Legends On Deck

What Is Wrong With Yankees Gary Sanchez?

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The Yankees finally decided that Gary Sanchez, who has 12 passed balls and numerous wild pitches that should have been blocked, needed to be sat down for a couple of games, hoping this would make him realize defense is just as important as him hitting home runs.

I’ve watched almost all of the Yankees games and it was disturbing to see the lack of effort in attempting to block pitches in the dirt. Sanchez would try and block a ball with a backhand instead of sliding over and blocking the ball. There were three games when Aroldis Chapman threw a pitch and the ball got by Sanchez. I felt, if Sanchez had caught the ball it would have been called a strike.

Watching him last year, I really believed he was going to be a very good catcher. He was throwing out lot of base stealers and was blocking his share of pitches. They say he has gained muscle mass during the off season which has compromised his flexibility. That could be true, but Sanchez did have many issues in the minors with his catching abilities. Maybe with all of the home runs last year, we didn’t pay much attention to his defense. He did have six passed balls in the 2nd half of the season when he was promoted to the Majors. Also in the minors there was a problem with his attitude but once his wife gave him a child he became more serious about his job and became a better catcher. Maybe we made too much of the last two months of the year and this year his limitations are bearing fruit.

Austin Romine is a better catcher than Sanchez, calls a great game, but is a bad hitter. So what do the Yankees do. Sanchez is batting .265, with 17 homers and 52 RBIs, but his passed balls and not blocking his share of wild pitches probably causes the pitchers lack of confidence in Sanchez’s ability to do the job while they are on the mound.

Dellin Betances, Chapman and Masahiro Tanaka are difficult pitchers to catch for even very good catchers, so imagine someone who is not as dedicated to blocking those type of pitchers. As a former high school pitcher, I know how frustrated a pitcher can get. The pitcher becomes tentative not wanting to throw a pitch that might end up in the backstop. If you watch Romine, he is very smooth and pitchers appeared to follow his lead. With Sanchez he is constantly going to the mound as the pitchers appear to be in conflict with what he is asking them to throw.

For example, in Saturday’s 2-1 Yankees win, Chapman was having a rough inning but Romine kept him throwing different pitchers and eventually Chapman threw a slider to strike out the last batter. Don’t know if Sanchez would have been able to guide Chapman through that inning.

Mind you, I love what Sanchez can mean to the Yankees future and I believe he will be with the team for a long time, but he needs to take his catching more seriously. If not he will be the DH for them in future years. The Yankees thought they had the catching position addressed for the next 10 years and if Sanchez does not improve the organization is going to have to look elsewhere. Romine is a very good backup catcher but a starter he is not. Yankees traded Brian McCann, believing Sanchez was their future, so they will try and fix him but he has to want to play defense and work as hard making himself a better catcher as he has in making himself a good hitter.

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Fan’s are comparing Sanchez with Aaron Judge. Some are saying why hasn’t Judge been benched because he is batting under .200 since the all star break. Well Judge continues to play a fantastic rightfield. I observed several plays over the weekend in which runners stopped at first base after a hit afraid of Judge’s arm. He also made several very good catches. Even with his current slump, Judge is still leading the team in home runs (35) and RBIs (78). His on base average is .424, so he is doing the little things to help the team win.

Yes, Sanchez has 17 homers, even though he missed one month of the season, so if the problems do continue then I guess Sanchez has to DH at least for this season. Matt Holliday has not hit in the 2nd half and is currently on the disabled list with a bad back and he is not the Yankees future. If they want to go to the playoff, New York needs to make decisions that might even upset some people.

I have stated before that benching Jacoby Ellsbury and sending down Clint Frazier when Aaron Hicks returns, will make the team better for the short term and help get them in the playoffs this season. But long term, Frazier will be in the plans as the youth movement will take center stage in 2018. But with guys like Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, there isn’t any room at the moment once Hicks returns.

As a Yankees fans, we watch every interview conducted and all the players say the same things, how winning is more important than their own personal stats, but as we all know, Action speaks Louder than words. We will see.

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