Jacoby Ellsbury debuted for the Boston Red Sox in 2007. He got a hit in his first career Major League Baseball game. He was the chosen one immediately making an impact in centerfield.
He won a World Series ring that year.
Ellsbury was drafted in the first round in 2015 and stepped into the Red Sox organization as a fantastic contact hitter with lights out speed. In Single A, he stole 23 bases in 35 games.
In 2008, he finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting.
11 years later, the New York Yankees released the 36-year old and are refusing to pay him the remaining $26 million he would be owed in 2020.
What the hell happened?
In 2011, Jacoby Ellsbury came in 2nd for the AL MVP behind Justin Verlander who should not have won the MVP so technically according to me, Ellsbury was an MVP.
He won a gold glove. He was a silver slugger. He led the league in triples (10) and stolen bases (70). I hate WAR but he led the league in that pointless stat.
But the story of his huge 2011 was that it came along with the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Ellsbury played 18 games in 2010 due to a rib injury. He was put on the DL in April and never really came back. From sore ribs. The MLB season is 162 games long and Ellsbury missed 144 games because his rubs hurt.
We expect athletes to be ‘tough’ and play through injury but we never recognize that some players just have no threshold for pain. My ribs hurt every fucking day and I still do whatever meaningless things I do for rent money.
But Ellsbury waved a massive red flag in 2010. He established a precedent for his career: when Ellsbury is hurt, he’s reallyyyy hurting.
In 2012, he only played 74 games with a shoulder injury. In 2013, he won his final World Series before hitting free agency after finishing in 15th in MVP voting.
The Yankees would give their division rival a 7-year, $153 million deal with an 8th year player option to make his contract worth $169 milly.
Jacoby Ellsbury played 509 games in 6 years. That means he missed 463 games including playing a grand total of ZERO games in 2018 and 2019 after his body completely broke down.
And last week, the Yankees cut him with a year left and $26 million owed and then followed that up by declaring they won’t be paying him a dime because Ellsbury was treated by his own personal doctors without the team’s consent.
This whole situation sucks, mostly for Jacoby Ellsbury.
We want to hate this guy so badly for stealing the Yankees money while forgetting that the Yankees got around 75% of his contract back in insurance money.
The New York Yankees print money. They were not crippled by Ellsbury’s injury plagued career. I think that was a bad pun and I apologize. Point is, as a Yankees fan, Ellsbury’s injuries didn’t prevent the Yankees from winning a single game.
Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner are better than Ellsbury. The Yankees have always had the best right fielders whether it was Gary Sheffield or Bobby Abreu or Carlos Beltran or Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees have never needed Ellsbury.
You know who this whole situation sucks for? Jacoby Ellsbury.
No one wants their career taken from them because their bodies betrayed them over the years. Ellsbury was a contact hitter that stole bases. That’s a style of play that shows how much he loved the game. His entire game, when healthy, was all hustle.
And baseball was taken from him because of injuries and now money is being taken from him in a nasty breakup with the franchise that took a risk and is clearly fed up with his lack of physical progression in rehab.
I’ve mocked Jacoby Ellsbury. A lot. Often. I’ll probably mock him later today.
But hopefully a (dumb) team gives him another opportunity just like the Yankees gave to Troy Tulowitzki this season before he suffered one final career ending injury. Ellsbury’s deserves that chance.
We’re in an era of juiced baseballs and hitters changing their swing trajectory to hit more homers. There’s an alternate universe where Ellsbury stays healthy and although he loses his speed on the base pads, he compensates by adding a new dimension of power to his game.
He’s 36. It’s not impossible he has one last run.
But what’s way more likely is that he spends 2020 in a legal battle with the Yankees over his $26 million and never swings his bat again.