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Weekly Mailbag: Ellsbury, London, and a Trade Target!

In this week’s mailbag, we’ll talk about Ellsbury, London, and one trade target! Let’s get at it:

Mark asks: Is it really possible that Ellsbury is actually still hurt or could the Yankees and Ellsbury have some collusion going on so he gets paid by insurance to not play?

If Ellsbury’s doctors said he is ready to play, can Cashman tell him to [shut up], a la Arod? Or are there rules in place to not manipulate the 25 man roster?

I know that it is really easy to pick on Ellsbury, particularly when you look at his contract/luxury tax hit. Ellsbury has not played any baseball in close to a year and a half now, and it is looking more likely than not that Ellsbury will never step on a baseball field again. Many fans have conspiracy theories about the Yankees and Ellsbury, chief among them that Ellsbury is no longer injured, but the Yankees are keeping him on the IL long-term for insurance benefits. As prevalent as these theories are, they appear simply untrue and are totally unfair to Jacoby Ellsbury.

By all accounts, Ellsbury has worked hard to try to make it back. In fact, in addition to using Yankee trainers and doctors, Ellsbury has employed his own staff to help him rehab in an attempt to come back. Has anyone seen Ellsbury do anything resembling everyday baseball activities on a field in the last 8 months? If Ellsbury was capable of playing in any capacity, the whispers would be growing louder by now, even if the Yankees were playing at a conspiracy.

We can’t blame Ellsbury for signing his contract – the Yankees made an offer, and Ellsbury jumped for it. It was an ill-advised deal at the time, and it has aged like milk. That said, I don’t think anyone will claim that Ellsbury hasn’t played hard when he’s been on the field, and you’ve never heard a peep out of Yankee camp that Ellsbury isn’t trying to make it back. Sadly, Ellsbury broke down all at once, not surprising for someone with his injury history. Much as fans want to find a Pavano-exque reason to hate Ellsbury, it isn’t true, and much as I disagreed with Ellsbury’s signing, I feel horrible for the guy. This is not the way anyone wants to end their career. As the saying goes: you can love baseball, but it doesn’t always love you back.

Mark also asks: Any strange rules for the London series? That stadium doesn’t look fit for foul balls.

The other part of Mark’s question dealt with Stanton’s status for the London series, but that is a known entity now, so let’s stick with talking about London in general. The stadium is funky, no question about it. Center field has gotten a lot of attention due to the fact that it is just 385 feet to dead center, the shortest in MLB this year. Even with the high fence, that’s a pitch shot for a big league lineup. More importantly, the power alleys in right-center and left-center are going to be proportionally shorter than what most big leaguers hit at, so I think that we are in line for a ton of power. Some of this is countered with the expansive foul territory, so you have to figure that some of the guys hunting for power will pop out in foul territory, but it is definitely a unique set-up.

The only interesting point I’ve found with regards to stadium ground rules/set-up was a little nugget that was slipped into an ESPN hype piece a few days ago. In Marly Rivera’s piece, there is a small mention of expansive netting covering the lines. There wasn’t any further detail on how much more netting there is versus a standard MLB stadium, but it was promoted. If it extends foul pole to foul pole, it will come into play if a player chases a ball to the stands.

The fact that MLB is promoting extended netting in London is the height of hypocrisy. MLB teams are resisting extended netting tooth and nail to appease their highest paying clientele at the expense of fan safety, yet MLB is promoting the fact that they are using extended netting in London to keep fans safe. It almost makes me angry enough to avoid the games in London.

Almost. I still think the series in London is a cool event, and the stadium set-up is intriguing enough that this could be a memorable event. I’m still looking forward to it, but I have to hold my nose anytime someone from MLB promotes the games.

John asks: If you had to pick one trade target to acquire before the trade deadline, who would it be?

The easy answer is Max Scherzer, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere. I would trade anyone but Sanchez, Torres, and Judge to get Scherzer. Barring that, I think I am warming to the idea of Marcus Stroman. I’ve never been a huge Stroman fan, because the hype has rarely matched the results. The results are strong this year, and I think he is the highest upside arm on the market.

The Blue Jays have had a history of destroying pitchers mechanically (see: Aaron Sanchez) by shortening their strides. I am not necessarily saying this has been the case with Stroman, but I do think it’s interesting that his performance spike is concurrent with the Jays’ regime change. It could be nothing, it could be something. Either way, he is the only guy on the market who has the potential to be the number 1 or 2 pitcher the Yankees need.

That’s all for this week’s mailbag! See you guys next week, and enjoy London!

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