Over the past two days writers Conor Duffy and Mike Lavery have been all over second base – from Dustin Pedroia‘s new opportunities to lead both on the field and in the clubhouse to Boston’s prospects and bench players who can both spell Pedey over the course of a long season or play a longer term role if he goes down for a prolonged period of time.
Let’s get down to business. Pedroia had an off year last season. Although he’s still a top tier second baseman, his average was off 13 points from his career average. As you work down the list – OBP, off 22 points; Slugging, off 12 points, On Base Plus Slugging, off 33 points – it simply wasn’t a typical Pedroia year at the plate. At 15 homers, he still had some pop but also had some stretches where he was simply ineffective, especially after coming back from his thumb injury. He was great in the field as usual, sucking up anything that got close to him and frankly getting to balls that the majority of second baseman in the league couldn’t approach.
Remember, this is a guy who religiously practices diving for balls to both his left and right. He comes of the practice field dirty and leaving it all out there.
With the retirement of Boston’s elder statesmen Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, Pedroia – along with David Ortiz – is at a point in his career where the torch has been passed. If you aggregate a number of off-field comments and actions from the 2012 season, Pedey appears to have missed the handoff. He publicly took on Bobby Valentine early in the season and when the chips got down he appeared to turn inward.
Yeah, it sucks being on a losing team. Anyone who has ever played sports understands that and remembers the pain. If you’ve ever been on a really bad team you also remember those on the team who rose above it and created something cool in the midst of the frustration as well as those that wallowed in the abyss and made it worse. This is the crux of Pedroia’s challenge as the clock starts to inch toward spring training and as he stands firmly at the mid-point of his career.
If he can infuse young talent with the same passion, work ethic and love of the game that he possesses – prospects like Sean Coyle, Jose Iglesias and Xander Bogaerts – they will more quickly gel and the destruction of the team from the inside out that has taken place over the past two years can more quickly become a thing of the past. Show Pedro Ciriaco some tips about plate discipline and he’ll shine ever more brightly. Once Ciriaco is able to work a count properly he can be a threat over the course of a season.
It’s up to you Pedey. What kind of leader do you want to be? Whether you know it or not, all eyes now turn toward you to set the tone of professionalism, grit and determination. Channel your inner fire and ignite a new crop of teammates. You are the cornerstone on the road back.
Can’t stand up on my feet in the city
Got to get back to the real nitty gritty
Yes sir, No sir
Don’t come close to my
Home sweet home…
- Last Child, Aerosmith