Following close on the heels of Bob’s article about the recent injury epidemic came the news that Nate McLouth has been put on the 15 day DL and Jordan Schafer recalled from Gwinnett to take the roster spot. The Braves also signed free agent Julio Lugo to a minor league contract pending a physical and will assign him to Gwinnett. Lugo will earn $12K per month in the minor leagues and a pro-rated portion of $650K if he makes the Major Leagues.
Perennial prospect Jordan Schafer started spring with high hopes but those quickly faded and he returned to Gwinnett where he has been mediocre this year – .256/.309/.323/.633 1 homer 21 RBI in 186 plate appearances. The fact that Wilkin Ramirez was called up first is an indication where he stands in the depth chart.
Speculation that this will push the Braves to reach into the trade market early is muffled by the fact that two injuries – Brandon Beachy and Tim Hudson – have been to starting pitchers. They publicly denied wanting to trade Derek Lowe before Hudson’s back acted up and that’s probably even more true at this point. Still these injuries and the tear to Chipper Jones’ meniscus leave the lineup so thin it’s nearly transparent. Uggla’s slump continues and the only 300+ hitters in the starting nine are Joe Mather and Eric Hinske. The signing of Lugo leaves me scratching my head.
The journeyman utility infielder was once a bug part of the Astros future but off the field domestic problems led to his release in 2003. He played three seasons for Tampa Bay then moved to the Dodgers and Red Sox. His career in Boston was less than notable. He had one hitless streak of 0-31 and was in such a slump Tom Elitch coined the phrase “Lugo for 4″ and the Boston fans – kind hearted and forgiving as they are – reminded him every game. He followed the slump with a 14 game .444 streak that raised his average all the way to .226. After having a knee scoped he was traded to Baltimore where his line last year was .249/.298/.282. His a career line is .270/.334/.386 but his hitting has obviously deteriorated. Last year he hit .210 off of righties but did manage .306 (30-98) against lefties. With those sterling qualifications I’m not sure where he fits into the minor league depth chart. He’s not much – if any – better than Diory Hernandez or Brandon Hicks as far as I can tell. Perhaps he’s filler for the minors as a precursor to a trade or maybe he’s really a backup for Lynchburg.