Tag Archives: Boston Red Sox

I Was a Teenage Prospector: Mickey Pina

Pina UD

1990 Upper Deck

1990 was the first year I followed Spring Training as a baseball fan, and I dug into with both hands, enjoying the younger players that got playing time, hoping that I would get some clues as to future stars. Mickey was the first guy that grabbed my attention. I had never heard of him, but he showed up in ST and started hitting moonshots off of established players. This was well before I understood how Spring Training stats worked, so I thought I had found a diamond in the rough. This articlefrom that year says it all:

“WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – There is rapidly becoming one story in spring training. He is 6 feet tall with bulging muscles. He grew up in Bridgewater, played for Bridgewater-Raynham High School and the Bridgewater Legion. One of his idols was Jim Rice. He adored Carl Yastrzemski and respected the ability of Dwight Evans.

He’s got a made-for-Fenway Park swing. Short, compact and sweet. Some think he will someday rule the Wall. The question now is: Will Mickey Pina supplant Evans as the right fielder, with the veteran’s back flareups too unpredictable for the Sox to count on him?”

Of course, he didn’t make the team in 1990, went back to Pawtucket, and somehow degenerated. His career was gone after that. But that’s not what we’re concerned with here. I was more concerned with not being able to find ANY of his cards in 1990. The first to hit was his 1990 ProCards issue, the first regular minor league set I was able to afford, but this beauty is the one I always remember when I think of that guy. It’s a shame he became another in a long line of Red Sox outfield disappointments, because I thought for sure I had the next Yastrzemski. Instead it was just another Sam Horn.

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The 1989 Project Day 13 – Rob Murphy

1989 Donruss Baseball's best

Rob had been a solid Reds player up to this point, identified with the team in most card sets, even making some team leaders cards after an amazing 1987 rookie campaign in which he threw a 0.72 ERA in 50.1 IP as a reliever. Of course, he was already 27, so that was kind of his peak, but he had a 2.56 ERA to go with 209 strikeouts in 230 IP for the years he had with the Reds.

1989 Donruss Traded

On 12/13/88, the Reds dealt Murphy and Nick Esasky (who will be featured in the 1990 project) to the Red Sox for Todd Benzinger, Jeff Sellers, and Luis Vaszquez. Apparently, this was a consolation trade for the Red Sox, who had tried to send Mike Greenwell to the Mets in exchange for Ron Darling. The Reds seemed to be reluctant to deal Murphy, but he was a key part of getting rid of Esasky, who had gotten into Pete Rose’s doghouse. Murphy, however, seemed to be happy about getting out from under John Franco’s shadow, as he had been Franco’s setup man.

1989 Fleer Update

Murphy would not, however, be a closer in Boston; he was slotted into the same setup role as in Cincinnati. But it didn’t matter. He had a 2.74 ERA in 1989 with the Red Sox, striking out 107 in 105 IP. A 151 ERA+. He won the Red Sox Fireman of the Year and set a Red Sox record for 74 appearances by a left-handed pitcher. One hell of a year for a middle reliever, in other words.

1989 Score Rookie and Traded

The manufacturers sure jumped on him changing teams, though; he was one of the guys was standard for the traded sets that year, as you can see, and I was completely nonplussed. Come on, he was a setup guy, and for a 13-year-old, a middle reliever means almost nothing. There were lots of Red Sox prospects that I felt would have made better candidates at the time, but now that I see Murphy’s career in retrospect, I understand.  Yeah, he was a middle reliever, but he was an amazing setup man. Relievers are overvalued these days, but given the state of relief back then, Murphy was probably pretty undervalued.

1989 Topps Traded

Unfortunately, Murphy’s 1989 success would be short-lived; 1990 would be an absolute disaster. He had a 6.32 ERA, his HR/9 ballooned from .6/9IP to 1.6/9IP, and his BB/9 skyrocketed, too. I can only surmise that it was a bout of bad luck OR his velocity was falling off, as he still struck out 54 in 47 IP and would rebound for the next few years. The Red Sox had had enough, though, and gave up on him in 1991, trading him to the Mariners for Mike Gardiner. He rebounded nicely in Seattle in 1991, his HR/9 dropping back down to a 0.8 rate, he had a 3.00 ERA, but I guess the problem was his velocity dropping off, as his strikeout rate sustained its drop and would do so for the rest of his career. Makes sense for a flame-throwing reliever, honestly.

1989 Upper Deck High Numbers

His career would last until 1995. From 1992 to 1995, he went 13-13 with a 4.90 ERA, 3 saves, 115 K in 174.2 IP, and had a 1.391 WHIP, good for a 79 ERA+. According to Wikipedia, though, his post-baseball career has been pretty interesting:

horse racing and thoroughbred training expert, Murphy has devised his own method for handicapping and breeding. Rob’s company, M375 Thoroughbreds, Inc., has bred, raised, and raced such successful horses as Platinum Tiara, Swing and Miss, Diamond Studs, Strike Three, and Golden Spikes.

