MLB: JUN 23 Red Sox at Nationals

With the All-Star Break finally behind us, it’s time to take a look ahead at what the second half has in store for us.

One thing it doesn’t have in store for us is Julio Lugo’s presence in a Red Sox uniform.

Now, while the Red Sox could always throw us a curveball, it’s highly likely that the following will occur:

  • Red Sox activate SS Jed Lowrie, option 1B Aaron Bates to Pawtucket.
    Activating Lowrie is more of a necessity than activating Lowell first. If Lowell draws the first activation (unless the Sox make a secondary move such as optioning Daniel Bard, both cannot be activated together) the Sox will play Friday’s game with no infield backup, given Lugo would go to make room for Buchholz. Activating Lowrie first and giving him a start at third would at least enable the Sox positional flexibility should an injury in the infield occur. If Green or Pedroia needs to exit the game, it can be managed. With Lowell on the roster, it would take some creative (and unpalatable) maneuvering. But surprisingly, that’s what it looks like they will do.
  • Red Sox activate SP Clay Buchholz, designate SS Julio Lugo for assignment.
    Buchholz has slipped a bit in his last couple of starts, so it’s thought that the Sox used the opportunity of Beckett and Wakefield needing to be pushed back if they pitch in the All-Star Game to reward Buchholz with a start. It’s the right move; after a while, competitive players such as Buchholz will lose their competitive edge and switch on auto-pilot.
  • Red Sox option SP Clay Buchholz to Pawtucket, activate 3B Mike Lowell.
    After Buchholz’s start, the Sox then have the room to bring Lowell back. The three transactions would effectively replace Bates with Lowell and Lugo with Lowrie, albeit in a creative way to work Buchholz in.

Now, I mentioned that the Red Sox could get creative and keep Lugo on the roster. How? These are some of the options I see:

  • Option Daniel Bard to Triple-A.
    No thanks. While I’m a proponent of moving to 11 pitchers, I don’t see Bard heading back to Pawtucket; not with the increased role he’s taking on. Takashi Saito is in danger of slipping behind Bard on the depth chart. You don’t option someone in that situation, unless it’s temporary. Anyone optioned cannot return to the majors for at least 10 days, barring injury. Want to go without Bard for that long?
  • Trade Clay Buchholz or Brad Penny.
    The school of thought here is that either the Red Sox are close enough to a trade to send Brad Penny out that they announced Buchholz’s promotion, or that Buchholz is on the way out in a trade, but the opposing team wants to see him showcased first. This option is highly unlikely. I can’t see the Sox staking such a major roster shift on a possible trade. If they internally game-planned Buchholz’s promotion, great. But they made it public — it would not be the Sox’s style to do that if a trade was around the corner.
  • Leave Jed Lowrie in the minor leagues.
    Very unlikely, given the public proclamation that Lowrie is slated to be activated, but still possible. Nick Green has a good grasp on the starting job, and with Lowrie coming off surgery and a few setbacks, mightn’t he be better off starting full time in Pawtucket, at least just to buy some more time for the Sox to gauge what to do with Lugo?

Nah, I’m going to say this is it for Lugo. The Sox have expressed a commitment to bringing Lowrie back to the majors as soon as they deem him ready. Mike Lowell is around the corner and reportedly has much more mobility than he had at any point during the season.

The Red Sox will designate Lugo for assignment, no one will bite, and he will be released with his $9 million salary for next year on the hook. He’ll sign with a team needing a middle infielder and play out the rest of the year on the bench for a contender or as a starter for a team going nowhere.

Lugo came to the Sox with a lot of promise. He was supposed to be our long-term shortstop, like Edgar Renteria was. But… better. A history of success in the American League. Great range and doubles power that appealed to Theo Epstein.

History will show that Julio Lugo was the starting shortstop for the 2007 World Series champions.

History will also show that he was a bust. And now he’s a bust that will be someone else’s problem.