver Slugger under his belt.

3.  Carlton Fisk.  This has to be the single-most celebrated moment in Red Sox history depicted on cardboard.

4.  Roger Clemens.  This card celebrates Clemens's MVP award in 1986.  He also won the Cy Young Award.

5.  Reggie Jefferson.  Jefferson is one of the more obscure players to have a .300 career batting average for as long as he played.  He is one of the few to do so, yet never make an All Star team.  His numbers with Boston were even more impressive, hitting .316/.363/.505.

6.  Mo Vaughn.
7.  David Ortiz.  Here is the obligatory Ortiz card.

8.  Pedro Martinez.  One of the top pitchers in Red Sox history, Martinez had a crazy stretch of years during an era of high offensive output.  His ERA of 1.74 in 2000 is particularly staggering.

9.  Nomar Garciaparra.  Like Vaughn, Garciaparra could be looking at a Hall of Fame career had injuries not gotten in the way.  He also declined significantly after leaving Boston.

10.  Carl Yastrzemski.  Yaz's 3,308 games played in Boston is a record that will likely never be broken.  Nor will his 3,419 hits.

11.  Nomar Garciaparra.

12.  Matt Barnes.  This is the only card from my wantlist in this package.  Barnes had a terrific game last night, holding the Rays down in the late innings.

And now, the Bowman Platinum blaster.  I was actually looking for Topps Heritage High Numbers box, due to the incredible player selection for the Red Sox, but alas, it was not out yet.  I wanted something though, so here it was:
1.  Mauricio Dubon.  Dubon had a terrific season in the minors, hitting .323 with six home runs.  He is Boston's top shortstop prospect, which means he is likely tradebait.  Xander Bogaerts may be around for awhile.

2.  Andrew Benintendi.  Benintendi looks like the real deal.  He is hitting well in Boston after just being drafted last year.  He is a rising star.

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 25: Juan Marichal

Years in Boston: 1974 (5-1, 4.87 ERA, 57.1 innings, 21 strikeouts)
Best Year in Boston: 1974 (5-1, 4.87 ERA, 57.1 innings, 21 strikeouts)
Yes, Juan Marichal pitched for the Boston Red Sox.  He was winding down his career in 1974 when he was purchased by the Red Sox from the San Francisco Giants, the team he had spent his entire career with until that point.  Marichal was 36 and would pitch just 11 games over the course of the season for Boston due to injuries.

Marichal was reasonably effective, winning five games and losing just one.  He pitched well enough to win two other games.  His ERA was a less impressive 4.87 and he struck out 21, while walking 14 in 57.1 innings.  

After the season, Boston released Marichal.  He would go on to pitch with former arch-rival Los Angeles for two games in 1975 before retiring.  Marichal had been a nine-time All Star with the Giants.  He led the league in wins twice and ERA once.  He had already cemented his place in baseball history before joining the Red Sox.  His tenure in Boston is just an interesting footnote in his career.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Tons of Wantlist Help and More

A Sportlots order and a trade came in yesterday, knocking off a number of wantlist needs.  Without further ado, here we go:
1.  Frank Malzone.  Malzone was a terrific third-baseman for the Red Sox during his tenure there and was one of the best defensive third-basemen in team history.  Malzone won three Gold Gloves and was an All Star six times.  He should have won the Rookie of the Year in 1957.  I have no explanation for why that vote turned out the way it did, Malzone had superior stats all the way around.

2.  Herb Moford.  Moford played just four games for the Red Sox, with an 0-2 record and an 11.42 ERA.  Not terribly impressive, but I am trying hard to complete the 1959 Topps team set.

3.  Jackie Jensen.  Jensen was coming off of winning the 1958 AL MVP.  He hit .286/.396/.535 with 35 home runs, and a league-leading 122 RBIs.  Jensen would lead the league in RBIs again in 1959, before temporarily retiring due to his intense fear of flying.  He returned in 1961 but struggled and retired for good after the season.

4.  Damon Berryhill.  This is the last card I needed for the 1994 Topps Traded set.  Berryhill was one of three new catchers for the team in 1994 along with Dave Valle and Rich Rowland.  After Valle struggled and was traded, Berryhill took over the starting job.  He didn't hit much, which was typical and lasted only the one season in Boston.

