Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Topps Now: August 27, 2022


Let's talk about Rich Hill today.  He was once one of the longest-tenured members of the Red Sox With No Cards club (Andrew Miller and Scott Atchison are also in the running).  Hill had done several stints with the Red Sox and pitched with them from 2010 through 2012, then again in 2015.  He came back to Boston once again in 2022, this time as a starter guaranteed a job.  And finally, we started getting cards of him.

Hill did basically what was expected of him in 2022.  He had a record of 8-7 with a 4.27 ERA, keeping the team in games.  His terrific curveball allowed him to strike out 109 batters in 124.1 innings pitched.  He only walked 37 batters.  As long as he can keep doing that, he should be able to stay in the Majors and he will pitch for the Pirates in 2023.  

He had his best game of the 2022 season on August 27.  In a game against the Rays, pitching against Jeffrey Springs (who is another Red Sox With No Cards), Hill threw seven masterful innings.  He struck out eleven, while allowing just three hits and a walk.  He did not allow a run.  Jeurys Familia allowed a run and three hits in two-thirds of an inning and John Schreiber came in to slam the door.  They are also both Red Sox With No Cards, though I think Schreiber might appear this year.  The offense in the game was provided by Enrique Hernandez (who homered), Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers.  Boston won 5-1.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Topps Now: August 1 and August 12, 2022

Two for the price of one today.

August 2, 2022 was the trading deadline, and Boston had a strange day.  The Red Sox traded away one of my favorite players, Christian Vazquez, for prospects.  That is an understandable move as Vazquez was coming up for free agency and Boston was going nowhere.  The prospects look pretty good too.  Then they traded Nebraska native Jake Diekman to the White Sox for Reese McGuire, which is fine, but more of a lateral move and just served to have a warm body behind the plate after trading away the starting catcher.  McGuire was pretty good for the Red Sox in 2022 though.  Then, they traded Nick Northcut to the Reds for Tommy Pham, shown above.  Which is odd, since he is an upgrade, when they traded away their starting catcher.  Then, they traded stalled pitching prospect Jay Groome to the Padres for Eric Hosmer and two prospects.  But, they did not trade Nathan Eovaldi or J.D. Martinez.  So it was an odd trading deadline for the Red Sox.

So, this will be a Tommy Pham post.  Pham was Boston's biggest trade deadline acquisition, and I have to say, I became a big fan immediately.  He did not take long to make an impact in the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry.  On August 12, Boston got six strong innings from Eovaldi, but were losing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning.  With one out and two runners on base, Martinez singled to tie the game.  The game went to extra innings and Pham came to the plate with two runners on in the tenth and promptly singled down the left field line off Lou Trivino to walk it off for Boston.  It was his only hit of the day, but it was a big one.

In 53 games with the Red Sox, Pham ended up hitting .234/.298/.374 with six home runs and 24 RBIs.  Those are not great numbers, but he played with an intensity that the team seemed to be lacking in 2022.  He was a fun player to watch.  Unfortunately, he will not be back in Boston in 2023.  So, he will go down as a One-Year Wonder.  I will get to the 2022 One-Year Wonders later and determine if any of them will challenge my earlier picks for best at their positions.  There are some interesting debates.  One could be a big one, but I am still waiting to see where he lands.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Topps Now: July 9, 2022


I did a write-up of this game already a few days back with the Alex Verdugo card.  I bought this Jeter Downs card as well the same day, but it took a lot longer to get to me.  Downs made his Major League debut in 2022.  He did not start this game, but came in late to replace J.D. Martinez as a pinch runner in the bottom of the eighth.  He scored the tying run that eventually pushed the game into extra innings.  He then had his first at-bat in the game in the tenth with two runners on base.  Downs singled to right, driving in Jarren Duran.  Downs later scored the winning run on the Verdugo hit.

Jeter Downs was the major prospect Boston acquired in the Mookie Betts trade.  Unfortunately, his development seemed to stall in a major way during the COVID season.  Where he was once a five-tool talent, suddenly he seemed unable to hit.  In 2021, he hit .190/.272/.333 in the minors in 99 games.  He did hit 14 home runs and stole 18 bases.  He had a similar year in 2022, hitting .197/.316/.412 with 16 home runs.  During his time in the majors, he hit .154/.171/.256, but did hit his first home run off Red Sox punching bag Gerrit Cole.  

Something just seemed to have fundamentally changed in Downs that he was no longer seen as a top prospect.  Boston ended up DFAing him a month or so ago when they needed to make room for new acquisitions.  He was picked up by the Washington Nationals, a team with no real expectations, so he could end up playing quite a bit this year.  Time will tell whether this will end being a move that comes back to haunt Boston like David Eckstein did.  It was certainly a bit short-sighted because now the Red Sox are in a position where their starting second-baseman will miss the first several months of the season and they already lost Xander Bogaerts.  Downs could have helped a little if they could get him on track.  

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Zippy Zapping Cards from Japan

I received another package from Kenny over the summer last year.  These one included a couple of the Sega Card-Gen cards from Japan.  These are some of my favorites to receive from him because they are very hard to find over here.  I still need that Dan Wheeler card.  This one features two of the veteran bats going in 2012.  

1.  Kevin Youkilis.  2012 would be Youkilis's last season in Boston.  It was disappointing how things went down with him not getting along with manager Bobby Valentine and losing playing time.  Youkilis has come back to Boston to work on the broadcast team.  Youkilis hit .287/.388/.487 with 133 home runs in his time with Boston.  He won a Gold Glove, was an All Star three times and finished in the top ten in the MVP vote twice.  He even won the Hank Aaron Award in 2008 after a monster season in which he hit .312/.390/.569 with 29 home runs, 43 doubles and 115 RBIs.

2.  David Ortiz.  I just discussed Ortiz in yesterday's post.  There is not much else to say about the Hall of Famer today.  Ortiz had an injury-plagued 2012 season, but still hit .318/.415/.611 with 23 home runs and 60 RBIs in 90 games.  

Thanks Kenny!

Friday, January 27, 2023

Topps Now: July 24, 2023

No game highlights on this one as can be seen from the card photo.  This Topps Now card commemorates the induction of David Ortiz into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Ortiz was the only player elected by the BBWAA for induction in 2022.  It was his first year on the ballot, an honor he shares with other Red Sox legends like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez.  I still find it a little surprising that he was elected on the first ballot, not that he did not deserve it, but because he spent almost his entire career as a designated hitter and his alleged inclusion on the list of players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003, a list that has been largely discredited by Commissioner Rob Manfred.  Nevertheless, Ortiz hit over 500 home runs and was a monster in the postseason.  He also has a larger-than-life persona.  This is the Hall of FAME, and there are few players during his era more famous than David Ortiz.  

Thursday, January 26, 2023

R.I.P. Gary Peters

Longtime White Sox and Red Sox southpaw Gary Peters passed away today at the age of 85.  

