Yesterday, the Cincinnati Reds optioned third baseman Edwin Encarnacion to Triple-A. Encarnacion, long known as the savior of the Reds. Perhaps burdened by unreasonable expectations, Encarnacion is not a popular man in Cincinnatti right now. Manager Jerry Narron (who was a former Sox bench coach) has sat Encarnacion at times, and fans have fallen in love with Rule 5 pick Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton likely becomes a starting outfielder with the move, a spot having opened with the demotion of Encarnacion and resulting move of Ryan Freel to third.
I think Edwin Encarnacion is on the fast track out of town, as do other people. This is the path that Austin Kearns followed to Washington. I think that the Red Sox should take a very interested look. The 24-year old, making the league minimum through next year, was hitting 218/.301/.287 in 101 at-bats. For a quick history lesson, he made his debut in 2005, hitting .232/.308/.436 in 211 AB. Last year, in mostly full-time play (409 AB), he hit .276/.359/.473 with 15 HR.
In Encarnacion’s last nine games, he showed signs of snapping out of his slump, hitting .313 over that span with 8 RBI.
Encarnacion can hit. The only problem is his perceived attitude problems and defense. Encarnacion was benched for not exhibiting hustle, which is in general, a good move. However, Aramis Ramirez has not hustled. Manny Ramirez has not hustled. Are these two getting run out of town? No, they just need to change their attitude. Encarnacion is a good enough hitter that this shouldn’t be looked at as a big fat strike, but rather something that Encarnacion needs to realize is not acceptable.
As for defense, Encarnacion ranks 23rd out of 24 qualifying third basemen for fielding percentage, at .914 and six errors. Mike Lowell is dead last at a .900 percentage and eight errors, and we know how fluky that is for Lowell, so let’s check out Range Factor and Zone Rating for 2007 and then peek at 2006.
Encarnacion is 17th in RF at 2.41. Lowell is 19th at 2.36. In ZR, Lowell is 19th at .760 and Encarnacion is dead last at .700. Now, for 2006:
Mike Lowell ranked tied for first in fielding percentage with Eric Chavez at .987 with six errors, third in Range Factor at 3.17, and fourth in Zone Rating at .811.
Edwin Encarnacion ranked last with a .916 FPCT, 17 errors. His RF was 2.62, 13th best. His ZR was 18th, at .941, just ahead of Alex Rodriguez and the bottom-feeder of Troy Glaus.
He is not a good defender.
And yet, he’s only 24, with tremendous offensive potential. Defense can always be worked on, for it’s the hardest to find an offensive contributor. There are plenty of defensive whizzes who can’t hit and never get shots, while those who can’t field but can hit get shots. (See Butler, Billy and the never-say-die Cust, Jack.)
Just like when Austin Kearns was moved for middle relievers, Encarnacion could be moved for middle relievers. Cincinnati ranks 27th in bullpen ERA at 4.52, while Boston ranks second at 2.43, and the Mets first at 1.92 (wow!). Here’s another amazing stat: you know how good the Red Sox starters have been that our bullpen has thrown the least innings in baseball at 81.1 IP. Perfect for the dog days of summer, when our starters tire.
I could definitely see Craig Hansen being part of a package for “Ed-E,” as Encarnacion is often called. Who else could go? Well, if we acquire Encarnacion, is Chad Spann really necessary? I say no.
Why should we acquire Edwin? He’s young, and he’s cost controlled. Lowell is having a heck of a season, he’s on pace for over 30 HRs, but he’s a free agent after the year. Why not get Ed-E to slide in?

Well, the vote that I put up about Roger Clemens was overwhelming. The last time I wrote, I said that I could see Clemens’ point of view. I discussed it with Sox fans (you guys plus in person) … Yankee fans … fans of other teams … and for the most part, they agreed that that’s probably where Clemens was coming from, but that money still played a huge part. Well, apparently money was THE entire part. (And you know something … it probably was. But that other stuff I talked about sure didn’t hurt.) The results of the vote:

Why did Roger choose the Yankees?
* They offer him the best chance at a ring.
3% of all votes
* Money, money, money!
83% of all votes
* It’s the organization he most values. (Evan’s post dated 5/8)
13% of all votes
* Doesn’t matter. He’ll end his career with the Red Sox.
1% of all votes

Wow. Overwhelming.
Joe Torre had this to say about Roger Clemens the other day:

“We’re not targeting a particular team for him. We’re not rushing him to be ready for a certain team. When he’s ready, we’ll pitch him.” (NY Post)

Gee, think he’s trying to drop a hint that Roger may not pitch against the Red Sox?
I don’t buy it. He’s pitching against the Red Sox.

Well, on the heels of an excellent sweep of the Blue Jays, and seeing Tim Wakefield emerge as the leader in ERA for the American League, here are the pitching probables for the upcoming Orioles series:
Brian Burres, LHP (0-1, 3.71) v. Julian Tavarez, RHP (1-3, 6.48)
Steve Trachsel, RHP (1-3, 3.70) v. Curt Schilling, RHP (4-1, 3.28)
Jeremy Guthrie, RHP (2-1, 4.64) v. Josh Beckett, RHP (7-0, 2.51)
I’m going to the city of the hated this weekend, to take in a Mets game on Sunday before Shea Stadium gets blown up. Wish me luck venturing into the land of hostiles, and I leave you with this question: Can Josh Beckett go 8-0? Let me know what you think, and vote in the brand new spanking poll on the right about Mr. Edwin Encarnacion!