During the past winter, the New York Yankees went and plucked another Boston Red Sox player in Jacoby Ellsbury. Folks were a bit stunned at what the Yankees gave for the center fielder: 7 years for $153M, plus a club option for the 2021 season. By the time that option arrives, Ellsbury will be 36 and turn 37 late in that season.
And now the Yankees will once again be without perhaps their best offseason swipe.
David Lennon of Newsday has a peculiar take on the circumstances that now have Ellsbury out of the lineup.
But Toronto figured out how to stop Ellsbury — by having catcher Dioner Navarro stick his left foot in Ellsbury’s slide path Friday night. The minor collision, judged not to be in violation of Rule 7.13, wrenched Ellsbury’s ankle and may have put a big chunk of September in jeopardy.
Food for thought, huh? What makes the injury a little more frustrating is not that Ellsbury will miss time or if Navarro did strategically locate his foot in the path to prevent a run (which we will never know), but Ellsbury has been the offensive force within the lineup.
Prior to the above quote from Lennon’s article, he noted that Ellsbury had crafted a rather impressive stretch covering eleven games. Ellsbury was seemingly carrying the Bronx Bombers over that period to the tune of a .455 batting average with 4 HR, 11 RBI and six stolen bases. Lose that type of production and you’re sure to suffer especially when you consider the inconsistent, punchless and sometimes woeful nature of the Yankees offense.
And Ellsbury sits atop the lineup, making his absence even more glaring. New York does have a viable option for the spot in Brett Gardner. He is more than capable to fulfill the need, but have two such bats in your lineup does provide the anemic nature of the Yankees lineup with a substantial boost.
But there is a history lesson here. A harsh one. Lennon notes an injury that took the Yankees out of playoff contention last season.
A year ago, the Yankees lost Brett Gardner to an oblique strain and immediately went in the tank, losing nine of the last 15 and missing the playoffs.
Yes, Jacoby Ellsbury is that important to the Yankees. Maybe more so than Gardner. And if history does repeat, the Yankees will once again be home in October.