Players you may have forgotten were on the 2004 Red Sox
The drama surrounding the championship efforts of the 2004 Boston Red Sox team is now firmly etched in team and baseball lore. The trade of Nomar Garciaparra infused a change in team dynamics. The performance of Curt Schilling with particular emphasis on the bloody sock ad nauseam. Keith Foulke before he became synonymous with “Johnny from Burger King” closing out games. Those are the well known, but what about the not well known who cruised into Boston? Some for just a few games, but all contributing to a historic shattering of a curse.
Adam Hyzdu became a typical offseason signing. Another player providing outfield depth material when signed as a low priced free-agent. A former number one draft pick for the Giants (1990) that never quite materialized. Hyzdu can be classified as a “tweener” or 4-A player. Good enough for the high minors and the occasional foray into the majors. Hyzdu crushed it at Pawtucket (AAA) with 29 home runs and a .301 average in 2004.
The right-hand hitter received his September call-up. The hitting line was not spectacular, delivering 3-for-10 in 17 games. Hyzdu in a typical journeyman role whose duty was a late-inning replacement. Hyzdu didn’t make the postseason roster but on Opening Day he received his ring. A few seasons down the baseball path, Hyzdu went to Japan. One season and Hyzdu closed the ledger on his career. Today he has an RV dealership.
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Ricky Gutierrez – a first-round pick by the O’s (1990) – drifted around MLB for 12 seasons and six teams. The classic reserve infielder who finished with a career .266 average. Gutierrez played only 21 of his 1119 MLB games in Boston but got his ring. Boston picked up Gutierrez from the Cubs mid-season as infield insurance and he hit .275 in those 21 games. Boston also won 14 of those 21 games. Gutierrez was out of baseball after the season and is now a manager in the Reds system.
Continuing the saga of first-round picks is Dave McCarty. McCarty started on his baseball trek after being selected by the Twins in 1991. McCarty was with six organizations before being claimed off waivers from Oakland in 2003. In 2003 playing for Boston, McCarty hit .407 topping Ted Williams by one point. However, McCarty did it in 16 games.
In 2004, McCarty reached cult status in Boston primarily over his mound appearances. McCarty appeared in three games on the hill for 3.2 innings allowing one run and embarrassing four batters with whiffs. On the Red Sox circa 2021, McCarty could possibly be considered a viable bullpen option.
McCarty was a solid defensive player at first base and a rare right-hand hitter and lefty arm. Similar to Rickey Henderson absent the power and speed, but Rickey never pitched. McCarty hit .258 in 2004 with four home runs and 17 RBI. He appeared in just 13 games in 2005 before the inevitable happened and he was released. McCarty soon transitioned into NESN for the Red Sox for three seasons before returning home to his native California.
The Red Sox and Theo Epstein went to the baseball graveyard in June. A player released by the Royals team that would eventually lose 104 games. A player with a pitiful 8.04 ERA. That is usually a convincing figure for a 36-year-old pitcher that his baseball shelf life has expired. Righty Curt Leskanic still possessed some quality innings and it became much needed to a haggard Red Sox staff in a pennant race.
Leskanic pitched a crucial 1.2 innings in Game Four of the American League Championship Series collecting a win in that dramatic contest. Those would be his last innings in the majors. In two previous outings against the Yankees, Leskanic was roughed up.
For his Red Sox tenure, Leskanic appeared in 32 games and tossed 27.2 innings. Many of those innings were in high leverage situations. Leskanic got his ring on the opening day of 2005. Today Leskanic now owns and operates a medical spa.
Epstein was at the waiver wire again in early August and this time it was a veteran lefty, Mike Myers. Myers was a situational left-hander and his career statistics demonstrate that needed ability. Lefties hit just .219 but their right-handed brothers torch Meyers at a .301 clip.
In baseball jargon, Myers was a “LOOGY’ or Lefty-One-Out-Guy. A submarine thrower who had incredible durability appearing in 883 games over a 13-year career. Myers would routinely chalk up 70+ games a year. For the 2004 Red Sox, it was 25 games and another 50 with Seattle. Myers plugged away with 15 innings and a 4.20 ERA. In the playoffs against the Yankees Myers finished up the horror show game three (19-8) allowing the final two Yankee runs.
Myers went to the Yankees after the 2005 season with the Red Sox (3-1, 3.13). After 2007 the book closed on the lefty specialist. A brief trial with the Dodgers ended with their Triple-A team. Myers is now an assistant within the Major League Players’ Association.