GM's Dilemma: Hmm...Should I Keep the Racist or the Wife Beater? (Alleged)
by Mike Carminati
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays officially welcomed shortstop Julio Lugo into the fold. Lugo, you'll recall, was released Tuesday by the Astros after being arrested for allegedly attacking his wife in the parking lot at Minute Maid Park before an April 30 game.
As far as his game on the field, there's nothing alleged about it out and out stinks. Since posting a decent on-base percentage and 22 stolen bases his rookie year (2000), Lugo's numbers in both statistical areas have deteriorated greatly. His slugging and batting average have always been far below average. Also, Lugo's range at short and ability to turn a double play have diminished.
The bottom line is he is a great fit for the D-Rays.
To make room for Lugo, reliever John Rocker was sent double to Double-A Orlando. Rocker lasted only two outings, one inning, and eight batters in his trial with Tampa. Of the eight batters he faced six reached base (3 walks, 2 hits, and a hit batsman). Rocker threw a total of 34 pitches but only 14 for strikes.
However, he may have achieved Lou Piniella's goals for him. That is, he may just have been recalled (after only 4 minor-league innings) to light a fire under young closer Lance Carter. Carter has recorded 3 saves in the four games he has pitched since Rocker's debut.
I guess I shouldn't criticize Tampa Bay for signing players of ill-repute. They are the Devil Rays after all, not the Angels.