Approach any Red Sox fan and mention the day July 31, 2004. Does it ring a bell? Let me help refresh your memory. Think trading deadline and disgruntled star ... There you go. You got it.

For all those still left out in the blue, that date is significant in Red Sox history because it happened to be the day that long-time shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was dealt to the Cubs. It ended his nine-year stay in Beantown. Why I am bringing this up? Well, numerous Fantasy owners have asked about current Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo and his abysmal 2007 campaign. So it got me thinking, is there a new curse brewing in Boston? Ever since Nomar left town, the Red Sox have had a revolving door at shortstop.

Garciaparra played in 38 games with the Sox in 2004 due to injuries. He suffered a leg injury in spring training and the rumors circled that Garciaparra's slow recovery had to do with his unhappiness with the front office. While Nomar rested up, the team brought in Pokey Reese. Not a good move. After having a few good seasons with the Reds and then two awful ones with the Pirates, the Red Sox believed Reese would be able to turn his career around in Boston. He played in 96 games, hit .221 and struck out 60 times. He had an on-base percentage of .271.

Red Sox brass traded Nomar mid-summer and filled the hole by acquiring Orlando Cabrera. He played 58 games that summer for Boston, hit .294 with six homers and 31 RBI. Boston had found their replacement for Garciaparra. Too bad the they let him sign with the Angels after helping them break their long World Series drought.

No worries. The Red Sox let Cabrera walk and signed former Cardinals SS Edgar Renteria. He was coming off a six-year stretch with the Cardinals in which he averaged 12 homers and 75 RBI per season. He was also a threat to steal bases. Renteria's stay in the American League lasted one unfulfilling season. He made a career-high 30 errors, while hitting just .276 with eight homers and 70 RBI. And for the first time in his 10-year career, he stole less than 10 bases in a season.

See you later Edgar, hello Alex Gonzalez. He never hit for a great average during his eight-year career with the Marlins, but he showed at times that he possessed great pop in his bat. It was not evident with Boston. While he had a great year in the field, he went on to hit just .255 with nine homers and 50 RBI. After all those prosperous offensive years with Nomar, despite a great glove, Gonzalez's bat wasn't going to appease the Boston faithful. He signed with the Reds in the offseason and look at him now. He has 12 homers and 35 RBI through 70 games.

Oh and let's not forget, Red Sox management shipped Hanley Ramirez to Florida in a trade that brought Josh Beckett in return. Beckett has been great on the hill, but Ramirez is tearing the cover off the ball for the Marlins.

We have arrived at the Lugo era, and if he doesn't improve soon, he might be on his way out of Boston for a case of Sam Adams beer. Lugo is currently riding a 0-for-32 slump. His average has dipped below the Mendoza Line (.190), and he has quickly been dropped from leadoff hitter to the dreaded nine-hole. He has never hit over .300 in his career and had just 68 career homers coming into this season. His Fantasy value was elevated at the beginning of the season because he was expected to be the place setter for the likes of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and J.D. Drew. At this point, I'd rather trot my own mother out at short for the Red Sox because she can't be any worse. Right now, Lugo's Fantasy value is at an extreme low. I would advise Fantasy owners to hold on to Lugo, pray for a little hot streak and then trade him before he costs you a championship.

I also have some advice for Red Sox SS prospect Jed Lowrie, who is currently hitting .304 with Double-A Portland -- run away. Get as far away from the Red Sox organization as you can. Don't get sucked into what is becoming the 'Black Hole' at shortstop. The Curse of Nomar is alive and well!

What are reasonable expectations for Jermaine Dye in the second half? Is he worth trading for? -- Scott Quirk, USA

MH: Dye is currently battling a quadriceps injury, which I believe has plagued him all season. In a contract year, Dye is hitting just .230 with 11 homers and 35 RBI. He hasn't been this bad since 2004, when he had an injury-plagued season with Oakland. As long he gets a chance to heal, he should come back in the second half with some vigor. Also, I don't expect him to finish the season with the White Sox. He will likely be traded and a change of scenery might also jumpstart his bat. Right now is the time to acquire Dye. You can likely get him at a steal since his numbers aren't that glamorous.

Does the move to San Diego help or hurt Michael Barrett? -- Lou Nicosia, USA

MH: You can't argue with the fact that Barrett had some great years with the Cubs from 2004-06. He hit 16 homers in each of those three seasons and was on pace to achieve, if not surpass, that mark again. Barrett now makes the move to a pitcher's park in San Diego. I hate to admit it, but even with a solid San Diego lineup, pitching is king at Petco Park. The move hurts Barrett.

Carlos Guillen's bat has been on fire lately. Is it going to stay that way or is he someone I should consider trading while he's hot? -- Cody Petersen, Oak Park, Calif.

MH: Cody, take your hand off the trade button and back away from your computer. Guillen is in the midst of a career year. The fact that he has at least one RBI in his last 10 games heading into Thursday should be proof enough that he is worth holding onto. I know he has battled some injuries this season, but under Jim Leyland, he has the will to stay in the lineup. He has been successful (when in the lineup) since coming to Detroit in 2004, and he doesn't appear to be slowing down despite signing a contract extension prior to the season.

I have drafted Johnny Damon for years because of his consistency, and he has never let me down. However, this season injuries seem to be a problem. Part of me wants to drop him to make room for some of the great young outfielders like Hunter Pence or Corey Hart. I am hesitant because I just don't know how they will play out and if Damon will ever come around this season? -- Jason Ramback, Everett, Wash.

MH: Damon just found out Monday that he had four displaced ribs. His chiropractor popped them back into place and now only time will tell if it will make a difference. Although, he did respond with a two-run homer Tuesday in his first game since the problem was unearthed. I wouldn't drop Damon outright on most occasions, but if you can get your hands on Pence, then by all means make the transaction. Pence is on the upswing of his career and it appears Damon is on the downturn of his. I am a big fan of Hart as well, but I am not sure if his recent hot streak is just a flash in the pan. Pence, on the other hand, is for real. I would advise trading Damon, but if you can acquire a guy like Pence, then drop the struggling veteran.

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