Peters won the Rookie of the Year in 1963 despite that being the fifth season he appeared in the Majors, though he pitched in just 12 games previously.  That year, he went 19-8 and led the league with a 2.33 ERA.  He was an All Star in 1964 when he won 20 games to lead the league.  He had a league-leading 1.98 ERA in 1966, then was an All Star again in 1967.  With the White Sox, Peters was 91-78 with a 2.92 ERA.

After the 1969 season, Peters was traded to the Red Sox along with Don Pavletich for Syd O'Brien and a couple of minor leaguers.  Peters had a little bit left in the tank, winning 16 and then 14 games the next two seasons.  In three years with Boston, he went 33-25 with a 4.23 ERA, striking out 322 while walking 191 in 521 innings pitched.  

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #978

Like the last two Varitek cards, #978 comes from 2021 Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary.  This is the Rose Gold Mini Diamonds parallel, which is kind of a mouthful.  This is the rarest of my Varitek parallels from this set so far, as it is numbered to 75.  It is also thus far the last of the Varitek cards I have gotten from this set.  Seems like there is some major room to add on here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

National Trading Card Day

I never know when this whole thing is.  Not having a local card shop means that it is kind of hard to care since I do not get to partake in any of the events.  So, I usually just try to add whatever special Red Sox cards might be available.

This time around, I grabbed the single of Trevor Story.  Story was the big Red Sox acquisition going into 2022, but due to injuries and other assorted health maladies, he didn't play much.  That seems like it will be the case going into 2023 as well.  He had elbow surgery a couple weeks ago and will miss the first couple months of the season, at least.

This card is clearly photo-shopped.  You can always tell.  Topps has this weird thing about photo-shopping the team logo on the hats.  I have no idea why.  The team has never worn that logo on their hats.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Congratulations Scott Rolen!

As I am writing this, it has been announced that Scott Rolen will join Fred McGriff in the Hall of Fame election class of 2023.  It is well-deserved and has been a long time coming.  Rolen was a spectacular defensive third-baseman who was a pretty good hitter as well.  Rolen hit .281/.364/.490 with 316 home runs and 1,287 RBIs in 17 seasons with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds.  He won the N.L. Rookie of the Year in 1997 and was an All Star seven times.  He won one Silver Slugger and eight Gold Gloves.  I am predicting a Phillies cap on Rolen's plaque.

As some may recall, I made some predictions about the Hall of Fame vote.  Let's see how those went.

1.  I predicted Scott Rolen would be the only player elected.  I was correct.

2.  I predicted a big gain for Jeff Kent, but that he would fall short.  I was correct.  Kent went from being on 32.7% of ballots to 46.5%.  That is a huge gain.  Unfortunately, it came in his final year on the ballot and he will drop off the ballot.  That is a shame.  I think he belongs in.

3.  I predicted big gains for Todd Helton, Billy Wagner and Andruw Jones and that they would position themselves for possible election soon.  Helton just missed election, going from 52% to 72.2%.  Wagner went from 51% to 68.1%.  Jones went from 41.4% to 58.1%.  Those are all big gains.  Time will tell if they get elected in the next couple of years, but Helton should get in next year.  Wagner could sneak in as well.  Jones may have to wait a couple more years because there will be a lot of big names added to the ballot the next few years.

4.  I predicted modest gains for Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez.  Ramirez went from 28.9% to 33.2%.  Rodriguez went from 34.3% to 35.7%.  Ramirez gained more than Rodriguez, but neither is anywhere close to election.  And thanks to their PED suspensions, it is extremely unlikely they will be elected by the BBWAA.  

5.  I said Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez would be the only newcomers to stay on the ballot.  That came true.  Beltran received 46.5% in a decent showing for his first year.  Rodriguez received 10.8%.  I also predicted that none of the other newcomers would receive a single vote.  This did not happen.  Bronson Arroyo, R.A. Dickey, John Lackey, Mike Napoli and Huston Street each received one vote.  The others, including Jacoby Ellsbury, did not receive any votes.

Topps Now: July 9, 2022

Alex Verdugo lived up to his reputation as a Yankee Killer on July 9.  Kutter Crawford started the game and pitched five effective innings, giving up one run while striking out six.  Nevertheless, the game went into extra innings tied at three.  Nebraska native Jake Diekman pitched the tenth inning and gave up the go-ahead run to the Yankees, but Boston's offense refused to quit the next inning.  Former Yankee prospect Rob Refsnyder started the inning by lacing a single to left, moving ghost runner Jarren Duran to third.  After a Christian Vazquez fly-out, rookie Jeter Downs (who also got a Topps Now card out of this, but I didn't get it until much later) singled to score Duran.  Xander Bogaerts moved the runners with a groundout.  Then Verdugo hit a ball into the right-center gap and scored both Refsnyder and Downs.  It was one of the most satisfying walk-off victories of the season for Boston.

Monday, January 23, 2023

2021 Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Lot

I showed off the Jason Varitek card the other day.  I determine this was a set that I had to try to get for the Red Sox.  It featured a number of off-the-wall players from the past, some obvious legends, and a sizable contingent of players from the 2021 roster.  So, to begin with, I bought a decent-sized lot of the base cards.

1.  Ted Williams.  What is there really to say about Williams that hasn't been said a million times?  If you're going to have a representative sample of the team's history, you HAVE to include Williams who is the all-time franchise player.  I do not see his throne being usurped any time soon.

2.  Luis Tiant.  I still think it is a travesty that Tiant is not in the Hall of Fame.  I had some hope after the Eras Committees voted in the likes of Jack Morris, Harold Baines, Jim Kaat and others.  Then they went and changed the way the Eras Committees look, which will make it more difficult.

3.  Mo Vaughn.  Often forgotten about these days is how great of a hitter Vaughn was with the Red Sox.  Beyond just his extraordinary power which saw him hit 230 home runs for the Red Sox.  Vaughn hit .304/.394/.542 and had two 200 hit seasons.  He struck out a lot, but also walked a lot.  He was a terrific hitter who, I believe, would have been a Hall of Famer had he stayed in Boston and continued lining hits off the wall.

4.  Carlton Fisk.  Fisk is the team's all-time greatest catcher and a Hall of Famer.  He won the Rookie of the Year unanimously in 1972.  His defense seems to have been underrated though as he won just one Gold Glove in his entire career.

5.  Fred Lynn.  Like Vaughn, Lynn is another player who might have been a Hall of Famer had he stayed in Boston and stayed healthy.  Lynn was a phenom immediately upon making the Majors and is the first player to have won MVP and Rookie of the Year the same year.  Lynn was hitting .308/.383/.520 with 124 home runs, 521 RBIs and 43 stolen bases when he was traded to the Angels.  He won the batting title in 1979.

