BALTIMORE -- It has already been established that the Jacoby Ellsbury signing for seven years and $153 million might be the worst in franchise history, but the signs are becoming more troublesome.
On Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles, in what New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi deemed "probably the biggest game of the year," Ellsbury is on the bench. Yes, there is a lefty on the mound in Wade Miley, who struggles against everybody, but slightly more against righties.
However, this is an early trend of Ellsbury's mega-contract -- when the big games come, sitting Ellsbury is a real option. Girardi didn't start Ellsbury in last year's wild-card game against a lefty.
In choosing to keep Ellsbury on the bench, Girardi started rookies Aaron Judge and Rob Refsnyder over Ellsbury. Judge has struck out in 21 of his last 32 at-bats. Refsnyder has not started a game for the Yankees in nearly a month.
Girardi mentioned that Ellsbury is a little beat up and has struggled against lefties (.239 on the season).
"I’m trying to find the most offense I can,” Girardi added.
Girardi said that the 6-foot-7 Judge is a power threat, so he went with the struggling rookie. Refsnyder had hit well at Triple-A recently.
Ellsbury's contract looked like a mistake the second the Yankees offered it. But at least he was supposed to be a speed guy. He basically has refused to try to steal, especially in the second half.
Although Girardi has given him a green light, meaning he can go whenever he wants, Ellsbury has attempted to go only 26 times this year, making it safely 18 times. In the second half, he has taken off three times, safely twice, in 43 games.
He is batting .265 with an on-base percentage of .327. With six home runs and 46 RBIs, he is not a run producer. At 32, he is not halfway through his contract.
Girardi's excuses for Ellsbury's lack of running are not encouraging.
“As guys get older, it is physically harder and people pay more attention to him,” Girardi said. “Pitchers around the league have gotten better at holding runners on."
The manager seems to want Ellsbury to run more, but said he can only give him a green light -- he can't order him to attempt to steal.
“You can give them the steal, but, if they don’t get a good jump, you don’t want them to go,” Girardi said.
In the biggest game of the year, Girardi also doesn't want Ellsbury starting. Ellsbury's contract concludes after 2020.