Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Thursday, May 08, 2008

THE ERROR OF HIS WAYS

JULIO LUGO'S MISHAPS ARE ALL TOO COMMON. AND IF YOU'RE FRUSTRATED BY THE SOX' SHORTSTOP -- GET USED TO IT. HE AIN'T GOING ANYWHERE.

How much do you regret Theo Epstein's free agent signing of Julio Lugo? How much do you think Epstein regrets it?

Lugo single-handedly blew the game last night in Detroit. And it came after his teammates -- particularly Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis -- made super human efforts to erase a four-run Tiger lead in the late innings. So much for their effort. So much for the Sox five-game win streak. And so much for Jonathan Papelbon's 10-game consecutive saves streak this season. In fact, Papelbon hadn't blown a save since last September against the Yankees. Oh well.

The Red Sox, as a team, now have 20 errors in 2008, and Lugo is responsible for exactly half that total all by himself. Yes, by May 7th, Julio Lugo already had 10 errors. His manager, always quick to defend his players, blames the three error game that Lugo had in Toronto.

"You know what happened is he made the three in Toronto that are going to bite him for the rest [of the season] 'cause he has a lot now," Francona said Monday. "He made those errors in Toronto. That's a bad day. That's going to up his total. We stay on him all the time about being that guy that's aggressive and fearless because that's when he's a better player."

It's hard to say when Lugo is a better player. He's committed more than 20 errors in a season three times and had 19 last year. He's on pace for about 45 this year.

Even if he had made just one error that dismal night north of the border, he'd still be tied for first in the Majors with eight errors. Let's be honest; that night wasn't really the problem. It was merely emblematic of Lugo's poor fielding ability. He's a great athlete, and his athleticism has carried him through his career. But his fundamentals -- the things he should have learned and polished as a teenager -- are terrible.

It's hard to explain Epstein's "man crush" on Lugo. Just what was it that made him bid against only himself, and offer a pretty average player a four-year, $36 million contract? I mean Lugo had just hit .219 with the Dodgers when Eptein made his bid. Is he really better than Error Renteria or Alex Gonzalez? I think not.

And the Sox are stuck with him. Wouldn't you just love to have Jed Lowrie as the everyday shortstop right now? Don't you think the Red Sox would be better off? And forget the idea of dumping or trading Lugo; no one will touch a human error machine -- who doesn't hit well -- at $9 mil per season. The Sox are in a pickle. And if they ever do find a taker, they'll be paying him to play for someone else -- just like Renteria.

Lugo hit a paltry .237 last year. This year he's off to a better start (.293), but I don't anticipate that it will last. Sure, he had 73 RBI last season, but considering how well the Red Sox hit as a team, there was almost always someone on base whenever he went to the plate. Make contact and you'll drive in runs. But so far this season, Lugo has eight RBI and no homers. Yeah, he's stolen four bases, but was caught twice. That's a one-third failure rate.

Bottom line; no glove, no love.

Yes, the Red Sox are stuck with Lugo. And we're stuck watching as his errors mount. If he cracks 20 homers or steals 40 bases it will help make up for his miscues in the field. But he's never done either before, and there's no reason to believe he'll start now.

If you can't reasonably help your team win with your bat, the least you can do is not help it lose with your glove.

Copyright © 2008 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

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