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Friday, May 19, 2017

It's time we had a talk about Jacoby...

Last night, Jacoby Ellsbury went 2 for 4 with a bunt single, raising his average to .280. He's having a typical Jacoby Ellsbury season in his regular Jacoby Ellsbury continuum: In 136 at-bats, 4 HRs - (last year, he hit 9) - and 8 SB, ranking 12th in all of MLB. In September, he'll turn 34. He's ours, at $21 million per year, through 2021 - age 37 - when Owner Hal can buy him out for $5 million. He is "The Yankee Fixture."

Of course, you already knew that Ellsbury is the signature on the contract from Hell. But he remains a fine player and person. He hustles, hits .280, chases down flies, and nobody claims he steals the soap. All his negatives relate to a ridiculous contract bestowed upon him in early 2014, when Owner Hal sought to blunt the impending departure of Robbie Cano. (One can argue that the worst part of losing Cano was that it resulted in the Ellsbury deal.) I happen to believe we must never blame players for the contracts they sign. They are merely feeding their families. When a bad deal happens, it's the front office that deserves to hear booing. 

But here we are, staring at Ellsbury for three more long, uninspiring years. In recent seasons, there was no controversy: Zolio Almonte was not the heir apparent for CF. Besides, who cares if the Yankees overpay the help? Owner Hal counts his gold bars in the billions. 

But this season, Ellsbury has become a tanker truck stalled on a blind curve. All traffic is grinding to a halt.

The fact is, Aaron Hicks is a better CF, and it's not even close. In 90 at-bats - about 2/3rd of Ellsbury's - Hicks has 7 HRs, 6 SBs and is hitting .311. Every game that Hicks is not in CF, we are conceding power, speed and defense. Every game.

But wait, it gets worse (depending on how you look at it.) In Scranton, CF Dustin Fowler and LF Clint Frazier have heated up. Both are 22, both solid prospects, both knocking on the door. Fowler is hitting .298 with 5 HRs. But it's Frazier - the consensus top prospect - who is on the verge of creating the logjam. Last night, he hit two doubles and a HR - his sixth - raising his average to .261. That doesn't scream at you, unless you consider that Frazier spent the month of April mired around .200. Two weeks ago, a light seemed to come on. If he continues hitting - let's put it this way: This is not a kid you can bury at Scranton, like Rob Refsnyder.

Certainly, Owner Hal can trade Frazier and/or Fowler, but the fan base would grab pitchforks. The franchise has been promoting the "Baby Bombers." and everybody would see such a move as choosing Ellsbury's contract over the team's future. For better or worse, Frazier has become part of the Yankee brand, while Ellsbury represents the recent and unmemorable past. If Frazier keeps hitting, something must give.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: What about Brett Gardner? Isn't he the LF that Frazier will replace? Yeah, but we are only lashed to Gardy through next year. (The following winter brings a $2 million buyout.) Gardner's contract is not a 500-pound anvil. 

Listen: At some point, the Yankees will have to eat Ellsbury's deal. Already, he's not worth $21 million per season. Already, he's not even our best CF. Already, he is compromised in what we could get in a trade. But imagine what we would get in three years? Frazier is coming - maybe Fowler, too - and then there is Mason Williams, a perfectly capable fourth left-handed hitting OF. (Last year, we traded LH CF Ben Gamel, just to get rid of him. This year, LH CF Jake Cave is tearing up Trenton, because there is no room at Triple A.) We can't just continually bury players because we're on the dime of a bad deal. Why delay the inevitable?

Obviously, Frazier and Fowler need to keep hitting and playing everyday. They are still gaining experience. And Ellsbury isn't hurting us in CF. This is not the worst problem to have. But we need to be talking about Jacoby. We need an exit strategy.

10 comments:

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

A sober post.

The question to Hal is: When all of that money frees up at the end of 2017, might you want to spend some of it making Ells disappear?

My answer is YES. But then, it's always simple to spend someone else's money...

Leinstery said...

Gardner, Ellsbury, Judge, Hicks, Frazier, Fowler, Cave, Williams, Tyler Wade (as they talk about playing him everywhere), Rutherford, Mateo (as they said in the spring they want to convert him). Am I missing anyone? Have you ever seen those old pictures of when loggers would just float thousands upon thousands of logs down river to whatever mill city? There'd be so many floating in the river people could walk across them from one bank to the other. Well that's basically the outfield situation in the Yankees organization. Christ, just trade two prospects, Ellsbury, and eat 90% of his salary, and get a pitcher. I can't watch Montgomery pitch anymore. Every outing is exactly the same, the only difference is if they score runs behind him.

