Five shortstops Red Sox could pursue

MLB: APR 21 Dodgers at Astros
As Nick Green and Julio Lugo team up in an attempt to break the record for most errors out of shortstop (and we thought Edgar Renteria was bad), it's time to start looking at outside options.

Green has been a great fill-in with the bat after no one expected him to even get a single at-bat on the year. On defense, however, his lead glove is starting to raise concerns. And Julio Lugo, of course, is Julio Lugo. We'll get to our internal option, Jed Lowrie, in a moment. But for now, let's focus on five shortstops the Sox could go after.

As Nick Green and Julio Lugo team up in an attempt to break the record for most errors out of shortstop (and we thought Edgar Renteria was bad), it’s time to start looking at outside options.
Green has been a great fill-in with the bat after no one expected him to even get a single at-bat on the year. On defense, however, his lead glove is starting to raise concerns. And Julio Lugo, of course, is Julio Lugo. We’ll get to our internal option, Jed Lowrie, in a moment. But for now, let’s focus on five shortstops the Sox could go after.

MLB: APR 21 Dodgers at Astros

MIGUEL TEJADA, HOU — .362/.388/.546, 8 HR, -20.6 UZR/150
$13M 2009, free agent 2010
Tejada is on a team fast going nowhere and will soon supplant the Nationals as the joke of baseball. With an inept general manager, an hands-on owner who knows nothing and a declining Roy Oswalt, the time is ripe to pluck the team’s best hitter.
The Sox have constantly been linked to Tejada in the past and he is one of David Ortiz’s closest friends. Tejada has mentioned during his time with Baltimore that he would love to be a Red Sox.
Three things hold back this possibility, however.

  • First, Tejada is a concern defensively. He really should be at third at this stage of his career but so far has been resistant to do so. His Ultimate Zone Rating, averaged out per 150 games, is -20.6. This means he’s cost the team 20.6 runs over 150 games so far this year. (Obviously, there hasn’t been 150 games played yet).
  • Second, Tejada’s .362 batting average is unsustainable. Last year, Miggy hit .283/.314/.415 with a .305 BABIP, close to his career .301 BABIP. This year it’s at .365. … but he is showing zero signs of slowing down. It could go either way, but at some point you have to make the decision.
  • Tejada pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his use of steroids, which he had been linked to previously. We know that the Sox are leery about bringing in players who are linked to steroids in any tangible form, so will this work against Tejada enough to make Theo turn away?

CRISTIAN GUZMAN, WAS — .327/.343/.446, 10 2B, -15 150 UZR/150
$8M 2009, $10M 2010
Guzman recently re-upped with the Nationals after rediscovering his stroke. Guz doesn’t walk a lot — never has — but boasts a career .272 batting average. That includes his awful .219 season in 2005 and 2007-9, where he’s never been lower than .316.
Guzman would be an interesting shot if he wasn’t already making so much money. With questionable defense, track record of losing all semblance of having to hit… gee, doesn’t that remind you a bit of Julio Lugo?
Still, it can’t be ruled out as the Nationals are clearly in a rebuilding phase and need pitching.
J.J. HARDY, MIL — .238/.319/.384, 5 HR, 22.9 UZR/150
$4.65M 2009, arbitration 2010
Hardy’s been a name bantered around on this site for a bit now, and his slow start isn’t changing anything for me. I love J.J. Hardy and want him at short for the next five years. He’s not as good as his 22.9 UZR/150 indicates, but doesn’t embarrass himself in the field.
Plus, Hardy has hit 26 and 24 home runs, respectively, the last two years. Now that’s offense we could use. At 27, Hardy still has a long, fruitful career ahead of him and the Brewers just so happen to have top prospect Alcides Escobar behind him.
Ah, but the Brewers are contending and just lost Rickie Weeks for the season. The only way they’d trade Hardy at this time would be to significantly beef up their pitching. Could a Brad Penny, Manny Delcarmen and a Triple-A bat be enough? Maybe, but are the Brewers prepared to go to Mat Gamel full time at third to offset the loss of Hardy’s bat? Probably not.
JHONNY PERALTA, CLE — .260/.345/.328, 21 RBI, 12.4 UZR/150
$3.4M 2009, $4.6M 2010, $7M 2011 club option
Peralta has been playing third for the Indians recently as the club has gone with Asdrubal Cabrera at short and Luis Valbuena at second. With Cabrera’s recent injury, the Indians may elect to move Peralta back to short, showcase his value and deal him instead of moving Mark DeRosa. That’s unlikely, given Peralta’s team-friendly contract.
Peralta’s overall numbers are less than impressive, but that was mostly tied up in April. He’s rebounded to his usual average/on-base percentage (but not power) in May. Considering I just dealt for him in fantasy a few weeks ago, I could really use his power showing up.
The Indians might be interested in dealing Peralta if they could get a Lowrie/Bowden package from the Red Sox, a deal I don’t see the Sox doing.

