Scott Sizemore and the final bench spot

The best case scenario for a fifth starter competition with no clear favorite
Wolfson: Yankees recently inquired about Ervin Santana

Unless the Yankees surprisingly sign Stephen Drew, they will head into the regular season with Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson at second and third base, respectively. Brendan Ryan will probably see time all around the infield. The Yankees have indicated the last bench spot will go to another infielder, with 40-man roster guys like Eduardo Nunez and Dean Anna competing against non-roster invitees Russ Canzler, Corban Joseph, and Scott Sizemore.

“It hasn’t been a good two years,” said Sizemore to Kevin Kernan last week, referring to the left ACL he has torn twice in the last 24 months. “It was devastating really. After going through it the first time and feeling like I was ready to go, healthy, I felt like I was back on my way but obviously, two serious knee injuries, doubts crept into my mind if I was ever going to be able to play again … I’m feeling pretty good, getting back on the field feels great and I haven’t had any issues with the knee.”

Sizemore, who turned 29 last month, tore the knee ligament in Spring Training 2012 and then again last April, after playing only two regular season games with the Athletics. Before that he had shown quite a bit of promise with Oakland, hitting .249/.345/.433 (118 wRC+) with eleven homers and a 12.1% walk rate in 355 plate appearances following a midseason trade with the Tigers in 2011. It was the initial knee injury that led to the A’s moving Josh Donaldson from catcher to third base, so things worked out well for them.

The two lost years mean Sizemore will come to camp next week as a complete unknown. Sure, that 2011 effort with Oakland was promising, but it was only 355 plate appearances and that doesn’t mean much of anything. Baseball America (no subs. req’d) called him a “blue-collar grinder who comes to the park ready to play every day” and a potential “steady if not spectacular regular,” but that was four years ago now. Hitting is a rhythm and timing thing, and it can be very easy to lose that rhythm and timing if you spend two years rehabbing a knee injury.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

“Throughout the rehab process, I kind of knew what to expect the second time around, so I really pushed myself even harder, being that I figured this was my last go-round,” added Sizemore. “I feel like I’ve had really good results so far. I haven’t had a lot of baseball experience in the last two years, but as far as a mental toughness standpoint, I’ve definitely learned to grind through some stuff and have a higher pain tolerance.”

Luckily for Sizemore, who is a second and third baseman by trade, the infield bar is rather low right now. Roberts hasn’t played much these last four years, and, when he has played, he hasn’t been all that good. Johnson has minimal experience at third base. If he plays anything like he did with the A’s in 2011, Joe Girardi will work Sizemore into the lineup everyday. Even if he comes back as a league-average hitter, someone with a little power and a healthy amount of walks, he’ll see regular playing time. There’s a lot of opportunity on the infield right now.

Of course, Sizemore would have to beat out Nunez and Anna and whoever else for that last bench spot in Spring Training before even getting that opportunity. That’s not a given. Not for a non-40-man roster guy coming off two major knee injuries. Nunez had a decent run after returning from a ridcage injury last July and Anna had a really strong year in Triple-A with the Padres, so they have their own cases for that bench job. I do think that, given his skillset and sliver of big league success, Sizemore could potentially help the Yankees the most if he’s healthy and shakes the rust off in camp. That is a rather big if, though.

The best case scenario for a fifth starter competition with no clear favorite
Wolfson: Yankees recently inquired about Ervin Santana
  • Andrew

    It seems like an eternity ago that he was a big-hype 2B prospect for the Tigers. If his health holds up, he’s probably got more offensive potential than any of the current 3B or 2B options, save for Kelly Johnson. Hopefully he didn’t forget how to hit.

    • Alex Rodriguez

      Fangraphs has some very interesting projections for Sizemore, hopefully we get the Oliver projections. Shame both Sizemores in the league went through injury issues.