5.  Kevin Youkilis.  This was not on my wantlist, I just wanted to add a Kevin Youkilis card for some reason.  Youkilis was a terrific hitter for a few years, and was one of the best hitters in the game in 2008 and 2009.  He was also a Gold Glove winner at first base.

6.  Daniel Bard.  It is unfortunate that Bard had completely lost command of his pitching in 2012 because he had been so good in middle relief for Boston from 2009 to 2011.  He is still trying to work his way back.

7.  Carlton Fisk.  Do I really need to talk about Fisk?

8.  Jimmie Foxx.  Ditto for Foxx.

9.  Pablo Sandoval.  Sandoval has been a disappointment so far, with a bad year in 2015 and being injured for the vast majority of this season.  It will be interesting to see what happens next year when he is healthy again.
10.  Hanley Ramirez.  Hanley is an example of a player that had been struggling so bad that his contract was also considered a bust, but he has really turned that around this season and could be the team's third player to hit 30 home runs this season.

11.  Rusney Castillo.  I have written at length about his disappointing contract.

12.  Simon Mercedes.  Mercedes had a rough season this year and is likely just organizational depth at this point.

13.  Manuel Margot.  Margot was recently called up to the Padres, who acquired him in the deal that sent Craig Kimbrel to Boston.

14.  Rafael Devers.  Boston has a number of third base prospects, but Devers is the best of them, with a ton of power.  The only question is how to deal with both him and Yoan Moncada.

15.  Matt Barnes.  Barnes has developed into a decent middle reliever this season with more than a strikeout per inning pitched and a decent strikeout to walk ratio.

16.  Rusney Castillo.

17.  Hanley Ramirez.

18.  Pablo Sandoval.
19.  Mookie Betts.  Betts could be the MVP this year.  I am hoping for a 30/30 season, but he still needs five more stolen bases in just eight games.  Seems unlikely.

20.  David Price.  Price started off slowly, but has really turned things around down the stretch and looks like the pitcher Boston hoped they were acquiring when they signed him to the richest contract in team history.

21.  Henry Owens.  Owens has struggled this season and will need to turn things around next season if he wants another chance at the Major Leagues.

22.  Henry Owens.

23.  Roger Clemens.  This is the last of four cards from this insert set I needed.  Clemens won the 1986 MVP as well as the Cy Young Award after a terrific 24-4 season that included a 20 strikeout game, the first such in history.

24.  Xander Bogaerts.  He finished second in batting average last season, but second half struggles have ensured that he will not be in the running this year.

25.  Wade Boggs.  This was an extra that was thrown in, and I am not complaining.  Boggs was a terrific hitter who won five batting titles and had seven straight 200 hit seasons.  He was my first favorite player.

And now for the trade:
1.  Matt Barnes.

2.  Carlton Fisk.

3.  Adrian Gonzalez.  I was always disappointed that Boston did not hold onto him longer, but even moreso that they sought him out so much in the first place.  Had Boston re-signed Adrian Beltre after 2010, they could have kept Kevin Youkilis at first base, prolonging his usefulness, and kept Anthony Rizzo to eventually take over.  Boston could be looking at an infield of Rizzo-Pedroia-Bogaerts-Beltre this season.

4.  Dustin Pedroia.  Until a knee injury, Pedroia looked like he could overtake Jose Altuve for the batting lead.  Unfortunately he has struggled since then.

5.  Dustin Pedroia.

6.  Curt Schilling.  It would be nice if Schilling could hold his tongue once in awhile.  He has gotten in some more trouble due to his political views earlier this week.  Schilling should be in the Hall of Fame.

7.  Jon Lester.  Lester will go down as one of the top left-handed pitchers in team history.  But where?  Boston does not have a lot of good lefties, but Bruce Hurst, Mel Parnell, Bill Lee, and Babe Ruth were all terrific.

8.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Another bust, but he had a great year in 2008, going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA.  It was all downhill from there though.  He tended to nibble at the corners too much and throw too many pitches.  Injuries also curtailed his production.  But in 2007, he was one of the biggest stories in the game, hence this Berger's Best card.

