Diva Pedroia Is Not The Red Sox Leader

I used to think that Dustin Pedroia was the heart and soul of the Red Sox. He hustles and he focuses on the game. He used to lead his team. His recent comments, however, have made me think twice about him. I’m seeing Pedroia less as a Red Sox leader and more of a diva.

Almost everyone in Red Sox Nation knows what transpired between David Price andred sox leader Dennis Eckersley. It’s old news now. But for those who don’t know, Price took issue with Eckersley’s constructive criticism. Price confronted the Hall of Famer and 1992 MVP on an airplane and, using expletives, tore into him. It’s bad enough that Price thought he could drop his composure and tear down a Hall of Famer. It’s even worse that Pedrioa reportedly applauded Price’s confrontation.

A real leader would have pulled Price aside, told him to bite his tongue, and wait for the right opportunity to confront his critic. A real leader wouldn’t have let someone like Price tear into a legend like Eckersley. Pedroia’s applauding of Price’s confrontation isn’t the characteristic of a good leader. It’s the characteristic of an arrogant and pompous diva.

A Red Sox Leader Keeps The Peace and The Team Focused

Unfortunately, the Red Sox are struggling right now. In fact, the team took a nose dive right around the time the drama between Price and Eckersley began. If that wasn’t bad enough, Pedroia took issue with the Boston media for their views on the incident and the idea that there is no Red Sox leader: “For whatever people say from the outside, ‘Oh, we don’t have a leader.’ I’m standing right here, been here for a long time,” Pedroia was quoted in the Boston Globe. “We’re in first place. So that’s it. Write what you guys want. Here I am. You don’t see anybody else standing up here do you? Nope.”

First of all, Pedroia is not a leader. He threw Matt Barnes under the bus last April when he tried to take Manny Macho’s head off. He didn’t stand up for Barnes, or anyone other than himself. Yes, Barnes shouldn’t have thrown at Machado, but instead of coming to Barnes’ defense, he separated himself from him. Now Pedroia wants to step up and look like a leader with the whole Price/Eckersley thing. It seems like Pedroia waits for others to act, and then uses those opportunities to look like a leader. He won’t pull the trigger, but he’ll take credit for the shot. He just doesn’t take credit when it’s not due, he acts like he earned it outright. He’s like a student who puts in little effort and still expects an A.

A Red Sox Leader Inspires

Son of Massachusetts and the 6th President of the US John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Pedroia’s actions aren’t inspiring. They’re self-centered, narcissistic, and void of any real meaning. I’m also not seeing the Red Sox doing more. What I am seeing are players who are failing to carry the team consistently. They’re making the rookies do all the heavy lifting, and they’re not carrying their own weight. As a result, the Red Sox relinquished first place to the Yankees over the weekend. It was theirs to lose.

Pedroia is an amazing player. He’s an MVP, an All-Star, and he is partly responsible for their last two World Series wins. That doesn’t mean he can pick and choose when to be a leader though. Either be a leader or shut up.

Without Ortiz, Red Sox Lost Without a Leader

It’s been nine months since David Ortiz retired from the Red Sox. Since then, his former teammates have done their best to make up for his loss. The Red Sox currently hold first place and might run away with the AL East. But it’s clear to everyone that it’s not the same without Big Papi. Seeing the Red Sox lost without a leader hurts the team. If a clear leader doesn’t emerge soon the Red Sox will be like a battleship without a rudder.

There isn’t anyone on the Red Sox right now who has the qualities of a leader. HanleyRed Sox lost Ramirez can’t lead. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are too young. Chris Sale is too much of a loose cannon. Dustin Pedrioa, despite his leadership qualities,  doesn’t have what he needs to rally his teammates. Pedrioa comes off as being too strict, not knowing when to relax and have fun. Additionally, his response to the post-slide Manny Machado incident in Baltimore last April didn’t win him any friends.

Red Sox Lost Without Ortiz, But How Do You Replace Him?

You don’t.

David Ortiz delivered on and off the field in ways that would intimidate most other ballplayers. He was a clutch hitter who knew how to drive in runs. He knew exactly what words to say in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Plus Ortiz knew how to handle himself with grace and agility. Even if Betts, Bogaerts, and Bradley Jr. hit 60 homers and won a bunch of MVPs, they’d still stand in Ortiz’s shadow. They haven’t had the chance to experience what Ortiz endured throughout his career

Red Sox aren’t leaderless. It’s that Ortiz left such a enormous void that no one will fill it for  a long time. The problem is that nothing is collectively taking its place. Fans and players alike notice the vacuum Ortiz’s absence has created and while the standings don’t show it, the lack of enthusiasm at Fenway this season is overwhelming. Red Sox fans are happy to root for the team, but there’s no one who can bring us together like Ortiz could.

Red Sox Leadership Up For Grabs

Ever since David Ortiz announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2016 season many have wondered who will bear the Red Sox leadership torch. After all, Ortiz’s shoes will be hard to fill. Not only is Oritz a member of the 500 Home Run Club and a 9 time All-Star, but he’s the last remaining Red Sox player on the current roster who was on the 2004 World Series team— the team that broke the curse and won a title for Boston for the Ortiz Red Sox Leadershipfirst time in eighty-six years. Whoever takes the baton from Ortiz as the next leader for the Red Sox will have the weight of the team on his shoulders.

Many are looking at Xander Bogaerts as the one who will take the torch from Ortiz after this season. Boegarts moved to no. 3 in the lineup last season ahead of Ortiz, a sign of the faith manager John Farrell has in him. After winning the Silver Slugger Award for hitting .320 last season, Bogaerts stands out as one of the more dependable hitters in the lineup. After I personally saw Bogaerts hit his first career grand slam against the Tampa Bay Rays last September, I became convinced right then and there that he could be the next Red Sox leader, especially since both he and Ortiz can hit in clutch situations.

Who Else Could Play A Red Sox Leadership Role?

Mookie Betts is another name that’s starting to emerge in connection to Red Sox leadership as he continues to improve his hitting and fielding. While Betts hit a respectable .281 with 18 home runs last season, it was his fielding that made Red Sox fans and foes’  jaws drop as they jumped out of their seats. Last September in a game against the Orioles, Betts robbed Chris Davis of a home run in the top of the 9th when he leaped against the Red Sox bullpen wall to catch the ball. Red Sox players and fans erupted in cheers as Betts came back to earth with the ball firmly in his glove. Betts is also a danger on the base paths after stealing 21 bases last season. Being at least a three-tool player for the Sox would make him a strong model and inspiration for the rest of the team.

Finally, I think another strong contender is Brock Holt. Yes, he’s not quite the power hitter we’d like him to be, as he only hit 2 home runs last season and has a career total of 6, but his solid batting average and all-star appearance last season makes him a dependable player who has what it takes to rally the team when they need it most.

Red Sox leadership isn’t anything to be taken lightly. Whoever takes over Ortiz’s spot will have a lot to live up to. But if any of these three players listed above continue to play as well as they do, it’ll only be a matter of time before one of them emerges as a natural leader. Before you know it, he’ll be leading the Red Sox to another World Series.