Mark Ellis And Monta Ellis: Franchise Cornerstones In Oakland

Ishak KangContributor IJuly 26, 2008

South Dakota's Mark Ellis is on the cusp of playing more games at second base than anyone else in Oakland A's history. He has only made two errors this season as he is in the midst of yet another, ho-hum, streak of errorless games.

Mississippi's Monta Ellis is filling the void left by franchise saviour Baron Davis, by signing a six year contract worth $67M.  This also qualifies as the biggest pay raise in the history of the NBA after he made just $775k last season.

Bay area fans have a lot of reason to gripe lately. But, both Billy Beane and Chris Mullin have made sure that they lock up their team cornerstones. 

At age 31, Mark Ellis sneakily entered this season as the most respected veteran in the clubhouse. 

Maddeningly quiet, Ellis is not someone who will march into Billy's office and complain about his manager shifting him in the lineup every day. He is so under-the-radar, even though he owns the AL record for the best fielding percentage for a second baseman. The Gold Glove has eluded him his entire career. 

On a one-year deal worth $5 million, most fans believe he will be traded or not pursued in the off season to make room for the three highly touted prospects the A's just acquired. However, Ellis wants to stay because his leadership means so much to the team. Coupled with the fact that Weeks and Cardenas are a couple of years away, there's a good chance he will be re-signed for a multi-year deal in 2009.

It's possible that Mark Ellis may end up with another team before the trade deadline or over the upcoming off-season.  Nevertheless, I think that co-owner Lew Wolff and General Manager Billy Beane, acknowledge that Ellis brings way more to the table than just a glove and a quick bat. 

He's the only stabilizing force in their clubhouse, possibly even throughout their whole organization.

On the other hand, how much do Warriors' fans love their "Mississippi Bullet"?

There is a lot of concern whether he can make the move to playing the point guard position. He so badly didn't want to play behind Baron last year, he injured his neck in training camp. 

But, initiating the offense is what Ellis does so effortlessly.  At age 22, the expectations are high, but his talent may allow him to exceed expectations. He wont just be a pass-first point guard, but imagine if he shines and actually plays defense while knocking down three pointers next season. The addition of Corey Maggette should relieve some of the pressure to penetrate constantly, allowing Ellis an opportunity to spot up. 

However, can he harness those young legs (although with a balky knee) to shut his man down next year? Defense requires quickness, discipline, and desire. There is no reason Ellis can't be a solid defender in this league.

Will he expand his mid-range game to add a solid three point shot? He has no choice. 

As the leader of the team, he will need to knock down big shots when his other options are well shut out.

Ellis' salary is finally in line with what he brings to the table for the franchise.  His even keel won't fire up his teammates like Stephen Jackson and Maggette. But, I wouldn't be surprised if Don Nelson names Ellis his new Captain.  It would be yet another vote of confidence for a young man who is ready to show the world what he can do on the court.