Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2008 Preview: Shortstops

Name: Julio Cesar Lugo
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Age: 32
2008 Salary: $9M
Fun Fact: Lugo, a town in northern Italy, is the birthplace of Charles Ponzi, who is remembered as one of the greatest swindlers in American history. In 2007 Lugo pulled off a swindle that would make Ponzi blush when he earned $8 million for being the 27th best shortstop in baseball.

Look, I don't want to write about Julio Lugo any more than you want to read about him. What is it you don't like about him? Is it his scowling face, his incessant cup adjusting, the strange way he uses his arms when he runs, or the fact that he had the worst year of his career in the first year of a 4 year, $36 million contract?

Lugo's .643 OPS in 2007 was forty points behind Alex Cora. It's never good to be forty points behind a hitter who is commonly referred to as "pesky." Lugo's numbers were far better post-All Star break (.280/.322/.406) but not so hot that we could label his regular season anything less than an abject failure.

Am I being too negative? Now for the good news! Lugo is entering the season with a lot more confidence! Also, he makes funny faces. I don't know what this is but I can't stop laughing. Is that Enrique Wilson? Oh dear, that's not enough good news for you, is it? Lugo had a .500 OBP in the World Series. Lugo is fast. Lugo has a strong arm. Lugo, scowly countenance aside, is charismatic and popular in the clubhouse. Lugo has made a full recovery from the stomach parasites that plagued him last season. Lugo only has three years left on his contract....

Julio Lugo
's 2008 ZiPS projection:
.267 AVG/.335 OBP/.382 SLG
77 Runs
144 Hits
35 Doubles
7 Home Runs
62 RBI
52 BB
96 K

Other options at shortstop:
Alex Cora: An adequate utility infielder. We discussed him here.

Jed Lowrie: 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year with questionable range (he's been compared to Carlos Guillen), strong plate discipline, and decent pop. Lowrie's name was a constant in the various permutations of the Johan Santana trade rumors. Baseball America rates him as the 5th best prospect in the International League. He'll spend the year at Pawtucket unless Lugo or Pedroia end up on the shelf for an extended period.

Argenis Diaz: This fellow is on the 40-man roster and apparently he's a slick-fielding, slap-hitting, inconsistent 21-year-old.

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