Saturday, July 15, 2023

Group Break from Nachos Grande

I recently participated in a group break headed up by Chris over at Nachos Grande.  He broke two boxes each of Topps Series 2, Topps Heritage and Donruss.  Since I had not seen any of those sets at my local Wal Mart, I decided to buy in, especially since I managed to get ahead of other Red Sox fans.  Plus, this was an easy and relatively inexpensive way to get the majority of the team sets from three sets, and have a chance at some good inserts.

So, here were the results:

1.  Corey Kluber.  Boston's Opening Day starter has been something of a disaster this year.  The two-time Cy Young winner with Cleveland is currently on the I.L. after starting off 3-6 with a 7.04 ERA.  Oddly, he did notch his first career save.  This was my first Kluber card.

2.  Franklin German.  This is my first German card, and his rookie card.  German was the prospect Boston acquired along with Adam Ottavino from the Yankees basically for free.  German throws hard, but had no idea where the pitch was going.  He had an ERA of 18.00 last season and was let go during the offseason.

3.  Bobby Dalbec.  Dalbec has been tearing up the minors, but seems unlikely to make it back to Boston.  I think he will be traded in the next couple weeks.

4.  Rafael Devers.  Devers was not an All Star this season despite being among the league leaders in RBIs.  His batting average has been a bit down, but he is still hitting for power.

5.  Justin Turner.  Turner has been one of Boston's most consistent hitters and has been a more-than-adequate replacement for J.D. Martinez.

6.  Kenley Jansen.  Jansen was Boston's only All Star this season, which was pretty disappointing.  Alex Verdugo and Masataka Yoshida probably should have gone.  Jansen has had a couple of rough outings, but been generally pretty good as the closer.  He pitched to just one batter in the game, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and blew three straight pitches by him.  He apparently also made a pretty strong pitch to Shohei Ohtani about coming to Boston.

7.  Jarren Duran.  Duran has been Boston's most improved player.  His speed has made him a dynamic threat on the bases and he is just flat-out raking at the plate.  

8.  Bobby Doerr.  Donruss's first set without the ability to use current players still includes Diamond Kings as a subset.  Doerr was Boston's selection and he is one of the more underrated Hall of Famers.  He was a terrific hitter for a second-baseman, but is somewhat forgotten because his career was relatively brief and over by the time he was 33.  He still hit .288 with 223 career home runs.

9.  Marcelo Mayer.  Mayer is Boston's top prospect and appeared at the Futures Game.  He singled in his only at-bat and stole a base.  He could be in Boston by the end of the season next year.

10.  Ceddane Rafaela.  Rafaela is a top five prospect in Boston's system and one of the best defensive players.  His defense could play now, but he needs to be a more consistent hitter.

11.  Brayan Bello.  Bello's development into a top-line starting pitcher this year has been really fun to watch.  His confidence is building and he has elite stuff.  He could be a great pitcher for years to come.

12.  Justin Turner.

13.  Enrique Hernandez.  I do not know what happened to Hernandez this year, but he has been awful on both sides of the ball.  If he cannot get it together soon, he may just end up out of a job.

14.  Corey Kluber.

15.  Trevor Story.  We are still waiting for Story to make his season debut.  That may spell the end of Hernandez's tenure.

16.  Bobby Dalbec.

17.  Michael Wacha.  I am shocked to see Wacha in Topps Series 2 since he has been with the Padres this season.

18.  Nick Yorke.  The first-round draft pick in 2020 was also in the Futures Game and doubled, one of the only extra base hits in the game.

19.  Marcelo Mayer.

20.  Masataka Yoshida.  I was surprised to see Yoshida in the Donruss set, but I guess they rushed the set to print while he was not technically on a Major League roster.  I guess.  I do not really understand the rules.

21.  Masataka Yoshida.  This is the best card from my break.

22.  David Ortiz.  Ortiz has been massively entertaining on Fox baseball broadcasts.  The best moment was gifting Derek Jeter a Red Sox jersey with his name and uniform number on it.

23.  Ted Williams.  The 1988 Topps All Star set was really cool.

24.  Wade Boggs.  Odd that he appears on a Mr. 3000 card with the Red Sox since his 3,000th hit was obtained with the Rays.

25.  Marcelo Mayer.  

26.  Marcelo Mayer.  Mayer was the player I got the most cards of in this break.

27.  Rafael Devers.

28.  Kutter Crawford.  Crawford has developed into an important member of the staff with the ability to start and relieve.

29.  Christian Arroyo.  I would like to see Arroyo stick around in Boston, but I feel like the sheer number of middle infield prospects coming up will make him expendable.  He has been a quietly solid player on both sides of the ball throughout his time in Boston.

30.  Chris Sale.  Sale may just be cursed.  He has so many bad-luck injuries.  It's a shame because it has deprived us of a Hall of Fame career.

