Thursday, September 28, 2023

400 Connor Wong Cards

Things have been busy.  One of my cases made national news, to the point that my picture appeared on the front page of CNN and my name in the New York Times.  I have been fending off interview requests all week.  So, now that things have calmed down a bit, it's time to show off the latest Connor Wong cards.  The last card in this post is Wong card number 400, which is utterly insane to me.  There are lots of very rare ones in this post.

Panini Mosaic Blue Fluorescent.  Serial-numbered to 15.  The Orange Fluorescent is still the number one card on my Wong wantlist since I never received the card I purchased back in April.  This is a nice add though.

Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Autographs Red Refractor.  Autographed card numbered to five.  This is my best card from this set so far.  I would love a shot at the Superfractor.

Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Autographs Black Refractor.  Autographed card numbered to ten.  Another big one.  I have made a big dent in this set, but there are several more to go.

Topps Chrome Red Refractor.  Serial-numbered to five.  I was pretty disappointed this week.  The Superfractor popped up.  The price was a bit higher than I would have liked and I hesitated.  It was gone quickly.  

Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Platinum Toile Cream/Gold Refractor.  Serial-numbered to 50.

Topps Memorial Day Camo.  Serial-numbered to 50.  I was pleased to see they did something with the borders on this card.  After the Independence Day card just had different colored stars on the sides, I was a little concerned.

Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Orange Wave Refractor.  Serial-numbered autograph numbered to 25.

So, 400 Connor Wong cards.  That is crazy.  That puts him at #10 in my largest Red Sox players in my collection.  A player who has been with the team for one full season and two partial seasons and may not be the starting catcher beyond next year (first round pick Kyle Teel is tearing up the minors).  Wong is larger than players like Yaz, Devers, Betts, Bogaerts and many more.  And he is gaining fast on others.  This all seems as weird as me appearing on CNN.  It's been a weird week.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Topps Now: August 7, 2023

As the Red Sox limp to the finish line, it is worth remembering a point in the season in which they actually looked like they were in contention.  On August 7, the Red Sox were hosting the Royals where the starting pitchers both pitched gems.  Brayan Bello only gave up one run in 6.2 innings, giving up just a run with two walks and two strikeouts.  The Royals pitcher only gave up two runs. 

The Red Sox found themselves tied with the Royals going into the bottom of the ninth inning.  In the ninth, the Red Sox loaded the bases, but also had two outs against Royals reliever Carlos Hernandez.  Up stepped Pablo Reyes, an unlikely hero.  Reyes started the 2023 season on the 40 man roster of the pathetic Oakland Athletics and was not good enough to stick around.  He was waived by the team and Boston grabbed him to try to shore up their middle infield defense.  But Reyes made the most of his opportunity and crushed a game-winning grand slam in this game.  He has continued to play well since. 

This is the sixth player this year whose first card in my collection was a Topps Now card.  He joins Masataka Yoshida, Adam Duvall, Enmanuel Valdez, Joe Jacques and Luis Urias in that category.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Wong Update Time

I have made some minor progress toward the Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary rainbows over the last few days.  I needed to grab a few of the much more common cards, just to cross them off the list.

1.  Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Speckle Refractor.  Serial-numbered to 150.

2.  Panini Mosaic Silver.  I recently realized I did not have this parallel either.  Seemed like a pretty obvious miss.

3.  Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Refractor.  

4.  Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Xfractor.

So that's it for today.  This is not a terribly exciting post, just some Wong cards I needed to grab.  There are some big ones coming though.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

2001 Fleer Red Sox 100th Pt. 8: Rico Petrocelli

NAME: Rico Petrocelli

POSITION: Shortstop, Third Base

WHY IS HE HERE?:  Petrocelli spent his entire 13-year career with the Red Sox and was a two-time All Star as well as a part of two pennant-winning teams.  He holds the team record for home runs by a shortstop in a single season, which was a league record for almost 30 years.  

WOULD I PUT HIM IN IN 2001?:  Yes.

ANY BETTER CHOICES IN 2001?:  Any better choices at the time are already in the set.  Petrocelli was not a big star, but due to spending his whole career in Boston and having some great seasons gets him a place.


ANY BETTER CHOICES NOW?:  I would not replace Rico, but I would definitely want Mike Lowell, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts in alongside him.  

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Topps Now: August 19, 2023


Boston did not do much at the trading deadline.  There were rumors swirling that they might move James Paxton (which in hindsight they should have), and rumors they would acquire some starting pitching.  In the end, the only move they made was to acquire former top prospect Luis Urias from the Brewers.  Urias was hurt most of the year and in the minors, but Boston called him up fairly quickly to help fill the second base position.  Urias had a hell of a week in mid-August, twice coming up with the bases loaded and homering.  

