Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Final Thoughts on Jacoby Ellsbury

As I pointed out last week, Jacoby Ellsbury died to me on December 4, 2007.  Previous to this date, it was sort of a conflicted thing for me, because he was making my favorite player Coco Crisp a redundant piece (a reason I didn't like the trade for Coco in the first place).  But he was a good player (the .353 batting average in 2007 speaks for itself) and one that seemed to like the game, enjoy playing the game, and respect the game.  As we've noted here and elsewhere before, fans seem to gravitate towards players who care about the same things that they do (i.e. winning, love for the game).

I'm also okay with players getting paid.  Being a baseball player is not an easy thing - being away from your family for six months out of the year, being hassled by the media, being accountable to millions (irony intended) for stuff you do at work, having to live like a celebrity just because you can hit a baseball hard or throw one 95 miles an hour?  If you want to be paid the premium for that, go right ahead and do that.  But I also expect gratitude, because few people have the natural skills to be able to earn that kind of money.  I expect effort being made toward winning and respect being paid to the hand that feeds you.  That's why Ellsbury died to me in three different ways.

The first was was in 2007.  When Arod opted out of his contract during the clinching game of the 2007 World Series, he and his agent made the clear statement that not even respect to the game is more important than the player's future earnings.  Slapped baseball across the face while on its biggest stage.  Arod blamed his agent on this tactic to distance himself from this atrocity.  Players revolted against Scott Boras after this, including one that has punched out a cameraman and one that was implicated in the BALCO scandal.  BALCO and assault are okay, but what Arod did was not, according to these players.  It seemed that Scott Boras may have been on his way to being mercifully eradicated from baseball at this point.

The first major league player to reverse this trend and sign Boras to represent his interests after the Arod incident was Ellsbury.  He was the first to make the statement of "Arod's opt out was okay with me.  Disrespecting baseball is okay with me."  I don't like players who disrespect baseball in the interest of future earnings.

Ellsbury's second offense was with the rib injury.  Do I believe the Red Sox' medical staff sucked at diagnosing him?  Yup, and I am all for him holding that resentment (I have not seen my primary care doctor since he poo-poohed my discomfort that landed me eventually on an operating table in 2010, so I'm on the game page as Ellsbury here).  Do I believe Ellsbury really was hurt?  Yes, I do.  Do I believe he exaggerated the injury?  You bet I do.  And do I believe he disrespected his team by going to Arizona to rehab?  Yes.  I also believe that all this took place so that he would not play a single play at less than 100%.  There was too much, in terms of his future free agent value, riding on his rate stats and ability to play center field.  Is Ellsbury going to let an injury or a managerial decision to play him in left field decrease that market value one iota?  Nope.  So he effectively went on strike for 144 games in 2010, completely disrespecting my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox.  I don't like players who disrespect the Boston Red Sox in the interest of future earnings.

Ellsbury's third offense was with that caught stealing in September.  As we have previously gone over, with a 4-2 deficit and a .300 hitter at the plate, stealing third base provides little to no tangible value toward winning that game and solidifying the Red Sox' playoff position.  The player gets a green light to steal whenever he wants to, and he decided to try unsuccessfully to steal third base here for one reason only:  To get himself closer to forty stolen bases for the year, thereby increasing his market value during his 2013 free agency campaign.  I'm sure the sabermetricians would tell you that the moment he took off for third base, Ellsbury (a league-average base-stealer in terms of percentage) probably DECREASED the changes the Red Sox won that pivotal game in the pennant race.  That's downright embarrassing and disgusting.  It was tangible evidence that this player does not give a crap about winning and only cares about earnings.  I don't like players who deemphasize winning baseball games in the interest of future earnings.

So here's a recap: 
1.  Jacoby Ellsbury cares more about making money than he does about respecting baseball.
2.  Jacoby Ellsbury cares more about making money than he does about his team.
3.  Jacoby Ellsbury cares more about making money than he does about winning baseball games.

Last time I checked, CC Sabathia did and continues to do everything right.  He's not going to be struggling to heat his mansion this winter.  Premium players and mediocre players alike are going to get the money they deserve.  The bottom line is, Ellsbury has pulled these three separate incidents for what might ultimately be the difference between $108 million and $119 million.  If you suck so much at financial management that you would spit on the game for an extra $11 million on the top of $108 million, Oregon State has failed you.  
I needed to get this off my chest, once and for all.  I'm looking forward to citing this post in all future baseball arguments I enter for the next two years, up until the inevitable day in December 2013 when everyone starts to agree with me.

3 comments:

The GM said...

The reports that some Red Sox players are unhappy about the hiring of Bobby Valentine are hilarious. Just another reason all these guys need to be fired. You can't imagine 46 would be very happy about this guy. Bobby Valentine will not give 46 the green light to steal bases whenever he wants to. Bobby Valentine will instead have 46 steal bases when stealing bases makes sense for the team.

Anonymous said...

DV

I read the same reports about unnamed Sox players being pissed about Valentine being hired. Why? Because he won't let them act like d-bags all year? He'll make them lift weights? Won't let them show up infielders after a rocket nearly takes one of their arms off? I don't know if Valentine is going to do a good job in Boston or not, but I do suspect that he will tell guys exactly where to go if he doesn't like the way they handle themselves. And I'm fine with that.

Also--I'd be very surprised if Jacoby Ellsbury played for the Red Sox in 2014.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

I feel like this group of players might not like the entrance of a competitive manager who hates losing and might actually bring some turmoil/accountability into that clubhouse. "God's Will" isn't going to be allowed in that clubhouse. Getting caught stealing in an attempt to pad your fantasy stats is not going to fly. If Francona was willing to drop an F-bomb to the media regarding JD Drew trying to sideline himself after Clay Buchholz was brought into pinch run, imagine what Valentine would say. Ortiz would be benched against the NL and benched if he burst into a press conference complaining about an official scorer's decision. Crawford would be called out for pouting about being benched against David Price instead of being protected under the guise of a neck injury. The age of "Wait for Seven" in terms of yanking pitchers who suck might be over. Bathroom passes might be issued to Beckett again like they were under McKeon in Florida.

HOWEVER, as Sore Glove Hand wrote yesterday, a bunch of entitled millionaires can ignore a fiery, competitive manager just as well as they can ignore a compassionate, cribbage-playing manager.