Did you read that headline? Like, really read it? It’s an absurd headline. It sounds disgusting, abominable, distasteful. A cruel mockery of all other Yankee headlines. Out-of-wack, impossible, garbage-for-brains.
And yet, it’s happened before. And it will happen again.
Before the 1993 season, the New York Yankees were a growing, young team in need of veteran leadership. They’d acquired interesting buy-low pieces (Paul O’Neill), their rotation was fronted by an intriguing mix of calm (Jimmy Key) and erratic (Melido Perez), and Bernie Williams was ready to begin his first full season, setting into motion a much-desired youth movement. But they were missing something. They were missing patience.
Enter Wade Boggs. The beer-swilling, free-swinging face of the Red Sox was coming off what was once perceived as a down year, hitting a mere .259. However, his OBP of .353 was still nearly 100 points higher, signifying that he still possessed an elite skill that a forward-thinking team could exploit. So Boggs became the Yankees’ third baseman, and he began to hit again. But even if his bat never woke up, his value to a team in flux, a team mixing youth with a first taste of expectations, could not be overstated.
Boggs was a great Red Sox. In 1985, it would have been inconceivable to see him buttoning up the pinstripes, and certainly not with his trademark big red McGwire goatee. In 1985, the argument was “Boggs or Mattingly?” like it had been “Fisk or Munson?” and “Williams or Dimaggio?” One man in each Eastern powerhouse, no more, no less. But by 1993, the tides were beginning to change. Neither team was in the spotlight. The rivalry had dimmed and blurred. Wade Boggs took some money from the Bronx, and three years later, he invented the celebratory horse ride.
It’s not a stretch to think of the 1993 and 2016 Yankees as next of kin. Coming off the shortest possible playoff berth, you’d still call the 2015-’16 offseason a work in progress, and a plan in its early-to-mid stages of execution. A youth movement began in earnest in ’15 and continues with the additions of Starlin, Hicks, and shortly, Judge and Sanchez. The lineup looks equal parts ragged and intense; Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez are rickety, but provided theatrics and youthful bat majesty in 2015, and likely will again. However, what they need is consistency. Stability. A proven winner who can take a damn walk.
Fact: Dave Dombrowski walks into his office every morning, and says, “I wish I could find a way out of Dustin Pedroia.” Dombrowski isn’t a Red Sox lifer. He’s a wheeler and dealer with a disregard for prospects and veterans alike. Pedroia is far from done. He’s also not Xander Bogaerts.
Dave Dombrowski doesn’t have the loyalty gene that’s been installed in the rest of the organization. He’s Brian Cashman’s charity event buddy. He’s desperate for a winner, and if he can find a path that leads away from a 32-year-old second baseman with declining power and injury concerns, he’d sprint to it. With the opt-out, Pedroia is locked into the Sox roster for more years than David Price.
OBP ain’t what it used to be, but Pedroia’s is nearly always over .350. He’s a contact machine. He’s a Royal in Red Sox clothes. He’s Brock Holt, but old. Dave Dombrowski would send him to the Bronx in a heartbeat.
The route has been paved. Even Kevin Youkilis, the human bowl of chowder, has been a Yankee. It only matters until it doesn’t. Maybe not 2016, maybe not 2017, maybe not until we’ve brooched the ‘20s. But someday, Dustin Pedroia should be a Yankee. And he’ll be the one on first ahead of Greg Bird in Game 6. And he’ll ride the robotic police horse. And no Yankee fan will care at all about his previous life.