On Monday, the Red Sox will have played their last game of the 2010 season. While there are rules that determine exactly when a given salary period ends, for our purposes, that means that--for the first time since 2007, the Red Sox will not be paying Julio Lugo.
So, with this auspicious day on the horizon, let's look back at Mr. Lugo's career
with the Red Sox while the Red Sox have been paying him.
2007: Wherein He Started Poorly
Julio Lugo was brought in over the 2006-2007 offseason to try and provide some offense from the shortstop position. After putting up OBPs around .330 and SLGs varying from .370-.430, the Sox were looking for essentially a Marco Scutaro before Marco Scutaro. Lugo was younger, with a better track record, and a bigger career-year, though, explaining the price difference.
What they got was, um, rather less. Lugo's slow .256/.346/.344 start quickly became enviable, as his OPS dipped to the low .500s in May, and then just barely over .300 for the month of June. Only in July did he ever look at all like what the Sox had paid for--or even just Julio Lugo period.
The small saving grace for 2007 Julio Lugo is his defense. Yes, I just said Lugo's defense was a saving grace. But that's only in comparison to the rest of the package. While he had come to the Sox with a history of average-or-better defense, Lugo's 2007 was his second straight season below average by UZR and DRS, but both minimally so. So at least you can say it didn't take that much more away as his decent range largely countered his tendency to make horrific game-changing mistakes. Non-contextually, of course.
2008: Wherein He Continued Not As Poorly
2008 was really Lugo's last chance with the Red Sox, or at least with some of the fan base. For the more open minded fans, one bad year can be overcome--consider the reputation of J.D. Drew around these parts. Lugo, however, did not capitalize on that opportunity. Instead he sucked. Again.
But really, he didn't suck nearly as badly as most people probably think. While a .317 wOBA is still below average, would you believe that Lugo actually managed a .355 OBP on the year? Crazy, huh?
Still, his defense took something of a dip as his previously problematic errors became downright disastrous. When he was largely replaced halfway through the season by Jed Lowrie, it was clear his time with the Sox was coming to an end.
2009: Sucking For Us, And Then For Others
This was the year where things really spun out of control for Mr. Lugo. Replaced by first Jed Lowrie and then Nick Green, Lugo was relegated to a backup role when he wasn't hurt. And, to be fair to Lugo, he did a decent job with the bat, managing a .329 wOBA with the Red Sox.
But the injuries took their toll not only on Lugo's playing time, but also his defense. Already poor due to error-after-error, Lugo stopped even getting to balls as he managed an amazing -62.9 UZR/150 and -12 DRS. For the first time, Lugo's value to the Sox actually dropped below replacement level. Finally, the Red Sox had had enough, shipping off Julio Lugo to the Cardinals and installing Alex Gonzalez as his replacement.
Of course, at first Lugo used his time with the Cardinals to start kicking ass. But anyone who watched past the somewhat sensationalist first few games saw him quickly return to past mediocrity. He did manage to be of some small worth, but was hardly anything to write home about.
2010: Actually Sucking Against Us!
In 2010, Lugo was perhaps worth more to the Red Sox than ever before. Because he was playing for the Orioles. Sucking worse that he has ever sucked before, Julio Lugo has not breached a .600 OPS on the season, managing only a line of .240/.269/.320 in 25 at bats against the Sox, he was perhaps the only thing keeping Boston over .500 against Baltimore. So thanks, Lugo, you finally paid off!
Over the course of his contract, the Red Sox have paid Julio Lugo about $34 million. By WAR, he has provided about $3.2 million in value. Quite the deal. And it was only through ditching Lugo for his last negative WAR year that they even managed that much out of him. But now we can look back on these horrible, horrible years as just bitter memories. Surely Jed Lowrie shall save us all!