The trade deadline has passed. The Red Sox go into the final two months of the season with only one real sore spot at shortstop where Marco Scutaro is really more cut out to be a utility infielder and Jed Lowrie can’t stay healthy. It continues the pattern of instability the Sox have had at short since the 2004 World Series run.
Nomar Garciaparra, one of the modern icons in Boston sports, had manned the shortstop position from 1997 through July of 2004 when the most famous deadline deal in Red Sox history shipped him the Cubs and brought in Orlando Cabrera, Dave Roberts and Doug Mienkiewitcz. The latter provided valuable defensive help at first base. Roberts stole the most important base in club history in Game 4 of the League Championship Series. And Cabrera handled the shortstop job before being cut loose at the end of the season and going on to success with the Angels, where he had a good run of 2-3 years as one of the AL’s top shortstops. Boston meanwhile, grasped for stability at the infield’s most important defensive position.
They’ve come and gone through the Hub these last eight years. Edgar Renteria was brought in for 2005 with a good pedigree, but he had trouble handling the Boston atmosphere and really struggled defensively. He was traded to Atlanta after a year on the job. Alex Gonzalez came in and played the most exquisite defensive shortstop I’ve ever watched. But Theo Epstein was convinced that in the AL East shortstop was an offensive position as well. So he gave Julio Lugo a four-year contract. Lugo’s performance certainly made Red Sox shortstop play offensive, although not in the sense Epstein intended. The forgettable Nick Green got a crack at the job and improved on Lugo’s effort, if only because you didn’t have the words “$44 million for four years” going through your mind every time he came to the plate or couldn’t cut off a slowly hit grounder up the middle. Gonzalez came back for a stint in a trade deadline deal in 2009, although he was again let go after the year was over. Finally the front office signed Scutaro and continued to hope for Lowrie, who’d shown such promise in 2008 and again at the start of this year to get healthy. Nothing’s worked and in the tradition of Boston sports it’s led some to again believe larger forces are at work (nothing is ever simple with us, is it?).