I guess the Yankees thought since the Johnny Damon from Boston to New York experiment worked, the same would happen with Jacoby Ellsbury. However, the Yankees forgot to factor in a key component to the Ellsbury experiment: injuries. During his time in Boston, Ellsbury has battled many injuries and now the same thing might be occurring in the Bronx.
On Thursday, Ellsbury was suppose to take batting practice with the other Yankee stars who were left behind on the Yanks long trip south. But Ellsbury was nowhere to be found. Finally, three hours later at JetBlue Park, manager Joe Girardi addressed the Ellsbury situation. The Yankees’ new center fielder underwent an MRI on his ailing right calf. The good news is that the MRI came back clean. The bad news is, it is the same old story for Ellsbury’s durability.
Many people questioned the Yankees’ handing out $153 million over seven years to Ellsbury this off-season. But this actually could turn out to be a really strong move by the Yankees and Brian Cashman in the long run. Let’s review the facts: Curtis Grandson left the Yankees to their crosstown rivals in the New York Mets, leaving a void in center field, even though you could argue that Brett Gardner could fill that void. Then, you have to analyze what Ellsbury has done when healthy. He has terrorized the Bronx Bombers with his speed on the base paths and his Gold Glove-caliber play in center. In the long run, if he can stay healthy, Ellsbury could become the next Yankee great to come from Boston. He can join a group that features names such as, Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and of course Damon.
His style of play however could be his downfall with the Yankees. Ellsbury is usually on Sportscenter with diving catches into walls or stealing third base. Baseball players do not play forever, and the way Ellsbury plays does not help his future years. Look at Brian Roberts for example. The Yankee second baseman has battled injuries throughout his career because of his scrappy, aggressive style of play. I’m not saying playing like that is bad, not at all. However, this style of play allows for more opportunities of injury. If Ellsbury can learn a balance of aggressive play and relaxed play, I think he still has at least five to seven good seasons left.