Earlier today, Dustin Pedroia underwent season-ending hand and wrist surgery. The second baseman will finish his season with a .278/.337/.376 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 53 runs batted in. Pedroia has been battling hand issues for most of the season, which was the excuse many made for his lack of power. However, his injuries go far beyond just the 2014 season.
2010 saw Pedroia foul a ball of his foot and break his foot, an injury that could happen to anybody. In 2012, he suffered the first of many hand injuries, all of which he has played through. At the end of the 2012 season, Pedroia broke a finger. He played through it. On Opening Day of 2013, Pedroia tore his UCL on a head first slide into first (the worst play in all of baseball); he played through it. In 2014, he hurt his left hand. The exact time that it happened is unknown; however, John Farrell said it happened some point "mid-year." He played through it for some time before having surgery today.
We all love the way Pedroia plays. He is a hard-worker, who wants to be on the field as much as possible and will do whatever it takes. However, what he did this year was, to put it simply, stupid. The Red Sox have been out of it all year. They were so far out of it that they actually had a fire sale at the trade deadline, something we never thought we would see. Why would he play through yet another injury when he could get healthy for next season? If he wouldn't willingly sit out, the Red Sox should have taken control and shut him down. But yet again, the Sox seem to be giving their players too much power. Anyways, that is neither here, nor there. We are here to talk about Pedroia's production and role with the Red Sox.
In addition to suffering multiple injuries recently, Pedroia has seen his production drop drastically over the previous five seasons. In 2010, Pedroia had his best slugging percentage of his career, .493, which was the same number he slugged during his MVP season. Since 2010, that number has decreased at an alarming rate. Pedroia finishes the 2014 season with a slugging percentage well below .400. He has seen the number drop over 100 points over the previous five years. In 2011, the second baseman had an on base percentage of .387. This year it was .337. While Pedroia was never a great threat on the base paths, we have seen his steals numbers drop as well.
Now you might say that he has been injured, as he was, and that is why the numbers have gone down. However, if that is the case, then he is not putting the team first and is being selfish (like Brett Favre or Cal Ripken Jr.) and taking the field even when he is doing more harm than good. While this may have something to do with his poor numbers, it is also possible that a 5'8" player (please) with the biggest and longest swing in baseball has lost some bat speed. Is he injury prone? Is he declining? Possibly both. But a guy that plays the way Pedroia does will never be 100%.
Pedroia is often hailed for his leadership skills. I ask you this: does a good leader tell a manager, the actual leader of the team, how it's done in a city? Does a real leader let your team collapse in the final weeks of the season by overthrowing a different manager? No. Pedroia's leadership skills are drastically overrated.
Could it be time to move on from Pedroia? The Sox gave him a contract an eight year extension two seasons before he was prepared to hit free agency. While many believed it was a good deal, in terms of monetary value, it was way too long of a deal. The Red Sox also have a plethora of middle infield prospects, including Mookie Betts, who has played so well that a position change was necessary to get him in the lineup. Betts could go back to his natural position of second base if they moved Pedroia. However, would it be easy to move him? He is declining and does have a lot of money owed to him.
Something the Red Sox have always had a tough time doing is moving on from a player that is loved by the fans, but has clearly lost a step. Like Tony Massarotti said, if Belichick was the manager of the Sox, Pedroia could very well be moved in the offseason. He still has some value, and they could cash in on it before he is washed up.
Am I saying that they should definitely trade Pedroia? No. Am I saying they should consider it and not immediately dismiss the idea? Absolutely. No player should be untouchable.
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