6.  Bobby Doerr.  Doerr is a Hall of Famer, but he had to be elected by the Veteran's Committee 35 years after his retirement.  This is partly due to having an abbreviated career that was ended by injuries.  Doerr was a terrific hitter for a second-baseman in that era, hitting .288/.362/.461 with 223 home runs.  He drove in more than 100 runs six times.  Had he had a lengthier career, he might be high among the top second-basemen of all time.

7.  Kevin Millar.  This is one of the off-the-wall choices, but Millar has been in some sets since his retirement from baseball.  Millar spent three seasons with the Red Sox after they snagged him prior to a sale to a Japanese team.  He was a good hitter who fit the Moneyball model of a player who could get on base, which was such a big thing at the time.  He hit .282/.362/.451 with Boston and had some big clutch moments in 2004, such as the base hit off Mariano Rivera setting up the blown save in Game 4 of the ALCS.

8.  Rafael Devers.  By default, Devers has taken over as the largest current player in my collection.  I already have over 200 cards of him as of writing this (there are a lot in coming posts).  He is not far behind Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts right now and could start to make a run at Dustin Pedroia.  Devers was named the 2022 Red Sox MVP last night.  He is the player the organization has chosen to build around in the future.

9.  Alex Verdugo.  There was some concern that Verdugo would be traded this offseason.  I have said before and I will say again, he could be a breakout candidate this season.  I think he started to really put it together in the second half of last season and became a very good contact hitter.  I think he will build on that this season.

10.  J.D. Martinez.  Martinez will be re-joining Mookie Betts with the Dodgers in 2023.  He declined shockingly in 2022, only managing to hit .274 with 16 home runs, though he did manage 43 doubles.  That is not the Martinez I will choose to remember for his time in Boston though.  The 2018 Martinez was a one-man wrecking crew that won two Silver Sluggers the same year.  

11.  Christian Vazquez.  One of the more devastating departures for me personally.  I have been a big fan of Vazquez for a long time and I really feel like he wanted to stay in Boston.  His final Red Sox numbers were a line of .262/.311/.389 with 54 home runs and 266 RBIs.  He had many clutch moments, in particular his walk-off home run against the Rays in Game 3 of the ALDS in 2021.

12.  Xander Bogaerts.  Another shocking departure, Bogaerts will play with the Padres in 2023.  He is seemingly on a potential Hall of Fame track, but just look back at Mo Vaughn and Fred Lynn from this post to see players that declined after leaving Boston.  Bogaerts played longer before leaving the team though, so he may not have as much to prove yet.  He leaves with a line of .292/.356/.458 with 156 home runs and 683 RBIs.  

13.  Danny Santana.  Sort of an unusual choice for a 2021 set that came out in 2022.  Santana did not provide much during his brief stint with Boston, but he did score the decisive run in the ALDS against the Rays.  Otherwise, he hit .181 with five home runs for the Red Sox, not quite what they were hoping for.

14.  Hunter Renfroe.  Renfroe exceeded expectations in what turned out to be his only season with the Red Sox.  He hit .259/.315/.501 with 31 home runs and 96 RBIs and for a time looked like an obvious Gold Glover.  He was shockingly traded away to the Brewers after the season in a deal that has yet to make much sense.  He had a similar season with the Brewers and Boston could have used his bat in 2022.  The Brewers then traded him to the Angels in an even more confounding deal.

15.  Roger Clemens.  Clemens should be a Hall of Famer.  He is arguably one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  He turned in a record of 192-111 with the Red Sox, tying the all-time team wins mark with Cy Young.  He had an ERA of 3.06 and struck out 2,590 batters in 2,776 innings pitched with 856 walks.  He won three Cy Young Awards, an MVP and was an All Star five times.  He is the likely the greatest pitcher in team history.

16.  Martin Perez.  It was shocking that Perez ended up an All Star and a Cy Young candidate in 2022 with the Rangers.  After all, he spent the previous two years in Boston pitching to a 10-13 record with a 4.65 ERA.  In 164 innings, he struck out 143 batters while walking 64.  I always liked him and felt like he was better than he was showing in Boston.  2022 proved me correct, but I do not think he will have another year like it.

17.  Nathan Eovaldi.  I talked a bit about his career yesterday, so I will instead talk about Eovaldi's postseason career today.  In eleven games, he is 4-3 with a 3.14 ERA.  He has pitched 43 innings in the postseason and struck out 41 while walking just eight.  One of those losses was the extra-inning relief outing in the World Series against the Dodgers.  He has rightfully developed a reputation for being a good big-game pitcher.  He will pitch for the Rangers in 2023.

18.  Eduardo Rodriguez.  This is another player I was upset to see leave.  Rodriguez seemed to be coming into his own in 2019 when he finished sixth in the Cy Young vote after going 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA and 213 strikeouts.  He missed the entire 2020 season due to health issues, then bounced back in 2021, going 13-8 with a 4.74 ERA and 185 strikeouts.  Then he left for Detroit.  That hasn't gone real well for him yet, due to some personal issues though.

19.  Tanner Houck.  Houck is an intriguing pitcher.  He could start, pitch in the bullpen for multiple innings or close.  He has done all three in his short time with Boston.  It would be nice for the team to figure out how best to maximize his ability.

So that's it for this lot.  I still have a LONG way to go on this set too.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Gypsy Queen City Connect Variations Pt. 2

Several days ago I showed off one of the Gypsy Queen City Connect image variations that I have picked up.  There were quite a few available players, but as these are rare short-prints, they are not easy to come by and often a little pricey.  The first one I landed was Enrique Hernandez.  This is number two:

Nathan Eovaldi is going to go down as one of the Red Sox' greatest trade deadline pickups of all time.  He was crucial to the team down the stretch in 2018 after being acquired in a trade with the Rays for Jalen Beeks.  He won two games in the postseason.  His greatest moment though was his epic relief pitching stint in the World Series against the Dodgers, even though he took the loss.  He turned in a gutsy performance that left an impression on the team and was able to save bullpen arms for the final game.  He was hurt much of 2019, but became the best pitcher on the staff in 2020 and proved that by finishing fourth in the Cy Young vote in 2021.  He had a very good, but injury-plagued season again in 2022, his last with the Red Sox.  It would have been nice to see him come back to Boston, but he has moved on to Texas.  His final line with Boston is a record of 26-18, with a 4.05 ERA, 468 strikeouts to 109 walks in 461.2 innings pitched.  

Saturday, January 21, 2023

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #977

This is the Aqua Wave Refractor of Jason Varitek, card #977.  23 to go.  I could probably make it up just by chasing a bunch of these parallels.  I don't think that's quite true, but there are a LOT of parallels from this set.  This is my second variation of this card.  There will be another one soon, but that's all I have so far.

Friday, January 20, 2023

One of These is Not Like the Others

Care to guess which one?

