Does Ellsbury-to-Yanks mean Sox hop aboard the Woo-Choo train?
Is this the face of the next centerfielder in Boston now that Jacoby
Ellsbury has cashed in his Red Socks for pinstripes? (Fox Sports photo)
Well, it’s all but official. FORMER Boston Red Sock Jacoby Ellsbury will spend the next seven seasons playing in pinstripes for the Evil Empire for a reported $153-million payday.
So where does that leave the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox when it comes to filling that gaping hole in the Fenway Park center field?
According to FoxSports.com senior baseball writer, MLB Network insider and jaunty bowtie aficionado Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees were flirting with both Shin-Soo Choo and Ellsbury, but Ells remained the Yankees’ preferred choice. Rosenthal further reported on Twitter that:
Sources: Four teams were in “hard” on Ellsbury. About twice as many active on Choo. #RedSox could become factor, with Victorino moving to CF
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2013
That presupposes that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell are of the mind to shift Shane Victorino — who more than proved his mettle by playing a problematic right field at Fenway with aplomb during the first of his three years with Boston — to center and plug Choo into right, with a platoon of Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp — and possibly Daniel Nava — standing sentry in the shadow of the Green Monster in left.
Choo did play center for the Reds in 2013, but is often thought to be better suited to a right-field situation.
That’s not to mention the fact that Jackie Bradley, Jr. — after a brief flirtation in the majors with Boston at several turns in 2013 — is likely chomping at the bit to stake his claim to center in Ellsbury’s absence. Whether he's prepared to take over Ellsbury's key role as a productive leadoff hitter remains to be seen, however.
A South Korean native signed by the Martiners in 2000, Choo is 31 years of age and coming off a season in Cincinnati in which he played in 154 games and posted a .285 average with 21 homers, 54 RBI, 107 runs and 20 stolen bases after spending seven seasons with the Cleveland Indians.
In 2013, Ellsbury — in his seventh big-league season with Boston — went .298 at the plate, hit nine homers and drove in 53 runs while swiping an MLB-best 52 bases. His best season as a Red Sock was in 2011, when he ripped 32 home runs and drove in 105 while stealing 39 bags.
Ellsbury was an integral part of the Red Sox’ run to the 2013 World Series title, hitting .500 with two doubles and two RBI while stealing four bases in the ALDS against Tampa Bay and posting a .318 average in the ALCS against Detroit, hitting a double, triple and driving in a pair while drawing four walks.
Even as Rosenthal is hinting that Boston is in on the Shin-Soo Choo sweepstakes, so too, apparently, are the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers, according to the latest daily Hot-Stove servings of gossip and innuendo. The Tigers are actively trying to secure the services of the coveted left-handed free-agent outfielder, while ESPN Baseball Insider and analyst Jim Bowden predicts that Choo will end up as a Texas Ranger before all is said and done.
All aboard the Woo-Choo train, Boston!
Keep the Faith. Drink the Dirty Water. Connect with me on Twitter at @jan_doh.