Yankees: NYY send message with Gary Sanchez benching

Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees in action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on August 31, 2020 in New York City. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the New York Yankees 5-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees in action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on August 31, 2020 in New York City. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the New York Yankees 5-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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The Yankees have issues beyond Gary Sanchez, but his benching on Sunday still sent a loud-and-clear message.

Two things can be true: The New York Yankees have a lot of problems, and the New York Yankees have a Gary Sanchez problem.

It’s possible (probable) that the pendulum has swung too far within the fanbase for Sanchez’s struggles to be getting a fair assessment. What’s the opposite of rose-colored glasses? Black-colored eyedrops? Whatever it is, that’s what fans have used to pick apart Sanchez since his torrid 2016 breakout.

The defensive struggles, the slider-down-and-away deficiency, all of it.

Following a Golden Sombrero in New York’s most representative loss of the season on Saturday, a joyless slog featuring a prolonged offensive slumber, defensive meltdown, and Gerrit Cole unraveling against a team they used to bully in Baltimore, the slugging catcher is getting an official day off, tossed aside in favor of Erik Kratz. And it just might be a while.

Before Sunday’s game began, Aaron Boone made it clear this wasn’t injury caution, a day-after-night maneuver, or a bit of light realigning. We’ve criticized Boone in the past, and will continue to, but this was a disciplinary measure for his catcher’s recent detached play.

“This is the way I need to go right now. Hopefully a day off or two can help get him going,” Boone told gathered media members after the decision became public.

The fact that a 40-year-old Erik Kratz replacing a two-time All-Star, and the man who went .278/.345/.531 with 33 homers and 90 RBI as a 24-year-old in 2017, is viewed as a major upgrade by almost everyone involved is jarring. But with Sanchez, the optics really do match reality.

With all the talent in the world at his disposal, and the power production that’s been so embraced in today’s game, Sanchez has still been exactly league-average over the past three seasons. Those numbers are inflated, too, buoyed by a dominant first half before an eternal slumber in 2019.

The Yankees’ struggles cannot be summed up by Gary Sanchez’s slumped shoulders. After all, Mike Ford — hitting fifth on Sunday — is slugging under .300. Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada, Miguel Andujar, and Brett Gardner are all well under .200. Mike Tauchman is among the most deficient hitters in baseball, per his exit velocity.

But occasionally, a public shakeup is needed to jolt the rest of the roster.

For too long, Aaron Boone has operated on half-measures and false-positivity. On Sunday, he proved to be a disciplinarian.

We don’t know what took place inside the locker room, but outside, the message was amplified and correct.