CHICAGO – Can Edwin Encarnacion pitch?
Of course the Yankees' surprise acquisition of the American League home-run leader Encarnacion from the Mariners does not cure their starting rotation woes, just as much-needed, 8-4 bullpen victory over the White Sox on Saturday night at the Guaranteed Rate Field (the worst ballpark name ever) does not end their general malaise – though it puts them back atop the American League East thanks to the Rays' 5-3 loss to the Angels.
But if this start-pitching trade market is not ready to uncork – and since the Yankees fell short in their pursuit of Dallas Keuchel – then you get better as you can every day.
And the addition of Encarnacion, who will basically replace Brett Gardner in the starting lineup once the Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton return from the injured list in the next week or so (barring setbacks), clearly makes the Yankees better. "There's always room for good players," said Aaron Boone grinning, who could not discuss the trade specifically because the Yankees had not announced it yet; they announced it after the team returned to its hotel.
Many teams and fans would prefer to win by playing crisp, all-around baseball. However, if your staff does not afford such a style, then bludgeoning must do the trick. And with the scheduled imports to their lineup, which has more than held its own despite Judge and Stanton being out for most of the campaign, the Yankees will be positioned for some major bludgeoning.
With the designated hitter-first Encarnacion on board, Stanton, currently rehabilitating with Judge for Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barre in Durham, N.C., must play left field more often, which will hurt the team's defense. The 35-year-old Gardner can replace Stanton late in the Yankees lead, however, and he can provide value beyond that as a pinch runner, occasional starter against right-handers and clubhouse sage.
And just as the return of Didi Gregorius from the injured list enabled Boone to serve different lineup permutations, turning DJ LeMahieu into a rover, Encarnacion's arrival would expand such possibilities. With two big bats (Encarnacion and Luke Voit) who are most comfortable defensively at first base, LeMahieu can spend more time at third base if Gio Urshela's quiet June (.1
Clint Frazier, meanwhile, should get a Genuine pep talk from Boone, who should commend the youngster on how he has played and conducted himself since his meltdown earlier this month and urges him to maintain that approach back at Scranton, with the understanding that injuries have got him this extended big-league opportunity and more injuries (or him being traded for a pitcher, though that should not be mentioned) are inevitable
To lament this Yankees acquisition is to complain over the purchase of an apple when you need protein most. The apple will still help you get through your moment of hunger. And although Encarnacion will cost the Yankees about $ 4 million, his relocation will not prevent the team from eventually adding arms.
"In my opinion, he's a pro, and he's going to fit in here great, and I know he's going it's excited to come here, "said Yankees pitcher JA Happ, Encarnacion's Blue Jays teammate from 2012-14 and again in 2016. "He does not say a lot, but he works hard and he's ready."
If you want to lament that Yankees should have stocked their pitching cabinet more capably last offseason, or contend they should have stretched their budget for Keuchel, go to town. It's your constitutional right to do so. These are sensible complaints.
To emote over Edwin, though? That's just illogical. Do not do it. Instead, enjoy the laser-show intermission and hope that arm reinforcements arrive sooner than later