Good for him! Always good to hear players making a life for themselves after the game.

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Card of the Day: 2001 Topps Kent Mercker

I picked this one as a “fish-out-of-water” card. I had no idea Mercker had been with the Red Sox. It’s a weird site.

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I Was a Teenage Prospector: Phil Plantier

Plantier 90 Debut

1991 Topps 1990 Debut

I’m starting off the blog with this guy, as he represented a whole approach to collecting and baseball in general for me at one period in my life. Phil Plantier sums up everything about my teenage prospecting years: killer power numbers in the minors with a horrific OBP (we didn’t know any better back then). I’m amazed when I look at how far things have come when predicting the success of young players, though there’s still quite some ways to go.

Still, over the years since Plantier’s debut (and even further back), I’ve played the what-if game: what if Plantier had mastered his strikeout issues? What if he had learned to take a walk? That kind of fun has kept these prospects alive in my hearts over the years, and it’s what inspired me to create this site.

So, to Plantier himself. I don’t remember exactly where I read about him first, but I think it was in a magazine that touted rookies of the upcoming year issued in 1989. From my first time in baseball card collecting, I had been fascinated with young players because while the older players were great, I felt they belonged to a time that wasn’t mine. These were my kids, my generation, even though I was much, much younger than them. So I read these magazines and memorized the names and tried to imagine what they looked like – what their batting stances might be, or their pitching motion. I flipped out when I would see them on cardboard and buy up or trade for every copy I could find. I still remember when I first found out Ray Lankford was black…it was those moments that made my prospecting worthwhile.

When I first saw a Plantier card in the 1990 Procards minor league set, I flipped out and got as many as I could, then scooped up his 91 cards as they were issued, breathlessly waiting for the guy’s major league debut. After all, he’d knocked 33 homers in AAA in 1990 at the age of 21. How on earth could the guy miss? Then he came up and tore the cover off the baseball in limited time…I thought that I’d found the star of the future, and I had the corner on his rookie cards.

Well, then we know what happened. He had a great year with San Diego in 1993, hitting 34 homers, but that .240 average was troubling (still, he OPS+ed 121, so he was doing something right). Then I think the strikeouts and low average got to the teams he played with, even though he was hitting well enough, way above league average. He was finished by 1997 at age 28, even though he had a career 103 OPS+. Not outstanding for a corner outfielder, but surely enough to stick around. I blame the low OBP partially and partially also an ignorance of how players like him worked back then. I think he would have a much longer career today, and those rookie cards…well, they’d still be worthless because of the era they were issued in, but such was our ignorance back then.


Filed under Boston Red Sox, I Was a Teenage Prospector

Morning Coffee and the Blog Roundup 11/3 – Redskins? Facepalm Edition

Little more awake today. Odd, usually it goes in the opposite direction – the longer the week goes on, the more tired I become, but this seems to be an exception. Odd, that is.

Teams were ready to move after the World Series, huh? Milwaukee hired Ron Roenicke as their new manager, and the Red Sox replaced John Farrell with Curt Young. I just barely remember Roenicke from the beginning of my collecting days, but I definitely remember Curt Young when he was with the A’s. No idea if either are worth a damn, though. Oh, and it sounds like the whole Derek Jeter thing could be more interesting than we thought. A possible position change? Lord knows he’s overdue. I’ll watch that to see how it unfolds, just out of morbid curiosity.

The Redskins continue to infuriate me. First benching Donovan McNabb, then giving Jamarcus Russell a tryout? I’ve lost every bit of faith (which, admittedly wasn’t much) that I had left in this team. What a mess. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a giant McNabb fan or anything, but this…this is just no good. This whole situation is Jim Bowden pants-on-head wrong, but par for the course, I’m afraid.

The election…ah, forget it.

Let’s see what else went on yesterday!

  • Bad Wax told us about the Cards for Kids project. This is a godsend, as I’ve been trying to figure out to do with a bunch of unwanted cards and Tim had suggested donating to children’s hospitals. I’ll definitely be getting in on this.
  • Night Owl continued his team colors series with the Royals.
  • The Beckett Blog shared information on Topps’ “contest” to decide the 60 throwback cards they’ll reprint in the 2011 sets. I was excited until I saw they had already narrowed it down to 100 cards, most of which have been reprinted a million times already. Topps is starting to remind me of that oldies station that only plays the same two songs by an artist over and over again. Do we really need ANOTHER Mickey Mantle reprint?
  • Nachos Grande is holding another cards for clunkers. Check it out!
  • The Priceless Pursuit continued the Faces of Chicle series with Scott Feldman. Yikes!
  • Mike over at BA Benny’s opened a jumbo box of Topps update. Some interesting cards in there.
  • Thorzul announced second place in the Nightmares on Cardboard contest. Some SWEET customs in there.

