Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Gary Sanchez Spring Resurrection did not happen. Now, what?

In the first games of March, YES - (aka: the Yankee Newsmax) - adoringly celebrated the return to stardom of Gary Sanchez. He hit three monster home runs! He blocked some pitches in the dirt! He ran out grounders! Comeback of the Year? All-star season? MVP? Here's a gushing blather blister from March 9. 

Fast forward to March 31, and Gary's HR tally stands at - well - three! (For a total of 4 RBIs!) Over 48 plate appearances, he hit .200 and struck out 20 times, the kind of numbers that long ago prompted MLB to stop letting NL pitchers hit. On defense, he was lustily booed last weekend after waving at a flurry of pitches from Aroldis Chapman (though, to be fair, they were lawn darts.) 

The gleeful claims that Sanchez would returning to his once prophesized glory? They have become coughs. Questions of his all-star luster have turned much darker.

Will he ever again hit his weight? 

Does he deserve to start over Kyle Higashioka? 

Was Joe Girardi right, when he blasted Sanchez for lack of hustle?

Why did the Yankees this winter give Sanchez a $1.6 million raise?

Entering 2021, the YES narrative went this way: He can't be as bad as last year. It's humanly impossible. Since we'll get nothing for him in a trade, let's pretend 2020 never happened. Lalalala! I'm not listening! Go away! He's 29. He has to improve. Then we can trade him.

Since March 9, Gary has done the impossible. He has looked as bad as last year, when he hit .146. After Higgy, the Yankees have nobody, nada, zilch. (Robinson Chirinos is recovering from a broken wrist.) Their top catching prospects are in the dirt leagues. All they can do is bat Gary ninth and pretend he's a different player. 

Frankly, I don't blame them. They have no options. Sanchez will be their starting catcher through mid-May, at least. By then, if he's still hitting .200 and playing balls off the backstop, they can bundle their best prospects and trade for some war horse to hold the position. Can Eric Kratz unretire? 

In another era, the Yankees would have targeted J.T. Realmuto this winter, snagging the best free agent on the market and sparking the lineup. That was another franchise, another tradition, another ownership. We need to stop fantasizing such impossibilities and get back to the hard work: Imagining Gary Sanchez as MVP.


JM said...

What a waste of money, a waste of the catcher's position, a waste of a roster slot, a waste of time and effort (not his), and a waste of hopes and dreams.

He's not a big money guy. We should just release him or send him to Scranton. Maybe he can learn something.

Sorry, that last sentence is also a waste. No chance.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Why do they love him so? I don't get it. Give the job to Kyle. Sanchez is an arrogant shit on top of all else he can't do on the field. I agree with JM above! Does he have the dirt on Cashman or something? Did you ever think you'd wish for George to be at the helm again? Honestly, we haven't been the Yankees since. 😥

Anonymous said...

Very, very frustrating. All the more frustrating because it's such an obvious, easy fix. I have said it many times before. Sanchez needs to do two things: hit situationally and eliminate that huge leg kick. The coaches had reduced the leg kick slightly earlier this season, but I guess it's back again in full gear. I don't know if I've ever seen another guy with a leg kick that big. Paul O'Neill talked about just lifting his foot a few inches and putting it down again. That would be the proper way to do it. Sanchez lifts his foot at least 18 inches, a foot and a half. When he gets out of synch, while he's doing the leg kick, his head bounces around, and he hits under the ball. His timing is understandably screwed up most of the time because of the time it takes to do that huge leg kick. It sounds like he's pretty much uncoachable, but if I was a betting man, this guy will end up somewhere else where they turn him back into a .300 hitter. Look at it this way: if any other hitter did that huge leg kick, they'd hit well under .100. He must have tremendous talent in order to hit .150 with that leg kick.

Then there is the matter of Stanton. If I recall correctly, Sanchez really started struggling when they brought in Stanton. It's the all or nothing approach taken to an extreme. Perhaps Stanton can hit using that approach, but it obviously does not work for Sanchez. Bringing in Stanton turned the entire Yankee lineup into the classic moneyball approach. DJ LeMahieu is the only one who seems immune to this disease.

The Hammer of God

HoraceClarke66 said...

Hammer, interesting observations about the leg kick, and Stanton. Also, Sanchez seems to have been much more seriously injured in 2018, when he first went bad, than they let on at the time.

But this gets us back to this team's two, seemingly unsolvable woes: an inability to break away from "three true outcomes" baseball, and an inability to avoid constant, devastating injuries.

HoraceClarke66 said...

It's true, the Yankees have little choice with Sanchez NOW.

But this is a classic example of throwing up your hands and saying you have no choice AFTER the repeated, BAD choices you did make panned out much as expected.

It's like saying, 'Hey, I lost all my money playing the ponies and buying Powerball tickets! I had NO CHOICE but to rob the liquor store for money!'

