On June 15th, the Yankees announced that they had completed a deal with the Seattle Mariners, but the details were still forthcoming.
The Yankees had a need for pitching, particularly starting pitching, so what would they be getting back from Seattle? No way it could be Felix Hernandez, that doesn’t make sense. How about right handed starting pitcher Mike Leake? (who was eventually traded to Arizona)
The Yankees acquired veteran 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion from the Mariners for a 19-year old right handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic named Juan Then.
At the time of the acquisition, Giancarlo Stanton was still on the DL, but Aaron Judge was getting closer to returning from his oblique injury so that further lessened the need for a right handed bat. That was the outfield situation but Encarnacion was a 1B/DH combo and the Yanks already had Luke Voit, with the versatile D.J. LeMahieu manning the back up role at that position.
As it turns out, the acquisition of Encarnacion may have been one of the best moves Yankee GM Brian Cashman made this season and he’s made a number of good ones. That was brought to light after Encarnacion hit his first Yankee HR vs. Tampa Bay on June 18th in his second game. It wasn’t a “walk-off” or a home run that featured any real significance, except for it being his first, but you felt like this addition could really pay off.
Encarnacion’s underrated hitting ability and experience has provided an “energy” to this Yankee lineup which (barring injury…..lol…..) was already loaded. His mere presence has lengthened a lineup that now features the dangerous Gleyber Torres hitting sixth and Gary Sanchez, seventh, and it’s already paid off in this young post-season.
Encarnacion’s RBI single in the first set the tone and the Yankees went on to an 8-2 win and a 2-0 lead over the Minnesota Twins in the best-of-five ALDS. The veteran hitter, who has looked “locked in” in the first two games, provided the Yankees’ first run in game 1 and that began their comeback of an eventual 10-4, game 1 victory.
The 36 year old is batting .444 (4/9) with 2 runs, 2 doubles and two RBI’s in the first two games and he has made this Yankee lineup look very dangerous.
Yankee Mgr. Aaron Boone realizes what he has in Encarnacion. That’s why he nominated him the “everyday DH” for the post season, ahead of Voit. It’s huge, man. He’s such a good hitter,” Boone said after the game 2 win. “He’s so hard to get through. It’s a heavyweight fight getting him out, and even when you do get him out, it’s work.”
Cameron Maybin said those outside the clubhouse don’t realize how smart a hitter Encarnacion is. “His presence is incredible, but his knowledge,” said Maybin, “we’re having our meetings, his tutelage is amazing, the way he continues to give advice.”
In an exclusive interview with nysportsday.com, Maybin said Encarnacion makes his presence felt in so many ways. “He (Encarnacion) helps other guys prepare,” Maybin said. “What he does on the field speaks for itself but what he does behind the scenes, what he’s doing for all of us, from helping us to become better hitters, have better approaches, is amazing. You see how important he is to this team, you see it right now.”
Since 2012, Encarnacion has adopted a unique way of running the bases after a home run. He bends his right arm and holds it parallel to the ground after he puts one in the seats. “Walking the parrot” became a tradition that has stuck ever since and the Yankees upheld that tradition by purchasing their own parrot toy which sits in their dugout.
The verb “parrot” means “to repeat or imitate without thought or understanding.”
It’s been ten years since the Yanks last won a title. “Parroting” a championship run would put Encarnacion on a “lofty perch” around here.