Aug 31, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (2) stands at third base during the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Be Wary Of Ellsbury

It’s clear that the Mets will need some outfield help next season. Juan Lagares has a tremendous glove in center field, and will probably remain there because of that upside. Eric Young, Jr. played well in his time with the Mets, but his strength lies in is his speed and stolen bases – his batting average and OBP were only .251 and .318, respectively, for the Mets.

Marlon Byrd is now with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Matt den Dekker is unproven and already 26 years old, a little too old to be considered a prospect anymore.

Many fans have thrown out the names of Carlos Gonzalez from the Rockies and Shin-Soo Choo of the Reds, among others, as candidates for the corner outfield spots in 2014. Some have also mentioned Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox. While Ellsbury is a true talent, the Mets may not want to make a huge push for him.

Since coming up with the Red Sox in 2007, Ellsbury has been a tremendous talent while patrolling both left and center field at Fenway Park. Three different times, Ellsbury has led the American League in steals, including this season in which he had 52. He has excelled at the top of the lineup and has posted a career .350 OBP, a great number for someone at the leadoff position.

In 2011, Ellsbury had his best season to date, finishing second in the American League Most Valuable Player voting. That season, he drilled 32 homers, drove in 105 runs, hit .321 had on OBP of .356. If the Red Sox did not have a late season collapse and reached the postseason, he may have been able to take home the hardware.

Not only are his offensive attributes on point, Ellsbury also plays a tremendous outfield. During his incredible 2011 campaign, he was able to pick up a Gold Glove for his defensive work. This season his range is on full display again – his UZR is 10.0. He has great range and can get over to many balls in the gap – seemingly a perfect fit for the expanses of Citi Field.

While Ellsbury has all of the talent in the world to play Major League Baseball, there is one flaw that sticks out in his game. Ellsbury has had a tough time staying on the field, and has been on the disabled list multiple times since 2007.

After becoming a full-time player in 2008, Ellsbury has been able to play 150 games in a season only twice, in 2009 and 2011. In 2010 he played in just 18 games, and last season only managed to suit up in 74.

At the end of this season, Ellsbury suffered a compression fracture in his foot, which limited his playing time in the final weeks of the regular season.  It was the same injury that his teammate Dustin Pedroia suffered in 2010, and Pedroia had after effects into the 2011 season.

Some may say that Ellsbury has had a rash of freak injuries that weren’t due to a weak or injury-prone body. While some of this might be true, like his leg injury in 2012, it should still be a concern for the Mets.  Since 2009, the Mets have had injury problems seemingly every season, with many star players missing time in some form or another.

It’s no secret that Ellsbury is a five-tool player. The guy can do it all, when he’s healthy. While it may be a good idea to try to sign a guy like Ellsbury, it might be smart to think about his downside first. If he’s injured for the majority of the time, he certainly won’t be worth the deal he’s likely to receive.


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Tags: Jacoby Ellsbury New York Mets

  • Ken Meoni

    Totally agree with what you said about Ellsbury.

    • Sam Maxwell

      Yeah, I’m right there as well. There are better options out there considering his history.

  • Brian Reilly

    If we’re talking about the Free Agent market only, sign Choo for RF, Napoli for 1B and Cano for SS. Keep EY and Lagares and play den Dekker in a platoon role. Napoli and Cano provide ample power to allow them to play EY and Lagares. Addition of Choo makes their OF a top 5 fielding OF.If they cannot sign Napoli, than look to sign or trade a RF with power and keep Davis/Satin as a 1B platoon.

    • bluesnbaseball

      Cano? Really? $300 million? yeah right, good idea

    • Brian Reilly

      Why is it a bad idea? It’s not your money, is it? We’re playing in New York, not Houston, Oakland or Kansas City. For goodness sake, Philadelphia out spent us by almost $100mm! Philadelphia!! If you want to make money and fill Citi Field, than,you have to spend money. If we bring in Cano, Napoli and Byrd, we immediately become competitive.and relevant again. IIn 1986 the Mets owned the city and we can do it again,but the Wilpon’s need to loosen the purse strings and spend like Philly if we want to put that kind of team on the field.

    • bluesnbaseball

      I totally agree with you in principle, however my point is that paying Cano that much money is a step backwards for this organization. There is no reason to tie up that much money in one player, even if he hits like Cano.

