December 2, 2019

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The Empire Strikes Back (And they are already in first place)

June 17, 2019

 

It felt strangely appropriate that on the eve of Father’s day, the team that Pedro Martinez once referred to as his daddy, turned back the clock and made a shockingly Steinbrenner-eque trade. 

 

On the weekend that the first place Yankees two biggest “Bombers”, Stanton and Judge, started their rehab assignments, the team traded a 10-cent rookie ball pitcher to the Seattle Mariners for the American League’s leading home run hitter (and notorious Red Sox killer) Edwin Encarnacion. 

 

With this move, the Yankees are really the Yankees again. A throwback to the days of The Boss, when a first place Yankee team was also rumored to be front runners for every possible deadline deal. The Yankees this year have played well above their means, without Stanton, Judge and Severino, New York has managed to hang onto first place with names that I won’t even bother to Google the spellings of. 

 

Edwin Encarnacion has been a want of mine for the Red Sox for several years. A right handed hitter that bludgeons the ball at Fenway Park and happens to be play a position (first base) that has been anything but consistent since Kevin Youklilis met Bobby Valentine. 

 

More of a designated hitter at this point, Encarnacion (and his imaginary parrot) lead the AL in home runs with 21. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is 2nd with 20. With Stanton and Judge set to return by the end of the month, the heart of the Yankees’ lineup seems poised to take up the mantle of the “Murder’s Row” and “Bronx Bombers”. 

 

BUT

 

Where will Encarnacion play? Stanton isn’t an everyday outfielder and will need to DH and the Yankees’ current first basemen, Luke Voit, has hit 17 dingers this season. What worries me is that this deal sets up another blockbuster deal, because even with all of these bats, New York still doesn’t have top notch starting pitching. I wonder if the Yankees will now look to package a few guys like Clint Frazier for the best pitcher available.

 

It feels like the Evil Empire is back. Making splashy trades that don’t really fit what they need, but strike fear in the rest of the league, chemistry be damned, go ahead. This is such a Yankees move. In the same vein of Raul Mondesi. Bobby Abreu. David Justice. 

 

And you know what? Let’s go. One thing that the Red Sox four World Series championships have taught me (and I had to write that, dear god I’ve written 400 words about the Yankees and I feel dirty) it’s that life is more fun when the Yankees are the “Evil Empire” and the Red Sox are Luke Skywalker.

 

Sox fans have tried to play the underdog card the last few years, but it’s pretty hard to do when you have the highest payroll in baseball and win playoff series against teams like the Astros and Dodgers in 5 games. But now the 2019 Red Sox have the bullpen of the 1999 team but a solid line up and starters good enough stay competitive. 

 

And the Yankees have an All-Star at every position. Game on.

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