American League Teams Waitin’ for the Double E; Fish Desperate to Rebuild after Tragedy

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball a week before Christmas, 2016.

In the song “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” both Warren Zevon (1976) and Linda Ronstadt (1978) sing “Lay my head on the railroad track, waitin’ for the Double E.”  There’s another Double E out there and a lot of teams are waiting on him.  He is of course Edwin Encarnacion. He will be 34 next month. To me he seems older because I broadcast a few of his games in 2001, when he was a boy of 18.  He played for Savannah, then a Texas Rangers’ farm team.  He was shipped out relatively early in the season and made no particular impression in Savannah.  In cities like that, players come and go and are forgotten. But five years after his Savannah sojourn he made the show with the Cincinnati Reds. He was mostly a third baseman then.  Now he plays first if he’s not playing DH. He was never an All-Star until 2013 but has been one 3 times starting that year.  He had been traded long since to the Blue jays. He led his league in RBIS in 2016 but as Toronto was swept in the ALDS  he has been cut loose by them in spite of hitting a 3-run walkoff home run in the wild card game sending them to the ALDS.
to be fair, the Jays offered him almost 18 million, which he refused.  Since I need to pinch every penny I can’t imagine a man of any intelligence turning down almost 18 million dollars. Even before that qualifying offer was made, he was  offered 40 years and $80 million. Encarnacion (or his braintrust if he has one) Refused. He can’t go back to Toronto, nor can he go to Boston, Houston or the Yankees.  All have their DH and parttime first basemen in hand.
While the Rangers are already spending more money than ever, they seem the most likely team to take him on, though certainly not at the price the Blue Jays offered him. Oakland might have interest, but if they did I think Edwin would sooner retire than play in that eyesore of an old ball park that’s more empty than not. While the Orioles are trying with all their might to bring back Mark Trumbo, he might be their second choice.
He’s a nonstarter in the national league as long as they don’t have the DH rule, which will probably be forever.

While the American League teams wait to see who flinches first on Edwin Encarnacion, the story is a much more somber one in Miami.  It’s been almost 3 months now since that gloomy Sunday, September 25 when we found out that the sea had claimed Marlins’ ace Jose Fernandez and two others in a tragic boating accident.   Since then, they’ve searched high and low for anything that might resemble pitching help.  Without their ace they’re trying for strength in numbers instead of pinning all their hopes on one man, as they had done with Fernandez.  The earliest signee was Edinson Volquez, who started the first and fifth games of the 2015 World Series. They added lefty starter Jeff Locke off the Pirates.   Since then they’ve signed 3 bull pen pitchers-Dustin McGowan late of Boston, Elvis Araujo of the Phillies  and most recently Junichi Tazawa, late of Boston. They figure to join Kyle Barraclough (BearClaw) David Phelps and closer A. J. Ramos.  They tried to get Aroldis Chapman, (a natural fit in Miami) but failed.  Volquez and Locke will join Tom Kohler, Adam Conley and a fifth starter to be named later with a six-man bull pen to try and make the Marlins a success in their first year without Fernandez. Veteran catcher A.J. Ellis came from the Dodgers to try and help this staff come together before Opening Day. If one manager can make this happen, it’s their manager Donald Arthur Mattingly.  He took a dysfunctional mess of a Dodgers team in 2011 and hade them winning the NL West by 2013.  If any manager can get his team beyond the Fernandez tragedy the Marlins have the one to do it.

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