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Jacoby Ellsbury’s Struggles Continue – What Next?

Jacoby Ellsbury

There was a lot of talk about Jacoby Ellsbury coming into this Red Sox season. Much of the talks were about him being in a contract year and the chances of him being back in Boston next year. Ellsbury’s career thus far is full of ups and downs. He came in during the 2007 playoffs, took over for Coco Crisp, and helped the Red Sox win a World Series. He had two solid seasons in ’08 and ’09, stealing 50 and 70 bases respectively, and showing off his great speed in center field. Red Sox fans looked at him as the next great thing for the Red Sox, and he also looked like the Sox permanent leadoff hitter for a long time.

Injuries

In 2010, Ellsbury collided with Adrian Beltre, broke his ribs, and was only able to play in 18 games. This brought up a lot of questions about Ellsbury’s toughness and brought a lot of questions about his future with Boston. Ellsbury came back in 2011 and had the best year of his career, hitting .321 with 32 HR, 105 RBI, and 39 stolen bases. He also finished second in the MVP voting and immediately was considered one of the best outfielders in the league, and had just entered his prime. With a historic collapse of the Red Sox and another injury plagued season in 2012, there was a lot of talk of trading Ellsbury at the end of the 2012 season. Many thought if he was not traded, he would walk once he was a free agent after the 2013 season.

This Season

The 2013 season is here and Jacoby Ellsbury is still in the outfield for the Boston Red Sox. He is in a contract year and he is looking to land a big contract like previous Scott Boras clients. Though, he is not off to the start he or his agent hoped that he would be. Ellsbury, through 44 games, is hitting .241 with only 1 HR and 14 RBI. He does have 14 stolen bases and is on a pace for almost 50, but he has struggled in a big year for him.

This topic has been closely watched since the season started. There has not been much talk about it due to the fact that people thought he would turn it around. Now that we are over a quarter through the season, people are starting to play more attention to his struggles.

There are a lot of theories on this topic right now in Boston. Some people feel that he is just in a rut and will turn it around, others feel that Ellsbury is not giving it his all right now. On sites like WEEI and Boston.com, you will see all positive things with Jacoby, there will be no bad-mouthing him and they all agree he will turn it around and we will see the power again. Other sites that aren’t directly connected to Red Sox ownership have different opinions…

Either way, Jacoby Ellsbury needs to turn it around soon or he is going to cost himself millions of dollars. I have watched the a lot of the games this season and the one thing that I am seeing from Ellsbury is that he is not playing hard. He does not look like he’s out there swinging hard and playing hard like we have seen in the past. His lack of production is showing this lack of effort. I do not think he is milking it out there, but I do believe he is playing at a lower level trying to avoid an injury in his contract year. If Ellsbury finishes the season with poor numbers, there is still a team that will overpay for him in the offseason. But the fact that he is more concerned with his health instead of doing what he can to help the team win, brings me back to 2010 when he missed 144 games due to an injury that keeps most players out for maybe 2 months. Since that injury, people have labeled Ellsbury as soft, and the fact that he is playing like this to avoid injury (in my opinion), shows that he is not a player that represents Boston like the fans want. Boston is a blue collar city who loves tough players who play through injuries, this is why Dustin Pedroia is loved and players like JD Drew were not.

If Jacoby Ellsbury cannot get a big contract, I can see Boras doing what he did with Adrian Beltre and seeing if he can get a 1-year contract somewhere to prove he is worth the big money. Unless the Red Sox can sign him for $10-$12 million per year, I would not give him a long term contract. The Red Sox have Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in Pawtucket, and everyone who has seen the kid play says he is the next big thing. Why would you overpay for an injury prone outfielder who is pushing 30 with Scott Boras as his agent?

It was a good run, as we saw some great things out of Jacoby Ellsbury, but the negatives outweigh the positives and I think it is in the best interest for the Red Sox to move on from Ellsbury once the season is over.

About Jared Smith - @shmity91

Freelance Production Assistant for Comcast Sportsnet and former New York Rangers intern. I have been a long life sports fan, and have always wanted to cover sports in the media or work in the front office for a team. Follow me on Twitter @ shmity91

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