Dustin Pedroia is Back to his Best

This season, Red Sox Nation has lavished praise on numerous players, but the reemergence of Dustin Pedroia as an elite performer hasn’t received enough attention. Perhaps that’s due to the consistent, understated nature of his excellence, or perhaps its due to the success of younger players like Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. However, the gritty second baseman is finally healthy and back to his best, which should excite fans throughout baseball, not just in Boston.

Dustin Pedroia

Last year, Pedroia was hobbled by hamstring injuries that limited him to just 93 games. Around the league, some experts began to question whether he’d lost a step on defense, and the future appeared more uncertain than ever for the cornerstone icon. Yet so far this season, Pedey has proved the doubters wrong. Through thirty-seven games, he’s hitting .299 with a .349 on-base percentage, 6 home runs and 20 RBI. While other players have gained greater recognition, Dustin Pedroia is still the linchpin of this Red Sox batting order. He still sets the tone for what has become an offensive juggernaut.

Even at 32-years old, you can make the case for Pedroia as one of baseball’s greatest second basemen. Sure, Jose Altuve is a phenomenon; Robinson Cano is historically good; and Daniel Murphy is having an inspired time with the bat. But Dustin Pedroia can still mix with the best of them. Right now, Fangraphs ranks him as the best defensive player at his position this season. That concept is affirmed when watching games, because Pedroia is still capable of sublime, ranging plays that take your breath away. While second base has become more of an offensive position, Pedroia’s bat still plays really well there, and he currently ranks seventh in Wins Above Replacement among second-sackers.

However, as Vin Scully once said, “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.” You cannot get an accurate read on the importance of Dustin Pedroia to the Red Sox merely by looking at reams of data. It’s important to watch the games, see his maximum effort, and appreciate the way he grind through every pitch on both sides of the ball. Dustin is a real leader, and he embodies the heart and soul of Boston baseball.

Dustin Pedroia Back to His Best

Pedroia’s competitive instinct is well documented. He never stops fighting, and isn’t content to walk off the field with a clean uniform. Dustin focuses on the minutiae perhaps more than any player in the game today, as demonstrated by his noticing a change in the delivery of David Price. Nowadays, baseball players can often get lazy. Exorbitant salaries can blunt the desire to win, as Red Sox Nation has discovered with many expensive flops. Overall, the game is played a bit more sloppily than it used to be, but Dustin Pedroia is a throwback to a bygone age of intense competition, and that can only have a positive impact on the Red Sox.

Right now, it’s still too early to tell what Boston may achieve this season. The Sox are fighting Baltimore for supremacy in the East, but modern baseball seems to be more unpredictable than ever before. Still, you get the feeling that this offense is capable of something truly special, and that postseason ball could return to Fenway Park this fall. Dustin Pedroia has already been a key figure in two World Series championships, and he’s definitely the kind of guy who can carry a team in October.

That may be a long way off, but there’s a certain magic in the air. Pedey is back to his elite level, and that is huge for a franchise that relies on his spirit as much as his talent.

Should Red Sox Shop for a Replacement for David Ortiz?

Should the Red Sox shop for a replacement for David Ortiz? While many are looking at Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts to take over for Ortiz when he retires, I’m starting to wonder if it would be a good idea to look outside the Red Sox organization for new replacement for David Ortizblood and snatch someone from another team.

Now, before anyone slams me for saying this, keep in mind that Ortiz himself wasn’t home-grown. Ortiz came over from in 2003 after a few years of inconsistent hitting with the Minnesota Twins. In fact, it was Pedro Martinez who pushed Theo Epstein to sign Ortiz, who later helped the Red Sox win their first World Series in eighty-six years. There’s a few reasons why looking elsewhere for a replacement would be a great idea.

First, veterans on the team like Dustin Pedrioa, Clay Bucholtz, and even Ortiz himself could  make suggestions to Dave Dombrowski, just like Martinez did for Epstein. They’ve been around the game for many years and definitely know good talent when they see it. While there’s more than plenty of talent in the organization already, especially in Pawtucket (I’m looking at you Josh Rutledge and Henry Owens!), the Red Sox need a leader. They need a younger but seasoned player who can join the team sooner than later before Ortiz leaves. By then, this new leader will be able to take the reigns from Ortiz more smoothly.

Let’s look at Baltimore’s Manny Machado. He’s young, hit 35 home runs last season, and has a solid batting average. He’d mesh well with the younger players like Travis Shaw and Mookie Betts. Then there’s Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas, another young player who helped lead the Royals to the World Series last year with 22 home runs. The Red Sox could use that kind of experience on the team. These two guys are young enough that they’ll be around for years to come and with experience, can lead the Red Sox to another post-season appearance.

Could Replacement for David Ortiz Come From The National League?

If the Red Sox shop for someone outside of the American League they might find strong talent in the Mets organization. Travis Taijeron, who has yet to play a major league game, has already been named a top rookie in the Mets camp, and hit 27 home runs last season in the minors. He hasn’t made it to the majors yet, but the alternative hitting perspective he’d bring to the Red Sox would benefit other hitters who could look to him to see how his hitting improved with other teams. In other words, he could provide an alternative perspective.

Whoever it is that takes Ortiz’s place in the lineup, whether it’s someone already with the Red Sox, or someone from another team,  it’ll most likely surprise those in the Red Sox Nation. Few thought Ortiz would be a major benefit for the Red Sox when he signed with them in 2003, so it’s possible that his successor might follow a similar path. So who knows who it’ll be? Maybe he’s already on the team, or with another team, just waiting for the right time and place to take his rightful place in the lineup.

Who’s Behind the Players?

Where is Dave Magadan and why aren’t we seeing him this year as the Red Sox take the field? New leader, manager, John Farrell fortunately is familiar with the team’s manpower, but unfortunately the majority of the coaches are new and have little to no experience in the major leagues says a report by Mike Fine in “Will the Boston Red Sox adjust to new leadership?”. So who’s behind the players?  Greg Colbrunn, Arnie Beveler, Dana Levangie, Torey Lovullo and Juan Nieves, all unfamiliar names to the team are our backbone this season. Despite the inexperience, Beveler in turn has the background. As a former manager in the Red Sox organization from 2000-02 and again from 2007-2012 Beveler is one of the only coaches this season to know its ins and outs. Presently the first base coach for the Sox, the question is, will he prevail? The question is for all the coaches, will they prevail and can they coach the Sox into the playoffs and beyond?

I was speaking with a fan the other day about the idea of the Red Sox making it back into the playoffs after the season they pulled last year.  “It’s doubtful,” he explained.  Even though the newly signed pitcher, Ryan Dempster, had an astounding turn out against the Cardinals his opening game in Fort Myers. “This doesn’t mean anything,” the fan states. However, the former White Sox bullpen coach, Juan Nieves, is in the position to turn tables.  Now the pitching coach Nieves in turn has the ability to make things happen.  After all, over the past 14 years he has provided the White Sox with his professionalism and talent where he has brought rookies like Addison Reed and Nate Jones to the forefront.

Getting back to Dave Magadan.  Where has he gone and who do we have to replace him as hitting coach in this year’s season? Magadan went to the Texas Rangers and Greg Colbrunn is up to bat (no pun intended). With Colbrunn’s abilities to connect with the players John Farrell and others decided he would make a good fit despite his inexperience in the major leagues. Arnie Beveler, first base coach, Tory Lovullo, bench coach and Dana Levangie, bullpen coach have all been hired alongside those aforementioned to bring the Boston Red Sox up to par. These are the men who are behind the players. The question now stands, will the Red Sox make the playoffs this season or will they fold as they did the previous year?