On August 19, the Red Sox were playing the Yankees in Yankee Stadium with Gerrit Cole on the mound.  Cole has certain issues against the Red Sox, and that continued when he gave up the grand slam to Urias, who was hitting .191 at the time.  Connor Wong also homered off of Cole.  Boston rolled to a 8-1 victory.  This is Urias's first card with the Red Sox, so of course I had to grab it.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Wong Update

I am still working towards the Chrome Platinum Anniversary cards, which will be pretty obvious with the next batch of cards.  Those seem to be the major cards popping up that I need.  It helps that I have the majority of the easier to find cards and the recent release of this set means that a lot of stuff is popping up.  Here are the next few cards, all in one scan this time, to save time for me.

1.  Connor Wong Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Gold Wave Refractor.  Serial-numbered to 50.  

2.  Connor Wong Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Blue Atomic Refractor.  Serial-numbered to 100.

3.  Xander Bogaerts Donruss.  Bogaerts is not having a great season in his first year in San Diego.  That contract might start looking REALLY bad soon.  This was a free card with the Blue Atomic.

4.  Connor Wong Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Blue Prism.

As usual, there is more to come.  

Friday, September 8, 2023

The Worst Red Sox Team of All Time Pt. 24: Marv Olson

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.

Marv Olson was the primary second-baseman for the Red Sox in 1932.  That says more about the team's lack of options than it does anything about the caliber of player of Marv Olson.  Olson arrived in the Majors in 1931, playing in 15 games with a line of .189/.306/.208.  He had a double, eight runs scored and five runs batted in.  

Olson played in 115 games in 1932, almost exclusively at second base.  His hitting improved a little bit over his 1931 season.  He batted a respectable .248/.347/.313, showing an ability to get on base, but little to no power.  He had 100 hits with 14 doubles and six triples, but no home runs.  He scored 58 runs and drove in 25 and had just one stolen base.  Olson was competent at putting the ball in play and at the plate, he struck out just 25 times, but drew 61 walks.  He was also eighth in the league in sacrifice hits.

Defensively, Olson was not exactly great.  He was third in the league with 28 errors, but fifth in range factor (which obviously did not really exist at the time).  He had a .955 fielding percentage, which is not ideal for a middle infielder.  

1933 was Olson's last year in the Majors.  He played in just three games, all with the Red Sox, before being traded in May to the Yankees for Dusty Cooke, which was a rare deal that worked out much better for the Red Sox than the Yankees.  Olson, nor Johnny Watwood, ever played for the Yankees while Cooke hit .284/.392/.422 over the next four seasons with Boston.  Olson's career line was .241/.342/.300.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Red Sox with No Cards: 2021

The 2021 Red Sox were a bit of a surprise.  After a brutally bad 2020 season, they retooled with some short-term free agents and caught one of the Wild Card slots.  Then, they went on a run that got them to within two games of the World Series, knocking off the Yankees and the Rays in the process.  The team mixed and matched quite a bit through the season, and had a COVID outbreak that led to a lot of very random players wearing Red Sox uniforms.  Among the short-term players that got cards were Jack Lopez, Austin Brice, Ryan Weber, Eduard Bazardo and Colten Brewer.  The next several guys were not so lucky.  

Andriese was originally drafted by the Padres but was traded to the Rays prior to making it to the Majors in a deal that included a lot of spare parts.  He made his debut with the Rays in 2015 and filled a variety of roles.  He started 19 games in 2016, but also relieved in ten and saved a game.  He set career highs in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts and several other categories.  He was traded to the Diamondbacks in 2018 in a minor deal, but struggled.  He was with the Angels in 2020 and had a 4.50 ERA.  Boston brought him in as a low-risk role player in 2021.  He was used exclusively as a reliever and appeared in 26 games, throwing 37.1 innings.  He had a 2-3 record with a 6.03 ERA, striking out 38 while walking 11.  He did save a game.  The Red Sox released him in mid-August and he finished out the season with the Mariners.  He has not pitched in the Majors since.

