Dear Brian Cashman,
We need to have a long, frank talk about Jacoby Ellsbury. Now, don't get me wrong. On the whole, I and the rest of Yankees Universe are big fans of how you've run the team the past few years. Between trading Aroldis Chapman for Gleyber Torres and then re-signing Chapman as a free agent, to managing sweetheart trades for Giancarlo Stanton, Zach Britton, and others, plus the general rebirth of the team's farm system, you're doing a great job.
But there's one demerit on your record in that stretch, and his name is Jacoby Ellsbury. He has not played at all this season and, following hip surgery on Monday, will be out for another six months. That timeline means he should be back and ready to go right around the start of Spring Training next year where he will once again try to compete for a spot on a team that has no use for him.
Cash, you need to get Ellsbury off the team, and fast.
A bad decision
When push comes to shove, Cash, Jacoby Ellsbury never should have been a Yankee at all. His signing a seven-year, $153m deal with the Bronx Bombers should never have happened, as Brett Gardner was a fine center fielder for us in 2013. Adding Ellsbury bumped him over to left and while he has done fine there, make no mistake. The Ellsbury signing was a knee-jerk reaction to a gaping hole the Yankees had in the outfield.
Sure, injuries limited Ellsbury to 139 games for the Boston Red Sox in 2013, but he still hit .298 and led the majors with 52 steals despite that. He also hit 32 homers and finished second in AL MVP voting in 2011, so he would surely take full advantage of Yankee Stadium's short porch in right field, right?
How wrong everyone was about Ellsbury putting on the pinstripes. His 16 home runs in 2014, his debut season in the Bronx, are the most he has ever hit in a Yankee uniform. Three times now he has been limited to less than 140 games in a season. Between a concussion last year to knee issues in 2015, it's a wonder he's even still talked about amongst some fans.
Chasing a pipe dream
Fast forward to today, and Ellsbury is a non-factor in the New York Yankees' playoff chase. Aaron Hicks has stepped up as the everyday center fielder and is a perfect fit in the lineup despite his own injury issues. It doesn't matter if he's batting leadoff, cleanup, or anywhere in the order. His approach never changes while Ellsbury always looks as though he's trying too hard. He has two years remaining on his deal, meaning we're stuck with him through 2020.
Even worse, Ellsbury repeatedly said this year his plan was to win the starting center fielder's job back from Hicks. He got hurt in Spring Training, and here we are today.
Cash, you've been down this road before. Look at what happened with Carl Pavano, the veteran right-hander you gave a four-year, $39.95m contract before the 2005 season. Sure, Pavano won 18 games with the Marlins the year before and posted an impressive 3.00 ERA, but it was his first breakout season and his New York tenure proved him overrated.
For context, and this is for the readers, Pavano made just 26 starts over the course of the deal and went 9-8 with a 5.00 ERA. He missed all of 2006 with several injuries and was limited to two starts in 2007 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Cash, I'm telling you now. Don't let Ellsbury become another Pavano. Look at what the Yankees front office did with Alex Rodriguez in 2016. He was no longer playing at a high level and was headed towards a benching, so you and the rest of management opted to buy out his contract just to clear a roster spot and work towards making the Yankees younger. That decision helped get the team where it is today.
The point is Ellsbury's contract can be bought out too. He's of no use to the Yankees if his health is always going to be touch-and-go, so better to give him money to go away than to keep him on the 40-man roster. Or, maybe he needs to be designated for assignment and then released just so we can say once and for all that we don't need him anymore. Heck, Clint Frazier would be a better fourth outfielder than Ellsbury and he's had his share of injury problems this year too.
You know what you have to do, Brian Cashman. Do it.
A concerned Yankees fan