Tuesday, July 31, 2018

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Today's trade package was four cards, and as you can see, only two players:
I had to get the Xander Bogaerts card due to the throwback uniform.  I think it is the last one of those variations that I needed.  The other three cards are all Andrew Benintendi.  As I said recently, Benintendi has been growing quickly in my collection.  All three of these are variations from the base cards from this Donruss and Diamond Kings sets. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Loyalty and Longevity Pt. 11: Mike Greenwell

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.
When I was first getting into baseball (1991), the Red Sox had two major superstars and a few other star players.  Mike Greenwell was one of those star players, a mainstay in left field and a two-time All Star at the time.  Unfortunately, the rest of his career from that point on was a little more ordinary.
Greenwell was selected in the third round of the 1982 draft and moved through the system fairly quickly.  He already made his Major League debut in Boston in 1985 and made an instant impact, hitting four home runs in just 17 games.  Unfortunately, the Red Sox outfield was tough to crack (Dwight Evans, Tony Armas, and Jim Rice), particularly on the corners where Greenwell would have fit in.  That meant that he was back in the minors to start the 1986 season and did not come back up until July.  At that point he was there to stay, though in a part-time role.  He played in just 31 games, with a similar batting line, but no home runs.  He played in two games in the ALCS against the Angels and four against the Mets in the World Series, but had just one hit in five at-bats.
1987 saw Greenwell become a regular player, mostly in right field with Evans moving to first base for part of the season, but he also began playing in left, the position he would play for most of his career.  He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote in a deep rookie class.  He had an impressive batting line of .328/.386/.570 with 19 home runs and 89 RBIs.  
Greenwell had his best season in 1988, a year in which he finished second in the AL MVP vote to Jose Canseco.  He rang up career highs in hits (192), doubles (39), triples (8), home runs (22), RBIs (119), stolen bases (16), and walks (87, versus just 36 strikeouts).  His line was a very impressive .325/.416/.531.  He was named to the All Star team for the first time and won his only Silver Slugger.  Unfortunately, Canseco's 40/40 season was too much to top.  
That was his peak, and even though Greenwell was just 25 in 1988, he would never have another season like it.  He was still plenty good in 1989 as he hit .308/.370/.443 with 14 home runs and 95 RBIs in his second All Star season.  He declined further in 1990, hitting .297/.367/.434 with 14 home runs and 73 RBIs.  He bounced back to .300 the next season, but his power numbers dipped even further.  Injuries then limited him to just 49 games in 1992.
Greenwell had his last really good season in 1993, hitting .315/.379/.480 with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs.  The next three seasons, Greenwell was slightly above average, never quite hitting .300 again and with no more than 15 home runs.  He played in just 77 games in his final season in 1996, but had one very interesting game on September 2 when he hit two home runs and a double and drove in all nine runs the team scored that day, a record.
A number of veteran players left Boston after 1996, including Roger Clemens and Jose Canseco, and Mike Greenwell followed suit.  He went to Japan, but played in just a handful of games and there was talk of him returning to play in the U.S., though he never did.  He finished up his twelve-year career hitting .303/.368/.463 with 130 home runs and 726 RBIs.  Decent numbers, but he was never quite the star he was expected to become after 1988.  He was still one of my favorite players.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Card Shop Visit

My wife was in Chicago over the weekend recently so I decided to drive down to my hometown (two hour drive) and see family and friends.  I also stopped in to the card shop I spent many hours and a lot of money in for the first time in several months.  He used to hold Red Sox cards aside for me, but since my visits are far more sporadic lately, he kind of stopped doing that.  I did pick up a few things though.

Up first is the remainder of the Topps team set I needed:
1.  Dustin Pedroia.  Leading things off is Pedroia who has been hurt the vast majority of the season.

2.  Steven Wright.  I no longer focus much on him, but I still love picking up cards of the knuckleballer.  He is also hurt right now.

3.  Rick Porcello.  Boston's most recent Cy Young Award Winner is one of the rare such award winners who has never been an All Star.

4.  Craig Kimbrel.  On the other hand, Kimbrel has been there three times since joining Boston.

5.  Combo Card.  The outfield trio of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi has seen a lot of cardboard love in the last year.

6.  Matt Barnes.  Not sure what happened with this scan, the card is not cut off.  Barnes is one of the players I was most happy to see make it into the set.  Topps needs to make more cards of setup guys and role players like Barnes.

