Dustin Pedroia turned 29 years old on Aug. 17.
A week later, one of the most ungrateful athletes in Boston sports history, Josh Beckett, was finally dealt away in a $270 million roster purge.
What’s the correlation?
In other words, it’s time.
It’s time for Pedroia to shun the tired I’m-small-and-nobody-believes-in-me persona and time for him guide this dysfunctional franchise into a new era.
The decks have been cleared somewhat with Beckett’s exodus. The message has been sent to a few other non-performing/conforming veterans.
I liken Pedroia to the leader of all leaders, New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter.
Because they don’t whack 40 homers with 130 RBI, they really aren’t MVPs of the league (I know Pedroia snared the trophy in 2008, but that was the exception).
But they are, more importantly, MVPs of champions.
Jeter shows up every day. He gets his 200 hits. He bats first, second or third in the lineup, nary a peep. He loves, not likes, baseball. He speaks to the media when something gargantuan surrounds the team. And he can handle playing in a ridiculously passionate and difficult sports market.
Ditto for Pedroia.
That being said, Pedroia is right up there with Jon Lester in terms of being huge disappointments in these difficult times the last 12 months.
Pedroia has acted, at times this season, like a typical petulant millionaire. Too much whining and not enough whipping his teammates into mental shape.
Pedroia has the goods. While he was born and bred 3,500 miles away in Sacramento, Calif., he might well have grown up on Route 60 in Malden.
He’s a dirt-dog and we just have a special place in our hearts for guys that aren’t afraid to get their baseball uniforms dirty.
Like most of us around here, baseball is a way of life for Pedroia. That’s why he is the most popular player on this Red Sox roster.
A columnist at WEEI.com said the Red Sox should trade Pedroia based on his age, his contract status (he’ll be 32 when he’ll be looking for his $20 million per year pay day in 2015) and his position (second baseman isn’t as big deal as a shortstop).
I would concur if Pedroia isn’t on board with the “new” Red Sox. He’s got “cantankerous” written all over him if he’s not happy with the program.
But I believe Pedroia has too much to gain by taking over the captain’s role, official or unofficial, here with the Red Sox. If somebody isn’t pulling their weight, he has the cache to get in the player’s face and demand more.
Pedroia needs to realize he is very lucky to be playing before 36,000 people that really care about winning and losing on 81 dates. Sure, we can get negative — i.e. the last 12 months — but it was all deserved, from ownership down to the bat boys, and everybody in between.
We know the Red Sox have the resources to compete for several championships over the next decade.
We don’t know, for sure, if they have the right captain in place. It’s time for Pedroia to give it a shot. He’s got several million people who I’m guessing are willing to watch his back.