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Where's Waldo?

By: Jeremy Garden

The shortstop position for the Boston Red Sox has been rotated more than your tires at Jiffy Lube. Year in year out or even midseason Theo Epstein and the Sox brass can't decide who to put there. And now with Alex Gonzalez gone again signing with the
Toronto Blue Jays for 1 year 2.75 million once again shortstop is a giant question mark. Since Nomar Garciapara was traded and Orlando Cabrera left via free agency they have swung missed more than Mark Bellhorn. Here are the players they've brought in:

Edgar Renteria signed a 4-year 40 million dollar deal in 2005. He played one season for the Sox and was expected to be at the top of the order and field the position well. The result: .276 BA, 8 HR, 70 RBI, and 9 SB. But what made things worse was his staggering 35 errors causing fans to get on the shortstop and it was completely clear he couldn't handle the tough Boston market. Even to the point when teammate Kevin Millar tried to get fans to boo at himself rather than Renteria. In the off-season Renteria was traded for prospect Ande Marte after the Sox ate the salary. Marte was then shipped to Cleveland for Coco Crisp which was another player brought in to be the leadoff man and did not pan out.

Alex Gonzalez signed a one year deal at short money to field the position in 2006. After the Renteria experiment failed Epstein claimed that their philosophy had changed they needed a man to field. That is exactly what he did making spectacular plays in the field. Any ball hit in his area he could get to. His offensive numbers not flashy: .255 BA, 9 HR, and 50 RBI. In the off-season the Sox felt Gonzalez was asking for too much money
and did not bring back the defensive wizard.

Julio Lugo was brought in to be the leadoff man and who would set the table for the Red Sox big boppers. It was an utter failure Lugo signed a 4-year 36 million dollar deal in 2007. His final numbers: 266 games, .251 BA, 114 Runs, 10 HR, 103 RBI, and 48 SB.
The result was eating the salary and trading him away to St. Louis for a bag of balls. (AKA Chris Duncan who was later released)

After trading Lugo and injury prone Jed Lowrie the only shortstop on the roster they brought back Alex Gonzalez in a trade with the Reds. Once again claiming that defense is what they were looking to improve on their team for the stretch run. Once again Gonzalez fielded the position well and hit above his head in 44 games: .284 BA, 5 HR and 15 RBI. Gonzalez had a 6 million dollar option in this off-season and the Red Sox declined the option. As result, he went else where signing with AL East rival Blue Jays. Now the question is who will man the shortstop for the Boston Red Sox? Theo has really struggled with this question. He has thrown money at the problem. He has traded for the problem. He has tried using the farm to solve the problem. Yet here we are before the 2010 season asking that same question. The options are really limited.

The Sox could go with Jed Lowrie but when he has had his chances he hasn't been able to stay healthy or hit consistently. In 2008 he played 81 games and hit .258 with 2 HR and 46 RBI. Last year, he played in just 32 games hitting anemic .147 with 2 HR and 11 RBI. Lowrie is probably more effective as a utility man off the bench. It would be foolish to count on him for a whole season.

The hot name being rumored to have the Sox eye is Marco Scutaro. Scutaro was almost traded to the Sox at the deadline but the Jays were asking for too much for the Sox liking. Scutaro has been a pretty solid player since 2004. He is a player who will hit in the 7-12 home run range and drive in 45-60 runs and plays solid defense. The catch with Scutaro is that he is 34 and a Type A free agent. He is looking to get a nice 3 year deal and the Sox would have to give up draft picks which they value so highly. It's a heavy price to pay for a nice player to have on your team but not a game changer. And how many big contracts can the team eat at the same position? Who's to say that Scutaro won't break down in a year or two?

The Sox have left themselves really thin at shortstop once again. Alex Gonzalez fit well on this team. He fields the position so well and any offense you get from him is bonus. Not to mention it would not have cost the team much. He signed for less than 3 million. Now, the have to be all in on Marco Scutaro. A nice player but is he worth the money and the draft picks? Probably not. It looks like the revolving door is going to continue for years to come. Maybe the Sox brass should pick names out of a hat might be more effective.

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