The New York Yankees didn’t exactly put pressure on Gary Sanchez with their latest signing late Monday night.
But they did insure against his potential midseason departure in case the struggles continue and some more salary room must be freed up.
So, who’d they add? Some beloved 35-year-old career backup catcher? An affable fellow with a decade’s worth of paunch? An Erik Kratz type?
Well, not exactly.
Robinson Chirinos is heading to the Bronx — or, much more likely, Scranton — after signing a minor-league deal with the Yankees just 36 hours or so before pitchers and catchers, of which he is one, are set to report to Spring Training.
You remember Robinson Chirinos, right? A pretty consistent antagonist with the Astros? Yeah. Great. Cool. Why?
Remember when Robinson Chirinos ripped Yankees fans? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
Chirinos was the only easy out in the Astros’ lineup during the 2019 ALCS (0-for-13 in 15 plate appearances), but that didn’t stop his gums from flapping like the Yankee Stadium flags in a stiff October wind.
After Game 4 of the series, a rotten blowout in the Bronx in which CC Sabathia made his final big league appearance in depressing fashion, leaving with a shoulder injury midway through a troublesome inning, Chirinos decided to channel his celebration about going up 3-1 into ripping the fans.
The catcher — who, remember, did not get a hit in the series — said the emptying stadium “just says a lot about the fans”. A few weeks later, mid-blowout during a World Series home game in Houston, the stadium was famously far emptier.
So what does that say about your fans, sir?
For the record, there is nothing wrong with a crowd thinning out at the end of a depressing near-end to the season. People process in different ways. And, for what it’s worth, as someone who attended this game…it wasn’t that empty! The bottom of the ninth felt funereal. It happens. But the rest of the night was electric.
The Astros took the air out of the room, and then Chirinos bemoaned the fans instead of celebrating his team’s effort. Real cool guy.
Oh, and don’t forget — the mysterious hand tape/buzzer on the bat? Also Chirinos!
Maybe some intrepid reporter will have the gall to ask him about that in Tampa next week.
The only reason we have to keep thinking about Chirinos? He had a bizarrely great rapport with Gerrit Cole in Houston — and whatever Cole wants, Cole gets so far over the course of the past year. In 68.2 innings working with Chirinos, Cole’s numbers unfortunately speak for themselves: a 1.57 ERA with 114 strikeouts and 11 walks.
A lot of lip service was paid to Cole’s special relationship with Gary Sanchez early on last season…until we saw Sanchez get clearly phased out in favor of Kyle Higashioka in all Cole’s best starts down the stretch. Perhaps the “personal catcher” thing goes next level this year? Wouldn’t be the first time Cole got one of his friends a roster spot. Jameson Taillon says thanks.
Unfortunately, the target of Cole’s admiration once ripped the very fans he’ll be aiming to impress this year. We wish this didn’t feel so weird. Hopefully, Chirinos enjoys his experience in the high minors and slugs a few brews down at Poor Richard’s in PA.