The Yankees roster appears to be set. Barring injury, which is really the most important thing about spring training, the Bronx Bombers will head north with nearly all of their pieces in place. Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar are undoubtedly the respective Opening Day starters at catcher and third base. Let’s talk about them for a bit, shall we.
Sanchez and Andujar share the trait of premier offensive skills vs. lesser defensive capabilities. Sanchez has trouble blocking the plate and Andujar has trouble with the glove and throwing to third. Seriously, that double clutch, sidearm thing is weird. Both hit well, though. Boy do they hit well.
Sanchez came out in literal historic fashion back in 2016 and was nearly the Rookie of the Year (I’m still slightly bitter that he didn’t win). Andujar put together an offensive performance that also almost earned him ROTY in 2018. I’m slightly less bitter that he fell short. Needless to say, the bat is there for both.
Some fans are already ready, willing, and able to write off either Sanchez or Andujar for their defensive woes. A lot of them are the same fans who have been clamoring for the Yankees to get younger and less long-contract..ier for veteran presents. This is, of course, hilarious to no end, at least to me.
Where was I? Right, youth! The thing about wanting a team to get younger is that you’re going to deal with younger players. That means dealing with their growing pains, their ups and downs, their pimpin’ walk-off home runs and their dreadful game-derailing errors. That’s baseball, Suzyn.
The Yankees were willing to put Brian McCann on the back-burner and roll with Sanchez, because they’ve seen what he can do. They were willing to pass on Manny Machado because they feel Andujar can improve. Whether you’re upset about that or not, that’s the way it is. Like I said, I’m ready to be petty about the Machado thing due to using Tulowitzki and LeMahieu as excuses as why. It has nothing to do with Andujar.
Personally, I think Andujar has a lot of room for growth in the same way that Robinson Cano did when they brought him up. That’s the exciting thing about prospects to begin with. To see if they can be the best, like no one ever was.* I’m also a pretty big Sanchez fan, so I’m willing to put up with passed balls in exchange for the bat and super accurate Mega Man X Buster he has for an arm.
It also has to do with the fact that I’ve already lived through this. We all have. If you haven’t, please do not tell me, because I feel old enough typing this already. Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada were not great defensively. At all. Jeter had sure hands, but he also had the range of a tiny stove in a small apartment. Posada was terrible at blocking the plate. You hardly even need fancy stats to tell you this.
Until the tail end of their careers, no one really focused too hard on the light and slightly negative aspects of their skills. I have my theories as to why, of course. No social media to constantly bombard you with the facts of their defensive struggles. The allure of, I don’t know, winning four championships in five years. Yeah, it’s probably mostly the latter.
Jeter and Posada hitting like Jeter and Posada helps a lot. But in truth, it’s easier to ignore the flaws of players when they do nothing but win. It’s still amazing how fans are more willing to latch on to the few negative aspects of players than appreciate all the incredible positives. Not just with Sanchez and Andujar, but with Judge, Stanton, and most likely many more players going forward.
The 2019 Yankees are the team that many fans have been hoping for. Young, full of fresh potential and homegrown talent. Fans still need to be patient though, with Sanchez, with Andujar, with Bird, with Boone, and so on. This includes me and my pettiness towards the Tulo and LeMahieu signings.
Or there’s the other option of just accepting that the flaws are not that important if the overwhelming awesome skills shine brighter. Or, and hear me out, they could just win four championships in five years. That’d be swell.
*Yes, I will use any chance I can to quote the Pokemon theme song