Lugo flies the coop; Chris Duncan the return

It looks like someone else besides Julio Lugo still believes he can play shortstop in the Major Leagues. In case you haven’t heard yet, Lugo was traded to St. Louis for 1B/OF Chris Duncan, son of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, and a PTBNL. Cards fans have a right to be dismayed, but he can’t be too happy with this deal either. Here’s my evaluation:

Duncan is basically a replacement-level role player with some upside. Read: 1B/OF depth in case the LaRoche/Youkilis/Lowell experiment doesn’t work out. He’s had recurrent back problems, and suffered a herniated disc in his neck last season, which cut his season short; he’s been pretty poor this year, after a pretty good April. The Cardinals have given up on him, but the Sox can take a flier. As I’ve mentioned, the Sox need help against right-handed pitching this year, and they’ve addressed it by getting both Adam LaRoche and Duncan.

Duncan is a big guy (6’5″) and there’s no doubt about his power swing. He is a good fastball hitter, strikes out a lot (27.6%), but he also walks a lot (career 12.2%), which we know the Sox like. However, his career split against LHP (.206/.269/.346) and his suspect defense scream platoon/career backup/part-time DH. That being said, a guy who can hit righties to the tune of .270/.366/.485 lifetime could come in handy. He’s being assigned to Pawtucket, and he’s in his last year with minor league options (entering arbitration, which is why the Cards were willing to lose him). That makes him the perfect backup-in-waiting just in case we lose Lowell for good or some other catastrophic injury to a CI.

Why did Epstein get him when we already have Chris Carter, Paul McAnulty and other lefty 1B/LF guys in the system? The name of the game in trading Lugo was value. The Sox ate the whole contract so they could get something of value back, anything. And this was the best value they could get. Plus, Duncan has Major League experience, and one postseason under his belt (2006).


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