In Defence Of Jacoby Ellsbury

 

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Ellsbury straight stealing home in April 2016

 

Okay, so today I would like to write in defence of Jacoby Ellsbury because he is getting too much slack from the media and particularly in the Bronx Pinstripe Podcast. Now, this isn’t an attempt to slag off the guys on that podcast because I really enjoy their show and for the most part I agree with a lot of what they say about things pertaining to the Yankees.

But it comes to a point when a person has to speak up for someone else because the discourse has become unbalanced. So I shall try to offer a counterpoint to some of the Ellsbury bashings that have become the hobby of the moment.

For one thing, I agree completely when people say that the contract that he was given was one of the most ill-thought out and idiotic contracts that were ever given to the player. They handed him $153m for seven years, which breaks down at about $21,142,857 per annum. I mean that is a crazy-stupid contract to give a player whose performance is built on speed and on the health of his legs. It is obvious that such a contract was ill conceived because anyone with even half a brain would know that here is a player who is not going to keep the performance levels up. He was never a power bat apart from one season, his performances have dropped off and to be honest there was no sense offering him a contract like the one the Yankees gave him when the team that developed him refused to pay him that kind of money.

The Yankees signed him as a knee jerk reaction. First to try and appease the fans for the loss of Cano, something the Yankees should never let happen, but they did and were forced to try and bring in a guy that they thought could be the linchpin of the team they were building for no reason other than to have a good news story. The fact that Jacoby happened to be an ex-Red Sox player was just the cherry on top for the Yankee front office who seemed to let cheap point scoring at the expense of the BoSox get in the way of sound judgment. So if you are going to be annoyed about Ellsbury’s contract be annoyed at Hank, Hal, and whoever else made this move and offered this money because to be honest, being mad at a player who took this contract is just plain dumb. Of course, he was going to take the money that was offered. Who wouldn’t? He had no idea that he was going to pick up injuries that sped up the decaying of his playing performances and abilities. The Yankees should have known that he was already at peak performance and that he would not be the sound investment they claimed he was going to be.

The next thing to deal with is that he is a bum and that he has no incentive for playing well and is out there just going through the motions. They claim that he is not putting in the effort, citing his poor batting returns, or his lack of steals. But let’s look at this. As I already stated, he was never a power hitter, and his batting has been affected by the health issues that he has picked up. You can’t just say that it is Jacoby who is injured all the time. The Yankees have a really serious problem with players being injured and taking forever to recover, I mean recently we had a coward in the front office gripe about Bird and his injury and recovery time. This is a kid who has been prone to serious injuries, so should we be surprised that a guy who is ageing is starting to struggle with injuries and that this has cut down on his playing time and affected his hitting?

Also as far as the base running goes, it is common sense that he is not going to run as well as when he was younger, but actually there is another problem that is out of his control that means his steals will be down, and that lies with Joe Girardi who is one of the most conservative managers out there. He does not seem to have a whole lot of faith in the small ball game and is not keen on ordering bunt plays, steals and the like. Quite simply, the style of play that best suits Jacoby Ellsbury is the exact opposite of the style of play that Joe Girardi.

The claim that he is not playing with heart is just plain insulting to a professional athlete, and not at all in line with the truth when you look at the plays that he has made when he has taken the field. I mean the guy damn near killed himself this year chasing a fly ball down when he crashed hard into the wall. The resulting concussion affected him badly. Did we see someone there who was just going through the motions of appearing to play, pulling a Hal Chase out there? No, we saw someone make a flat out play, catching the ball and holding it, despite smashing into the wall and the ground. Plus let us not forget the game against Tampa in April of last year when the guy just flat out stole home… YES, HE STOLE HOME. The first Yankee to do that for 15 years. It was an incredible play. He has had 121 chances this year  118 of which were put outs, with just 2 errors made. That’s not lying down on the job. He is taking care of business where he still can. Last year he had 280 chances and only 3

His fielding has certainly not been poor either when you look at the figures. So far this year he has had 121 chances 118 of which were put outs, with just 2 errors made. That’s not lying down on the job. He is taking care of business where he still can. Last year he had 280 chances and only 3 errors, in 2015 he had 237 defensive chances and 0 yes zero errors, and in his first year with the Yankees he 384 chances and just 1 measly error in the field. So yeah while his batting has not been quite what they expected and he has not given much with base stealing as was hoped, he has been a fine fielder for the Yankees and has put his body on the line more than once.