Joining the list of players who appeared in just one game with the Red Sox is former Mariners pitcher Brennan.  Brennan was originally a draft pick of the White Sox, then moved on to the Rockies before being selected by the Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft prior to 2019.  Given the nature of the rules of the Rule 5 Draft, he had to be kept on the roster the entire season, and he was.  Brennan appeared in 44 games with the Mariners as a reliever.  He threw 47.1 innings, striking out 47 and walking 24.  He had a record of 3-6 with a 4.56 ERA.  He appeared in just five games in 2020, but had a 3.68 ERA.  Boston grabbed him off of waivers in May and he spent most of the season in the minors, but appeared in his one game, throwing three innings of three-hit, no-run ball.  He walked two and struck out one, but that was it.  He was released in September and caught on with Atlanta the next year, but has yet to appear in the Majors again.

Nicknamed "Big Fudge", Davis proved to be a fairly reliable southpaw out of the bullpen for the Red Sox after being acquired in a deadline deal with Pittsburgh for former top prospect Michael Chavis.  Davis was originally drafted by the Phillies and made his Major League in 2018.  He had varying levels of success.  He was traded to the Pirates in 2020 and started to establish himself as a lefty reliever.  He had a 5.59 ERA when he was traded to Boston.  Davis appeared in 19 games for the Red Sox, throwing 16.2 innings.  He had a 4.86 ERA, a 1-1 record, 17 strikeouts and seven walks.  Davis appeared in just one postseason game, getting one out with a walk in a game against the Rays.  Davis will be seen in the 2022 post of Red Sox with No Cards, so I will not get too much in to what he did after the 2021 season, but he pitched for the Red Sox again, before Boston lost him on waivers to the Twins.

Like Brandon Brennan, Espinal appeared in just one Red Sox game.  Espinal was originally signed to an international free agent deal with the Yankees and spent several seasons in their organization.  Boston snagged him in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft in 2019.  He made his Red Sox organization debut in 2021 and had a nice season, going 11-4 with a 3.44 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 117.2 innings pitched.  He made his Major League debut, starting a game against the Rays during the COVID outbreak, when Boston was able to call players up without them being on the 40 man roster in order to field a complete team.  He pitched just two innings, giving up two runs and two hits and walking one.  He was granted free agency after the season and spent 2022 jumping between the Cubs, Reds and Giants organizations.  He appeared in two games with the Reds.  He has not pitched in 2023.

Feliz has had one of the lengthier careers in this post.  He was once a well-regarded prospect in the Astros system who turned in to a serviceable reliever for the team.  He appeared in a lot of games for Houston in 2016 and 2017 and compiled some pretty impressive strikeout numbers (165 in 113 innings).  He was good enough that he was part of the package shipped to Pittsburgh in the Gerrit Cole deal.  He continued to be a decent middle reliever for the Pirates over the next three seasons, but injuries took their toll in 2020 and he appeared in just three games.  2021 saw Feliz bounce around quite a bit, going from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati to Boston to Oakland back to Boston.  He pitched in just four games for the Red Sox, throwing 5.1 innings, striking out five and walking just one.  It was good enough for a 3.38 ERA.  He was back in Boston in 2022, so he will appear in the next post.

The southpaw Gonsalves was the fourth-round pick of the Twins in 2013.  It took the big lefty until 2018 to make his Major League debut.  He appeared in seven games that season, starting four of them and finishing with a record of 2-2 with a 6.57 ERA.  He struck out 16 and walked 22 in 24.2 innings.  It was no surprise then that it took awhile for him to make it back to the Majors.  In that time, he went from Minnesota to the Mets and then landed in Boston.  Boston brought him up as COVID relief and he appeared in three games.  He threw 4.1 innings, giving up two hits, two runs, a walk and striking out four for a 4.15 ERA.  After the season, he signed a minor league free agent deal with the Cubs, but has not been back to the Majors since.

If nothing else, we can say that Motter had some great hair.  The only position player in this post, Motter originally came up through the Rays system and made his Major League debut with them in 2016.  He was dealt to the Mariners in the deal that brought Andrew Kittredge to Tampa and appeared in a career-high 92 games with them in 2017.  He hit .198/.257/.326 with seven home runs and 12 stolen bases and displayed his versatility.  The Twins claimed him off of waivers in 2018 and then he went back to the minors until popping up with the Rockies in 2021.  Boston claimed him in September and he appeared in just three games with the Red Sox.  He made the most of those three games though, hitting .333/.429/.833 with a double, a triple, an RBI and a walk.  He played second base for the Red Sox.  He appeared in a couple of games with the Reds in 2022 and has played a chunk of time as a utility man for the Cardinals in 2023.  

