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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When You Think About It, Jacoby Ellsbury & the Yankees are a Perfect Match

I'm not to spend much time on it because the fact is that we all knew that Jacoby Ellsbury was gone as soon as last season ended with his second World Series title. However, the reason that he is worth one last blog post is because he decided to sign a seven-year deal worth $153 million (with an option for an 8th year that pushes it to $169 million) with the Yankees.

That's right, the quiet guy that shied away from most attention in medium-market Boston will now go to a far tougher place with the additional pressure of the third richest contract in MLB history ever given to an outfielder hanging over him. Since he's from Oregon and went to Oregon State, I figured he would go to the Mariners or another team on the West Coast. In many ways, this totally fits the Yankees' recent losing philosophy: overspend on the sexy free agent (C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez come to mind) both in terms of money and years then be stuck with him in the latter stages of a bloated contract.

Ellsbury was drafted by Boston in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2005 draft. He sped through the minor leagues and was already in MLB by the time the Red Sox won the World Series in 2007. He was a big part of that postseason and when healthy (huge question mark), there is no doubt that he is a game-changer. Besides pink hats, most Red Sox fans will understand why Boston didn't want to invest so much into a player that is simply not dependable. Due to various injuries, he only played 18 games in 2010 and 74 in 2012. Even this past season, which was a good one (92 runs, 172 hits, 31 doubles, 8 triples, 9 homers, 53 RBIs, 52 stolen bases, .297 average, .355 OBP and .426 SLG) for him, he played in 134 regular season games in a free agency year.

Who knows if Jackie Bradley Jr. can come anywhere close to replace Ellsbury's Gold Glove defense in center field or consistent leadoff at bats? Maybe Boston shifts Shane Victorino to center field in 2014 to give Bradley Jr. another season to improve. Lazy sports writers and fans will compare this move to Johnny Damon signing with the Yankees. The problem is that Damon was much more of a leader when he was on the Red Sox. As talented as he is, Ellsbury always felt like a robot. We wish him well in New York (seriously) but it's time for all of us to move on.

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