And that’s all for today!

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The 1988 Project Phase 2 Day 3: Boston Red Sox

Welcome to the Boston Red Sox portion of the programming. Hope you enjoy.

Starting with the rookies as always…

Jody Reed is definitely the most noteworthy of this crop of rookies. Drafted by the Red Sox in the 8th round of the 1984 draft, Jody would go on to a productive career with the Bosox, and in 1988 he hit .293/.380/.376 with some slick fielding to garner a 3.7 WAR.

Steve Curry, on the other hand, was a one-year wonder. Drafted one round ahead of Reed in 1984, Curry only appeared in three major league games, all of them in 1988. His career ERA was 8.18 with a -0.1 WAR.

John Trautwein was another one-year wonder, a rule-five pick out of the Expos organization. He had a 9.00 ERA in 1988, appearing in a grand total of nine games before the Expos made a deal. He had a -0.1 WAR.

And the vets…

Larry Parrish was in the twilight of his career. The Rangers released him on July 9th, and the Red Sox picked him up on July 19th. He would play 52 games for Boston, mostly at first base, and hit .259/.298/.424 for a -0.4 WAR. Poor guy.

Rick Cerone was also in his latter years. Signed as a free agent in April, he hit .269/.326/.360 in 84 games for a 0.4 WAR.

Lee Smith probably belongs in the Hall of Fame. There, I said it. He was traded for Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi in the offseason, and ended up having a subpar season (for him at least). He had 29 saves and a 2.80 ERA, but he had a 1.303 WHIP and an inflated BB/9. He ended up with a 1.4 WAR. I guess nothing to sneeze at, but not that great, either.

Mike Smithson was another aging player (I see a pattern here) who signed as a free agent and went 9-6 with a 5.97 ERA. He had an anemic 69 ERA+ and a -1.3 WAR. Yuck.

Dennis Lamp is our last Red Sox player. He still had a few more years in him, but he was almost near the end of the line as well. He went 7-6 with a 3.48 ERA in 82.2 IP, but he also had a 1.343 WHIP and a 0.4 WAR.

So let’s take them all together, and we get 4.2 WAR, which we’ll round down to around 3.5 WAR for the lot. The Red Sox finished one game up on Detroit that year, so take away these guys, and the Tigers end up in the playoffs. Fascinating to think about…how would the A’s have handled the Tigers?


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Weekend Pickups

I mentioned in several posts this weekend that I busted some Topps Value Boxes…four, to be exact, as I was looking to get the entire Chrome set that comes exclusively in the set and was lacking only the Ruth at the end of the day. This was the also the first time I’d gotten Topps Million Card giveaway redemptions, so I was giddy about those.

Here’s some of what I scored in the boxes:

Didn’t get to scan the Ruth card yet, but yes, I have the entire set now. And I’m very pleased with it. I’m a complete refractor whore, so I knew these were a must-have, especially with a National involved.

I also got a “hot box”, comparatively. The following all came from one box, the one with the Strasburg:

These copper cards are kind of cool, but the edges chip VERY easily, so they’re going to be incredibly condition sensitive as time goes on. But yeah, that was a pretty great box.

My other copper was a Paul Maholm:

I also got a big handful of Turkey Red, always welcome:

All in all, I give the Value Boxes an A+. I feel like I got more than $15 worth of material in those boxes, and the chrome cards are a nice addition. I’ll eventually cover my Million Card Giveaway stuff, but I’m in the process of trying to convert what I got to Senators, Expos, and Nationals. I have, however, already requested delivery on this card:

1968 Topps

That card began its life as a Jose Vidal 1969, then was transformed into a Denny Lemaster 1967 and ended up here. I’m always happy with a new 68 card! Thanks for these, Topps.

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Filed under Autographs, Game-Used, Washington Senators, Wax Breaks

Finds and Sales V: You Yo-Yo

Yeah, that’s right, I managed to find a Boston Red Sox Yo-Yo last week.

This week’s sales and finds is a little unique, as I found myself thrifting when my apartment was – once again – without power, and I needed a refuge from the heat.

My biggest source of finds this week was junk wax. I found heaps of bags of donated junk wax, and picked them up with a couple of rules in mind:

  1. If a card from a set pre-1986 was visible, buy.
  2. If an Expo or National was visible, buy.
  3. If any of my PC players were visible, buy.