Peacock was once a very successful pitcher for the Astros who filled in a variety of roles.  He was a late-round pick of the Washington Nationals and made his Major League debut for them in 2011.  He was traded to the Athletics as part of the package that brought Gio Gonzalez to Washington and then was sent to the Astros in the deal for Jed Lowrie.  Peacock found a home in Houston for awhile, but was injury-prone.  He had his best season in 2017 when he went 13-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 34 games (21 starts).  In 132 innings, he struck out 161 batters and walked 57.  The next season, he was almost exclusively a reliever, pitching in 61 games with a 3.46 ERA over 65 innings pitched.  He notched the only three saves of his career.  2019 saw his numbers slide to a 4.61 ERA and then injuries reared up again in 2020.  Peacock started the 2021 season in the Cleveland organization, but did not make it to the Majors.  Boston purchased his contract and he was brought back during the COVID outbreak.  He pitched in two games, starting one and finishing one, but had a brutally bad 15.19 ERA in 5.1 innings pitched.  He struck out three and walked three and had a record of 0-1.  Peacock has bounced around between organizations since, but has not made it back to the Majors.

Rios started his professional career after being drafted by the Phillies in 2011.  He made his Major League debut in 2017 and had some success.  After a rough 2018, in which he pitched in 36 games, but had a 6.75 ERA, and an even rougher start in 2019, Rios was claimed off waivers by the Pirates.  He pitched through the 2020 season in Pittsburgh then found himself in Seattle to start the 2021 season.  Boston purchased his contract in June and Rios ended up being used quite a bit.  He pitched in 20 games for the Red Sox, throwing 24.1 innings.  He struck out 21 while walking 14 and had a 3-0 record with a 3.70 ERA.  Not bad numbers at all.  Rios was granted free agency after the season and bounced around a bit.  He popped up in Oakland in 2023 for a few games.

Robles was one of the bigger trade deadline acquisitions for the Red Sox in 2021.  He started his career as a fireballing arm out of the Mets bullpen.  There was always a thought that he had the potential to develop into a closer.  After a few years of uneven results, the Mets waived him and he found a home in the Angels bullpen.  In 2019, he had his first taste of sustained success as a closer.  That season he was 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA and 23 saves.  He notched 75 strikeouts and 16 walks in 72.2 innings pitched.  Unfortunately, he was horrific in 2020, pitching to a 10.26 ERA in 16 innings pitched over 20 games.  He was non-tendered after the season and started out the 2021 season with the Twins, saving ten games with a 4.91 ERA before the Red Sox sent a pitching prospect to Minnesota for him.  Robles was mostly decent for Boston in 2021, appearing in 27 games with a 3.60 ERA in 25 innings pitched.  He struck out 33 and walked 13 and saved four games with a 0-1 record.  He appeared in six games in the postseason, but did not have much success.  Robles started the 2022 season back in Boston, but that will be covered in the next post.

I will probably spend a lot more time in the next one of these posts talking about Schreiber.  I am still holding out hope that he will get a card made soon after his incredible performance in 2022.  So, perhaps by the time I am doing that post, he will join Rich Hill as players who got cards made later.  Schreiber was a Tigers draftee in 2016.  He made his Major League debut with the team in 2019 and for the next two seasons had an ERA over 6.00 over nearly 30 innings pitched.  It was not surprising that the Tigers waived him.  Boston picked him up and he spent all but one game in the minors, pitching to a 2.71 ERA in 33 games.  In his one game in Boston, he threw three innings, giving up one run and one walk, while striking out five.  It was a harbinger of things to come for him in 2022, but I will get to that in the next post in this series.

This is the second time Valdez has appeared in one of these posts.  After a very good rookie season for the Red Sox in 2020, Valdez spent a chunk of the 2021 season in the Red Sox bullpen.  The results were somewhat mixed.  He had a 2-0 record, appearing in 28 games and throwing 40 innings.  His strikeout numbers declined from almost a strikeout an inning to 35 in 40 innings.  He walked 19 and had a 5.85 ERA.  Valdez did notch his first, and thus far only, Major League save.  He had a bit more success in the minors.  Valdez will appear again in the 2022 post.

Once again, this post is overloaded with pitchers, particularly relievers.  There are a few notable names here, players with some impressive success in the Majors.  Brad Peacock and Hansel Robles in particular had some good years.  If I had to pick one player from this post I would most want to see get a card, I would probably pick Robles due to the impressive numbers he put up for Boston and his role in helping Boston to the postseason.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 32: Chico Walker

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

Chico Walker has no cards with the Boston Red Sox.  This, despite the fact that he was a top prospect and spent parts of four seasons in Boston.  It is true that his high was 19 games and he never played in more than six in any of the other seasons in Boston, but there were players with fewer games played that received cards, like Dave Schmidt and Roger LaFrancois.  

