MLB Roundup: Scutaro error costs BoSox, Zito impresses & Crawford delivers in the clutch

Yankees 6, Red Sox 4
Newcomer Marco Scutaro didn’t endear himself to many Red Sox fans on Tuesday night when he botched a routine ground ball in the eighth inning of a 4-4 game. Reliever Hideki Ojajima then walked Nick Johnson with the bases loaded to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead and the Mariano Rivera closed out the ninth. Considering the BoSox signed Scutaro for his defense, it wasn’t a good start for the former Blue Jay. The error made Boston fans pine for the days of Julio Lugo, who…all right sorry, I couldn’t continue with that joke. Red Sox fans would rather see Scutaro botch nine more throws than ever see Lugo in a Boston uniform again.

Giants 3, Astros 0
The Astros probably figured that they caught a break when Bruce Bochy decided to throw Barry Zito in between starts by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in Houston’s opening three-game series with the Giants. But the joke was on the Stros, as Zito completely shut them down for six innings. He allowed no runs on three hits while striking out five, proving that he was indeed worth the seven-year, $126 million contract he signed in December in ’06. No? Ah well – it was still a nice outing for the former Cy Young pitcher. Now Houston gets to deal with Cain tomorrow – good luck with that.

Rays 4, Orioles 3
Carl Crawford played the hero for the Rays on Tuesday night, knocking in the game-winning two-run single off Orioles’ closer Mike Gonzalez. It was Crawford’s only hit of the game, but it came at a crucial time. When asked about his dramatic hit afterwards, Crawford replied: “I know, right? Maybe the Rays should pony up for that new contract now – hahahaha…ahhh. Just kidding. But for realsies – where’s my contract?”

Padres 6, Diamondbacks 3
Chris Young managed to deliver his best Jake Peavy impression on Tuesday night, allowing no runs on one hit over six innings of work in San Diego’s win over Arizona. Young also struck out five to earn his first victory of the year. If Young’s shoulder is completely repaired, there’s no reason he can’t post similar numbers to the ones he produced in 2006 (11-5, 3.46 ERA). He’s really, really good…for a max of about six innings. But still – he’s good.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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Red Sox trade Lugo to Cardinals for Duncan

The Boston Red Sox actually found a taker for shortstop Julio Lugo. And get this: They even got something in return!

On the same day the BoSox traded for Pirates’ first baseman Adam LaRoche, they also acquired Chris Duncan from the Cardinals in exchange for Lugo, whom Boston will still have to pay $13.5 million over the next two and a half years.

Of course, trading Lugo for Duncan is like swapping your broken Neo-Geo for your buddy’s broken Sega Genesis. Neither team is getting anything of any real value, although both clubs have to be glad to get the stench of these players out of their organizations.

Lugo gives the Cardinals an experienced backup at shortstop who provides depth off the bench, although his defense is brutal, he can’t hit and his speed has seriously diminished. So…good luck with that.

In Duncan, the Red Sox get something for Lugo, although that something is a 28-year-old outfielder that has no upside, can’t hit and is a liability on defense. But again, they found a trade partner for Lugo, whom they would have taken a big bucket of sunflower seeds and an extra rosen bag for. Maybe a change of scenery will help Duncan realize his mediocre potential and he’ll develop into a decent bat off the bench. But if he doesn’t, Theo Epstein and company isn’t going to lose sleep over it.

Anyone up for some Sonic the Hedgehog?

Red Sox designate Julio Lugo for assignment

No matter where you are right now, if you listen close enough you’ll hear the faint chants of jubilation coming from the Boston, Massachusetts’s area.

BoSox fans your wish has come true: Julio Lugo has officially been designated for assignment, which means he no longer will haunt your baseball dreams.

The Red Sox now have 10 days to either trade Lugo, release him or re-assign him.
The Red Sox have put feelers out for a potential trade partner for Lugo, though they’d likely be on the hook for the most — if not all — of the $13.5 million the shortstop is owed through the end of 2010.

Such a situation would have seemed unthinkable in December 2006, when the Red Sox signed Lugo off the free-agent market for four years at $36 million.

Originally signed to be the club’s leadoff hitter, Lugo struggled early in his first season and never fully rebounded to be the sparkplug the Red Sox remember playing against with the Tampa Bay Rays. Lugo has batted in the bottom portion of the order during most of his time in Boston. But the bigger issue was his defense.

After making 16 errors in the first half of the 2008 season, Lugo tore his left quad and missed the entire second half.

He came to Spring Training this season eager to try to reclaim his job in a position battle with Lowrie. But that plan ended when Lugo, 33, had to undergo right knee surgery in March.

Though Lowrie had to undergo left wrist surgery in April, Lugo couldn’t capitalize on the opening once he returned to the roster on April 27. His range was seemingly limited from his leg woes, and he was supplanted by Green for good in late May.

Playing in 37 games this season, Lugo hit .284 with one homer and eight RBIs. He made seven errors in 97 total chances.

Lugo was brutal from the moment he signed and what made matters worse was that Boston had to hang onto him because of his inflated salary. There’s obviously no guarantee that a free agent signing will pan out and there have been hundreds of FA busts over the years.

But Lugo will definitely go down as one of the worst free agent signings in some time, especially considering that Boston once had Hanley Ramirez in its farm system. Granted, the Red Sox got Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell out of that deal with Florida for Ramirez, but still, Lugo wouldn’t have been signed had Boston stuck with Hanley.

Red Sox willing to eat Lugo’s salary?

According to a report by’s Ken Rosenthal, the Red Sox are willing to eat Julio Logo’s remaining salary in a trade.

The Red Sox, facing a roster bind as they prepare for the returns of shortstop Jed Lowrie and third baseman Mike Lowell, have informed teams that they are willing to assume virtually all of shortstop Julio Lugo’s remaining salary in a trade, according to a major-league source.

While another source told earlier Thursday that the Sox were “desperately” trying to move Lugo, the second source offered a different view.

The Red Sox, he said, recognize that Lugo is a “sunk cost,” and would accept a fringe prospect for him in return. In other words, they are willing to assume the same financial burden that they would if they released him.

A release could be the ultimate outcome. The Red Sox are likely to designate Lugo for assignment if they are unable to trade him once Lowrie returns.

The problem with Lugo’s trade value — besides his erratic defense since returning from knee surgery — is his contract. Lugo, 33, is owed the remainder of his $9 million salary this season, plus $9 million next season. The Sox have been trying to move him since last off-season.

Boston is going to have a tough time moving Lugo, even if they do eat all of his salary. He’s brutal defensively, has zero pop and is already 33. He’s done.

Ten infuriating MLB players to watch

Whether it’s that reliever that always seems to blow tight games in late innings, that batter that leaves runners on the bases, or that starter that walks seven batters an inning, every team has at least one player that as a fan, you’d rather set your eyelids on fire than watch trot onto the field for just one more inning.

I’ve compiled a list of 10 infuriating, punch-a-hole-through-your-wall MLB players to watch. Granted, this list is by no means all-inclusive (and I implore you the reader to list the guys that drive you nuts in the comments section). But these are the 10 that seem to make my blood boil on a consistent basis, whether they’re playing for my favorite team or not.

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