Ellsbury could be in line for big arbitration award

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Ellsbury could be in line for big arbitration award

Of the five potential arbitration cases the Red Sox face this year, one of the most interesting -- and potentially expensive -- is Jacoby Ellsbury.

Ellsbury is represented by the hard-nosed Scott Boras, who's had some significant arbitration victories. In 2001, he won a then-record 8.2 million for the Braves' Andruw Jones, and also negotiated the two highest contracts ever awarded to arbitration-eligible players in recent years. He got Mark Teixeira a 12.5 million contract from the Braves in 2008, and Prince Fielder a 15.5 million deal from the Brewers last year.
Ellsbury is in his second year of arbitration eligibility. He wont be a free agent until before the 2014 season. Last year, after a 2010 season that was almost totally wiped out by injury, Ellsbury settled before going to arbitration for a salary of 2.4 million (an increase from 496,500 in 2010, when he wasn't eligible for arbitration).

But this time he has numbers to present to an arbitrator: He batted .321, with 32 home runs, 105 RBI, 119 runs scored, and a .928 OPS. He was second in MVP voting and also earned his first All-Star berth and Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

What might the Sox expect from Boras in arbitration?

He does a superb job, said Tal Smith, who runs Tal Smith Enterprises, a company that advises major-league teams in arbitration. He will be very well prepared. He will present very well. But it still gets down to the numbers . . .

"Sometimes he files very, very, very high and expects . . . that a lot of clubs will shy away from that risk and sort of capitulate, and he gets more than what the players worth. And Scott likes that, not only for that particular player, but because it establishes new benchmarks and drives the market up, if not for that year, for future years. But, sometimes he files too high and gets trapped. Its tough.

What approach might the Sox be likely to take with Ellsbury in arbitration?

Hes a fine player, Smith said. I dont think the Red Sox can do much with respect to diminishing anything hes done.

"I think they might use the fact that there was a year of service time accumulated without any contribution or performance" -- his injury-ruined 2010 season -- "and I think they would rely then on the career comparisons, on the quantitative measurements, or what we call the bulk i.e., at-bats, innings pitched, runs scored as opposed to rates, which are qualitative i.e., ERA, on-base percentage, slugging percentage. And showing that on a career path, because of the time he lost, hes only scored so many runs, or driven in so many runs, or hit so many home runs on a career basis as opposed to others who hadnt missed time. That would be one of their arguments . . .

"Im not sure how persuasive thats going to be. Thats up to the arbitrators. But thats an argument I would expect the Red Sox to make.

Theres no set answer for using a players most recent season or career as a whole in making a presentation to the arbitration panel. Each side will use what it feels best represents their position. For a young player, some will contend his most recent season is the most relevant.

A challenge, though, for both sides, may be to find comparable players, an important part of the arbitration process when each sides attempt to compare the player to others who can best help them make their cases. It will be difficult to find a player who missed virtually a whole season, only to return and post one of the most dominating seasons in baseball.

A potential comparable could be Jones, who was also in his second year of arbitration eligibility when he was awarded the then-record deal in 2001.

They dont have to be current comparables, Smith said. It can be people from the last several years. Scott Boras did an Andruw Jones case when Andruw was in his earlier years with the Braves, and that was a big award, and obviously Jones was a Gold Glove outfielder with power, speed, the whole package. Now you can say, Well, thats so long ago. But what he would do if hes using a comparable that old, he would then show what the average salary was in those years and what the percentage increase was, and then correspondingly apply that to Andruws salary and things like that.

Hunter Pences name could also come up.

Pence obviously had some power, Smith said. One of the strong points in his favor was he had three straight years of 25 home runs. And they emphasized the consistency of his career. Id go look at all the All-Star outfielders.

There are several options available to Ellsbury and the Sox. They could go through the arbitration process. They could agree to a one-year deal. Or they could agree to a long-term contract. Either way, one thing is pretty well guaranteed: Ellsbury is in line for a comfortable and significant raise.

Report: Marchand agrees to eight-year extension with Bruins

Report: Marchand agrees to eight-year extension with Bruins

The Bruins took care of their biggest priority today as they reached agreement with Brad Marchand on an eight-year contract extension, according to several reports.

Elliotte Friedman reports Marchand has agreed to an eight year, $49 millionextension ($6.125 million per season) that will effectively allow him to finish his career in Boston.

It was felt the Bruins would have been playing with fire if they allowed Marchand -- a 37-goal scorer last year -- to start the season unsigned, especially after he ripped up the World Cup of Hockey competition on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby. Bruins president Cam Neely told CSN a couple of weeks ago that Boston was aiming to get the deal done with Marchand prior to the start of the regular season. In fact, they managed to get it done before the start of even the preseason.

Marchand has consistently said that he wants to finish out his career with the Bruins, who drafted and developed him and with whom he turned into an elite player in the last couple of years. He’s clearly taking a hometown discount to stick with Boston.

This is what Marchand said to CSN on breakup day last April:

“I obviously love being a part of this organization, this city and this team, and I don’t think this team is done having some good runs. I would love to be a part of this organization for the rest of my career, but the reality is when you look around the league that it doesn’t happen for many guys. We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”

Well, the time came and Marchand put his money where his sometimes big mouth usually is. The Bruins agitator easily could have demanded a yearly salary of $7 million-plus in free agency.

Credit to Don Sweeney and Neely for closing the deal with Marchand, and ticking one very important thing off their checklist that will help make the Bruins great again.

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

When will Bill Belichick retire? The Patriots coach is 64 years old, and he's been on record saying that he won't be coaching into his 70s like former Bills head coach Marv Levy. But it sure seems like Belichick has plenty of energy to stay at the job for some time, and the results, you may have noticed, have been pretty good. 

MORE FROM McDANIELS: 'Don't know' who'll play quarterback Sunday

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joined WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning, and he was asked about how much longer his boss might work. Would McDaniels be surprised if Belichick coached into his 70s despite what he said on NFL Network's A Football Life documentary back in 2009?

"It wouldn't surprise me," McDaniels said. "I know Bill loves football. His drive and his passion for the game and to try to do everything we can to prepare our team to win each week, I haven't seen one change in it. It's a great privilege to coach for him. He certainly kind of sets the tone for us. I don't see any difference in that since when I first started here. I look forward to coaching for him for as long as he'll let me."

Some have speculated that McDaniels could be the next head coach of the Patriots whenever Belichick decides to hang up his whistle. The 40-year-old has been up for head coaching positions since he's returned for his second stint in New England, but he's still with the organization that gave him his first NFL job in 2001. 

McDaniels, who left to be the head coach of the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, was asked if he values the offensive coordinator job with the Patriots more than a head coaching opportunity that might not be the perfect fit.

"I love where I'm at," McDaniels said. "I've said before I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and potentially move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn't. But I know this: I'm really thankful to have the opprtunity that I have to coach the players we have here and to work underneath Bill and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It's a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. Just thankful that I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week."