Will Jacoby Ellsbury Leave a Big Hole in CF in 2014?

Photo Courtesy of Frank Gunn/Associated Press

Photo Courtesy of Frank Gunn/Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox have been down this road time and time again with another player jumping ship to the New York Yankees. There was Wade Boggs, Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury being the latest. The Yankees signed Ellsbury to a very generous 7-year $153 million contract during the offseason and appearing to become a much more improved team this season.

In a nutshell, the Red Sox are worse off for losing him while the Yankees are better in acquiring him. But comparing Ellsbury’s dollar value with his potential replacements, losing him to the Yankees doesn’t appear to be as painful given his injury history on top of that. Jacoby Ellsbury leaves behind a commendable skill set and the Red Sox will have to use different alternatives to replace a player like him.

Jacoby Ellsbury has been the leadoff hitter for the Red Sox for the majority of his six seasons here with his solid speed, contact rate and a decent OBP to serve as one of the best leadoff hitters in the league during that time. The Red Sox do not have a player that can match Ellsbury’s potential at the plate at least at this moment, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have other great options to fill that leadoff spot.

The most logical option would likely be Shane Victorino because he rarely strikes out and can run the bases very well. I personally like what Daniel Nava brings to the Red Sox with his plate discipline, but the only downfall of him is that he isn’t a fast runner and wouldn’t be able to start a Red Sox rally.

Grady Sizemore is starting to revive his career at 31 years old and has been a great contact hitter and base runner during his days with the Cleveland Indians.

Jackie Bradley Jr. would be the last but not least option to leadoff, but needs more time to develop and one day will be a prime leadoff hitter for any team. The most important thing to consider is that the Red Sox have many different options to play with and they need to keep the middle lineup of Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to be the ones to drive them in consistently.

As far as the defense in center field, the Red Sox shouldn’t experience too much of a loss. Grady Sizemore has been flashing the leather in center field a lot so far in spring training. I like how much effort Sizemore is putting in this spring to earn the starting spot in center field in 2014 with his defensive capability. Sizemore has been injured very often in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped him for earning 27 defensive saved runs since 2011.

Jackie Bradley Jr. shouldn’t skip a beat defensively in center field either. He is still rated as a top-10 Red Sox prospect and has great speed to cover the largest area in the outfield. Bradley can read the ball very well and has better arm strength than Ellsbury, so Bradley may even be an upgrade from Ellsbury once he is in his prime.

The Red Sox are going to work around the loss of Ellsbury’s skill set, but are in good shape with all of his replacements for this season. Ellsbury is one of the best base stealers in the league today and is expected to keep this up for the next few seasons in his pinstripes. It will be tough seeing him succeed with the rival Yankees, but the loss is something that the Red Sox can recover. The Yankees gave him a contract that nobody could ever refuse, but it was smart for the Red Sox not to bite in and just move on.

Joe Chancler

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Categories: Articles, Red Sox

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