7.  Mitch Moreland.  Even Moreland has been an All Star, come on Porcello.

8.  Christian Vazquez.  You cannot go wrong with catchers shown in full equipment.  Still my personal favorite shots.

9.   Eduardo Nunez.  Nunez was another player I was excited to see in the set.  I do not have many cards of him yet.
10.  Team Card.  I'm not going to bother attempting to identify everyone here, this goes down as a simple team card.

11.  Eduardo Rodriguez.  Another injured Red Sox.

12.  Rafael Devers.  This season has not gone as well as hoped for him, but hopefully the team will remain patient with him.  He is just 20.

13.  Andrew Benintendi.  One of the bigger breakout stars on the team this season. 

I tried my luck at some various packs, starting off with one of the Silver packs.  That pack did not produce any Red Sox.  In fact it was one of the more bizarre packs I have ever opened.  Of the four cards, two were Yankees (because of course they were), and two were Manny Machado (one was the blue parallel).  How does that happen?

Next was a Bowman fat pack, which only resulted in one Red Sox card.
C.J. Chatham.  A second round draft pick from 2016, Chatham is playing well in High A and will most likely be in AA next season. 

And finally, I bought a hobby box for the first time in years.  It was not great.  I picked up last year's Diamond Kings.  I only pulled two Red Sox, and a whole bunch of Yankees:
1.  Johnny Pesky.  I am a little disappointed that this is the same picture as is on his 2018 card, but any Pesky card is great.

2.  Andrew Benintendi.  He might be one of the fastest growing players in my Red Sox collection.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Red Sox With No Cards: 2013

The Red Sox looked entirely different in 2013.  Featuring a new manager in John Farrell, the team also had new faces all over the diamond due to some financial flexibility after trading Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett.  That allowed them to bring in Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara, and David Ross, among others.  High character players who were also consummate professionals.  The influx of talent and several great years by the veterans helped lead Boston to the World Championship.  There were a number of players that came up throughout the year though that did not get cards made.  And not having any commemorative sets left several holes.

Beato was in his second season with the Red Sox in 2013 after coming over from the New York Mets in exchange for Kelly Shoppach.  Beato was a big (6'6" 230) right-hander who had a pretty good year in the Red Sox minor league system.  He was brought up a couple of times and made it into ten games with the big league club.  His numbers were okay in short work, pitching ten innings with a 1-1 record and a 3.60 ERA.  But for such a big guy, he did not rack up many strikeouts, fanning just five while walking two.  He was placed on waivers after the season and was picked up by the Reds.  He is still active, though he has not appeared in the Majors for more than a few games in any subsequent season.  Beato does have Pawtucket Red Sox cards.

Quintin Berry has one particular skill that has made him a desirable player to have on the team and teams have gone back to get him to take advantage of that one skill.  Berry is fast, very fast.  In his rookie season in 2012, Berry stole 21 bases in 94 games with the Tigers, but he was not able to stick on the Major League roster.  In 2013, he started the season in the Tiger organization, was selected off of waivers by the Royals, and then was dealt to Boston in late August for Clayton Mortensen.  Boston used him down the stretch, primarily as a pinch runner.  He had just eight at-bats in 13 games, but he picked up five hits and scored five runs while stealing three bases.  Berry even hit a home run among his five hits.  His line was .625/.667/1.000.  Berry made it on to the postseason roster primarily to use his great speed late in games.  He played one game in each of the postseason series and stole a base in each game.  It is a big shame that there were no commemorative sets for 2013 because he would have shown up in something, beyond his minor league issues.  Berry bounced around several organizations after 2013, most recently for Milwaukee in 2017.  He even made it back to the Boston system for a little while, though he did not play in Boston.  He never played in more than a few games in the Majors per season other than his rookie year.
There is not really a whole lot to say about Jose De La Torre.  His entire Major League career consists of just seven games that he pitched for Boston in 2013.  De La Torre bounced around several organizations before landing in Boston, originally signing with the Brewers, then moving on to the Mets and then the Indians before Cleveland traded him to Boston in July 2012 for Brent Lillibridge, who did next to nothing for Boston after being acquired for Kevin Youkilis.  De La Torre did not do much more than Lillibridge though, pitching to a 6.35 ERA and 1.765 WHIP in 11.1 innings in 2013 after having a reasonably successful season in Pawtucket.  He showed some strikeout ability, registering 15, but also walked 10.  After the season, the Brewers brought him back, but he never pitched in the Majors again.  De La Torre does have a minor league issue with Pawtucket.

