Category: Uncategorized

July 3 – Happy Birthday Carl Everett

everettThough he put together a terrific offensive season during his first year as a Red Sox in 2000, Carl Everett’s most notable contribution might have been pinning the nickname “Curly-headed Boyfriend” on Boston Globe sports reporter, Dan Shaughnessy.” That came about as an act of retribution on Everett’s part because Shaughnessy had nicknamed the Tampa, Florida-born outfielder “Jurassic Carl” after he made  statements indicating his personal belief that dinosaurs had never existed.

Unfortunately, the first paragraph of this post provides a fitting description of this talented ballplayers big league career, which can be summed up in two words, “easily distracted.” A first-round draft pick of the Yankees in 1990, the Marlins got Everett from New York in the expansion draft of 1992. He made his big league debut with Florida the following year but couldn’t stick on the parent club’s roster.

The Mets traded for him after the ’94 season and over the next three years, this switch-hitter got his chance to play regularly. He also began his reputation for controversy, when he became embroiled in a bizarre child abuse allegation involving a claim that he had slapped his child during a Mets’ road-trip in Houston, even though his family had not accompanied him on the road trip.

In any event, Everett ended up in Houston in 1998, after the Mets traded him to the Astros. The following year, he put together a 25-HR, 108 RBI season for the Stro’s, while averaging a robust .325. Ironically, those gaudy numbers convinced the Houston front-office they couldn’t afford to sign Everett to a long term deal so they traded him to the Red Sox.

At first, Everett and Fenway Park seemed a perfect match. He belted 38 home runs, drove in 108 and averaged .300 for Jimy Williams in his 2000 Red Sox debut season and made his first All Star team. But the controversies continued. When he got off to a slow start at the plate the following year, his run-ins with umpires and disagreements with Williams were magnified. Appearing in just 102 games for Boston in 2001, his production nosedived and he was traded to Texas during the offseason.

Everett continued playing big league ball until 2006. He ended up with 202 big league home runs and a .271 batting average for his 14-season big league career.

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June 2 – Happy Birthday Mike Stanton

stantonJust before Mike Stanton became a key cog in the great Yankee bullpens that helped the team win three straight World Championships, beginning in 1998, he was a reliever for the Red Sox. A left-hander, this native of Houston, Texas didn’t begin pitching until he got to college but mastered the art quick enough to get selected in the 13th round of the 1987 MLB amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves. He made his big league debut with the Braves two years later and impressed the organization by saving 7 ball games, compiling a 1.50 ERA and striking out more than a hitter an inning during his 20-game first-ever trial.

Stanton spent six-plus seasons in Atlanta, including 1993, when he became the team’s closer and saved a career high 27 games. He lost the closer’s job to Greg McMichael the following year and was traded to the Red Sox at the mid-season trading deadline in 1995.

He appeared in 20 games for Boston during the second half of that season and pitched well, going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA. He also had a scoreless 2 1/3 inning appearance in that year’s ALDS versus Cleveland, in which the Red Sox were swept in thee games. He then became Kevin Kennedy’s left-handed workhorse reliever in 1996 appearing in 59 games, before getting dealt to the Rangers for two relievers at that season’s July 31st trading deadline.

The Yankees then signed him as a free agent following the 1996 season and for the next half-dozen years, he was Joe Torre’s first southpaw choice out of the bullpen. He had a good, moving fastball and when his slider and curveball were working, this guy was simply nasty, especially on left-handed hitters. I loved his toughness and no-nonsense demeanor on the mound. He was the type of pitcher who believed he could get any hitter out in any situation.

After a great run in the Bronx, he signed with the Mets as a free agent in December of 2002 but his best days were behind him. He actually returned to the Red Sox at the very end of the 2005 regular season but was let go that October. He was out of the big leagues for good two years after that and retired as the all-time leader in “Holds.”

June 1 – Happy Birthday Derek Lowe

loweThe Seattle Mariners traded catcher Jason Varitek and today’s Beantown Baseball Birthday Celebrant to Boston for closer Heathcliff Slocumb at the 1997 trading deadline. It turned out to be one of the greatest deals in Red Sox franchise history. Varitek became the captain and anchor of those great Red Sox teams that won two World Championships during the first decade of the new century. All Derek Lowe did for Boston was first become the team’s ace closer for a couple of years including a 42 save season in 2000 and then convert to the Red Sox starting rotation and become a 20-game winner in 2002. He also pitched brilliantly during the 2004 postseason culminating in Boston’s first World Series victory since 1918. And then surprisingly, Boston let him walk away as a free agent.

Lowe was born in Dearborn, Michigan in 1973 and after graduating from high school there, he became the eighth-round choice of the Mariners in the 1991 MLB amateur draft. It took him right about six seasons of minor league ball to earn his first start in the Majors in 1997. When Boston acquired him that same season, they sent Lowe right to the bullpen and with the exception of 10 starts during the 1998 season, he was used strictly as a reliever and then closer until the very end of the 2001 season, when he made three consecutive starts. That turned out to be a preview of what was to come for the big 6’6″ right-hander.

His career in Beantown ended right after Lowe pitched great during the 2004 postseason, winning all three of his decisions. The Dodgers outbid everyone, including Boston for his services. He left the Red Sox with a career record of 70-55 with 85 career saves. His big league career ended in 2013. His lifetime record was 176-157.

May 31 – Happy Birthday Jake Peavy

peavyJake Peavy is one of fourteen pitchers on the all-time Boston Red Sox roster to have won a Cy Young Award during his big league career. Only three of those hurlers, Jim Lonborg, Roger Clemens (3) and Pedro Martinez (2) achieved that honor while wearing a Red Sox uniform. Peavy won his in 2007, when he went 19-6 for the San Diego Padres. The hard-throwing right-hander had been a 15th round draft choice of the Padres in 1999 and made his big league debut with that team in 2002.

