Results tagged ‘ Jacoby Ellsbury ’
Eight years after Johnny Damon left the Red Sox for the Yankees, another center fielder who led off for a World Series championship team in Boston is about to do the same.
This time, it is Jacoby Ellsbury. It is a story Damon can relate to better than anyone else. I caught up with Damon on the phone a little while ago.
“The good thing is Jacoby brought two World Series championships to Boston and he’s a heck of a player. It just seems like he’s finding a way to stay healthy and he’s going to be awesome for New York. Unfortunately for Boston fans, this is kind of what happens sometimes. As much as your heart belonged to Boston and everything, it comes down to being a business. Unfortunately we’re part of that.”
Ellsbury was a first round pick by the Red Sox in 2005, Damon’s last year in Boston. They were always compared as players, though Damon probably had a little more power while Ellsbury possesses more speed.
“I feel like I was part of the Jacoby Ellsbury business. If they signed me, maybe they would have traded Jacoby. Or Jacoby may not have gotten that shot in Boston,” Damon said. “Things work out for a reason. Unfortunately some fans don’t see it that way. Jacoby has always been compared to me, in a way, since he was signed. So this is just that other comparison. I wish him the best and, yeah, it’s pretty crazy.”
Damon’s power benefited in New York, with the easy pull shots to right and right-center. He hit 77 homers over four seasons in New York, compared to 56 over that same time-span in Boston.
“Oh, I think it’s going to play great for his swing,” Damon said. “He has power and still has a lot of good years left in him. And the thing is, New York needed to do it. They’re not looked at as one of the elite teams. With that signing, it puts them right back into the race again. I thought maybe a month ago, a scenario would play out but I thought maybe Boston would do what they could to sign him.”
Damon hopes Ellsbury doesn’t get quite the same backlash he did from Boston fans.
“I think it depends on what people make of it. Jacoby just helped the team win another World Series,” Damon said. “They’re going to be grateful for that. But the Boston fans are notoriously hateful to Yankee players. The way that Jacoby plays, he’s still going to have the respect throughout the league. The fact is, he hustles, and that’s what Boston wants – somebody who cares about the game and somebody who would run into walls and who would take accountability, and that’s the guy. Yeah, it’s going to be tough at times but he’s a good enough player that the fans are still going to respect what he gave to Boston and what he’s going to give to New York.”
What is it like adjusting to the New York market after playing in Boston?
“I actually thought going to New York was easier to deal with just because there’s so much going on because baseball isn’t the New Yorkers’ everything. They’ve got so many sports teams to follow, they’ve got Broadway, they’ve got actors and actresses, Wall Street, all that stuff. everybody can kind of do their thing. In Boston, it’s great, people invite you to dinner every night. People pay very close attention there, I would say more of a percentage of people. “
And Damon ended the conversation with this.
“And hopefully he enjoys both places as much as I have.”
When Damon left Boston for New York, the Yankees gave him $52 million over four years. The Red Sox were willing to offer four years at $40 million.
In this case, the Red Sox likely weren’t going to go near the seven years the Yankees are willing to invest in Ellsbury.
Though Jacoby Ellsbury is not at the All-Star Game, he is coming off a very solid first half, in which he hit .305 and stole 36 bases. Ellsbury remains a player to watch all season, considering this is his “walk year”.
Agent Scott Boras talked about Ellsbury’s season and future at Monday’s All-Star Media Day.
To Boras, it is simple. When Ellsbury is healthy, he produces.
“Health. Jacoby’s shoulder was really something that [impacted him last year]. Remember, Jacoby Ellsbury is a very durable player. He just has to make sure that people don’t run into him. The only time in his career he’s not been durable has been when someone ran into him, which has happened twice. And last year he came back early and played where his shoulder strength was not there. We’re starting to see that. I’m starting to see where this is starting to turn and he’s starting to drive the ball with authority in the gap, the opposite way, and that shoulder’s getting stronger as we go. And he’s always been a tremendously strong, elite athlete as far as running, quick twitch, first step in the outfield. He’s just a rare player. With each month of this season, his batting averages are going up, his numbers are there, his on-base percentage is really … Look, it’s no secret that the Red Sox are where they are. Jacoby’s had a big part of that.”
“When you get hurt, like last year, he didn’t have the shoulder strength. When he came into the season this year, when you’re a hitter and you see enough pitches, you grade off where you were, and then as the strength started coming, he’s now made the adjustment to understand more about that he does have that strength and now he’s certainly starting to let the ball get deeper and I can see more power and lift coming to him.
He understands the mental side of it, too, where his shoulder’s at. He’s now back to being healthy.
