Gary Sanchez was sent to purgatory by Aaron Boone for an unspecified period. A wake-up call for the slumbering team? – it better be.
Gary Sanchez has been, and perhaps will always be, the darling of Yankees’ team brass, a wayward son who tries like hell to please everyone, only to disappoint.
Until that is, the day of reckoning arrives, and even his most fervent ally realizes he can no longer write the name Gary Sanchez on his lineup card, while in good conscience telling himself he is fielding the Yankees team with the best chance to win that day.
It pained Aaron Boone to tell Sanchez following Saturday night’s loss to the Orioles, a game in which Sanchez struck out four times, adding to three more the previous night, that it was best for the Yankees that he take a seat for Sunday’s game.
“I just kind of deliberated on it a lot last night,” the Yankees manager said. “I just feel like this is the way I need to go right now and hopefully a day off, or two, or however I decide to do it here can help get him going, because you know it’s on all of us to get around him and try and help him get to what we know he can be.” (New York Daily News)
It is telling that when asked to give a timetable for Sanchez to return to his usual catching duties, Boone was noticeably vague, even to the point of dismissing using Sanchez in the DH spot here and there.
Gary Sanchez: When The Clock Runs Out
Boone’s reasoning is logical and clear. How can he use Gary Sanchez, who is again tied for the most passed balls with four and he has a defensive WAR of -0.1, tied for the fourth-worst in the big leagues as his catcher?
Defensive woes are nothing new with Gary Sanchez, but this year, according to one American League talent scout:
Offensively, the numbers Gary Sanchez is putting up this year are painful to look at:
Drill down a bit deeper, and you find an intolerable strikeout rate in nearly half of his at-bats (48-100).
Gary Sanchez: Only A Symptom Of A Team-Wide Performance
Last year, the Yankees soared to 103 regular-season wins while receiving the same level of production from Gary Sanchez.
However, this year the Yankees are a flailing team, 6 1/2 games behind their Daddy, the Tampa Bay Rays, who tossed the Yankees aside in eight of their ten (all-important) divisional games.
Even more strikingly, the Yankees are a full game behind the second-place Blue Jays, a team they will face ten times before the season closes in three weeks, and four games in their next seven.
This is not wrapped around Gary Sanchez. The Yankees, except for Luke Voit and DJ LeMahieu, are stinking up the joint as a team.
One glance at the team batting and pitching stats leave no doubt the difference between last year and 2020 is the failure of The Replacements in providing a cushion for the usual injured suspects.
Mike Ford and Mike Tauchman are not delivering, Gio Urshela is off and on, while Brett Gardner is looking like every bit of his 37 years.
Gleyber Torres is taking a step back in his development, Gerrit Cole has lost three straight decisions, and Aroldis Chapman is looking alarmingly hittable.
And all the prayers in the world will not (entirely) heal Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in time for the playoffs.
Yankees: If Not Now, Then When?
Hopefully, the underlying message behind Boone’s decision to bench Gary Sanchez for the foreseeable future serves as a wake-up call for a team that is fast running out of excuses and time.
The Yankees have to start winning series, beginning tonight in Toronto (I mean Buffalo), winning two of three, then three of four from the Orioles at home, followed by two of three versus the Blue Jays, also at home.
That’s a run of 7-3, a feat this (on paper) Yankees team should be able to accomplish quickly.
The move to bench Gary Sanchez was long overdue, and we can wait for the stat guys to tell us later just how badly he hurt the team this season.
But Sanchez is only a symptom of a team-wide failure and not the cause.
I’ll repeat with how I closed yesterday’s column – how Mike Lupica put it in his Sunday column, “If not now for the Yankees, when?”