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Thursday, July 16, 2009
Sox looking to dump Lugo?

Ben Nicholson-Smith on the Red Sox and their soon-to-be-ex-shortstop: Lugo's contract has been considered a millstone for so long that his performance hardly seems worth checking.

I checked anyway, and was a little surprised to see just how well Lugo has played this season.

Or rather, how well he's hit. Not that Lugo's been a good hitter, really. But a shortstop with a .352 on-base percentage ... well, a lot of teams could do a lot worse than Julio Lugo's bat.

Unfortunately, it would be almost impossible to do worse than Lugo's glove, which I'm guessing is why the Red Sox might be so terribly desperate to find him a new home. In 32 games at shortstop this season, Lugo's Ultimate Zone Rating is minus-43 runs per 150 games.

Granted, that number's probably an outlier. I looked at a couple of other sophisticated metrics and Lugo shows up as merely below average, rather than the worst shortstop in shortstop history.

Is there room for a guy like Julio Lugo on most teams? There might even be room for a guy like Julio Lugo on a team like the Red Sox, who somehow have found room for Mark Kotsay. The problem is finding room for a guy like Julio Lugo who earns $9 million per season. I'm not any sort of mind-reader, but I believe it's difficult, collectively, for a front office to watch, day after day after day, a stark reminder of a terrible mistake. Or what looks like a terrible mistake, now.

Now, Julio Lugo's mere presence is like getting poked in the eye every day with a sharp stick. Once he's gone, though, only the accountants will have to confront Julio Lugo every couple of weeks when the checks with all the zeroes go out.

It's not that Julio Lugo is a terrible player. But teams don't think about players; they think about contracts, and Lugo's contract is one of the worst in the game. I think the organization is just tired of looking at it every day.