What about Ellsbury’s lack of power, compared to 2011?
“Whatever Jacoby does from the top of the lineup relative to home run power is not, that’s helpful but the main issue is that most players who are of Jacoby’s type, they don’t even know — it’s never there. They’re four, five home run guys. Jacoby, you know it’s there. There may be years where he hits 20 home runs. There may be another year that he hits 20. And there may be years when he hits 10. The reality of it is you’re going to pay him for the melding of his power, but what you’re really paying him for is the ability to score runs and the ability to get on base and the ability to provide up-the-middle defense. “
Boras laughs at the notion that the imminent arrival of Jackie Bradley Jr. will soon create an outfield log-jam and eliminate Ellsbury’s chances of staying.
“I’m sure in the Red Sox board room, Ben is sitting there going, ‘Wow, we just can’t have Jackie and Jacoby and Victorino in that outfield. They would be just too good defensively. It would provide too much production and speed. That would be such a horrible problem for us.’”
Boras is confident he will have productive discussions with Sox GM Ben Cherington once the season ends.
“Ben and I work together very well. He wants to focus on finishing the season and so do we,” Boras said.
What went into the decision to keep Ellsbury in the leadoff spot? “Jacoby? Obviously we talk about the lineup as a group. It seems like in this grouping he looks really good being there and I also thought it would be apropos for you guys to write about the number one and number two in the MVP voting facing each other on a first pitch here in Detroit this year. And he liked it too. Talking to him, he kind of relished the idea.”
How can Ellsbury have another year like last year? “By taking it one pitch at a time. Obviously today, at the end of today, he’s not going to have the stats that he had at the end of last year. And, you know, the trap everyone always falls into is answering all those questions. How are you going to do better this year than you did last year? You start thinking that you have to hit a home run every time and a triple the next time and two doubles and steal bases, drive in the runs, all at once, and that’s not how it happens.”
Morning butterflies for the new manager? “Got up so long ago I can’t remember. To tell you the truth, I had the same feeling that I think most of the guys have. I talked to a lot of them at the hotel early and saw some of them here now. It’s opening day. There’s only one opening day. It’s a very special day. Start of something new.”
Nerves? “I hope so. You know, I knew it was time to stop playing when I got into the batters box and I couldn’t create a little adrenaline, you know? A little feel. I hope I have that today.”
Why lefties Gonzalez and Ortiz back to back with Youk hitting fifth? “That grouping today I think is just based on the starting pitcher that we’re facing today. And Youk has two home runs against him, so its not like I don’t like what Youk does against him.”
Finally a real game.“I’m very anxious to see guys in the real setting. In the practice setting is one thing, and in the real setting, things change. I’m anxious to see how the whole group works together. And obviously it’s kind of a short group on the bench now. The guys who are lined up on that card are going to be responsible for a lot of the action.”
The 13-man pitching staff? “You know I, when I sat in the chair next to Dan [Shulman] at the beginning of the season, I would always see who was the first and last to get everyone in a game. I think it’s important to try to get full participation early in the season to start building a team. I hope I don’t have to use all 13 today.”
It is a day none of us will ever forget. Here is what the Red Sox remember.
The Red Sox were in New York getting ready to face Roger Clemens the night of 9/10, but that game was rained out, enabling the team to fly to Tampa a little earlier than planned for their series that was scheduled to begin in St. Petersburg — ironically where the Sox are right now — on 9/11/01.
Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield:
“[My girlfriend and now wife Stacy] was actually in New York with me. She got out because we got rained out. She got the last flight out and beat me [to Tampa] so when we got in at 4 in the morning, she was already sleeping. She was up when all this was taking place and woke me up and said, ‘hey, you need to wake up.’ I started watching it and like 10 minutes later, we saw the second plane hit and we were like, ‘oh god, something bad is happening right now.”’
“To watch stuff on television now, the documentaries about how everything unfolded and how whoever was in charge of grounding all the airplanes made the hardest, right decision anyone could have made. Knowing it would costs the airlines millions and millions of dollars if they stopped all flights immediately, they’d have to ground the planes and all the passengers would have to switch flights. That’s when they found out about United 93. The game was meaningless [compared to what was going on] but we needed to get back playing.”
Wakefield on Ground Zero: “In 2002, I drove by. I took a cab and jus drove by. I didn’t want to get out. in ’05, we went and opened the stock market, me, trot and somebody else, we rang the bell at the American Stock Exchange. We went to somebody’s office that overlooked Ground Zero. He was part of that whole thing. He kept telling us how the building was shaking and all that stuff. The chaos.”
