The Yankees, and in particular, their manager continues to stumble along in the belief that they have the answer to their catching position for the next ten years. But that’s if we can get through this year.
Yankees catcher, Gary Sanchez, continues to prove that he is regressing in that position when he should be improving. The proverbial icing on the cake occurred for me when I went to check the ESPN box score before I tuned into the game.
And this is what greeted me even before I clicked on the Yankees/Indians game which is underway at Progressive Field, in a Tweet from Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
"“Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez continues to struggle behind the plate this year. After a runner just scored before a throw home, Sanchez stayed on his belly as Austin Jackson took third. A pitch later, Jackson scored on a Sanchez passed ball.”"
I’m sorry, but I don’t care if Sanchez hits a game tying home run later and then another for a walk-off win, he does not belong behind the plate at this stage of his career, or perhaps even ever.
The spin was that Romine had caught Gray during his bullpen and therefore he “knew” Gray better. But doesn’t that beg the question why Sanchez wasn’t down there catching Gray if Girardi had ever intended to install him as the catcher instead of the DH?
I’ve been following this game for half a century, and I know when someone like Girardi is trying to play me. Not to mention the fact the Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race and playing a series against the AL Central Division leading Indians in what might be a preview of the 2017 Playoffs.
As a sign that things may be piling up beyond the spin point, Girardi was more forthcoming in a post game interview on YES that followed another loss and a 1-5 record over the Yankees last six games. Stating bluntly that “he needs to improve” Girardi expanded on that thought after seeing Sanchez repeatedly not get down fast enough to block pitches.
Back in January, I wrote a column wondering if Sanchez had a panic button after all the hoopla that followed him throughout the winter and Spring Training. It was genuine, I believe, in that it empathized with the role the Yankees had thrust him into.
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But then, along came Aaron Judge and the scoreboard was wiped even, and Sanchez became almost an also ran in the Yankees lineup. The heroics of last season were far behind him, the cheers were still loud, but generally, the Yankees moved beyond him, especially when he missed several weeks with a hand injury, with Romine doing a credible job in his absence.
And for Joe Girardi, a catcher himself on the Championship Yankees teams of the late nineties, what he sees with Sanchez has to be particularly disappointing. Girardi already took a major step in trying to “work” with Sanchez when he chewed him out in full view of the YES cameras in the dugout, a first I can ever remember seeing.
We all want our players to succeed. But we also want the Yankees to succeed. Sanchez is a good offensive threat, which could carry him for many years in the big leagues. If Girardi puts Sanchez in the DH spot then where does Matt Holliday play?
Romine is a Girardi type catcher, but like his manager, Romine is not going to hit for much. The Mets, who are going nowhere this year, can survive with Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate as a liability.
But for a team like the Yankees who are in the thick of their first pennant drive in seven years, it’s a safer bet to go with defense behind the plate.