“Red Sox fans have been pushed to the brink over the years, but that's how faith grows stronger.” — Juliana Baggott
Well, the pity party and faith excuse doesn’t really work for the Boston Red Sox after winning three World Series titles since 2004. But the Royal Rooters are as loyal as they come. With the Red Sox on pace for another winning season and another postseason appearance, it’s becoming easier and easier to forget about the curse and Grady Little’s bullpen management.
Today, though, let’s revisit players who may have been around during the curse and who may–or may not–have played for the Red Sox in recent years. Taking a look at players who have played since 2000, can you figure out which of them wore Red Sox colors and which didn’t?
Because baseball is a game of stats, I think it’s important to put a quick disclaimer here regarding the usage of some stats for this article. While traditional stats like wins and home runs will be used, I will also mention some advanced stats that include the following:
OPS: On-base plus slugging
WAR: Wins Above Replacement (the Baseball-Reference version).
FIP (Fielder’s Independent Pitching).
That’s the last time I’ll be putting a disclaimer like that in a quiz. So, if you’re becoming a loyal reader of these (we hope so!), you’ll know the plan going forward.
If you’re ready, grab your David Ortiz jersey, plan your trip to Harvard Yard, and let’s do our best not to get kicked out of Fenway Park for drinking too much...or choking Wally the Green Monster.
We start our list with, potentially, one of this generation's more underrated superstars–yes, that's a thing–in Dodgers' first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez. Donning the cover of Sony San Diego's 'MLB 12: The Show', Gonzalez has provided a solid bat and Gold Glove defense for his various teams over the years, although he'll likely be most remembered for his prime years in San Diego from 2006-10. If only instant replay existed in that 2007 Wild Card playoff game. Was Gonzalez ever in a Red Sox uniform?
A former National League West counterpart of Gonzalez, Haren was more of a journeyman than people seem to remember him for, although most people will remember the All-Star for his time in Oakland and Arizona from 2006-10. Once a top-pitching prospect with the St. Louis Cardinals, Haren carved out a nice career for himself, even coming close to the World Series in 2015 with the Chicago Cubs. But, before taking his talents to Chicago, was Haren a member of the Red Sox?
Our first ex-Yankees star to make it to this list, Soriano was also more of a journeyman than people seem to remember him for—that is, if playing for four teams (and two separate stints with the Yankees) works as being called a journeyman. An All-Star second baseman and outfielder who joined the 40-40 club in 2006 with the Nationals, Soriano never seems to get the credit he deserves. Although, that may likely be because of his big contract with the Cubs. We know Soriano played for the Yankees, Nationals, and Cubs, but what about the Red Sox?
Another All-Star infielder (I promise, we'll get to some different positions sooner rather than later), Tejada broke into the big leagues and became a star with the Oakland Athletics during their Moneyball days. In fact, Tejada actually won the American League MVP in 2002 over Alex Rodriguez...somehow. Voters must have liked Oakland's 20 game-winning streak. Tejada would shine with Baltimore and Houston later in his career, but bounced around at the end of his career. Did he ever stop in Boston?
BIG SEXY! While Bartolo Colon could very well be approaching the end of his career after struggles in 2017 with the Atlanta Braves, the journeyman right-hander has certainly had his moments. Between a 2005 American League Cy Young Award that he should not have won (seriously, the guy only won because he had 21 wins) and his plate appearances with the New York Mets from 2014-16, Colon is certainly something. But, did Big Sexy ever take his massive frame to the Red Sox?
More or less the distant cousin of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, Josh Johnson was among the National League's most dangerous pitchers in his prime with the Miami Marlins from 2006-11. A Cy Young contender when healthy, Johnson was a bright spot and a homegrown product that the team kept onto for a fairly long time by Marlins standards, spending 2005-12 with the Fish before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. Did Johnson ever spend time in a Boston Red Sox uniform?