    • Reilly

      You’re probably right, I just hate the idea of trading any of our young pitchers, and that includes Montero and DeGrom. Perhaps look to sign guys like McCann (d’Arnaud would still play 50-60 games), Napoli and Byrd.

    • paqza

      It’s already been proven that you just can’t build a team like that – look at the Angels or Yankees. Besides, you have Canó playing SS – I’m just going to assume that was a mistake.

      Also, seeing as that a Duda or Davis+Satin platoon would put up almost identical numbers to Napoli with less injury risk and at 1/8th the cost, I’m quite okay with not making moves for the sake of making moves, especially when they make the team worse overall.

      I agree Murph isn’t Canó but Canó’s not $20 million a year better than Murph.

    • Reilly

      My mistake, you’re right. Let’s save the money, it’s not like we’re playing the the largest city in the US. It’s just Queens. I agree with you, let’s stand pat and enjoy another thrilling 74-88 season. My mistake again, given the absence of Matt Harvey, it’ll probably be closer to 70-92. No reason to even try to improve, let’s enjoy another year of mediocrity.

    • paqza

      Yes, because money clearly fixes everything a la Yankees/Angels/etc. Look at the teams that are winning games right now – the Braves, Pirates, Rays, Athletics, etc aren’t approaching anywhere near $150 million payrolls and are doing just fine. It’s not about spending money – it’s about spending money wisely.

      EG. I’d be all for leveraging the Mets’ “big market finances” into acquiring Masahiro Tanaka who just bent the NPB over (24-0, something like a 1.3 ERA, etc).

    • Reilly

      Hey knucklehead, are you serious? Seems you neglected to include the Tigers, Red Sox, Cardinals (Can one even fathom that cities like Detroit and St. Louis actually outspend the Mets???). Also, if you look at the top 12 teams, mostly all of them have been either in the playoffs during the past 5 years or have played competitive baseball late into the season, something the Mets haven’t done since ’08.. And by the way, it is about spending money, as the Rays and A’s are the only exception. Pirates will return to mediocrity shortly and the Braves are typically top 10 payroll but have a young team, that is the only reason there payroll is down. Winning teams need to spend widely to experience long term success, but teams like the Phillies and Giants will be back next year, Pirates and A’s, not so much.

    • paqza

      “Hey knucklehead”? What are you, an angsty, acne-ridden teenage boy? Didn’t bother reading beyond that. Guess sitting behind your computer screen allows you to be uncivil and obnoxious. Gotta say, though, it doesn’t lend credence to your argument.

    • Reilly

      No I have been a Mets fan for 50+ years and am so tired of watching them put such a mediocre product on the field and saddened when I hear fans like yourself accepting the Wilpon’s frugality as part of the norm. The fact is that MLB teams with long-term success intersperse expensive free agents with home grown talent. It’s been happening for 40+ years. One only needs to look at the Cards and Red Sox to envision a formula for success.For Met fans to accept a sub $ 100mm payroll or be afraid to spend on a free agent because he might not work out is in essence operating out of fear. Never a recipe for success.

    • Reilly

      You cannot compare a Davis/Satin platoon with Napoli? The intimidation factor and presence of a player like Napoli has to be taken into account. He would instill confidence in the younger player, it’s not all about stats, otherwise a player like Latroy Hawkins would not have been nearly as integral a player. His confidence and presence made every young Met pitcher better as would a player like Napoli. I truly like Satin, but I’m afraid Davis has too much psychological baggage to ever be successful and Duda is a back-up, with minimal upside.

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  • calamityfrancis

    Thanks Captain Obvious.

  • Dave I

    is there any concern about Ellsbury’s home/road split? Career it’s .833 home, .749 road, though 2013 was nearly even (.790 – .773). My biggest concern is the cost, expected to be $100mil I think, vs. the injury risk, and for a player who is not a big-time bat.

  • VitaminCM

    It’s never gonna happen at those years and dollars. NEVER.

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  • AceRuby

    Yea I agree on the Ellsbury front his injury risk is to high and i’m sure teams are gonna see that and not want to give him a huge contract like he thinks he might get (probably the Bourn situation all over again).

  • paqza

    The Dodgers have Kemp, Crawford, Puig, and Ethier signed to long-term contracts. I’m sure we could work out a trade for Van Slyke and Joc Pederson – a solid righty with a Mike Morse offensive profile and plus defense + a guy who flashes corner outfield power, plus OBP, and plus speed from the left side.