Diaz is a typical all glove-no hit middle infielder.  He was originally drafted by Toronto in the 2006 Draft and spent seven seasons in the minors, never hitting higher than .267.  He did have some on-base ability though, as he had good strike zone judgment and walked more than he struck out several seasons.  Diaz signed with the Red Sox organization for the 2013 season and had a decent season, hitting .255/.386/.320 and stole 12 bases.  He was called up late in the season to provide late-inning defensive relief.  It was his Major League debut.  Diaz appeared in five games, only starting one at third base.  He made just four at-bats and was hitless, but he did score two runs.  After the season, he returned to the Blue Jays system, then bounced between the Blue Jays and Yankees system several times.  He had his most successful season in 2014 appearing in 23 games for Toronto.  Diaz does also appear in Pawtucket Red Sox sets.

McDonald had a career spanning 16 seasons and appeared in the Majors for eight different teams.  He was a highly skilled defensive player who found his niche as a utility infielder, having his greatest success with Toronto in 2007.  He also played for the Indians, Tigers, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Phillies, and Dodgers as well as the Red Sox.  His time in Boston was a minor blip in his long career.  He had a crazy 2013, starting the year with Arizona, then being sent to Pittsburgh, then to Cleveland, then to Philadelphia, and then finally to Boston at the August trade deadline for Nefi Ogando.  McDonald appeared in six games at second base for the Red Sox in September, but made just nine plate appearances with a line of .250/.333/.250.  True to his reputation, he had a 1.000 fielding percentage.  McDonald appeared in 95 games with the Dodgers the next season, his last season in the Majors.

The frustration continues as Miller was now in his third season with the Red Sox with no cards.  Miller was in the midst of a potential breakout season in 2013.  Unfortunately an injury in early July ended his season prematurely and caused him to miss the postseason entirely.  Had this not happened, he may have gotten a card in Update or something.  Miller had already pitched in 37 games, mostly as a lefty specialist, as his 30.2 innings would attest.  He had a sparkling 2.64 ERA and a 1-1 record.  He was still a little bit wild, walking 17, but he racked up 48 strikeouts.  It is a shame he got hurt as he could have been a weapon in the postseason, not that Boston ultimately really needed it.  Still, he should have had a card at some point during his four-year tenure with the Red Sox.

After being acquired in a trade with the Rockies prior to 2012, Mortensen spent two seasons with the Red Sox.  He was decent in 2012, but struggled quite a bit in 2013 with a 5.34 ERA in 24 games in 30.1 innings and finished with a 1-2 record.  He struck out 21 while walking 16.  Mortensen was traded to the Royals in late August in 2013 for Quintin Berry.  He did not make it back to the Majors that season, or any other season.  His tenure with the Red Sox was his last in the Major Leagues despite being just 28.  He last appeared in 2017 in the Marlins system.

Boston needed a little bit of depth coming into the 2013 season and signed Brandon Snyder as a free agent from the Rangers.  Snyder had been a first-round pick of the Orioles back in 2005, but never totally panned out.  He appeared in the Majors each of the previous seasons but only once played in more than ten games (40 in 2012 with the Rangers).  He was decent in 2012 and made it into 27 games with the Red Sox in 2013.  Snyder was versatile, appearing in games at first, third, left field, and designated hitter, but he did not hit much.  His final line was .180/.212/.360 and he hit two home runs and drove in seven runs.  Snyder bounced around for a couple of years, not appearing in the Majors again until 2016 when he turned in a decent partial season for the Braves.  He did appear with the Rays earlier this year.  Snyder does appear in minor league sets.

The big trade deadline deal the Red Sox pulled off in 2013 was to acquire starting pitcher Jake Peavy from the White Sox in a three-team deal.  Boston sent defensive wizard Jose Iglesias to the Tigers in the deal and a few prospects (including future Major Leaguers Frankie Montas and J.B. Wendelken) to the White Sox.  Peavy was not the only player Boston received in the deal though as the Tigers sent Villareal to the Red Sox.  Villareal had a decent season for Detroit in 2012, appearing in 50 games with a 3-5 record and a 2.63 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 54.2 innings.  Unfortunately his 2013 was not nearly as impressive as he had a 20.77 ERA for the Tigers in seven games.  Villareal appeared in just one game with the Red Sox, facing just one batter, who he walked.  Not the most impressive debut.  It is not much of a surprise then that he did not receive a card for his time in Boston.  He remained in the minors for Boston in 2014, then signed with the Twins but he never appeared in the Majors again.   