The Doc is in the building, so we don't need to say too much, right? A two-time Cy Young winner with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, Halladay has a perfect game AND a no-hitter to his name, both of which came in 2010 (his first season with Philadelphia). Halladay's no-hitter against the Reds was the second postseason no-hitter in history, the first obviously being Don Larsen's perfect game against the Dodgers in 1956. Halladay was much better for his career than Larsen, but did the Red Sox get to see that firsthand?
Like Johnson, Erik Bedard certainly had flashes of brilliance when healthy–many figured him to be a potential Cy Young winner in 2007, but Cleveland's CC Sabathia (rightfully, Red Sox fans) took home that prize–but was plagued by injuries, especially after being traded to Seattle. I'm sure Seattle is regretting giving up Adam Jones and Chris Tillman for three seasons of Bedard, but we digress. Bouncing around at the end of his career, did Bedard ever land in Boston donning the Red Sox uniform?
One of the league's more underrated second baseman in the late 2000's, we definitely miss the O-Dog and his Gold Glove defense for the Arizona Diamondbacks. A vocal leader on and off the field (Hudson once drew controversy for suggesting out that there was racism towards black players in free agency), Hudson was a two-time All-Star for the Diamondbacks and won three Gold Gloves there. O-Dog would add a fourth in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. Did he ever flash the leather in Boston?
Alright, you can stop laughing now because, remember, before Jose Valverde became a meltdown machine, the guy was a dangerous closer in Arizona and Detroit. Best known for his perfect 2011 season and his streak of saving 51 consecutive games, Papa Grande was both wild and electric—two things you NEVER want to see from a closer. Valverde was also a bit of a crazy guy, but we'll shy away from that and focus on asking if he ever pitched in Boston.
Considering he played in the days of Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and the Molina brothers, we don't blame you for momentarily forgetting about Javy Lopez. An All-Star catcher with the Atlanta Braves instrumental to their case for being the team of the 1990's–you know, until the Yankees came along–Lopez was the NLCS MVP in 1996 and has won a World Series with the Braves in 1995. After leaving the Dirty South, did Lopez find himself in Boston for the Red Sox?
Another ex-Brave–although Renteria and Lopez were not teammates in Atlanta–this clutch postseason performer is forever beloved in Florida, St. Louis, and San Francisco. Detroit? Not so much. A five-time All-Star, Renteria walked off the 1997 World Series with an RBI single off Cleveland's Charles Nagy and went on to win the 2010 World Series MVP with the Giants. Also taking home two Gold Glove awards and three Silver Sluggers, why don't we talk more about Renteria? Did the Red Sox ever have him?
How Boston fans would have loved to have Andy Pettitte in the prime of his career, am I right? All of those times where the Red Sox couldn't pitch for their lives in the postseason, Pettitte was dominating for the rival Yankees, helping them to seven World Series in total and winning five. Pettitte was an All-Star lefty and, given the New York bias and his postseason success, could be looking at a Hall of Fame induction soon. Did he pitch in the postseason for Boston?
The Giambino has a special place in the heart of Red Sox fans, mostly because he hit two home runs off Pedro Martinez in game seven of the 2003 ALCS. Remember Grady Little's managing? How can Red Sox fans forget that? Although Giambi was involved in the BALCO scandal, he is one of the few PED users to remain beloved by the baseball world for hanging around and becoming a veteran leader with several teams. Oh, and that sweet mustache? He rocked that in 2008. Did the Red Sox ever have Giambi?
No, we didn't originally plan on Giambi, a fan favorite in Oakland, being followed by former Athletics ace Rich Harden...but it happened. Deal with it. Another extremely talented pitcher on this list who struggled with injuries, Harden broke into the big leagues with the A's and bounced around a bit more, even spending time on the 2010 Texas Rangers team that made it to the World Series. But, did the oft-injured Harden ever find himself shipping up to Boston? No regrets on that pun.
You see that smile right there? That's the smile of someone who gets to spend all of the time he wants with his kids while still getting paid. Although most people will probably remember Adam LaRoche for his sudden 2016 retirement after the White Sox told him he could no longer have his kid in the clubhouse, LaRoche was a durable power hitter in his prime, capable of big moments and swings. Were the Red Sox ever lucky enough to have him and Drake?
