It’s Time For Gary Sanchez To Be Sent To The Minors
The catcher is supposed to be the anchor of your team.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has not been an anchor this year, but a weight.
Sanchez made the final out in a 7-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday July 23, 2018. * That out should serve as a clear sign that it is time to send Gary Sanchez to the minors – not for rehab, but for a major attitude adjustment. *(see note at the end of the article)
Nobody should be dropped from a major league roster for making the last out of a game. But that out typified an accumulation of Sanchez’s complete lack of effort which merits his demotion to the minor leagues.
Earlier in the game while catching Sanchez did not hustle after a passed ball, and the runner scored all the way from second base. That sort of defensive lapse has played out many times over Sanchez’s brief three year career.
But the big play for those who did not see it went like this. With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth, Sanchez hit a hard grounder up the middle which was fielded by the Rays second baseman Daniel Robertson who fed the ball to shortstop Willy Adames for a force out.
But a hustling Aaron Hicks beat Adames to the base and was safe. The potential tying run had already crossed home plate. After touching second late, Adames had the presence of mind to notice that Gary Sanchez had decided not to run to first.
Sanchez effort to get down the baseline was actually pathetic. Trudging out of the batters box and watching the play unfold, Sanchez was barely jogging to first. Sanchez saw that Hicks would be safe at second base, but Adames was going to make a throw to first. Now Sanchez put some urgency in his trot and started to go into second gear. Sanchez stopped strolling and picked up the pace – something on par with snail baserunners of the past such as Ed Herrmann and Ernie Lombardi. But it was too late, and Adames throw to first beat Sanchez by several steps for the final out of the game. Had Sanchez run the entire 90 feet, the odds are he would have been safe and the game tied.
Sanchez who had come off the disabled list this past Friday after missing 20 games with a pulled groin wasn’t trying to prevent a re-injury, he simply wasn’t trying.
One player is never responsible for a team loss. But Gary Sanchez as great of a player as he has the potential to be, has shown time after time that he consistently does not hustle or try and improve his game.
At this stage, Sanchez is not a well rounded, disciplined ballplayer. To compound Sanchez’s steady lack of effort, his catching skills are simply abysmal.
What good is a catcher who cannot catch? Sanchez misses balls directly thrown at him. He does not block pitches in the dirt effectively. He hears footsteps when runners are rounding third on plays at the plate, and all too frequently mishandles throws.
Offensively, what good is it to have a catcher with a .188 batting average even if he does have 14 homers?
The question the Yankees management should be asking is – “Is Gary Sanchez currently the best catcher on this team?” The answer is obvious – he is not.
Sanchez may not even be the third best catcher on this team. Back-up catcher Austin Romine is far better defensively. Offensively, Romine has produced this year beyond expectations. Kyle Higashioka who is the third string catcher is arguably a better option than Sanchez.
After tonight’s loss the Yankees need to re-assess where Gary Sanchez fits into their current plans.
Can you imagine Jorge Posada, Thurman Munson, Yogi Berra or Bill Dickey ever displaying this sort of inertia early in their career the way Sanchez has? There would have been ramifications had any of those players showed the apathy that Sanchez exhibits. In “the old days” a player who didn’t hustle would have: a) been talked to by the manager b) told to work on their shortcomings or be benched AND c) a veteran player would have taken the offending player aside and chewed him out for lack of hustle.
Who’s going to take Gary Sanchez to task?
The Yankees do not want to shatter Sanchez’s confidence so he is treated with kid gloves.
Sanchez should not have to be prodded at the major league level to work on correcting the correctable. But is Gary Sanchez’s attitude correctable?
Sanchez’s lackadaisical habits need a wake-up call. That wake-up call will come with an extended trip to AAA Wilkes Barre – Scranton the Yankees minor league affiliate. The Yankees have too much firepower to allow Sanchez’s lethargic attitude to continue. The Yankees need Sanchez to pay attention and work on what the team needs from him – consistent effort, hustle, and playing with fire in your eyes and a go get ’em attitude.
A nice trip to Pennsylvania hopefully will do the trick. If Sanchez gets sent down, he should have to earn his way back on to the team. Only then, with a new and improved attitude should Gary Sanchez return to anchor this Yankees team.
*As has been pointed out to me after this article was published, Gary Sanchez is out of options and would need to clear waivers which would obviously not happen. That leaves the Yankees with four possibilities;
a) make Sanchez practice his butt off
b) bench him
c) teach him a new position or have him primarily DH
d) trade him
Talent is not Gary Sanchez’s problem. As President Calvin Coolidge famously said,
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”