Another year, another short-stop. The Red Sox franchise has gone from Nomar Garciaparra to Orlando Cabrera, to Pokey Reese, to Edgar Rentaria, to Alex Gonzalez, to Alex Cora, and now to Julio Lugo.
Lugo's been sought after by the Sox for a long time now, and his name has been bandied about in trade talks. Finally, we got him. But who do we got?
Last year Lugo had great stats with the Devil Rays, then not so great stats with the Dodgers. With Tampa, he hit .308, slugged .498 (pretty solid for a SS), and had an OBP of .373.
I think Lugo will do well in Boston. However, it is quite a transition to go from the pressure free spa environment of Tropicana Field to the intense cauldron of Fenway Park. How he adjusts to that will be critical.
A criticism of Lugo is his fielding. Although he has very good range, he makes a lot of errors. He had 19 errors last year between LA and Tampa. The year before he had 26, and in 2004 he had 20. He's got a career fielding position of .965 at short-stop. For comparison's sake, last year Gonzalez had a .985 FP, Reese had a .979 FP at SS in 2004, and Cabrera has a career .978 FP. We've seen some great defensive SS play in the past few seasons, which will make Lugo's less than sensational defense seem even worse than it is. And Boston loves things that are worse than they really are.
I think Lugo will do well offensively in Boston. He'll hit .285, with an OBP of .380, 10 homeruns, and 70 RBI in an early position in the lineup. He has good speed which we might utilize, and I think he'll steal 20 bases. But I also think he'll make 20 errors. Hopefully, his defensive problems won't affect his offensive performance.
Lugo will probably see himself replaced in later innings by Alex Cora for defensive purposes when the Sox have a lead. Pedroia could also do this, but I think Cora will be used in this role. Even if Cora starts the game at 2B, Pedroia will be brought in at second and Cora will shift to SS. I think you'll see Cora with a good deal of playing time in between platooning with Pedroia, and defensively replacing Lugo.