Lifers: A Rare Desire These Days

There are not too many players in the Major Leagues that can call themselves “lifers”, spending their entire Major League career with the same team (I’m counting guys who were traded while in the minors or before they played a game in the Major Leagues). Jason Varitek (if he returns), will be the only current Red Sox player having played 10 Major League seasons or more, to be a lifetime Red Sox (though I believe he was traded to the Red Sox before he came up, would have to check that). However, we have a few guys who are very potentially career Red Sox. Youkilis went as far as to say in his interview that he could never imagine himself, from his first day in the Red Sox system, wearing any other uniform. He talks about his friends from his home in Cincinnati wanting him to come play for the Reds, but he has made it clear he has no desire to do so, and even if he did, its not that easy. He signed a 4 year deal for now, but Youkilis would love to remain in Boston for the entirety of his career. He was obviously not as wild with his contract demands as I imagined he might be, but he got a very nice contract for himself.

The other potential career player for the Red Sox is of course Dustin Pedroia. The faith the Red Sox showed in him in ’07 when the bat wasn’t working out too well for him showed that the Red Sox feel the same. They signed him to a 6 year deal for $40MM which is dirt cheap for the MVP of the American league who has bat well over .300 the past two season and last year added over 80 RBI’s and 17 homers to that tally.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m so excited to have two such great young hardworking characters leading the Boston Red Sox year in and year out. Both are gold glove caliber infielders to go along with their bats.

In the pitching staff we have Jonathan Papelbon and Jon Lester that I am convinced will definitely be with the Sox their entire career, barring some ridiculous change. Papelbon though his contract demands will be high, should be our closer for many years to come. There’s been speculation that perhaps they are loading up the bullpen to unload him once he is able to file for free agency, but that is based off of very little factual information. Papelbon loves pitching in Boston. You can tell (like with Youkilis) his passion for the game and his desire and literal need to win. He is one of those guys that I think of when you hear CC Sabathia’s quote the other day. “There is no way that anyone else can put as much pressure on me as I put on myself…” Papelbon is the same way, and through all of his arrogance you see a young man who just loves the game of baseball and is hugely competitive.

Jon Lester would be gone by now if he was not in fact going to spend his career with the Red Sox. They had opportunities to move him for Santana, and I remember some team coming after him while he was in the system (before cancer), and the Red Sox put up the stop sign. After last season and what a work horse he has proven to be, I see no reason the Red Sox don’t sign him long term eventually. He worked so hard to get back in shape and he and Terry Francona I know are very close with each other. I think Lester has alot of appreciation for the Red Sox sticking with him through cancer and their care for him as a person, not just as a commodity. Lester talked about how grateful he is that Boston gave him this opportunity early last season.

That’s not a bad core of 4 guys who can carry this team for years to come.

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