Jason Varitek was out for the remainder of 2001 with a fractured right elbow.
“Actually I didn’t arrive in Tampa. I was on the DL, I was in rehab. I actually arrived that morning to rehab when it all happened. It’s like, once you realize what happened, everybody dropped what they were doing and took off and left.”
“There’s a heightened awareness to everything that goes on around you for one. Appreciation for the people that tried to save lives and to do those things and you reach out to those people who have lost family, friends, etc., in the most tragic thing that’s ever happened here.”
Jacoby Ellsbury, now an All-Star and an MVP candidate, turned 18 years old on Sept. 11, 2001. He was a junior at Madras (Oregon) High School.
“I just remember going to school and waking up that morning and hearing something happened. At school, we turned on all the TV’s and saw everything unfold. At the beginning, I don’t think anyone really knew what was going on. But yeah, I just remember watching things unfold from Madras (ore.) High. I was on my way to school when I kind of heard everything. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years.”
The 2001 season was basically the only year of Terry Francona’s youth or adult life that he wasn’t wearing a baseball uniform. Francona was a scout for the Indians in 2001, and was on assignment in Pittsburgh when the terrorist attacks happened. His best friend Brad Mills was also scouting for the Cubs at that time, and was in Pittsburgh, at the same hotel as Francona when everything happened.
“I was in Pittsburgh scouting and coincidentally Millsy was scouting for the Cubs. He was advancing. He was upstairs in the concierge room because he never pays for coffee. So he called me and he was like, ‘hey, you need to come up here, man. I went upstairs and I sat there with him. Kind of watched it and then rented a car and drove back to Philly because obviously there weren’t going to be games. I remember driving by Shanksville (Pennsylvania) on the turnpike. The exit was closed. I remember being glad I was with Millsy. Times like that, it’s nice to have maybe your best friend in the whole world with you.”
Francona is glad that soldiers can take some enjoyment out of being around baseball: “I hope it does. If you like baseball, I don’t know that it matters what you do. obviously I hope what we do, people get enjoyment out of it. I think it’s cool that they bring soldiers and people like that around and they honor them at the ballparks. I think everybody enjoys that. I think it’s a really neat thing. If they get some enjoyment out of what we’re doing, that’s terrific.”
Of course, perhaps nobody affiliated with the Red Sox had a more compelling 9/11 story than Trot Nixon, whose wife Kathryn gave birth to the couple’s first son on 9/11/01. Today, Chase Nixon turned 10 years old. Here is an in-depth story I did with Trot and Kathryn back in 2002.
The Red Sox get a big presence back in their lineup tonight with the return of David Ortiz, who missed nine games with right heel bursitis.
Boston scored 37 runs in the nine games without Papi, but 11 of those came in last night’s game. For the most part, the offense struggled. But with Adrian Gonzalez belting two homers last night and Jacoby Ellsbury also coming back, you wonder if the the Red Sox’ offense is about to go on another one of their patented hot streaks.
Kevin Youkilis is the only regular missing from the mix, and he is elgible to come back on Sept. 2, for the start of the next three-game series against the Rangers.
Without Ortiz, the Red Sox went 5-4.
It’s another scorcher here in Arlington, Texas, with the game-time temperature expected to top 100 degrees for the third straight game.
- Matt Albers, who relieved an injured Daisuke Matsuzaka in the fifth, said after Boston’s 5-4 loss to the Mariners that he had as much time as he needed to warm up. Albers was just on the DL because of a strained right lat, but said he wasn’t worried about a flare-up. That injury was minor to begin with. Albers threw two scoreless innings and allowed one hit, striking out and walking one.
- Jacoby Ellsbury has a season-high eight-game hit streak after going 1-for-4 on Friday night. The last time he had a hit streak that length was July 31 to Aug. 8, 2009. “Last week or so though, he’s using the whole field, he’s getting on top of the ball when he hits the ball to left field, and he’s hitting a lot of line drives,” manager Terry Francona said before the game.
- Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz both have a hit streak at six games. Gonzalez has multiple hits in four of those games. He went 2-for-4 Friday and is 12-for-27 during the streak (.444). Gonzalez scored the 500th run of his career in the third inning Friday.
- The Red Sox were 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position Friday. Boston entered the day hitting .217 with runners on second and/or third, fourth-worst in the Majors and second-worst in the American League (behind Oakland). “We’ve not been real good at it so far,” Francona said before the game. “That’s something we drastically want to improve on.”