MLB: MAY 17 Rockies at Pirates

JACK WILSON, PIT — .264/.291/.380, 12 R, 26.8 UZR/150
$7.25M 2009, $8.4M 2010 club option
Wilson just came back from injury but is posting numbers that he always has. He’s never impressed with the bat and he’s not suddenly going to break out.
What he will do is give a strong glove to the proceedings, which the Sox could use at short. Add in Wilson’s glove and instead of being near the end of the pack in defensive metrics, the Sox would easily vault to the top 10, if not top five.
Can the Sox afford to lose out on more offense by starting Wilson? Don’t forget: for all the defensive woes at short, we’ve gotten pretty good offensive production. We’d be swapping offense for defense. With David Ortiz in the lineup, that makes our lineup that much worse.
(Dis)honorable mentions:
Yuniesky Betancourt (SEA) is hitting .249/.278/.331. The Mariners would love to ship out the 27-year old as he has atrocious defense and negligible value at the plate. Throw in a needed attitude adjustment, and the Sox are staying away.
Orlando Cabrera (OAK) is off to a poor .233/.279/.296 start and shows zero signs of turning it around. With his defense slipping as well, he’s a long shot.
Internally, the Red Sox could elect to fill the position with Jed Lowrie. Lowrie’s wrist gave him problems last year, but he still finished with a strong .258/.339/.400 campaign last year, posting a surprising 24.6 UZR/150.
He had only five games worth of at-bats in April before he was disabled and underwent surgery. If he can return at full strength, it’s a major boost to a Sox club in desperate need of one. Without any moves, Lowrie would easily be the de facto starter, but I don’t think the Sox would mind at all importing another starter and having Lowrie back up (or, if they don’t want to cut ties with Lugo just yet, send him to Triple-A).
So which shortstop should we get?
It seems as if there are two clear candidates: Miguel Tejada and Jack Wilson.
Really, the Sox could go either way on this one. If they acquire Tejada, they’re adding offense to the club in place of defense. If they acquire Jack Wilson, they’re adding defense but will still have an offensive hole.
At this stage, the Red Sox need help both offensively and defensively. That’s why I think Tejada makes more sense than Wilson — he’ll immediately add a bat to the lineup and can serve as designated hitter should the Sox move on from Ortiz. Lowrie would then man short.
If the club acquires a different player to DH (such as Adam Dunn, Nick Johnson or Josh Willingham), then I would be in favor of Wilson.
What do you think?
FIRE BRAND NOTE: I’m headed to Europe! Well, I am next Monday. This weekend, I’m going to Cape Cod for a wedding, so you won’t hear from me here on Fire Brand for an interminably long time: not until July 8th, although since I land stateside on the third, I may check in with a few quickposts. To take my place, former Fire Brander Zach Hayes will be stepping in, so you won’t miss me at all.

