Austin Romine

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Great Moments in Trashing Star Players: Gary Sanchez Edition

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There’s a long and rich history, particularly in major markets like New York and Boston, of scribes trashing star players. Maybe not truly, unequivocally great players, but most superior talents with a flaw are eventually given the drive-by treatment by a columnist at some point or another.

Over the weekend it was Gary Sanchez‘s turn. He’s the subject of a Randy Miller column at NJ.com in which his big flaw — his pitch blocking — is used as the jumping off point for an anonymous scout to say some truly silly things:

“Sanchez has got a ways to go defensively, and I knew it all along,” a Major League scout for an opposing club told NJ Advance Media. “He gets very lazy. He wants to reach instead of shifting his feet. He tries to get away with stuff because of his strong arm.”

How big a problem is this?

“I’ll tell you what,” the scout said. “I’ll go on the record right now and say it: For the playoffs, you watch, Austin Romine will catch more than Sanchez. Romine doesn’t have much of an arm, but he’s the better catcher.”

At the outset, can we agree how hilarious it is that a guy who demanded anonymity for his fiery quotes says “I’ll go on the record right now . . .”? Because it’s pretty hilarious.

Beyond that, yes, I think anyone who has watched Gary Sanchez catch realizes that he’s not a good plate blocker. The scout chalks it up to laziness, which is oddly judgmental and presumably not based on anything other than a gut character judgment. I’m more inclined to say it’s a matter of technique that could likely be improved with work in spring training, but fine, I’ll stipulate that he’s not good at blocking and often reaches when he should be blocking.

Beyond that, however, this is ridiculous. While he’s not Yadier Molina behind the dish, Sanchez’s arm is obviously great. He’s no worse than an average pitch framer. And you know what? I’m guessing that if you polled every pitcher on the Yankees staff, they’d say they’d rather have that extra run support that comes from Sanchez’s homers than whatever is lost from the occasional passed ball. He’s hitting .280/.349/.541 with 30 homers despite missing a lot of time this year. He’s got 50 homers in his first 161 games as a major leaguer. You don’t find that in a catcher very often and when you do, you put him behind the plate unless and until he develops an actual phobia of catching pitches or bows his knees out, whichever comes first.

All of which is to say that, no, I do not believe that Austin Romine is going to catch more in the playoffs than Sanchez is. No matter what this off-the-record/on-the-record scout says. Or no matter what the columnist who sought him out, likely specifically to find an anti-Sanchez take, says.

Miguel Cabrera, Alex Wilson receive reduced suspensions after brawl

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Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera and right-hander Alex Wilson will serve reduced suspensions following their involvement in a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees last month. Both suspensions were shortened by one game and are set to begin on Saturday, when the Tigers host the Indians for the remainder of their four-game series this weekend.

Cabrera was suspended and fined for seven games after he instigated the brawl by shoving Yankees’ catcher Austin Romine. He’ll serve a six-game suspension instead, and should be eligible to rejoin the team by the time they hit the road in Toronto next Saturday.

Wilson’s original four-game suspension has been reduced to three games. He didn’t jump into the initial fray between the two sides, but was ejected alongside Detroit manager Brad Ausmus after intentionally throwing at Todd Frazier in the eighth inning. He’ll be available for the Tigers again on Wednesday as they finish off a three-game series against the Royals.

Ausmus will still serve his automatic one-game suspension, since warnings were in place when Wilson threw at Frazier. Bench coach Gene Lamont is scheduled to step in as acting manager during Saturday’s game against the Indians.

Yankees acquire Erik Kratz from the Indians

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The Yankees and Indians made a minor trade on Thursday. The Indians sent catcher Erik Kratz to the Yankees for cash considerations.

Kratz, 37, hasn’t played in the majors yet this season. At Triple-A Columbus, he hit .270/.359/.472 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 324 plate appearances.

You may recall that the Yankees threw down with the Tigers in a benches clearing brawl last week. Catcher Gary Sanchez was suspended four games for his involvement, which included throwing punches. Backup backstop Austin Romine was suspended two games. Adding Kratz helps the Yankees deal with the brief loss of Sanchez and Romine. Rosters expand on Friday.