The title of this post is an expression I made up years ago. It refers to a veteran player (with a couple of special exceptions) that burst onto the Boston scene, and then after only a single season, or partial season, go back out the door as quickly as they came in. Here are the Nick Esasky All-Stars.
First Base- Nick Esasky 1989 Age 29 30 HR 108 RBI .277 BA 154 Games
Who else to start with? Nick had had a solid six seasons with his original team, the Reds. The highest totals in the HR/RBI/BA categories in Cincinnati were 22/66/.272 (not in the same year). On December 13, 1988 at the winter meetings, the Reds traded Esasky and lefty reliever Rob Murphy to Boston for pitcher Jeff Sellers and 1B-OF Todd Benzinger. Esasky, an impending free agent, put up the monster 1989 campaign (including 26 doubles and 5 triples) and was expected to sign to be the Sox first sacker for years to come. But the Braves swooped in and signed him to a (then) large 3 year 5.6 million dollar contract (my how the salaries have exploded in 25 years). But Esasky was unbelievably only nine games from the end of his career when he signed that deal. Nine games into 1990, with only six singles contributed to the Braves offense, Esasky had bouts of severe vertigo. Although he was signed through 1992, Esasky never played again after April 21, 1990.
Second Base- Todd Walker 2003 Age 30 13 HR 85 RBI .283 BA 144 games
Another player traded to Boston by Cincinnati, this veteran had played seven seasons for the Twins, Rockies, and Reds. He was traded to Boston in December of 2002 for minor leagues Josh Thigpen and Tony Blanco. Walker, who added 38 doubles to his offensive output, helped the Red Sox get to the 7th game of the ALCS and one bad Grady Little decision from the World Series. In that fateful ALCS with New York, Walker hit .370 with ten hits, including a double, a triple, and two solo home runs. At age 30, it seemed Todd Walker would be with the Red Sox for several more seasons. But Walker was a free agent, and the Sox showed little interest and on December 16 they traded for Rockies second baseman Mark Bellhorn. Three weeks later, Walker signed with the Chicago Cubs, for about half of the amount of his Boston contract. Todd played four more seasons with the Cubs, Padres, and A's.
Third Base- Adrian Beltre 2010 Age 31 28 HR 102 RBI .321 BA 154 Games
The top competitor with Nick Esasky for naming rights to this team. Beltre, who broke in to the big leagues at age 19 with the Dodgers, had played 12 seasons with LA and Seattle before signing for one year 9M with Boston. It was an attempt by Beltre and his agent Scott Boras to rebuild his value after years in the unfriendly hitters park in Seattle. Boy, did it work. Although Beltre has had higher totals in home runs and RBI before and since his Red Sox days, the outstanding 2010 season (including an AL leading 49 doubles) did land him the big payday. The Red Sox had traded for another Adrian, Mr. Gonzalez, after the 2010 campaign, and planned on moving Kevin Youkilis back to third to make room at first for Gonzalez. Little did they know then that Beltre, who got his cash from Texas, 6 years, 86M, would be going strong in the AL still, while Youkilis', who left Boston in 2012, playing days are basically over(as he tries to catch on in Japan).
Shortstop (tie)- Orlando Cabrera 2004 Age 29 6 HR 31 RBI .294 BA 58 Games
Stephen Drew 2013 Age 30 13 HR 67 RBI .253 BA 124 Games
How can you choose between two shortstops who were both on the field when their respective Red Sox teams won the World Series? First let's look at Cabrera.
Cabrera came over to the Red Sox from the Expos in the famous four team deal at the last stroke before the July 31st trade deadline. Sox icon Nomar Garciaparra went to the Cubs in the same deal, and Orlando took over as everyday shortstop for the remainder of the curse busting ride. Although, he made eight errors with a .966 fielding %, Cabrera was steady enough. In the post season, he hit .379 in the famous comeback ALCS win over the Yankees. But in the World Series sweep of St. Louis, Cabrera only contributed a .235 BA. At his relatively young age, it was expected he would be a long term Nomar replacement. But amid some murky, never explained to this day, rumors of an unsettling off the field issue, the Red Sox instead signed World series rival shortstop, free agent Edgar Renteria (who himself would qualify for this one and done Sox career team). Cabrera, also a free agent, then signed with the Angels. He went on to play in the majors until 2011 with several different clubs.
