Gary Sanchez – once an outlier, always an outlier. An eccentric, an anomaly, a non-conformist – pick your adjective, but never say he plays like a NY Yankee.
Gary Sanchez is at it again. In two games and seven at-bats, he’s registered four strikeouts, and his OPS stands at -100. Your read it right; that’s a negative number.
Seemingly lost in space, there’s a glaze in his eyes and a perplexed look on his face as he strolls back to the Yankees dugout after flailing at slider after slider, well off the plate.
Gary Sanchez is a pitcher’s delight. Time after time, they can rely on him to get himself out. Swinging for the fences as Sanchez is prone to, his bat will occasionally find the ball, as it did 34 times last year for a home run.
Of significance, only nine of Sanchez’s home runs came with runners in scoring position, and 19 were solo homers. Pitchers love him.
And they love him even more because Gary Sanchez keeps right on doing what he does. Now in his sixth big-league season, with more than 1500 plate appearances, the player you see today is the same player you saw last year and the year before that.
It’s not that pitchers love Gary Sanchez, though, as much as it’s that the Yankees like him even more.
Save for Yankees former manager, Joe Girardi, who publicly and privately took Sanchez to task (photo above) for his lackadaisical efforts to block balls in the dirt, every person in the Yankee hierarchy continues to speak of Sanchez as if he is the second coming of Johnny Bench.
Perhaps it’s the English barrier, and he gets confused, but even then, when it was a good time for Sanchez to own up to his weaknesses as a catcher, all we get is blah, blah, blah. (video)
The Yankee’s margin of error in this shortened 60-game regular-season is zero. Lodged in the middle of the team’s lineup, Gary Sanchez must produce.
James Paxton was lit up yesterday, but 70% (29-41) of his pitches were strikes. He was in the game. Moreover, the Yankees know that Paxton’s outing is an aberration, not the beginning of a pattern.
Who can say the same about Gary Sanchez?
Gary Sanchez vs. J.T. Realmuto
The Yankees have extended large doses of patience with Gary Sanchez. The team even went as far as to bring on a personal catching coach to tend to his fielding woes. A new one-knee down position is supposed to help Sanchez frame pitches better. And indeed, his passed balls dropped from 18 to 7 last year.
The Yankees have lived and even thrived with mediocrity behind the plate before (think Jorge Posada). But Posada was an offensive contributor who always seemed to be in the middle of a rally – not the strikeout victim to end one.
There’s an answer that provides all-star play in the field and at the plate, but he will be expensive, and it will also mean the Yankees need to say “No Mas” on Gary Sanchez after this season.
J. T. Realmuto (right), now with the Phillies, is the real thing. Only 30, he’ll be a free agent at the end of the 2020 season. Much like last year with Gerrit Cole, the competition will be severe.
But if the Yankees target Realmuto, Brian Cashman is likely to get the job done. What the Yankees can get for Sanchez is an unknown, but surely there is a market out there willing to believe the propaganda relentlessly issued over the years by the Yankees about Gary Sanchez.
Gary Sanchez: In Total Control Of His Future
No matter how many times Gary Sanchez waves at a pitch two feet off the plate, he is the Yankees’ starting catcher for all of the 2020 season. Period. The end.
Deciding not to offer Austin Romine a multi-year contract, the Yankees put their faith in Kyle Higashioka as the backup for Sanchez. Higashioka is not a full-time major league catcher.
So barring a trade before the August 31 deadline (not likely), what we see is what we’re going to get.
Still, there are 57 games left to play (after today), which is more than enough time for Gary Sanchez to be the Gary Sanchez the Yankees (still) hope he can be.
The real question, though, seems to be, does Gary Sanchez believe in Gary Sanchez?
Judging exclusively by body language, Sanchez appears to be a beaten man without a plan.
Notably, Manager Aaron Boone is “resting” Sanchez today in favor of Kyle Higashioka. Remarkably, this follows just two games with a scheduled day off in between.
Aaron Boone is doing the Yankees no favors by putting a spin on Sanchez’s benching and not calling it what it is – “The guy is in a fog and he doesn’t belong on a major lead right now”.
How long can this go on?