That's it for the break.  Nice to add a bunch of cards of random players.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

It's Been a Wong Week

Some people may have noticed I have not posted for a few days.  Things have picked up at work.  One of my cases has made national news, which I am avoiding.  And another case is headed for trial next month.  So, for a little while, I may just be doing mail posts.  For now, it is time to show off the next batch of Connor Wong cards.

Panini Immaculate Rookie Reserve.  This is kind of a nice double patch card.  And each patch is somewhat interesting as well.  Figuring out what the Panini Immaculate cards are has been somewhat difficult.  It took me awhile to figure out what this was.

Panini Prizm Gold Donut Circles.  This card is serial-numbered to just ten.

Donruss Optic Rated Rookie Signatures Blue.  I bought a card recently that was supposed to be this one, but ended up being a duplicate of another card, which was not clear from the picture or text of the auction.  So, I had to grab this one.

Panini Mosaic Rookie Autographs Holo.  

Panini Prizm Rookie Autographs Red Donut Circles.

Panini Chronicles Contenders Optic Neon Orange.  If I had to pick a card set to try to get the entire rainbow, this would be on the list.  I still need seven cards though, including two 1/1s.

Panini Mosaic Red.

Panini Prizm Blue Wave Prizm.

Panini Diamond Kings Green Frame.  This would be another candidate to get the full rainbow.  The 1/1s would be the problem here too.

Panini Immaculate Jumbo Jackets Team Logo.  Coming all the way from Australia is this jacket patch, which is a huge relic.  Clearly this is part of the X in the team name.

Stadium Club Black and White.  This is another card I had to buy twice.  One seller sent me the Sepia parallel, which I already had.  This was hard to track down again.

Panini Immaculate Black Fielding Glove.  This is my third variation of this card.  I also have the button and socks cards.  What is strange is that all three of them are serial-numbered 8/10.  I have no idea how that happened.

Topps 1st Edition Orange.

Panini Chronicles Contenders Rookie Autograph Cracked Ice.  I have mentioned before that I don't love the photo on these cards, but I do really like this one.

Panini Diamond Kings DK Signature Materials Gold.  This card was unfortunately damaged in transit in a way that would have been extremely easy to prevent.  Not sure what remedy I am going to get on it yet.

Finest Autographs Red Refractor.  This is one of the bigger cards I have yet acquired.  It gets me tantalizingly close to the Finest Autograph rainbow and knocks off one of the harder to find cards.  I still need the Gold, Orange Wave (which I should have coming), Red Wave, and of course, the Super.

Topps Gallery Rookie Autographs.  In a rare twist, Connor Wong was not the first player in my Red Sox collection from this Rookie Autograph set.  I had Kutter Crawford from a previous deal.

Topps Chrome Gold Refractor.

Panini Capstone Holo Silver.

Topps 1987 Chrome Green.  I forgot that I did not have this card already.  

So that's it for today.  Bizarrely, with these additions to my collection, Connor Wong is the largest current player in my collection and is more than players like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts.  That seems crazy.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

2001 Fleer Red Sox 100th Pt. 7: John Valentin

NAME: John Valentin

POSITION: Shortstop, Third Base, Second Base

WHY IS HE HERE?  Valentin is the only Major League player to have a three homer game, hit for the cycle and turn an unassisted triple play.  He was a Silver Slugger winner at shortstop in 1995 and had a 20/20 season.  He led the league in doubles with 47 in 1997.  He was one of just a few active players to make it into this set and one of just three still with Boston.

WOULD I PUT HIM IN IN 2001?  Maybe?  I am a big fan of Valentin, but the notoriety was never really there for him.  He did win a Silver Slugger, but was never an All Star.  He is one of the most underrated Red Sox players of my lifetime.

ANY BETTER CHOICES IN 2001?  Looking at infielders that did not appear in the set, there is Freddy Parent (a star shortstop in the early years of the franchise) and Larry Gardner (Deadball Era third-baseman) from a time period that is underrepresented here.  There is also Marty Barrett from the 1980's.  Valentin does probably deserve to be here over a couple of others that I will get to soon.

WOULD I PUT HIM IN NOW?  I'm still stuck on maybe.

ANY BETTER CHOICES NOW?  Valentin's Red Sox career was over after 2001, which was an injury-plagued season, so his numbers did not really improve.  Left-side infielders since have included Bill Mueller (batting title and Silver Slugger in 2003), Mike Lowell (World Series MVP in 2007), Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Worst Red Sox Team of All Time Pt. 23: Tom Oliver

Failure is often even more fascinating than success. I am definitely intrigued by the 1932 Boston Red Sox, the worst Red Sox team of all time. The team finished with a record of 43-111, for a winning percentage of .279 and very little went right.