9.  Dustin Pedroia.
10.  Jon Lester.

11.  Roger Clemens.

12.  Jackie Bradley Jr.  One of Boston's top young players, Bradley has an outside shot at hitting 30 home runs this year, and should win the Gold Glove.  I don't get a ton of relic cards anymore, but once in awhile I have to make an exception.

And now, the rest of the same trade consisted of the 2010 Factory Team Set.  There are still a few of these that I need, all of which are on my wantlist.
13.  Dustin Pedroia.

14.  Victor Martinez.  Martinez is a player that I did not fully appreciate while he was active.  Part of that is likely due to his acquisition pushing my favorite player into a backup role, not that that wasn't the right thing to do.

15.  Jonathan Papelbon.  Papelbon is Boston's all-time saves leader, by a rather significant margin.  Bob Stanley is second.

16.  Kevin Youkilis.

17.  John Lackey.  Lackey had been very disappointing early on in his contract but turned things around in a big way in 2013.  He was the winner of the clinching game of the 2013 World Series.

18.  Clay Buchholz.  Buchholz is one of the great survivors in Boston.  It seems like he is finished or likely to be traded every year, and he keeps making it back and producing.

19.  Tim Wakefield.  Speaking of survivors.  Wakefield is second in all-time wins for Boston.  Roger Clemens and Cy Young are tied at the top.

20.  Adrian Beltre.  I covered this earlier, I think Boston should have kept him.  He had a terrific 2010 season after all, played great defense, and was just a lot of fun to watch.

21.  Jason Varitek.  There are not too many Varitek cards still out there that I need, but here was one.
22.  Josh Beckett.  Had he applied himself a little more, Beckett might be looking at a Hall of Fame career.

23.  J.D. Drew.  Drew won the All Star Game MVP in 2008.

24.  David Ortiz.  It was only a matter of time.  Ortiz pops up with a new card every day, sometimes unintentionally.  I love the action shot on this card though.

25.  Jacoby Ellsbury.  His 2011 season will be kind of forgotten, but he was Boston's first 30/30 man, picked up 200 hits, a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and was an All Star for the first time.  He really should have been the MVP, but it was a pretty fluky season.

26.  Jon Lester.

27.  Daisuke Matsuzaka.

28.  Daniel Bard.

29.  Marco Scutaro.  Scutaro had a couple of solid seasons at shortstop for Boston in 2010 and 2011.  Boston traded him to Colorado for Clayton Mortenson in 2012, which was not a very good trade for the Red Sox.

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 2: Luis Aponte

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?
Luis Aponte was a 28-year-old in just his second Major League stint in 1981.  He had come up late in the season in 1980 to make his Major League debut.  He pitched in just four games but had a 1.29 ERA.  He did the same thing in 1981, pitching in seven games with an even more impressive 0.57 ERA and a 1-0 record.  Aponte pitched 15.2 innings and struck out 11, while walking just three.  He also picked up his first Major League save after pitching an inning and a third on Oct. 4.  It was an impressive enough season to ensure that Aponte would be given an opportunity at a Major League job in 1982.

Aponte made the most of that opportunity as he spent the next two seasons in Boston's bullpen as a middle reliever and was reasonably successful.  He was 7-6 with a 3.37 ERA in the next two seasons before being traded to Cleveland prior to the 1984 season.  Aponte was not nearly as impressive in Cleveland though and was released after the season.  That was it for Aponte in the Majors.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Red Sox Team of the Decade: 1901-1909

Because I needed more stuff to do, I decided to try to lay out the best players of each decade in Boston's history.

In 1901, they were not yet the Red Sox, known more frequently as the Americans.  Boston's American League franchise was formed in 1901, even though there was already a National League team in Boston.  The franchise was an immediate success and picked up a number of National League stars who would perform well for the first several years in the new league.  Boston won the first ever World Series in 1903 and also won the AL pennant in 1904.  There was no World Series in 1904 however, as the New York Giants refused to participate.  Unfortunately, Boston's fortunes took a drastic downturn in the latter half of the decade as their ownership was not really that interested in continuing to make moves to improve the team.  Upon getting new ownership, Boston began picking up a number of young players who would turn the team's luck around in the next decade.

