Haskell's Hot Stove

Ellsbury's swerve from Beantown to Big Apple befuddling

By Mark Haskell | Dec 04, 2013
Mark Haskell

I had many feelings go through my head Tuesday night, sitting on my couch and bouncing my 18-month-old son to sleep in my lap when I saw Facebook explode with the news Jacoby Ellsbury had signed a 7-year, $153 million contract with the New York Yankees.

Sadness was not one of them. Confusion, certainly was.

To be pardoned a small baseball pun, this move by the Yankees certainly came out of left field. A head-scratcher to be sure.

Not only did New York seem to take themselves out of the running to resign top-tier second baseman Robinson Cano, it also seemed to fill a need that didn't really need to be filled.

Leadoff battter, center fielder and base stealer Brett Gardner still plays for the Yankees, right? (This is a rhetorical question. He does.)

The Yankees are, of course, the Yankees. They could resign Cano in addition to all this, overpay for two or three more guys and then celebrate by doing something even more expensive and eccentric like burning a pile of money in the infield or buying a quaint island off of Costa Rica.

But they have now effectively spent more $200 million on Ellsbury and newly-acquired catcher Brian McCann and still have not addressed their most pressing issue: Pitching. Can either of these guys pitch? They should at least ask.

As a Red Sox fan, I had already resigned myself to the fact Ellsbury was leaving. I, like many, figured Seattle, a team with deep pockets and only a state away from Ellsbury's native Oregon, was the logical destination.

But instead, Ellsbury chased the almighty dollar to The Big Apple instead of Emerald City.

And I still just don't get it.

Most people are comparing Ellsbury bolting to the Bronx to the way former Sox outfielder Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees months after bringing Boston its first World Series title in 86 years in 2004. I, however, disagree.

Damon's contributions, while on a much smaller scale, were significantly larger than Ellsbury's. Not only that, but Ellsbury never made the proclamation that he would NEVER sign with the Yankees. It's hard to forgive a liar, and that's why the “Looks like Jesus, acts like Judas, throws like Mary” shirts flew off the shelves in 2005 in the aftermath of Damon's departure.

It probably sounds like I'm diminishing Ellsbury's accomplishments while he was in Beantown, but that is certainly not the case.

Ellsbury being called up in September and lighting the world on fire was the spark we needed to win the championship in 2007, and he did more than his share during the 2013 postseason, batting .344, while collecting 22 hits and swiping six bags.

But the reigning World Series champs, unlike New York, have learned from their mistakes.

The Red Sox have a flourishing farm system and have Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings to play center field next year in Fenway Park.

The Yankees are the oldest team in the league with no farm system and just signed a 30-year old Ellsbury until he's 37 and a 29-year-old catcher (a position which deteriorates faster than any other) until McCann's 34.

The parallels between New York signing Ellsbury and McCann and the 2011 Red Sox signing Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are laughable.

Both teams wanted to make a big splash and signed guys they didn't need to sign to do it.

The only difference for the Yankees is they aren't going to have the Los Angeles Dodgers to bail them out.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard Shibles | Dec 11, 2013 12:44

Nice column, Mark. I like your style.



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Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. He has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School.

Mark is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, fantasy sports, the AMC drama "Breaking Bad" and iced coffee.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn and sons Beckett and Austin.

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