Today comes the signing of a new player to join Red Sox Nation – Marco
Scutaro. With Marco, comes a debate as to whether he’s good enough to
play in Boston, and whether or not he can succeed where others have failed
since 2004. Let’s look at this systematically, shall we?
2004 – Nomar Garciaparra. Pokey Reese. Orlando Cabrera. Cesar Crespo.
Ricky Gutierrez. Mark Bellhorn. When all was said and done, Nomar was traded
at the deadline, picking up a replacement in Orlando Cabrera, who helped lead us to
a World Series title the same year. All combined, a total of 20 errors that year
between the three players. However, all’s forgiven when Nomar’s heart wasn’t in it,
Pokey wasn’t exactly an All-Star, and Orlando didn’t play in that lineup for very long,
and we won our first ring in 86 years. At the end of the season, it became apparent
that Orlando wasn’t the best person in the clubhouse, and that the Red Sox were
interested in getting rid of him. And so, he left. Who would fill the gap
2005 – Edgar Renteria. Ramon Vazquez. Alex Cora. Mark Bellhorn. Hanley
Ramirez. Alejandro Machado. Renteria seemed like a good option. Afterall, he
won a world series with Florida in 1997. He was tearing up the National League at
the time, and watched us win the World Series in 2004 from the opposite dugout. I
guess no one realized he played his entire career in the National League, because
he didn’t stand a chance against the elite pitchers of the American League, nor did
he ever feel comfortable in Fenway. Alex Cora was a relatively decent backup, and
Hanley Ramirez made his first appearance, giving all Red Sox fans a little bit of hope
for the future. But, alas, all dreams come to an end, including watching Hanley
Ramirez move his belongings to Florida, in exchange for Josh Beckett and Mike
Lowell. Once again, the Red Sox make the team as a whole better, while neglecting
the most important position on the diamond.
2006 – Alex Gonzalez. Alex Cora. Dustin Pedroia. Alex Gonzalez signs, and
everyone considers it a godsend. A great fielder, World Series victor in 2003
alongside Beckett and the Marlins, and who cares if he only hits .250 with no pop? In
the nine hole, we’ll take the good defense. Who knew that .250 with no pop would
turn into .255, 9 HRs, but sadly a hell of a lot of inning-killing outs. He made a great
defensive player, but ultimately one that the Red Sox felt they couldn’t rely on after
not making the playoffs, and had to find another option elsewhere.
2007 – Julio Lugo. Alex Cora. Royce Clayton. Then begins the Julio Lugo
debacle. $9 Million a year for a fielder that lacks in defensive ability as compared to
Gonzalez, but with considerably more pop at the plate. Why was Lugo signed when
Alex Cora could have easily taken the job, and Pedroia was ready to come up to the
majors, you ask? Well, Pedroia filled a hole at second base that was much needed
(Bellhorn, Graffanino, and Loretta were just as faulty from 2004-2006 as the
shortstops were). Alex Cora never got a chance after being labeled as a bench
player. $9 million for a “better” offensive player than Gonzalez, who in reality goes
on to hit at a .237 clip that year, with 19 errors in the field. Sounds a little out of
2008 – Julio Lugo. Alex Cora. Jed Lowrie. Gil Velazquez. I know what
you’re thinking – “Maybe Lugo just had a bad year?” Well, if you’re a Red Sox fan,
you know he went on to hit .268 with 1 HR. Not exactly a power hitter. Add to that
another 16 errors and a season-ending injury, and you’ve got yourself someone
who’s not worth $9 million. Jed Lowrie showed up as the kid of the future, according
to the Red Sox brass, and he did just that. He showed up with a bat and a glove to
the post-season and showed all of Red Sox Nation that he meant business. Could
this be our solution? Could the Lugo nightmare finally be over?
2009 – Nick Green. Alex Gonzalez. Julio Lugo. Jed Lowrie. Chris Woodward.
