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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gary Sanchez: did the Yankees need to subtract FIVE players to add him?

What's especially ridiculous about the conventional wisdom is that Gary Sanchez is a catcher and none of the players supposedly removed to make room for Sanchez was a catcher. Both starting catcher Brian McCann and his backup Austin Romine remain on the roster. The Yankees became the odd team carrying three catchers in August before the absurd September roster expansion.

So what the heck did the removal of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez and Ivan Nova have to do with bringing up Sanchez? Two relief pitchers, two designated hitters and a starting pitcher.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Yankees’ Rebuild by TYLER KEPNER SEPT. 6, 2016 nytimes.com

In theory, Carlos Beltran, Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Ivan Nova could have helped the Yankees make their push...

The success of the moves will rest mostly on the futures of Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and Dillon Tate, the highest-profile prospects acquired for Chapman, Miller and Beltran. None have yet arrived in New York...

“We’re winning because of the moves we made,” Cashman said. “Gary Sanchez wouldn’t have gotten up here if we don’t make the moves that we made. Gary went off and did his stuff. He’s had the biggest impact of them all, but there was no way to get Gary up unless we made trades.”

Sanchez was the American League’s player of the month for August, though he is just 6 for 31 in his past eight games. Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge started their careers with home runs on Aug. 13, the day the team formally released Alex Rodriguez. But both have been mostly quiet since, though Austin doubled twice on Monday and drove in Judge with a two-run homer on Tuesday.

Judge has 37 strikeouts in 69 at-bats, a staggering pace.

What's theoretical about Beltran, Chapman, Miller and Nova helping the Yankees?

The Yankees were 52-52 on August 1, the trading deadline. That was after being swept three games in Tampa, which turned general manager Brian Cashman's plans around. Cashman had been equivocating but after losing the first two in Tampa, Cashman followed his trade of Chapman a few days before with trading Miller. Then on August 1 Cashman traded his best hitter in 2016, Carlos Beltran. How did any of that help the team?

Sanchez came up August 3 and was DH in his first two games. Then the A-Rod melodrama played out. But consider this: after starting the season 8-16 the Yankees had gone 44-36 to bring their record to 52-52. That's eight games over .500. The Yankees are now 72-65, seven games over, having  gone 20-13 during the recent surge.

The article quoted above was published Sept. 6. The next day the same writer wrote this: "The Yankees, with their young sensations and revived veterans".

Gary Sanchez is the one and only sensation, singular, not plural. And which veterans have been revived? Brett Gardner? Jacoby Ellsbury? Chase Headley? No Yankee regular now has OPS+ of 100 (league average) or higher. The three players mentioned: 88, 88, 94.

The three August call ups:
Sanchez: 194, down from 225
Judge: 53
Austin: 67, up from 13 last week.

Sanchez has contributed mightily to the Yankees surge. But the Yankees have improved in spite of having the functional equivalent of two pitchers (Judge and Austin) in their lineup. They have occupied roster spots that could have included Carlos Beltran.

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