The Yankees just signed Jacoby Ellsbury away from the Red Sox for $150M. Yes, a career .790 OPS guy is making over $20M a year, a deal similar to Manny Ramirez’s in his prime. Red Sox fans will screw up their disdain for the Yankees by laughing at their financial indiscretion. Some ‘historically’ oriented followers might even hearken way back to the post-2004 off-season and remind everyone that the Sox let go of Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe after their first championship in the modern era. Other, more media influenced types will continue with the comparisons to the inimitable Johnny Damon – the name Ellsbury’s been paired with since the minors. But, really – this is a non-story.
The fact that the American League team in New York just committed themselves to this kind of money is only marginally different than if, say the American League team in Boston did the same thing (or either team in Los Angeles made the same headlines). To modify a favorite saying of mine, Jacoby Ellsbury going to the Yankees is just a case of rearranging the chairs in the royal palace. (While the rest of the league still fights for scraps on the other side of the moat.)
I heard somewhere that the Red Sox just won the World Series. I found this out when it ran for, like, 100 straight days on the ESPN.com front page. I was also reminded of this information by several local friends of mine asking me if I regretted my decision to jump ship to the Pirates. After fielding these questions with integrity and truth (win or lose, the Red Sox still manifest the corrupt power of the elite), I am eager to hear the commentary by these same Red Sox fans regarding the Jacoby Ellsbury news. I am eager to hear if there are any cries of injustice. I am eager to hear if there is forced scoffery at the Yankees for the mixed priorities revealed in such a free agent signing. I am eager to hear about the Yankees riches. Because if I hear any of that, here are the specific inconsistencies I’d like to hear reconciled:
- How is this any different than Carl Crawford? (It’s not.)
- Does this make the Yankees a better team? (Yes.)
- How much did the Tampa Bay Rays offer Ellsbury? (Sorry, he’s actually not available to the other teams in the AL East.)
- List the teams that could afford Ellsbury AND address their other roster needs this winter? (Boston, the LA’s, etc.)
- How many of those teams could reasonably be expected to make the playoffs this year? (All.)
The Boston Yankees, err, I mean the New York Red Sox, umm… Anyway… The rich team (sic) in the northeast just switched a player. Who cares? Remember when A-Rod was traded to the Red Sox in 2003? Remember when Leigh Teixeira nixed a deal that would have landed her husband in Boston for the ’09 season? Of course not. All these players trading gold-stitched laundry is just more fiddling while Rome burns.
The Jacoby Ellsbury signing only underscored one known truth of Major League Baseball today: Elite free agents are only available to a short list of teams. The league is systematically unjust.