It is very easy to pick the biggest disappointment here since Andrew Miller had a very good season, which might have been even better had he not gotten hurt.  Quintin Berry though, is another player that I would have loved to see get some cardboard as he appeared in the World Series against the Cardinals.  It sucks to not have cards of everyone who appeared in the World Series.  Ultimately, I would probably pick Miller, but would have to consider Berry.  I really wish there had been commemorative sets as in 2004 and 2007.  Those years, players like Ricky Gutierrez and Royce Clayton managed to get cards only through those sets.  If there had been one in 2013, Miller and Berry might have gotten something.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Linsanity and a Diamond Kings Break

The last 24 hours have yielded some new stuff.  I actually went on to Ebay last weekend and picked up a couple of cheap cards that jumped at me.  The first card is below:
2018 Bowman Chrome Talent Pipeline Jay Groome/Michael Chavis/Tzu-Wei Lin.

I think this card cursed all three players.  Coming into the season, Groome and Chavis were Boston's top two prospects and they were highly regarded too.  Groome was thought to be a future ace and Chavis had some big-time power, the best power-hitting prospect Boston has developed since Mo Vaughn.  Now, both players face uncertain futures as Groome underwent Tommy John surgery and will be out the entire season and Chavis was suspended 80 games for a PED violation.  Only time will tell what happens with those two.

By contrast, Tzu-Wei Lin was never really one of Boston's top prospects.  He was always considered a good defensive player but lacking at the plate.  Last season, he surprised everyone with a very good year in Pawtucket and was called up to the Majors and produced for a little while.  He ended up with just a line of .268/.369/.339 but showed some impressive contact hitting and ability to get on base while providing solid defense in the infield.  Lin has declined markedly this season though, at least in the Majors.  He is having a great season in Pawtucket.  I would love to see Lin stick as a utility infielder in the Majors with Boston.  He is fun to watch and can certainly help the team, as long as he plays more like 2017 than 2018.

I was in Lincoln recently since my wife dragged me to the Def Leppard/Journey concert (I suppose payback for when I dragged her to Mayhem/Immolation/Black Anvil last Fall.  That debt was coming due at some point).  I stopped at Walmart late at night and saw that they had blasters of Diamond Kings, a set I love and seem to have pretty good luck with.  Since my local Walmart ran out, I bought one.  What a great move.  I want to preface this scan by saying that there were 33 cards in this blaster.
1.  Harry Hooper Artist's Proof Red (Photo Variation).  The very first card out of the box was this awesome parallel of obscure HOFer Hooper.  

2.  Mookie Betts Aurora.  Here is the standard Mookie Betts card for my breaks.  Nice colorful card here.  I like this card a lot.

3.  Chris Sale.  Just a boring base card.  (Not really).

4.  Chris Sale Gallery of Stars.  The very next card was this terrific insert that calls to mind the Triple Play Gallery of Stars cards in the early 1990's.  

5.  Johnny Pesky.  This is why I love this set so much.  So many classic old-time players.  Pesky is one of those players I would have loved if I had been able to watch him.  Just a terrific contact hitter who lived up to his name.

6.  Joe Cronin.  I am actually currently reading a biography of Cronin.  The author is a bit of an apologist with regard to the issues the team had while Cronin was running things, most notably in its history with African American players.  I suppose there is no real proof that Cronin was part of the problem, but he certainly did not help solve it either.  That being said, Cronin was a fascinating individual who rose from player to manager to general manager to league president.

Yes, six Red Sox cards out of 33 total cards.  Somehow though, I still got more Yankees.  That just is not right.

And finally, another Ebay item:
2018 Gypsy Queen Missing Blackplate Tzu-Wei Lin.  Yes, I had Linsanity last year.  That probably is not a huge surprise given my history of pulling for the unknown guys.  Like I said above, I would love to see Lin develop into the next Brock Holt for Boston.  

Thursday, July 26, 2018

One-Card Wonder Pt. 43: Kelly Johnson

Technically, I have two cards of Kelly Johnson, but since one of them is a parallel of this card, I am still counting this.

Johnson is one of two players to play for every team in the American League East (current Red Sox lefty-masher Steve Pearce is the other), and he did so in descending alphabetical order.  He was once a rising star with the Braves who had some big power for a second-baseman.  He was then traded to Arizona where he was even better, hitting 26 home runs in 2010.  The Diamondbacks then exchanged second-basemen with Toronto, sending Kelly for Aaron Hill, another future Red Sox.

At this point in his career, Johnson became a journeyman, always hitting for some power, but not much else.  From 2011 to 2016, Johnson played for eight teams, including three teams in 2014.  It was in 2014 that he showed up in Boston.  He started the season with the Yankees before being sent to Boston at the trading deadline in a very rare trade between the two rivals.  Boston sent Stephen Drew to New York.

