This morning, Nick Cafardo gives us all the reasons why the Red Sox shouldn’t trade Jacoby Ellsbury — not even for Adrian Gonzalez.
The Sox need Ellsbury, Cafardo says. The only question is, where should he play? Center field or left field?
The only consideration in such a move would be leg preservation. Do you preserve Ellsbury’s legs and move him to left field so he can be more effective on the base paths and not wear himself out with diving catches in center, or do you preserve Cameron’s legs, which would allow him to concentrate on his offense?
Never mind that+/- and UZR hated Ellsbury in 2009. Never mind that some scouts say Ellsbury struggles with depth perception. Never mind that just about everyone agrees that, right now, Cameron is the better defender. The only consideration is leg preservation.
Now, I’ve never heard the phrase “leg preservation” before, in a baseball context or otherwise. But I don’t spend as much time around players, managers and execs as Cafardo, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t invent it.
I’m also going to assume that he knows that there are only 30 teams in the major leagues, despite the fact that he wrote in his column, “(Ellsbury)’s a young player who wants to be the best, and 31 other teams would love to have him.”
Hey, there are a lot of teams and sometimes it’s hard to keep track.
Regardless, “leg preservation” is a pretty stupid concept. It would be one thing if Cafardo was suggesting that left fielders are less likely to get injured than center fielders, since center fielders make more plays and therefore have more opportunities to hurt themselves. That would make some sense.
But Cafardo isn’t saying that. He’s saying that playing center field makes guys tired, and Ellsbury will steal more bases if he’s in left, and Cameron will hit the ball harder if he’s in left.
I’m not aware of any study that suggests that’s true. Moreover, common sense doesn’t suggest it would be true.
Is there going to be an occasion next season when Ellsbury gets to first base and says to himself, “Gee, I’d really like to steal second but I had to run for a fly ball in the gap in the top of the inning and now my legs are like rubber”? I doubt it.
I think I’m going to skip Cafardo’s column next time. For the sake of brain preservation.