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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Boone: Higgy has ‘earned more playing time’

Gary Sánchez appears to have lost his grasp on the starting catcher job, as Yankees manager Aaron Boone stated on Tuesday that backup Kyle Higashioka will receive more opportunities behind the plate in the near term.

The 31-year-old Higashioka got the nod at catcher on Tuesday at Camden Yards, having played well on both sides of the ball this season. Sánchez’s 2020 offensive woes have carried over into the new year, seeing the 28-year-old go 10-for-55 (.182) with two homers and four RBIs in 17 games.

“He’s just earned more playing time—simple as that,” Boone said of Higashioka. “He’s done a great job. His improvements over the last couple of years on both sides of the ball have been strong. I think the way he’s played here at the onset of the season have earned him some more opportunities.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 27, 2021 at 09:16 PM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: gary sanchez, kyle higashioka

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   1. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 27, 2021 at 10:26 PM (#6015779)
I'd like to think this will be a wakeup call for Sanchez, but I'm not holding my breath.

Higashioka went 2 for 4 tonight, including a home run that was absolutely smoked. He's earned the right to play himself out of a job, while Sanchez peaked in 2017 and has been sliding steadily downhill ever since.
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: April 27, 2021 at 10:40 PM (#6015782)
“He’s just earned more playing time — simple as that,” Boone said of Higashioka.

"He's just earned less playing time - simple as that," Boone said of Sanchez (after being administered truth serum and sent back onto the post-game Zoom call).
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 27, 2021 at 10:52 PM (#6015784)
Sanchez is certainly struggling, although his 82 OPS+ is better than either of the backstops on Howie’s Mets (73 for McCann & 34 for Nido).
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 27, 2021 at 11:14 PM (#6015790)
Higashioka is 31 and a lifetime .195/.240/.423 hitter, so I'm not expecting the second coming of Bill Dickey.

Imagine if you'd told a Yankee fan back in 2017 that Sanchez would lose playing time to a guy who's three years older than him and can't hit .200.
   5. Howie Menckel Posted: April 27, 2021 at 11:35 PM (#6015792)
his 82 OPS+ is better than either of the backstops on Howie’s Mets (73 for McCann & 34 for Nido).

McCann 1 for 3 tonight to close the gap

and his appearance at the plate does not yet repulse the home fan base
   6. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 28, 2021 at 08:54 AM (#6015817)
Not sure how Sanchez vs. McCann/Nido is proof of anything. "Bad player is better than worse players" isn't a ringing endorsement.
   7. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: April 28, 2021 at 05:13 PM (#6015914)
I'm not expecting the second coming of Bill Dickey.

Or even Rick Cerone.

Cerone's career always fascinated me, because he played 18 years in the majors and was never (except 1980, when he managed a 107 OPS+ and actually got some MVP votes!) any good. Never. Not with the Indians, the (expansion) Blue Jays, the Yankees, the Braves, the Brewers, the Yankees (again), the Red Sox, the Yankees (again), the Mets or the Expos. Never. But he was a decent defensive catcher, and so he kept getting a job, year after year.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: April 28, 2021 at 06:43 PM (#6015937)
Cerone was unusual primarily in that he stayed healthy. He was only a full-time for two seasons, one of those the "big" season you mentioned. In his other 16 seasons, he didn't even crack 350 PA. It is odd to be a career backup C but every team needs a backup C and as long as you can squat back there 50-80 games a year without embarrassing yourself, you can get a job. His WAR looks pretty much what you'd expect it to look like -- 8.1 WAR, -6.7 WAA so he was essentially a 1-WAR bench player. (If you're better than a 1-WAR player, you were probably good enough to start for a while.)

Jeff Mathis (not playing this year!) has done that even more so with only one season over 300 PA. Whether he deserved even that much playing time is questionable as his hitting makes Cerone look like Piazza and WAR has him at replacement level for his career but he did provide good defense. Todd Pratt was a good hitter for a C but only cracked 200 PA once and, per b-r's salary numbers, never cracked $900 K in AAV (but $6.4 M for his career so he'll probably be OK in retirement).

Miguel Cairo was the Cerone of IFs. He had a couple of years as the main 2B for the early Rays but lasted parts of 17 seasons, 4400 PA, and 7.7 WAR, -6.9 WAA -- a classic bench player. Rarely more than a 1-year contract, doesn't seem to have ever topped $1 M ... but he seems to have been well appreciated in that TB let him go then brought him back; the Cubs let him go then brought him back; the Cards let him go then brought him back briefly; the Yanks let him go then brought him back.

I suppose we can debate what "any good" should mean. Cerone and Cairo weren't good enough to start -- so they didn't. They were below-average but above-replacement which is what you're looking for in a bench player because it adds value. You need to fill out your roster and playing time and better to do it above replacement and those guys are only costing you $1-2 M more than the minimum. That would seem to be "some good." Cerone was a useful guy for most of his 18 seasons, Cairo for most of his 17 sesaons. It's obviously uncommon that they never reached average long enough to start for a few years; unusual that they never really declined until their late 30s; unusual they never had one of those massively horrible seasons that finds you playing indy ball the next year.

Jeff Mathis is the harder story to understand and seems an indicator of how much C defense (and good-guy-ism?) may be over-valued. Still, your typical AAA C probably wasn't gonna out-perform Mathis ... but he got over $3 M out of Texas the last two years and has $22 M in career earnings.

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