Ever since the demise of Nomar Garciaparra, the Boston Red Sox and us, the fans, have been wanting a shortstop that can hit the ball, field the ball and throw the ball. Is that too much to ask?
It has been hard, actually. The Sox have gone through a lot of shortstops since Nomar was traded in July of 2004 (17, actually). It's a revolving door that I know we're all sick of.
But in that shortstop, what do the Red Sox actually need?The Red Sox have won two World Series championships since Nomar left. Those came in 2004 and 2007. Let's look at who manned the No. 6 position in those seasons:
2004 Pokey Reese - 96 games - .221/.271/.303
Orlando Cabrera - 58 games - .294/.320/.465
2007 Julio Lugo - 147 games - .237/.294/.349
Two World Series titles, two seasons where the primary shortstop was horrible at the plate. Cabrera came in once Nomar was traded and hit well, but for the most part the shortstops have done nothing. Jack. But what they do have in common? It's not hard to see:
2004 Pokey Reese - 507.2 innings - 4.9 RF/9 - +20.2 UZR/150
Orlando Cabrera - 491 innings - 4.1 RF/9 - +2.8 UZR/150
2007 Julio Lugo - 1,228.1 innings - 4.2 RF/9 - +4.3 UZR/150
Even Julio Lugo, as you can see, played solid defense at the shortstop position. Are we seeing a theme here?
There was nothing wrong with the Red Sox's offense in 2009. They finished third in the American League in runs (872), third in home runs (212) and second in OPS (.806). Forgetting about the Yankees and their stadium that knows no gravity, the Sox finished first and second in a few very important categories.
So do the Sox need to swing the bat better?
No. It's all about the defense, folks. The fielding of players like Jason Bay and Mike Lowell really weighed this team down. If the Sox want to improve this team, they need to look at the defense. Let's just start at the shortstop position.
I am on the Adam Everett boat. As bad of a hitter Everett is, he is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. That's pretty much the only reason he's staying afloat in the big leagues. But with an offense that is one of the best in baseball -- and should stay one of the best going into next year -- Everett will do what he's supposed to and field the ball well. That's all the Sox need out of their shortstop. History proves that.
Everett has a lifetime 18.3 UZR/150 at shortstop in over 6,500 innings. That's really good by all accounts. He will save runs as a shortstop while tucked away in the No. 9 spot. The Sox could afford to do this in '04 and '07, so why not now too?
As much as we want the Red Sox to outbash every single team out there, it's a tough thing to do. It's hard work to find a shortstop that can do everything. They're out there, but they're taken and locked up for a long time. For good reason, as you can see. So why not take a flier on Everett, someone we know what to expect from?
What's your take? Is Everett so bad offensively (lifetime .245/.297/.351 line) that the Sox should look elsewhere? Should offense really take priority with the uncertainty of left field or the production from Lowell at third?