13bit said...

I'm tired of hearing about the money that's going to be "freed up" in a year or so.

George the Terrible did not think that way, and that's why we loved him, even as we hated him.

Swallowing a bad contract, along with one's pride, is exactly the same as "spending to win." Why can we not ditch him or trade him for prospects and swallow much of the contract.

THAT is the ballsy, innovative, risky-yet-rewarding move here. I agree with Duque, anything is better than stasis. He is costing us runs and speed. Plus, he is the spew of Satan and will always have the stench of Fenway upon him.

Just saying.

Tom said...

The deal with Johnny Damon led the Yankee brass to think that they could buy Ellsbury and tweak their biggest rival at the same time. I'm happy for the Ellsbury great-grandchildren, who will be well taken care of, and do not resent any player for cashing in. But Cashman and Hal need to admit failure on this one and pay Jake to go away, just as they did with McCann and that other guy with the big contract. Ellsbury might not be a bad 4th or 5th outfielder, but right now he's not even our 3rd best option.

Of course, we still have to ask if Hicks is for real. Even if he's not, he seems capable of holding down the position at least as well as Ellsbury. And with more young talent in the pipeline, assigning Ellsbury to the Pirates -- or making him a paid consultant a la Announcer A-Rod -- seems like a clear case of addition by subtraction.

Topic for another day: How about moving Sanchez to 3rd base so Romine can play and Headley can rest his weary soul while preparing for his next career.

Alphonso said...

Since when have isolated, rich Republicans ever had an exit strategy for anything? Even Bernie Madoff didn't have one. They are hoping for an injury that would activate their Lloyds of London insurance policy, and help fund 4 years of "down time" for Jacoby.

Joe Girardi is doing what he can ( I 'm amazed to see me say this ), by getting Aaron Hicks in there for both Gary and Jacoby on a regular basis. There is even talk of Hicks trying out at first base ( however, I am in the camp that this is a very difficult position to play well), so that isn't going to be the answer.

We may have to re-install those sprinkler drains into centerfield.

It is A-Rod, revisited.

Inhering a lot of money, plus an undeserved ego, led Hal into thinking he was being heroic. Just like some Generals in the civil war, who led troops to slaughter in numerous battles, while watching from the hillside.

Anonymous said...

HOLD THE PHONE ON HICKS GUYS...... I KNOW IT'S JUST ONE GAME, BUT, LAST NIGHT, HE SUCKED TO THE POINT OF MAKING ME THINK HE REVERTED BACK TO HIS OLD SELF.

NOTE TO ALL:
ALTHOUGH WE ALL FEEL LIKE HE HAS ALREADY DONE MORE THAN HE HAD ALL LAST YEAR, CHASE HEADLEY HAS HAD A STEADY, BUT STRONG DECLINE AT THE PLATE....3RD BASE IS STILL A PROBLEM..... I SUGGEST PLAYING GLEYBER EVERYDAY (IN DOUBLE A), AT 3RD FROM HERE ON OUT......LET'S PLAN AND GET HIM READY....... WHAT'S THE POINT OF PLAYING HIM AT SHORT OR SECOND?..... DIDI AND CASTRO AREN'T GOING ANYWHERE.....SOON, IT'S EITHER GLEYBER AT LEAGUE MINIMUM OR MANNY MACHADO AT A BILLION.

FOCUS CASHMAN!

Anonymous said...

I'm with 13bit.

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

Alternative Universe Question: What about moving MOAB to first base?

Alphonso said...

I'm with ALL CAPS. You don't take a MOAB and just move him to first base. It is a position that takes a career of experience to play well, as opposed to simply becoming, "a convenient stop gap." Bird is the guy. And there is a kid at Scranton now who is playing first and hitting about .340. Choi? Soy? Albumen?

Bird just needs another month or so to recover from the fractures and then a few weeks at Scranton.
He could be " good to go" after the all star break.

Meanwhile, Carter is better defensively than a certain Duque led me to believe. But he does strike out on bad pitches more than he should.

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

NYPost reports Choi went on DL, a Princeton grad named Ford promoted from AA.