I suppose it depends on which way you go with it, but these were several transactions to obtain a few Marcelo Mayer cards.  I showed off my first card a little while ago, but 2022 saw him start to appear in a few more sets, primarily Bowman stuff.  Mayer is Boston's top prospect, but as a high schooler drafted in 2021, it may be another year or two before he is ready to play at the highest level.  He had an impressive year in 2022, hitting .280 with 13 home runs, 53 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.  He made it to High-A last year.  I would expect him to start there with a good chance of making it to Double A by the end of the season.

The Carl Crawford card was one of several extras thrown into one of the packages.  It just so happened I did not have that card.  The action shot is nice.  Crawford was one of my biggest disappointments.  He was such a great player for Tampa Bay and had one of his best seasons before signing with Boston.  His numbers just plummeted with the Red Sox.

Finally, Tyler McDonough appears on the third card.  McDonough was the third-round pick in the 2021 draft.  Notably, the second-round pick, Jud Fabian, did not sign.  McDonough was drafted out of a college, a senior sign, and also made it to High-A in 2022.  He hit .230 with nine home runs, 48 RBIs and 21 stolen bases.  His ceiling is that of a utility player.  I don't love his chances of making the Majors.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #976

As you may have noticed, the numbers have changed on this post.  I went back through my list and determined there were a few team cards still on it that I thought I eliminated a long time ago.  So, back to #976.

This is from 2021 Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary, a set that inexplicably came out in summer of 2022.  This was a huge set with 37 Red Sox cards among the base set.  It was almost evenly split between current players (as in 2021 members of the team) and retired greats, or semi-greats.  There are some off-the-wall choices in the set, but I will get to some of those at a later time.  What is important is that Jason Varitek appears and there are a LOT of parallels.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Topps Now: June 6, 2022

Of course, I had to get this one.  It was the first opportunity to add a Michael Wacha Red Sox card.  Wacha had a great season with the Red Sox.  We will see if he turns out to be a One-Year Wonder.  He is still out there as a free agent, and Boston could use some more pitching.

On June 6, Wacha had one of his best games.  He fired a complete-game shutout against the Angels, winning the game 1-0.  He outdueled Noah Syndergaard.  Wacha gave up just three hits and one walk while striking out six.  

For the offense, Christian Vazquez drove in Alex Verdugo.  Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez each doubled.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

My First Twitter Transaction

I do not actually do a lot of hobby stuff on Twitter.  80% of my activities involve following the latest on the Red Sox, with the remaining being a mix of current events, heavy metal, tarantulas and Hall of Fame following.  I have shared a few cards occasionally and watch for new releases, but I just made my first transaction on the site some time last year.  

A guy posted on a vintage sell thread that he had a bunch of the Yawkey Red Sox singles from 1972.  I jumped on it because this is a set I am trying to complete.  For obvious reasons.

Up first though is some bonus stuff he sent, a few minor league cards from one of the Dunkin' Donuts sets.

1.  Bruce Crabbe.  Crabbe was a coach for Pawtucket at this point.  I have never heard of the guy before.  It appears he was at one point a first round draft pick of the Expos, but did not sign.  He was eventually drafted by the Cubs in the 19th round in 1984 when he finally signed.  That may have not worked out well for him.  He never made it to the Majors, spending time in the Cubs, Braves and Blue Jays organizations.  He did spend six years in Triple-A.  He had been a manager in lower levels in the Red Sox organization.

2.  Brian Bogusevic.  Bogusevic never played with Boston, but did spend 2010-2015 in the Majors.  He played for the Astros, Cubs and Phillies.  He was a starting outfielder for Houston in 2012 and hit .203/.297/.299 with seven home runs, 28 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.  He signed as a free agent with Boston in 2017, but spent the season in Pawtucket, hitting .278/.331/.467 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs.

3.  Heiker Meneses.  I remember Meneses making appearances in Spring Training with the Red Sox, but he never played with the Major League team.  He spent multiple stints in the Red Sox organization along with playing for the Twins and Phillies organizations, last appearing in 2018.  He did make it to Triple-A, but could never take the next step, despite hitting .291 with Pawtucket in 2017 at just 25 years of age.

4.  Ryan Court.  Court was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 2011 draft.  He made it to Double-A in their organization before leaving and joining the Boston organization as a minor league free agent.  He spent two seasons primarily at Pawtucket.  In 2017, he hit .263/.347/.410 with ten home runs and 44 RBIs.  Court eventually made it to the Majors with the Mariners in 2019, playing in 12 games.  He hit .208, but hit a home run.  That was pretty much it for his career.

Up next are the Yawkey Red Sox singles.

5.  Tommy Thomas.  Thomas had a 12-year career in the Majors as a pitcher with the White Sox, Senators, Phillies, Browns and Red Sox.  He was a decent pitcher early in his career, winning 19 games in 1927 while leading the league in starts and innings pitched.  He played in Boston in his final season, starting with the Browns, then being released and picked up by Boston.  He pitched in nine games, going 0-2 with a 4.09 ERA, striking out four and walking four in eleven innings pitched.

6.  Joe Gonzales.  Southpaw Gonzales was a 22-year-old rookie for the Red Sox in 1937.  He pitched in eight games, starting two of them.  In 31 innings pitched, he struck out eleven and walked eleven.  He had a record of 1-2 with a 4.35 ERA.  Unfortunately, that was it for his Major League career.  He was dealt to Cleveland the following year.

7.  Ted Olson.  Righty Olson was born in Quincy, MA.  He pitched parts of three seasons with the Red Sox from 1936-1938, but never pitched more than eleven games in any of those seasons.  He had a career record of 1-1 in 18 games, spanning 57.1 innings pitched.  He had an unsightly ERA of 7.18, striking out 18 and walking 25.  He pitched in the minors for a couple more seasons after 1938, but never pitched in the Majors again.

8.  Joe Cascarella.  Cascarella started his Major League career with the A's and had a 12-15 record with a 4.68 ERA in 1934.  He was sold to Boston during the 1935 season.  He stayed with the Red Sox into the 1936 season, pitching in a total of 16 games with 37.2 innings pitched.  He had a record of 0-5 with a 6.93 ERA, striking out 16 and walking 20.  During the 1936 season he was traded to the Senators for Jack Russell.  Cascarella also pitched for the Reds and had a career record of 27-48 with a 4.84 ERA in five seasons.

9.  Stew Bowers.  "Doc" Bowers made his Major League debut in 1935 as a 20-year-old.  He pitched in 15 games as a Major Leaguer for the Red Sox from 1935 to 1936.  He was decent in 1935, but struggled the next season and was 2-1 with a 4.60 ERA as a Major Leaguer.  In 29.1 innings pitched, he struck out five while walking 19.  That just is not getting it done.  He pitched in the minors for a few more years, but never made it back to the Majors.