Categories: Cristian Guzman J.J. Hardy Jack Wilson Jed Lowrie Jhonny Peralta Julio Lugo Miguel Tejada Nick Green Orlando Cabrera Yuniesky Betancourt

Born on the 37th anniversary of the the day Babe Ruth died (1985) which later became the day Jimy Williams was fired in 2001 (a monumental event at the time), Evan was too young to experience the pain 1986 brought, but a deep wound was sowed in 2003. Since then, Fire Brand has become a blog that Red Sox “club officials read,” as per Peter Gammons. Evan enjoys working out, writing, reading, quality television, science fiction and history and being newly married. He is a professional baseball journalist as well as president of a state non-profit and member of the Board of Directors for a national profit. (Twitter.)

17 Responses to “Five shortstops Red Sox could pursue” Subscribe

  1. Shane June 4, 2009 at 4:38 AM #

    The only option I really like is Hardy, but like you said it is doubtful the Brewers would deal.
    Travel safe Evan and welcome back Zach!

  2. Ted June 4, 2009 at 4:41 AM #

    I don't see a deal for an SS going down. If Theo wanted an all glove guy he could pick up one of many minor leaguers out there who'd cost much less than Wilson. Lugo and Green have both hit enough, so why trade for Tejada who would presumably hit but not upgrade the defense? Hardy is the only one who makes sense, but he'd cost a lot in trade and I'm thinking they'd rather wait for Lowrie and live with what we have for now. If a deal is to be made this season, I'd have to imagine it will be for a DH type.

  3. Gerry June 4, 2009 at 5:19 AM #

    Good presentation. Thanks for breaking this down. I Agree with Shane & Ted. These guys would cost alot, yet none of them are "complete package" upgrades over what we have, and several have true down-sides. Only JJ Hardy would be a long term upgrade and worthy of a trade that would weaken the team in other areas (pen, SP), but he is going nowhere.
    Except for Hardy, the pre-wrist Lowrie is better than any of them both at defense and at the plate. Most SS, including Hanley, already have 4 – 5E's and are hitting worse than both Nick and Julio. Looking over the stats reminds me how rare Jeter has been. Let's see if Nick improves with reps, and continues to contribute with the bat while we wait a few more weeks for Jed.
    Evan, you will be missed. Enjoy the Cape and Europe. A month off. That is fantastic. Welcome Zach.

  4. Daniel Rathman June 4, 2009 at 6:48 AM #

    Welcome back, Zach!
    I want me some Hardy. Get Doug Melvin drunk if you have to, Theo. Just get me my J.J. Hardy.

  5. Anonymous June 4, 2009 at 8:40 AM #

    Meanwhile, Lugo's back in the lineup today, and Ortiz is not. Hmmm.

  6. Anonymous June 4, 2009 at 8:46 AM #

    Evan – Have a safe trip, and if your European visit includes Sweden or Denmark, be sure to check out O'Leary's Bar. You'll feel right at home.

  7. Tessie's Dad June 4, 2009 at 8:47 AM #

    #5 & #6 above were me, BTW.

  8. M.A.G. June 4, 2009 at 9:36 AM #

    Have a good trip, Evan. And welcome back, Zach.
    Very valuable data to take into account. Personally, I think Lowrie will be a solid SS, so it only has sense to replace him if we can really acquire some significant upgrade to the position. So, J.J. Hardy is the best option if we want to go for a SS.
    I don't want to trade for Peralta alone, because his price will be too high. But what about a multi-player deal? What about a trade for a package of V-Mart and Peralta? Or maybe a trade for Santana and Peralta? I think this could be an interesting option, because we can fix two holes in one move. We can fix our holes in SS and DH, and we can acquire our catcher for the future.
    Just an idea, anyway…

  9. Tom A. June 4, 2009 at 9:36 AM #

    No game thread this afternoon?

