Edwin Encarnacion isn't angry, just confused. Since coming off the disabled list July 6, he has played only eight games and hit safely in seven — 11-for-23 (.478), one homer, five RBIs.I could say all sorts of things in response to this article. I could mention that Encarnacion is only 23 years old and is the best looking offensive prospect we've had since Dunn and Kearns came up (and before that, maybe since Sean Casey?). I could mention that Aurilia had terrible defensive numbers at third base last year, while Encarnacion was above average. I could also mention that Royce Clayton has been a below-average shortstop over the past three years. Or, I could say that Castro's offensive VORP is generally so bad, even as a shortstop, that it largely negates any potential defensive bonus he provides. But really, all I want to say is this:
He started Thursday against Milwaukee and had two hits and a walk before manager Jerry Narron pinch-hit for him in the seventh. He started Saturday and had two more hits.
But he didn't play Sunday and wasn't in Tuesday's lineup against Roger Clemens.
Asked if defense played into his decisions, Narron said: "Yes. And a lot of things factor into it."
Encarnacion is baffled, even though he realizes Rich Aurilia and Scott Hatteberg are hitting, too, making it difficult to squeeze three players into two positions. Narron said Encarnacion would start tonight and might start Thursday, too, then Friday in Milwaukee.
"He (Narron) hasn't talked to me, and all I can do is when I get the opportunity I have to do something with it," Encarnacion said. "I don't know what's going on, and it's hard for me, but I just try to do my job every day. I know when I play I'm OK because I do my work and then do my thing.
"But, yes, this is hard because I was playing before I got hurt, and I never expected it to be like this when I came back. But if we keep winning games, everything is going to be all right."
Asked if he might consider playing Aurilia at second base or shortstop so Encarnacion can play third and Hatteberg first, Narron said: "There is a chance of it. I came close Sunday — playing Aurilia at second. It isn't likely Richie would play short, not with Royce Clayton and Juan Castro playing short."
I was glad to see this. Even if it's only the media, someone's noticing. :)
In other news...
- Tremendous game by Harang tonight. I was hoping he'd be as good as he was last year for us, but, in fact, he's been better. He has to be among the best trading deadline prospect pickups of the past several years, for any team. And Billy Beane doesn't give up a lot of cheap, quality players, so the Reds did good.
- Maury Brown's BP Prospectus (subscription) article on blackouts was very revealing. I honestly had no idea that their blackout practices were so insane. One occasional commenter on this blog, Mike Grayson, was featured prominently:
While the territorial aspect has been a success for clubs for pulling in revenues, it has had unforeseen and highly negative impacts from a consumer standpoint. Case in point, Mike Grayson. Mike lives in Montana. He’s mostly a Reds fan, but also follows the Mariners. Problem is, the Mariners are blacked out where he lives. As Grayson says, “It seems very odd that a team that is literally over 500 miles away is blacked out. It's not like I would be able to go to a game easily if I can't watch on TV; it's a ten-hour drive at best. The blackout zones are ridiculous.”
- New blog to watch: Global Baseball by jhelfgott. He's doing a year-long trip investigating baseball around the world. Right now, he's looking into the Dominican summer leagues. Fellow Reds blogger Doug Gray has requested that he do some work on the Reds' Dominican League affiliate there, and it sounds like that should be possible. I'd love to hear updates on what is going on with Wirfin Obispo... Also, jhelfgott has this recent story on the efforts of the Seattle Mariners to get baseball academies started in Europe. It seems like the Mariners are always at the forefront of pursuing foreign talent. I'd like to see the Reds do more innovation on that front.
- The minorleagueball.com community has an ongoing feature in which they are collectively constructing a Top Prospects list. Homer Bailey came in at #9, while Jay Bruce came in at #16. No sign of Votto yet though.