So when I hear people claiming that he is a bum, worthless, not committing to the team because he has no incentive, and perhaps the worst signing in Yankees history I have to laugh. Because while his contract is ludicrous, it cannot be said that he has not given the Yankees much in return. That steal of home, a straight steal too, was definitely worth it. As has his reckless lack of self-regard when it comes to making plays in the field. There have been many signings that were miles worse for the Yankees that have not produced anything at all near as the value.

When you look at what Jake has given this team it is fair to say that he was not worth the contract that he was given, but again it must be made clear that the contract was the fault of the owners and the front office. It is not his fault that age and injury has slowed him down, or that he makes mistakes in base running when he is brought into a game that he is pinch running in, that can happen because the player might not be up to game speed as he would if he was in the game from the start. But to me, he was not the worst contract ever in the history of the Yankees despite the size of his pay cheque. For me, the worst signing will always be Kei Igawa who was paid basically $46m for 5 years, in which he played a sum total of 16 games over 2 years, and where he posted just two wins and ERA of 6.66 before spending the rest of his contract in A-Ball. $46m for just two wins. THAT is the worst signing by the Yanks. Jacoby, while not exactly living up to what he was paid, still has not let us down the as bad as some make out. Those who say he has are just speaking out of pay cheque envy and the resentment of a player who used to play for the Sox. They need to let it go and move on.

The Yankees Have A Good Day

Well finally! For most Yankees fans yesterday was a pretty good day. They did two things right that they needed to do in order to stay in the chase. The first one was to win a game. Boston has not been able to pull too far ahead in the division which has helped the Yankees in no small way but only if they were able to win their games. Which they did last night.

Sure yesterday’s game was no different than game one. The Yanks had a pitcher who looked shaky and uncertain on the mound and was likely to blow the game, in fact, his 1st inning was so bad that it really felt like we were going to lose this game right there, but he got out of that horror show giving up only one run… think about that, ONE RUN! He walked three guys, hit Sano, and in between managed to get the outs needed to keep it down to just one run. He really looked like someone who could have given away a mountain of runs, but yet was able to keep it down to just three in the end. It was almost a replay of the 1st game of the series. Suspect and nervous pitching that was just good enough to keep the score to a minimum and keep the Yanks in the game. All it needed was some scoring. Mitchell didn’t get that run support, but this time things were different.

That it was not Cessa who finally lost the plot but Colon was the shock of the evening, and in the fifth inning he gave up the game to the Yankees who finally saw some scoring action, they scored 5 runs in the 5th to add to the one they had put on the boards in the 4th. Shreve had replaced Cessa by then and was given the win. Warren and Betances got their 8th and 10th holds respectively and then the ball was turned over the Chapman. It seems as if the Cuban Missile’s crisis is finally over because his last few outings to the mound have seen him pitch well and not give up any runs, and while he did walk one batter, he didn’t give up any hits and recorded his 10th save of the season.

The second thing that Yankees did was off the field. Cashman who had spoken about his desire to be cautious buyers had gone to the White Sox who are having something of a bargain clear out at the moment and got for themselves three players who could be just the tonic for this Yankee team. It was a trade move that we would have seen Cashman making back in the glory days of the 1990s. He traded Blake Rutherford, Tito Polo, Ian Clarkin, and Tyler Clippard (Yes you read right, TYLER CLIPPARD) and in return, he got David Robertson back, Todd Frazier, and Tommy Kahnle.

Frazier who once took the field as a little league champion with Jeter and who grew up a Yankees fan is a great fit for this team and was the name on the list that excited me the most, even if he goes into free agency at the end of the season. As indeed was Robertson who had been the protege of Mo back in the day and who it is hoped will help stabilise the bullpen which leads the league in blown saves. Kahnle also is a player who has a connection to the Yankees in that he had been drafted by them in 2010, but was then drafted by the Rockies in the 2013 rule 5 draft before being traded to the White Sox in 2015. He looks like a good addition to the pitching staff and his 60 strike outs in 36 innings is definitely something to get excited about.

Even better, in my opinion, is the fact Cashman went out and did this trade now, not waiting until the deadline, but seeing that there was a need for some guys he went out there and got them before the team sunk out of the race.