10.  George Pipgras.  Pipgras was originally in the Red Sox organization, but he had not made it to the Majors when he was traded to the Yankees for Al DeVormer.  Pipgras turned in to a decent pitcher with the Yankees and led the league in wins (24), innings pitched (300.2) and starts (38) in 1928 while pitching to a 3.38 ERA.  Pipgras won 93 games for the Yankees from 1923 to 1933.  He was sold back to Boston along with Billy Werber in 1933.  Pipgras was with Boston from 1933-1935.  He had a record of 9-9 with a 4.54 ERA.  He pitched in 136.2 innings pitched over 29 games, striking out 58 and walking 53.  

11.  Walt Ripley.  Ripley was the father of late 1970's Red Sox pitcher Allen Ripley.  His only Major League experience came in 1935 with the Red Sox as an 18-year-old righty.  Ripley pitched in just two games, with four innings pitched.  He did not log a strikeout while walking three.  He had an ERA of 9.00.  He spent another couple of seasons in the minors with various organizations but never pitched in the Majors again.  

12.  John Kroner.  Kroner was a utility infielder who made his Major League debut in 1935 by appearing in two games.  The next season saw him turn in a decent season, hitting .292/.349/.443 with eight triples, four home runs and 62 RBIs.  He was sold to Cleveland the next season and played for them the next two seasons, but never hit as well as he did in 1936.  For Boston, his line was .291/.350/.440.

13.  Bing Miller.  Miller had a 16-year career in the Majors with the Senators, Athletics, Browns and Red Sox.  He had some very impressive seasons, hitting over .300 eight times and driving in 90 or more runs three times.  Miller spent his last two seasons with the Red Sox from 1935 to 1936 after being signed as a free agent.  In 108 games and 210 plate appearances, he hit .303/.361/.443 with four home runs and 32 RBIs with the Red Sox.  He hit .311 in his career.

14.  Ben Chapman.  Chapman is mostly famous now for being vilified in the Jackie Robinson biopic 42.  But, there is truth to that as he admitted to using the type of language to rattle Robinson.  Chapman was a pretty good player.  He played 15 years in the Majors and had a .302/.383/.440 career line and led the league in stolen bases four times.  He was a four-time All Star.  Boston acquired him in 1937 in a deal with Washington along with Bobo Newsom for the Ferrell brothers and Mel Almada.  This was one of the years he led the league in stolen bases.  He hit .307 for Boston, adding 27 stolen bases to end the season with 35.  The next season he was better, hitting .340/.418/.494 with 40 doubles, eight home runs and 80 RBIs.  He was traded to the Indians after the season for Denny Galehouse and a prospect to make room for Ted Williams.  With Boston, he hit .324/.405/.480 with 13 home runs, 137 RBIs and 40 stolen bases.

15.  Jim Henry.  Henry spent parts of two seasons with the Red Sox from 1936-1937. The righty pitched in 24 games, starting ten of them, and pitched 91.2 innings.  He had a 5-1 record in 1936 and a 1-0 record in 1937.  His ERA with Boston was 4.71 and he struck out 44 while walking 51.  Henry's contract was sold to the Philadephia Phillies late in 1938.  He made it into a few games with them the following season, but that was it for his Major League career.

16.  Bill Cissell.  Cissell was an infielder for several seasons with the White Sox, Indians, Red Sox, Athletics and Giants.  He was a competent contact hitter, but did not walk much.  Cissell was acquired by Boston in a deal with the Indians for Lloyd Brown before the 1934 season.  With Boston, he primarily played second base and made it into 102 games.  He hit .267/.315/.346 with four home runs, 44 RBIs and stole eleven bases.  Before the 1935 season, he was sent to the minor league Portland team for Jack Wilson.  He later made it back to the Majors with the A's and Giants.

17.  Hy Vandenberg.  Vandenberg was a journeyman right-hander who pitched in parts of seven Major League seasons for the Red Sox, Giants and Cubs.  He was a 29-year-old rookie for the Red Sox in 1935.  He made it into just three games with Boston, pitching 5.1 innings.  He failed to be credited with a decision, but had an ERA of 20.25, giving up twelve runs.  He struck out two batters and walked four.  

18.  Dusty Rhodes.  Gordon "Dusty" Rhodes was a pitcher Boston acquired in a trade with the Yankees for Wilcy Moore.  His stats in his first year with Boston in 1932 were ugly.  He had a record of 1-8 with a 5.11 ERA.  Rhodes improved the next year to 12-15.  Over his four seasons with the Red Sox, he was 27-45 with an ERA of 4.63.  He struck out 230 batters and walked 282 in 676.2 innings pitched.  He also logged four saves.  He was noteworthy though as the primary player Boston sent to the Philadelphia A's (along with quite a bit of money) for Johnny Marcum and some guy named Jimmie Foxx.

19.  Johnny Welch.  Boston brought former Cubs righty Welch over prior to the 1932 season.  He spent the next five seasons with the Red Sox as a bit of a workhorse versatile pitcher who could start and come out of the bullpen.  He had his best season in 1934 when he went 13-15 with a 4.49 ERA in 206.1 innings pitched.  He logged 91 strikeouts and 76 walks.  For his time in Boston, Welch went 33-40 with a 4.66 ERA in 583.1 innings pitched.  He struck out and walked 242 batters.  Welch was placed on waivers and selected by Pittsburgh in 1936 for whom he made his last Major League appearances.

20.  Lee Rogers.  Rogers, whose nickname was obviously Buck, pitched just one season in the big leagues, splitting time with the Red Sox and Dodgers.  He came up with Boston as a 24-year-old rookie and pitched in 14 games, starting two.  He had a 1-1 record with a 6.51 ERA.  In 27.2 innings pitched, he struck out seven and walked 18.  He was traded for Johnnie Chambers, who never played for Boston.  Rogers finished his season in Brooklyn and had an 0-2 record and a 5.70 ERA in 23.2 innings pitched.

21.  Dib Williams.  Williams spent all but 75 games of his 475 game, six-year career with the Philadelphia A's.  He was a utility infielder that split his time between second and short, with some third base thrown in.  His best season saw him hit .289 with eleven home runs.  Williams started his final season in 1935 with the A's before being sold to the Red Sox.  In his 75 games with Boston, he hit .251/.319/.335 with three home runs and 25 RBIs.  He split time between third and second with Boston.  That was it for his career.

As you all can see, these are not exactly household names.  I have a lot of the big-name players from this set.  Only Ben Chapman and Bing Miller are really star players, and not really for Boston.  But, that's the fun of this set.  There are players in this set that cannot be found in Red Sox uniforms anywhere else.    

Monday, January 16, 2023

Topps Now: June 20, 2022


On June 20, Manny Ramirez was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.  The team has different standards than the often incomprehensible Major League Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  It should be noted though that both of Manny's PED suspensions occurred after he had been traded away, so there is that.

Ramirez's stats certainly merit inclusion in the Hall of Fame.  He was a monster at the plate.  He hit .312/.411/.585 for his CAREER and mashed 555 home runs with 1,831 RBIs.  He was an All Star 12 times and won the Silver Slugger nine times.  He was the World Series MVP in 2004.  With Boston, he hit .312/.411/.588 with 274 home runs and 868 RBIs.

