Browsing Posts tagged Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury received many ‘boos’ during his Boston homecoming as a member of the New York Yankees. The speedy lefty went for 2-for-5 with a double, triple, and two RBIs during a 9-3 Yankee romp over the Sox. Ellsbury’s triple in the Top of the 1st set the tone for the rest of the game. The 12-8 Yankees will look to pick up their second victory over their rival Wednesday night at Fenway Park. RHP Michael Pineda will take the ball and look to build upon his impressive performances thus far. Pineda (2-1, 1.00 ERA) threw six scoreless innings in his last start, a win against the lowly Chicago Cubs. Pineda has already faced the Red Sox and won. Pineda struck out seven en route to a 4-1 victory over the Champs at Yankee Stadium. Pitching in Fenway Park figures to be a big challenge for the burly righty. Pineda made his only start in Fenway as a member of the Seattle Mariners. The Red Sox tagged him for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. Pineda is hoping for a better outing this time. During his last start, Pineda appeared to have some sort of substance on his hand. We’ll see if it happens again tonight and if the Red Sox do indeed to say something to the umpires.

Pineda will face off against RHP John Lackey (2-2, 5.25 ERA). Lacky has given up twelve runs over his last two starts including a 7-4 shellacking at the hands of the Yankees. Lackey carries an unsightly 6.26 ERA in nine starts against the Bombers since 2010. 

The Red Sox are supposed to get lead off man, Shane Victorino back soon. The speedy switch hitter has not played due to injuries. 

Current MLB odds have the Red Sox installed as slight money line favorites (-123). However, I love to ride hot streaks in baseball and the Yankee bats have been on fire lately. They hit Lackey very well and I expect that to continue. This is one of the rare occurence when we can get the Yankees as a road dog. Take them tonight in Fenway.

Pick: NY Yankees +117

 

Masahiro Tanaka will make his major league debut Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. He’ll look to guide his team after a disappointing road trip to start the season. The New York Yankees (1-2) dropped two of three in Houston against the Astros while the Blue Jays split four games in Tampa Bay against the Rays. The Yankees have high hopes for their $175 million man and a strong start on Friday night will be a great start. Tanaka was flat out dominant last season in Japan, posting a 24-0 record with a sparkling 1.27 ERA. Tanaka was the center piece of the off-season, but his contract didn’t stop the Yankees from improving their offense. The Yankees committed $85 million to catcher Brian McCann and over $150 million for center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankee offense as a whole struggled in Houston, but hopefully a stop in Toronto’s hitter friendly park will help.

Tanaka will face off against RHP Dustin McGowan. Due to various injuries, McGowan will be making his first start since September 2011. McGowan missed the entire 2012 season due to foot injuries and exclusively pitched out the bullpen last season. McGowan’s strong spring earned him a rotation spot over LHP JA Happ. 

The Yankees went 13-5 against the Blue Jays last season, but went just 4-5 at the Rogre Centre. 

Pick: Current MLB Odds have the Yankees listed as a modest road favorite (-128). I’m fully expecting Tanaka to come out ready to pitch and start his MLB career on a high note. The Yankee offense is ready to get on the map and I’m fully expecting them to take advantage of McGowan.

Pick: New York Yankees -128

The Yankees gave 30-year-old center fielder left fielder, Brett Gardner 52 million reasons not to test free agency next season. The Yankees’ speedy left fielder agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract that will keep Gardner in pinstripes through 2018. The contract includes a team option for a fifth year. The signing may come as a surprise. The Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a $153 million contract in December which solidifies center field for the foreseeable future. Gardner has been adamant about his desire to play center field, but he actually grades out better as a left fielder. Gardner does not fit the prototypical, power dependable mold for left fielders. Gardner hit a career high eight home runs and drove in a career high 52 runs in 2013. However, baseball is always evolving and this signing is a microcosm of this notion. Relative to his peers, Gardner’s signing tell us a lot of the future of the game. After the jump, I’ll show why the Yankees did a great job by locking up of their home grown players at a very reasonable price.

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Earlier this week, the Yankees signed free agent center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract. Ellsbury, 29, played his first six season with the Boston Red Sox and was a key cog in both of Boston’s world series titles. Ellsbury is one of the game’s premiere leader-off hitters and may be the game’s best base stealer. During 2013, Ellsbury stole 52 bases in 56 attempts and boasts three seasons of 50+ stolen bases on his resume. Add in Ellsbury’s career .350 on-base percentage and you’ve got a guy that can set the table at the top of the order. While that seems like a recipe for success, there are some red flags when it comes to Ellsbury.

