Minor league contracts and invitations to spring training remain one of my favorite things in baseball because it gives me and my friends more fodder for this game we like to play: remember when Player X played for Team Y for like one day? It's these glories in life, Bartolo Colon's storied tenure with the Red Sox, Shaquille O'Neal's illustrious season with the Boston Celtics, Reggie Wayne's decorated stint with the Patriots, Jaromir Jagr's unforgettable time with the Boston Bruins, that always get me laughing when I'm procrastinating from doing my homework.
It's the same reasons I love flipping through old issues of Sports Illustrated or ESPN the Magazine. The big predictions that people make, the declarations about how someone is going to be the greatest draft pick of all time, the random photos of players on a team, that bring the nostalgia out in full force.
So without further ado, here are the former Red Sox players on 25-man rosters who're still in the major leagues.
American League East
Franklin Morales: I remember when I was a little kid watching the Red Sox play the Colorado Rockies in the World Series and the Fox broadcast team was really hyping up the talent of Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales. Both of these guys threw near 100 mph, had insane breaking stuff and, for whatever reason, scared the living bejeezus out of me. Of course, we know what happened to both of these guys. Morales played 2.5 seasons in Boston and, aside from a brief stint as the supposed savior of the rotation (it didn't stick), was an average bullpen arm.
Jacoby Ellsbury: I mean, pretty much what we expected to happen to Jacoby Ellsbury happened. He posted a strong first season in New York, but Ellsbury's game depended so much on his speed to be a dynamic player, both on the basepaths and in the field. For three straight years, Ellsbury's stolen base totals have gone in the wrong direction, from 52 to 39 to 21, and while I never really felt that the "injury-prone" label was fair to Ellsbury, he missed significant time last year.
Andrew Miller: I love watching Andrew Miller pitch and it made me really happy to watch this guy get paid and reinvent himself at the major league level. When he arrived in Boston, he was this bust, this disappointment of a first-round pick, the trade centerpiece for Miguel Cabrera. To see him become this powerhouse reliever with a mid-to-high 90's fastball and a frisbee of a slider, Miller got paid after establishing himself as one of the best bullpen arms in baseball. Here's to hoping he bounces back strong after his injury in spring training.
[Editor's note: We apologize for the mistake. This is clearly not the correct Andrew Miller. The Andrew Miller we know and love has a glorious beard..]
Dana Eveland: How could you ever forget the memorable Red Sox career of Dana Eveland. After all, he did pitch 16 unforgettable games for the Pawtucket Red Sox to the tune of a 1.54 ERA.
American League Central
Mike Napoli: There was a part of me that thought that Napoli, with his cigarette-smoking, shirtless beer drinking on Boylston, Boston-loving antics that Napoli would be some sort of double agent for the Red Sox and somehow help his old team win a game in Cleveland. And then he hit one of those trademark softball swing home runs and that thought died. Oh well.
Reymond Fuentes: It's been a while since the Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez, but Boston's first round pick from the 2009 draft finally made his first Opening Day roster out of spring training. And in case you haven't been following along Fuentes' career track, he never made a Top-100 prospect list and was traded to Kansas City for Kyle Bartsch, a 25-year-old hurler in the Padres system. Oh, and if you were wondering, the Padres traded Casey Kelly to the Atlanta Braves this past offseason for Christian Betancourt.
Mike Aviles, Victor Martinez, Anibal Sanchez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Alex Wilson, Jose Iglesias: This is certainly an eclectic group of former Red Sox players. You kind of hit all of the right notes here: the former utility infielder, the designated hitter, the former top prospect, the journeyman catcher and the overlooked reliever. Maybe it's just because I'm weird, but I'm actually most interested in the future of Alex Wilson: I always felt he fell short on luck in Boston as the AAAA reliever shuttling back between Boston and Pawtucket, but he performed well in 18 games for the Red Sox in 2014 and really showed his stuff with the Tigers (after being tossed in with Yoenis Cespedes for Rick Porcello) and posted a 1.03 WHIP in 70 innings out of the pen.
None, but shoutout to Byung Ho Park for hitting his first career home run. Making Koreans proud.
Matt Albers, Jerry Sands: You know, given how much Red Sox fans drool and ask for the team to trade for Chris Sale, it just hasn't happened. But hey, remember how Matt Albers got the Red Sox a (briefly) good Craig Breslow? And how Jerry Sands was in the Nick Punto trade? Good times, good times.
American League West
Daniel Nava: You wouldn't be able to tell it on TV, but Daniel Nava has some of the most disproportionately large biceps and triceps I have ever seen in my life. It's kind of ridiculous. Nava is one of my all-time favorite stories, when you consider how much he had to go through to play baseball in college, at the professional level and factoring in that homer against the Royals the day after the marathon bomber was arrested. And we'll always have this GIF.
Also, Kole Calhoun is pretty much a clone of Trot Nixon.
Josh Fields: I swear he was on the Red Sox! Boston acquired him in the trade for Erik Bedard and then the Astros stole him with the first pick in the Rule-5 Draft.
Rich Hill, Jed Lowrie, Danny Valencia, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick: I don't know about you, but I would've thought, without looking, that the Athletics would've had the most former Red Sox players in the majors. But the Tigers, of all teams, have them beat. I think seeing Coco Crisp not actually be Johnny Damon 2.0 was up there with Daisuke Matsuzaka being a general failure in the list of my biggest childhood Red Sox disappointments (though, to be fair, these lists are basically one in the same). But we'll always have him pulling a Matrix move while charging the mound on James Shields.