  10. Topher D June 4, 2009 at 4:40 PM #

    I may have suggested this before, but i think both sides would benefit. Penny, a combo of some kind including Bowden, and or delCarmen / Saito to Texas for Omar Vizquel and either Saltalamaccia or Teagarden.Preferably Saltalamaccia.With the release of V. Padilla they could use a decent starter. We get our shortstop insurance and a catcher of the not so distant future that Varitek could mentor. I would like J.J. Hardy but I dont see that getting done.I trust Theo to do something to improve this near drastic situation.

  11. JimT389 June 5, 2009 at 3:10 AM #

    Topher, near drastic? The team is in 1st place 10 games over .500 at the 1/3 pole. They need patience first, foremost and last. Lowerie is the fix at short only after completely giving up on Ortiz will they do something about DH. The time to really fix the DH is in the off season.
    Keep Penny, a solid veteran starter and mix and match Baldelli and Carter at DH if it comes to that.

  12. Gerry June 5, 2009 at 5:51 AM #

    I like that, JimT. Although Papi's recent AB's showcased imminent turnaround, if necessary Rocco and Carter, with alot of reps at DH and playing time to keep them sharp, could offer more than most DH's would.
    Penny has improved each game (like Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka). If he continues to become his '06/'07 self, continues to keep things light with the Marlins contingent of Beckett, Lowell, Kotsay, then his value will be high on many levels. I can't remotely fathom breaking up the Perfect Pen by trading such proven performers as MDC, Masterson, Saito, Bard; or our future of Buchholz, Bowden, Hagadone. The Sox finally pitching right, long term. Leave it alone.

  13. M.A.G. June 5, 2009 at 8:06 AM #

    Penny has make a good job, and that's exactly why this is the best moment to trade him. He has value right now, and he is gonne next season. We have Buchholz (and Smoltz) in the minors and you have to give them the chance soon. Penny also gives us the flexibility to trade Buchholz or Bowden for someone big.
    The Sox are in a good position right now, nobody is deniying it. But you have to be blind to deny we have some major holes in the lineup. A good GM has to fix the problems as soon as he can, not when the season is already lost and the team is already broken. We are in an excellent position for a big trade right now. If we lose this chance for sentimental reasons and self-complacency, that's just bad managment and we are gonna regret it latter.

  14. JimT389 June 5, 2009 at 9:27 AM #

    I'm not suggesting that changes not be made out of any sentimental reasons. Rather, I saying that a better short term fix in likely in house than out. It would be sad to trade away valuable assets to make a move that isn't substancialy better than what you can find in the system.
    In my opinion the only way you trade a Buchholz or Bowden is if you get a young player that fits a long term need (catcher, right hand power bat ect.) Trading for a Tejada or Jack Wilson is just a bad use of the farm system. You make those moves only after and if you determine that Lowerie can't cut it.

  15. Brewers Fan June 5, 2009 at 11:42 AM #

    JJ will not be traded so forget it. He is a top 5 MLB SS. A centerpiece to Milwaukee's offense… qnd defense for that matter.

  16. Gerry June 5, 2009 at 12:04 PM #

    Brewers Fan, you got a good one there. I hope the Brewers are smart enough to hang on to him, as they will need him to make a serious run. Failing that, he would enjoy Boston. He is one of just a few SS out there who offer better options than Lowrie, Green, Lugo.

  17. Brewer fan in Boston June 5, 2009 at 1:45 PM #

    Ah, another season, another SS in Boston? As a Brewer fan in Boston, I love how Sox fans think they can get an All-Star SS from the Brewers for players like Penny, Abe Alverez, DelCarmen (remember the last time that the Sox ran out a Boston native out of town? Pena would be much better than Ortiz right now). As a small market club, the Brewers would only listen to an offer of two Triple-A pitchers (Buchholtz, Bard, Bowden) and even that might not tempt Melvin to pull the trigger–even with Escobar waiting in Triple-A.