Drew, the younger brother of former Sox right fielder, JD Drew(which the Red Sox fans never forgave Stephen for) was signed as a free agent from Oakland the day after Christmas 2012. Drew had been traded to Oakland during the 2012 season, by his original team, Arizona. Drew had been a star, young shortstop with the Dbacks until a gruesome broken leg in 2010. After missing the early part of 2013, with an injury, Drew took over as the everyday shortstop for Boston. All year long he provided sterling defense and pop in his bat. Throughout the championship post season, the sterling D remained, but the bat disappeared. In 54 postseason at bats, Drew had 6 hits. After the season, the Red Sox made a qualifying offer of 14.1M to keep Drew for one more year. Drew and his agent, Scott Boras, declined making Drew a restricted free agent. And as of today, May 10, he is still looking for a job. The Red Sox have committed to young shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, and have seemingly moved on.
Left Field- Cliff Floyd 2002 Age 29 7 HR 18 RBI .316 BA 47 Games
Floyd, the 14th overall pick in the first round of the 1991 draft by Montreal, had played his entire career before joining Boston, with two teams: the Expos and Marlins. Floyd debuted with Montreal in 1993 and played there until 1997 when traded to Florida. Five years later on July 11, 2002, the Fish traded Floyd back to Montreal. Nineteen days later, a day before the trade deadline, he was shipped to Boston for pitchers Sun-Woo Kim and Seung Song. Floyd split his 47 game Red Sox career between left and right fields and DH (the majority in left). Among his strong offensive numbers were a .374 OBP and .935 OPS. The Sox did not make the post season as hoped, and Floyd that winter moved on as free agent to the Mets. Cliff played seven more big league seasons, with several stops, including the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, who played in the ALCS that year versus defending World Champs, Boston.
Center Field- Otis Nixon 1994 Age 35 0 HR 25 RBI .274 BA 103 Games
Otis Nixon had played in several organizations at the minor and major league level (including as a Maine Guide in Old Orchard Beach) before getting regular big league time with Atlanta. On December 7, 1993 the Red Sox signed Otis as a free agent and handed him their center field job. Nixon was known for one thing ( okay, two things, but I was not going to mention one is he looked like an ugly, sixty year old man): his speed. And that was a rarity in Boston. Playing 103 games in center field (of only 115 game strike-shortended season of '94), Otis stole 42 bases. At the time that was tied for the fourth highest Sox single season (tied with Tris Speaker's 42 in 1914), surpassed only by then team record holder Tommy Harper and two other Speaker seasons. It is still tied for seventh highest, with three Jacoby Ellsbury seasons besting Nixon's. During the strike, (which wiped out the 1994 post season including the World Series along with the last two months of the regular season), on December 9th, the Red Sox traded Nixon along with 3B prospect Luis Ortiz to Texas for Jose Canseco.
Right Field- Cody Ross 2012 Age 31 22 HR 81 RBI .267 130 Games
Cody was a real fan favorite, and one of the only bright spots in the beyond dismal 2012 debacle of a season. After making his MLB debut on the Fourth of July, 2003 with Detroit, Ross bounced around the National League. His career highlight was a post season starring role with San Francisco in 2010. In January 2012, Boston signed Ross as a free agent, expecting him to be a fourth outfielder. But Ross exceeded those expectations, while he did play all three outfield spots, he became the every day right fielder. Ross, who is one of the few Red Sox outfielders (along with Rickey Henderson) who batted right handed while throwing with his left, hit the only walk off home run of the poor 2012 season. Ross, who professed his love for playing in Boston hoped to sign a new multi year deal as a free agent that winter. But the Red Sox shopped the market and instead of re-upping Ross signed free agent outfielders Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino. Those decisions seemed baffling in the winter of '12-'13, but it certainly ended very well for Ben Cherington and all of Red Sox Nation. Cody, signed his desired three year deal, but with Arizona not Boston. Ross was injured before the 2013 ended, making Ben's outfield choices look even better.
Catcher- Mike MacFarlane 1995 Age 31 15 HR 51 RBI .225 BA 115 Games
The catcher had spent his whole career of eight seasons with the Kansas City Royals until he signed as a free agent with Boston, as the 1994-95 strike ended, on April 8, 1995. MacFarlane was one of several veterans brought to Boston, via free agency or trade, to refurbish the Red Sox into a contender. MacFarlane, as regular catcher, helped make that plan come true as the Sox won the AL East under first year manager, Kevin Kennedy. MacFarlane helped the cause by throwing out 35% of would be base stealers (above the league average of 31%). After the Red Sox lost to Cleveland in the post season, MacFarlane signed as a free agent to go back to the Royals. He finished his career with KC and the A's.