In his very short time in Boston, Johnson appeared in just ten games and appeared at every infield position except shortstop and also played left field and designated hitter.  He did not produce at all, hitting .160/.160/.200 with no home runs and one double.  He had just one RBI.  He was then shipped off to Baltimore along with Michael Almanzar for Jemile Weeks and Ivan DeJesus, his stint in Boston being ultimately forgettable.

And that is why it is so shocking to see this card.  He played for three teams in 2014, starting with the Yankees and finishing with the Orioles, and yet he has this Topps Update card commemorating his time with the Red Sox.  I am thrilled it exists, but it makes me wonder how he gets a Red Sox card, but Andrew Miller, who played three and a half seasons in Boston, does not get one.

Johnson played two more seasons, splitting each one between the Braves and Mets.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Stadium Club Trade

This is my second trade since returning.  It will not be the last.  This one focused on Stadium Club.  The horizontal card theme was completely unintentional.
1.  Never Compromise Black Andrew Benintendi.  This card replaces the Never Compromise Black card of Francisco Lindor that was sent to get this.  Benintendi looks like a star right now.  Other than an early slump, he has been a great player.

2.  Power Zone Rafael Devers.  Devers has 14 home runs this season, good for fourth on the team.  In the future, he may be one of the team leaders.

3.  Craig Kimbrel.  I like the Fenway scoreboard background, but this card is kind of boring.

4.  J.D. Martinez.  This one is also kind of boring, but it is my first Martinez card from the regular season in a Red Sox uniform.

5.  Hanley Ramirez.  This is more like it.  I love this picture, it is a lot of fun.  It is also my 100th Hanley card.

6.  David Price.  Another boring shot from the dugout.

7.  Dustin Pedroia.  I want to know the story behind this picture.  I have no idea why he has such a large glove.  It appears to be autographed by several people too.

8.  Andrew Benintendi.  I like this action shot too.  It could be a home run.

9.  Black and White Wade Boggs.  I've said it many times, Boggs was my first favorite player.  I still like adding cards of him.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 33: Pedro Martinez

Years in Boston: 1998-2004 (117-37, 2.52 ERA, 1,683 strikeouts)
Best Year in Boston: 1999 (23-4, 2.07 ERA, 313 strikeouts)
Oh man, Pedro Martinez.  What a terrific pitcher he was, quite possibly one of the most dominant starting pitchers I have ever seen.  Every game he pitched in Boston was an event.  He was simply incredible.  And the greatest thing about him was that he was doing this in the Steroid Era.

Martinez came up in the Dodgers system, like his brother Ramon, before being traded to Montreal for Delino DeShields, a trade that did not work out well for Los Angeles.  He became an All Star with the Expos and won his first Cy Young Award in 1997.  After the season, Montreal dealt him to Boston for a couple of pitching prospects: Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr.  The deal did not work out great for Montreal either.

Boston, on the other hand, got a great pitcher in his prime.  1998 saw Martinez finish second in the Cy Young vote to former Red Sox Roger Clemens with a 19-7 record, 2.89 ERA, and 251 strikeouts.  But in 1999, he became the legendary dominant force at the top of the Red Sox rotation.  That season he was a unanimous selection as the Cy Young Award winner and finished second in the MVP vote as well.  I still think he should have won it.  He won the pitching Triple Crown by leading the league in wins (23), ERA (2.07), and strikeouts (313, a team record).  He was the All Star Game MVP that season when he struck out five of six batters he faced in the first two innings.  He was also electrifying in the postseason, coming on in relief in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS against the Indians with six no-hit innings, and winning his only start against the Yankees in the ALCS. 

He might have been even better in 2000.  He was again a unanimous Cy Young winner, going 18-6 with an incredible 1.74 ERA and 284 strikeouts.  Unfortunately, Martinez missed a significant chunk of the 2001 season and only pitched in 18 games, going 7-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 163 strikeouts.  He made a complete comeback in 2002 though, going 20-4 while leading the league with a 2.26 ERA and 239 strikeouts, and probably should have won the Cy Young Award again.  2003 was Martinez's last great season with Boston as he went 14-4 with 206 strikeouts and a league-leading 2.22 ERA.

Martinez was becoming ever more injury-prone as the seasons wore on.  He entered the 2004 season, the last under his seven-year deal with Boston, as no longer the sole focus in the rotation.  The Red Sox had acquired Curt Schilling in the offseason and Schilling was getting a lot of attention.  Martinez was no longer dominating in 2004, he was just very good.  He finished his final season in Boston at 16-9 with an un-Pedro-like 3.90 ERA.  He did strike out 227 batters though.

