Monday Red Sox Notes: Jacoby Ellsbury Extension, Matt Albers, Spring Training Rotations

Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox poses for a portrait at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox fans would love to have Jacoby Ellsbury sign a long-term extension with the team. The Red Sox would likely be pleased with this plan as well. According to the man himself, Jacoby Ellsbury is a fan of this kind of arrangement:

"There's always that possibility," he said. "I kind of leave that up to my agent (Scott Boras), and I'm just happy to get everything worked out this year. As far as future contracts and stuff like that, I let them take care of it and inform me if there's any decisions to be made. I love playing here. It's the only place I know and I enjoy playing in that pressure environment."

Not to kill your buzz, but what else is Ellsbury going to say when asked? "You know, I hate this town that I have to spend two more years in. And I absolutely do not want them to bid on me when I'm a free agent after 2013, because that might drive up the price for my services elsewhere." Sarcasm aside, there has been almost no discussion from Ellsbury himself when it comes to a long-term deal and staying in Boston. Hearing him throw us this bone -- even if, as stated, there's not a whole lot much you expect a player to say in this scenario -- is preferable to the deafening silence that dominated the conversation beforehand.

Ellsbury isn't guaranteed to be gone once his first six years are up. It's likely, but you could say the same about anyone with the opportunity to make $20 million plus a year elsewhere. Ellsbury is the kind of special talent that another general manager might not only break the bank for, but might just blow the whole bank up for. The Red Sox have a competitive team, and they have the resources to make keeping Ellsbury possible. A lot of whether he'll be back in Boston is up to him. We don't have to worry about that for two more years, though.

*****

Tim Britton spoke to Matt Albers about his second-half collapse in 2011. Albers seems to think that at least some good came from his struggles, as he started to figure out what worked and what didn't. His command issues have led him to reintroduce a curveball and change-up to his repertoire, as he just couldn't get by in August and September with one working pitch:

"Before, I was just throwing fastball-slider and was having success. Then, when you lose one of those pitches, you're stuck with pretty much one," said Albers, who is using spring to work on a changeup as well. "You don't want to go away from your strengths and start throwing too many offspeed pitches. Having those will just help me pitch more; I get in a little trouble when I start throwing or overthrowing."

Albers is all about location. He induces grounders thanks to location on his sinking fastball, and he picks up strikes by attacking hitters on the corners, not by inducing swings-and-misses. His fastball is good, but not so good that hitters are going to be beat by it when it's all he's got. Even the use of a "show me" pitch could have helped him out in 2011. That's no consolation now, but if his failures have turned him into a better pitcher going forward, then at least he learned something.

Let's remember this: just because he's working on a pitch in the spring doesn't mean it'll survive into the season, and it definitely doesn't mean the pitch is going to be any good. That goes for anyone, of course, not just Albers.

*****

John Sickels has released his Top 120 prospects list, and there are six Red Sox farmhands on it. Xander Bogaerts is the lone prospect in the top 50, but Boston helps make up for it with Matt Barnes (74), Will Middlebrooks (78), Brandon Jacobs (89), Ryan Lavarnway (97), and Garin Cecchini (114) filling in the last third of the list.

That's one more list with Brandon Jacobs rated in the top 100, and another with Barnes making a cut that Anthony Ranaudo just can't seem to after his 2011.

*****

The Red Sox have released their pitching assignments for the first set of spring training games, going from this Thursday through March 7. There's not a whole lot we can infer from them, but we can see that the starters are the usual gang (Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz) and then Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront, Alfredo Aceves, and Carlos Silva.

Vicente Padilla is scheduled to pitch after Bard on March 5, Andrew Miller comes in after Beckett this coming Sunday, and Junichi Tazawa is lined up to pitch after the starter in two games. That being said, Justin Germano also has a few spots in this schedule, including after a Lester start, and non-roster invitee Chorye Spoon is doing the same after another Lester outing. Neither of those two are likely to make the Opening Day roster, so as said, don't read into this initial schedule too much.

Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox only have so many appearances and innings to use in the spring for all of the arms they want to see, so, while it looks like everyone is getting their shot now, things should tighten up as soon as the second schedule is released. We might have a better idea of who is fighting for the last rotation spot then, as, of right now, it looks like more of camp is fighting for it than is not.

*****

There was a small fire inside Fenway Park today in the administrative office area. Small though it may have been, it caused over $100,000 in damage. Or, at least, fighting the fire did, as smoke and water contributed to most of the damage according to WEEI.

It's good to hear that no one was hurt, and also that it was caused by a short circuit... and not something more sinister.

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