I’m beginning to get that sick feeling that just because Roy Halladay‘s 20 plus million per year contract is up, Ruben Amaro feels the need to deal out a massive contract this off-season, even if the person he gives it too isn’t worth the deal. Enter, Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who CBS Sports Danny Knobler predicts the Phillies will sign this off-season.
Could he leave? Could they let him go? Yes. Desperate Phillies step up and sign him.
“Desperate Phillies,” is not what I’m looking to hear heading into this off-season. I’m not knocking Knobler because personally I think he is the best national baseball reporter, it just sickens me that the Phillies would be in a hurry to get in another huge contract for a guy that really isn’t even a great fit for the Phillies.
Don’t get me wrong, Ellsbury is a really good player, but that’s it. He isn’t the 2011 Ellsbury that hit .321 with 32 homeruns and 105 RBI’s while swiping 39 bags. That season was an outlier for Ellsbury, who hit .298 with 9 homeruns and 53 RBI’s this past season. That is the normal type of output to expect from Ellsbury, who with the exception of 2011, has never hit more than 9 homeruns or 60 RBI’s. The only aspect of his game from 2011 that wasn’t misleading was the 39 stolen bases, as he has improved in that department since 2011, stealing a league-leading 52 bases this season.
Oh yeah, and the Phillies have a pretty solid, extremely in-expensive, player in centerfield, where Ellsbury plays, in Ben Revere. Sure, Revere brings next to no power, but he is the perfect leadoff hitter. He overcame an extremely slow start to his Phillies career, to hit .305 in 88 games in 2013. Give him a full season and I think he only continues to improve as a hitter. And basestealing is Ellsbury‘s best attribute, but Revere stole 22 bases in just over half the season last year, so Ellsbury‘s basestealing wouldn’t bring something to the Phillies that they don’t already have. It would only bring a slight improvement, and for the price that Ellsbury is going to command, a slight improvement isn’t enough.
One general manager anonymously projected that Ellsbury would get a deal worth over 100 million to MLB Network’s Peter Gammons. I don’t know about you, but to me a guy who hits less than 10 homeruns per year and has only played over 150 games twice since becoming an everyday player in 2008, doesn’t seem to be worth 100 million. Especially not when Ben Revere only made 515,000 last season and isn’t likely to get a ton more in his first year of arbitration.
All of this isn’t to say that the Phillies couldn’t use another outfielder, because as much as I like Darin Ruf, Ellsbury would be a big upgrade. But I’m not sure at his price and given him similarity to Revere, that I like his fit in Philadelphia.
Of course, you could opt to move Revere, who despite making a few highlight reel catches last season isn’t much of a fielder,to right field if you signed Ellsbury. I guess that would work, but it doesn’t solve the problem of the Phillies needing another power bat in this lineup to drive runs in. Ellsbury and Revere would be setting the table at the top of the lineup for Dom Brown, and maybe Ryan Howard and Chase Utley if they stay healthy, to drive them in. But if Howard and Utley can’t stay healthy, then you still have the issue of having no protection in the lineup for Brown, who was the Phillies only elite run producer in 2013.
If I’m Ruben Amaro I wouldn’t go after Ellsbury, but instead I would take a look at a rebound guy like Nelson Cruz or Michael Morse. Both of them are bigger power bats than Ellsbury, and will come at a much cheaper price. Even someone internal like Darin Ruf fits what the Phillies need in their lineup better than Ellsbury.