Gil Velazquez. Julio Lugo and Jed Lowrie have a battle in spring training for the
starting spot at short, and Lowrie wins out after an injury to Lugo. However, Lowrie
gets injured desperately early in the season as well. Enter Nick Green. What a
pleasant surprise that kid became. He managed to bridge a gap to the returns of
Lugo and Lowrie. However, Lugo returned and underperformed, allowing Green to
keep his starting role, and eventually Lugo moves over to St. Louis while we pay his
$9 million for the next year and a half. Hopefully St. Louis can be tortured by him
while paying nothing. Green then gets a replacement in the return of Gonzalez, who
seems to start as a combination with Green, but later takes his position as the
starter. Lowrie comes back as well, keeping Green on the bench, although Lowrie
also sits on the bench with poor numbers at the plate and nagging injuries. Alex
thrives at the plate and in the field, and carries the team into the post season.
Present – The Red Sox, weary about how Alex performed in 2006, drop his
contract option, and let him sign with the Blue Jays. In the end, the Sox swap
shortstops by signing Marco Scutaro. More to come on that later. Green is a free
agent and likely will sign elsewhere, and Lowrie has been proven to be unreliable
and injury prone. Now, hopes of a young 20 year-old in Iglesias running around the
minors with the title as Red Sox Saviour, come 2012. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t get
moved like Hanley and Pedroia.
So assuming that Iglesias really is Jesus (the verdict is still out on whether or not he
can walk across the Charles), is the new signing of Scutaro exactly what everyone’s
hoping for, or is it another Renteria, Gonzalez, or Lugo mistake by Epstein and
company. Let’s take a look.
Scutaro has for his entire career been a bench-ridden utility player. That being said,
he tore up the AL East in 2009 with the Blue Jays, playing 143 games at shortstop.
Can he hit .282 with 60 RBI, 100 Runs, and 12 HR once
again Only time will tell. Is he a stud? Possibly. Is he worth $5 million a year?
Probably. Can he play in the AL East? He’s proven he can, and that’s good enough
for me. I’m willing to take the chance. What were the other options we had this
1) Placido Polanco – Could he play short? Sure, why not? He’s a second
baseman at heart, but if the Phillies can move him to third, why couldn’t we move him
to short? Why not sign him and move Pedroia to short? In the end, the Phillies
jumped too fast and we couldn’t catch them before they climbed over the fence.
2) Orlando Hudson – Could the O-Dog move from second to short?
Probably, yes. Is he worth the money he might demand? Probably not, at least not
anymore. Is he a better choice than Scutaro? Maybe, maybe not. He doesn’t
require draft compensation like Scutaro (the Dodgers denied him arbitration), but
he’s coming off a decent injury and has been declining the last couple years.
3) Miguel Tejada – Can anyone say overrated? Sure, he can hit for the
home run or for average, and he used to hit well at Fenway when he was with
Baltimore. But chances are the NL has slowed down his swing, and his defense was
never amazing to begin with. Next!
4) Orlando Cabrera – A player who was a sparkplug for Boston in 2004, and
has been tearing up the AL West and Central ever since. But he’s a player who
lacks in clubhouse demeanor, which is why the Red Sox said goodbye to him in the
first place, so no thank you.
5) Chone Figgins – A player who can play basically any position in the world.
He could easily move from third to short. Seattle looks like they’ll sign him, and for
only $9 mil a year. For $9 mil, they’re buying someone who can hit from the top of
the order, play almost any position, hit for average, steal bases, and is great to get
along with. That’s a lot more than Red Sox fans and players can say about Lugo
and his $9 mil. Whether or not Epstein ever actually looked into this option may
never be known.
6) Hanley Ramirez – Get real, he’s not being traded.
So in the end, we get to live with Scutaro for two, maybe three years. He’s a good
player, unproven in the majors due to playing as a bench player on sub-par teams,
but he’ll never prove himself until a quality team gives him a chance to shine. He
didn’t get into the top 17% at his position last year by chewing gum and cheering
from the bench. Here’s to hoping he can bridge the gap to our savior from Cuba.