Everyone loves a good free agent signing or trade. Red Sox fans have been blessed over the years to have many great ones, being in a position where they can offload prospects to bring in top tier talent like Chris Sale, or spend a ton of money to sign a player like Manny Ramirez.
When it comes to choosing our favorites, it can get tough because there are so many great players to join the team. Some really good signings (like David Price) might not crack someone’s top 50, despite what he’s done for the team. Some trades (like the one for Victor Martinez) might be otherwise forgotten.
Trading For A Captain - Rick Bentsen
What they said: The Mariners needed pitching. Bad. The Red Sox needed young talent in the pipeline. Bad. This made the Mariners and Red Sox a perfect fit. Heathcliff Slocumb was traded to the Mariners for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe. Both players had a great impact on the 2004 World Series team, and Varitek caught four no-hitters (one of which was thrown by Lowe). He lists a few reasons why he likes Varitek so much.
Ignoring the value of Derek Lowe for a moment, Varitek has always struck me as one of the (somehow) most underrated players in Red Sox history. He played 1546 games with the Red Sox, with almost 1500 of those games behind the plate. Was he the best catcher over the time he played?
No, not even close. He ranks something like twelfth in fWAR over the time of his career, behind names like Ramon Hernandez and Javy Lopez (both were good, but you’d be forgiven if you did not remember either one). What Varitek did do, however, was play the 34th most games behind the plate. His reputation as a durable workhorse is not one to be overlooked.
You could rely on two things when he was playing. He’d give you roughly 100 games behind the plate every year for 15 years (missing this mark four times - not counting his sole appearance in 1997), and he’d do it while calling a solid ball game and playing good defense.
His management future is still in the air, so who knows if he’ll add to his reputation going forward, but Varitek stands as one of the lifers who should get the most respect in our fandom.
Also, Derek Lowe was really cool too.
Pedro - Bosoxsince89
No Surprise: Pedro - rmosutton
What they said : The best trade for this poster was one that got them excited as a kid. This player is none other than Pedro Martinez. And all it cost was Tony Armas Jr. and Carl Pavano. Pedro would go on to be one of the single most dominating pitchers in MLB history on his way to the baseball Hall of Fame. And he established this dominance during the Steroid Era, which was presumably the hardest environment for a pitcher to survive in, let alone excel in. But it wasn’t just the dominance. It was about connection. This poster was able to follow their heart into baseball, rather than follow their community trend for basketball and football.
What they said 2: The Pedro trade happening was incredible, but it was also a good decision to let him walk. Walking down memory lane, we can remember his fourth start in a Sox uniform, against a murderer’s row of Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton, and David Justice. This posted was at the game. For the first time, he left without a lead, and he looked disheartened. He got raucous cheers from the fans, as flags representing his home country waved all around him. In this moment Pedro looked up and around, and connected with the fans at Fenway, and truly appreciated them.
I’ve written so many words about Pedro Martinez at this point, that it is probable I’m just regurgitating my own words back again, but Pedro Martinez is bar none, my favorite pitcher to ever play for the Red Sox, and potentially my favorite player to ever play for the Red Sox (ok, that’s a lie, it’s probably Manny Ramirez).
Pedro Martinez was a special player. Players who are under six feet tall, who don’t throw 100 MPH, who don’t have curveballs that go from chest high to the dirt, who don’t have insane deception to their motion just didn’t succeed in the 90’s/2000’s. Pedro Martinez was all of those things. Standing at 5’11”, with a fastball that topped out at around 98 MPH, and several above average pitches (his changeup stood out), Pedro made his money off of historically excellent command of his pitches. It’s all well and good to be able to throw 100 mph, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t control it.
Over his time in Boston, there was only arguably one pitcher who was better than Pedro, and that’s largely because he threw so many more innings. The gap between the two at the top and the next tier of players was wide enough that it’s possible Pedro could have taken a season off, and that next tier wouldn’t catch him. In that next tier of players? Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, and Greg Maddux.
If Pedro had pitched at his high level for even a few more seasons, you might see more arguments for Pedro being the best pitcher of all time. However, injuries took their toll, and he had to settle for merely being a no-doubt first ballot Hall of Famer alongside the one man above him over his most dominant stretch. Oh well.
I won’t wax forever on my favorite acquisition, but I was fond of Jason Bay. Now don’t get me wrong, Jason Bay might not even be in the 50 best outfielders to play for the Red Sox (he actually ranks 44th in fWAR among all-time Red Sox OF despite playing only 200 games with the team) but he was always one of my favorite non Red Sox players when I was a younger fan of the game. There was really no reason for it. I mean, he swung a solid bat, hit some home runs, and did a decent job of putting the ball in play. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of J.D. Martinez (although I’d say J.D. is a bit stronger, obviously).
When the Red Sox traded for him, it was a combination of “holy crap, we actually got one of my favorite players” and “holy crap, we just traded one of my favorite players”. He was part of a three-team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers, and Bay back to Boston.
Bay only played for one and a half years in Boston, but those games were must-watch TV for 16-year-old me. He left as a free agent to the Mets (and had his career stall, then eventually decline, and end) after the 2009 season. Still, for 200 glorious games, I was happy to have one of my favorite players in Boston.