Pedro Martinez left the Red Sox a World Champion though.  He pitched well in one game against the Angels in the ALDS, but had some trouble with the Yankees in the ALCS.  His final game in a Red Sox uniform came in Game 3 of the World Series against the Cardinals.  He pitched seven strong innings, giving up just three hits and two walks while striking out six and winning.  After the season, Martinez moved on to the Mets and had one last great season before injuries started really taking their toll on his career. 

Martinez was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first attempt in 2015.  He wears a Red Sox cap on his plaque.  Boston fans were lucky to be able to see him in his prime and his Red Sox career consists of two Cy Young Awards, four All Star appearances, an All Star Game MVP, and a World Championship ring.

Monday, July 23, 2018

More Random Breaks

Here are the breaks over the last week or so.  I went a little nuts recently.
1.  2018 Topps Salute Ted Williams.  The best thing about this card is that this is a picture I have not seen on a card before.  I get a little annoyed when the same photos get used over and over again.

2.  2018 Topps Hanley Ramirez.  I am just one card away from 100 on Hanley.  I did not realize that would have to wait until after he was off the team.  His departure was shocking.

3.  2018 Topps Drew Pomeranz.  Pomeranz has been disappointing this year after winning 17 games last year.  Hopefully he will make it back yet this year.

4.  2018 Topps David Price.  Price is a pitcher who needs to be a little more consistent if Boston is going to make it far this year.  He has moments where he looks like the Price of old, but then he will get shelled in a game.

This Topps break was kind of nice from a player selection standpoint.  These are all players that I have not been getting a lot lately, especially as I have not been working out many trades and have not been to a shop in a long time.

5.  2017 Panini Chronicles Chris Sale.  I should have paid more attention to this box when I picked it up.  There were only 20 cards in the box and it was a tad pricey.  I also did not get much, but I did add this nice Sale card.

6.  2018 Topps Heritage Mookie Betts.  I probably pull more Mookie Betts cards than any other player, except Aaron Judge, annoyingly.

7.  2018 Topps Heritage David Price.  Hey, two David Price cards.

8.  2018 Topps Heritage Rick Porcello.  Oddly, winning the Cy Young Award in 2016 has not greatly increased the cards available of Porcello.  This is kind of annoying.  I have fewer Porcello cards than Price and Porcello has been in Boston one year longer.

9.  2018 Topps Heritage Mookie Betts AS.  This is new.  Two Mookie cards in the same box.

10.  2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Craig Kimbrel.  Kimbrel is a free agent after this season.  It will be interesting to see what Boston does about that.

11.  2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Mookie Betts.  Shocker.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 11: Glenn Hoffman

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?
Later this month Trevor Hoffman will be delivering a speech to commemorate his induction into the Hall of Fame.  The (much) older brother of Trevor Hoffman was also a baseball player, though unlike Trevor, Glenn Hoffman will never make it to Cooperstown without buying a ticket.  

Glenn Hoffman was actually picked higher in the Draft than his brother, being selected by the Red Sox in the second round of the 1976 Draft out of high school.  His younger brother was just nine years old at that time.  Hoffman made it to the Majors fairly quickly for someone selected out of high school, becoming a Major League regular in 1980 and turning in a fairly decent season, hitting .285/.326/.397, but with no real power.  He spent the vast majority of the season at third base, taking over for the injured Butch Hobson.  
Boston acquired Carney Lansford to take over third base in 1981, so Hoffman was going to be unable to play that position.  He was moved to shortstop where he would spend most of the rest of his career.  Unfortunately, Hoffman took a major step backwards at the plate in 1981, hitting just .231/.271/.285 with just one home run, 10 doubles, and 20 RBIs.  His fielding at his natural position was decent, though he made 15 errors, third in the league.  

Hoffman would stay in Boston into the 1987 season.  He was the primary shortstop for a couple more seasons, but he would never be much of a hitter.  His best season with the stick was in 1985 when he hit .276/.343/.416 with six home runs, 34 RBIs, and 17 doubles in 96 games.  He had to win his job back from Jackie Gutierrez that year (though admittedly that was not that difficult).  Hoffman was injured for most of the 1986 season and lost his starting job.  He was shipped to the Dodgers in August of 1987.  He later played for the Angels and last appeared in the Majors in 1989.
Glenn's entire career was over the same season that younger brother Trevor was drafted.  

