Thoughts on Pedroia switching to shortstop

As a Red Sox fan I felt it necessary to chime in on the talks of Dustin Pedroia possibly moving over to shortstop. The idea of a player moving from second base to shortstop goes against conventional wisdom, particularly Bill Jamesdefensive spectrum, although several player have made the move recently with success. I think Pedroia compares favorably to Marco Scutaro, who is a possible free agent target for the Sox, and David Eckstein, at least in terms of size and defensive skill set.

His career UZR at second is 21.7 (7.4/150 games) and his Total Zone numbers are also strong (4.7 runs above average per year). He rated as the fifth best defensive second baseman according to the Fan’s Scouting Report. There will undoubtedly be concerns about his arm strength but his quick release and footwork should make up that somewhat. Keep in mind Pedroia was drafted as a shortstop out of Arizona State and played 132 games at the position throughout the minor leagues.

The Red Sox have had a major void at the position ever since trading Nomar Garciaparra. Hanley Ramirez was once billed as the future franchise shortstop but he was traded in a deal that brought in Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. Since then the Sox have been left with a pair of free agent busts in Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo. The organization has made major strides and investments in signing and drafting amateur prospects, most notably Jose Iglesias, Yamaico Navarro, David Renfroe, Jose Vincio, and Derrick Gibson, although all of these players are still several years away from being ready to contribute and none of them have played above Low-A. Jed Lowrie is still in the picture as well but he has struggled through a rash of injuries. The organization is not ready to give up on him but it is clear he still needs some time to develop.

The free agent market for shortstops this year is bleak looking and unless the Red Sox can pull off a trade moving Pedroia over may be their best option to fill this void. Replacing Pedroia at second base would be less of a concern as there are more quality options available at this position. Clearly he is confident in his abilities to play the position and I am sure the Red Sox front office will be evaluating all of their alternatives.

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It is also relevant to note that Pedroia was switched to 2B in the minors because he advanced to AA Portland in 2005 where the SS position was held by Hanley Ramirez.  Ramirez had a higher upside at the SS position, so he stayed at SS even though Pedroia was better defensively.