Yes, yesterday was a good day for the Yankees. They made the right moves on and off the field and while I hope Mitchell and Cessa get to have more chances to pitch in the big leagues this year because that is what will settle their pitching down and help them progress I am delighted with the trade. Also I hope we see more of Cooper because I like the kid and have been impressed with his batting and his work on 1st. Cashman has done some good work the last week and has not given up some of our better-known prospects to do so. I hope this is the mark where we will look back and see the turning point for this season. The Yankees are once again looking like contenders. Let’s hope it will translate well on the field.

Randy Levine Has Got To Go

The run into the season has only just gotten into gear, and already the Yankees are on a collision course with their fans. The reason?

Randy Levine, the president of the Yankees since 2000 has made no secret of the contempt he has for Betances during the arbitration process which has just finished. Not only did he devalue the impact that one of the finest players in the game the last three seasons has had, and his subsequent net worth in offering far less than the relief pitcher was asking for, he also made a point of taunting and dismissing just how good he was, even going so far to blame him for the Yanks failure to make a significant run into the play-offs.

Now it is one thing to try and get the services of a player for less than the player wants, that is the business aspect of the game. The player thinks he is worth more, the team while maybe agreeing that he is worth a lot of money, tries all the same, to pay him less. That is just business. But Levine showed that he was not just being a business man. He made it personal, and it stands to reason that such is his contempt for the players that he has no shame in slamming players in public. It is obvious that this clown does not like the sport, know anything about the sport, nor does he care about the team. He is only in it for the job and the paycheque.

He forgets that the game, the team, and even the players will live longer in the minds and collective storytelling than some pathetic little wraith that hides away in a cave or office only showing up when there is a world series to be played in. When he is fired from the team he will be forgotten.

And if we are looking to blame anyone for the way the Yanks have sucked these past twenty years we only have to look at Levine and those like him. He took over as team president in 2000, and since then he won only two world series titles with a team that had been the best for years. If he could not win a world series with the team he took over in 2000 then he would never have won, that the only team he had a hand in running completely was the 2009 Yankees and has failed to put together a winning team that had not existed as champions previously is a damning indictment that he has no place in this team, and yes it is true that the GM would and should carry most of the blame for this, his role in running the Yankees into mediocrity, married with the disdain he has for the players and fans by carrying on the way he has done, especially with the Betances affair, makes it clear for all to see. He has got to go. He is a failure.

I know the Yankees don’t seem to respect their fans, at least those who run the team don’t respect us, the forget that a lot of the revenue they get is from us and without us they would not exist, but they do not respect us or our opinions. The players do. That is why we will always go with the players in times like these. But if the Yanks want to do something that shows they care about the fans, then they should get rid of Levine. His act is low rent, and more suitable for the Cardinals, or maybe even the White Sox.

To Dellin I can only say one thing. We the fans are with you. We do not hold the same low regard for you that Levine has shown he has. We think you are the best relief pitcher in the game and deserve more than what you have been given in payment, and in treatment by the Yankees. We beg you not to play for them, but to play for us. Don’t pitch with less intensity, or bide your time until you leave the Yanks, but play for us and stick with us. You will live long in the hearts of the Yankees fans longer than Levine will. He will be forgotten the minute he finishes loading his cardboard box and shuffles out of the office into ignominy. You will be in Monument Park the year after you retire… we will see to it.

An Open Letter To David Ortiz

Dear David Ortiz,

I have seen your letter in which you have addressed the Yankees fans, of which I am one. I felt that I had to reply to you to express my appreciation for you. Over the years you and the Red Sox have battled hard with my beloved Yankees. Sometimes we came out on top, and other times you did. That is the way it goes with such contests.

We have mocked you, goaded you, booed you. But all the while I have appreciated you for the warrior that you are, and for the way you have added to the great rivalry which is so well known that even fans like I who live in the UK have gotten caught up with it and revelled in the clashes.

While I cannot speak for all Yankees fans, I wanted to express right now, as your last season has come to its end, that I really appreciated you as a rival. I do not hate you, but applaud you, admire you, wish you were on my team. In short, thank you. Thank you for so many memories, and for being the best of bad guys, the best of enemies. To say that I love you might seem like a strange thing to say to a guy who played for the enemy and who I never met, but it is not strange. I mean it. Thank you, Big Papi. I wish you all the best in this new chapter of your life and will always be glad to say that I saw you play.

