Friday, June 30, 2017

2017 Bowman Blaster

Over the next few days, I am going to catch up on my new cards.  It will not take too terribly long, but I am behind.

Here is the first batch, from a 2017 Bowman blaster:
Yeah, not much to show for that.  Just two base cards, one of a hitter just starting his career, and the other of a player ending his.  Andrew Benintendi is the latest homegrown outfielder from the Red Sox system, joining Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. to give the Red Sox a terrific young core in the outfield.  Each one of those players could easily play center field as well, giving the team some great defense.  David Ortiz obviously retired last season and just recently had his number retired by the team.  I am surprised to keep seeing Ortiz cards this late into the season, not that I have a problem with it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Red Sox With No Cards: 2012

Oh boy.  2012.  After the disappointing end of the 2011 season, the team dismissed Terry Francona as manager and general manager Theo Epstein left the team.  Bobby Valentine was hired to replace Francona.  The team stayed mostly the same, with a few tweaks, but the only significant player they lost was closer Jonathan Papelbon.  Unfortunately, injuries and decline to a number of players resulted in the team finishing in last place.  Boston went through a lot of players in 2012 and a lot of those players never received a card.  And there were a lot of well-known players that season as well.

For the third year in a row, Scott Atchison failed to show up on any cardboard.  And 2012 was one of the best seasons in his career.  Atchison was a major part of the Red Sox bullpen, appearing in 42 games and throwing 51.1 innings.  He was 2-1 with a fantastic 1.58 ERA, striking out 36 and walking just nine.  He also had a career-low 0.994 WHIP.  Only Junichi Tazawa accumulated a higher WAR than Atchison among Red Sox relievers.  Atchison was granted free agency after the season and went on to play for the Mets and Indians.  Atchison does appear in minor league team sets.

After coming up through the minors with the Orioles, Beato made his Major League debut as a big, fire-balling right-hander with the Mets in 2011.  He was reasonably successful that season, but got off to a rough start with New York in 2012, accumulating a 10.38 ERA in seven games.  He was the player to be named later sent to the Red Sox a couple of days after Boston sent backup catcher Kelly Shoppach to the Mets.  He appeared in just four games the rest of the season with the Red Sox, throwing 7.2 innings and striking out seven while walking three with a 4.70 ERA and a 1-0 record.  Beato was back with the Red Sox in 2013, which will be covered in a future post.  Beato does appear on minor league cards.

Marlon Byrd was in his eleventh season in the Majors in 2012, starting the season with the Cubs after previously spending time with the Phillies, Nationals, and Rangers.  He was an All Star in 2010 with the Cubs.  After Boston suffered injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, and Ryan Sweeney, Byrd was acquired in a trade for Michael Bowden and Hunter Cervenka.  Byrd appeared in just 34 games with the Red Sox, but his power numbers completely tanked.  He had just three extra base hits, two doubles and a home run, for the Red Sox.  His slash line was just .270/.286/.320 with seven RBIs and nine runs.  Byrd did appear in the game that I saw in Kansas City and had a couple of hits in that game.  After failing to impress in his short stint with the Red Sox, Byrd was released in June.  Soon afterwards, he was suspended for failing a drug test.  He resurrected his career over the next few seasons with three 20 home run seasons for the Mets, Phillies, and Reds/Giants.  Then, in 2016, he was suspended for a second time for failing a drug test.  He has yet to appear since.

No, this is not the Chris Carpenter who won the Cy Young Award with the Cardinals in 2005 and was a three-time All Star.  This Chris Carpenter is mostly famous for being part of a deal facilitated between the Red Sox and Cubs to compensate Boston for allowing general manager Theo Epstein out of his contract to join the Cubs front office.  The specific trade was Carpenter and Aaron Kurcz to Boston for Jair Bogaerts (Xander's brother).  Carpenter saw action in just eight games with Boston.  He was 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA, striking out two while walking ten in six innings.  Pretty rough.  It was his last Major League action.  As seen above, Carpenter does appear in a Red Sox minor league set.  

Aaron Cook was once a very good starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies.  He pitched in the 2007 World Series against the Red Sox and was an All Star in 2008 when he was 16-9 with a 3.96 ERA.  He was coming off of a couple of bad seasons in 2012 when he was signed to a low-risk, high-reward contract with the Red Sox.  It was considered a shrewd move by the Red Sox.  Unfortunately, it did not work out.  Cook started 18 games for the Red Sox and ended up with a record of 4-11 with a 5.65 ERA.  He struck out 20 and walked 21 in 94 innings.  After the season, Cook bounced around a bit, but never appeared in the Majors again.  He does appear in a Red Sox minor league set.