He had a shot to win his twentieth game of that ’07 season when he squared off against the Rockies in a one-game playoff to determine who would win that year’s NL Wild Card postseason slot. Peavy failed to do so but he was rewarded for his great regular season performance with a huge 4-year $52 million contract extension that December.

The Padres then declined into a non-contending team over the next two seasons and by 2009, it became pretty clear that the front-office of a re-building San Diego ball club wanted to dump Peavy’s contract. It took them a bit too long to get a deal done because Peavy didn’t want to leave and then strained a tendon in his ankle, dramatically lowering his market appeal.

At the ’09 trading deadline, this native of Mobile, Alabama was dealt to the White Sox for prospects, while he was still recovering from his ankle injury. When he was ready to pitch for his new team, he looked like the Jake Peavy of old, going 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and it looked as if Chicago had struck gold.

That perception quickly changed when Peavy lost four of his first seven decisions in 2010 and saw his ERA climb over six. He righted himself however, winning four of his next five starts but then detached a muscle in his back during an early July start against the Angels and his season was over. During the five whole or partial seasons he pitched in the Windy City, Peavy made just 84 starts, went 36-29 and had an ERA of 4.00. He did make the 2012 All Star team and win a Gold Glove that same year but 3 dozen wins for $50 million does not compute.

That’s why Peavy landed in Boston at the trading deadline of the 2013 season. The Red Sox needed a starter and old Jake won them 4 of his 5 decisions down the team’s division-winning stretch. He was a bust in Boston’s victorious postseason and thus far in 2014, he has not pitched well either, but few of the team’s pitchers have. Still, its pretty clear that this legally blind devout Christian is at a crossroads in Beantown. How well he pitches during his next two or three starts will determine his fate.

Here are all of the fourteen current and former Red Sox pitchers who have won Cy Young Awards during their big league careers along with the years in which they won it:

Jake Peavy (2007)
Bartolo Colon (2005)
Roger Clemens (2004, ’01, 1998, ’97, ’91, ’87, ’86)
Greg Gagne (2003)
Pedro Martinez (2000, 1999, ’97)
John Smoltz (1996)
David Cone (1994)
Dennis Eckersley (1992)
Bret Saberhagen (1985, ’89)
Frank Viola (1988)
Sparky Lyle (1977)
Tom Seaver (1975, ’73, ’69)
Ferguson Jenkins (1971)
Jim Lonborg (1967)

May 30 – Happy Birthday Manny Ramirez

I’m not a fan of Manny Ramirez. I will always firmly believe that his unquestionable use of PEDS had a dramatic impact on his numbers, especially during his peak seasons in Boston. The extortion and bullying techniques he used to escape his Red Sox contract and force his trade to the Dodgers was both classless and overtly greedy. But regardless of how you feel about this guy, there were some absolutely priceless Manny-being-Manny moments during his crazy career and every time I see them replayed, I absolutely miss seeing this guy play Major League Baseball. Enjoy!

May 29 – Happy Birthday John Kennedy

kennedyToday’s Beantown Baseball Birthday Celebrant is a throwback to the days when big league shortstops couldn’t hit and weren’t expected to hit. I could never figure out why guys who played this position got a free pass offensively for so long. I guess it was Cal Ripken who changed the perception of what an All Star shortstop should be able to do and guys like A-Rod, Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter then came along and made sure that the days of good glove, lousy hitting shortstops were a thing of the past.

John Kennedy was one of those dinosaurs. In fact, the only reason fans like me paid any attention to him when he made his big league debut with the Senators in 1962 was that he had the same name as another guy who had also started a new job in our Nation’s Capital the year before. In fact the infielder and President John Kennedy also shared the same birthday.

After getting traded to the Dodgers and Yankees and then sold to the Seattle Pilots, the Red Sox became Kennedy’s fifth and final big league team in 1970. He turned out to be a very reliable utility infielder for manager Eddie Kasko’s Boston ball clubs of the early seventies and actually became a better hitter once he got to Beantown, averaging .243 during his five seasons as a Red Sox as compared to only .225 during his full 12-year big league career. The Fenway faithful appreciated the way “Super Sub” hustled every second he was on the field and apparently so did the Boston front office. When Kennedy retired as a player, he was given a job by the organization as a minor league manager.

May 28 – Happy Birthday Bill Barrett

BillBarrettBill Barrett was the starting right fielder on the very bad Red Sox team that finished last in the 1929 American League standings with a 58-96 record. Born across the Charles River in Cambridge, it took “Whispering Bill” eight years after his big league debut with the A’s to make his way back home and play for Boston. He spent most of those eight years with the White Sox, where he established reputations for being one of baseball’s most versatile players and loudest and most annoying bench jockeys (which is how his sarcastic nickname emanated) During his time in the Windy City, he played all nine positions on the field and probably wasn’t too happy in any of them because, based on my research, it also appears as if he was also a chronic complainer. In fact, this guy was upset because first his team and then the Commissioner’s office refused to permit him to start a career as a professional boxer while he was in the big leagues.

During his one season as a starter in Beantown, Barrett played in 111 games and averaged a very soft .270, scoring 57 runs and driving in just 35. He was traded to the Senators early on in the 1930 season for outfielder Earl Webb, which turned out to be a great deal for the Red Sox because Barrett played just six games for Washington and then his big league career ended. Webb had two great seasons as Boston’s regular right fielder and still holds the franchise record for most doubles in a season, with 67.

When his playing days were over, Barrett returned to Cambridge, where he died in 1951 at the age of 50.