Because I had so much fun -- and judging by the feedback, you did too -- when I put together last week's quiz on the 2002 Red Sox based on that year's player writeups in the Baseball Prospectus annual, I figured why not do something similar again as a quick post while I'm working on a couple other projects as Opening Day finally nears.
This time, though, I'm throwing in a curveball. These excerpted and partial write-ups come from the 1997 Baseball Prospectus annual.
The twist is that not one of those referenced played even an inning for the Red Sox before the 1997 season began -- all but one were with other organizations -- but all won at least one World Series ring in Boston.
[Update: Savvy reader Michael H. notes that one of the players mentioned did play briefly for the Sox during 1996 -- he had all of four at bats. Will you know him when you see him? Gammons in the background there might go 10 for 10. Let's see if you can too.]
Got it? Good. Go. Answers are after the jump.
1. "A very nice little ballplayer. Gets on base well, which is something the Giants sorely and desperately need, can fill in competently at second baseman, and is a dynamite third baseman.''
TATB clue: Tipping you off to his team should be clue enough, but here's one more, sort of: Red Sox fans rarely agree on everything -- it still boggles my mind that some don't adore Pedro Martinez -- but I've never heard from a Red Sox fan who didn't like this guy as a player.
2. "He and Ismael Valdes are the two best 25-and-under pitchers in the game."
TATB clue: Beyond the 1997 season, Ismael Valdes won a total of 63 games. This pitcher won 155, including 117 against 37 losses with the Red Sox. Eighty games over .500! Eighty!
3. "Another pure hitter with no outstanding talents away from the plate. ... He doesn't have the benefit of a high draft position; _______ spent a year in the Northern League before the Marlins signed him as a free agent.''
TATB clue: "Don't let us win tonight ..."
4. "The back injury that ruined his 1994 season apparently had a residual effect. ________ still has good plate discipline, but no longer hits for power. This has killed his prospect status ... he'll be hard-pressed to get it back.''
TATB clue: The one player on this list who was in the Red Sox organization at the beginning of the '97 season, he got his power back, hitting a career-high 28 homers in 2003.
5 "________ has a fairly unique batting style; when he makes contact with the ball, so much weight is on his front foot that his back foot hardly touches the ground. .... He has an awkward running motion, but he's a terrific center fielder and basestealer.''
TATB clue: What, no mention that he threw like he was trying to make himself ambidextrous?
6. "For whatever reason, __________ gets belittled in the press for imagined weight problems, which one way or another haven't affected his hitting. Like Jose Canseco or Darryl Strawberry, he also gets put down on defense more than his actual skill justifies."
TATB clue: Never thought of him as overweight, but his defense was pretty shaky. And the bat justified all of it.
7. "_______ was a 57th-round draft pick, but his low pedigree hasn't stopped the Tigers from calling him one of their top prospects. He was an intense weightlifter, but has toned it down since he was drafted. ... If he stays healthy, he could progress very, very quickly."
TATB clue: Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
8. "Arias was voted the Midwest League's best defensive first baseman and No. 6 prospect, and the Mariners likely will start him in AA next year. He showed a lot of different skills for a guy so young, so ignore him at your own risk.''
TATB clue: The first clue is in the comment -- Arias is no longer his last name. The second clue? There must have been a lot of future DHs playing first base in the Midwest League in 1996.
9. "His second season with a wood bat was discouragingly like his first, not what anyone expected from one of the greatest catchers in college history. ... he's 25, and his star potential is almost gone.''
TATB clue: In 1995, he was in Double A in the same organization in which Alex Rodriguez was in Triple A.
10. "Like most high school pitchers who don't live up to expectations, injuries have played a role. His draft position may give him a few extra opportunities, but it's unlikely he'll do anything with him.''
TATB clue: He actually wasn't a high draft pick -- an eight-rounder in 1991. He's still pitching. And he made the most of the opportunities, particularly in his final glorious days with the Red Sox.
1. Bill Mueller
2. Pedro Martinez
3. Kevin Millar
4. Trot Nixon
5. Johnny Damon
6. Manny Ramirez
7. Gabe Kapler (I apologize for the "Welcome Back, Kotter" clue. So weak, but it's what I do.)
8. David Ortiz
9. Jason Varitek
10. Derek Lowe
"Throws so slow it's a wonder he's survived this long without a knuckleball. One of the better quotes this season came from Lou Piniella, who commented on Moyer by saying, "All young pitchers can learn from watching Moyer. When he gets in a jam, he doesn't try to get out of it by throwing harder." Despite a good season, he's not a safe bet; he's 34 and if his control isn't perfect, he's liable to get bombed.''
Moyer will be 50 in November, entering the 25th year of his major league career, and he is the Colorado Rockies' fifth starter. You know, maybe if Tim Wakefield didn't throw so hard, he'd have stuck around until age 46.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.