DeJesus is the son of the player the Cubs traded to the Phillies for Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg.  He was a highly-touted middle infield prospect that came up through the Dodgers system, getting some brief looks in the Majors with LA before being traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers.  DeJesus appeared in eight games, with eight plate appearances, striking out six times.  DeJesus played throughout the infield in his brief stint with the Red Sox.  After the season, he was part of the trade that brought Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt to the Red Sox for Mark Melancon and others.  He was later re-acquired by the Red Sox with Jemile Weeks for Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar in 2014, but he did not play in the Majors.  He had some extended time with the Cincinnati Reds in 2015 and 2016.

Germano was a one-game wonder with the Red Sox.  He had bounced around between the Majors and minors for years, appearing in 26 games as a starter for the Padres in 2007.  He also appeared in the Majors with the Reds and Indians prior to 2012.  He signed a minor league deal with Boston prior to 2012 and was doing well in the Pawtucket rotation, going 9-4 with a 2.40 ERA before being called up to Boston for a one-game stint.  He pitched 5.2 innings that one game, giving up five hits, two walks, and striking out seven without giving up a run.  A few days later, he was sold to the Cubs, for whom he was 2-10 with a 6.75 ERA.  He later pitched for the Blue Jays and Rangers briefly.  Germano does appear in minor league sets with the Red Sox organization.

For some reason, Mauro Gomez has never really been given a shot in the Major Leagues.  He hit 20 or more home runs several seasons in a row in the minors, yet his only experience in the Majors was with Boston in 2012.  He came up through the Rangers system and also played in the Braves organization prior to signing as a minor league free agent with Boston in 2012.  He hit .288/.371/.545 with 32 home runs and 112 RBIs for Pawtucket.  He appeared in 37 games for Boston, playing first, third, and DH and hit .275/.324/.422 with two home runs and 17 RBIs.  Not bad numbers, but for some reason he never got another chance.  The next season he was with the Blue Jays organization and has since moved on to Japan with Hanshin where he has continued to hit with power.   

Like Scott Atchison, Rich Hill was in his third season with the Red Sox in 2012.  He also never received a card in a Major League Red Sox uniform.  Hill had a very good season as well in 2012, going 1-0 in 25 games out of the bullpen.  He threw 19.2 innings with a 1.83 ERA and 21 strikeouts versus 11 walks.  After the season, he played for the Indians and Yankees before re-emerging with the Red Sox in 2015, where he resurrected his career.  Hill has appeared in minor league sets.

Lillibridge had been a pretty valuable utility player with the White Sox for a few years.  He actually had a pretty good season in 2011 with Chicago, hitting 13 home runs with a slash line of .258/.340/.505.  He started the 2012 season with the White Sox but was traded to Boston for the struggling Kevin Youkilis.  This was not a deal that worked out well for Boston as Lillibridge hit just .125/.125/.125 with just two hits in 16 plate appearances.  He played right, center, first, and DH for Boston.  Lillibridge was traded again after just a month, to the Indians for Jose De La Torre.  He improved his numbers somewhat and bounced around a bit after that.  

After signing as an amateur free agent with the Red Sox in 2008, Lin impressed throughout the minor league system.  He was an impressive defensive outfielder with some speed.  He was selected to the All Star Futures Game in 2008 and won the MVP of the game after hitting a two-run home run.  Somehow he did not even appear in Bowman Draft though.  Lin became the first Taiwanese player to play with the Red Sox after he was called up to Boston in 2012, as injuries decimated the outfield.  He made it into just nine games with Boston however and had a .250/.250/.250 slash line in 12 plate appearances.  After the season, he bounced around a little, but never appeared back in the Majors.  Lin has multiple minor league cards with the Red Sox.  

Andrew Miller is one of the most frustrating players to not have any cards with the Red Sox.  He was in his second season with the Red Sox in 2012, and the team had dropped all pretense of trying to make him a starting pitcher.  This would eventually lead to him being a dominating relief pitcher and he did have a very good season in 2012.  He appeared in 53 games, throwing 40.1 innings with a 3-2 record and a 3.35 ERA.  He struck out 51 and walked 20 mostly as a situational lefty.  Miller will be covered in two more of these posts.  Very frustrating.  If not for some minor league issues, he would not appear in my collection at all.