Criger was not much of a hitter, but he was the primary catcher for almost the entire decade.  Ossee Schrecongost had a much better year at the plate than Criger ever did, but he only played one season in Boston.  Criger was with Boston from 1901-1908 and hit .208/.279/.279 with six home runs, 193 RBIs, and 29 stolen bases.  He was a very good defensive catcher and regularly caught close to 50% of attempted base stealers.  He led the league in that category three times with Boston.

First base was a tough call.  Moose Grimshaw and Candy LaChance both played more than Stahl, but neither one was better than Stahl.  Stahl first appeared in Boston in 1903 and played in 40 games for the World Champions.  He then played for Washington and New York before returning to Boston in 1908.  He was the starting first-baseman for the full season in 1909 and hit .294/.377/.434 with six home runs, 60 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases.  It was the Deadball Era, but Stahl was one of the few players who had some legitimate power.  He also contributed 19 doubles and 12 triples that season.  

Amby McConnell had a better season, but Hobe Ferris spent close to the entire decade as the primary second-baseman, including the 1903 World Championship season.  Ferris hit .239/.265/.341 with 34 home runs, 418 RBIs, and 78 stolen bases for Boston from 1901 through 1907.  He also clubbed 148 doubles and 77 triples.  He was also a good defensive player at second.

Like Ferris, Freddy Parent played for Boston from 1901 through 1907.  Parent hit .273/.317/.361 with 19 home runs, 386 RBIs, and stole 129 bases.  Parent also hit 156 doubles and 63 triples while playing impressive defense, for the time period.  Parent was a big reason that Boston won the World Championship in 1903 as he hit .281 with three triples and four RBIs in the Series, overshadowing his more famous counterpart Honus Wagner.

Collins was one of the first players targeted by Boston ownership when it was announced that the city would receive a new franchise in the American League.  Collins had been a star for the Boston National League team and had revolutionized the way that third base was played.  Collins was stolen away and named manager for the new team.  Collins led Boston to the World Championship in 1903 and a pennant in 1904 while hitting .296/.336/.423 with 25 home runs and 102 stolen bases.  Collins is in the Hall of Fame.

Freeman was a rare Deadball Era player with a lot of home run power.  He held the previous record for home runs in a season with 25 until Babe Ruth broke it in 1919.  Freeman played first base for Boston in 1901 but moved back to the outfield in 1902.  Freeman led the Majors in home runs (13) in 1903.  He also led the Majors in RBIs in both 1902 and 1903 and triples in 1904.  Freeman hit .286/.339/.442 with 48 home runs, 59 stolen bases, 158 doubles, and 90 triples during his stint with the Boston franchise.

The circumstances of Stahl's death (he committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid) tend to overshadow what was a very impressive career.  Stahl was an excellent center fielder and hitter who hit .290/.357/.389 in six years with the Boston American League franchise.  He also contributed 105 stolen bases, 17 home runs, 122 doubles, and 62 triples.  Stahl, no relation to Jake Stahl, was named the team's manager after Collins was removed from the position in 1906.  He tied for the Major League lead in triples in 1904 with teammate Buck Freeman.  Stahl hit .303 in the 1903 World Series with three triples and two stolen bases.

Of all of Boston's offensive weapons in 1903, Dougherty may have been the best.  Dougherty was in just his second year in 1903 when he led the league in runs (107) and hits (195).  Dougherty hit .331/.372/.424 with four home runs and 35 stolen bases that year.  During his time in Boston, Dougherty hit .325/.382/.401 with 65 stolen bases in just under three seasons.  Dougherty clubbed two home runs in the World Series against Pittsburgh.  Unfortunately, Dougherty was traded to New York during the 1904 season in a deal that may have been orchestrated by American League president Ban Johnson to provide New York with a star.  Boston received utility man Bob Unglaub in the first truly awful trade with New York.

