Jacoby Ellsbury Actually Helped the Yankees In the Long Run

Jacoby Ellsbury

If you are a New York Yankees fan then the name Jacoby Ellsbury might make you shiver as it brings back bad memories and thoughts of an uncertain, and expensive, future. Right now, Ellsbury is on the disabled list for a hip issue. He also has managed to acquire two other injuries while rehabbing his hip. It has been revealed that Ellsbury also has an oblique issue and now plantar fasciitis.

Honestly, at this point it is hard to remember which injury came first. It also doesn’t matter at this point. Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million deal prior to the 2014 season. He doesn’t come off the books until after the 2021 season. Unless of course he is traded but would any team really look to acquire an outfielder who can’t stay healthy, has always had injury issues, and is only getting older and more brittle?

Ellsbury went from potential offensive centerpiece (we all know he wouldn’t be but the Yankees thought that) to being the outfield version of Carl Pavano. Remember Pavano? He is the pitcher who the Yankees signed prior to 2005 to a four-year, $39.95 million contract. He would appear in only 26 games for the Yankees over the life of that contract, 17 of which came in 2005. He became the standard for a bad free agent signing.

Right now, Ellsbury is the cautionary tale for signing players on the wrong side of 30 to extensive contracts. Ellsbury will go down as one of Brian Cashman’s biggest mistakes, potentially outweighing his trade of third base prospect Mike Lowell to the then Florida Marlins for Ed Yarnall, Todd Noel, and Mark Johnson. In fact, signing Ellsbury might be the worst. All the signs were there. He had one career year with the Boston Red Sox. He had trouble staying healthy. The move reeked of desperation by Cashman who was trying to cover losing Robinson Cano to the Seattle Mariners.

As good as Cashman has been lately a lot of credit has to go to the Ellsbury deal. Yankees fans have to admit that having Ellsbury around, or on the DL, has actually helped the Yankees into their rebuild. If he was the player he was in 2011 for the Yankees then they probably don’t undergo the limited rebuild they initiated over the past couple of years.

Nobody wants to pile on Ellsbury. He knows how fans feel about him. He knows he hasn’t lived up to expectations. He would much rather be on the field than down in Florida dealing with the realization half of him is made of glass. He is a competitive ballplayer who has given his all on the field and I will always respect him for that. He didn’t slink like Pavano did. He never shrank from anything and he does deserve respect for that.

The Ellsbury deal might be a blunder but that free agent blunder helped convince Hal Steinbrenner you can’t rebuild through free agency. It helped convince him that the Yankees were sliding backwards and weren’t going to live up to the expectations the Yankees have had every year since the 1920s, at least seemingly. Prior to the 2016 season the Yankees literally signed zero MLB free agents. That doesn’t happen if Ellsbury is the 2011 version or even 2013 Ellsbury.

In the 2014 season, Ellsbury actually had a decent year for the Yankees. It was pretty similar to his 2013 season with the Red Sox the year before. However, in 2015, Ellsbury appeared in only 111 games and wasn’t very effective as he slashed just .257/.318/.345 with seven homers and 15 doubles. His base stealing days were few and far between. He wasn’t getting on base at the top of the lineup. He was seemingly always banged up. If that Ellsbury doesn’t show up the Yankees would most likely have continued down the path that was causing them pain and anguish. The culture wouldn’t have changed no matter how often Cashman asked Steinbrenner to rebuild.

The next time you curse Ellsbury remember, if Cashman didn’t make that mistake the Yankees most likely never get Gleyber Torres, Dillon Tate, Justus Sheffield, Billy McKinney and others that have helped team with draft picks to give the Yankees one of the best farm systems. In a way, the Ellsbury contract, as bad as it is, played a part in getting the Yankees to where they are right now. If he contributes on the field from here on out, well that is just gravy. Don’t hate on the guy. Sometimes the biggest mistakes are actually just painful learning processes that make you better.

The 2018 New York Yankees Will Be Just Fine

Yankee Stadium

While its true the 2018 New York Yankees, who sit at 6-6 in the AL East, have started out the season somewhat overwhelmingly. In the end the New York Yankees will be just fine. Here are three reasons why Yankee fans should not worry about where the Yankees stand in the standings as of April 13th. First off, there are 149 games remaining, secondly, the Yankees offense, and third the Yankees bullpen.

With the Yankees sitting at 6-6 there seems to be quite a few fans on social media asking if Aaron Boone is the right man for the job or it this will end up a disaster hiring akin to the Giants hiring a head coach in Ben McAdoo with no experience.  This sounds oddly familiar to what Yankees fans said in 2008 when they hired Joe Girardi after only one season managing with the Miami Marlins. In the end, the New York Yankees won the World Series a year later in 2009 with Joe Girardi at the helm, he also did not have a losing season during the Yankees rebuild while attempting to compete mantra. Aaron Boone may be a first time manager but its pretty clear that Brian Cashman and the Yankees were blown away by his interview with them and his baseball acumen otherwise they would have never hired Boone coming off a season where they came one win shy of the World Series. Aaron Boone is still learning what its like to be a manager, but he has 149 games to go so there’s really no reason to panic about the Yankees record.

The second reason Yankee fans should not worry about the Yankees is their offensive firepower, through 12 games into the season, the Yankees are not getting much production at all from last years MVP Giancarlo Stanton or 2016 runner up Rookie of the year Gary Sanchez, they are missing 1st baseman Greg Bird whom the Yankees believe will be back in May, they have missed Aaron Hicks, as a matter of fact, I believe the Yankees have only had their expected 2018 lineup only 2 games so far in this early season. If you have followed the career of Giancarlo Stanton, you would know that as the weather warms up so does Stanton, the same can be said about Gary Sanchez as both of them seem to be coming out of their slumps to start the season with their last 2 performances in Fenway Park against the Red Sox.  While its true the Yankees have been and probably will continue to be hit with injuries, the Yankees have a valued farm system that includes the likes of Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier and others who in the near future will probably both be seeing time. The good news for the Yankees offense, is so far a sophomore slump for Aaron Judge couldn’t be further from the truth. The Yankees sit 6-6 and a lot of that is due to their offense that hasn’t even been fully healthy this season.

The final reason is the bullpen, last year the Yankees bullpen did blow 21 games from May through July, from Adam Warren all the way to Aroldis Chapman. The 2018 Yankees bullpen has already blown 5 games this season and have been hammered at times by opposing players, but again this is April, slumps will happen, a bullpen that consists of Chapman, Robertson, Green, Betances, Warren among others is simply too good to continue to be this bad for much longer. One bright spot in the pen so far has been Yankee farmhand Domingo German who has excelled through ST and even in his appearances in the Bronx, he might be the next to join the pen full time, tho I believe the Yankees and Brian Cashman would rather allow German to develop more into a starting pitcher. The 2018 Yankees bullpen was expected to be possibly one of the best bullpens ever assembled and so far through 12 games that has not been the case, but the careers of these guys tell you that a 12 game sample size is far too short to believe that this will not turn around.

The Yankees might not go further than they did last year when they made Game 7 of the ALCS, and truthfully the only way to do that would be to make the World Series, but their imposing lineup will warm up as the weather does, the bullpen will right itself, and General manager Brian Cashman has all kinds of assets and money should he need to make more moves to help out first year manager Aaron Boone.