So Long Jacoby Ellsbury?

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“If Jacoby Ellsbury is what it took to get this deal done then I’d drive him to the airport! Or maybe I’m overstating it here. Maybe I’d just get him a cab.”

- Tony Massarotti

Over the past several days trade talks between the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres have heated up involving first basemen Adrian Gonzalez. A possible deal would likely include some combination of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and additional prospects (Casey Kelly, Lars Anderson, Ryan Westmoreland etc…) from the Red Sox organization. The possibility of Ellsbury leaving town has most of Red Sox Nation up in arms, but Tony explains why it would be in the team’s best interest.

Felger: “I don’t love this trade, but I would do it. It’s not that Ellsbury is fast or flashy or fun to watch. Those aren’t reasons to not trade a guy. Who comes into the league and is a good on base guy? It just doesn’t work like that it takes time. He needs to prove to pitchers that he can drive the ball and hurt them. If he doesn’t do that then pitchers are just going to pound the strike zone on him because they won’t fear him. Especially on the inner half the plate he is seeing hard inside strikes that are hard pitches to handle. He’s not going to walk because he has to protect the plate against pitchers pounding the strike zone. Once he proves to the league that he can drive the ball and turn on an inside fastball then those pitchers have that in the back of their mind. They begin to nibble which then leads to more walks and him becoming a more selective, complete, on base oriented leadoff hitter.”

Mazz: “I just believe that the 40 homer guy is worth Ellsbury. Do you realize that Adrian Gonzalez has hit basically two thirds of his home runs on the road? Do you realize what he would do in this ballpark? As far as the pressure of Boston, they don’t need him to hit third or fourth. The Red Sox are fortunate enough to have guys who can hit third or fourth. The Red Sox just need him to hit fifth. If Jacoby Ellsbury is what it took to get this deal done then I’d drive him to the airport! Or maybe I’m overstating it here. Maybe I’d just get him a cab. Either way I would trade him in a second. I don’t feel strongly about Ellsbury. In the major leagues I think he’s a dime a dozen type guy. I will trade speed for power any day of the week. You’re going to have to give up two budding major league players not prospects to get Gonzalez. The Red Sox aren’t stupid. They know they are going to have to give up two guys like Buchholz and Ellsbury to get their man.”

The Collin-tary: In order to get Adrian Gonzalez a possible Red Sox package would likely have to include Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury. I would like to see Theo Epstein try to work with his former assistant GM Jed Hoyer to formulate a deal with Buccholz as its centerpiece. Perhaps the deal would have to wait until July’s trade deadline or maybe Epstein would have to include three or more prospects along with Buchholz to get the deal done. If the Red Sox were to lose Ellsbury they would be losing arguably their best outfielder in an already weakened outfield without Jason Bay. Furthermore, 37 year old Mike Cameron would be the everyday centerfielder for the team over the next two seasons.
It’s safe to say Cameron has lost two or three steps defensively due to age, and he is a lifetime .250 hitter. Cameron also strikes out 159 times per season on average (more than one K per game). If the Red Sox were to qualify for the playoffs, as they tend to do these days, Cameron is a career .174 hitter in the post season. He also has a whopping one home run and 29 strikeouts in 27 career playoff games. In case Red Sox fans have forgotten, Ellsbury hit .360 in the 07′ playoffs and was an important part of the team winning the World Series.
If Ellsbury is traded the Red Sox would lose gold glove defense in center, speed on the base paths (70 SB in 09′), a lifetime .297 hitter, and their leadoff man. All of these things can’t instantly be replaced within the organization. It’s not that Ellsbury is too good a player to trade. It’s that there is no way for the Red Sox to replace him in the outfield or at the top of the lineup.

Should the Red Sox move Ellsbury to get Gonzalez?

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