One of the biggest mistakes the Red Sox made going into the 2012 season was trading away both Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro, turning a deep shortstop position into a thin one.  Scutaro, who had become a fan favorite, was traded to the Rockies for Mortensen, who had a decent season in 2011.  He bounced around quite a bit between the Majors and minors for the Red Sox in 2012, but was generally decent.  He was 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA and 41 strikeouts versus 19 walks in 42 innings.  It would not have been a terrible deal, but Mortensen struggled in 2013 and Scutaro was an All Star for the Giants and a postseason hero.

Podsednik surprised everyone when he finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year race in 2003 as a 27-year old.  He led the league in stolen bases the next season, despite an overall decline in productivity, then shocked everyone again with an All Star season with the World Champion White Sox in 2005.  He had settled into a role player for a few years going into the 2011 season before struggling with injuries and not appearing in the Majors that year.  Boston picked him up in May to help alleviate their outfield problems.  He was decent in two stints with Boston.  Two, because he was actually traded to the Diamondbacks along with Matt Albers for Craig Breslow at the trading deadline, released by Arizona, and returned to Boston.  In 63 games, Podsednik hit .302/.322/.352 with one home run, 12 RBIs, and eight stolen bases.  It was his final appearance in the Majors.

Longtime Twins fan favorite Nick Punto signed on with the Red Sox in 2012 to be their utility infielder.  Punto was primarily known for his defense and versatility, both of which were on display in his very short stint with Boston.  He played all four infield positions, as well as DH for the Red Sox and made just two errors, one at third and one at second.  In 65 games with the Red Sox in 2012, Punto hit just .200/.301/.272 with one home run and five stolen bases.  He was never known for his hitting, with good reason.  Punto was part of the big trade with the Dodgers, being sent out west along with star teammates Beckett, Gonzalez, and Crawford at the August trading deadline.  He finished the season out with the Dodgers, hitting a little better.  He played a couple more seasons on the West Coast before hanging up his spikes.  

Despite only twice appearing in more than 20 Major League games, Quiroz managed to make appearances in ten seasons for six teams.  He was generally much better known for his defense, though he had a couple big seasons in the minors, especially with Toronto.  Quiroz played for the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles, Red Sox, and Giants during his Major League career.  Boston purchased him from the Mariners in September and he appeared in just two games for the Red Sox, with two hitless plate appearances.  The next season, he played in 43 games with the Giants, but hit just .186.  

Repko was primarily a backup outfielder with the Dodgers and the Twins during his career.  He played in 129 games as a rookie for LA in 2005, but never appeared in more than 69 games in any season after that.  Repko signed as a free agent with the Red Sox shortly before Spring Training in 2012 and impressed in the Spring.  His strong showing led to him making the team as a backup outfielder shortly after Opening Day.  Unfortunately, he played in just five games with a slash line of .091/.091/.091 before going down with an injury and returning to the minors.  Repko never appeared in the Majors again.  

The Kevin Youkilis trade was bad.  We have seen Brent Lillibridge earlier in this post and the Red Sox also received highly-touted pitching prospect Zach Stewart, who bounced around several organizations because he was never able to harness his stuff.  The Red Sox were already his third Major League team, and fourth organization, at just 25 years old.  He would go on to pitch in several more organizations, but did not pitch in the Majors after his ill-fated stint in Boston.  He pitched in just two games for the Red Sox, both starts, but pitched just 5.2 innings.  He did not issue a walk, and struck out three, but he was hit hard to the tune of a 22.24 ERA and took the loss in both games.  After the season, Stewart was traded to the Pirates for a random minor leaguer.  

Lefty reliever Justin Thomas appeared in the Majors for four different teams over three seasons, but never appeared in more than 12 games in any year.  He also never had an ERA below 6.00, so there is a pretty good reason for his inability to stick in the Majors.  Thomas was picked up as a low-risk free agent after the 2011 season.  He started the season in the minors until being called up to Boston for seven mostly bad games.  He threw 4.2 innings of 7.71 ERA ball with four strikeouts and two walks.  In May, he was placed on waivers and taken by the Yankees, for whom he was even worse.  

