Terry Francona Sticks with Underachieving Julio Lugo

Alan MeisterContributor IMay 3, 2009

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 08:  Shortstop Julio Lugo #23 of the Boston Red Sox stops a ground ball against the Tampa Bay Rays during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at City of Palms Park on March 8, 2009 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Red Sox manager Terry Francona continues his bumbling ways.

I mean, let's get Julio Lugo in the game, right? After all, his errors serve to deflect blame away from Francona's decision-making.

Assuredly, Francona is now happy that Lugo has returned to the Sox. Lugo, now playing shortstop with Boston, has an error-prone history.

He made 16 errors in 81 games last season, and has added two more in five games in 2009. And that doesn't count the ninth inning miscue. His mistakes allowed two runs in yesterday's game.

How about his hitting; is he blistering the ball? Unfortunately not. He battered .237 in 2007 and .268 in 2008, and can't get a hit when it matters. He battered only .208 with runners on base in 2008.

Still, Francona wants him in there to inspire the troops. Sunday he inspired pitcher Brad Penny with one error that allowed a run and then another miscue in the ninth inning that helped put the Sox two runs behind.

The margin of defeat? Two runs, of course.

There is an alternative, however. Nick Green is playing inspired baseball. He is batting .304 in 2009 and .409 with runners on base. In 17 games played at shortstop, he has made some terrific plays to save runs.

In contrast, Lugo makes critical mistakes at critical times. He cuts an image of a baseball player that inspires the Red Sox faithful to go for another beer.

All of this matters little to the blundering Francona, who makes gosh-awful decisions game after game. You see managers make a difference: They either help teams win, or, in Francona's case, help them lose. That leaves it up to the players to win in spite of him.

In Sunday's game, it wasn't enough as they lost 5-3 in Tampa Bay.