The signing of Jacoby Ellsbury is a move that puts the New York Yankees in a position to win once again in 2014. Although he comes with a hefty contract (7 years, $153 mil), the former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger center fielder is destined to transform the Yankees into an American League power house. Not only does the former Boston Red Sox star give the Yankees another reliable glove in the outfield, he gives the Bombers a bat at the top of the order that should provide the spark that the team was missing last year.
With the addition of Ellsbury, Joe Girardi now has five veteran outfielders at his expense in Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki, and Vernon Wells. This leaves Girardi with numerous options throughout the course of the season. If he wants to go with an offensive minded trio he could field Gardner, Ellsbury, and Soriano. If the skipper feels the need to play more defensive minded he will most likely go with Gardner, Ellsbury, and Ichiro. Of course Wells is the odd man out, but he’s a reliable backup in the unfortunate case of an injury.
Jacoby Ellsbury comes to New York touting a .297 career batting average and having eclipsed 150 hits four times in his career (over 200 hits in 2011). He provides the Yankees with a leadoff man that has proven he can get on base, as well hit for power (32 HR in 2011). Although Gardner has proven he can handle the responsibilities of leading off, Girardi has shown that he likes to have a speedster in the No. 9 spot, which is where we will most likely see Gardner in 2014. With Ellsbury at the top of the order and Gardner at the bottom, the big bats in the middle of the lineup should see increased opportunities to drive in runs. This ability to get on base and drive in runs will lead the Yankees to being one of the more formidable offenses in the entire league. This is the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup in a perfect world: 1. J. Ellsbury 2. Derek Jeter 3. Robinson Cano 4. Mark Texiera 5. Brian McCann 6. Alex Rodriguez 7. A. Soriano 8. I. Suzuki 9. B. Gardner. Even if Girardi messes with the order, that is a lineup that opposing pitchers will surely fear.
The fact of the matter is that Jacoby Ellsbury is a phenomenal ball player who is going to make a previously mediocre club much better. He has proven he is a winner over the years with the Red Sox, winning two World Series, nearly winning AL MVP in 2011, and breaking many Yankees fans hearts along the way. He joins a New York Yankees team that looks to rebuild after a miserable 2013 season. With players like Jeter, Texiera, McCann, Soriano, and possibly Cano and A-Rod hitting behind him, Ellsbury will undoubtedly flourish in pinstripes and bring winning back to the Bronx.