Yankees fans couldn’t help focusing on Gary Sanchez Wednesday night.
You know how Yankees fans work.
We had a joyous time, sans a couple of seconds and some worries about John Sterling, on Wednesday night in Baltimore against the Orioles, watching Gerrit Cole work for nearly seven innings (before he rapidly tired — hey, it’s early).
However, despite the homers, DJ being the truth, the Cole World we live in, and some Paul O’Neill hijinks, Yankees fans couldn’t help but be nagged by one resounding truth: Gary Sanchez is officially a problem.
And no, not in the “Bleacher Report Twitter Account Watching Jazz-Magic” type of way.
By the time this one ended, he’d added a 12th on a feckless ground ball to third, destined for an opposing mitt from the second it squibbed off his now-deceased bat.
Sanchez has looked as lost as a hitter can through four games of 2020, and though all the necessary corollaries apply, the Yankees can’t afford too much of a runway here to a hitter they really have no way of replacing.
I know what you’re thinking — well, what about Brett Gardner? Yes. It’s … it’s not great.
But Brett Gardner can be gone in a flash. Brett Gardner can succumb to the depth behind him. He never intended his potential swan song season in 2020 to look anything like this, featuring truncated starts-and-stops, but the Yankees never did, either. They have Mike Tauchman behind him. They have Clint Frazier in the deep end of the player pool. They even have Miguel Andujar.
If Gardner can’t shirk the .000, there are plenty of things to be done.
But if Gary Sanchez can’t re-master the slider down and away or the tailing fastball, they don’t have a Plan B that works — and that goes for beyond this campaign, too.
Kyle Higashioka is an ideal backup, but there’s not much confidence to be had by subbing him in on a regular basis. He didn’t hit 30 home runs in 2019. The upside isn’t there. Beyond that, it’s 2020 first-rounder Austin Wells, three years down the line? Anthony Seigler? There’s a reason the team keeps drafting catchers high. Russell Martin?
The best version of this Yankees team has a .260-hitting Gary Sanchez, exuding swag with every bat drop. This is close to an idealized edition of the roster, but Sanchez’s confidence has him nowhere near that upper echelon. Unfortunately, the faster-than-ever clock is ticking here.