Ellis to sign: 3 years, $11 million

That's according to Susan Slusser in today's Chronicle. I'd love to see a club option on the end of that, but it doesn't appear that's part of it. This must have come together quite quickly, because only a week or so ago there had been no discussions along those lines, according to reports at the time.

I love this deal, which buys out Ellis's remaining arbitration years. That's a pretty good price for the last 3 arb years of a fine middle infielder, especially given that Ellis was a super-2 (meaning he had four arb years instead of the usual 3, inflating his salary development).

Here's what we've had from Ellis so far in his career (in addition to consistently outstanding defense):

  1. .272/.359/.394   .753 OPS
  2. .248/.313/.371   .684 OPS
  3. Did Not Play
  4. .316/.384/.477   .861 OPS
That's a solid rookie season at age 25, with a particularly fine OBP. That was followed by an inadequate sophomore season that was out of line with his development arc (including his minor league days), so there was a pretty good chance for a bounce-back season. Instead, there was the collision with roller derby guy and the season was lost. In 2005 he got back to where he would have got with normal development in 2003-2004, and then some: it was a hell of a year. Certainly he's due for some regression in his batting average; you'd expect that from someone hitting .316 in any case, and there are BABIP and PrOPS figures to back that up. So be it; he should still get on base plenty often, and I think his power will surprise a lot of people. Given the occasional pop he'd shown in the past (which showed he has no trouble getting the ball over the fence when he makes good contact), a normal power development curve, and the way he drove the ball harder and harder the farther he got away from that injury, I tend to take his power development as real and wouldn't be surprised to see him hit 20 HRs this year.

That 2003-2004 period makes it difficult to project Ellis with confidence, but I think it also leads a lot of ANers (among others) to undervalue him, to see him as possibly a one-year wonder. He snuck up on us all. But in truth, his 2005 is not really out of line with his record from his minor league days through his rookie year; it's the two years in between that seem anomalous to me. Anyway, we've already gone through the early, teething, semi-effective years for Mark Ellis (and hopefully for Crosby as well), and now we've got ourselve a fully-developed, championship-caliber ballplayer. Let's not be too eager to shove him out the door so we can quickly get to the early, teething, semi-effective years for Melillo or Pennington, who one day hope to be as good as Mark Ellis is right now.

Mark Ellis is going nowhere for at least 2 years (I can see a possible trade when he heads into his walk year). Let's enjoy him while we can.

On another topic completely, I was highly amused by a tidbit in Tim Kawakami's feel-good piece It's not too early to board A's bandwagon in the Mercury News this morning: Acccording to Ken Macha, the A's lineup now has ``a little more bling to it, so to speak.'' Kenny!

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