The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

December 11, 2013

Ellsbury is a businessman in the outfield

(Continued)

But the Yankees have always favored cashing in quickly over making long-term investments.

Not everyone is sold on this deal. Some baseball pundits are criticizing the Yankees for dumping money on a star past his peak — especially when the team has pressing holes to fill elsewhere on its roster. Those holes could include second base if Robinson Cano — who is also looking for a long-term, mega-contract — goes elsewhere.

Brett Gardner did an admirable job patrolling centerfield for New York last season. He’s expected to move to left or perhaps right to make room for Ellsbury.

In the meantime, the Yankees hope their payroll will get a break if a Major League Baseball mediator upholds the 211-game suspension on Alex Rodriquez. That will give them more room to fill the other gaps.

Back in Boston, Ellsbury’s loss takes the fizz out of any lingering World Series celebrations. The Red Sox now must set out to fill a spot in the outfield.

Jackie Bradley Jr. could be ready to step in, but Boston will need insurance just in case he’s not ready for everyday work.

In Boston, losing Ellsbury wasn’t totally unexpected. Losing him to the Yankees was.

It brings back memories of Johnny Damon’s move from Boston to New York at the end of 2005 - a dreaded, heart-stopping moment. After Damon shaved his beard and headed for the Bronx, T-shirts appeared that read, “Looks like Jesus, Throws like Mary, Acts like Judas”. That’s unlikely to happen this time, though Ellsbury’s move still stings.

Such loyalties aren’t part of Ellsbury’s personal calculations, of course, and that doesn’t make him harsh.

When his contract is signed, Ellsbury won’t face any financial pressures as he watches the weeks pass until spring training. Even if the length of a playing career is never certain, his future should be. As a professional athlete, Ellsbury has learned a valuable economic lesson: Baseball is his business.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

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