The problem with Ramirez comes down to his PED suspensions.  The first one came in 2009 while he was with the Dodgers.  The second one was in 2011 when he was with the Rays.  The second one was a 100 game suspension and ended his tenure with the Rays and eventually, his career.  Ramirez chose to retire rather than appeal the suspension.  Later, he decided to attempt to be reinstated, serve his suspension and attempt a comeback.  He signed minor league deals with the Athletics, Rangers and Cubs, but never made it back to the Majors.  And so, in his seventh year on the Hall of Fame ballot, Ramirez is polling at just over 40%.  With Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds not getting elected by the BBWAA, it seems his chances are slim to none to get elected this way.

Ramirez threw out the first pitch at the game and appeared in the booth to talk during the game.  Boston won 5-2 over the Tigers with Josh Winckowski getting the win.  The offense was led by a three-hit, two-RBI effort by Franchy Cordero.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

2022 Topps Series 2 Ebay Break

I did another one of these Ebay breaks for Topps Series 2 in order to get the complete team set and maybe some of the inserts and parallels myself.  Pretty good results.

1.  Carl Yastrzemski.  From the Silver Pack came this awesome Yaz card.  I am a sucker for cards featuring players from the red hat era of Red Sox history.  The 1975-1979 teams were mostly successful and the first hat my parents got me was the red one from that time period.

2.  Kevin Plawecki.  Here is a gold foil parallel of backup catcher Kevin Plawecki.  Topps Total has been gone again for a couple of years, primarily because Topps couldn't figure out that what made that set interesting in the first place was that it was inexpensive and a huge set.  They got the huge set part right, but limited it to online only with ten-card packs costing $10.00.  With it gone, I am concerned about finding cards of backup catchers, utility players, AAAA players and middle relievers again.  Flagship includes some, but not many.

3.  Team card.  Here we have Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez emerging from the dugout.  It will be interesting to see how the team meshes this year as Bogaerts and Vazquez were glue guys in the clubhouse.  Devers is the only one of the trio still in Boston.

4.  Jack Lopez.  Holy crap, I did not expect to see cards of Jack Lopez.  Lopez was never even on the Red Sox 40 man roster.  He was only able to be called up because Boston got hit hard by COVID at one point and were allowed to bring in a bunch of reinforcements that did not require roster moves.  Lopez was a 28-year-old journeyman in the minor leagues making his Major League debut in 2021.  He played in seven games and got just two hits, both doubles, in 16 plate appearances.  I am thrilled to see him in this set.

5.  Kutter Crawford.  Crawford has some potential.  A couple of the pitching prospects took big steps backward in 2021, but Crawford looks like he could be a serviceable arm out of the bullpen.  In 2022, he had a 5.47 ERA, but struck out 77 in 77.1 innings.

6.  Connor Seabold.  Seabold is one of those pitching prospects that took a step backward in 2022.  He has not been the same since an elbow injury and struggled greatly in 2022.  Seabold was recently DFA'd to make room for Corey Kluber so he may be gone.

7.  Rafael Devers.  Devers has a flair for dramatic home runs, as shown on this card.  One of his most memorable was a two-run shot in the ninth against Washington in the final game of the season in 2021 that helped Boston clinch a playoff spot.

8.  Kevin Plawecki.  Plawecki had been a serviceable backup catcher in 2020 and 2021, even being one of the better contact hitters for Boston in 2021.  Unfortunately, he seemingly forgot how to hit in 2022 and was released.  

9.  Chris Sale.  Probably the biggest question mark going into 2023 is what to expect from Chris Sale.  He has been pretty good when he's been on the mound in 2021 and 2022, but that has not been nearly often enough.  Boston needs to get something out of him going forward or that extension he signed going into 2019 will be a very expensive bust.

10.  Christian Arroyo.  I would like to see Arroyo get a chance at some regular playing time in 2023, but he has to be healthy first.  The former first round pick and top prospect has been good when he's been able to stay on the field.  He hit .286 with six home runs last season in 87 games.  That would be decent production from a regular second-baseman.

11.  Alex Verdugo.  I've talked a lot about what I would like to see from Verdugo.  Stop selling out for power and worry about making contact, the power will come naturally.  He's never going to be a 30 home run hitter, but 20 is just fine if he's hitting over .300.

12.  Nathan Eovaldi.  Eovaldi goes down as one of the greatest trade deadline pickups in Red Sox history.  That sounds like a pretty good post to write someday.  Of course Boston had to re-sign him after the 2018 season, but he was a very successful acquisition.

13.  Garrett Richards.  I am even more surprised by Richards here than Jack Lopez.  Richards did not return to Boston in 2022.  He signed with Texas prior to the 2022 season after an uneven year with the Red Sox.  Richards was occasionally brilliant but maddeningly inconsistent in 2021 and finished 7-8 with a 4.87 ERA.  One of these days I need to talk about his placement among the One-Year Wonder pitchers.

14.  Jackie Bradley Jr.  I'm completely baffled by why this appears to be air-brushed.  I know he played for Milwaukee in 2021, but he spent the previous EIGHT YEARS with Boston.  There should be tons of pictures of him with the Red Sox lying around that could have been used.  The re-acquisition of JBJ did not work out well and he was released to sign with the Blue Jays before the end of the season, but they did get two prospects out of the deal.  One of those prospects, David Hamilton COULD get called up this season.  His speed would certainly play in the Majors, he stole 70 bases last year.

15.  Tanner Houck.  Houck seems to be the forgotten man on the pitching staff going into 2023.  He has generally been very good since coming to Boston.  He has a career 3.02 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 146 innings pitched.  He struggles with control at times, and Boston seems to be unsure of what his role should be, but he's absolutely proven he deserves to be in the mix.

16.  Here's another combo card, this one featuring Rafael Devers with Enrique Hernandez.  I don't mind these cards, but I feel like another player card would be better than having a team card and a combo card.

17.  Wade Boggs.  Here is one of those 1987 All Star inserts.  Boggs actually was an All Star in 1987.  1987 was arguably Boggs's best season.  He hit .363/.461/.588 and led the league in average, OBP, OPS (1.049) and OPS+ (174).  He had his best power season, reaching career highs in home runs (24) and RBIs (89), while accumulating 200 hits, 108 runs scored, 40 doubles and six triples.  Boggs was a hitting machine in those years.  He probably had an argument to be MVP.  

18.  Chris Sale.  Here is a gold foil parallel of Sale.

19.  Tanner Houck.  And a silver foil parallel of Houck.

All in all, that was a decent break.  No big hits, but I wasn't expecting any.  Decent player selection by Topps.  Plawecki, Richards, Arroyo, Crawford, Seabold and especially Jack Lopez are underrepresented on cardboard.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Spotlight 70 Red Sox

Back in July I posted about a Joe Rudi card from Topps Spotlight 70 that was a watercolor rendering of his 1982 Topps card.  After getting that card, I decided to grab a few more:

1.  Rich Gedman.  I have to say, the player selection in this set is wild.  Gedman is certainly an interesting player to appear in a set in the 2020's.  He was a two-time All Star with the Red Sox, but his career declined early.

