But can we agree that in what has been a joyless, boring, uninspiring season, the return of Jacoby Ellsbury [stats], who is expected to be in the lineup tonight, could be just the jolt of adrenaline this team needs?
Or is that too strong a word? As Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said, “I think it’s overstated . . . pitchers have to pitch, guys have to catch the ball, people have to hit. I think just having him, not in a game but having him the rest of the season, is what it’s all about. I don’t think one person, one game, makes all the difference.”
But on a team of overpaid underperformers, Ellsbury is a burgeoning superstar who last year finished second to Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander in the AL MVP race. Had it not been for the Sox’ historic September crash-and-burn, Ellsbury might even have won the award.
I'm as excited as anybody that Jacoby is finally back in the Sox lineup (except maybe my wife. And your thirteen year old sister). But if we're expecting him to be some sort of one-man wrecking crew where wins rain down from his mighty swing and swift feet, we will all be sorely disappointed.
The problem with Jacoby (other than his penchant for freak injuries) is that no one is really sure what type of player he is. I don't mean to say that last season was a fluke. It wasn't. Jacoby is insanely talented. But is he a guy that we can expect to bat north of .320, smash 30+ home runs, and drive in 100+ men each season? That's a tall order for anybody (see: Adrian Gonzalez). But Ellsbury has set that bar, and now that's the standard we're expecting him to meet.
But Jacoby hasn't played with Boston since April 3rd, and he hasn't been exactly tearing it up in the minors either, batting .185 in his 8 games. He still has some rust he'll need to shake off. So we need to temper our expectations by a lot.
The flip side of that is that Jacoby is playing for a monstrous deal. He is arbitration eligible next season, then he hits the free agent market. If you want him to re-up with Boston, you may actually want to root for him to struggle down the stretch. Boras may panic and accept a long-term deal with less dollars, instead of risking Jacoby having another down year in 2013 or worse, another long-term injury.
Rest of the links:
Herald - Carl Crawford unlikely for Tommy John | Ben Cherington waits with match | Globe - Ciriaco takes chance and runs with it | Crawford, ready or not, to return on Monday | WEEI - CRAWFORD: 'I FEEL THE PRESSURE' OF FANS, SOX | ADRIAN GONZALEZ CONTINUES HIS QUEST TO FIND THE OLD ADRIAN GONZALEZ | CSNNE - McAdam: Sox may make moves sooner rather than later | McAdam: Where Red Sox need to improve in second half