Ten thoughts on Pedroia and his future as heart of the Sox

Ten thoughts on Pedroia and his future as heart of the Sox
July 24, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Last year, right around this time, there was a mutiny within the Red Sox clubhouse, and it was fueled by an unlikely source.

Dustin Pedroia, according to Yahoo! Sports, had been one of the most vocal players in a meeting with owners, aimed to promote/demand the firing of manager Bobby Valentine. Shortly afterwards, photos surfaced of Pedroia mocking and messing with Valentine while he slept on a team flight, and this was a few months after Pedroia publicly challenged Valentine’s authority after the manager had publicly challenged Kevin Youkilis’ desire and work ethic.

“I don’t really understand what Bobby’s trying to do,” Pedroia said, “but that’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. I’m sure he’ll figure that out soon.”

These were the Red Sox at their lowest point, at a time when even a player as beloved and respected as Pedroia had crossed over to the dark side. “Trade everyone!” was a popular sentiment around Boston. Even Pedroia. He was part of the problem. They were all part of the problem.

A year later, it’s still hard to believe how much has changed and impossible to quantify how thankful a nation of baseball fans are that this franchise is back on the right track. Beginning with the trade that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and (obviously) Nick Punto to the Dodgers, followed by Valentine’s ousting, the hiring of John Farrell and a commitment to stocking the clubhouse with players who care more about playing and winning than bitching and whining, the Red Sox are once again a team that you can believe in. A team that you can root for without feeling the need to scrub yourself with bleach before getting into bed. And once again, Dustin Pedroia is the face of all that’s right.

Looking back, maybe he always was. That’s easy to say after the fact, now that we’ve all come down from an overdose of crazy pills, but at this point Pedroia’s intentions during that rough stretch are clearer than ever.  

Sure, he rebelled against authority, but it wasn’t in the name of Dustin Pedroia. Instead, it was in the name of the Red Sox, a team that he’d come to love on the whole and absolutely despise in the moment. He was as angry and frustrated as the rest of Boston. That’s because he was Boston. He is Boston.

And with yesterday’s announcement of the second basemen’s seven-year/$100 million extension, Pedroia will be Boston for a long, long time. For the rest of his career, in fact. Pedroia is what Nomar Garciaparra could have been. He’s what Derek Jeter is. And on that note, here are 10 quick thoughts on No. 15’s historic deal.

1. It’s historic because this is the first time in baseball history that a second baseman has booked a nine-figure deal (at least until Robinson Cano and Jay Z break the bank later this year). Pedroia’s is also the 43rd $100M contract in Major League history, and while the results have varied (here in Boston, alone), it’s hard to argue with the bargain that Sox got here.

If nothing else, look at it this way: To this point, including the 2013 season, Pedroia has made $30M, and is on the books for another $10 million in 2014. Tack on the $100 million extension, and you’re looking at a career long deal of 16 years for $140 million.

Obviously, who knows what the future will bring. Every day we wake up, any one of us could be hit by a bus, swept up in a Sharknado or clipped by a rogue sky diver. But at the end of the day, regardless of what he might look like in 2019, 2020 or 2021, Dustin Pedroia, in the crazy world of baseball salaries, is undoubtedly worth $140 million over 16 years.

2. For some perspective on the ridiculous length of the this deal: When Pedroia’s contract is up, Jackie Bradley Jr. will be 31 years old!

Former Red Sox and current Blue Jays reliever Darren Oliver will be 97.

3. As noted before, if Pedroia sees this contract through, and there’s no reason to assume that he won’t, he will have played 16 years in Boston, and will likely retire having played his entire career for the Red Sox. In this case, he’ll become only the fourth player in franchise history to play 16 or more years and only wear a Boston uniform. The other three (Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice) are all Hall of Famers and that’s a more reasonable goal for Pedroia to shoot for.

Although he’s crazy to think he’ll ever match Rice’s broadcasting prowess.

4. One of Pedroia’s greatest characteristics as a player is also one of the greatest concerns when signing a soon-to-be 30-year-old to a seven-year extension: He just plays so damn hard, and that takes a toll.

In a perfect world, you’d pull Pedroia aside and say: “Listen, Dustin. We’ve made a major investment here. Maybe you want to scale it back a little? Maybe you want take a day off here and there. Maybe you want to think twice about things like unnecessarily diving into first base.”

Then again, why break the bank for Dustin Pedroia and then ask him to stop being Dustin Pedroia?

Either way, we know that he’s not going to be the same guy in three or five or seven years that he is right now. He’s going to slow down. He’s going to wear down. He won’t be a Gold Glove second baseman forever. And while that might hurt his overall value, couldn’t you see him playing a little third base in his later years? If need be, you could definitely see him transforming into a valuable DH. And because he’s Dustin Pedroia, you know he’d do it with class. His defense could be an issue moving forward but his bat and personality will survive.

5. Because of the disaster that followed the $100 million contracts given to Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, and the franchise’s very public stance against that kind of deal, there’s a natural, instinctive fear that comes with any nine-figure deal, but Pedroia is obviously different. First, because the Boston factor isn’t a factor at all. Unlike, Crawford and Gonzalez, Pedroia has proven to be a guy who can not only survive but also thrive in this bonkers baseball atmosphere.

Second, he’s still only on the books for about $14 million, even though the Sox have recently conducted business with a smaller market approach, they’re still the Red Sox; $14 million isn’t a big deal.

Third, as of now, in 2015, when this new contract kicks in, Clay Buchholz ($12 million) and Shane Victorino ($13 million) are the only other seven-figure salaries on the book.

Fourth, with the wealth of young talent down on the farm, the Sox will soon have a wealth of major league talent contributing at bargain prices.

In conclusion, even in the worst-case scenario, the Sox will not be limited financially by this extension.

6. Pedroia doesn’t strike you as the kind of guy who really care about being named the “Captain.” You know he won’t carry himself with any less pride and/or display any less fire if he’s not. And as we saw down the stretch in Jason Varitek’s career, that title is only as good the player who holds it.

That said, I don’t think anyone will take issue if this new contract was supplemented with a big fat C on Pedroia’s jersey.

7. Speaking of the potential captainship, it’s hard to talk about the prospect of a lifelong Boston athlete without thinking about the departure of Paul Pierce. Now obviously baseball’s a different game. If the NBA didn’t have a salary cap, you can be damn sure that Pierce would have never found his way to Brooklyn.

But as we celebrate the likelihood of Pedroia being in Boston for the long haul, Pierce provides an added layer of appreciation for and perspective on just how rare that is today, and just how lucky the Sox, Pedroia and everyone involved with this deal should feel.

8. One hopeful benefit of Pedroia raking in all this cash, is that he’s finally graduated from those Sullivan Tire ads. Right? I mean, he’s big time now. $100 million men don’t do themselves like this. It’s time for someone like Jose Iglesias to carry on the Sullivan Tire tradition.

In the meantime, if Pedroia still has the TV bug and the Sox feel like capitalizing on their newly inked star (and you know they do), I suggest: 

“The Laser Show.”

It’s like that old show Yo Momma on MTV, but instead of being hosted by Wilmer Valderamma, it’s Dustin (who, according to Tom Werner, is just as sexy as Wilmer). And instead of contestants facing off against each other with a string of insults, it’s everyone against Pedroia.

Think you can out trash talk the king? Step into the Laser Show. 

9. Whatever you do, Dustin: No, Dr. Robert Leonard!

Embrace the baldness! Don’t let the money change you!

10. No. 15 

Coming to a right field grandstand near you

Just give it another decade or so.