By Johnny Carey, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) --- It's no secret that the shortstop position has been a mess in Boston since Nomar Garciaparra was traded in 2004.
Thanks to Xander Bogaerts, those days are finally over.
Bogaerts officially arrived as an elite shortstop in 2015 when he finished second in the majors in hits and batting average, while also being named a Gold Glove Finalist.
In 2016, the 23-year-old has the opportunity to become the best in the game.
So, before we rightfully place all of our attention on Bogaerts, it's time to say one last goodbye to some of the many shortstops who have been apart of Red Sox fans' lives over the years.
Let's take a look at some of those notorious ballplayers, ranked from most awesome to least awesome. (But remember, they're gone now. It's ok.)
1: Pokey Reese (2004): It's a universally recognized truth that Pokey was awesome. His combination of athleticism and personality made Reese a quick fan-favorite in Boston. Plus, his name is Pokey Reese. It doesn't get much better than that. He went out on top, as the legendary 2004 season which saw him hit .221 over 96 games would be Pokey's last. We'll always have the memories.
Here's a reminder that Pokey Reese was basically Derek Jeter:
2: Orlando Cabrera (2004): Cabrera was actually a very solid player. Of course, he'll pretty much only be remembered as the guy who replaced Nomar since his stay in Boston was so short. After seeing who replaced him, however, it's hard not to think that Theo should have held on to Cabrera for a little while longer.
Cabrera provided some big plays in 2004, including this diving catch that kept the Red Sox alive in Game 4 of the ALCS:
3: Nick Punto (2012): Who doesn't have a soft spot for the recently retired Nick Punto? After all, it was pretty darn impressive when 35-year-old Punto was named starting shortstop for powerhouse Team Italy at the World Baseball Classic. What made the feat even more impressive was that he's from San Diego. His 1-12 performance will surely earn him a spot in Italian folk lore for years to come. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, he was only able to contribute a .200/.301/.272/.573 split over 65 games during the Bobby V Era, but hey, you've got to admit that the Nick Punto Trade was a major turning point in Red Sox history.
4: Stephen Drew (2013-14): There's been plenty said and written about World Series Champion Drew over the past couple of years and his utter inability to hit a baseball. It can't be overlooked, however, that Drew was an important piece of the team's title in 2013. His stellar defense coupled with 67 RBI made Drew a stabilizing force in the middle of the Boston infield. 2014 though? Yeah, that wasn't so good.
5: Jed Lowrie (2008-2011): What to say about Jed Lowrie? I guess, he wasn't always horrible? He's still kicking around the league, which is nice for him. After being traded to Houston before the 2012 season, Lowrie played one year for the Astros. Then he went to Oakland for two years, only to return to Houston for one more year, before returning to Oakland in 2016. Following that pattern, it's only a matter of time til he's back in Boston, so jump back on the Lowrie train if you were ever on it.
Here's Lowrie shining moment, as he sent the Red Sox to the 2008 ALCS:
6: Jose Iglesias (2011-2013): Doesn't he have a World Series ring, too? Iglesias was the best defensive shortstop of the bunch, and in 2013, the rookie managed to hit .330 before being traded to Detroit in order to acquire Jake Peavy. Plus, he helped the Red Sox win Game 6 of the ALCS when he botched what would have been an inning-ending double play ball. Instead, Shane Victorino sent a grand slam over the Monster, and Iglesias got his 2013 World Series ring.
7: Alex Gonzalez (2006, 2009): This guy could flat out field. Unfortunately, he also flat out couldn't hit. His .299 OBP in 2006 left much to be desired for the Red Sox, who ultimately let him go. But wait! Gonzalez made his triumphant return for 44 games in 2009, in which he actually hit pretty well. Alas, it wasn't enough as the team moved on from Gonzalez once again after the season.
8: Marco Scutaro (2010-2011): Marco Scutaro is one of those names in baseball that inevitably elicits a response along the lines of, "Oh yeah, Marco Scutaro. I forgot about him. He did play baseball." Yeah, Marco Scutaro did play baseball for the Red Sox. He didn't play particularly well or particularly poorly, but he played nonetheless.
9: Mike Aviles (2011-2012): Mike Aviles is about as mediocre a baseball player as you'll ever find. He had the best power numbers of his career for Boston, as he belted 13 HR and drove in 60 runs. He wasn't terrible, but also wasn't too memorable either.
10: Julio Lugo (2007-2009): World Series Champion, Julio Lugo. Four years, $36 million for Julio Lugo. 10 home runs, 103 RBI, and one ring over almost 3 seasons for Julio Lugo. World Series Champion, Julio Lugo.
11: Edgar Renteria (2005): Well, chalk that one up to a loss. Four years, $40 million spent didn't exactly go as planned when Renteria was shipped away to Atlanta for Andy Marte, who was then shipped away to Cleveland for Coco Crisp. One season of .276, 8 HR, 70 RBI, and 30 errors (30!!!) wasn't quite what anyone expected. Still, you've probably seen Renteria in a Red Sox highlight once or twice.
Honorable Mentions: Alex Cora, Pedro Ciriaco, Nick Green.
Goodbye guys, it was average-at-best knowing you.
In 2016, it's time to sit back, relax and let Xander Bogaerts erase any lingering memories of Julio Lugo or Edgar Renteria. Hallelujah.
Johnny Carey is a senior at Boston College. You can find him on Twitter @JohnnyHeights.
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