DH- Orlando Cepeda 1973 Age 35 20 HR 86 RBI .289 BA 142 Games
This Hall of Famer terrorized the National League with the Giants, Cardinals( facing the Impossible Dream Red Sox in '67 World Series), and Braves from 1958 to 1973. Although he could still hit as the numbers above attest (plus a .350 OBP), his knees were shot and the new fangled American DH rule, where no fielding was involved, seemed perfect for Cepeda and other aging sluggers. Two years later Henry Aaron would join the party as DH for the Brewers. Cepeda played in the first game in major league history to use a DH, April 6, 1973 at Fenway versus the Yankees. Ron Blomberg of New York got to the plate before Cepeda earning the permanent place in baseball trivia as the first DH to appear in a game. Cepeda only gets the Buzz Aldrin Award, and by the way the Sox got the win 15-5. Despite the very productive 1973 turned in by Orlando, at the end of spring training 1974, new manager Darrell Johnson decided he wanted a younger looking team and released both Cepeda and fellow Hall of Famer to be, shortstop Luis Aparicio. Aparicio never played again, but the following August, the Royals signed Cepeda to bolster their pennant drive. After 33 games in KC, Cepeda retired.
Utility- Bill Hall 2010 Age 30 18 HR 46 RBI .247 BA 120 Games
The one time young star second baseman of the Brewers joined the Red Sox on January 7, 2010 in a trade with Seattle for Casey Kotchman. Milwaukee had traded Hall to the Mariners during the 2009 season, and when Hall joined the Sox, he was still playing under a four year multi million deal signed with the Brewers. In 2010 Hall earned 8.525M, 7.15M of which was still paid by the Brewers. It does not always work out when you sign your stars early in their careers. Hall, for Boston, truly earned the Utility designation. He played at every position except first base and catcher. Yes, he even pitched, May 28 versus the Royals Bill threw a 1-2-3 ( three groundouts) scoreless ninth in a 12-5 loss to KC. On December 20, 2010 Hall signed with Houston as a free agent, and went on to play for the Giants and Orioles. Hall has not played a big league game since 2012.
Pinch Runner- Dave Roberts
The stat line is not really needed, Dave Roberts is remembered and always will be for "The Steal" off Mariano Rivera and the Yankees to help win Game Four of the 2004 ALCS creating the spark that started the fire that lead to the 2004 title. Roberts knew how to steal a base, from 02-04 with the Dodgers (who traded Roberts to Boston for minor league outfielder Henri Stanley on July 31st) and Boston, Roberts had 123 steals. After the duck boat parades had ended, on December 20, the Sox traded Roberts to San Diego for a package including Jay Payton. From 05-08, Roberts played two seasons each for the Padres and Giants. After surviving cancer, Roberts is these days the first base coach for San Diego.
Starting Pitcher #1- Hideo Nomo 2001 Age 32 13-10 W/L 4.50 ERA 33 GS 220 K
Hideo Nomo began his Red Sox career like no one else in Red Sox history. After the Tigers released Hideo, the Red Sox signed him on December 15, 2000. On April 4, 2001 Nomo took the mound at Camden Yards for his first Red Sox start. All he did was throw a no hitter versus Baltimore. It was the first no hitter by a Red Sox hurler since Dave Morehead in September 1965. It was also Nomo's second career no hitter. On September 17, 1996, while a Dodger phenom, Nomo had no-hit the Rockies at Coors Field. With his 2001 gem, Nomo (at the time) became only the fourth pitcher to throw a no hitter in both leagues ( Cy Young, Jim Bunning, and Nolan Ryan....Randy Johnson would join the fraternity in later years). Nomo lead the American League that year in strikeouts with his 220 in 198 innings pitched. After bouncing around since his Dodger glory days, Nomo had rebuilt his reputation and on December 21, 2001 he returned to the Dodgers as a free agent. Hideo pitched in the show until 2008 when he finished his career with the Royals.
Starting Pitcher #2- Erik Hanson 1995 Age 30 15-5 W/L 4.24 ERA 29 GS 139 K
Hanson was another of the wave of veterans added to the team that went on to win the AL East. Hanson, despite the presence of Roger Clemens, was the de facto ace of the staff. Signed on April 11, 1995 post-strike, as a free agent from the Reds, Erik's career until 1994 had been spent as Seattle's ace.
In the 1995 ALDS, Hanson pitched a complete game in Game Two versus Cleveland, however he took the 4-0 loss as the Sox were swept by the Tribe. That winter, as a precursor to Clemens one year later, Hanson signed as a free agent with Toronto. Hanson pitched in Canada from 96-98 before ending his carer with the Jays.
