Red Sox smart in letting Jacoby 'DLsbury' walk, er, limp away

Jacoby Ellsbury grimaces after pulling up with another injury.
(Photo courtesy USA Today Sports)
Ben Whitehead
Contributing writer

Jacoby Ellsbury put together one of the better seasons in Red Sox history in 2011. He batted .321 with 32 home runs, 105 RBI, 46 doubles, and was awarded the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. He was named an All-Star and finished second in the MVP voting, arguably getting robbed of baseball's top honor.

After an injury-riddled 2012 season, he bounced back to have another great year as the Red Sox went on to win the 2013 World Series. That winter, Ellsbury went with the money and the free agent signed a monster deal worth seven years and $153 million with the New York Yankees.

In his worst season with Boston, Ellsbury hit .271. He hasn't hit above .271 with the Yankees two-plus years into his new deal. Many thought his home run total would get back closer to the 30 mark with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium, but he's only hit 24 total home runs (16 in 2014, seven in '15, and one this season).

Oh, and the injuries. Part of the reason Boston was unwilling to offer that kind of cash to Ellsbury is the Sox Brass knew Ellsbury was an injury threat. There had been some unlucky and unfortunate injuries, such as his broken ribs in 2010 when he collided with Adrian Beltre in Kansas City and being landed on while sliding into second base in 2012. But it always seemed little nicks and bruises were causing Ellsbury to miss a game or two here and there, or simply go on the 15-day DL.
It didn't take long for Ellsbury to catch the injury bug in 2016. After batting in the first inning Friday night against Boston, he rounded third base and pulled up ever so slightly. He was replaced an inning later and word is he has a "sore right hip." An MRI revealed no structural damage, but being so early in the season - and being as fragile as Ellsbury is - Yankee manager Joe Girardi decided to handle Ells with care. A DL stint hasn't been ruled out, but Ellsbury hasn't played since exiting the game Friday.

With Jackie Bradley Jr. en fuego, at least for the moment, it appears the future with JBJ is a tad brighter. At the very least, the Red Sox avoided spending big on Ellsbury and have been able to allocate money elsewhere.

JBJ is currently riding a 15-game hitting streak, the longest active in MLB. In Monday's game, JBJ went 3-for-5, blasted his first career grand slam and drove in six RBI, one shy of his career high for a game. During his streak, Bradley is batting 21-for-52 (.382) with four doubles, three triples, four home runs to go along with 17 RBI, and has raised his overall average from .222 to .303. He's got a much better arm than Ellsbury. Bradley is younger by six years and, most importantly, hasn't shown to be injury-prone yet.

Perhaps Ellsbury will get things clicking in New York over the remainder of his four-plus years on the contract. For now and going forward, I'll take JBJ and his outlook over the injury-plagued DLsbury.