Tag Archives: Jacoby Ellsbury

This Week in Boston Baseballing, Nov. 29 – Dec. 5

A tough week for Boston Red Sox fans. The team signed catching asshole A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year, $8 million contract on the same day that the Yankees inked Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal. Making matters worse, a disappointingly wholesome issue of Improper Bostonian featuring NESN’s Jenny Dell hit newsstands.

Next week, Ben Cherington and Co. fly to Disney World for the Winter Meetings, which run from December 9 – 12.

The Yankees Sign Jacoby Ellsbury
Boston’s homegrown center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is heading to the Bronx, signing a seven-year deal. The Red Sox extended an offer that reportedly topped off at six years and $120 million.

Ells has gotten his big payday after helping the Sox to two World Series championships. It seems the majority of fans are happy for him or are at least grateful the Sox held a firm negotiating ceiling. Not surprisingly, Deadspin grabbed at the lower hanging fruit by listing a rundown of the ignorant, vocal minority within Red Sox Nation. As Boston Sports Media Watch noted, a lot of the local media is probably to blame for projecting the opinions of the relatively few “mouthbreathers” on the fanbase at large.

Anyway, the Shane Victorino signing last winter looks even better now, if that’s possible after his 2013 campaign. As Matt Klaassen writes on FanGraphs:

The Victorino contract, however, makes even more sense now that Ellsbury has left. At the moment, Bradley appears to be in line to the be starting center fielder in 2014, with Victorino returning in right field. If Bradley gets hurt or needs to be sent down, the Red Sox have Victorino to take over in center field. If Bradley does well, they still have two center fielders out there, not only providing good defense, but enabling one to have a day off when he needs it.

The Yankees Will Exceed the Luxury Tax Threshold in 2014…
…You know, if that makes Red Sox fans feel any better. As Yankees blog It’s About the Money details in Goodbye Operation 189, Ellsbury’s arrival in New York isn’t exactly a mic-dropping moment in the team’s offseason:

….At this point it’s safe to assume the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold this season is going away. Mathematically it could still be done and still be done with room to spare if A-Rod’s suspension is upheld. But it would come at the expense of filling more than 1 of the remaining roster holes with better players and there’s been nothing to indicate the Yankees have any interest in taking that route. You don’t plunk down $238 million to address a few holes and then call it a day, not when the top free agent on the market who also happens to be your best recent homegrown player is still unsigned and not when your current 3-5 starters have a combined 436.2 career IP.

The Red Sox Sign A.J. Fucking Pierzynski
As detailed in this space on Tuesday, A.J. Pierzynski is hardly the first maligned player to join the Red Sox. Most of these types of guys wind up as journeymen for good reason during the latter stage of their careers because their value is aided by their lack of popularity. Yet somehow Boston shelled out an alarming $8 million for Pierzynski, who joins his third team in as many years and will hopefully be relegated to part-time duty by August. Perhaps the Red Sox could find it in their hearts to introduce Variable Ticket Pricing that includes discounts to fans having to personally witness the sight of Pierzynski in a Red Sox uniform?

Salty Goes to Miami
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s signing with the Marlins for 3 years, $21 million almost became a footnote within a few hours thanks to the Pierzynski and Ellsbury signings. Deadspin didn’t even bother collecting any related Red Sox fan tweets containing misspellings.

Cherington Adds Reliever Edward Mujica to Arsenal
The Red Sox GM just could not help himself from signing the reliever on the free agent market that most closely resembles Koji Uehara. As his fastball velocity has diminished in recent years, Mujica has remade himself by primarily featuring a breaking ball that is best classified as either a splitter or change-up. When that pitch is on, it is eerily similar to Koji’s shutdown split. At a cost of just under $5 million per year for 2014 and 2015, the move is shrewd and a much better bet for depth than trading for a guy like Joel Hanrahan. Or Andrew Bailey. Or Clay Mortensen…

The Standells’ Dick Dodd Dies
The Red Sox first played “Dirty Water” after every win back in 1997, but the song had been a fan favorite at Fenway Park for years prior. Bet on “Dirty Water” enduring a hell of a lot longer than “Sweet Caroline.”