      • Mr. Roth

        If we get anywhere near the Oliver projections for Sizemore and Johnson, we’ll be looking at ~38 HRs out of our 2B and 3B with a net 4.4 WAR.

        Although unlikely, that would be pretty f’n awesome.

        • jjyank

          I would personally buy all the folks at Oliver, and yourself, Mr. Roth, steak dinners in celebration if that happens.


  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

    It’s gonna happen. Believe.

  • The Great Gonzo

    I know Team Sizemore and all, but I think Nunez has the inside track.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead


    • I’m a looser and a trader baby so why don’t you kill me?

      That’s Team Pollyanna. Come on man.

      • dkidd

        is there a Team Deananna?

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          You can be on whatever team you wish to be, dkidd.


          • The Great Gonzo

            Ohhhhhhhhh, i get it. Its funny because gay!


      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        Team Sizemore is a subteam of Team Polyanna.

        • jjyank

          So Team Pollyanna is the MLB club, and Team Sizemore is the AAA team?

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            Team Polyanna is the Yankee Organization, and Team Sizemore is probably the Charleston Riverdogs.

            • jjyank

              Heh. Insert jab at Yankee farm system here.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                Team Sizemore stalled in Charleston.

              • The Great Gonzo

                Team Sizemore plays better out of the rotation? Does that fit?

                • Havok9120


            • lightSABR

              Hear that, Jorge Steinbrenner? He’s saying your commenting skills haven’t made it out of low-A ball yet. You probably need to learn to lay off trolls’ eephus pitches before you can play with the big boys.

              (Of course, if that’s the metric, I’m still in rookie ball.)

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                “You probably need to learn to lay off trolls’ eephus pitches before you can play with the big boys.”

                Heh, I wouldn’t disagree with that some days :)

      • jjyank

        We have all sorts of teams.

    • Joe Wilson

      YOU LIE!!!!!!!!!!

    • Preston

      Being on the 40 man already definitely helps him. Although with two years of rust to knock off going to AAA wouldn’t be the worst thing for Sizemore to start the season, he can come up when Brian Roberts hits the DL and still fulfill all of Team Sizemore’s dreams.

    • nycsportzfan

      Team Nunez

  • jjyank

    Team Sizemore!

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Team Sizemore Represent!!!

    Haters should just stick to the fifth starter thread.

  • Dicka24

    One of the big problems with these open battles for positions, is the 40 man roster crunch. Sizemore isn’t on the 40 man, and would need a spot opened up if he makes the team. Who gets tossed in his favor? It means he will really have to be that much better than the alternative. Personally, I think he makes the team. He provides a sub-30, inexpensive, controllable, decent with the bat player. He’s arb eligible till 2017. If his knee isn’t junk, he could be a solid find for 3B till Jagielo is ready.

    Is Dean Anna out of options? Nunez has an option left I think. So he could be sent down. Not sure about Anna.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      I don’t think Anna has ever been on a 40-man roster before now, so he should have all of his options remaining.

  • John

    Ride it out with the guys we have now. Don’t waste money on Drew save it for lowrie/headley or Hanley next offseason.. If we’re struggling mid season try and swim a trade for headley but don’t overpay because he’s goin to be ours after this season anyway.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Hey, just like Cliff Lee!

      Oh wait…

      • jsbrendog

        man, one name male first name commentors…


        • jjyank



          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Cashman failed.


            • jsbrendog


    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      “he’s goin to be ours after this season anyway.”

      Such a waste of superpowers. I want Powerball numbers, damnit.

  • OldYanksFan

    People may not want to hear this, but I’ll bet something valuable (like 100 bitcoins) that ARod is our 3Bman next year.
    He will be well rested with something to prove.

    ARod still thinks he can hit 715.

    • jjyank

      I want to hear that.

    • stuckey

      Arod is the only person left on Earth who believes 715 would mean anything.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Wellp, if we think Team Sizemore is going to have to shake off some rust, I think we’d have to agree that A-Rod, having missed the (almost) same 2 seasons, will have some rust to shake off too.