Supposedly, the Yankees had a chance to trade Sanchez for Realmuto after Gary's disastrous 2018 season. They did not. Whether this was because Brain feared the idea of Jeter/Denbo/Ng somehow turning Sanchez around—whether it was because HAL put the kibosh on it because Sanchez was cheaper—or (most likely) a combination thereof...they did not.

They could have been sitting on, maybe, a couple more rings AND the best catcher in baseball right now. But hey, Fate came knocking again and offered up Realmuto as a (much pricier) free agent. The Yankees told Fate through one of those doorbell computer devices to go away and never darken their doorstep again.

All right, decision made. A much cheaper option?

Old friend Austin Romine, who had become a very inexpensive, unwanted free agent. Hook him up with Higgy and at least you have a strong fielding catcher with some pop, out there everyday. Gary can be dealt for whatever lottery tickets. (You read that option here.)

Decision? Nope! Sanchez or bust!

Then there were all the repeated, draft picks of supposedly can't-miss catchers who—like most of Brain's draft picks—look as though they will be lucky to ever see Triple-A.

So here we are, with "no good choices." And when Sanchez is released after this season—or in August—we'll still have "no good choices."

Anonymous said...

Opening Day... maybe.

If AccuWeather is to be trusted, it's gonna rain all night tonight and into tomorrow afternoon.

Doesn't bode well, sez I.

DickAllen1964 said...

As many of you know, I'm probably the only one in this zoo who still has some faith in Sanchez, misplaced though it may be. The idea that he might need glasses is an interesting one, albeit somewhat misdirected, coming nearer to a truth that won't require the intervention of an opthalmologist.

Everything I'm about to say is pure conjecture, but, then again, everything else said here is as well.

Sanchez was considered five years ago the next great Yankees catcher. We all can agree that his talent was higher than most. No one could comfortably argue against the idea that back then he looked like the real thing and I imagine he thought so as well. Maybe too much so , and I think, therein lies the problem. Sanchez in the AFL (seemingly in another lifetime) was simply spectacular, and watching him back then I couldn't help feel that it all came too easily to him. He was a natural.

And then he wasn't.

Having hit rock bottom must have struck him dumb, as in: "How could this be happening to me? It used to be so easy and now it's not." I have to think he's never experienced any failure as catastrophic as the hole he finds himself in today. Pitchers have found his weaknesses and have, as major league hurlers do, driven a truck through them. He has floundered and lost his way. A guy with that much natural talent thinks he can just swing his way through his slump and yet, in doing so, only winds up digging a deeper hole for himself. He's the guy who keeps doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. He's not a moron, but he is certainly lacking in self-awareness.

So yeah, he needs glasses, but not the kind that will correct his vision - at least not the ocular kind. I don't know if he's intellectually capable of figuring out how to once again become the guy he used to be, because he will never be the guy he used to be - he has to find a way to become a newer, more mature version of the slugger we saw only a few short years ago.

After reading an interview with him early on in spring training it was readily apparent to all of us that he still has no idea what's happened to him, and he appears to be in a state of shock. Hell, I would be. I remember what life was like for me when I stopped drinking decades ago, and the unraveling wasn't pretty. It took me every one of the past thirty four years to become an adult, and I still have a long way to go. Sanchez, unfortunately, doesn't have the luxury of time on his side.

He must adapt or die a slow baseball death before he turns thirty. We, on the other hand, can only watch and wonder if being in the eye of the New York press storm, and at the mercy of the rabid state of most of us, hating on him, would we be the kind of forthright, self-aware human being we expect him to be. Clearly, time is running out. I have a lot of compassion for the guy and I am certain that he is the bewildered one, not knowing how or why this is all happening, and even worse, how it will all turn out.

I would not want to be in his shoes. At least I did not have the world watching me turn my life around, thank the gods. I pray to those same gods he does turn it, if not around, at least in a different direction. Right now he has nowhere else to go.

Anonymous said...

@DickAllen1964 You've hit the nail on the head. He must adapt or die a slow baseball death.

I remember Kevin Maas started out like a house on fire the second half of the season he got called up, then the following season, he simply couldn't hit. The pitchers around baseball had adjusted to him, but he wasn't able to adjust back. You cannot be a one dimensional hitter and expect to last long in the major leagues. If you do only one thing, like take giant swings and try to hit everything out, they'll figure out how to keep you from doing that. Most pitchers are smarter than most hitters. They have to be, in order to survive the onslaught of sluggers all over baseball. As a pitcher, if you pitch lousy, you can literally be killed out there. (As a zen master once said "the rabbit will outrun the fox". How can he be so sure? "Because the fox is running for his dinner, but the rabbit is running for his life.")

I hope Gary Sanchez doesn't turn out to be the next Kevin Maas, but he's got to reduce that leg kick and just take smarter at bats.

The Hammer of God