A Boston World Series hero is cut loose before his retirement, as well as a pitcher who saw injuries get in his way
Transactions: Curt Schilling, coming off of his second World Series victory in a Red Sox uniform, is granted his free agency. Boston had just defeated the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series, and Schilling was not only a free agent, but ready to retire. He had dealt with a number of injuries over the last few seasons, and was limited to just 151 innings in 2007. Schilling was still great, though, posting a 120 ERA+ in that stretch, along with a 4.4 K/BB that was right at his career rate. That career rate, by the way, also doubles as the first-ranked K/BB since 1901, minimum 1,000 innings pitched. (The only other pitchers over four? Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera, and Dan Haren.)
Matt Clement also was granted his free agency on this day in 2007, but unlike Schilling, he never returned from the injuries that ended his 2006 campaign. Clement had signed with the Red Sox before the 2005 season, signing a three-year deal with Boston to reinforce a rotation that had just lost Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe following the club's first World Series championship in 86 years. Instead, Clement was hit in the head by a Carl Crawford line drive and hospitalized, and that, in combination with shoulder problems, meant he provided little to the Sox. A promising career was cut short, with Clement unable to catch on for the next two years despite multiple efforts with multiple teams.
Birthdays: Former Red Sox pitcher Mark Portugal turns 50 today. Portugal was in Boston for one season, the last of his career. He threw 150 innings, putting him second on the staff in both frames and games started behind Pedro Martinez. Portugal was cut before the year ended, though, and despite pitching often, did not pitch well: he posted a 5.51 ERA and gave up 1.7 homers per nine on the year. The thing is, back in 1999, that was bad, but it wasn't terrible. Portugal's ERA+ of 91 actually bests every non-Clay Buchholz starter on the 2012 Sox -- the game was high-offense back in 1999, so numbers that would be construed as horrific today were just plain old bad then.
It was a poor end to a productive career for Portugal, who tossed over 1,800 innings over 15 years. During Portugal's peak, from 1989 through 1993, the right-hander threw was well above-average with one exception:
That 1991 season ruins an otherwise excellent run of pitching by Portugal, the best of his career.
Jim Lonborg turns 70 years old today. Lonborg is best-known as the ace of the 1967 Red Sox "Impossible Dream" team. He won the Cy Young, finished sixth in the MVP race, netted an All-Star appearance, and threw another 24 innings in the postseason. Lonborg was good, but it was more right place, right time, than it was an excellent campaign: his league-leading 22 wins had a lot more to do with the award than his 3.16 ERA (and 112 ERA+) did.
Last, Buck Freeman was born on this date in 1871. The Red Sox acquired him in 1901 when Freeman left the Boston Beaneaters for the then-Boston Americans. In seven seasons from 1901 through 1907, Freeman posted a .286/.339/.442 line that was good for a 130 OPS+ back in the day. In 1903, he led the AL in homers with 13, following two seasons in which he had hit 12 and 11 long balls. Freeman was third in the majors in homers during his time with the Red Sox, going deep 48 times total, while also ranking fourth in single-season totals in that time for his 1903 campaign.
In that 1903 season, Freeman helped the Red Sox to their first World Series title. Freeman not only helped push Boston to first during the season, but he hit .290/.324/.484 with three triples, four runs batted in, and six runs during those eight games.