After they traded Nomar Garciaparra in 2004 and before the arrival of Xander Bogaerts in 2013, being the shortstop of the Red Sox was like being the drummer in Spinal Tap. Among those who manned the revolving door on the left side of the infield was one of the worst free agents the Red Sox ever signed, Julio Lugo.
To this day I don’t understand then-GM Theo Epstein’s love affair with Lugo, but Theo basically bid against himself to sign Lugo to a four-year, $36 million contract in the winter of 2006. The plan was for Lugo to be the Red Sox leadoff hitter, but he was so bad at getting on base that then-manager Terry Francona dropped him to the bottom of the order.
Lugo struggled so much at the plate that at one point he went 0-31 from mid-June to early July although he did improve toward the end of the season. For the year he hit .237 with 8 home runs and 73 RBI to go along with a dismal .294 OBP. On the bright side, he stole 33 bases including 20 in a row successfully.
He hit much better in the 2007 postseason, hitting .300 in the ALDS, .200 in the ALCS, and .385 in the World Series. Things didn’t improve in 2008 and he was hitting .268 with one home run and 22 RBI when he went down with a knee injury halfway through the season (82 games). After surgery, he came back in 2009 but again played poorly.
In 32 games in 2009, Lugo hit .284 with one home run and 8 RBI. Not only was he a disaster at the plate, but he was also a disaster in the field, committing 19 errors in 2007, 16 in 2008, and 7 in 2009. Mercifully, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in July, ending his Red Sox career.
While Lugo had a few big hits in the 2007 postseason run, I don’t think there’s a single Red Sox fan who misses him or looks back upon his time in Boston with any particular fondness.