A former teammate of Soriano's and Harden's with the Chicago Cubs, Ramirez is unfortunately an extremely underrated third baseman from the steroid era, and we don't know why. Did you know that Ramirez hit the first grand slam in Chicago Cubs history? Fine, he's not Manny, but we want to show Aramis as much love as we can before he gets lost in the Hall of Fame voting process. Having had a rotating wheel of third baseman for years, was Ramirez ever a solution in Boston?
Mr. Jheri Curls himself–we've likely sadly seen the last of Bronson Arroyo–has worked his way back from age and injuries to return to the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds this year. But for a long time, Arroyo was a durable and consistent starter with the Reds. Although, that all changed when he joined the Diamondbacks for the 2014 season. An All-Star earlier in his career, did Arroyo and his luscious locks ever don a Red Sox uniform in Boston?
So, before he was a forgotten first baseman bouncing around from minor league town to major league city, Loney was actually a pretty popular option for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the late 2000's. Part of the youth brigade that also included Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Russell Martin in 2006, Loney's hot hitting in 2007 actually forced the Dodgers to move Nomar Garciaparra to the hot corner. When those days were long forgotten, was Loney a member of the Red Sox?
Yet ANOTHER–and certainly not the last nor least–All-Star pitcher plagued by injuries, Ben Sheets could have potentially had the greatest career than those other guys if he stayed healthy. Sure, Johnson has a case too; but Sheets was something special when he was healthy. Look up his 18 strikeout game against Atlanta–which he'd later pitch for in 2012–if you don't believe us. What a game that was to us. Were the Red Sox ever lucky enough to have a healthy Sheets?
Teammates with Sheets in 2010 with the Oakland Athletics, does anyone remember Bailey winning the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year? No? Well, he did; taking the award home over Elvis Andrus, who Bailey beat in WAR by a .1 ratio (3.7 to 3.6). Well, the voters were (hopefully) paying attention to advanced stats. So that works. Anyways, Bailey was beset by injuries at times, leading the Athletics to give up on him early. Did Bailey ever pitch for the Red Sox?
We talked about Uggla in a recent quiz talking about stars from the 2010's, but it can get depressing when you look back at his career statistics. Other than the jaw-dropping home runs and his 33-game hitting streak in 2011, is it fair to call Uggla more mediocre than we remember? An All-Star with the Marlins and Braves, don't get us wrong–Uggla definitely had his moments–but would he have the job security he had a decade ago today? Did Uggla ever experience that with the Red Sox?
The thing about calling Marlon Byrd a journeyman is that it's correct; but don't look at his Baseball-Reference page, see all of the teams on there, and think that Byrd was nothing more than a fourth outfielder for his whole career. There were times, believe it or not, when Byrd was a pretty reliable starting outfielder for the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs in the late 2000's to early 2010's. Were the Red Sox, who seemingly always had an injured outfield, ever employers of Byrd?
Well, we can't talk about Marlon Byrd's time in Texas without mentioning Josh Hamilton, especially not when one remembers that Rays manager, Joe Maddon, intentionally walked Hamilton with the bases loaded in 2008 to face Byrd. (Ah, just random memories that only baseball nerds will remember.) The American League's 2010 MVP, most of Hamilton's story–the substance abuse, the comeback, the glory days, and the fall–have already been told, but do you know whether or not the Red Sox ever have Hamilton at Fenway?
Currently working as a broadcaster for the New York Yankees on their YES Network, it's easy for a lot of people to forget that Cone played for more teams than just the Yankees and Kansas City Royals. Of course, Cone is remembered as a Yankee for his 1999 perfect game and his postseason success, but the point remains. The guy was a star with the Blue Jays too! Even if Cone 'only' threw one no-hitter for his career, did he ever come close with the Red Sox?
