New York Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury became a $153-million pinch-runner on Tuesday night, raising questions about how much the Yankees trust their speedy outfielder.
By Emmanuel Berbari
Ever since manager Joe Girardi placed New York Yankees centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury on the bench for the AL Wild Card game against the Houston Astros, there has been much speculation as to how much faith remains with the Yankees’ leadoff hitter.
Ellsbury is 10-for-47 (.213) on the young season and did not see the field last night until the ninth inning when he pinch ran for Chase Headley and was gunned down on a stolen base attempt.
Girardi will deny that any faith has been lost, but it is clear that a center fielder who is supposed to help the lineup immensely has become a stopgap. Ellsbury is not anywhere near a mirror image of the player who nearly took home the 2011 MVP.
Although that campaign was likely the decisive factor in throwing seven years and $153-million his way, not one season in his nine-year career closely compares with his lone breakout fluke.
At the very least, he should be able to steal a base when called upon.
Coming off of an unacceptable season where he only swiped 21 bags and essentially did not move in the second half, you have to wonder if he has lost a step or feels uncomfortable himself.
A .342 lifetime on-base percentage, while not bad makes Ellsbury not your typical leadoff hitter. He does not draw many walks and often looks overpowered at the plate. So why does he lead off a talented Yankee lineup? The paycheck.
An awful trend throughout baseball is utilizing players based on their past rather than their present and their salary rather than their value.
When asked if he had lost faith in Ellsbury after the 3-2 extra inning loss to the A’s, Girardi quickly jumped to a “rotating” excuse.
“Rotating” in this case simply means that Aaron Hicks gives the club a better chance to win.
Lineups usually do not tend to look worn out on April 19th, but this Yankee lineup does. It starts at the top. Runners simply cannot score from first on a single that Ellsbury fields in right center, he should be that runner.
Is he capable at all? That might just be the mistake that the New York Yankees made.