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Just Go, Lugo

By Richard Rawson

We all know it’s not realistic, that it will never happen. If all was right with this world, you would be fired. Your $36 million contract would be voided, and you would hit the bricks. If any of us working stiffs underperformed as you have, we would be terminated. In the unemployment line, looking for work.

Such is the life of an overpaid, under-achieving Julio Lugo. Must be nice. $9 million per year with no redeeming qualities. None. No glove, no power. No bat, no range. Frustrating your team, it’s fans, and it’s management along the way.

Theo Epstein has done so much good in his time as General Manager for the Boston Red Sox. He signed core players Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis to contracts that will keep them in Boston for years to come. Epstein traded clubhouse cancer Nomar Garciaparra, a controversial deal that helped secure Boston’s long-awaited 2004 championship. While the Yankees have had to spend $200 million a year in salaries to remain competitive, Theo has built the team through crafty drafting and young pitching.

However, there have been a few miscalculations. One is J.D. (don’t call me Nancy) Drew, obviously. Drew is easy to take shots at. He won’t play with a hang-nail but is somewhat productive when he does play. Who can forget his grand slam against Cleveland in the 2007 ALCS? He has some upside….maybe not $14 million a year worth of upside…..but he does bring some value to the table.

Lugo, on the other hand, has given us nothing but a headache. He recently cost the Sox a game when he was unable to turn a tailor-made double play. His defense has been shaky at best since coming to Boston, not to mention having only four extra base hits so far this season. When Lugo went down with injury last year, rookie Jed Lowrie emerged, basically outshining him in every phase of the game.

We were all prepared for an intriguing competition between Lowrie and Lugo for the starting shortstop position in 2009. Julio was about to become a $9 million a year back-up. But he came into spring-training cocky as he announced, “I’m the starting shortstop.” Unfortunately, Lowrie went down with an injury, leaving the team and it’s fans counting the days until Jed Lowrie returns.

What the Sox saw in Lugo to drive them to go ahead and sign him to a lucrative contract remains a mystery. Is it a coincidence that Lugo’s best year came in 2003, arguably the peak of the Steroid Era? Even more suspicious is the fact that he had more homeruns in 2003 than he’s had in his entire Red Sox career.

Julio Lugo somehow tricked Sox management, but he’s not fooling anyone anymore. Recent/former Sox shortstops Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, and Orlando Cabrera all look pretty good right about now.

1 comment:

  1. I had no hope for Lugo from the day he was signed. Worst signing of Theo's tenure.