|Essential To October Success|
The Red Sox will pull off a "double-switch" today in Tampa. No, they have not been moved to the National League by Bud Selig. But they will switch out Clay Buchholz for Jacoby Ellsbury on the field. Buchholz will start his first game since just after the Bruins eliminated the Penguins, and Ellsbury is still in his walking boot with a non-displaced fracture of the navicular bone of his right foot. Give the rancorous history between Ellsbury and the Red Sox medical team—dating back to 2010—the optimistic assessments of his return are falling on deaf ears with most in The Nation. Do not expect Jacoby Ellsbury back on the field before GAME 1 of the Disvison Series on Friday, October 4th. Put any date sooner than that out of your mind. The Red Sox have a 7.5 game lead with 17 to play. Barring a 2011-like meltdown, they are the division winners. Without a healthy Ellsbury—the team MVP based on advanced metrics like WAR—they go nowhere in October. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is a great young player and will likely patrol center field on Opening Day next year, but he can't be asked to carry the load that Ellsbury has this year. Ellsbury leads off for a potent lineup, steals more bases than anyone in baseball and plays a Gold Glove-caliber center field. The Red Sox go nowhere without a healthy Jacoby. Leave the damn "Denver" boot on for the rest of the regular season!