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Bobby Valentine congratulates Dustin Pedroia after they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Looking Forward at Dustin Pedroia

With Dustin Pedroia coming off his worst year as a pro (a solid argument could be made for his rookie year), Pedroia must bounce back while leading the team to rebound from it’s worst season in a long time. Saying that it was Dustin’s worst year as a pro isn’t really a slight because he had a very good year for a second basemen, it’s just compared to his stellar career so far.  As Conor wrote yesterday Boston’s 2nd base position is pretty thin behind Pedroia, with only Pedro Ciriaco to fill in. When it comes to prospects, there is not much there. So let’s be glad that Pedroia is tied up through 2015.

So what can we expect from Pedroia next season?

Although I was well ahead of the rest of the media pulling for a Jacoby Ellsbury for Elvis Andrus trade (One of my many Ells/Andrus articles), it seems right now that Ellsbury will stay in Boston for this season with Arizona a more likely candidate to trade with Texas. With Ellsbury plus the Red Sox resigning Ortiz make some pretty good pieces of bread in the Pedroia sandwich.  Yum. So we should expect Pedroia to put up numbers that we’ve gotten use to watching. Barring an injury Pedroia should continue to be a top-3 second baseman with Robinson Cano being the only clear cut player ahead of Dustin. He will drive in a solid amount of runs while having a steady bat behind him to drive him in as long as he continues to get on base.

The last question I have about Pedroia is this – Will Dustin emerge as a team leader? I’m not saying he hasn’t been a leader of some sort in the past but last season seemed like a year without a focus, without a leader, without a voice, and without a sniff of the playoffs. Besides Pedrioa, the only obvious leader on the team is David Ortiz. And we saw Ortiz take things personally with the media and personally with the management. A lot of things we heard from him were about his contract concerns. It went from we’re gonna get you to I gotta get mine. Maybe with a multi-year contract Ortiz will focus on leading this team again. But what about Dustin? It would be hard to envision a team with Ortiz after this contract runs out and maybe Pedroia needs to step up to be the top dog on the team. A player who played cribbage daily with Terry Francona lost his (figurative) competitive edge last year maybe bringing back Terry’s former pitching coach John Ferrell to manage the team will put a spark into Pedroia and develop a leadership relationship with the manager. Let’s not forget that Bobby Valentine quickly lost his connection with the veterans last year that can be restored this season starting with Pedroia.

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