2.  Luis Tiant.  Tiant's 1975 Topps card is definitely a good one.  I have mentioned over and over again that Tiant needs to be in the Hall of Fame.  

3.  Fergie Jenkins.  This is from his 1976 Topps Traded card.  Jenkins is not exactly well-remembered for his time with the Red Sox.  He had two very average seasons with Boston in 1976 and 1977.  His record in the two years combined was 22-21.

4.  Tom Seaver.  Here is Seaver's 1986 Topps Traded card.  I still remember buying the original at a card show.  I had not been a fan of baseball for a real long time, but I was vaguely familiar with who Tom Seaver was and was shocked that he had been with my favorite team.

5.  Juan Marichal.  And completing the trifecta of Hall of Fame pitchers known for being with other teams yet having Traded cards (that's a mouthful) is this 1974 Topps Traded Juan Marichal.  Marichal had the shortest stint of the three, appearing in just eleven games.

There are still a few of these out there for the Red Sox that I need to get, but they are a little more conventional selections: Jim Rice, Mo Vaughn, Dustin Pedroia and Tim Wakefield.  

Friday, January 13, 2023

Topps Now: May 22, 2022

May 22, 2022 saw Franchy Cordero have his single-biggest moment of his Red Sox career.  The embattled outfielder was the primary piece Boston received from the Royals in the Andrew Benintendi deal so a lot was expected of him.  Unfortunately he never produced enough to justify that deal.  But, for one day, he did.

Boston and Seattle were tied at four in the tenth inning when Cordero came to the plate with the bases loaded.  He swatted a mammoth home run to right field.  It was his only hit of the day, but it was a big one.  For a little while afterwards, it looked like Cordero might be able to be a decent Major Leaguer, but that too did not last.  He ended up hitting just .219/.300/.397 with eight home runs.  After the season, Boston designated him for assignment and he caught on with the Orioles.   

Thursday, January 12, 2023

R.I.P. Lee Tinsley

Today, it was announced that former Red Sox outfielder Lee Tinsley passed away.  He was just 53 years old, way too young.  I always liked Tinsley during his career with the Red Sox.

Tinsley came up with the Mariners 1993 and was traded to Boston prior to the 1994 season.  He played in 78 games that season and hit .222/.315/.292.  Speed was always his best tool and he did steal 13 bases, second on the team.  Tinsley was the primary center-fielder in 1995 and had a decent year.  He hit .284/.359/.402 with seven home runs, 41 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.  He lost playing time as the year went on, but it was his best season.  He was traded to the Phillies in the Heathcliff Slocumb deal prior to the 1996 season but struggled with his new team and was traded back to Boston.  He played in 92 games for the Red Sox in his second stint and hit .245/.298/.333 and stole six bases.  The next season he was traded back to the Mariners and struggled again.  His career in Boston included a line of .260/.332/.359 with 12 home runs, 69 RBIs and 37 stolen bases.  Tinsley had been a coach for several years and a few organizations.

2022 Gypsy Queen and Donruss Breaks

Not much to show off with these hanger packs I picked up.  Just a couple of base cards.

1.  J.D. Martinez is one of the players that has a City Connect image variation card.  I have not been able to find that one yet.  This is just the base version, though it does have Martinez wearing the alternate red jersey.  

2.  I previously had the name variation of Alex Verdugo, but it was also the purple parallel.  This is just the normal card.  I wonder if Verdugo caught this ball?  It looks like it is just past the webbing of his glove.  

So that's it for today.  Not the most exciting of breaks, but I will go with it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Gypsy Queen City Connect Variations Pt. 1

I have mentioned before that I actually really like Boston's City Connect uniforms.  The bright yellow and blue grew on me quickly because I did not think I would like them when they were first announced.  I am obviously not saying I think they should go with these full-time, but the occasional game with them is fine with me.

Gypsy Queen in 2022 made one of their image variations the City Connect uniforms.  Several Red Sox players had variations in the set and I decided to go after them.  I have not gotten too far in this endeavor however.

Here is the first one:

Enrique Hernandez was the first one I scored.  He seemed to be the least expensive and I snatched this one up right away.  This was even better since Hernandez had such a great postseason for the Red Sox in 2021 that he has been a low-key favorite player for me to pick up.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Topps Now: May 18, 2022

On May 18, 2022, the Red Sox defeated the eventual World Champion Astros 5-1.  That was pretty rare for the Red Sox.  In that game, Nick Pivetta pitched a complete game, giving up just two hits and a run, while walking none and striking out eight batters.  Pivetta looked like he was emerging to be a solid member of the pitching staff.  He would struggle in the second half, but he was pretty much keeping the team afloat by himself at this point in the season.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Topps Now: May 19 and 20, 2022

I put these together for a good reason.  They came during a particularly hot streak by newly-acquired Trevor Story.  Story struggled early in the season, but seemed to be putting it together in early May.  Which brings us to the hot streak.

On May 19, Story hit three homers in a game against the Mariners.  Boston won the game 12-6.  Story had four hits and a walk in that game and drove in seven of the runs by himself.  He also stole a base, providing a terrific performance all around.  Tanner Houck pitched four shutout innings in relief of starter Rich Hill, who last just two innings, and got the win while striking out six and giving up one hit.

One of the benefits to getting the Road to Opening Day sets like the one I showed off yesterday is that certain game performances lead to bonus cards that you get automatically.  A three-homer game is one of those performances, so I immediately got this card as well.

May 20, 2022 saw Story drive in four more runs against the Mariners, giving him eleven in a two-game span.  Boston won this game 7-3 with Austin Davis getting the win in relief of Michael Wacha, who had a rare, short stint.  Story hit a grand slam in this one in the third inning, again providing all the run support the team really needed.  It was his only hit in this game.  Jackie Bradley Jr. also homered.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

2022 Topps Now Road to Opening Day

As I recall, prices skyrocketed this year.  I think you had to pay quite a bit more to get the autograph version this year for the Topps Now Road to Opening Day set.  Jarren Duran, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts were the signers this year.  Knowing my luck, I would have gotten Duran.  I declined that this year and just went for the set as I do almost every year (I apparently missed 2019).  

1.  Rafael Devers.  There was a question on Twitter today about whether Devers should be named Captain.  Personally, I think it is way too early for that.  Boston doesn't give out the Captain label for just anyone.  There hasn't been one since Jason Varitek, and before that it was Jim Rice.  Devers has not shown that leadership ability yet, and he is still just 26 years old.  He is just not there yet, if he ever will be.  