Obviously, the man for whom the pitching award was named had to be a terrific pitcher in his own right.  Young, like Collins, was sought after to make Boston's new team a force in the American League.  Young was in his mid 30's when he was brought to Boston, but still had a lot left in the tank.  He won more than 20 games in a season six times with Boston, including twice with 30 or more wins.  He led the league in a variety of pitching categories during his time in Boston, including three times leading the league in wins, and once ERA.  Young was 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in the 1903 World Series.  He was 21-11 with a 1.26 ERA in his last season in Boston.  At age 41.  But he still pitched well the next season.  Young is tied for the team record in career wins with 192 and also had a 2.00 ERA and 1,341 strikeouts during his time with Boston.  Young is in the Hall of Fame.

Cy Young was impressive in the World Series, but Bill Dinneen stole the show, going 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA, striking out 28 in 35 innings in the first Fall Classic.  Dinneen won more than 20 games in a season three times in a row from 1902 through 1904.  He was 85-85 in his career with Boston, but his record did not tell the whole story as he pitched for some bad teams near the end.  His career ERA was 2.81 with Boston and he struck out 602, while walking 338.  Dinneen later served as an umpire for several years.

Like Young and Dinneen, southpaw Jesse Tannehill won 20 games or more multiple times for Boston.  Tannehill was 21-11 in 1904 and 22-9 in 1905 after being acquired by the New York American League franchise in exchange for Long Tom Hughes, who had won 20 for Boston in 1903.  Tannehill pitched a no-hitter against Chicago in 1904.  Tannehill was 62-38 with a 2.50 ERA for his time with Boston.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Venezuela Strikes Again

A few months back I posted about a Sandy Leon card from Venezuela that I was really happy about because it was my first ever Leon card with the Red Sox.  It was the only one in existence at the time, but with the season he is having, it is only a matter of time until he gets some more.  Recently, I decided to see what other goodies I could have imported from Venezuela.  These are the results:
Baudilio (Bo) Diaz:  Prior to this, Diaz only had one card I was aware of with the Red Sox, a rookie card he shared with Dale Murphy.  Diaz was a two-time All Star catcher with the Indians and Reds, and was a decent power hitter with those two teams and the Phillies.  He played just two games with the Red Sox in 1977 before being shipped to Cleveland in the deal that brought Dennis Eckersley to Boston the first time.  Diaz died in an accident at home in 1989 when he was just 36.

Tony Armas:  Armas was a prototypical power hitter who struck out a ton.  He spent four years with Boston and hit 113 home runs, including leading the league with 43 in 1984.  He also led the league in RBIs that season with 123 and strikeouts with 156.  Armas was named to the All Star team and won the Silver Slugger that season.  Unfortunately, his production dropped precipitously after 1984.

Jeremy (Geremi) Gonzalez:  Gonzalez was once a promising pitching prospect with the Cubs.  But, after a couple of mediocre seasons, he was stuck in the minors until the Devil Rays decided to try him out.  He was not terribly impressive with them and Boston picked him up in 2005.  He made it into 28 games, but with a 6.11 ERA.  Gonzalez was almost a player with no cards, until I found this one.

What I've Been Reading These Days

I've been reading a lot lately.  It has been my escape from thinking about work all the time.  And most of the books I have been reading have been about the Red Sox.  I have branched out a little bit and read a number of biographies of lesser-known players.

Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd was a pretty good, occasionally great, pitcher who came up with the Red Sox in the early 1980's.  He also possessed one of the greatest baseball nicknames of all time.  Oil Can wrote his autobiography to share his rather difficult life and his absolute love for the game.  He grew up in poverty and dealt with racism from an early age.  He overcame those issues and made it to the Major Leagues.  Unfortunately, he got hooked on drugs and began squandering his abilities.  Injuries and his drug use eventually led to his exit from the game.  Boyd is not a terribly inspirational figure.  He makes no apologies for his drug use and other extreme lifestyle choices.  But his love for the game is undeniable and he was definitely a character.  This book is not for everyone.

Jimmy Piersall was also a well-known character for his time.  Though his issues had more to do with a nervous breakdown.  Piersall had a tough life growing up as well.  His mother had her own mental health issues and spent a significant time in a hospital.  Piersall lived to please his father, which led to putting immense pressure on himself.  He married young and found himself trying to support his parents as well as his growing family, putting even more pressure upon himself.  Piersall grew up a Red Sox fan and devoted himself to making it to the Majors with Boston.  This all culminated in a nervous breakdown which led to his admittance to a mental institution.  Through therapy and apparently, electro-shock treatment, Piersall recovered.  He was still quirky throughout his career, but he learned to deal with the pressures and made his own mark on the game.