Will Vladimir Guerrero wind up in the Hall of Fame next year? Given that the man finished with 71.7 percent on his first year on the ballot, I'd have to think that he's a lock for next year. When Vladdy boy was playing in the big leagues, there were few more dangerous pure hitters; although the All-Star and his dreadlocks could hit bad balls with the best of them. How didn't Vlad get in on the first try? We're still upset about this. Did Vlad ever play for the Red Sox?
While Mets fans will shudder at reading this name, Bay's excellence with the Pittsburgh Pirates unfortunately gets forgotten as a result of his struggles in New York from 2010-12 (which, in his defense, are partially from concussion issues). An All-Star originally from Canada, Bay is a rare example of the established what-if, which is, 'what if he hadn't gotten a concussion in his first year with the Mets? Could he have turned it around?' Was Bay ever in a Red Sox uniform?
With one of the best recent nicknames in 'The Big Hurt', we all know that Thomas made a Hall of Fame case for himself while with the 'other' Sox team from 1990-2005 (and if you didn't know that, now you do). But, was Thomas ever in a Red Sox uniform? He didn't finish his career in Chicago; that much is for sure. This may be one of the harder ones on this list, honestly, but we have faith that you can get it right.
Do we really need to write anything about Ichiro that hasn't already been said? The all-time hit king when one combines Japan and America–much to the displeasure of Pete Rose and people who simply want to be ignorant–Ichiro could be in his final year with the Miami Marlins. Unfortunately for baseball fans, Ichiro may finally be reaching old age, hitting in the low .200s as of late June. Were the Red Sox ever had the lucky shot of having Ichiro?
A journeyman shortstop best known for his error in the 2003 National League Championship Series while with the Chicago Cubs, don't let that fool you into thinking that he was a below-average shortstop...at least when it came to the eye test. For his career, Gonzalez only totaled 9.2 WAR with four seasons that had a WAR of 1.5 or more. An All-Star in 2004, Gonzalez had clutch hits wherever he went, but were the Boston Red Sox one of those places?
The Flyin' Hawaiian himself, Victorino was a four-time Gold Glove winner and a two-time All-Star in his prime before injuries slowly took their toll on him, cutting his career short at age 34 in 2015. Best known for his time with the Phillies from 2005-12, Victorino won a World Series in 2008 and was a career .257/.337/.416 hitter in the postseason with seven home runs and 42 RBI over 60 games. Did the Red Sox ever benefit from Victorino's postseason heroics?
Do you remember Brandon Webb and how his career mysteriously ended because of injuries piling up after one bad start? We do, and we still miss Brandon Webb and his windup. One of the National League's top starters for the Diamondbacks from 2003-08, Webb seemed ready for another big season in 2009–a year after finishing second in the Cy Young voting–before a shoulder injury derailed him. Before retiring after the 2013 season, did Webb ever have a season with the Boston Red Sox to his name?
A teammate of Webb's in Arizona from 2003-04 and 2007-08, nothing needs to be said about Johnson that we don't already to know. Nicknamed 'The Big Unit', Johnson overcame control problems early in his career with the Expos to become a Cy Young Award winner with the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks. Throwing a perfect game in 2004, Johnson also spent time with the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. But did the Unit ever wear a Boston Red Sox uniform?
One of the more fun players in the big leagues and a constant clubhouse leader, would you have guessed, after struggles early in his career with Tampa Bay, that Jonny Gomes would become a star? Not an All-Star, fine; but Gomes was genuinely a star throughout his career before calling it quits after a stint in Japan last year. Having been a two-time World Champion, did Gomes win either of his titles–or ever even suited up–with the Boston Red Sox?
Certainly a future Hall of Famer and a player that–barring injury–should reach 3,000 hits this season, what Adrian Beltre has done in this decade, after struggling so mightily with the Seattle Mariners, is astounding. From 2010-16 alone, Beltre slashed .310/.359/.521 with 1,242 hits–that's an average of 177 a season–and 195 home runs, putting him within range of 3,000 hits and–potentially but unlikely–500 home runs. Did any of those hits ever come in a Red Sox uniform with Adrian Beltre donning it?