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Really bashing a professional athlete in print always reminds me of what Kurt Vonnegut said about literary criticism — it’s as though you’ve just put on full armor and attacked a banana split. Which is a great image, unless you’re particularly fond of banana splits, what with the ice cream and banana pieces plastered all over the helmet. Anyway. My point, as you have doubtless guessed by now, is that the Red Sox had no real alternative to getting rid of Julio Lugo, by any means necessary. He was designated for assignment Friday, and the Sox will have 10 days to trade him, after which he’ll be released.
Shortstop has been a problem position for Boston since the departure of Nomar Garciaparra at the trade deadline in 2004. For a big-market team that has won two world titles and is a perennial contender, the Sox have never since had a really established star at one of the most important positions on the field. As it stands now, it’s between Jed Lowrie and Nick Green, who illustrates just how desperate Red Sox Nation is for a little temporary security at short. How else do you explain a .257 hitter canoodling with Heidi Watney? Don’t throw yourself away, Heidi! He’s just a rebound shortstop! (Hat tip: mysouthend.com.)
Green, of course, is a perfectly adequate player. So, for that matter, is Julio Lugo. But this is Boston, and as unfair as it is, adequacy has never been adequate at Fenway Park. (At least, since the turn of the century.) If Lowrie doesn’t blossom into a high-end, major league shortstop after he recovers from injury, the Red Sox will have to look elsewhere.
It’s a tough situation for the Red Sox, because although getting rid of Lugo is unavoidable, they don’t have a ton of options. He’s overpaid, making him painful to release and almost valueless as trade-bait. He doesn’t play particularly good defense at one of the most important defensive positions on the field. Ugh.
But, what it really comes down to is roster space. Who else can they get rid of? With Lowrie and Mike Lowell due to return to the roster, it’ll be Clay Buchholz who will head back to the minors after his “look at what good trade-bait I am” start Friday and…who else? A bullpen guy? Why rock that boat? I personally want guys like Justin Masterson and Daniel Bard — who has to be considered Papelbon’s heir apparent, though the transition won’t be soon — striking out Yankees, not cooling their heels in Triple-A.
Nope, it had to be Julio Lugo. One way or another.