Crossroads Of Destiny: Who Is the Real Red Sox Shortstop
Throughout all of Spring Training the main question in Red Sox Nation was, "Who will be the starting shortstop for the Red Sox?" The ongoing saga continues, as Boston still seeks a permanent, adequate short stop, a luxury they've been without since 2004.
In 2004, Theo Epstein traded away the beloved Nomar Garciaparra, and we received Orlando Cabrera from the Montreal Expos. Orlando turned out to be the perfect fit for Boston as he helped us to our first World Series in 86 years, but alas, he was let go in free agency that offseason.
Later in 2005, Boston acquired Edgar Renteria, who represented the last out of the 2004 World Series when he grounded out to Keith Foulke while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Renteria was known as a great short stop—until he came to Beantown. In 2005, Renteria was tagged with the name "Rent O' Wreck" by many because of his terrible defense and lackluster postseason. Renteria was officially a bust.
He was traded to the Atlanta Braves in December 2005 in exchange for a minor league prospect.
Later that offseason, Boston signed defensive guru Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez was definitely better in the field than Renteria, but not much of an upgrade at the plate. He hit .255 with only 50 runs batted in. Boston did not make the playoffs that year.
Prior to the 2007 season, Julio Lugo signed a four-year, $36 million contract to join Boston. He was seen with a lot of potential and many had high expectations for him, yet he did not live up to anything.
Lugo was terrible defensively and mediocre at the plate, with his base-running skills diminished. While still a member of a World Series team, Boston fans still had to suck up the fact that they were stuck with Lugo for three years following the 2007 season.
Lugo was then ready to be the first Red Sox shortstop to play more than only one season in Boston since Nomar Garciapparra. But only halfway through another mediocre season, Lugo was injured for the rest of the season.
With little hope of finding a good shortstop, the young Jed Lowrie was called up from Triple A. Lowrie showed how great he was by having some great playoff moments, and showed promise at shortstop through his defense and speed. Lowrie led Boston to nearly going to two straight World Series appearances.
Lowrie had shown promise at the position and was going to be the starter in 2009, until Julio Lugo made his presence felt when he said he would be ready for the 2009 season and he had full intentions on being the starter. Lugo and Lowrie would compete through Spring Training for the starting job.
Fortunately, Lugo had been injured, so that meant Lowrie would start and the Red Sox called up former Yankee prospect, Nick Green, to be the backup while Lugo was out for a few weeks. With fans enthusiastic about having another great year from Lowrie, he had really let the team down by not hitting above .200. He was then injured and Nick Green took over.
Green surpassed both Lugo and Lowrie for the beginning of the season by hitting .274 with one home run and 11 runs knocked in. Fans were starting to love Nick Green, who wasn't even expected to make the team this year. After the Sox had been on their huge 12-game win streak earlier on, Julio Lugo was reactivated and had shown improvement in his offense, but had killed us with his defense.
Since returning, Lugo has proven that he is great offensively and he has had his always-reliable speed. Lowrie, on the other hand, has show how good he can be defensively and how much more clutch he can be than Lugo. But then there is Nick Green, who has proven that he deserves a chance.
Ultimately, with Lowrie out for most of the season, we now have Julio Lugo and Nick Green eyeing the starting shortstop job. And seeing as though Lugo is the starter, we'll likely see him in a different uniform next year. That leads to three questions in my head:
1. Will Lugo ever live up to his full potential? 2. How will Lowrie play after he returns? 3. Where does Nick Green fit in this saga?
So it looks like this shortstop saga will at least continue. If Green keeps playing at this constant rate and if Lugo steps up his game, I see Lowrie, Green, and Lugo fighting for that spot throughout the offseason, as well; however, my prediction is that only Lowrie and Green will be with the Red Sox next year.
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