By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
From the time he fired a fast ball straight into the hip of David Ortiz, to several tirades on social media, it was painfully obvious before David Price ever came to Boston, he had a great level of disdain for this organzation
Price has failed epically when it comes to defying to the common stereotypes of signing pitchers to mega deals around the age of 30. In December of 2015, the Red Sox inked Price to a seven year $217M contract which included an opt out following his third full season.
Following 2016, Price had a career high 3.99 ERA and lead all starting pitchers with the most home runs given up. He also choked in typical David Price fashion during his lone 2016 post season start against the Indians. Aside from his lack of production, Price has also exhibited common elbow problems which most pitchers begin to experience as their career drags on.
At the start of spring training in 2017, Price was interviewed by a Boston Globe writer in which he was condescending at times towards Red Sox fans, actually criticizing them on how they view the sport of baseball. Boston fans were obvious outraged at his remarks, which dominated the headlines as the team was breaking camp. Days after this controversy, it was announced that David Price would begin the 2017 on the disabled list.
Off the field, Price brought controversies reaching magnitudes not seen in Boston since the 2012 Bobby Valentine season. It might not even be an overreach to say last year’s controversies EXCEEDED 2012. Aside from the aforementioned Globe interview, Price also had a dust up with NBCsports’ Evan Drellich. But taking the cake, was an ambush style verbal assault on Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on board a Red Sox charter plane in which Eckersley could not remove himself from.
Following the second wave of leaked information surrounding the Eckersley incident, the Red Sox were on a road trip, but it just so happened that Price was set to open up the home stand a few days later against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. It would present Red Sox fans who had widely condemned Price’s actions a chance to humiliate him as he took the mound at the start of the game. However, the “unique elbow” of Price’s apparently flared up, and he was sent back to the disabled list. Conspiracy theories floated around. Was his elbow really injured? Was it a cowardly act? He was added to the disabled list days after the spring training controversy. Despite the fact a pattern seemed to be evident, it was still possibly a coincidence.
For David Price to opt out of his contract, one of two things will need to happen:
1. He will have to pitch very well this season to demonstrate his elbow has recovered. A low ERA combined with a high SO/9 rate would likely land him a comparable contract at least covering his remaining balance following the 2018 season.
2. More off field controversies could certainly motivate him to simply walk away from his current deal. Many people will disagree with me. I just cannot see him willingly spending the rest his career in his own “baseball hell,” especially since he wanted no part of playing here in the first place. He will have $127M still on the table following 2018. Considering Price will have already made $145M throughout his career, a small pay cut probably won’t hinder his desire to pitch in a more favorable market.
Regardless of what happens, or what Price’s decision becomes, Red Sox fans have already opted out on him. He will never endear himself to our fan base like Pedro Martinez, or Jon Lester did. Price will always be a villain in Boston. If obsessing over his image on social media can drive him absolutely insane, it tells me at this point his legacy means something to him. If pitching in a friendlier market helps him finally win that elusive playoff start, and ultimately a ring, I believe he will likely choose that path. If David Price can’t be man enough to apologize Dennis Eckersley, he’s not man enough to pitch in Boston.
Dustin Pedroia has struggled with durability most of his career. He only played 93 in games in 2015 with a pulled hamstring, and 105 games in 2017 due to a recurring knee injury, which he admitted would likely never be 100% healthy the remainder of his career.
While Pedroia’s batting average has remained consistently high despite his shortened seasons, his power numbers have been trending downward the last several seasons. During the 2016/17 post seasons, Pedroia batted .167/.125 respectively.
Aside from his health and performance struggles, Pedroia was also involved in an incident where he sold out his entire bullpen to notorious Orioles punk, Manny Machado. What was most stunning about this controversy, was unlike relying entirely on reports similiar to the Price/Eckersley incident, this incident was witnessed by literally everyone watching the live broadcast of the game.
When David Ortiz was the leader of this Red Sox clubhouse, he could frequently be seen conversing with the opposing players of other teams during pre-game warmups. However, never at any point during his career did he ever back an opposing member of another team over his own teammates. Ever. The fact Dustin Pedroia had no problem backing Machado demonstrates a massive failure of leadership. Perhaps its a sign that what was important to him earlier in his career no longer holds true, and also that his career for the most part has passed him by. Pedroia has reached the point where he values his own image much more so than how he values the image and perception of his team.
Aside from the Machado controversy, Pedroia has become one of the most expendable players on the Red Sox roster. His days batting towards the top of the lineup are likely over. The Red Sox can’t afford to have an injury prone player who struggles get on the field 100 games a year, especially with decreasing production. A revolving door of Brock Holt, Marco Hernandez, and Devin Marrero at second base won’t likely get the job done offensively.
Bobby Valentine infamously said about Kevin Youklis: “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.” It proved to be mostly true. Youklis was never the same. He was 33 years old, completely broken down, and his major league baseball career was over a year later. Pedroia is simliarly broken down, 34 years old, and he too could be out of baseball sooner than all of his die hard fans can handle.
My verdict: Pedoria is more likely to retire than Price is to opt out. Though I hope it’s the opposite, since Price’s contract is a bigger detriment to the overall roster than Pedroia’s is.
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