I literally don’t think I’ve ever even heard Jacoby Ellsbury speak. Maybe a couple of times? The former Boston Red Sox centerfielder, who helped the franchise win two World Series Championships in 2007 and 2013, is now a New York Yankee. Ellsbury inked a seven year $153 million contract with the Bronx Bombers December 3rd, 2013 to help them add speed and on base ability at the top of their line up with Brett Gardner, who will likely be moved to left field. I still don’t feel anything. I also don’t own a pink, bedazzled, tight at the hips Ellsbury jersey, so maybe that’s why.
First of all, did anyone actually expect Boston to re-sign this guy? Any knowledgeable baseball fan knows the 31 year old was not in the Red Sox future plans with Jackie Bradley Jr. on the come up, but I’ll get to him later. In addition, does anybody know who Scott Boras is? In case you don’t, he’s a superagent and will not rest until he gets maximum value for his clients. Remember that guy J.D. Drew who Boston signed back in 2007 for five years $70 million? Bless his soul for his “$70 million grand slam” in Game Six of the 2007 ALCS that led the Red Sox to a win tying the series 3-3 versus the Cleveland Indians, but… Yup yup the rest is history as Boston captured their second World Series Championship in four years, I know, and I appreciate Drew, but proceed to read.
Though Drew’s numbers as a Red Sox were eh, okay, on paper, the $14 million per is one of the worst contracts in Red Sox history, money wise. Some would say the gaudy figures tossed to Drew was the pioneer of bad contracts that have spring boarded the MLB to dishing them out like candy on a regular basis. After driving in 100 runs in 2006 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Drew’s RBI totals from 2007 on were 64, 64, 68, 68, and 22. That is $10 million production, not 14. The point is, Boras milks money out of his players and coaxes general managers into paying more for his clients than they are worth. Drew’s grand slam was huge in the ALCS, so one may say screw the money, he was worth the guap despite his proceeding, disappointing, injury-riddled years in Boston. Even still, the money given to the right fielder was far too much. In the end, five years $50 million would have been the appropriate contract for Drew.
Perhaps Boston shot themselves in the foot when they overvalued Carl Crawford’s market price and, in disgusting fashion, signed the left fielder to a seven year $142 million deal in 2010. Crawford played in 130 2011 games and hit .255 after hitting .307, .305 and .273 three years prior with the Tampa Bay Rays. Crawford only played in 31 2012 games and underwent wrist surgery, ending his season. During the 2012 Trade Deadline, Crawford was shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto, shedding $261 million between the four players.
Undoubtedly, Ellsbury was looking to surpass the ludicrous top outfielders pay set by Boston when they splurged on Crawford. If Theo Epstein laid off his infatuation with base stealing contact hitters back in 2010 when Crawford was a free agent, conceivably, current Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington could have inked Ellsbury to a more respectable contract this off season. (Still love ya, Theo).
“Alas”, I still don’t get why people outside of the Ellsbury stalker fan club (he’s married by the way), have their panties in a bunch about the pretty boy leaving. More power to him. He helped bring the city two Championships and although he was somewhat of an introvert to the fans, he was a major cog in the lineup during those playoffs. In 2007, as a rookie, Ellsbury hit .360 in 25 at bats and this past post season, hit .344 in 64 at bats. That was my first time looking up his playoff numbers, damn he was consistent…
At the same time, as explained before, Crawford’s ridiculous contract set the market for Ellsbury’s 2013 lucrative free agency deal with New York. Ellsbury would be dumb to settle for less and leave $30-50 million on the table if the team who says they value you won’t compete with their rival. I know people say $15 million per season will put food on the table, but he wants his family’s family’s families to be set forever. Can’t fault him, or knock the hustle (no pun intended. Jay-Z song… get it…). It would have eased the soul to see Ellsbury sign with the Chicago Cubs or Seattle Mariners, but where are those teams going? The Yankees are always in the mix for a championship run so Ellsbury took the money and ran with it. Cry about it ladies, he’s wearing pin stripes now.
By the by, Boston has arguably the best outfielding prospect in the MLB on their roster. His name’s Jackie Bradley Jr. He’s 23 to Ellsbury’s 31. He also tore it up this past Spring Training, yes it was Spring Training, I know, but damn he looked like a stud with that .419 batting average. Better than Ellsbury’s, Pedroia’s, Ortiz’. JBJ got the start in left field after posting such incredible Spring Training numbers, but in 15 games hit just .097. Sure, regular season is a much different ball game than pre-season, but the talent with JBJ is there and the kid oozes confidence.