Starting Pitcher #3- Frank Tanana 1981 Age 27 4-10 W/L 4.01 ERA 23 GS 78 K
The one time fireballing strikeout king, who broke in with the Angels at age 19, had been robbed of the fastball by arm injuries at only age 27 when he joined Boston. He came over to Boston from his original Angels team in the winter of 1980 along with outfielder Joe Rudi (who also spent his only season for the Sox in '81). In exchange the tight wad Red Sox sent Fred Lynn to the Angels, in a deal that many people, most of all, Fred Lynn deeply regret. But despite the lopsided trade, the Red Sox got value from Tanana in 1981. After winning between 14-18 games annually from 1974-78 with his overpowering stuff, by 1981 Tanana had learned to pitch without it. Despite the poor 4-10 W/L record ( the team helped with that), Tanana not only had a respectable 4.01 ERA, but also threw five complete games including two shutouts. On January 6, 1982 Tanana signed a free agent deal with Texas ( leaving the Sox with nothing for Fred Lynn). Despite looking like his career was at a crossroads, Tanana pitched until 1993. He pitched several years for each Texas and Detroit, and in his final year, Frank pitched for both New York teams. Tanana finished his career with 240 wins and. 236 losses. 476 decisions!!
Starting Pitcher #4- Jamie Moyer 1996 Age 33 7-1 W/L 4.50 ERA 23 games ( 10 GS)
On January 2, 1996 with little fanfare, the Red Sox signed pitcher Jamie Moyer to a free agent deal. He was expected to bolster the staff as a spot starter and bullpen guy. He did both with 13 appearances from the pen, but by mid season had gotten hot and rolled up his 7-1 record, mostly as a starter. The '96 Sox had slumped back from the division winning '95 season, so at the trade deadline, the Sox decided to rebuild some. On July 30, the day before the trade deadline, the Sox traded the aging Moyer to Seattle for young 26 year old outfielder, Darren Bragg. Bragg did bring a spark with his reckless style of play, but the bottom line is Bragg's career ended eight years later in 2004..... eight years before Moyer's ended in 2012 at age 49! After being traded by Boston, Moyer won another 197 games ( of his career total 269). Jamie won 139 games for Seattle and another 56 for the Phillies before winning a couple more for the Rockies in 2012 as his career ended one year shy of age 50.
Starting Pitchers #5- Don Aase 1977 Age 22 6-2 W/L 3.12 ERA 13 GS 4 CG 2 Shutouts
Mike Paxton 1977 Age 23 10-5 W/L 3.83 ERA 12 GS 2 CG 1 Shutout
These two are paired together as the #5 starter for two reasons. First they are the exception to the rule I mentioned WAY back in the brief intro to this opus. They were not veterans brought in from other MLB teams. They were from the Red Sox very own system, a system that overflowed with great young kids throughout the 1970's. Aase, especially was the golden boy of pitching prospects at that time. The other thing both have in common(and is why they are on this team) is they were both gone from Boston by Opening Day 1978. Aase (at the time third on the all time alphabetical list of big leaguers behind Hank Aaron and his brother Tommie....David Aardsma, also a candidate for this team has since passed them all) went first in a winter meetings deal with the Angels. Aase, a native of Anaheim was traded straight up for a Greater Boston native, 24 year old second baseman speedster Jerry Remy. Remy even at his young age had been the starting second sacker for the Halos for three complete seasons and was expected to anchor the middle of the Sox infield for years to come with shortstop Rick Burleson. But while Burleson put three more solid seasons in Beantown, due to contractual issues was traded ironically to the Angels by 1981. And after the 99 win 1978 super team season, Remy missed most of 1979 and 1980 with the beginning of knee injuries that would end his career in 1984. Aase pitched in the big leagues until 1990 but in all that time only won sixty more games after his six in 1977 for Boston.
Paxton made it through the winter of 77-78, but during 1978 spring training, the rumors began that the always down trodden Cleveland Indians may be enticed to trade their 23 year old ace pitcher Dennis Eckersley. Near the end of training camp, the deal went down. Eckersley and veteran catcher Fred Kendall would come to Boston for veteran pitcher Rick Wise, and three youngsters: catcher Bo Diaz, third baseman Ted Cox (the only player in Boston team history whose first and last names together rhyme with Red Sox), and Mike Paxton were going to Cleveland. Trading a young pitcher like Paxton was a no brainer...he was actually a full year older than the Eck, who had won 40 games in his three year stint in the Cleveland rotation (and went 20-8 for Boston in '78). Paxton, unlike Aase, did not have a long career. He won 20 games in 1978 and 1979 combined, but after pitching a few winless games for Cleveland in 1980, he went back to the minors for '80 and '81 and retired in 1981.
