Now that Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz have been signed to contracts, the Red Sox should consider getting the jump on Steve Boras, Jacoby Ellsbury’s agent. These three players represent the heart of a team that has shifted personnel with abandon in the last three years. If there is a core to the team, they are it.
Ellsbury is a special case, because he has the ruthless Steve Boras as an agent, but ultimately the decision to sign is Ellsbury’s (as far as I know). As I argued in the spring, Ellsbury represents a critical mass of players the Red Sox brought through their farm system and managed to stay with the parent club for more than a cup of coffee. They include Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks, John Lester, Clay Bucholz, and Felix Dubront. Maybe Jose Iglesias. For each of those there are two or three talented recruits who were traded and successfully transplanted. Lots of talent leaks out the Red Sox farm system.
Perhaps this idea of retaining the talent from your farm system is archaic, with the significant fire sales before the trading deadlines. There is already talk about the great reserves the Red Sox have to trade for pitching before July 31.
But talent can be squandered, too, and many successful teams have used their farm systems to great advantage, such as Oakland, Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh. These teams are compelled to develop their own talent for lack of revenue, but they are the look of the future, because they have taken the time to grow their own stars.
Jacoby Ellsbury has reached a place where his speed and timely hitting have made him indispensable. The Red Sox have lacked a good lead-off hitter for most of their existence, and Ellsbury has the potential to be the gold standard in that role. With some mentoring from Shane Victorino and support from those below him in the order, he could bring a consistent threat the Sox need against the top flight pitchers in the AL East.
Ellsbury should seize his opportunity as well. He has a good support system in Boston. The Red Sox have a number of experienced outfielders to keep the pressure off him. Fenway fans are savvy and appreciative of contributions, not just the power and RBI numbers. You need that appreciation when you bat first in the order.
So let’s get this contract done. Take Steve Boras out of the loop and give Ellsbury the security he needs at this stage of his career. If there’s a chance to build this team with solid, homegrown talent, let’s seize it. Ellsbury forever!