The Yankees made roster moves Wednesday evening and perhaps Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird should have been sent out of town sooner. Of course it had to be Ellsbury and Bird to make room for the 40-man roster.
This is all about business and baseball.
More importantly, this is another baseball decision with the upcoming Rule 5 Draft that will be held December 12 during the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
But in defense of Ellsbury and Bird, they could never show their potential as the often injury prone Yankees of the past few years. It can be said, when healthy, Ellsbury and Bird were catalysts to the lineup but there was never much time to take notice.
Ellsbury, a .297 hitter with 65 home runs, 314 RBI over seven years with the Red Sox, spent most of this past season on the comeback trail from 2018 arthroscopic surgery to repair a left hip.
We never got to know the real Jacoby Ellsbury. He was like that no-show that saw circumstances go beyond his control, never a catalyst in New York as he was for the Red Sox. The Yankees expected that much when they signed him to a seven-year $153 million contract.
Then, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “Will be nice to see him finally on my side.” Girardi, though never had much time to see what Ellsbury could do in his side.
Instead, the Yankees will reportedly eat the remaining $21 million of that contract that was not insured for next year.
Again, this columnist goes back a year after the Ellsbury contract. Yankees General partner Hank Steinbrenner, with limited control said to yours truly,“We are getting away from signing long term multi year contracts.”
He was referring to signing long term pitchers. The last one supposedly was granted to the recently retired CC Sabathia who had his share of injury issues with the knees in his last few years in the Bronx.
Steinbrenner, then, was resisting the temptation to say he was against seven -year deals to position players.
He was right, because, Jacoby Ellsbury goes down as one of the worst long term contracts granted by the Yankees and perhaps in baseball. And that also says a lot, as to why GM Brian Cashman has not been active about going after that needed front line starter and long term deal.
It may go down as one of the worst signing in New York baseball history, with the exception of the Mets’ signing of Bobby Bonilla who was signed before the 2000 season.
The Mets wanted Bonilla off their roster. He was an aging player and they wanted to go in another direction. Instead, they did not want to pay him the $5.9 million that remained and opted for a deal that gives Bonilla that unique deal of million dollar paydays every July 1 for 26 years.
Ellsbury should be so fortunate. Point is, he showed no signs of a damaged or aging player when he was signed.
Hence, don’t expect the Yankees attitude to change during this free agent signing period. In other words, don’t expect Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strausburg pitching anytime soon in Yankees pinstripes.
And we never got to know the potential of 27-year old Greg Bird. He was a left handed hitter the Yankees needed. He had that natural ability to hit for power at Yankee Stadium.
But Greg Bird was in that unfortunate category of having the swing and trying to stay on the field.
When asked prior to the All-Star break, GM Brian Cashman said to this columnist about Bird, “He’s capable. He has talent. We are being patient about his situation and hope Greg Bird can still be in our plan.”
Yeah, patience does have a virtue in sports, it always does. But this was another situation of the Yankees put in a situation of retaining and getting around the issue of salary in this confusing era of business and baseball.
Perhaps, Bird, too, would have seen his last days as a Yankee prior to the start of the 2019 season. But there was always hope he would get back to potential as the Yankees got around the first base issue and moved along.
The Yankees lost their patience. It was time to move on. Just as it was time for the Yankees to get away from that Ellsbury contract.
Now they can all move on and look at this as possibly another contract or two that went bad.
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