NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 6, 2013

Red Sox Nation strangely moves on from Ellsbury defection

Bill Burt
Newburyport Daily News

---- — The Boston Red Sox lost a very good baseball player earlier this week to the New York Yankees. One who never got into trouble. One who had shown he could play under the bright lights and/or microscope. One who had played an integral role in two championship teams. And one who had been in the Red Sox family for nine years.

So why is New England so lukewarm about the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury?

It’s an interesting case. It’s a strange case.

When Ellsbury was on his game, which meant he was on base and causing havoc with his speed, the Red Sox usually won. It was that simple. He and David Ortiz had a connection. If Ellsbury got on base, by the time Ortiz was up, he’d be on second base, and Ortiz would usually belt him in.

Sure Ellsbury had his issues, particularly people questioning his toughness, but we all saw his attempt at a beard last summer, to be one of the guys. It was both admirable and a bit surprising.

While his decision to join the Yankees drew some ire, it was nothing compared to Johnny Damon’s jump after the 2005 season.

We shouldn’t be surprised, particularly the fact that he will be in the Bronx.

When Ellsbury changed agents early in his Red Sox career, everybody knew free agency was coming. Agent Scott Boras is adamant about having many bidders, thus driving up the market.

Boras is a mercenary. He does not care about retired numbers, comfort or championships. He cares about getting his client as much money as is humanly possible.

His reasoning is their careers are short, maximize the dollars for retirement. If you see former pro athletes from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s around, you can understand why.

Word has it the Sox offered Ellsbury “only” $80 million over five years, which is $16 million per, compared the $21.8 million per with two more years of “security.”

You can’t blame Ellsbury for his decision. Most people, particularly those that don’t connect with their employers and their region, would do the exact same thing.

I believe Ellsbury and the Red Sox knew this day was coming a few years ago and they never fought it, which is why he rather quietly went to the Yankees.

Will the Red Sox rue the day they didn’t overpay, a wee bit, for Ellsbury?

The Red Sox appear to have several Plan B’s in place, including Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino or even the interesting Curtis Granderson, who would fit the Red Sox mold (very good clubhouse guy), though some might question his hunger for winning.

Whatever the case, one of the most popular Red Sox players is gone and quite frankly few people are surprised or upset.

Strange.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

Burt's connection with Ellsbury Eagle-Tribune sports editor Bill Burt's first-ever story, about a high school football game between North Andover and Pentucket, appeared in The Eagle-Tribune on Sept. 11, 1983, the same day Jacoby Ellsbury was born.