Shortstop Musical Chairs
In 2004 the Red Sox traded Nomar Garciaparra who had been their starting shortstop for much of my adult life. The trade that sent Nomar out of town brought in Orlando Cabrera who helped Boston win a World Series in 2004 - their first World Series in 86 years.
That off-season, however, the Sox jettisoned Cabrera in favor of Edgar Renteria (even though Cabrera badly wanted to stay with the Red Sox and Red Sox fans really liked Orlando). Renteria signed a 4-year $40 million contract with Boston but he only lasted one year before getting shipped out of town for Andy Marte who was in turn traded for Coco Crisp. Once Boston was no longer an option – Cabrera signed a 4-year $32 million contract with the Angels.
Last year the Red Sox signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year contract and he proved to be the best defensive shortstop in Red Sox history. Gonzalez was allowed to walk away though and the Red Sox front office watched him sign a reasonable 3-year $14 million contract with the Reds.
Now the Red Sox have signed Julio Lugo to a 4-year $36 million contract. Just for fun let’s compare the offensive numbers from the past 2-years from Cabrera, Renteria, Gonzalez and Lugo:
Cabrera – .270 BA / 165 R / 17 HR / 129 RBI / 48 SB
Renteria – .284 BA / 200 R / 22 HR / 140 RBI / 26 SB
Gonzalez – .260 BA / 93 R / 14 HR / 95 RBI / 6 SB
Julio Lugo – .263 BA / 160 R / 18 HR / 94 RBI / 63 SB
Just to gleam a couple of things out of the stats – when you consider the team chemistry, the defense and the offense – Orlando Cabrera was the best of the bunch. Going purely by the numbers it would seem that Renteria was the best but he couldn’t “handle” the pressure and scrutiny that comes with playing in Boston.
By the numbers I posted it would seem that Gonzalez and Lugo are fairly close in offense but one number I did not post was OBP. Gonzalez has a career OBP of .292 (which is lousy) while Lugo has a career OBP of .340 (which is OK – not great – just OK). Basically it is the OBP that means that Lugo was almost $5 million more valuable to the Red Sox front office. For comparison sake – Cabrera has a career OBP of .317.
With hindsight - probably the best move for the Sox would have been to re-sign Orlando Cabrera when they had the chance but that means they never would have gotten Andy Marte who they flipped for Coco Crisp. So maybe this is a case of alls-well that ends-well.
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