The Jacoby Ellsbury Monologues

Whether they liked it or not, Boston sports talk radio listeners certainly got their fill of Jacoby Ellsbury conjecture over the past couple of months. Grumblings that the Red Sox outfielder is “soft” and took his sweet time returning from fractured ribs suffered in early April grew so frequent by July that it seemingly became accepted as the majority opinion.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The reality is that stations such as WEEI and the Sports Hub don’t always have time to air all the callers waiting in the hold queue during the course of a day. As a service to its readers, Fenway Pastoral recently paid an undisclosed sum to WEEI, which in turn forwarded some listener calls our way. Some uncut highlights of caller rants have been transcribed below.

Fred from Norwell (on the car phone): I pay good money for season tickets in the center field bleachers so I can get a closer look at Jacoby Ellsbury. If I’m lucky, sometimes Jacoby Ellsbury will get close enough to the outfield wall that I can look down and see if he’s shaved or not that day. I was going to sell my tickets for September on StubHub, but now that Jacoby Ellsbury is back playing every day, I’m ready for the stretch run. The presence of Jacoby Ellsbury is a definite dealbreaker.

Alicia from Salem: I don’t know where all these people get off saying Jacoby Ellsbury stinks. People were so obsessed with Jacoby Ellsbury’s rib injury, as though his absence was literally the only reason the team went on a skid in July. A sore Jacoby Ellsbury isn’t going to be much help to anybody. Literally.

Robert from Walpole (on the car phone): I touched Jacoby Ellsbury once. It was so amazing! It was during the victory parade after the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series. Jacoby Ellsbury was just kind of hanging himself out of a Duck Boat and I reached up from the crowd and gave him a congratulatory tap. It was a pretty special moment…It’s not every day that you get a chance to touch Jacoby Ellsbury. I didn’t wash my hands for a week afterward because they had that faint smell of Jacoby Ellsbury on them.

Jennifer from Concord: I don’t know why the naysayers can’t just let us enjoy Jacoby Ellsbury while he’s young and exciting. The way Jacoby Ellsbury contorts himself to make those catches in the outfield is amazing to watch. I added a DVR option to my cable plan so I can pause the TV and just stare at Jacoby Ellsbury in mid-air, doing his thing.

Ed from Barnstable: I still can’t eat a taco without thinking about Jacoby Ellsbury. I guess winning everyone in New England free Taco Bell doesn’t buy you as much understanding as I would have expected.

Five insanely stupid things that Tony Massarotti managed to work into one (online) column

Now that the embers are dying down in the media’s “David Ortiz vs. Mike Lowell” saga, Tony Massarotti is a bit strapped for true controversy. When that happens, there’s only one thing a Boston columnist and radio show host can do. Conjure another one up.

1. “Has Jacoby now become to the Sox what “Medical” Bill Cartwright once was to the New York Knicks? Is it Ellsbury – or DLsbury?”

Tony is off and running. Completely random cross-sport reference? Check. Lame attempt at nicknaming the player in question? Check. Implication that a certain player doesn’t want it bad enough to play hurt? I think we got a controversy brewing…

2. “Last year, during a rock-solid season in which Ellsbury batted .301, stole 70 bases, and played in 153 games, manager Terry Francona spoke of how Ellsbury was beginning to understand the “responsibility” of playing in the major leagues, which was a nice way of saying that Ellsbury had an obligation to his manager and teammates to play through minor issues and be in the lineup.”

Well, Tony. You’ve attributed one word (“responsibility”) to the Sox manager and then proceeded to explain, in your own words, what Terry Francona was actually saying about his outfielder. Want to know how many times Francona used the word “responsibility” when discussing Red Sox players last season? Over 900 times. Yeah, we made that number up. Just like you made up a read-between-the-lines explanation of a beyond-obscure quotation that Terry Francona may or may not have ever said.

3. “At the moment, nobody should dispute that Ellsbury is in some level of discomfort. The greater question concerns if and when he can play through it. Ellsbury already has said that he expects to deal with the problem all year – an alibi if he plays poorly, no doubt – and it is worth noting that he is 1 for 14 since coming off the disabled list.”

