There were even talks of sending the $153 Million center fielder to the lower part of the batting order.
However, when the Yankees put Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup for the first time this Spring on Sunday, there was one noticeable thing that occurred.
Ellsbury was still hitting behind Gardner in the order.
Now I know that it’s a Spring Training game, and this game was just to get Ellsbury’s feet wet after he missed the first few days of camp. But the Yankees spent almost the entire offseason saying they were going to shake up the order, only for the issue to be swept under the rug.
Well, that’s not completely true.
Joe Girardi said the Yankees were going to discuss breaking up Ellsbury and Gardner in camp. However, Ellsbury wanted to talk to Girardi about a potential lineup shakeup. Fast forward to a few days later, and Ellsbury is batting behind Gardner.
Coincidence? I think not.
It was clear to the Yankees that they were never going to move Gardner out of the leadoff spot in the first place. Gardner sees the most pitches per at-bat and had a higher OBP than Ellsbury last season. The interesting part is why did the Yankees go back on experimenting with the lineup when they said a change was inevitable?
Was it because the Yankees were hesitant about putting a $153 Million hitter at the bottom of the lineup in fear it will cause controversy with the New York media? Or was it because they felt it would be disrespectful to Ellsbury?
If the Yankees had planned to move Ellsbury lower in the order, they should have done so. I honestly don’t care how much money Ellsbury makes, especially if keeping him at the top of the order hurts the Yankees more than helps them.
This is the time of Spring where experimenting with the lineup is encouraged. How are the Yankees going to know that moving Ellsbury to the bottom of the lineup is the right move if they won’t even attempt it?