Sunday, March 27, 2022

Zippy Zapped

Kenny hit me up with one of the Baseball Card Day singles last year.  Kenny, I want to personally apologize for not being great about sending stuff back.  I will start to compile something shortly for you.  These cards are tough to come by for me, so I always appreciate other collectors helping me out.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

A Bunch of Topps Online Cards

Packs have been tough to come by the last couple years and I have been too busy to organize my tradelist to make trades.  So, a lot of cards have been coming through the various Topps online sets.  Player selection is generally pretty good, particularly with Topps Now.  The big drawback is the price.  So I usually buy my singles through sellers on Ebay who offer discounts.  Here are a whole bunch of them from various sets:

From the Sports Illustrated covers set, comes this Pedro Martinez.  The magazine this was taken from was released very shortly after the Red Sox acquired Pedro and locked him up on a longterm deal.  This was before he even threw a pitch for Boston, but his best years were yet to come.  I had to get this one because I actually bought this magazine at the time.  I don't think I still have it though.

I have always liked multi-player cards, so I grabbed this one from the Throwback Thursday ongoing sets.  It is a little odd to put Xander Bogaerts with Bobby Dalbec, instead of Rafael Devers.  Dalbec of course was the big, hyped rookie last year for the Red Sox, so Topps wanted to take advantage of that.  Still, it seems more natural to put Bogaerts and Devers together since they play right next to each other and seem to have a very close friendship.

June 11, 2021

The Blue Jays led this game 5-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning before the Red Sox bats came alive.  Jays reliever Tyler Chatwood came unglued, allowing two runs to score on a walk and a wild pitch.  In the eighth, Christian Arroyo homered to tie the game.  In the ninth, Alex Verdugo laced a single to left to score Danny Santana with the winning run.  Verdugo had three hits in four at-bats that game.

June 16, 2021

In one of the biggest clutch hits of the season, Christian Arroyo demolished a pitch in the seventh inning with the bases loaded.  Boston was down 7-6 at the time to the eventual World Champion Braves.  Arroyo was pinch-hitting in the pitcher's slot at the time.  You cannot ask for a bigger clutch hit.

July 17, 2021

Topps Now likes to highlight the first major achievements of the top prospects upon their debuts.  Jarren Duran was a bigtime prospect who made his Major League debut against the Yankees and ripped a single in his first at-bat.  Unfortunately, the Red Sox lost that game in a rain-shortened six innings 3-1.

Here is another multi-player card from Throwback Thursday.  The design here was the 1993 Topps All Star subset, which was a pretty decent design from the junk wax era.  Of course, the point at the time was to highlight players from each league at the same position.  Still, can't go wrong with the two most recent Red Sox Hall of Famers, David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez.

July 19, 2021

The Red Sox exploded for eight runs in the first inning against the Blue Jays en route to a 13-4 drubbing.  Duran drove in the first two runs with his first Major League home run, scoring Enrique Hernandez.  It was Duran's only hit of the day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Gypsy Queen Blaster

Unfortunately cards have still been hard to come across in retail stores around me.  So, I grab them when they are available.  I was lucky to find a blaster of Gypsy Queen at one point last year.

It was a reasonably successful break, yielding four Red Sox cards.  All base cards, but still.  Two of them were rookie cards, so there is that.  Both Tanner Houck and Bobby Dalbec made appearances.  And the other two were the big, homegrown stars.

Houck bounced between the majors and minors all year, but seemed to nail down a permanent spot by the end of the season, even if he still alternated between the rotation and bullpen.  He finished with a record of 1-5, but had a 3.52 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 21 walks in 69 innings pitched.

Bogaerts and Devers had their usual huge seasons.  Bogaerts was an All Star and hit .295/.370/.493 with 23 home runs and 79 RBIs.  As good as he was, Devers was better.  Devers hit .279/.352/.538 with team-leading 38 home runs and 113 RBIs.  He was also an All Star.