Third base was a big problem for the Red Sox in 2012.  Youkilis struggled and was traded.  Will Middlebrooks impressed, but went down with a season-ending injury.  After that, the team went through a number of options.  In early August, the team traded for Valencia from the Twins.  Valencia had a lot of power, hitting 15 home runs for the Twins in 2011 after finishing third in the Rookie of the Year vote in 2010.  He struggled in 2012 before being sent to Boston, and then continued his struggles.  In 10 games, he hit just .143/.138/.250 with one home run.  He was sold to the Orioles after the season and had a decent season.  Valencia would find some success later on, primarily as a DH for Oakland.

Not even the manager was immune to not receiving cards in 2012.  Despite being a fairly big name among managers, Valentine never appeared on cardboard wearing a Red Sox uniform.  He only lasted one year though, and it was a pretty bad one.  Valentine was known for his time managing the Rangers and Mets and won a pennant with New York.  His year in Boston is best left out of the discussion though.  Boston was just 69-93 and he managed to alienate half the team, particularly popular veteran Youkilis.  It was a miserable season for Valentine and the Red Sox both.

Lots of players here to pick from for the player I would most want to see on a card.  And there are a lot of well-known players too.  There is the bullpen trifecta of Andrew Miller, Scott Atchison, and Rich Hill.  Atchison has been my pick before (2010), so I will eliminate him.  Scott Podsednik, Marlon Byrd, and Aaron Cook have all been All Stars with other teams.  There is also of course manager Bobby Valentine, but I do not want to pick a manager.  And Nick Punto was a legitimate Major Leaguer as well.  So, it likely comes down to Miller vs. Podsednik for the top spot.  As Miller still has two seasons to go, I think I am going to go with Podsednik here.  He played in 63 games, hit over .300 and helped stabilize the outfield during a time of a number of injuries.  Plus, he had two stints with Boston in one season.      

Monday, June 26, 2017

One-Card Wonder Pt. 42: Carlos Peguero

I have no idea how this happened.  Of all the players over the years to play for the Red Sox, how did Topps decide to include a card of Carlos Peguero?  Andrew Miller never received a card with the Red Sox.  Scott Atchison never received a card with the Red Sox.  Scott Podsednik never received a card with the Red Sox.  Yet, Carlos Peguero, a player who played all of FOUR games appeared on a Topps card.  He had SIX plate appearances.  He did though have a hit, a walk, and a run.  And hey, if he is only going to have one card with the Red Sox, they picked a damn good picture.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Topps Now: May 24, 2017

I have said before that I am going to be much more picky about picking up the Topps Now cards this year.  Mostly big events and players that are not very big in my collection.  Sam Travis qualifies as the second prong of that.  Travis was the #3 prospect in the Red Sox system when he was called up to the big league club.  He has been back down and then recalled again since making his Major League debut.  He had two hits in his debut and through seven Major League games, he is hitting .409/.458/.545 with three doubles, and a stolen base.  Eventually it is likely that he will take over at first base.  Just not any time real soon with the way Mitch Moreland is hitting.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Road to Opening Day Auto

I received a coupon code for 25% off of a Road to Opening Day Team Set, so I decided to splurge on the autographed set, which would give me one autograph card from among three possible players.  Mine was definitely a good one:
My first Chris Sale autograph card.  This was definitely the one I most preferred.  The other two available players were David Price and Andrew Benintendi.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

2017 Topps Now Road to Opening Day

I know, eventually I will get back to posting regularly.  I have just been very busy of late.

Before the season started, Topps Now was offering special Road to Opening Day team sets.  Naturally, I had to pick up the Red Sox set.  It took a little longer than I expected to receive, but I did finally get it last week some time.  So, let's look at the cards and see if they missed on somebody:
1.  Chris Sale.  Sale is obviously the best pitcher on the team, and has an argument for being the best pitcher in the game.

2.  Mookie Betts.  His batting average is down, but his other numbers are just as impressive as last year.

3.  Xander Bogaerts.  His power is starting to come around, and his batting average has always been high.  Bogaerts is actually looking underrated these days what with the influx of star shortstops.

4.  Dustin Pedroia.  When he has been on the field, he has been decent.  He has been out with a number of minor injuries, and his power is down as well.  He is still a great defensive player though.

5.  Hanley Ramirez.  Ramirez is suffering from some nagging injuries that have impacted his hitting.  He is having a rough season.