- Bobby Jenks was a stand-up guy when answering questions after he took the loss Friday, waiting by his locker for reporters to return from the media room. In a note possibly related to his performance, and possibly related to nothing, Jenks also appeared to have shaved after the game.
- Comedic line of the night went to Jason Varitek. Asked what Daisuke Matsuzaka said when he went out to the mound to check on the right-hander in the fifth, the captain responded: “Well, he said it in Japanese, so I don’t really know.”
- On a 70-degree day in Boston, Mike Cameron jokingly wore a Red Sox ski hat in the clubhouse before batting practice. He went on to hit two home runs.
Here we are in Cleveland, where the Red Sox, after a month and a half in Fort Myers and then a weekend in Texas, are now faced with cold weather for the first time.
At gametime, it is expected to be 42 degrees, but weather.com says that it will “feel like 35″.
At any rate, manager Terry Francona has made another adjustment to the lineup.
Carl Crawford will bat second and Dustin Pedroia moves to the three-hole.
Here is the new entire alignment:
Usually an Opening Day lineup is pretty simple for a manager. You put your best nine players out there in the order you expect them to hit in for most of the season. But Terry Francona is faced with a bit of a different situation this year, in that his team is going against Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson.
How good is Wilson against lefties? Well, last year, they hit .144 against him with no homers and 12 RBIs. Yes, that is filthy.
“It’s not just the lefty, it’s who the lefty is,” Francona told reporters today from City of Palms Park. “This is something, that’s why I’ve been so hesitant to talk about the lineup. C.J. Wilson is one of those lefties, where on normal days, if it’s July, that’s the day you give your righties a shot. Now, it’s Opening Day. There’s some thought that needs to go into that.”
Here is a breakdown of Sox lefties lifetime vs. Wilson: Crawford 2-for-12, 1 HR, 4 RBIs; Ortiz 1-for-10, 1 RBI; J.D. Drew 1-for-6, 0 RBIs; Jacoby Ellsbury 0-for-1; Adrian Gonzalez 0-for-1.
So Francona has several dilemmas: Does he hit Ellsbury leadoff or put him at the bottom of the order? Does Drew start, or does Tito insert Mike Cameron?
Even though Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, is going to be the primary catcher this season, does Francona give Jason Varitek the honor of starting Opening Day? His motive in that situation, aside from Varitek’s strong history with starting pitcher Jon Lester, is that ‘Tek is a stronger right-handed hitter and Salty is better from the left side.
What order do Youkilis and Gonzalez hit in? Does he hit Youk fourth and Gonzo fifth or vice versa?
The first glimpse of Carl Crawford playing a baseball game in a Red Sox uniform will come Monday afternoon, when the $142 million left fielder makes his exhibition debut. He will be joined in the outfield by Jacoby Ellsbury, as the Red Sox can show off their new speed tandem. J.D. Drew will also play his first game of the spring, starting in right.
While Ellsbury and Crawford will get a lot of notice for their stolen-base totals, it should be just as enjoyable watching them play side-by-side in the outfield.
Manager Terry Francona doesn’t think it’s necessary to go out of his way to pair them up during exhibition games.
“They’re out there every day practicing,” Francona said. “Carl is going to catch what he can get. The whole idea is to cover as much outfield as you can so I don’t think you play somebody out of alignment but we will certainly remember that when we’re setting guys, because they’re so fast, might be able to move over a few more feet.”
The next deadline on baseball’s offseason calendar comes up on Thursday, when teams must tender contract offers to all their unsigned players, otherwise those players become free agents.
Without question, the most difficult decision for Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein will be what to do with Hideki Okajima. The lefty is coming off a poor season, but this is after he spent his first three years in the Majors as a rock. Oki made $2.75 million last year. By tendering him a contract, the Red Sox will essentially be committed to paying him around that same salary in 2011. If he repeats his 2010 level, he will be very underpaid.
Perhaps the Red Sox will meet with Okajima’s representatives — either in advance of tomorrow’s deadline or after — and work out a creative deal that might guarantee less money but give him a chance to earn a similar amount if he gets the job done.
The other decisions are straightforward. Of course Papelbon gets tendered, even if he did make $9.25 million last year and had an off-year. Unlike Oki, who is 35, Papelbon is just 30. He also figures to be highly motivated because it is walk year. And the Red Sox get two choice draft picks should Papelbon — undoubtedly a Type A free agent — depart after 2011.
And yes, Jacoby Ellsbury, coming off a year full of rib woes, will also be tendered in his first arbitration-eligible winter. Ellsbury made $496,500 last year, but figures to get a nice bump from that based on the success of his first two seasons and the projection that he will have another big year from the leadoff spot in ’11.