      That said, I’m not taking that bet. The Yankees got like 60M reasons to bring him back.

      • I’m One

        And, A-Rod was just a tiny bit better than Sizemore before his 2-season layoff. If he returns, I think his (ridiculous) upside (the elder) is higher.

        #notanoldmemebutstill …

  • blehmann

    This is not only one position. They have serious injury/recovery risks from first to third that are far more serious than the ones they seemingly began with last year. The backup plans last year did not work well and the Yanks are following essentially the same backup plan this year. Do I hope the plan works? Of course, I hoped so last year too. Do I believe it will work? No I don’t. Is there a chance it could work? Of course it could. That said, I sort of wanted the Broncos to win for Peyton Manning but my prediction was the Seattle D would determine the outcome just as many said based on past historic great defense/offense showdowns. So the smart money would have to predict that the Anna/Canzler/Jeter/Joseph/Nunez/Roberts/Ryan/Sizemore/Texeira experiment will not leave us with a sufficiently serviceable infield to make the post-season. Of course, the smart fan still has to hope…

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I don’t think the starting options make for great Option A’s, but I do believe there’s a bit more depth at these positions than there was last season. If the dominoes begin to fall, this team won’t, hopefully, be reaching for the waiver wire by May.

    • stuckey

      The Yankees infield in not an experiment. It is not a theory. It is not a lottery ticket. ALL of those things infer a chosen option of dubious or undetermined odds.

      Yankees infield is mostly the available option, which is an entirely different context.

      Unless one feels Stephen Drew turns the inherent uncertainly into certainty of considerable greater upside.

      I don’t.

  • I’m One

    The backup plans last year did not work well …

    I think beating their Pythag by 8 games despite poor seasons by CC & Hughes shows that the backup plans last year did work. I can’t say I’m confident in that happening 2 years in a row, but I’m more confident that there won’t be as many injuries to key players this season. That is not the same as saying I’m confident that all the returning players will perform to their career norms, however.

  • vicki


  • Eselquetodolosabe

    Sets up for a spirited, hard fought competition. We’ll root for our favorites to do well, but root just as hard for the eventual winner. From my perspective, and I imagine everyone else’s, let the best man win. The other side of this competition is reserved for the “loser/s”. That’s who I really feel for. Everybody wants it so bad, have probably worked harder than ever preparing for this shot, with not only their hopes on the line, but those of their loved ones as well. Everyone has experienced disappointment in their lives, and it’s why I’ll feel really bad for the “non-winner”. Man I’m sappy.


  • nycsportzfan

    I think Nunez will get it, but it would be cool to see Corban Joseph rake all spring and win the spot. He gets good wood on the ball, smacks liners all over. Hitting is his strong suit. This will be as good a chance at he’ll ever have of making a yankees team outta spring training.

  • Eduardo_E6

    Nunez doesn’t belong anywhere near a major league roster by any stretch of the imagination. He should be the first to get cut. If I had a choice right now to have Nunez in the lineup everyday or Dean Anna, I would choose Dean Anna for the sheer fact that we know that Nunez is awful. At least Dean Anna has showed some ability to take a walk and get on base, which Nunez never has in the minor leagues or the majors.

    It’s very interesting that Sizemore is projected for a 3.3 WAR by Oliver. If he can put up half of that (1.6 WAR), which he did in 110 games in 2011, I would be thrilled. The Yankees will open up the season with Roberts at 2B and Johnson at 3B with Sizemore getting at bats against LHP off the bench. If Roberts or Johnson go down, I think Anna gets the call. If Sizemore goes down, Canzler could get a shot. If Teixeira goes down, Johnson slides to first base.

    I think our pitching is going to be good enough to handle having the infield we have. Having plus players at other positions (OF, Catcher) helps. Let’s not count out Cashman making some midseason trades as well. All is well in Yankee Universe.