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2022 Storylines: The catching situation

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Barring a last minute trade, the Yankees plan to platoon Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt behind the plate this season. At least, once Rortvedt recovers from the oblique injury the Yankees apparently knew about before trading for him. Now that the Gary Sánchez era is over, the Yankees are taking the all-glove-no-bat route at catcher this season.

This is something the Yankees tried almost a decade ago with Chris Stewart, except this time, the team has two defensive minded players at the position. Effectively punting a lineup spot is a bit of a gamble, but the Yankees are counting on not only the defense making it worthwhile, but also the rest of its lineup’s stars hiding this lineup spot.

As important as defense and a healthy rapport with the pitching staff is, how little offense is tolerable? Sánchez received plenty of boos for his missteps behind the dish (and yes, on offense too), but it’s not like blocking or framing a pitch are actively appreciated by most folks. So, on the other hand, I can’t imagine fans will hold back boos if and when Higgy or Rortvedt kill rallies this summer. Not that the Yankees’ front office takes too much stock in crowd sentiment, of course.

Finding an upgrade at catcher will be difficult

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Gary Sánchez has been a lightning rod for a few years now. There are staunch defenders of him (us at Views, typically) and those who can’t wait to get rid of him. There’s no denying that Sánchez hasn’t been the guy we saw in 2016 and 2017 for a few years now. His offensive prowess has cratered and his defense has been mostly not good. Yet, at the same time, it’s going to be next to impossible for the Yankees to upgrade at starting catcher for the 2022 season.

Good catchers simply aren’t easy to come by. Teams don’t trade them away and it’s pretty rare that a good one reaches free agency. And even for all of Sánchez’s faults, he’s still one of the better catchers in the majors. There aren’t that many catchers below who I’m certain will be better than Gary in 2022. And odds are that none of them will be acquirable.

via Baseball Prospectus

I think the two issues many fans have with Sánchez is fatigue and unreasonable expectations. The Kraken’s offensive onslaught in 2016 and 2017 (.284/.354/.568, 53 HR, 143 wRC+ in 754 PA) set a ridiculous benchmark for a young catcher. It was both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it helped propel the Yankees into contention in ’17, while it also cursed Sánchez by making his league average numbers thereafter look awful. And in turn, the offensive decline also made it harder to ignore his defensive shortcomings.

Game 142: Yanks stop skid; Aaron Judge is my MVP

Wow. It is hard to overstate how big that game was. Staring down the barrel of an 8 game losing streak and losing their hold on a playoff spot, the Yankees fought back in this one. After going up 5-0 only to find themselves down 7-5 after 7 innings, the team showed a ton of resilience putting across 3 runs in the 8th to retake the lead. And after some shaky middle relief, Albert Abreu and Aroldis Chapman locked things down to secure to victory. Aaron Boone described it as “just about a perfect night” and in the end it was. Let’s get to the takeaways:

Game 122: Yankees win the goal line stand

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Calling a game between the Yankees and Twins a goal line stand probably isn’t fair. The history between these two clubs is so one sided, it’s more like a D-line from the NFL overpowering a collegiate O-line. Terrible analogy, but whatever. Once again, the Yankees beat the Twins, this time by the score of 7-5.

Tonight’s game had the makings of a laugher. Jameson Taillon was dominant through five and the Yankees had a 6-0 lead. Yet, as this year’s Bronx Bombers are wont to do, the game had to end with a save situation. I won’t complain too much, though. They keep winning (seven straight now) and are getting healthier. Maybe one game this weekend will be a blowout, but perhaps that’s too much to ask. Anyway, let’s get to tonight’s takeaways.

Thoughts on the catching situation, Jameson Taillon, Wandy Peralta, and more

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Good morning everyone. And it is indeed a good morning — the Yankees have won the first two of this week’s series against the Rays at Tropicana Field and go for the sweep tonight. It’s really nice to finally see the team win a couple of games at that awful excuse of a ballpark. With that out of the way, let’s get to some of my Yankees-related thoughts.

On the catcher situation. I understand why the Yankees turned to Kyle Higashioka more than Gary Sánchez toward the end of last month, but at this point, we’re starting to see Higgy’s limitations as a near-everyday player. Keep in mind that this is someone who hasn’t caught a significant workload since 2016, when he caught 102 games split between Double-A and Triple-A.

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