The entire Boston Red Sox fan base hoped they would never have to see the day that All-Star outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury suited up for the rival New York Yankees. Unfortunately for them, their worst nightmare has come true as Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Bronx Bombers.
Ellsbury will play center field and bat leadoff for the Yankees. He will be setting the tone for hitters behind him like Derek Jeter, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann. He leads a group of new Yankees that hopes to reverse their fortunes from a year ago.
This Spring Training, the first difference the Yankees will see Ellsbury making is on the basepaths. While he did hit 32 home runs in 2011, that output hasn’t been sustained as the most he’s hit in a single season besides that year is nine. However, performance that Ellsbury has sustained is in his stolen base numbers. He has led the AL in steals three times and has stolen more than 39 bases four times in his big league career.
Adding a speed dimension to the top of the lineup for other sluggers to drive in will be a big boost for the Yankees who missed the playoffs last season for only the second time since 1995. The fact that the Yankees were so inactive this October is what made management so active this offseason. They added Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka as well as McCann, Beltran and others. These additions will surely put them in the mix for the playoff race.
Where Ellsbury fits into that resurgence is in getting on base and setting the tone. He will get on base and Yankee sluggers should be able to drive him in at a consistent rate. Starting this Spring Training, the Yankees can see exactly what their $153 million investment got them.