6.  Pablo Sandoval.  Despite showing up in Spring Training in the best shape of his career, that promise has not carried forward into the season.  He has been brutal.  He has also been hurt a lot.  At this point, I am hoping for Deven Marrero to be the stopgap third-baseman until Rafael Devers is ready.

7.  Andrew Benintendi.  His slump in May hurt his numbers, but he is coming around and is having a good rookie season.

8.  Jackie Bradley Jr.  He is also coming around lately after a brutal start to the season.  His defense has been terrific and his numbers are looking pretty good.  Not where he was last season at this time, but very reasonable for a center fielder.

9.  Mitch Moreland.  It was something of a maligned signing at the time, but he is turning into one of the best bargains of the offseason.

10.  Sandy Leon.  Predictably, Leon has not been nearly as good as he was last season.  At least offensively.  He has been pretty good defensively though.  Leon has played in slightly more games than backup Christian Vazquez, who has a decent average, but no power.

11.  David Price.  Price spent most of the season on the DL.  He has only pitched a few games so far and they have been pretty inconsistent.

12.  Rick Porcello.  After winning the Cy Young Award last season, Porcello has had a rough season.

13.  Steven Wright.  He made the All Star team last year, but has been pretty bad in 2017.  He also went down with a season-ending injury.  He maybe should have been replaced in this set by Eduardo Rodriguez.

14.  Drew Pomeranz.  Other than the occasional bad game, Pomeranz has been a decent back-of-the-rotation starter.

15.   Craig Kimbrel.  Kimbrel has been nothing short of terrific.  He is 2-0 with a 0.85 ERA and 20 saves and he has notched 59 strikeouts versus just five walks in 31.2 innings.

Tomorrow, I will show off the other part of this package.  It was definitely worth it.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bowman Trade

This trade was great.  I love these cards.
1.  2017 Bowman Scouts' Top 100 Andrew Benintendi.  Coming into the season, Benintendi was the man to beat for the Rookie of the Year.  Unfortunately, despite having a good season, Aaron Judge has overshadowed him quite a bit.

2.  2017 Bowman Talent Pipeline Rafael Devers/Aneury Tavarez/Sam Travis.  Featuring some of the top Red Sox prospects, this is the card I was most excited about.  Devers is Boston's top prospect and he has some big-time power.  Aneury Tavarez was initially lost to Baltimore in the Rule V Draft, but Baltimore could not make room for him on their Major League roster so he was returned to Boston.  Good thing too, as he started out hot and made it to AAA already this year.  Sam Travis actually spent some time with Boston so far this season and may be the first baseman by the end of the year.

3.  2016 Bowman's Best Stat Lines Yoan Moncada.  I am disappointed that Moncada is no longer in the Red Sox system, but hey, Chris Sale has been pretty awesome this season.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

More Wantlist Help

Just a quick three-card trade, two of which knocked stuff off of my wantlist.

Up first, is the 2016 RBI leaders from the American League.  All three were aging sluggers.  David Ortiz is the big one for the purposes of this blog of course.  He had a fantastic final season that included tying for the league lead in RBIs.

Andrew Benintendi has had a decent rookie season, other than a prolonged slump early in May.  Aaron Judge has definitely overshadowed him though.

Finally, another Dustin Pedroia card, this one a Chrome Purple Refractor.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

2015 Bowman's Best Trade

I have fallen way behind.  Blame my job.  I do.
This was a trade that I really was not that pleased with.  I gave up some 2017 Yankees inserts and thought I would be getting something a little better in return than this.  Oh well.  Several of these came off of my wantlist, so it is not all bad.  I really like the picture on the Blake Swihart card.  One of these days, he will be brought back to Boston.  The Rusney Castillo is a refractor card.  Then there are the base cards of lineup stalwarts Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts.

I have several more packages to catch up on.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

R.I.P. Jim Piersall

Jim Piersall, one of the most interesting players in Red Sox history, has died after battling a months-long illness.  Piersall was a terrific defensive outfielder, who had some pretty good years with the bat.  He was mostly well-known for his often bizarre antics, which eventually led to him being hospitalized with mental illness and undergoing shock therapy.  He has no memory of that time period but wrote a book about it, Fear Strikes Out.  Piersall used his experiences to bring mental illness to a wider audience, engaging in public speaking and charitable events.