The St Louis Cardinals’ newest infielder, Julio Lugo is expected to be at tonight’s game in Washington, a one-game makeup versus the usually hapless Nationals. Knowing Tony LaRussa’s tendency to throw players into the mix early on, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Lugo’s name on the lineup card right away.
In a bit of a “get to know you” ruse, here are some more things you should know about Lugo:
- If he doesn’t start right away tonight in DC, I would lay money down on him being in the lineup Friday night in Philadelphia. Lefty J.A. Happ will be on the mound for the Phillies, and Lugo has done well against southpaws this season – .333/.415/.444 – (albeit in limited plate appearances) while the rest of the Cardinals have struggled.
- Lugo has made appearances at second base, shortstop, third base, and all three outfield positions during his career. He’s been almost exclusively a shortstop in Boston the last two-and-a-half seasons, and really his entire career. He played some second and third base for the Dodgers in 2006. Center field was a one time experience, for Houston in 2000.
- Despite the above bullet feigning some flexibility in Lugo’s leather, he has 1054 games played at shortstop. Next on the list? Second base with 84.
- Lugo has lost a step or two since multiple injuries to his wheels. His defense has declined steadily since 2007, and he hasn’t been as fleeting on the basepaths either. Lugo stole 33 bases in 2007, but is on a pace to steal less than half that number this season (if plate appearances were equal, which they won’t be).
- The Cardinals are already playing up Lugo’s “flexibility” and how he “could see time in the outfield” (who couldn’t, for this Cardinal team?). It should be noted that Lugo has 18 games played in the outfield. Only six of those are starts. Let’s think about keeping him on the infield, eh Tony?
- Lugo arrives with the Cardinals as the fourth-highest paid player on the roster. Kind of amazing to me, what about you?
- The Red Sox are paying a bunch of cash in the trade to cover Lugo’s salary for the remainder of this season and next, or at least enough cash to almost cover the total amount owed. That amounts to approximately $13 million or so.
This brings me to my final point, one that has been somewhat glossed over in the discussions about the trade, perhaps because it’s not much of a concern. Admittedly, I was concerned, until finding the details – so I provide this as comfort to Cardinal Nation.
You will hear talk surrounding this trade of a vesting option in Lugo’s contract that could potentially pay him another $9 million for the 2011 season. What of this vesting option? From Cot’s Baseball Contracts:
Julio Lugo inf
4 years/$36M (2007-10), plus 2011 vesting option
- 4 years/$36M (2007-10), plus 2011 vesting option
- signed by Boston as a free agent 12/06
- $1M signing bonus (paid 4/07 – 10/07)
- 07:$8M, 08:$9M, 09:$9M, 10:$9M, 11:$9M vesting option
- option vests with 2,400 PAs 2007-10 & 600 PAs 2010
- acquired by St. Louis in trade from Boston 7/22/09 after being DFA 7/17/09 (Red Sox to pay all of approximately $13.5M still due Lugo in 2009 and 2010)
Note that the vesting option requires that Lugo achieve both 2400 plate appearances in the years 2007-2010.
Not only does Lugo need those 2400 plate appearances, but the deal also requires that he make 600 in 2010 alone.
600 plate appearances by a Cardinal in a season has only been achieved 32 times during the TLR era. Only five of those occurrences have come since 2005. Three of them were Albert Pujols. The other two were Troy Glaus and Ryan Ludwick last season. Lugo just isn’t going to do it.
Rest assured Cardinal fans, Lugo won’t be around beyond 2010 (if he lasts that long), and the Cards are apparently not on the hook for much or any of his salary.
Now then, hopefully you are armed with the knowledge you need to appropriately form opinions about the newest Cardinal. Cheer loudly, and often.