Why? This team, off to a horrendous 2-10 start, clearly needs a little more "pop" in its hitting lineup. Ellsbury is exactly the kind of "limited" weak hitter the Red Sox don't need. Ellsbury cannot hit any breaking pitches well. He often cannot even hit good fastballs thrown in certain locations.
After three years in the big leagues, he still does not know how to work a count. His inability to draw nearly the number of walks that he should is obviously magnified given his speed on the bases.
Whenever Ellsbury, currently batting .195, comes up to bat, I have little or no confidence he'll get a hit. Do you?
There are reasons for that.
Ellsbury's whole approach to hitting is flawed. He doesn't keep his eye on the ball until the last split second—as good hitters do. He still swings as if he's trying to hit a fly ball rather than having more of a compact swing. He still has trouble identifying balls and strikes—he either swings at the wrong pitches or lets good pitches go.
Perhaps most disturbing: He even has trouble hitting pitches thrown right down the middle of the plate.
Ellsbury is just not a good hitter. Not now. Not yet. It's about time Boston baseball writers and fans acknowledged this. I know he had a decent year hitting in 2009. He ended with a .301 batting average and some would say you can't do that unless you have some ability.
My response: Yes, he's got some talent, but pitchers have grown familiar with his approach and found ways to get him out quite easily. Ellsbury, in return, has failed to keep adjusting and improving.
As long as I've gone this far, do you ever wonder about the bat Ellsbury uses? It looks so thin, light and small—like a kid's bat compared to other hitters. Maybe he should try a new bat. He sure as hell needs to try something new at the plate.
Right now, his poor hitting is hurting the team and I'm tired of no one ever emphasizing it. Everyone is picking on Carl Crawford or others. Crawford is a proven hitter. Ellsbury can't hit many pitchers, particularly lefties, but also any pitchers who throw breaking stuff or can pitch him inside. He still swings at the same inside pitches he did in 2007, when he first came up.
In last night's (April 15th) game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Ellsbury had a typically lousy night at the plate, and it was, again, overlooked by baseball writers and perhaps some fans.
In his first at-bat, in the bottom of the second inning, Ellsbury came up with the bases loaded and struck out swinging on a 90-mph fastball. He swung late.
In his second at-bat, in the bottom of the fourth inning, the count went to 3-1 (a hitter's count), and he swung late on a fastball and popped up to the third baseman.
In his third at-bat, in the bottom of the seventh, he popped up to center field, but luckily, it dropped in for a single.
In his fourth at-bat, Ellsbury came up after the Sox had rallied to close the Jays' lead to 7-6, and Marco Scutaro was on second base with two outs. Ellsbury hit a harmless fly ball out to right to end the inning.
You might say I'm singling out Ellsbury's play in just one game, but to me, I've seen so much of this pattern that I doubt it will turn around soon. I hope I am wrong. I just think the Red Sox need more help on offense than they anticipated, and yes, after only 12 games, many probably agree with that.
Ellsbury is a good center fielder, but a bit overrated. He often gets a slow jump on balls, and then uses his exceptional speed to make dazzling plays as he catches up to the ball.
Given his weak hitting, does Ellsbury really add much to the team? Can the Red Sox afford having a center fielder who can't ever grind out an at-bat? Who can't even make contact against many pitchers?
Jed Lowrie, another young player, just looks better at the plate than Ellsbury. Two young Sox players now in Pawtucket—Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish—while flawed, sometimes at least look better at the plate, in my view, than Ellsbury.
Maybe the Red Sox can trade for a better-hitting center fielder. Right now, the entire bottom of the Red Sox lineup really hurts them overall, and Ellsbury is one of the reasons.
Ellsbury's contract status and history make an even more compelling case for a trade. I'd argue that Jacoby Elllsbury's value will never be as high as it is right now. Ellsbury is in a one-year contract for $2.4 million in his first year or arbitration eligibility. The Red Sox will have to decide whether to keep him at the end of this year.
He still is regarded as a decent player with outstanding speed. If he's put in a deal with another player or prospect, perhaps the Red Sox can get something helpful back. All I know is that Ellsbury's weak hitting is hurting the 2011 Red Sox so far—as it has in past years.
There were rumors that the Red Sox considered moving Ellsbury before the 2011 season, but it's impossible to know if any were tied to any actual possibilities. Many players on the Red Sox are impossible or difficult to trade or cut ties with. Ellsbury is one of the few who can be moved without it harming the team.
Yes, I know they'd have to find a replacement, but I'd argue the Red Sox should make those plans now rather than wait. Come July 1st, the Red Sox will either be out of contention or in desperate need of more hitting in order to mount a comeback to make the playoffs.