No, it’s not worth noting 14 at-bats. Tony learned nothing from the trials of Ortiz earlier this season in which the media waited even less than 14 at-bats (eight to be exact), before declaring something was wrong with Big Papi. Ellsbury did make a nice diving catch in center field last weekend in Philadelphia. But one catch is merely anecdotal. Fourteen at-bats, though? That’s plenty enough data to employ when trying to make a flawed argument.

4. “Ellsbury, of course, is merely 26. While it is always dangerous to wonder whether players are capable of playing through injuries – the Red Sox would be wise to remember the cases of both Scott Williamson and Matt Clement – the issue here is clearly much bigger. In the minds of the Sox – and others – Ellsbury has a reputation, something only he can be responsible for.”

Well, something for which only Ellsbury or any other jackass looking to fill out space in an online column can be responsible. Don’t end sentences with the word “for,” Tony. It makes you sound like you don’t really care about your readers. It hurts our feelings and makes us wonder if you’re really cut out to be a part-time writer.

5. “Earlier this month, Mike Lowell openly wondered whether he still had a role on the Red Sox, but at least Lowell’s remarks were motivated by the desire to play, something that hardly makes him different from the majority of athletes.

In Ellsbury’s case, the problem seems to be the opposite.

Does he want to play or doesn’t he?”

Back when Tony was trying to intimate that Ellsbury’s 2009 may have been an aberration in terms of playing time (153 games), he conveniently neglected to mention that Jacoby also played in 145 the year before, an up-and-down 2008 that was also his first full season in the majors. In 2007, he logged 528 plate appearances over 104 games in Triple AAA and in September as a member of the Red Sox. At the risk of sounding like some “pink hat in Camp Jacoby,” as Tony would say, it certainly seems like a guy who doesn’t want to play wouldn’t have, you know, played so much over the last three seasons. One could probably safely assume that had Ellsbury not collided with Adrian Beltre on a fluky play in Kansas City, he would again be on track for 600-plus plate appearances, a benchmark he reached in both of his first two full seasons in the major leagues.

Whatever Jacoby’s reputation may have been back in 2005 or 2006 is completely irrelevant now. People change and so do their reputations. For example, five years ago, some people may have accused Tony Massarotti of being a respectable writer who covered the Boston Red Sox. Opinions and outlooks can change.

Fourth-grader suspended for discussing Jacoby Ellsbury’s Ultimate Zone Rating during math lesson

Milford, Mass–In a sign of the times, 10-year-old Thomas Griffith has been suspended for a week from Milford Elementary School after attempting to relate basic addition and subtraction principles to his classmates using Jacoby Ellsbury’s career UZR in center field.

According to the boy’s teacher, 41-year-old Mary Banks, Griffith caused a ruckus by suggesting Ellsbury had been less-than-stellar over the first two full seasons of his career. The boy pointed out that when combining the center-fielder’s positive output of ‘range runs’ to negative ‘error runs,’ Ellsbury’s reputation as a great gloveman might be somewhat exaggerated.

Naturally, the cited data angered the fourth-grade class’ large contingent of Red Sox fans, who asked to further delve into the numbers. However, Banks gave the boy a stern warning that he would be sent to the principal’s office if he continued to disrupt her lesson plan.

An avid learner, the boy attempted to avoid banishment from class by explaining that the statistic could be normalized by adjusting the stat for runs prevented per 150 games played at a given position (often referred to as UZR/150).

“We haven’t made it to the division unit in the textbook yet,” explained Banks during a special school committee meeting held to address the situation. “And his usage of both positive and negative integers was just confusing. I’m a fourth-grade math teacher, not Alfred Eisenhower.”

District Superintendent Bruce Whalen confirmed the boy’s suspension, citing strict teaching guidelines laid out by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to prepare students for the upcoming 2010 MCAS exams.

According to the teacher, the boy was ultimately sent to the principal’s office after ignoring his teacher’s plea to return to an MCAS-supplied practice problem, which contemplated the cost benefit of replacing a duel-cassette-tape boombox with a new portable CD player equipped with 10-second skip protection.

