Will Jacoby Ellsbury Stay or Will He Go
Expect a season-long story line of what’s next for Jacoby Ellsbury.
This off-season cannot be particularly comforting to Ellsbury for two reasons (we will overlook the $9 million contract he got).
First, you have an “unofficial” view on what type of production Boston expects from Ellsbury in 2013.
Unofficial because this comment is based on the Bill James Projection for Ellsbury.
But as we all know, James is no ordinary sabermetrics expert – he is also Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox.
Here is the James line on Ellsbury:
- 152 games (good start there)
- 15 HRs (solid – but far short of the 2011 glory of 32 HRs)
- 100 runs (the tablesetter Boston needs)
- 67 RBI (again no return to 2011; places Ellsbury at the top of the lineup – not middle)
- 37 SBs (very respectable – but not the 70, or even 50, of earlier days)
- .294 Avg/.396 OBP (good but way short of 2011)
It appears the Red Sox think 2011 was an outlier year for Ellsbury.
While these numbers may put him north of B.J. Upton free agent money – it is doubtful they can recreate the Carl Crawford $20+ million/year that Boras covets for Ellsbury.
The second disconcerting issue for Ellsbury has to be all the centerfielders that changed teams this off-season – and one (Michael Bourn) who has not made a move yet.
Take a look:
- Angels – Added Josh Hamilton. While not a centerfielder, Hamilton’s big offense makes Chris Bourjos more viable in center.
- Athletics – Added Chris Young. A frugal team – so not necessarily an Ellsbury target. But if Young does anything, he could put another centerfielder – Coco Crisp – on the market.
- Braves – As noted added B.J. Upton.
- Giants – Re-signed Angel Pagan. Maybe not an obstacle for Ellsbury, but could be.
- Nationals – Picked up Denard Span from Minnesota – probably closing off this haven for other Boras clients.
- Phillies – Traded for Ben Revere from the Twins – not an Ellsbury comparable but a good young outfielder.
So it looks like a few doors closed for Ellsbury – Angels, Braves, Giants, Nationals and Phillies – with potentially another one closing when Bourn lands somewhere.
On the bright side for Ellsbury, figure the Cubs, Mariners, Mets (maybe if they decide to spend), Rangers (if their young centerfielders don’t pan out) and Yankees (is 2013 the end for Curtis Granderson in New York?) as potential 2014 targets.
Remember – it only takes two teams to make a market for Boras.
That said, if the Red Sox want Ellsbury (and he wants to stay in Boston), they should be able to compete with any team.
Living Dangerously at First
The Red Sox signed first baseman Lyle Overbay to a minor league contract.
Overbay adds some depth – potentially giving Boston a lefty bat off the bench who can back up Mike Napoli.
Will this be enough at first? Maybe, maybe not.
Napoli has a bad hip and had poor offensive performance last season (was it because of the hip?).
While Boston GM Ben Cherington says he is confident Napoli’s hip ailment won’t affect him in 2013 (really – then why did Napoli’s contract drop to $5 million plus incentives for the season?), there is a great deal of uncertainty on what Boston can expect from first this year.
Back to Overbay. He could be a spot player but not an everyday guy.
Look for Boston to continue to scour the league for more first base insurance.