2.  Jarren Duran.  This is the parallel I got in the set.  It is the blue version numbered to 49.

3.  Xander Bogaerts.  Going back to that Captain discussion, Bogaerts would have qualified had he remained in Boston.  

4.  Jarren Duran.  I do love the green uniform for St. Patrick's Day.  

5.  Trevor Story.  Story almost was not in this set.  He signed with Boston so late there almost was not time to get him in.  I do not recall who would have been in the set instead.  Michael Wacha maybe?

6.  J.D. Martinez.  Martinez goes down as one of the all-time best free agent signings in Red Sox history.  I would probably put him at number three, behind David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.  Sounds like an interesting post idea.

7.  Bobby Dalbec.  Dalbec's place on the roster is tenuous at best.  Triston Casas is expected to be the first-baseman and Justin Turner was signed to be the DH.  Dalbec struggled most of the season last year and looks like he is on his way out.  But he doesn't have much value in trade either.

8.  Alex Verdugo.  I would love to see Verdugo embrace more of a leadership role and become a stronger contact hitter in 2023.  If he doesn't, I suspect his time in Boston is coming to an end.  That would be disappointing.

9.  Christian Vazquez.  I considered turning Vazquez into my new mini-player collection, similar to Jason Varitek, but then he was traded to Houston and did not return to Boston as a free agent.  The catching platoon as currently set is kind of underwhelming, so I was a proponent of bringing him back.  That did not work out.

10.  Enrique Hernandez.  Hernandez's versatility is his biggest asset and it will once again come in handy in 2023.  He could easily play center field, second base or shortstop, depending on the team's needs.  And with the acquisition of Masataka Yoshida for the leadoff spot, he will be able to bat lower in the lineup, lengthening the lineup.

11.  Chris Sale.  Hopefully Sale will be fully healthy in 2023.  It has been a long time since that happened.

12.  Nathan Eovaldi.  Eovaldi will be missed.  His spot in the rotation will likely be filled by Corey Kluber, who is no longer the ace he was when he won two Cy Young Awards, but is still an effective starter.

13.  Tanner Houck.  Where does Houck fit in?  At one point he looked like the closer of the future.  But Boston signed Kenley Jansen.  So, does Houck start?  Will he be traded?  I really have no idea.

14.  James Paxton.  Paxton almost became the new Collin McHugh, a pitcher Boston signed who ended up never playing for them.  He looked like he was on his way back, then got injured and had to shut down last season.  But then he exercised his player option and will be in Boston in 2023.  When healthy, he is very good, it would be helpful if he is ready to go this year.

15.  Matt Barnes.  Barnes should settle in as a late-inning bullpen arm.  It seems to be his best role and he came back in a big way at the end of 2022.  There will not be as much pressure on him, and he tends to perform better that way.

16.  Garrett Whitlock.  Whitlock is in a similar position as Houck, but his status on the roster is much more certain.  He will not be traded.  And he will be given an opportunity to show he can be a starter.  He had ups and downs as a starter last season.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

My Only Superfractor

Bonus post today.  I have had this for several years but don't think I have ever shown it off on its own.  This is the only Chrome Superfractor in my collection:

Of course it's Jason Varitek.  I doubt anyone is surprised by that.  Like I said, this is just a bonus post because I have never shown it off by itself.

2022 Gypsy Queen Break

Up next was an attempt at a Gypsy Queen blaster.  I saw that there were image variations for the City Connect uniforms.  I was hoping for one of those, but I didn't get one.

Here is what I did get:

1.  Nathan Eovaldi.  Eovaldi is one of the players that had a City Connect variation.  I got the base card at least.  Eovaldi signed with the Rangers as a free agent this week.  His time in Boston is over.  When healthy, he was a great pitcher, that just was not often enough.  In five season, Eovaldi was 26-18 with a 4.05 ERA in 461.2 innings pitched.  He struck out 468 batters.  He had a reputation for being a big-game pitcher.  His best season was 2021 when he finished fourth in the Cy Young vote.

2.  Rafael Devers.  This is a GQ Gems insert.  This is notable for its unusual size.  I am likely going to be focusing on getting a bunch of Devers cards soon.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Random Auto

I have explained my feelings on relics and autograph cards before.  I do not go after them nearly as much as I used to, unless it is a player that I really want or the price is right.  I do not tend to seek them out as much anymore, but I do still get them.

That brings me to this:

When I saw that there was a Danny Santana autograph card with Boston, I had to get it because he has so few cards with Boston.  This is the pink parallel of the autograph.  Santana played in 38 games with the Red Sox, hitting .181/.252/.345 with five home runs, 14 RBIs and four stolen bases.  Santana's versatility was important as he was able to fill in at first base, left field and center field.  He just was not that good.  But at least I have an autographed card of him.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Diamond Kings and Donruss Breaks

I think I bought these two blasters sometime around my birthday last year.  Luckily the breaks worked out pretty well.

Up first is the Diamond Kings blaster.  And this one was awesome for me.

1.  Joe Cronin.  Diamond Kings likes to reuse certain old-time players over and over again.  Joe Cronin is one of those players.  Cronin is a Hall of Fame shortstop/player-manager for Boston.  He wears a Red Sox cap on his plaque.  Cronin has a problematic legacy though given his widely-reported reluctance bring black players to the Red Sox.

2.  Rafael Devers.  As I am writing this, the news that Devers has agreed in principle to an 11-year deal with Boston is fairly fresh.  I am thrilled.  Some readers may recall my rant about the team not treating its homegrown stars well.  They have broken that cycle, at least for now with Devers.  This is the Artist's Proof parallel.

3.  Rafael Devers.  And here is the base card.

Here though, is why this was a really good break for me:

4.  Alex Verdugo.  I do not pull a lot of Red Sox relics.  This is the first relic I have pulled since a Rick Porcello relic out of Allen & Ginter back in 2019.  Sure it's just a boring gray swatch, but there is just something so exciting about pulling something like this in a pack.

Up next is Donruss:

5.  Rafael Devers.  This is the Unleashed insert, my third Devers of the day, and a good day to be showing off Devers cards.

6.  Connor Seabold.  This was my first card of Seabold, who was acquired in a trade deadline deal in 2020.  Seabold and Nick Pivetta were acquired in exchange for Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree.  Pivetta alone makes that trade a steal.  Seabold has been terrible in the Majors but pitched well in the minors.   In five games, he was 0-4 with an 11.29 ERA, but struck out 19 batters in 18.1 innings.

7.  Kyle Schwarber.  Schwarber makes a surprise appearance with the Red Sox here, given that some other players were updated with their new teams.  

8.  Alex Verdugo.  Here is one of the variation cards with Verdugo's nickname on the front.  It is also tough to tell, but it is a purple foil parallel.

9.  Jarren Duran.  This is another purple foil parallel.

So, out of the two breaks I pulled three parallels, an insert and a relic.  Not bad at all.  Probably my favorite breaks of the year.