The Yankees are quietly writing off Gary Sanchez. Long overdue, perhaps, but this is a baseball story with many human layers.
Gary Sanchez, more than any recent Yankee, represents the personification of the human side of baseball, a game based on failing and the ability to cope with the ups and downs of life as a professional ballplayer.
Tagged by the Yankees and many teammates as a player who “tries real hard”, Gary Sanchez has fought the good fight – but his final grade has little to show for all that work, except to say he gets an “A” for effort.
It sometimes happens that way in baseball, especially in New York, where you can count the gravestones made for players like Sanchez in the same breath as the ones whose careers are honored high up in the ceiling of the Great Hall at Yankee Stadium.
Doing his best imitation of the mediator who is called in to settle a Teamster’s strike, Aaron Boone has (at least mentally) removed Gary Sanchez from his long-held spot as the Yankees regular catcher.
Boone won’t say it. He doesn’t need to say it, because as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
Gary Sanchez will still catch for the Yankees, but it’ll be Kyle Higashioka behind the plate next Tuesday when Gerrit Cole makes a start in Game One of the AL Wild Card Series.
Cole, ever the diplomat as much as Boone, makes jokes about Higashioka being his “personal catcher”, a baseball term, which, if admitted to, brings fire and brimstone to any major league clubhouse.
Cole, who had praised Sanchez when they worked together in the past, had joked when Higashioka hit three home runs in their last start together that he was becoming his “personal pitcher” so he can go and rake.
Fake News: Gary Sanchez Is Still The Yankees Catcher
Personal catcher for Cole or not, the spin is on. Aaron Boone is leading the parade, telling the New York Post, “the bottom line is he (Sanchez) is going to playing a huge role in that (the postseason), and “I look forward to him hopefully helping us win a championship.”
Boone’s choice of words is telling, though, when he doesn’t say as he would if Aaron Judge was the subject, that Sanchez will help – he says he hopes Sanchez will help.
It’s been that way between the Yankees and Gary Sanchez for six years, all, of them except for Sanchez’s rookie season, filled with false starts, empty promises to do better in school, Mommy, and endless hope that someday Gary Sanchez will “get it”.
With Gary Sanchez, It’s Not A “New York” Thing
The list of players who “couldn’t handle” New York is a long one. A.J. Burnett, Kevin Brown, Chuck Knoblauch, Kenny Rogers, Sonny Gray, and Carl Pavano, to name a few, were all successful before coming to the Yankees, where the bottom fell out, and they were almost literally thrown out of town.
It’s not that way with Gary Sanchez, who seems oblivious to being a Yankee and playing in the Big Apple. The trouble is that Sanchez seems to be oblivious to life in general.
Nonchalance translates into laziness. Stalling on learning English because “it’s too hard,” says I don’t care enough to make an effort, as Gleber Torres is doing. Calmly walking back to the dugout expressionless after striking out says the same thing.
The Day Of Reckoning: Another Time – Another Place
Irreconcilable differences will be the grounds laid out when the Yankees finally take the blinders off to file for a divorce from Gary Sanchez. His trade value has diminished to almost nothing, but Brian Cashman’s selling point to suitors can be that Sanchez is under team control until 2023.
Hit salary of $5 million is reasonable, and there is little chance Sanchez can file for an increase and expect to get it in his first year of arbitration for 2021.
Loyalty is a rare commodity in baseball these days. Players are rarely surprised when they are released or traded to another team.
For Gary Sanchez, the trick will be to see and act on the “upside”, a word Aaron Boone is fond of using if he is traded. He’s not a basket-case yet, and with some ownership that accepts his fate, doors can re-open.
The Grass Can Be Greener
Sonny Gray is a perfect example of what can happen. He’s slid a bit his last few starts, but for most of this season, Gray was a legitimate candidate for a Cy Young with the Cincinnati Reds.
As with Sanchez, it wasn’t Sonny Gray’s talent that disappeared – it was Sonny Gray who got lost when he was here.
As with many writers who cover the Yankees, I’ve been hard on Gary Sanchez, but I’ve never stopped rooting for him.
Perhaps like the Yankees, though, I’ve reached that point of no return, and as with any marriage that descends to that level, it’s best to separate before things get even worse.