JBJ doesn’t boast the speed Ellsbury does on the base paths with his career high in steals at 16 during his 2012 season down at Single A Salem. He does have a much better arm than Ellsbury, and also plays a more natural, smoother center field than Ellsbury who relies on his speed to make up for his lack of ball off the bat instincts. Ellsbury is a fine centerfielder, but he makes plays look harder than they actually are. Bradley will be fluid and less choppy in center field while providing a threat to throw out third base runners at home, something Ellsbury was poor at.
As solid and clutch a hitter Ellsbury is, JBJ displays the potential to have more gap/extra base power than his predecessor. A hit is a hit, for sure, but Ellsbury constantly got on base by beating out infield choppers, which will certainly be missed, but JBJ could have greater RBI totals due to his quicker hands, according to scouts. Ellsbury is 6’1″ 195 lbs to JBJ’s 5’10″ 195, but many scouts say JBJ can add to his frame which will give him considerably more pop down the road. He may never hit 32 homeruns as Ellsbury did in 2011 (where did that power go…?), but JBJ has the potential to be a perennial Gold Glove winner and hit .300 with better power numbers than his pansy foregoer.
On a related note, just how successful is the philosophy of buying player after player, with hopes of winning championships? Peep this: since re-signing Alex Rodgriguez in 2007 to a 10 year $275 million contract, the Yankees have tied up eight years and $180 million to first baseman Mark Teixeira (2008), seven years 161 to starting pitcher CC Sabathia (2008), five years 82.5 to starting pitcher AJ Burnett (2008), five years 85 to catcher Brian McCann (November 23rd, 2013), and now seven years 153 to Ellsbury. A little less than a billy for six players? Hwat?
Sure, it may have got them a ship in 2009, but how efficient and sustainable are all of those deals with ARod going on 39 in July, Teixeira 34 in April (played in only 15 2013 games due to wrist surgery), Sabathia 34 in July (coming off by far worst year in career, 4.78 ERA in 32 starts), and McCann 30 in February (worst year in career, .256 57 RBIs, 102 games). I’ll give McCann a pass because he dealt with injuries all of 2013 and still put up respectable numbers.
Ellsbury is plain and simple a major risk for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. In 2010, Ellsbury played in just 18 games, in 2012, 74, and this past season, 134. Ellsbury is fragile with a history of rib, shoulder and foot injuries on his resume. Ellsbury’s speed will inevitably decline with age and he relies on his speed to be a good center fielder. Also, laying out for pop flies and line drives won’t be in his best interest with his past rib and shoulder injuries in mind. Not to play the role of a voodoo doll maker, it’s just the potentialities.
When New York was dominating the MLB from 1996 to (2009), the club relied on home grown talent to bolster their roster and add to their historic legend. Future (some borderline) Hall of Famers Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Bernie Burn Baby Burn Williams and Jorge Posada were essential, paramount, vital pieces to the Yankees winning their Titles in 1996, ’98, ’99, ’00, and to a lesser extent, 2009 (Mussina and Williams were retired, but other main pieces were still intact).
Currently, the Yankees farm system is not looking so hot. Especially with “Top Prospect” Gary Sanchez being a catcher, New York still appears to be confused on how to run their organization post-George Steinbrenner, as they just inked catcher Brian McCann for half a decade. Sanchez will be just 26 by the end of McCann’s contract, and McCann can always be future trade bait, but not exactly great for the psyche of a 21 year old who is assuming he will be inheriting the catcher position for the next decade. The Red Sox did the same thing by signing Stephen Drew this past off season to a one year deal when Jose Iglesias was more than ready to become Boston’s shortstop of the future. Iglesias was traded to the Detroit Tigers at the 2013 Trade Deadline for Jake Peavy, who got shelled in the playoffs, but that’s an argument for another day.
Chin up, Sox fans. Ellsbury was a pretty boy anyway. We’re still the champs. We still have a top 10 (some would argue top five) farm system in the MLB and the Yankees are still blowing money fast all while getting older. Let’s continue to win championships with our draftees, as we’ve done with the Pedroias, Youkilis’s, Lesters etc. And ladies, Ellsbury’s been married, fall back, you had no chance since he said I do a few years ago. Now espoused to the Yankees organization, I must say I wholeheartedly appreciate everything Ellsbury brought to the Boston Red Sox. Like it or not, Boston, we will all love and remember when he donned the number 2, slickly roamed center field and combusted the base paths. It’s the Jackie Bradley Jr. Era now, though. Peace out Jacoby.