That reminds me, this Coco Crisp catch against the Mets was probably the best defensive play I've ever seen live.
Maybe Coco wasn't so bad.
Wade Miley: Dude has the craziest beard now.
wade miley has a wild beard now pic.twitter.com/VDaiTNOlEW— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) April 6, 2016
I don't know what it is about baseball right now, but the hair, the beards, it's all out of control. #MakeBaseballHairGreatAgain
Adrian Beltre: This guy is in my Top-5 favorite baseball players ever and his single season in Boston is one of my favorite single seasons for a Red Sox player of all my time watching baseball. I mean, when you combine the on-a-knee home runs, the hilariously irrational fear of having people touch his head and the fact that the dude rakes and is one of the best defensive third basemen of all time, it's pretty easy to understand why I practically drool over this guy every year in my fantasy baseball drafts.
how can you not love adrian beltre pic.twitter.com/B5lSQw068y— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) April 11, 2016
The fact that Theo Epstein could've signed him to a long-term deal and had Beltre walk into Cooperstown with a Red Sox cap on makes me slightly somber, but with that said, I can't wait until he and Elvis Andrus re-reboot the 21 Jump Street franchise.
National League East
Alexi Ogando, AJ Pierzynski: Don't you miss all of those late-inning moon shots? Don't you miss the least-likable player in baseball catching this rotation (I've got a funny story about Pierzynski being the first athlete to really get angry with me--it was nothing personal--but that's for another time)?
Craig Breslow: To my eternal surprise, Giancarlo Stanton actually hasn't played for the Red Sox yet.
BARTOLO COLON!!! I'm so disappointed that this wasn't a bigger deal when it happened and that the renaissance of the most lovely rotund pitcher in baseball history didn't happen in Boston, but hey, I'm just glad that we have Bartolo Colon in our lives. God bless the namesake for my podcast, Doing It For Bartolo (which you should pretty please check out on iTunes. I've interviewed the likes of Buster Olney, Jonah Keri, Tom Verducci and Jayson Stark! Sorry for the shameless plug, OTM overlords, Marc and Ben).
Yoenis Cespedes, Alejandro De Aza: Admittedly, I feel pretty bad about how things turned out in Boston for Yoenis. The guys is super talented and, for whatever reason, he never seemed to be on the same page with the coaching staff in Red Sox. And with Alejandro De Aza, we'll always have those couple of weeks where he looked to be the savior (not really) of the 2015 Red Sox.
Jonathan Papelbon, Stephen Drew: I'd probably call this duo the most beloved pair of former Red Sox currently in the major leagues.
Dalier Hinojosa! Alex Speier wrote a great column in 2014 about Hinojosa's incredible journey to America. It's a must read. With the exception of Aaron Nola, Peter Bourjos and Maikel Franco, you could stick any two names, literally any, and I wouldn't be sure whether or not they were an actual baseball player for the Phillies.
National League Central
What would the Red Sox look like without trades or free agency?
Similar in some ways, but a whole lot different overall. Let's take a look.
Chris Capuano: I had to Google whether or not he was on the Red Sox. He was.
Brandon Moss: He had that trio of seasons in Oakland where he hit a ton of home runs and he's been kind of meh since.
John Lackey, Jon Lester, David Ross, Anthony Rizzo: The image turnaround Lackey pulled off while in Boston was nothing short of remarkable. Somehow, in one of the most cynical sports media markets, he became beloved after previously being universally loathed. Both Lester and Ross remain universally adored for their time in Boston.
Sometimes, I roll around in my bed at night imaging Rizzo and Beltre starting at first and third base for the 2016 Red Sox.
Mark Melancon: I remember when Melancon gave up all of the home runs and subsequently bounced between Boston and Pawtucket during his sole year with the Red Sox. He kind of looked shellshocked the entire time. There was no doubt Melancon had the stuff to be a really great reliever, he just never quite put it together in Boston.
None, although they have some great names on this 40-man roster, like Jumbo Diaz (who could be their closer this year!!) and Rookie Davis. Also, Tyler Holt! \o/
National League West
Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford: I love how every year, almost on schedule, Carl Crawford is due for a headline related to him trashing his time in Boston. It's still remarkable how clueless that guy was about the media scrutiny of this market before coming in.
Also, I still love Adrian Gonzalez as a player. I will proudly sign up for .280/.340/.480 with 25-30 home runs and 100 RBI every single year, even if the production comes in frustratingly condensed spurts.
Rubby De La Rosa: I'm of the belief that Rubby needs to be a reliever. He just doesn't have enough pitches to be an effective starter. He could still be a kickass reliever. And if you want an update on Allen Webster, he's over in Korea playing for the Samsung Lions. He's got 11 strikeouts and five walks in 12 innings pitched in two starts so far this year while wearing a single-digit uniform number (eww). And don't you worry, he still looks like he's scared at every waking moment.
Jake Peavy: I wonder if he ever got his duck boat fixed. Whereas I impulse purchase a chocolate bar, Peavy impulse purchases a freaking duck boat.
Javier Lopez, Hunter Strickland: Lopez has continued to be a really good lefty sidearmer out of the bullpen for the Giants while Strickland was traded in the Adam LaRoche deal with the Pirates. Remember when he was a Red Sox for a week?
None, but Jabari Blash has so much nickname potential if he turns out to be anything good.
Jorge De La Rosa: The last active piece of the Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon package for Curt Schilling. Long live Casey Fossum's Red Sox career.
Well, that was a fun--and occasionally depressing--trip down memory lane.