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Ah, That's More Like It

I worked out a trade on the forums for the first time in about nine months.  I finally finished updating my tradelist, but I worked this one out before then for a couple of recent pulls.  The other party had a bunch of Diamond Kings and since it is one of my favorite sets, I pulled the trigger on a couple of cards.
1.  2018 Panini Diamond Kings J.D. Martinez.  I'm not sure why they were not able to airbrush Martinez into a Red Sox uniform, but no complaints here.  This is just my second J.D. Martinez card in my Red Sox collection, but there will be many more, particularly with his Ortiz-like production this year.

2.  2018 Panini Diamond Kings Past and Present Fred Lynn/Andrew Benintendi.  I always love cards with more than one player on them.  This is a pretty apt comparison.  Even though Benintendi plays left field instead of center field, his style of playing is much more similar to Lynn than Jim Rice.  Benintendi is a five-tool player like Lynn, whereas Rice was much more one-dimensional, for most of his career anyway.  So yes, I can see the similarities between Lynn and Benintendi. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Obscure Record Time

What is the highest single-season batting average for any player with a minimum of 30 at-bats?  Why the heck would we even know that?  I really have no idea, but for what it is worth, the answer is Rudy Pemberton. 
Yep, that Rudy Pemberton.
I love obscure records and I love collecting obscure players with the Red Sox.  I remember Rudy Pemberton.  He was absolutely on fire during the last couple of weeks of the 1996 season.  Pemberton was signed as an amateur free agent by the Tigers in 1987 and finally made it to the Majors in 1995, playing in just 12 games for Detroit and hitting .300/.344/.467.  It was a fairly successful debut, yet he was 25 and was allowed to leave as a minor league free agent.  The Rangers scooped him up in December then sent him to Boston to complete a deal for southpaw Bryan Eversgerd, about as minor a deal as is possible.
Pemberton had a huge season in the minors, hitting .315/.360/.580 with 29 home runs and 103 RBIs while also stealing 17 bases.  Those numbers necessitated a September call-up to Boston and he continued to impress, making the most of his opportunity.  He played in 13 games and hit an amazing .512/.556/.780 with one home run, 10 RBIs, eight doubles, and three stolen bases.  The .512 average is the aforementioned record for a player in at least 30 at-bats in a season.  Pemberton was impressive enough that he put himself in position to claim the right field position in 1997.
Pemberton did indeed win the right field starting job in 1997 and appeared there on Opening Day.  Unfortunately, his luck would run out.  He played in 27 games for Boston, hitting just .238/.314/.365 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.  He was sent to the bench in favor of Troy O'Leary and was granted free agency in June.  He spent the rest of the season and the next one in Japan and then played internationally for a few more years.
Rudy Pemberton had a very brief career in the Major Leagues, but he holds one very obscure record.  As I said, I enjoy the obscure players some times.  It is kind of fun to look back at a player that ultimately did not amount to a lot, but had a brief moment in the sun.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Another Topps Now Road to Opening Day Bonus

I mentioned recently I knew of another bonus card coming, well here it is:
On May 11, Chris Sale struck out 15 batters en route to a victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto.  This gives me three bonus cards and one from last year.  I am still hoping for someone random to hit for the cycle or throw a no-hitter. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

2018 All Star Game

Wow.  What a slugfest that game turned out to be.  I am very glad I made the effort to watch it.  I know that it is just a dumb exhibition, but I have always enjoyed watching the All Star Game.  Last night's game featured ten home runs, an All Star Game record.  Unfortunately, none of the Red Sox players joined in.  It was not actually a great game for the Red Sox players.  I will rank the individual performances.
Kimbrel was one of three AL pitchers to not appear in the game.  I suspect that A.J. Hinch was planning on using him in a high-leverage save situation that did not materialize.

It was a very un-Mookie day.  He made it to the plate three times, but was hitless.  He also struck out two times, once against Max Scherzer and the other against Aaron Nola.

Martinez singled in two at-bats, but struck out in the other one, this one against Jacob DeGrom.

Sale started the game on the mound and pitched just one inning.  He gave up a hit to Javier Baez on the first pitch of the inning.  He did not allow any further damage and struck out Paul Goldschmidt.

Strangely, the biggest surprise All Star had the best night.  Moreland replaced Jose Abreu in the second half of the game and singled twice in three at-bats.  He was also fairly busy out in the field.

Not surprisingly, the All Star Game MVP did not go to any of the Red Sox players.  Although the best part about All Star appearances?  Topps Update cards.