Tom Oliver had a four-year Major League career and was the primary center fielder for the Red Sox every year, including 1932.  He arrived in the Majors in 1930 at the age of 27 and led the American League in games played (154) and at-bats (646).  He was a decent contact hitter with virtually no power whatsoever.  He did not hit a single home run in his Major League career and had a career slugging percentage of .340.  In 1930, he hit .293/.339/.351 with 189 hits, 86 runs scored, 34 doubles, 46 RBIs and six stolen bases.

Despite the somewhat promising start to his career, Oliver's numbers would decline each year after that.  By the time 1932 came around, he hit just .264/.305/.327 with 120 hits, 23 doubles, 39 runs scored, 32 RBIs and one stolen base.  

Oliver's best tool was his fielding.  He led the league in fielding percentage in both 1930 and 1931 and was regularly in the top ten in most fielding categories.  Unfortunately, his hitting was not enough to keep him in the Majors long-term, especially as it declined.  

Partway through the 1933 season, Oliver's contract was sold to a minor league team and he never made it back to the Majors.  

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 31: Julio Valdez

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?

Julio Valdez was signed as an undrafted free agent in 1975 at the age of 19.  He made his Major League debut in 1980, playing eight games and hitting .263 with his first Major League home run.  He was a slick-fielding shortstop, who did not hit much.  Fairly common for that time period.

He started the 1981 season back in the minors, but worked his way back up to appear in 17 games.  Valdez hit just .217/.208/.217 with five hits and three RBIs.  He played all 17 games at shortstop.  In the minors that season he hit .258 with six home runs and 27 RBIs with six stolen bases.

In 1982, he played in 28 games in the Majors.  He hit just .250.  The next year was his last in the Majors and he made it into just 12 games, hitting .120.  Valdez's Major League career ended when he was arrested for sexual assault allegations.  He was never charged, but that was pretty much it for him.  He did play in the Cubs system for a few years, but never made it back.

Valdez's Major League career consisted of 65 career games.  He had a line of .207/.231/.264 with one home run, eight RBIs and three stolen bases.

Monday, July 3, 2023

TCDB Package

This is not the most exciting post in the world.  It's a small package from a TCDB transaction.  I actually was not expecting anything at all here.  This one started out as a purchase of a Connor Wong card, but the other member came back after everything was agreed upon and said the card was gone.  He offered to send me something else and I told him that was not necessary, but he insisted.  He also refunded the purchase price.  So, these cards were essentially free.  Can't argue with that.

1.  Jason Bay.  This is the Opening Day blue parallel.  Bay had an impressive stint with the Red Sox after being acquired in the massive three-team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers.  He hit nine home runs with a .293/.370/.527 line after being acquired.  In his only full season in Boston, he hit .267/.384/.537 with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs.  He was an All Star for the third time in his career, finished seventh in the MVP race and won the only Silver Slugger in his career.  He then signed a big deal with the Mets and mostly disappeared.

2.  Triston Casas.  After a very slow start to his career, Casas seems to be coming around.  His power is not all the way present in the Majors, but he has hit nine home runs this year and he takes a lot of walks.  This is his rookie season so there is room to grow and improve.  

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Pushing the Wong Button

Here's the next Wong post.  It won't be quite as long.

Topps Tier One Break-Out Autographs.  This is actually my first version of this card.  There are not a lot of those still out there.  There are a couple of parallels of it out there still.

Topps Advanced Stats.  I probably should have shown the back of this card.  The stats on the back are more SABRmetric.  Kind of silly considering he barely played in 2022, but apparently this is a full parallel now instead of a partial as it was for years.

Panini Immaculate Black Button.  This card, I am thrilled about.  This is my first button in my Wong collection.  Back when I was getting going on my Jason Varitek collection, the button was the first real high-end card I grabbed.  That is not quite the case here, but I am definitely happy to get my first Wong button.

Topps Chrome Ben Baller Orange.  The Ben Baller set is not one of my favorites.  It is definitely a non-essential set, just another version of the flagship set.  

Panini Mosaic Blue.  This is one I did not know existed.  I had a Blue Camo parallel.  This is apparently different.  And it is serial-numbered.

Panini Prizm Green.  

Panini Select Rookie Jersey Autographs Tri-Color.  

Donruss Optic White Sparkle.  I think these were only available in special packs online on Panini's website.  I could be wrong about that.

Panini Prizm Rookie Autographs Blue Donut Circles.  Closing things out is this parallel.  

So, that's it for today.  More to come, once again.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #994

I was pretty shocked when I saw that Jason Varitek appeared in the Topps Living Set.  Of course I had to grab it right away.  I am six cards away.  I have been pretty slow to add his cards since I have been spending most of my time on the other collection.  But I had to make an exception for this card.