I pruned down the pulls to only those essentials and did what you should do with junk wax: I threw it away. It’s all part of my effort to simplify my collection. Here’s a picture of the stack of left-over cards. Some of these will be going out in trades:

Along the way I also ended up with a pack of Beanie Baby cards that was packaged in with some baseball cards. I figured hell, why not? I went for it. Here are the contents (they’re available if anyone wants them):

I also found the book Eight Men Out. I don’t know if the movie was based on this, or vice versa (I suspect the former). I’ve always been fascinated by the Black Sox scandal, so it was a must-have, and is not getting resold.

Then I found this little oddity:

It’s a snowglobe of George Mason basketball coach Jim Larranaga. Odd find, huh?

Finally, I found this box of Oriole checkers.

The concept is checkers played with Orioles and Yankees mini helmets.

Yeah, not sure what else to say about that.

So that’s it for this week’s edition. Stay tuned…

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2002 UD Authentics #2

Time to take a break from National finds…

Say what you will about Barry Zito, I like this card a lot. It totally captures the spirit of 1989 Upper Deck, and the colors on his uniform mesh so well with the colors on the border. A card like this is why I think this design was begging to be re-used at least once.

I think this card also captures the spirit of 89 Upper Deck really well; the photography is a bit sharper than the 89 set, but the contrast of dark and light is so well-done that I think it’s what they were shooting for with some of those darker pictures and just weren’t able to capture. I think a lot of thought went into the shot selection for this set.

Here we get to the first mediocre shot of today. I’m not really sure what to say about it other than it’s A-Rod from his few years with the Rangers and was one of the more expensive cards of the set.

Man, there sure are a lot of Yankee logos on this card. But see what I mentioned in my last post about saying a player signed with a team when it’s abundantly obvious on the card? I mean, ABUNDANTLY. Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about these kinds of cards. The first example I can recall was Darryl Strawberry’s 1991 Donruss, Score, and Upper Deck cards:

I guess if you’re trying to beat the other guys to show him in his new uniform, I could see it, but it seems like a waste of a potentially good card. I also take the view that a given set is a historical record of the previous season, so these kinds of cards should be saved for update sets or later series. I don’t know. I’m not crazy about the Giambi, but I get why they did it. Thankfully, it’s the only one in the set.

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The 1988 Project – Day Eleven – Brady Anderson & Mike Boddicker

1988 Donruss The Rookies

Brady Anderson played 41 games with Boston as a 24-year old in 1988. At the time he was a light-hitting (heh) batter with good speed and gap power (he had 11 triples at A-level Winterhaven in 1986), but looked like a good prospect. So, naturally, he made a few late-season issues, including this Donruss Rookies card. I’ve always liked this card because it’s the only one that has an action shot of Anderson as a Red Sox, and the color balance between the borders and the photograph is…well, interesting, at the very least. Nice card.

1988 Donruss Baseball's Best

In 1988, Mike Boddicker had been with the Orioles since 1980, making for a serviceable starter, hovering right around 100 ERA+s for his time with the team. He was looking decent in 1988, with a 101 ERA+ and a 3.86 ERA. Sure, he had a 1.3+ WHIP, but if he was a mid-rotation starter, he sure could do worse. Strangely, I like this card. I don’t know if it’s the design growing on me or the fact that the Orioles work best with this set. Oh, and it’s not a “B roll” picture, either. I could envision that one in a mainline set. Good stuff.

1988 Fleer Update

On July 29th, Boddicker was traded to the Orioles for Anderson and Curt Schilling. Yeah, you read that correctly if you’re not familiar with the deal. The thing is, I can’t fault Boston for this deal. They were making a push to win the AL East, and neither Anderson nor Schilling were a sure thing. They were decent prospects, but nothing more; hell, looking at Schilling’s WHIP and BB/K ratios, there was no way to predict he’d become what he would become, and Brady Anderson…well, we’ll get to him. Boddicker went 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA and 153 ERA+ down the stretch for Boston, who made it to the playoffs. I’d call that a fair trade. As for this card…eh. Not much to say about it. It simply is what it is. I prefer the Donruss, but it is interesting to see which sets have the players in their respective uniforms.

1988 Score Rookies and Traded

Of course, Anderson went to the Orioles and stayed there for another 14 seasons. He wasn’t very good in late 1988, hitting at a .198/.232/.271 clip down the stretch; of course, he would do much better later in his career, but…well, you know the allegations that followed him. Just compare that shot to this shot from his 50-homer year.


Presented with no comment.

1988 Topps Traded

I suspect it’s because I saw Anderson as an Oriole for so long when I was a fan, but I always liked this card, as well. It’s cool to see him in a different uniform. The bush is also unique. I know that’s kind of uhm…lame…but for some reason it always caught my eye. I don’t know if it’s the contrast with the other colors or what. Oh, and they finally got the team colors right on an 88 card! Go Topps!


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