2017 Topps Update Hanger Pack

I tried my luck again with last year's Topps Update set, still searching for Ben Taylor, Doug Fister, and maybe Tzu-Wei Lin.  The results are something that is becoming more and more typical for my pulls:
Don't get me wrong.  I am not complaining at all.  I like both of these players a lot.  But it seems like between them and Jackie Bradley Jr., that is all I get from packs.  I am going to have to double my efforts to get my tradelist caught up and start making some deals.

Both of these guys played in the All Star Game last night.  An All Star post is coming.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

2018 Donruss Pack

I bought a hanger pack of Donruss.  Only one Red Sox card to show for it, and of course it was JBJ.  This is a base variation with his nickname.  It is an interesting card.  Nothing too exciting, but at least my only Red Sox card from the pack was somewhat intriguing.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Opening Day, Stadium Club, and Topps Series 2

Recently, I felt like opening some more packs.  I have missed out on a lot this year, so I picked up three blasters.  I did reasonably well on all three.
1.  2018 Topps Opening Day Craig Kimbrel.  Clearly he has locked down a save here.

2.  2018 Topps Opening Day Christian Vazquez.  Just as I said a couple days ago.   Vazquez is picking up steam.  I like the shot here.

3.  2018 Topps Opening Day Before Opening Day.  This is probably my favorite card from the day.  I had no idea this card existed.  It is really cool to add an insert card of a lesser-known player like Vazquez.  Also, two Vazquez cards from this break.

4.  2018 Stadium Club Rafael Devers.  Devers is another player that is increasing greatly in my collection.  And he should, since he is a big rising star.

5.  2018 Stadium Club Jackie Bradley Jr.  Ah, this is more like it.  Of course JBJ shows up.

6.  2018 Stadium Club Mookie Betts.  And of course Mookie makes an appearance too.  I love the action shot here.

7.  2018 Topps Future Stars Andrew Benintendi.  We have most of the usual suspects here.  We are just missing Chris Sale.

8.  2018 Topps Xander Bogaerts.  My only base card from Topps Series 2 is Xander, which is another fitting one.

9.  2018 Topps Instant Impact Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia has slowed in my collection, mostly due to injuries and his somewhat ordinary numbers when he is on the field.

This was a pretty successful series of breaks.  I am most happy about the Vazquez insert.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

2018 Diamond Kings Break

I loved the Diamond Kings set last year, so when I saw blasters at Walmart fairly recently, I had to grab one, even though I have not been buying a ton.  I had a pretty good showing of Red Sox, considering there were only 30 or so cards in the blaster.
1.  2018 Diamond Kings The 500 David Ortiz.  I started off with a nice insert of the great David Ortiz.

2.  2018 Diamond Kings Andrew Benintendi.  I expect Benintendi to explode in my collection soon.

3.  2018 Diamond Kings Harry Hooper.  One of my favorite things about the Diamond Kings set is the use of long-retired players like Hooper.  I got the Hooper card last year too.  I would have liked Joe Cronin or Dom DiMaggio, but I am definitely happy to add another Hooper card.  Hooper is a very obscure Hall of Famer who was inducted in 1971, just a few years before his death in 1974.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

My Topps Now Road to Opening Day Autograph

This is the autograph card that was sent to me as part of my Road to Opening Day autograph.  I was a tad disappointed because I got Chris Sale last year, but I am certainly not going to complain about it.  The fact that this was serial-numbered to 49 makes it better.  It is not the most common autograph, which was numbered to 99.  Like I said, slightly disappointed, but definitely not going to complain.

Friday, July 13, 2018

2018 Topps Heritage Break

Topps Heritage is another of my favorite sets from a player selection standpoint.  For some reason this season seems a little light on cards, but there was one player that I needed to add since it was his first Major League card.  For the first time it seems like, I did not pull either Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr.
1.  Chris Sale.  This is a League Leader card.  Sale was second in the league in ERA to Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, though he led the league in strikeouts by a wide margin.  Kluber and Yankees ace Luis Severino also appear on the card.

2.  Rafael Devers/Kyle Martin.  This is the card I wanted.  Mainly for the Kyle Martin part.  No offense to Devers of course, who is one of my favorite young players.  This is the only Red Sox card of Kyle Martin who appeared in just two games for the Red Sox and those were his only two Major League games to this point in his career.  Player selection. 

3.  Andrew Benintendi.  I love the Rookie Cup on these cards.  It appears on the Devers portion as well. 

4.  Christian Vazquez.  Vazquez is a player that is increasing quite a bit in my collection.  He seems to show up in a lot of my packs as well.  No complaints.  I always like catchers.

No SPs and so far these are my only Heritage cards from this year.  I have a lot of work to do to catch up.