April 02, 2012
Ellsbury Will Be A Yankee In 2013
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
If you think this offseason will be a tumultuous one for the Red Sox, to borrow a familiar phrase from yesterday, wait ‘till next year.
Scott Boras pulled a fast one on the Red Sox in 2009 during what basically was a sham of a negotiating process involving Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira. Boras will pull an even faster one on the Red Sox this fall when he gets Jacoby Ellsbury the contract of his dreams from the Yankees, a team Ellsbury perhaps privately craves to play for, given how the last few seasons have gone for him in Boston. You will see all sorts of reports as to why the Sox should ink Ellsbury to a long term deal as soon as possible, but the sad truth is that such a long term contract will never happen and Ellsbury will gleefully hop on I-95 down to the new Yankee Stadium for presumably the final years of his career.
And the reasons why this will happen will be linked to why Teixeira went to the Yankees prior to the 2009 season. Same agent, same enmity towards the Red Sox, same means of carrying out the contract negotiations. Boras will use the Red Sox, as well as other teams, but mostly the Red Sox, to drive up the Yankee price. In the end, Ellsbury will be a filthy rich Yankee while Red Sox fans will probably be wondering if Ellsbury could have been had if Theo Epstein were still around.
To explain why, let's begin at the beginning with a MLB draft that happened some years ago during the time when Dan Duquette was general manager of the Red Sox.
Teixeira was chosen in the ninth round of the 1998 draft by the Red Sox. According to an article in the Herald, the Red Sox had a role in Teixeira falling to the ninth round. The Red Sox leaked out what was false information that Teixeira wanted to attend college and not enter the major leagues right away, scaring off most every MLB team. The Teixeira family caught wind of this, and was very angry with the Red Sox for doing this.
Things got worse when Duquette sent his minions to the Teixeira household to sign a contract. According to the Herald's report, the family was so turned off by how poorly they were treated that they summarily rejected the Red Sox and never signed with them. Teixeira wound up attending Georgia Tech and vowed that he would never play for the Red Sox again.
Teixeira graduated in 2001 and was drafted by the Texas Rangers. Boras managed to get Teixeira a four-year, $9.5 million deal (thanks, Wikipedia) after some tough negotiating. He would remain in Texas until 2007, when he was dealt to the Atlanta Braves after turning down an eight-year, $140 million extension. The following year he would be traded to the Angels, and played out his contract season in Anaheim before hitting the free agent market.
Epstein was reviled by many for not signing Teixeira, losing out on him at the last minute to the Yankees. What came out later was that the Red Sox had offered Teixeira $170 million over eight years. The Yankees signed him for $180 million. Apparently, there was a deal in place where the price would plateau, and Yankee general manager Brian Cashman would be right there to just barely top the high bid. The accepted story is that the Sox came in high, and Cashman merely topped it by $10 million as per this agreement. Teixeira never really wanted to play in Boston, but instead sent out hints that he would sign, driving up the price so that he could garner more money in New York.
In this manner, Teixeira exacted his revenge on the Sox for 1998 by signing with their sworn enemy, and wound up being a world champion in 2009. It is likely that Ellsbury would love to do the same thing to the Red Sox, given how poorly they treated him in 2010 and how badly the team fell apart in 2011, but mostly regarding the ill feelings left over from the 2010 season.
Ellsbury played only 18 games in 2010. He suffered a rib injury after an outfield collision with Adrian Beltre at Kansas City on April 11, only six games into the season. He made two comebacks that year, playing in three games in May and nine games in August before shutting down for good on August 13.
During his time on the disabled list, Ellsbury incensed a lot of Red Sox personnel, as well as a lot of fans, by taking excessively long to recover from the injury and for seeking medical attention outside of the organization. He went to Arizona for treatment instead of seeing the team doctors, and never hung out in the Red Sox clubhouse when he was able to. Kevin Youkilis was very vocal in his condemnation of Ellsbury during his rehab, and Ellsbury was characterized as being a "soft" player. The normally quiet and aloof Ellsbury didn't much care for this sort of profiling.
Now healthy in 2011, Ellsbury had a bounceback season which earned him AL Comeback Player of the Year. He batted .321, hit 32 home runs and drove in 105 runs from the leadoff position. His slugging average was .552. He was a contender for AL Most Valuable Player, an award which untilately went to a pitcher, Detroit's Justin Verlander. And he is now entering his contract year with the Red Sox in complete and total makeover stage following the biggest collapse in the history of MLB.
The smart thinking here is that Ellsbury will have another season in 2012 somehat like he did in 2011, maybe with some dropoff in power, and then he and Boras will play the Red Sox off against the Yankees like Boras did with Teixeira. Ellsbury will relish the idea of sticking it to the Red Sox like Teixeira did, and Boras will be only too happy to make it happen. Relations between the Red Sox and Boras soured a great deal after the Teixeira negotiations, which should make the Ellsbury negotiations even more contentious and Yankee-friendly.
Do the Yankees have a need for Ellsbury? Right now, Curtis Granderson is their centerfielder and is cut from the same jib as Ellsbury (speedy outfielder, near the top of the order, good pop in his bat). What the Yankees could do is move Granderson to right field and possibly DH Nick Swisher, what with Jorge Posada now in retirement. Or maybe Ellsbury will take a position switch much like Alex Rodriguez did in 2004.
Many reports will "suggest" that the Red Sox sign Ellsbury long term as soon as possible. It just won't happen. Ellsbury will direct Boras to get him the heck out of Boston, and doing it the Teixeira way will be the most satisfying, as well as the most lucrative, way to do it. Ellsbury could try and get Seattle to sign him and therefore head back to his home area, but the Yankees will offer more money and the revenge factor will make it sweeter.
So enjoy Ellsbury's last year in Boston. David Ortiz said he'd love to be a Yankee not long ago, though he opted to come back nonetheless. Ellsbury will be the one who will really get his wish.
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