The Devil Rays were fortunate enough to have the services of Julio Lugo the past several seasons. His tour with the Rays only happened because the Houston Astros were trigger happy in releasing Julio Lugo when charges were brought forth on spouse abuse. But, the charges never stuck and the Rays were the ones who were rewarded by showing faith in Lugo. He was a young player with Houston who was just getting his career underway. For a brief time their was talk of moving him to second base with the Rays with phenom B.J. Upton on the way, but Lugo’s production kept the Devil Rays from ever making a change. The Rays brain trust got smart and finally moved Crawford off leadoff . They went with the one two punch of speed in Lugo followed by Crawford. Lugo never asked to be traded but when it seemed like he was destined for a big pay day, the team player in Lugo was shipped to the Dodgers and the Devil Rays were rewarded quite nicely for a rental by L.A. in a package of prospects headlined by Joel Guzman. Recently, Gammons was asked in Q&A from Boston Globe in regards to new Red Sox SS Julio Lugo:
WMass_Fan Hi, Peter! It’s great to see that you’re back on stage again. Rock on. Here’s my question: If Coco Crisp had had the year that everyone expected him to have, would Alex Gonzalez still be playing shortstop for the Sox. In other words, did Boston go out and spend a ton of money on Julio Lugo to play short and bat leadoff because they didn’t feel comfortable with Crisp in that spot. I know they’ve had their eye on Lugo for some time, but it seems like a lot of money for a leadoff batter with only an average glove and better than average speed (a gift not likely to be used much given Francona’s past practice and the 2-5 batters they have).
Peter_Gammons That’s a very valid question. But I think Gonzalez’s inability to hit decent pitching and his unreliability made him someone that they were very unlikely to bring back. You have to play and being in only 110 games isn’t good enough. I do think that Crisp is a much better player than we saw. once he broke his hand he was missing fastballs that for three years in Cleve. he hammered. One major factor with Lugo is that David Ortiz is his best friend. Joe Madden told me he thought Lugo is one of the most positive energy players that he’s ever been around.