Watching the Tigers come to town with former Red Sox players Victor Martinez, Jose Iglesias (injured and out for the season), and Anibal Sanchez (injured, but returning next week), it got me thinking. There is a popular argument in regards to the Patriots and Bill Belichick's brilliance in knowing just when, sometimes controversially, to cut ties with his players. It goes like this: "Name me one player that Belichick has cut that has gone on to have a great career." For the longest time the only player that one could come up with was Greg Spires. Spires had a few good years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but even he wasn't that great.
So I decided to take a look around the major leagues and come up with a lineup of former Red Sox players (or farmhands) who went on to have decent success after leaving Boston.
Catcher-- Victor Martinez. Right off the bat I am taking some liberties with my list. V-Mart doesn't do much catching nowadays, if any. But he could. The Red Sox dealt Justin Masterson (you might see his name later) to get Martinez midway through 2009. Martinez played a little over a season (2009-10) in Boston, hitting over 20 home runs and batting over .300 each season. The Red Sox didn't re-sign him following the 2010 season. He hit .330 in his first season with Detroit in 2011 and is hitting .336 this year. He is the best switch-hitting catcher of all-time.
1B- Adrian Gonzalez. Theo Epstein coveted AGon for a long time before finally completing a trade with San Diego in December of 2010. Pitcher Casey Kelley and first baseman Anthony Rizzo were the key pieces the Red Sox shipped to the Padres. Kelly has had a tough time with injuries and Rizzo may make this list soon. As much as people around here may want to forget the AGon era, he remains one of the best hitting first basemen in the game. Red Sox fans just wish he showed a little more passion for the game when he was here in Boston. OK, a lot more.
2B- Jed Lowrie. The Legend of Jed Lowrie was a popular hashtag on Twitter when Lowrie first burst onto the scene in Boston in 2008. He had a hard time staying healthy in his four seasons in Boston and people questioned whether the fragile Lowrie could withstand a full season. Well, he played 154 games in 2013 while hitting .290 with 75 RBI for Oakland. He has been healthy this season, as well. He is just the type of overachieving player the AL West-leading Oakland A's have had a knack of finding.
SS- Hanley Ramirez. Hanley was the centerpiece prospect in a deal that landed Josh Beckett from the then-Florida Marlins in 2005. Oh yeah, third baseman Mike Lowell was a "throw in" in that deal. The trade happened during a short period where Theo Epstein "resigned" as general manager of the Red Sox. Maybe Theo wasn't entirely behind the deal. For good reason. It was one of those rare deals that helped both teams. Beckett and Lowell helped Boston win a World Series. Ramirez has gone on to have a great career. From 2006-2010, Hanley was one of the top two or three players in all of baseball. I'd be lying if I didn't say I wish I could have seen him in a Red Sox uniform during that time... and now.
3B- Adrian Beltre. Beltre signed with Boston in 2010 after a disappointing (and expensive) five-year run with Seattle. He only signed a one-year deal with Boston in the hopes of re-establishing his value. He did just that by hitting .321 and driving in 102 runs. Ironically, the market wasn't that great for Beltre as he was one of the last big name free agents to sign that offseason. The Red Sox made no effort to sign Beltre long-term. Instead, they chose Kevin Youkilis over Beltre as their third baseman going forward. Oops.
LF- David Murphy. I thought about choosing Carl Crawford, but instead decided to give respect to a workman-like career. Murphy was involved in the deal that brought Eric Gagne to Boston. Don't blame Murphy. Murphy has been a steady contributor ever since. In 2012, Murphy hit .304 for the Texas Rangers while hitting 15 home runs and stealing 10 bases. He is currently reunited with manager Terry Francona in Cleveland and playing regularly.
CF- Coco Crisp. Boy was Crisp fun to watch play defensively for Boston from 2006-2008. Before Jackie Bradley, Jr. came around, Crisp may have been the best defensive center fielder I've seen play for the Red Sox since Fred Lynn. Never known as a power hitter, Crisp hit 22 home runs for Oakland last year. He stole as many as 49 bases in 2011.
RF- Josh Reddick. There was a time in 2012 when it looked like a huge mistake trading Reddick away for closer Andrew Bailey. Bailey never stayed healthy for Boston (no real surprise there), but Reddick went on to hit 32 home runs for Oakland in 2012. Reddick has never reached those lofty heights again, but he was able to grow a wicked beard.
DH- Brandon Moss. Why do all these guys play for the Oakland A's now? Did I mention the A's are in first place in the AL West? Moss' first career home run came in Japan on Opening Day in 2008 for the Red Sox. Midway through the 2008 season, Moss got traded to Pittsburgh in a deal that landed outfielder Jason Bay in Boston. Moss, seemingly, disappeared from the scene for a few seasons only to emerge in a big way in 2012 by hitting 21 home runs in only 265 at-bats in his first season with Oakland. In 2013, he hit 30 home runs and drove in 87 runs. Still only 30 years old, Moss could keep on rolling.
Starting pitcher- Justin Masterson. Told you you would see his name again. It is hard to believe Masterson is still only 29 years old. It feels like forever since he pitched in Boston. He was used primarily as a reliever in his two years (2008-2009) in Boston. It took him a few years to settle into his role as ace of the Indians pitching staff, but he had his best year in 2013, going 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA and striking out 195 batters.
Starting pitcher- Anibal Sanchez. I forgot to mention earlier that Sanchez was included in the Hanley Ramirez-Josh Beckett deal. Sanchez has always shown signs of greatness. In 2006, Sanchez threw a no-hitter. Consistency was always a problem. Sanchez found his groove when he arrived in Detroit. In 2013, he went 14-8 with a league-best 2.57 ERA and 202 strikeouts.
Closer- Jonathan Papelbon. I was tempted to put Daisuke Matsuzaka here because, you know, he is in the running to be the closer for the New York Mets. No, seriously! Many were writing Papelbon's baseball obituary prior to this season, but he continues to get the job done. Despite not being very well liked in Philadelphia (but neither is Santa Claus), he has 11 saves this year while sporting a 1.76 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. He, famously, once said he would not accept a hometown discount to stay with Boston because he felt it was his obligation to future generations of players to set the bar as high as he could, financially. While he'll never be compared to Mariano Rivera, the 33-year-old Papelbon is only three saves shy of 300 in his career.
1. Coco Crisp- CF
2. Hanley Ramirez- SS
3. Adrian Gonzalez- 1B
4. Adrian Beltre- 3B
5. Victor Martinez- C
6. Brandon Moss- DH
7. Josh Reddick- RF
8. David Murphy- LF
9. Jed Lowrie- 2B