Dalbec struggled at times and strikes out way too much, but had a couple months where he was on fine.  He ended up hitting .240/.298/.494 with 25 home runs and 78 RBIs.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Random Topps Now Cards

Still playing catch-up here.  Topps Now and the other online sets have become a go-to for me in the last couple of years.  Particularly due to player selection, but also because I can actually get my hands on them.

May 14, 2021
In the seventh inning of the game against the Angels, Red Sox rookie Bobby Dalbec crushed a two-run, go-ahead home run.  The Red Sox would not relinquish the lead.  It was Dalbec's only hit in the game, but he did walk and steal a base as well.

June 25, 2021
Unfortunately, Dustin Pedroia's career was cut short due to injuries.  He suffered a knee injury in a play back in 2017 when Manny Machado slid into him.  He attempted to come back a few times, but it became clear that he was not going to be able to make it back.  It sucks because Pedroia was on the verge of a Hall of Fame career.  On June 25, the Red Sox held a retirement ceremony for the long-time second-baseman.  Pedroia finished his career with a line of .299/.365/.439 with 1,805 hits, 140 home runs, 725 RBIs and 138 stolen bases.  He was a Rookie of the Year, AL MVP, four-time All Star and four-time Gold Glove winner.

June 27, 2009
And now for a Turn Back the Clock card.  I had to grab a Tim Wakefield card.  On this date in 2009, Wakefield tied Roger Clemens for the club record in games started.  Wakefield would end up blowing that number out of the water.  He started 430 games during his career.  That club record will hold for a long time.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Topps Series 2 Case Break

Here are the results from another one of those case breaks I bought into last year.  This was Topps Series 2.

Up first are the inserts.  There really is not anything mind-blowing here.  No relics or autographs, but it is a nice collection of players.  I got a couple of the Silver Pack cards, Tanner Houck and Alex Verdugo.  The Platinum Players die-cut of Ted Williams is definitely my favorite.  Then there is the Gold parallel of Christian Vazquez, a card I probably would have picked up on my own since Vazquez is one of my favorite players.  I love the 70 Years of Topps card of David Ortiz, primarily due to the action shot.  The Ted Williams is a nice shot that I have not seen before.

And here is the first scan of base cards.  I love the player selection here.  Sure there are stars like Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale, as well as well-represented players like Matt Barnes, Tanner Houck and Michael Chavis.  Chavis also appears as the player riding the laundry cart in the home run celebration.  I want to bring attention to the fourth card in the scan.  That is Christian Arroyo and it is my first card of him.  Arroyo turned into a pretty important role player for Boston in 2020 and that continued into 2021.  And finally, the sixth card features Yairo Munoz, who does not have a Red Sox card of his own.

And here are the rest.  Jackie Bradley, Jr. makes an appearance, despite the fact that he was with the Brewers in 2021.  Jonathan Arauz also shows up with a nice action shot.  Speaking of nice action shots, check out this Enrique Hernandez card.  Hernandez has had great cards seemingly every year.  It's nice to see that with the Red Sox now.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

All-Time One-Year Wonder Update: Utility

I did one of these updates recently, giving Hunter Renfroe the nod over previous All-Time One-Year Wonder Right Fielder Cody Ross.  Since Kyle Schwarber recently signed a free agent deal with the Phillies, it is fair to ask how he measures up.  Also, two other players, Marwin Gonzalez and Danny Santana fit the position as well.

Kyle Schwarber split his time with Boston almost evenly between left field, designated hitter and first base, so he would fall into the utility position.  Marwin Gonzalez appeared primarily at second base, but also spent significant time at first, left field and shortstop.  He also appeared at third, right field and even pitched.  Danny Santana primarily played first base and center field, but also played in left field and designated hitter.  The previous utility man who was my pick was Bill Hall.  Hall spent the 2010 season in Boston after being acquired from the Mariners.  Hall played in 119 games primarily between left field and second base, but also appearing at the other two outfield spots, third base, shortstop and even pitching.  Hall hit .247/.316/.456 with 18 home runs, 46 RBIs and nine stolen bases.