Walker also did not get much of a chance with Boston.  He was drafted in the 22nd round of the 1976 draft, but showed some ability and promise, particularly in the speed department.  In the first year he made the Majors, Walker hit .272/.325/.377 with eight home runs and 21 stolen bases.  He got his first taste of the Majors in 1980, playing in 19 games and hitting .211/.292/.263 with his first home run and three stolen bases.

1981 saw Walker back at Pawtucket and he had an extremely impressive season.  He hit .277/.336/.430 with 17 home runs, 68 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.  He was rewarded with another call-up to Boston.  In six games, he had six hits in 17 at-bats.  

Despite the success of the previous season, he was back in the minors again in 1982 and this time did not make it to Boston.  His numbers declined to .251/.330/.395 with 15 home runs, 66 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.  He was still just 24 though.  In 1983, his numbers improved a bit to .269/.366/.437 with 18 home runs, 56 RBIs and 27 stolen bases.  He had a quick four-game stint in Boston and hit .400.  1984 was Walker's last season in the Red Sox organization and he had a very similar year, hitting .269/.366/.437 with 18 home runs, 56 RBIs and 27 stolen bases.  He made it back to Boston for three games, but had no hits.

Walker was granted free agency after the season and caught on with the Cubs.  His career numbers in Boston were a line of .247/.308/.333 with one home run, nine RBIs and three stolen bases in 32 games.  He spent the next few seasons making occasional appearances in the Majors with the Cubs and Angels.  It was not until 1991 that he finally made an impact at the Major League level, though even that was as more of a utility player.  He had his best season in 1992, hitting .308/.369/.423 with the Mets.

So, why did Walker stagnate in the minors for so long?  Certainly, the Red Sox could have used some speed in their lineup in the early 1980's.  The team was mostly a station-to-station offense at the time, with the exception of Jerry Remy, when he was healthy.  He was not really blocked at the Major League level, particularly in 1982 where Walker could have played over Rick Miller, a fine defensive outfielder, but who had a 75 OPS+.  Walker could also play second base.  Certainly, his versatility and speed could have been an asset.  

So what happened?  I guess we have no idea.  Could it have been racial?  Almost certainly.  The Red Sox historically have had some issues with that kind of thing and the early 1980's saw them becoming very monochromatic, with only Jim Rice at the Major League level.  Black players often had difficulty breaking through due to systemic racism, and that certainly could have been a factor.  Lee Graham had the same issue.  

I really did not intend for this post to go this direction, but here we are.  

Sunday, September 3, 2023

The Wong Stuff

This post is the result of several maildays in which only Connor Wong cards have been coming in.  At some point, I will go back and fill in some holes with other players.

Panini Prizm Rookie Autographs Forest Green Flash.  Autographed card serial-numbered to just five.  This is the first time I have seen this card come up.  Two days after I won it, a second popped up.  That's really weird.

Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Green Wave Refractor.  Serial-numbered to 99.  Obviously, the Topps Chrome Platinum stuff is the major stuff I am getting right now.  46 new cards dropped in the last couple of weeks and I have a long way to go to gather them.

Topps Chrome Ben Baller Gold Refractor.  Serial-numbered to 50.  I checked after getting this card and I am now four cards away from all of the Ben Baller Wong cards.  Unfortunately, only one is readily easy to find.

Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Blue Mini Diamonds Refractor.  Serial-numbered to 100.

Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Black and White Mini Diamond Refractor.  

Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Yellow RayWave Refractor.  Serial-numbered to 250.  This is one of my favorite parallels from this set.  It took me awhile to grab it for a reasonable price.

Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Prism Refractor.

Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Toile Cream/Rose Gold Refractor.  Serial-numbered to 75.   

See what I mean about still working on Chrome Platinum Anniversary?  This puts me at 18 parallels from this set.  Only 28 to go.  I still have several more cards yet to receive (including several more from Chrome Platinum Anniversary), but this catches me up through today.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Portrait of the Macho Man

This is just my second Game Within The Game card, joining last year's Ted Williams.  It is also just the second Red Sox card across the three or so years of the set.  So, naturally I have to grab this Masataka Yoshida card.  Yoshida has had a phenomenally successful rookie season, but has been slowing down in recent weeks.  Boston needs to figure out how to improve his stamina over the years of the deal to come.  Nevertheless, he is currently hitting .295/.349/.456 with 13 home runs and 62 RBIs.  Impressive numbers for someone in their first Major League season.