Pumpsie Green was the first black player to play for the Boston Red Sox, the last team to integrate.  This one is not an autobiography and includes a number of essays dealing with other related issues.  The first half of the book tells the tale of Green's life and career.  Green was not a particularly great player, but he was decent enough and his place in history is secure, if not necessarily wanted.  Other chapters detail the sham of a tryout of Jackie Robinson, Sam Jethroe, and Marvin Williams that the Red Sox held in 1945, two years before Robinson broke the color line with the Dodgers.  Unfortunately Red Sox brass did not appear serious about actually signing any of the players, the tryout was done more to appease council member Isadore Muchnick who threatened to make it difficult for the Red Sox to play Sunday baseball.  There was also a lengthy discussion about Muchnick himself, and an update on the current ownership.  One issue that I would have liked to see get more coverage is Dan Duquette's regime when the Red Sox really shed a lot of their racist historical image.  I remember very well the mid 90's when Boston had a number of black players in the field.

Mickey McDermott, like Oil Can Boyd, squandered his abilities due to being more interested in pursuing drinking, women, and partying.  He also did not seem to think he needed to work hard.  McDermott had a ton of natural talent and threw harder than most pitchers of his time, but he was incredibly wild.  Rather than work on his control, he just tried to blow the ball by hitters.  He eventually became a pretty good pitcher, but then he was traded and continued to throw his career away.  He thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Yankees, more due to the nightlife than his mediocre performance.  McDermott bounced around quite a bit after that, playing for a few more Major League teams and appearing in the independent leagues as well.  He had a pretty good thing going when he was a players' agent, but his drinking got in the way of that as well.  Eventually, McDermott cleaned up his act and even won the Arizona lottery, meaning his financial troubles were over.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

More Wantlist Help

Another quick trade, but this one accomplished something virtually unheard of, all of the cards were off of my wantlist.  Not that getting cards that were not on my wantlist is a problem, but it's nice to check a bunch of stuff off of it.

Ted Williams is the only player with more than one card here.  Henry Owens is the only pitcher.  I really like the two MVP minis and need just one more to complete the Red Sox set, which is coming in another deal.  Though I do wonder why Jim Rice did not get one.  Otherwise, we have cards from David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, two of Boston's top sluggers this year.

1991-2016 All-Underrated Team: First Base

I have been watching baseball for 26 years now. In that time, I have been obsessed with under-the-radar players. These are my picks for an All-Underrated Team. I have picked one player for each position and their best season.
The 27 year old rookie in 1999 pretty much came out of nowhere.  His only prior Major League experience was a ten game stint with the Marlins the previous season.  He was released after the season and signed by the Red Sox as a free agent and quickly proved to be an offensive weapon for Boston, filling in at first base for the departed Mo Vaughn and actually produced a higher slugging percentage than Vaughn.

Daubach hit .294/.360/.562 with 21 home runs and 73 RBIs.  He also produced 33 doubles and finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year vote.  Daubach was a streaky hitter and went on a tear down the stretch, putting himself into the Rookie of the Year conversation after a slow start to the season.  He was the Player of the Week in mid-August.

Daubach played in the postseason in 1999 and hit a home run in each of the two rounds that Boston played.  He drove in six runs and hit three doubles as well.

For coming out of nowhere as a 27 year old rookie, Daubach takes the first base position on this team.

Carlos Quintana 1991

Monday, September 19, 2016

Loyalty and Longevity Pt. 2: Bill Carrigan

In this series, I look at players who played their entire Major League career with the Red Sox, as long as said Major League career lasted at least ten years.
Yes, his nickname was "Rough" and it was a well-earned nickname.  Bill Carrigan was a Red Sox catcher first in 1906, then back with the team from 1908 through 1916.  Carrigan played hard and was not afraid to get his uniform dirty.  He was also not afraid to mix it up with other players, at one point tagging Ty Cobb in the mouth hard after Cobb had been taunting him, telling him he was going to score.  Carrigan also once punched out teammate Tris Speaker in a clubhouse brawl.  Baseball was quite different in the Dead Ball Era.