Schwarber was acquired at the trading deadline in 2021 for Aldo Ramirez.  He was injured at the time of his acquisition so it was a couple of weeks before he appeared in a game for the Red Sox, but he proved to be worth the wait.  He played in 41 games, hitting .291/.435/.522 with seven home runs, 18 RBIs and ten doubles.  He hit three more home runs with six RBIs in the postseason.  

Marwin Gonzalez and Danny Santana also fall into this discussion, but neither had numbers anywhere close to good enough to unseat Bill Hall.  Gonzalez played in 77 games, hitting .202/.281/.285 with two home runs, 14 doubles, 20 RBIs and three stolen bases.  Boston eventually released him and he returned to the Astros, where he had his most success.  Gonzalez was actually acquired by the Red Sox way back in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft, but was immediately traded to the Astros for Marco Duarte, who never played for Boston.

Santana had hit 28 home runs as recently as 2019 and was acquired to provide versatility as well as speed from the bench.  It did not work out well.  Santana hit just .181/.252/.345 in 38 games.  He did add five home runs and stole four bases, but only add two doubles, a triple and 14 RBIs.  He did notably score the winning run in the ALDS against the Rays. 

Hall played in more games, spending the entire season with the team and did have more in the way of counting stats, obviously.  He also has a slight edge in WAR (1.8 to 1.3).  Schwarber has the lead in the rate stats though.  Hall has more versatility, playing every position except first base and catcher.  He even pitched.  I think the fact that Hall played the entire season and is a bit more of a classic utility player will carry the decision.  Schwarber was fantastic and I am disappointed he is no longer with the team.  I just think for these purposes, Hall has a slight edge.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Topps Now: August 11, 2021


On August 11, the Red Sox beat the Rays 20-8 in Fenway Park.  Seven of the Rays runs came in the ninth inning when Boston left Phillips Valdez out to dry.  The offense exploded that day with 19 hits.  Every starter except Kevin Plawecki got a hit.  Topps Now of course issued a card, showing five of these hitters.  Xander Bogaerts was 2-4 with a home run and a double.  Hunter Renfroe went 3-5 with four RBIs and two doubles.  J.D. Martinez was 4-4 with a double.  Marwin Gonzalez, who was a big disappointment in 2021, had a rare good game as he had two hits in five at-bats.  Finally, rookie Bobby Dalbec drove in five runs on two hits, including a triple.  Boston had some difficulty with Tampa Bay during the regular season, but this was a hell of a game for them.  Lost in the offensive explosion was the pitching performance by Nathan Eovaldi who pitched seven strong innings, giving up just one run, one walk and struck out ten.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Living Set Singles

I have had three jury trials in the last two-plus months.  So things have been a little hectic.  I am 1-1 with my client not showing up for the other one.  I still did the work in preparation though, even if it did not actually go forward.  By the way, not showing up for your own jury trial is bad.

So, up first in my return is a couple of Living Set singles.  Boston suddenly got a bunch of these last year, and I grabbed up some of the not-as-prevalent players:

Nathan Eovaldi was Boston's ace in 2021.  He led the league in FIP (2.79), starts (32) and walks per nine (1.7).  He was an All Star for the first time and finished fourth in the Cy Young vote.  2022 is his last year of his contract, and I have a difficult time seeing him back with the team.  If it is his last year, he has had some big moments with the team.

Kyle Schwarber was the big midseason acquisition.  Hopefully Boston can find a way to bring him back, but with the universal DH now, the chances are getting slimmer.  Schwarber hit .291/.435/.522 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in his couple months with the team.  The move was criticized at the time after the Yankees got assumed-target Anthony Rizzo and Schwarber was hurt, but he really turned out well.