Let’s get the small stuff out of the way first. We non-tendered Bailey and Kalish. Also, congratulations to Lackey on a well-deserved Tony Conigliaro Award. Not that that’s a small achievement, but it’s not disturbing and alarming like the big news of the week.
This week, we’ve had to deal with some significant departures. This is going to be rough.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is our first departure. He is now a Florida Marlin, having signed a deal for three years and twenty-one million dollars. We acquired him as a veteran, and now he leaves as a veteran having helped us win the World Series.
Last year, Salty batted .273 with fourteen homers and sixty-five RBIs. He posted a fielding percentage of .994 and a catcher’s ERA of 3.88. But as with all great catchers, he contributed innumerable qualities like leadership and work ethic and skill with calling games and managing pitchers. Needless to say, the last three years, including October, would have looked very different without him, and he will certainly be missed. Salty, we thank you, and we salute you.
We welcome AJ Pierzynski, who has signed a one-year deal pending a physical. Last year, he batted .272 with seventeen homers and seventy RBIs. He posted a fielding percentage of .998 and a catcher’s ERA of 3.63. He’s gritty, and he’ll fit in just fine. We also welcome Edward Mujica, the righty reliever, who signed a two-year deal for $9.5 million.
Our other departure is different. This isn’t someone we brought in who has now decided to leave for a three-year contract. We say goodbye to someone we raised, who spent his entire career thus far with us, and who didn’t go to just any team. Jacoby Ellsbury is now a New York Yankee. It’s basically the same old story. They lured him over there with the type of contract that only the New York Yankees could provide: seven years and $153 million. So the Evil Empire offers these contracts like it’s made of money, since it basically is, and no other team can compete with that. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t seen this before. A star center fielder who bats leadoff and makes spectacular catches and helped us win the World Series and who is a Boston icon leaving for the dark side; where have I seen that before?
It’s just awful. Our job is to raise players in the farm so they can stay here. Out job is not to raise players in the farm so they can win a ring and then just leave and give their services to the highest bidder. That was never what baseball was supposed to be about. But that’s the reality in which we and the game find ourselves now.
It’s not our fault that we choose to be a responsible team that conducts itself in a responsible way. A contract worth that many years and that much money does not allow for much flexibility, which is what you need if you’re going to win. Think about our performance over the course of the past decade. Think about our performance over the course of the past year, about the acquisitions we made last offseason and where they led us in October. We should feel good about our success and about the business model and strategies that got us there. Hindering our flexibility by committing almost a whole decade’s worth of years and millions of dollars in three digits has not, historically, been one of those strategies. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. It means there’s something wrong with them.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate Ellsbury’s achievements in Boston. He’s been hurt, but he has always powered through in true dirt-dog fashion, never shying away from making the tough plays no matter what mind kind of pain waited as a consequence. In his career, he’s bagged .297 with sixty-five homers and 314 RBIs. He has led the American League three times in steals. And he made only three errors last year. He helped us win not one but two World Series championships, making his presence seen and felt in both. I don’t think we’ll ever forget the way he patrolled Fenway’s center field with ease and made it look as easy as it really was for him to make catches that didn’t even seem to be humanly possible.
His seven years are up, and now he’s joined the darkness. Ellsbury, we thank you, and we salute you. But we feel disappointed, insulted, and betrayed.
Fortunately, Napoli is coming back. So there’s that sign of hope and optimism.
In other news, the Bruins lost to the Habs, 2-1, but beat the Penguins, 3-2, and the Leafs, 5-2. The Pats just barely, and I mean that in every sense of the phrase, eked out a win against the Browns, 27-26. It really went down to the wire. Seriously.