Ricky Gutierrez Gutierrez joined the Red Sox in mid-season in a trade with Iowa, the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate. We acquired him for a player to be named later, which turned out to be Jimmy Anderson. We sent that ineffective, soft-tossing, wannabe-Jamie Moyer back to the Cubs, which is a good thing. Ricky came over to shore up the infield backup position because Pokey Reese, Mark Bellhorn, Bill Mueller, and Kevin Youkilis had all been injured in some point in the season, all but Mueller in the latter part of the season.
He was “okay.” Okay enough to be a backup, but not a quality one. One, nonetheless. A .275/.310/.300 average in 40 at-bats, 21 games. He certainly filled a need, one of which we are grateful for.
Cesar Crespo As some people (lovingly?) call him, Cesar Crappo made the Opening Day roster. He had seen time with the Padres before, in 2001 and 2002. With playing time in Triple-A, Cesar has always shown enough to be thought of as a fine utility player, but in limited major league time, has yet to stroke the ball well enough. He hit .165/.165/.215 in 79 at-bats for us this year, and .271/.333/.412 in regular playing time for Pawtucket. He has speed and defense and the 25-year old should become a top-notch utility player in the future. He had two stolen bases for the lead-trodden Red Sox. (Consider catcher Jason Varitek was second to Damon on the team with ten steals, and Dave Roberts had 39 steals, 1 caught stealing in 68 games for the Dodgers and 5 SBs and 2 CS for the Sox in 45 games.)
Pokey Reese POKEY FOR PRESIDENT! Reese stole a lot of hearts in Boston this year, and will be missed because of his awe-inspiring defense. A shame he thinks his bat is good enough to be a starter, because he is really at this point in time, a platoon player and super utility guy at best. Also sure doesn’t help that he’s injury prone, but what a pick he made against the Dodgers when one of their batters scorched a line drive well above Pokey’s head. He also made a sensational catch in the game where Derek Jeter flew over the stands AFTER catching Trot Nixon’s fair pop-up. Reese ranged all the way to foul territory by the dugout and made a twisting grab in foul territory. And yet Jeter catches a fair pop-up by the jutting stands and literally runs and launches himself in the stands. Oh well, Pokey has a 2004 ring, Jeter doesn’t.
In 224 AB (Pokey started at short for us while Nomar was out) he hit .221/.271/.303 and had a game in which he hit a regular home-run and an inside-the-park job against the Royals.
Mark Bellhorn The former 27-homer guy for the Cubs in 2002 struggled in 2003, losing his starting job for the Cubs and becoming a bit player for the Rockies later that year. He had always shown promise, and 2002 seemed to show he had arrived. The Red Sox picked him up on the cheap by the Rockies and installed him as their hitter. While he struck out an ungainly 177 times in 523 AB, he also had 138 hits, and 88 walks. Bellhorn quickly became known for either striking out, walking, or homering. He had 17 HRs to go with a .264/.373/.444 line and exhibited solid defense. He comes off the bag on a double play like a firstbaseman, staying at the bag and challenging the runner. I remember reading that Lynn Jones, our first base coach, had mentioned this and said it improves double play accuracy so much, and that Bellhorn had a high conversion rate.
So thanks to Ricky for shoring up our infield when we needed it, Cesar for making the Opening Day roster, Pokey for being a defensive whiz, and Bellhorn for that Game 6 homer against the Yankees in the ALCS and Game 1 winning job in the World Series – both off the rightfield foul pole.