Why the Red Sox Need Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz To Stay Healthy In 2013

Tuesday December 4, 2012

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Kyle Holland (MLB Reports Intern):

Every Boston fan, heck every baseball fan knows what a disaster the 2012 season was for the Red Sox. Coming off the off-season they had some high hopes. They signed a new manager in Bobby Valentine and Adrian Gonzalez was coming off one of the best years of his career. Plus, they were looking forward to the 100th year of Fenway Park celebration. Clearly whatever hopes they had were down the drain by the All-Star break. What was the biggest reason for this disaster of a season besides Bobby V? Injuries?

For one, Crawford was out until mid July and then again from mid August until he got traded. But the Red Sox most importantly need healthy years from centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and DH David Ortiz.

Let’s first take a look at Jacoby Ellsbury. In 2011 he was arguably the best player in the American League. The Sox expected big things out of him in 2012. Then on April 13 he injured his shoulder sliding into second base. Ellsbury ended up being out until July 13, (only 3 days before Crawford returned.)  This means the Red Sox played about half of their season without 2 of their 3 starting outfielders.

The Red Sox outfield for a good portion of the first half of the season was Darnell McDonald, Cody Ross, and Ryan Sweeney. Although good players, these aren’t players the Red Sox could rely on to be play-makers day in and day out. Ross may be the one exception in this bunch. He can tear the cover of the ball on a good day. He’s got power and he can hit for average. His offense side might be pretty good, but his defense is definitely shaky. Although he finished the season with just one official error, this does not reflect his fielding. There were plenty of flies that I vividly remember, that should have been caught whether he pulled up on them or just got turned around. Ellsbury on the other hand has the glove, speed, and aggressiveness for a great outfielder. There is absolutely no doubt that him healthy would have improved the Red Sox 69-93 record.  Ellsbury is Arbitration Eligible and will receive a nice contract, but will really cash in as a Free Agent in 2014 with a big 2013 campaign.

The other player the Red Sox need healthy is David Ortiz. Ortiz is a team leader that the Red Sox can’t live without. Was he worth the $26 million over the next two years that the Sox gave him? No, he probably wasn’t. But the Red Sox were looking to get any deal done with the slugger that they could. It’s just not the same Red Sox team without Big Papi.

After Ortiz suffered a season-ending injury on July 16 the Red Sox closed the last 2 and a half months with a 23-49 record. It was so bad for the Red Sox that they decided to go dump Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers for James Loney and some prospects. Boston is just not a functioning squad without Ortiz. He’s the guy who everyone looks up too and with him sidelined for long periods of time the Red Sox just don’t look like a baseball team.  A DH, who can actually slug north of 1.00 OPS, is rare to find.  Actually, any DH who is productive is hard to find these days.

Clearly the Red Sox need to rebuild and these two players aren’t going to decide their fate next year. Signing John Farrell was a good start to the offseason but the Sox have opportunities to sign some big players after sending out a huge part of their payroll to Los Angeles. Even with these additions that the Red Sox will make Ortiz and Ellsbury definitely need to come back. Their best outfielder and the face of the Sox are going to be huge reasons for the Sox success in upcoming years if they can stay healthy.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

Welcome our newest Baseball Intern: Kyle Holland:

Kyle is a life long baseball fan outside of Boston. He is a sophomore in high school has played baseball since he was 5. Although growing up in one of the best baseball towns in the major leagues, he has been a Giants fan since 2009. He credits his aunt with the Giants being his favorite team as she lives in San Francisco. Some of his favorite players include Buster Posey, Stephen Drew, Trevor Bauer, Stephen Strasburg, and minor leaguer Danny Hultzen.  You can find Kyle on Twitter (@TheKHolland13).

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Posted on December 4, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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