I was talking with my Dad on the phone and we were discussing some of the MLB trades and free agent signings made over the past couple of days. During the course of this conversation, my roommate Christopher drew my attention to his tablet which had this headline from the Boston Globe:
Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that Jacoby Ellsbury is the new Johnny Damon. For the second time in less than a decade, a Red Sox centerfielder has jumped ship to the Bronx. Ellsbury will now become Public Enemy #1 in Boston.
I knew Ellsbury wasn’t coming back to Boston in 2014, but I figured he would go home and sign with the Mariners. I didn’t see this coming.
Ellsbury is the Yankees’ second high profile off season free agent signing. Last month, former Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann signed a five-year, $85 million contract. In 2013, the Yankees missed the post-season for only the second time in 20 years. They are determined to get back.
So what are the Red Sox to do? Will the Sox tap Jackie Bradley, Jr. to be their centerfielder on Opening Day? Or do they sign free agent Carlos Beltran and move Shane Victorino to center? Or do the Sox say touché by signing Curtis Granderson to patrol center? Granderson, of course, has spent the past four seasons with Yankees, but missed most of 2013 with various injuries which limited him to 61 games. The Grandy Man has been talking with the Mets. Would Granderson rather play in Queens or would he rather play with the Kings of Baseball? If he does take the I-95 North then it will effectively be an Ellsbury for Granderson trade.
As for Ellsbury, he enters 2014 as a career .297 hitter. He has led thrice led the AL in stolen bases including 52 in 2013. Ellsbury earned World Series rings with the Sox in 2007 and 2013. His best season came in 2011, when he hit .321 with 32 HR and 105 RBI and also earned a Gold Glove. Ellsbury finished second in AL MVP balloting behind Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander.
However, those power numbers are likely an aberration. Ellsbury is also injury prone having missed nearly the entire 2010 season with a rib injury and more than half the 2012 season with an injured right shoulder.
Whichever Jacoby Ellsbury shows up when the Yankees appear at Fenway Park on April 22, 2014 and Ellsbury is announced as the Yankees’ lead off hitter it will be Johnny Damon all over again. There will be boos heard.
It has been a busy day in MLB. The Red Sox signed veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal worth $8.25 million while the Tigers signed veteran closer Joe Nathan to a two-year contract. Both Pierzynski and Nathan played with the Texas Rangers last season. The Tigers also traded starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for infielder Steve Lombardozzi, relief pitcher Ian Krol and pitching prospect Robbie Ray.
But these moves pale in comparison to Ellsbury removing his Red Sox cap for Yankee pinstripes.