When the Scott Sizemore signing was announced yesterday, I was a little quick to condemn it as an organizational depth move and nothing more. We are talking about a guy who’s played in just 2 games and had only 6 plate appearances since the end of the 2011 season, and while ACL injuries aren’t quite as devastating to baseball players as they are to basketball or football players, 2 of them in a row to the same knee isn’t exactly a recipe for MLB success.
The more I let the idea of Sizemore marinate in my subconscious while watching the football games yesterday, the more I started to feel like I rushed to judgment on the guy. Now that I’ve checked his numbers, I’m starting to feel like he may have something to offer the Yankees after all.
For starters, he is on the right side of 30. Not by much at age 29, but he just turned 29 a little over a week ago and players under 30 are like unicorns on the Yankee roster these days. Knee problems being what they are, Sizemore is still very much in his physical prime and doesn’t have a laundry list of other physical ailments attached to him. If he is fully recovered from the knee surgeries, and that’s admittedly a big “if”, he should still be physically capable of being a useful player.
How useful? Well that depends on what the Yankees are looking for. They’ve reportedly decided not to give out any more Major League contracts to infielders this offseason, leading me to believe that there’s going to be more than just a token ST competition between the gaggle of players they already have. Sizemore has experience at both second and third base and while he’s no defensive whiz he’s likely much more reliable than Eduardo Nunez. He could take on that utility infielder bench role and serve as the right-handed part of a platoon with Kelly Johnson at third while also rotating in at second to give the very brittle and even bigger injury risk Brian Roberts regular rest.
At the plate, Sizemore’s patience and plate discipline would fit in very well with the traditional Yankee formula. The bulk of his .238/.328/.381 career slash line came in the 2011 season, when he hit .245/.342/.399 in 429 PA with 11 HR and a 12.4% BB rate for the A’s. He’s no masher by any means, but he can take a walk and has just enough pop in his bat (.143 career ISO) to make up for the 25.8% K rate. Sizemore could be a productive piece of the puzzle hitting in the lower third of the lineup, especially against left-handed pitching. Sizemore owns a .779 OPS against southpaws in his short career (obligatory SSS disclaimer), over 100 points better than his OPS against righties.
He’s no better a replacement option for A-Rod at third base than anybody else the Yankees have added this offseason. If they really are going to try to piece that position together with what they’ve got, they’re basically accepting that third base is going to be a weak spot for them. But Scott Sizemore is certainly no worse of a part-time solution than Nunez or Dean Anna, even coming off the 2 ACL surgeries, and he does have enough upside to potentially be a bit of a steal for the Yanks. For what it’s worth, the Oliver system projects a 3.8 WAR season from Sizemore in 2014 in 600 PA. While I think that’s incredibly optimistic and extremely unlikely, I will acknowledge that even a fraction of that would be better than what the Yankees got from their backup infielders last season.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)