Sincerely

V.S. Coster

In Memory of Jose Fernandez

The ironical title of the post on MLB.com about Jose Fernandez’s last start was “Jose saves his best for not likely last start.” It sadly turned out to be his last start, after he was killed in a boating accident on Miami Beach Sunday.

It will be one of those reminders to all of us who love baseball just what a loss his death is to the sport. He was a phenomenal pitcher whose career was getting back on track after losing a season to Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow, and this death just reminds us of the sad truth that we read in Ecclesiastes 9:11 ” I have seen something further under the sun, that the swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all.” His death is just one such unexpted event in which senselessly a bright, warm, and exciting young life is taken. We can strive to find some meaning in his death but that would be pointless.

We can however, always celebrate the joy and delight he had in playing this wonderful game which was so evident in this the last baseball game he pitched in. What a more fitting memorial could a player have.

My thoughts are with his family, his friends, and his teammates.

CC Stunk! No other way around it. #SubwaySeries at Yankee Stadium

  The sight of CC Sabathia on the mound is not quite the same prospect as it once was. There was a time when he pitched some hot stuff. Simply put he was a machine. Dependable as much as a person can be in sport, you knew he was the kind of guy who could win games for you.

But not anymore. He is  seemingly a spent force, and now his presence on the mound fills me with a feeling of unease. “Will he win this?” That is what I usually think, and before I finish the question the answer is there in my mind. It manifests itself as a cold feeling that this game could end up going down the crapper quicker than you can say Tommy John. 

I know  that no guy sets out to pitch that poorly and get creamed so badly as CC did today. But it still has to be noted that he has not won a single game yet this season and even when he was pitching his best game so far (in Detroit) it still ended with a loss. 

Yes the hitters failed us big time today, just as the defence was as bad in places as it was brilliant in the outfield, but that was down to the runs and hits CC gave up. It put pressure on the defence as surely as early defensive errors put pressure on pitchers during the opening week. 

Maybe CC will turn it around. Who knows at this point? Hey I think he is not longer the starting ace that he was in previous seasons but is more of a short relief guy now. Someone to mop up an innings after the team has put up a good lead and the starter needs to come out. In short a “no pressure, can’t lose kind of scenario.” Anything beyond that I think is too far for him to pull off.  In short, I’m quickly finding myself of the opinion that he won’t turn it around.

So now we are level in the series and tomorrow’s game is a must win for Yankee Pride. We play them again in September when both teams could be in the hunt for the post season. Those games will be a big deal beyond measure if that is the case, but for now we have a series that we must win. The NY media have made it so we cannot be confused about how big this series is. If we win, then for the majority of the summer we will be Kings of New York. If we lose then we will be chumps. Until we figure out that Sabathia isn’t what he was (a starting pitcher) any more, then I fear we will go into his games with the dread and doubt and stink of failure hanging over heads. I like the guy but the time is now upon us to decide. He must be moved to the bullpen and replaced with someone who can do the job better. Otherwise what happened tonight will happen again and again. If we are to be a team in contention come the next Subway Series we cannot let that happen. It’s just that simple.

Pirela injured, Yanks also limp in Mets contest.

The Mets rampaged over theYankees who continue to underwhelm with the bat. ARod looked sharp in another game, he wasn’t taking part in this contest and perhaps he ought to have been there. The performance of the Yankees hitters has been something of a downer to all fans. We get it that these games are not important, and won’t matter a whole tonne of biscuits when the season gets going. That is the nature of the beast. But I do hope that they can get it together and start hitting the ball more, and getting something for their hits.
But despite the sour taste in my mouth at the idea of losing even a meaningless Spring Training game to the Mets, the pressure to include Pirela in the starting day roster was released for Cashman, as the young standout was filling in at Centrefield for Jacoby Ellsbury and crashed into the fence, injuring himself and giving up an infield homer. He was confirmed as having suffered a concussion, which was not as bad as it could have been but was bad all the same. Brian must be happy that this will take away some of the pressure of him, and that he is at least not being as crazy as the GM in the Cubs. I guess the only thing that we can take from whole Kris Bryant is that we are not the only club with fools running it, who make decisions that make no sense, and cite money as the so called logic behind it.
All that aside, I just want to wish Pirela well and hope he has a speedy recovery, and more importantly that we see him in Yankee pinstripes sooner this season.