Shortstop Woes Continue to Hound Red Sox

Dan McConeCorrespondent IMay 19, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 06:  Julio Lugo #23 of the Boston Red Sox throws to first for an out against the New York Yankees on July 6, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.   (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The carousel of Red Sox shortstops has not stopped since 2004. 

When whining Nomar Garciaparra was shipped out to Chicago, in the most daring, yet greatest trade in the Theo Epstein era, the Sox have never solidified the position. 

The Sox got in return Orlando Cabrera, who revitalized the Sox and sent them their first World Championship in 86 years.  Cabrera's defense, range, and overall great clubhouse demeanor was pivotal to the Sox.  But, he was a free agent and the Sox let him go.

Since then, the Sox have seen the likes of:

2005-Edgar Renteria

A horrendous one year stint at Fenway where he hit very little and made over 30 errors.

2006-Alex Gonzalez

Most likely, the best fielder I will ever see in a Sox uniform.  He made plays that, well, shouldn't have been made by any other shortstop.  The problem turned out to be, he was a weak offensive player.  So Theo went another direction.

2007-Julio Lugo

This was Theo's binky for a few years.  He wanted Lugo and he got him.  Problem was and still is, he can't hit nor field.  Is that a problem? 

2008-Lugo and Jed Lowrie

Problems with Lugo persisted.  Lowrie provided answers for a little while.  But in truth, Lowrie is really a utility fielder. Not an every day fielder.

2009-Lugo, Lowrie, and Nick Green

Lowrie is out for a while with wrist surgery.  Lugo has come back from the DL with a hamstring injury.  Nick Green was your opening day starter.

Green has provided good offense, especially in the nine-hole.  He's currently hitting .302 with a homer and 13 RBI.  Lugo's hitting .333 since coming off the DL.  The offense isn't the issue. 

The Sox defense is the problem at Short.  Green has committed eight errors on the season and Lugo three in 13 games.  The Sox fielding percentage from short? A putrid .931.  That includes Lowrie and Gil Velazquez at short.  With just Green and Lugo?  .919. 

Simply awful.

Green cost the Sox Sunday's game with a throw that hit the Cornelia Marie.  He launched a throw into the stands with two outs in the ninth.  A base hit later and the Sox finished the West Coast road trip at 2-4.

On top of three errors, Lugo has failed to turn a few double plays.  The first was out in Cleveland, with Brad Penny on the mound on April 28.  With one out and two on, Mark DeRosa hit what looked like an inning ending double play.  As Pedroia flipped the ball to Lugo, Lugo in turn dropped the ball and scoring a run.  The next batter Ben Fransisco took Penny deep for a three-run homer and tied the game at seven.  Sox would go on to lose the game 9-8.  But what a killer.

The other was five days later in Tampa, with Penny on the mound again.  Same situation, two on with one out, Michael Hernandez hit what looked to be another inning ending double play but Lugo came up short again.  Pedroia fielded the ground ball cleanly but Lugo was unable to handle the transfer.  He got the out at second but dropped the ball.  Run scored.  Instead of a 2-1 Rays lead, it was 3-1.  No error but the damage was done.  Sox lost 5-3.  Penny almost fought Lugo on the field.

How many more times are the Sox going to let their shortstops cost them games?  This has been a lagging area for the Sox.  When will they cut their losses with Lugo and admit, again, that they flopped on another free-agent shortstop. 

Jed Lowrie is coming back around the All-Star break, but is he really your answer?  He's at best a utility infielder.  Light hitting, good fielder, but not the everyday answer.

If the Sox are looking for an answer, it's going to have to be a blockbuster.  It'll involve a Michael Bowden, potentially pitching phenom Casey Kelly or Daniel Bard with Jed Lowrie. 

They should look to Colorado, where pitching is a premium but there's a shortstop their that could fill the need for years to come.  Troy Tulowitzki.  It's a crazy thought.  I know.  But the Sox have gone on long enough with such an empty feeling at an important position. 

The Rockies will continue to struggle with the pitching they have.  Anyone can hit in Colorado but no one can pitch their, at least what they have to work with. 

Theo and the trio have a lot of work to do to fill a glaring need and they can't wait too much longer.  Their shortstops are costing them games and sooner than later, the Sox will be in a hole they can't get out of.


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