Ever since Nomar and Orlando Cabrera left, this position has been a problem for the Red Sox. Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Alex Cora, and now Julio Lugo have all failed to prove that they can be front line short-stops here.
Julio Lugo hit .237 last year, with an unfortunate OBP of .294. He did make some positive contributions. He knocked in 73 runs, and stole 33 bases in 39 attempts (84.6%). But he still fell very short of expectations.
Lugo also disappointed defensively. Although he's never been known for his glove (146 career errors, below average fielding percentage for his position), it merely amplified the angst Sox fans felt when his name was listed in the starting lineup.
Julio has had a year to adapt to a new environment. He'll be heavily scrutinized by both the fans and the organization at the start of the '08 season. I think he'll have a slightly better year than 2007, but that's not saying much. I think he'll hit .275, steal a few bases, and be a respectable 8th hitter in the Sox lineup.
The Sox have some insurance at this position. Alex Cora is a solid backup who won't be a black hole in the lineup.
Then there's Jed Lowrie. Jed's 23, and made two major steps last year. He started the season in AA Portland, after spending all of 2006 in A+ Wilmington. In 93 games with the SeaDogs, he hit .297 with an OBP of .410. He was promoted to AAA Pawtucket, where his average stayed about the same. In 40 games with the PawSox, Jed hit .300. His OBP dropped significantly to .356, as his walks decreased, but that's to be expected.
Jed will probably start the season in AA Portland, but could begin in Pawtucket if he has a good spring (or if Lugo has a bad one). He's a lock to get called up at some point this year, either as a temporary fill-in, or part of the 40 man September roster.
If Lugo doesn't perform, and Lowrie continues to hit near .300 in the minors, look for something to happen.
The Baseball Cube