Closer- Rick Aguilera 1995 Age 33 2-2 W/L 2.67 ERA 23 K 30 G 30.1 IP 20 Saves
Once it became clear the newcomers added to the 1995 Red Sox were contending, the front office saw a need to shore up the end of the bullpen. On July 6th, the Red Sox acquired their needed closer, but at the cost of their uber-prospect pitcher Frankie Rodriguez. Aguilera brought his veteran presence to the end of games and put up the numbers listed above, helping the Sox to the '95 AL East crown. In the ALDS, Aguilera got into only one game in which he allowed three hits and a run in 2/3 innings pitched. As a free agent, Aguilera, the following December, returned to the Twins. At the time, there was much hand wringing and debating if acquiring Aguilera and winning the division, but being swept out of the playoffs was worth the cost of Frankie Rodriguez. It turns out the answer was likely, yes. Frankie won five games for the Twins in '95 and went 13-14 in '96. After that from 1997-2001 Rodriguez went 11-17 for the Twins, Mariners, and Reds, and by age 29 was out of baseball.
Manager- Jack Barry 1917 90-62 W/L 2nd in American League
I was really hoping not to have to pick Bobby Valentine for this spot. It turns out Valentine is one of four Red Sox skippers to have managed just one full season in Boston, and all of the other three are " Hall of Famers". Two Cooperstown Hall of Fame players are on the list. Frank Chance, Cubs first baseman, lead the 1923 Sox to a 61-91 record. Bucky Harris, a Washington Senators second baseman, managed in the major leagues from 1924 until 1956. Only one of those years was at the helm in Boston: 1934, a .500 campaign of 76-76.
Jack Barry himself was an accomplished major league player. He played in five World series, four with Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's and in 1915 with Boston. Barry was the shortstop in the nicknamed " $100,000 Infield" in Philly with first baseman Stuffy McInnis, second baseman Eddie Collins( later a long time Sox GM under Tom Yawkey), and third baseman Frank "Home Run" Baker. Mack sold Barry to Boston in 1915 as a player and in 1917 Barry became a player-manager for the Red Sox. The reason Barry only managed one year in Boston despite winning 90 games is that he and a number of his players joined the Navy and went off to the Great World War (it was not called World War I until World War II came along) in January 1918. In 1918 Ed Barrow had taken over as manager and the Sox won the World Series. With the managerial position no longer available, Barry returned in 1919 after the war as a player. But Barry got off to a poor start and rather risk being sold off by owner Harry Frazee, he decided to retire. In 1921 Jack Barry became the head baseball coach at his alma mater, the College of Holy Cross. He held this coaching job until 1961. In 2007 the initial class of the College Baseball Hall of Fame was named and Jack Barry became a "Hall of Famer" as a member of this first group of inductees.
Special Pitchers Category- Bruce Kison 1985 Age 35 5-3 W/L 4.11 ERA 22 Games (9 GS)
Tom Seaver 1986 Age 41 5-7 W/L 3.80 ERA 16 GS
David Cone 2001 Age 38 9-7 W/L 4.31 ERA 25 GS
John Smoltz 2009 Age 42 2-5 W/L 8.33 ERA 8 GS
This group of outstanding ( 2 HOFers in Seaver, Smoltz) hurlers pitched all or part of the last year( or in Cone's case next to last year) of their careers in Boston. Kison, the least renowned of the group, but a very good pitcher for Pittsburgh and the Angels, retired after pitching well in 1985. Seaver, was traded to Boston from the White Sox for Steve Lyons on June 29, 1986 and helped push the Sox to the 1986 World Series, but his body broke down before the finish line, and baseball fans missed the treat of seeing Tom Terrific pitch against the Mets, his original team. David Cone , known for his days with the Royals and both New York teams, joined Boston as a free agent after pitching in the 2000 World Series for the Yanks versus the Mets. After sitting out 2002, Cone ended his career with five games in 2003 with the Mets. Smoltz pitched poorly in his half season stop in Boston at age 42 in 2009. The Sox shipped him off to St. Louis where his career ended.
There are the Nick Esasky All-Stars, I hope you enjoyed the ride through Red Sox history.