But beyond all of that, Carrigan was a pretty good player too.  In his first full season in 1909, Carrigan hit .296/.341/.368 with one home run and 36 RBIs.  Carrigan would never hit quite that high again, but his career numbers of .257/.334/.314 were nothing to be ashamed of, particularly for a Deadball Era catcher.  Carrigan was a pretty good defensive catcher too, typically nabbing more than 40% of base stealers, including leading the league with 58% in 1914.

Carrigan was only a starting catcher for a few of his ten Major League seasons, but a large reason for that was the fact that Carrigan also became the team's manager in 1913.  He managed the Red Sox through the 1916 season and led his team to more than 90 wins in each of his three full seasons at the helm.  Under him, the Red Sox won the World Series in both 1915 and 1916.  

After the 1916 season, Carrigan retired and returned to his home in Lewiston, Maine.  Carrigan returned to manage the Red Sox from 1927 through 1929, but the team was nowhere near as good and Carrigan retired from baseball for good after the team won fewer than 60 games in all three seasons.

Carrigan was the first Red Sox player to play more than ten years without appearing in another Major League uniform.  He was not the starting catcher his entire career, but he was without a doubt an important member of the team.  He managed the team for several years and even led Boston to two straight World Championships.  He may not be a member of the MLB Hall of Fame, but he is a Red Sox Hall of Famer.

Topps Now: Aug. 22, 2016

Despite just being drafted last June, Andrew Benintendi has already made an impact in the Major Leagues.  Here he is diving practically over the wall to steal a home run away from Steven Souza of the Rays in Tampa Bay.  Unfortunately, a couple days later Benintendi was hurt on the basepaths.  He recently made it back from his injury and continues to play, hitting .324/.370/.500 and playing great defense.  Benintendi looks to join Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the outfield full time next season.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Quick Trade Post

A bunch of wantlist hits were crossed off with this deal.  Most of the cards individually are not terribly exciting, but any time I can take down some of my wantlist needs, it helps.  Topps needs to stop making so many Rusney Castillo cards.  Castillo is a bust now and has been surpassed on the depth chart by Andrew Benintendi.  I would like to see Henry Owens or Brian Johnson make the next step to the Majors.  Both are left-handed starting pitchers, although Boston has three of those in the rotation already (David Price, Drew Pomeranz, and Eduardo Rodriguez).  I suspect somebody is going to be tradebait this offseason.

Topps Now: Aug. 24, 2016

David Ortiz is having a fantastic season.  And it is his last season.  He is now the oldest player to hit 30 home runs in a season.  He is hitting .317/.402/.629 with 34 home runs and 114 RBIs at 40 years old.  That is simply incredible.  He leads the league in slugging, OPS, and doubles.  Ortiz is truly going out on top.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cards from The Card Chop

I have not been making too many trades with other bloggers lately.  I would like that to change, and hopefully opening things up to a blogger I had not traded with before will change that.  Steven formerly from The Card Chop and now Collating Cards contacted me last week with some of my want list needs.  We worked out a deal quickly and he sent me this package:
The Stadium Club base cards were the cards from my list, and once again, Stadium Club has some fantastic photography.  We have Mookie Betts diving to catch a ball, Brock Holt celebrating something, and Ted Williams in some post-game interview (I used to know what this shot was from, I think it was after retaining his .406 batting average in 1941) as the major highlights.

The rest of the cards were some nice parallels and an insert of David Ortiz, who is closing in on 600 cards in my collection.  The Swihart is my personal favorite, as I remain a big fan of catchers.

Thanks for the trade Steven!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Topps Now: Aug. 20, 2016

I have stopped picking up every single Topps Now card.  I got tired of spending the money.  But every once in awhile, I still got one, and a card featuring three of Boston's top sluggers of all time was definitely one I had to get.  There are now three Red Sox players with more than 1,500 RBIs with the team.  Ortiz is definitely piling on the numbers.  He is looking more and more like a Hall of Famer.