In a slight departure from football, I quickly wanted to chime in with my two cents on reports that former OSU standout Jacoby Ellsbury is signing with the New York Yankees, after spending the first six years of his career with the Boston Red Sox.
The social media reaction among Beavers fans about the news is mixed. If you are like me and absolutely despise the Yankees, you are probably a little disappointed. Full disclosure: I am an Atlanta Braves fan and am still bitter about them losing two World Series to the Yankees.
On the other hand, it’s great to see an Oregon native and OSU grad get paid — terms of the deal are reportedly $153 million for 7 years — it proves Jacoby is well respected and is considered an elite player. Plus, maybe he’ll decide to donate some of his newfound riches to the OSU baseball program.
When I was the sports editor for the Barometer at OSU, I covered the baseball team and often interviewed Jacoby. He was always gracious with his time, well-spoken, and humble. It’s not surprising he thrived at OSU under Pat Casey. So make no mistake about it, I am extremely happy for him. He’s come a long way from Madras and Corvallis. And he’s always represented Oregon State well.
That said, 7 years and $153 million is a massive overpay by the Yankees (I know, I shouldn’t really be complaining about that.). Jacoby has been somewhat injury prone throughout his career. He’s never played an entire season and had two of them cut very short due to injury (18 games in 2010; 74 in 2012). He will also turn 31 this year, and typically players who tend to rely on speed tend to decline quicker.
Jacoby sports an excellent .297 career batting average and is one of, if not the top base-stealers, in the majors. However, outside of that amazing 2011 season, during which he hit 32 homers and drove in 105 runs, he doesn’t provide much pop. And in the field, while he has a good glove, his arm isn’t considered elite.
But that didn’t stop the Yankees from paying him like a slugging outfielder. Then again, he might hit more home runs now, considering Yankee Stadium’s short porch. It also will be interesting to see how Jacoby handles the pressure of playing for the Yankees, because with that kind of contract, he will be under scrutiny.
Overall, while many people are cringing that he’s going to be playing for the Yankees, I think most of Beaver Nation is proud of Jacoby for cashing in on his hard work and talent. He was integral part in helping the Beavers become an elite program, with his play on the field and his great character off the field.
So Jacoby, I hope you tear it up in 2014 and are the lone bright spot in a dismal and record-breaking season for the Yankees, which results in them finishing with more than 100 loses.