After looking through his game logs, two questions immediately come to mind.

  1. What is the deal with Ellsbury’s power output?
  2. Why has he missed so many games? 

Ellsbury home run totals have been mostly modest, but he has one outlier season of 32 home runs in 2011 when he finished 2nd in MVP voting. Outside of this season, Ellsbury has not surpassed nine home runs in a single season. Many think the left-handed Ellsbury will take advantage of the short porch in right field, but I’m not so sure. Ellsbury tends to pepper center field and left center field with line drivers. Whether that’s a product of playing at Fenway remains to be seen, but on the surface, Ellsbury is not a big-time pull hitter. I think Ellsbury has 15-20 HR upside, but the Yankees aren’t paying him to be a home run hitter.

In four of his six full-time seasons, Ellsbury has posted at least 600 plate appearances. Ellsbury had only 84 plate appearances in 2010 and 324 plate appearances in 2012. Ellsbury’s injuries were definitely deemed ‘freak injuries’. During 2010, Ellsbury dove and fell on top of Adrian Beltre’s knee as he was attempting to catch a fly ball in foul territory. He broke three ribs. During 2012, Reid Brignac fell on top of Ellsbury as he attempted to steal second base. Brignac landed on Ellsbury’s shoulder was exposed and he missed three months. This isn’t a guy with chronic knee or back issues. If anything, these injuries define Ellsbury’s effort as a young player. 

At face value, the years and salary amounts seem extreme for a lead-off hitter that has only one All-Star appearance. I can counter that notion with two studies. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs posted a study regarding the ‘Slow Decline of Speedy Outfielders‘. The article shows how 41 other speedy outfielders have fared as they’ve aged. Several outfielders (Kenny Lofton, Tim Raines, Rickey Henderson) aged well while others (Carl Crawford), have not. The article is worth a read, but the study suggests speedy outfielders tend to age well over time. Fangraphs projects a WAR around 4.0 for Ellsbury during 2014. Statisticians suggest a decay of 0.5 wins per season, which would net out to approximately 17.5 wins for the life of the contract. The Yankees are paying about $8.7 million per expected win, which is a little high relative to the rest of the free agent. Thus far, teams have been paying about $7.5 million per win. Still, these are the Yankees and they won’t lose sleep over a few bucks. 

I haven’t focused too much on his defense, but Ellsbury is widely regarded as a plus defender in center field. Ellsbury won a Gold Glove in 2011. Outside of 2009, Ellsbury has graded out as an elite defender in terms of Universal Zone Rating (UZR). He doesn’t have a great arm, but he’s a better defender than Gardner. Pairing Gardner with Ellsbury though will give the Yankees one of the best defensive outfields in baseball. 

Many fans are skeptical of this signing and Ellsbury has drawn unfair comparisons to two former AL East outfielders. Some fans are quick lump Ellsbury in the same category as Carl Crawford, who inked a 7-year, $142 million contract with the Red Sox in 2011 and Johnny Damon who left Boston and signed a 4-year, $52 million with the Yankees in 2005. All three players were represented by Scott Boras and all three players rely on speed. Crawford, who forgot how to hit against lefties flamed out in Boston, was traded in a megadeal to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Before joining the Red Sox, Crawford was a 5-tool stud for the Tampa Bay Rays. Crawford was a horrible defensive fit for Fenway Park and his strengths did not coincide with manager Bobby Valentine’s philosophy. Crawford stopped running and was sent packing to Hollywood. Outside of leaving Boston after winning a World Series title, Ellsbury and Damon have nothing in common. Damon’s defense (and arm) was drastically declining and his base stealing days were long behind him. Damon was also 32-years-old when he joined the Bombers. Free agency is all about money and as we’ve seen first hand, losing a home grown star is rough. Yankee fans are trying to shake off Robinson Cano’s departure and as much as they don’t want to admit it, Red Sox fans must be upset over Ellsbury departure. 

Overall, it’s understandable for fans to skeptical of this deal. The Yankees typically target sluggers and this is a long-term commitment for a speed guy. To me, this type of deal reaks of Brian Cashman. Cashman knows what’s it like not to get any value out of the backend of mega deals. With the Ellsbury signing, this contract will take him until he’s 37-years-old. Cashman is betting he’ll still provide value with his legs and bat, even if he begins to age.