“We can’t afford these types of distractions from the normal, accepted curriculum that has become status quo,” said Whalen. “We are determined to outperform last year’s MCAS results and we happen to like the system we have in place for keeping our district competitive.”

Asked for an example of a more appropriate math lesson that followed state curriculum fourth-grade standards, Banks cited Ellsbury’s recent jersey number change, “Jacoby used to wear number 46, but this year he will wear the number 2, which is 44 less than his old jersey number.”

The boy’s parents, Harold and Marcia Griffith, believe their son may have heard about UZR from some older kids in their neighborhood or perhaps from troublemakers on the bus.

“He’s already been grounded and told to stay away from the middle-schoolers on our street,” said Mrs. Griffith. “The next step may be home-schooling…We don’t want him growing up into some maladjusted teenager with a brain polluted by a bunch of useless formulas.”

Sox CEO Lucchino convinced Ellsbury’s baserunning prowess, Pink Floyd album are linked

BOSTON, Mass.—High-ranking Red Sox officials have begun privately prodding team president and CEO Larry Lucchino to seek psychiatric counsel after the PR ace spent most of the recent home stand obsessing over the synchronicity of plays involving Jacoby Ellsbury and cuts from Pink Floyd’s album, Dark Side of the Moon.


“This all started after the Red Sox signed Phish to play Fenway Park at the end of May. He’s been talking to a lot of the band’s hardcore fans and seems to have really taken to their culture and lifestyle. These people smoke a lot of marijuana and have been putting a lot of ideas in his head. I haven’t had a normal conversation with him in weeks. All he cares about is ‘what part of the song was playing during that play?’” said a Red Sox employee willing to discuss the incident “only because Lucchino has always been a douche bag toward me.”


Lucchino has become increasingly convinced that certain points in the album align in a meaningful way with particular baserunning plays involving Ellsbury such as the young phenom’s straight steal of home plate Sunday night.


Lucchino has apparently taken his cue from the popular rumor among the stoner/Phish fan community that Dark Side of the Moon contains parallels to the classic movie The Wizard of Oz when played on repeat. Just as the Dark Side of the Moon’s aural effects sync with the movie’s visuals if the album is started while the MGM lion roars for the third time, Lucchino believes a similar effect can be created if the first track is cued as Ellsbury crosses over the right field foul line during the first inning on his way to center field.


“Larry used to spend most of his time schmoozing and didn’t usually pay all that much attention to the game, so we knew there was something wrong when we saw him sitting by himself in the front row of the executive box with huge, sound-cancelling headphones on,” said a second Red Sox official speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The guy looked like Rain Man out there.”


Lucchino played the 43-minute album on repeat nearly 20 times overall during the weekend alone thanks to the length of Friday and Saturday night’s games. Lucchino reportedly told anyone who would listen that Ellsbury’s voyage Friday from second base to home plate on a passed ball from Joba Chamberlain unfolded in perfect timing with the lyric “run, rabbit run” from the song “Speak to Me/Breathe.” 


Meanwhile, Lucchino claims he knew Ellsbury was going to steal home on Sunday night because the chorus from the instrumental track “On the Run” began playing as the speedy outfielder extended an extremely generous lead down the third base line.  


The sources for this story acknowledged that Lucchino’s behavior may be a clever ploy by the prolific marketing guru to drum up attention from marijuana smokers for the upcoming Phish concert at Fenway Park. However, the team is taking surprisingly great pains to keep details of his behavior from the mainstream media. Looking foolishly docile in a series of recent photographs with his new fiance, John Henry certainly did his part to at least temporarily divert attention from the escalating situation. 


“Are you kidding me?” asked the higher ranking official. “This has opened a massive can of worms and we are on the verge of desperate. I can already imagine the fallout from this—a minimum of five Dan Shaughnessy columns where he employs a bunch of predictable Pink Floyd lyrical references…Probably a littering of ill-conceived allusions to 60s rock music by those Inside Track cows. I’m pretty sure the front office wants to keep a lid on this one.”


“Peter Gammons has already perverted enough classic songs by trying to shoehorn their lyrics into his ESPN columns,” said the other source. “That’s the last thing we need to be promoting.”