Try this next time you go to a job interview:
Tell your prospective employer that you call out sick once every three days. Tell them when you do show up for work, you're one of the best employees there is. Then tell them that you want $153 million to work there.
It's a funny world we live in.
On Tuesday, the New York Yankees signed 30-year-old former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract. It is very similar to the seven-year, $142 million contract the Red Sox gave Carl Crawford in 2010.
There is an adage that says if you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. The Red Sox have learned.
It is not wise to invest a lot of years for big money on a player in their 30's whose value lies in his speed. In fact, it is dumb.
Let's ignore Ellsbury's Brady Anderson-like 32 home run out-of-nowhere season of 2011. In Ellsbury's other 2252 career at-bats, he has hit only 33 home runs. That is one every 68 at-bats. With the exception of that 2011 season, Ellsbury has not reached double digits in home runs in any season.
In his last four seasons, Ellsbury has missed 264 games. That equates to 66 games per season or about two-fifths of every season.
The only players I would consider giving a mega-contract to would be a young five-tool player or a young ace pitcher. As a matter of fact, there is no one not named Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw that I would even consider investing beyond $140 million.
Take a look at this list and check out how many mega-contracts have been wise investments. I'll save you the time. Of the twenty-two contracts valued at over $140 million, the only ones I'd say were worth it were Alex Rodriguez's first contract ($252 million for 2001-10), Manny Ramirez's ($160 million for 2001-08), and Miguel Cabrera's ($152 million for 2008-15). That's three out of twenty-two. And A-Rod's and Manny's numbers during that period were likely artificially enhanced. That would leave just Miggy.
Look at some of the major busts: A-Rod's current contract ($275M), Albert Pujols ($252M), Derek Jeter ($189M), Joe Mauer ($184M), and Mark Teixeira ($180M). Other recent $100-million men who have been disasters include Ryan Howard, Johan Santana, Barry Zito, Mike Hampton, and Vernon Wells. There are still others who have under-performed or been injured.
Will Ellsbury join this group of busts?
The consensus is, "Yes!" And why wouldn't it be?
Hey, I'm happy for Ellsbury. As the saying goes (falsely attributed to P.T. Barnum), "There is a sucker born every minute." If Ellsbury and his agent, Scott Boras, could find a sucker to pay their heavy ransom, then more power to them. This is America. And they found that sucker in the Yankees.
It's difficult to comprehend what the Yankees are thinking. I'd be putting all my money in a wagon and wheeling it up to the door of their free agent second baseman Robinson Cano. Second basemen who can hit like Cano just don't exist. It is a matter of position scarcity-- a term familiar to fantasy baseballers. And Cano has missed only fourteen games in the last seven seasons!
While not easy to find, there are weak-armed center fielders who can hit .290 with little power and who can swipe 40-plus bases. Heck, the Yankees have a slightly lesser version of Ellsbury in Brett Gardner (who earned $3M in 2013).
How will Ellsbury's sensitive ego respond to playing in New York? He, clearly, didn't enjoy his time in Boston. Wait until he gets to the bright lights of New York.
Ellsbury may hit 20 home runs next year with the short porch in Yankee Stadium. Johnny Damon hit 24 dingers in his first season with the Yankees after hitting only 10 the previous season with the Red Sox. Ellsbury will, most likely, steal at least forty bases next year.
He could also, very possibly, spend a better portion of the season on the DL. One thing I can guarantee you is he won't be stealing 40 bases or hitting 20 home runs at age 36 or 37.
The Red Sox did the wise thing. Sure-- it stings deeper losing Ellsbury to the Yankees. It would have stung less if Ellsbury was out of sight and out of mind playing late night games out on the West Coast in Seattle for a losing team. At least he will still be playing for a losing team.