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One Game Down

With their first game under their belt, the Red Sox look more than ready for Opening Day. After winning 7-1 over Boston College in Fort Myers, the Sox got a good look at their prospects as Chris Carter and Angel Chavez shinned, scoring for the Sox after being shut down through the first four innings. However, Boston still has decisions to make in the coming weeks, despite locking up their biggest player, Jason Varitek, for 1 year. Because Julio Lugo was not traded (despite his lackluster season), the Sox now have two regulars at shortstop, as Lugo and Jed Lowrie will compete for the spot. Despite the fact that the Red Sox have only played one game, they need to decide who is the best fit at second and trim the fat.
Like Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis before him, Jed Lowrie was a standout last season with the Red Sox. Though not a power hitter, in his rookie reason, Lowrie provided the Sox with consistent offensive numbers and stellar defense, especially when Lugo went down with an untimely quad injury. Among his consistent stats, Lowrie ranked 10th among AL Non-Qualified SS in OPS (.739), tied for 8th among shortstops in doubles (25), and is tied for 5th in triples (3).
Among AL Non Qualified Rookies, Lowrie ranked 5th in RBI and hits (46 and 67 respectively) and 3rd in walks (35), while competing in a category with AL powerhouse Evan Longoria. Lowrie also provided Boston with perfect defense, as he was also tied for first among Unqualified shortstops with 1.000 fielding percentage with 0 errors. Lowrie not only played exceptionally well for the Red Sox last season, but showed what he had to offer next season, which suits the Sox well. They need someone young to stick with the team through the long hall, which unfortunately might not be what Lugo can offer.
Lugo's last full season with the Rays (at the time the Tampa Bay Devil Rays), he caught scouts' eyes. His average was in the low .300 and his glove at short and his speed on the bases was very attractive. Even in his first season with the Red Sox, Lugo was fairly consistent with a .278 batting average and 33 stolen bases. However, with the injury last season, and Lowrie's outstanding performance in the clutch, Lugo's future with the Red Sox was put into question.
At 33, Lugo is by no means ready to retire, or even needs to start thinking about it, despite his poor performance last season. However, he is not as attractive as a budding 24 year old. With 9 years under his belt, Lugo could very well bounce back, but if that were the case, for financial and business reasons, he should be used as a trading prospect. Lowrie proved himself last season and needs that playing time with the Sox to improve even more. This would also give Boston the opportunity to bring up another shortstop in the farm system, given their strength and success in their affiliate teams.
On another note, Lugo deserves regular playing time, and should not settle as a backup. This is the same reason why Coco Crisp was traded to Kansas City earlier this year. His defensive moves and lightening speed made him a perfect fit in Boston, and his bat, though inconsistent at times, helped the Sox out. However, as Jacoby Ellsberry worked his way up in Boston, Crisp needed more playing time which resulted in an amicable trade. Like this situation, Lugo needs to be in a place where he can play regularly and has time to rehab and recuperate. In Boston, and in such a competitive division, Lugo needs to be on every time he steps out on to the field. However, he will not get this opportunity to improve if he is a backup.
As the Red Sox currently play split squad, it will be awhile until they get their roster figured out. And as every player knows, getting comfy is not always a smart move, as you could be traded at any second.

Rani Smith


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