The Yankees are going to need a lot of infield help this year. They lost Robinson Cano to the Mariners, Alex Rodriguez to a 162-game suspension, and Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are coming back from injury, so they might need some reliable backups. They signed Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, and Brendan Ryan, but that isn't really enough to fill out the entire infield, and since there are no other options left to sign, the Yankees will have to rely on the players they have picked off the scrap heap throughout the offseason.
The Yankees have added Scott Sizemore, Dean Anna, Russ Canzler, Zelous Wheeler, and Yangervis Solarte into the fold to compete for roster spots. Only Sizemore possesses significant major league experience, and by that, I mean he's the only one among them that has played over 100 games in a season before. Canzler is the only other one that has actually played in a major league game. While Sizemore is more in line with the Yankees' method of signing players off the scrap heap, Anna, Wheeler, and Solarte are completely unproven, potential Quadruple-A players that might provide the team with absolutely nothing.
Other than these four, the organization also has a limited supply of internal prospects that could be included in the coming competition. Those prospects include Corban Joseph and Addison Maruszak, and I believe they should at least be given a shot, if it's an open tryout. Joseph's inclusion rests entirely on the status of his shoulder. We all remember him making his major league debut this year and then subsequently disappearing. He underwent season-ending shoulder surgery only a few months into the season, so he needs to be healthy first.
Maruszak, on the other hand, is essentially minor league cannon fodder as a player who can play anywhere on the field with most of his time spent at first, third, and shortstop. At 27 years of age I doubt he ever makes it to the majors, but then again, the Yankees are putting a lot of faith into a few other candidates who haven't either.
If these two Yankee prospects joined this ragtag band of Merry Men, which players would the Yankees be best off taking with them to start the season? To compare their production, I looked at their Steamer projections to see what we might be in store for.
As you can see, it's pretty ugly. Sizemore is the only one among them who projected to produce at a league-average rate with the bat, though several also hover just below. Of this group, Joseph is technically the third best option out of all seven with the best slugging percentage, while Maruszak projects to offer the least at the plate. Sizemore and Anna could potentially be more useful with the bat, but that doesn't mean it all comes down to offense. What the Yankees like to see is versatility, given that Johnson and Ryan can fill in at multiple positions. All of these potential garbage can heroes can play several different positions, so it also might be a matter of finding the best bat to go along with the most flexibility.
To figure out who brings the most defensive versatility, I took at look at each player's fielding history, and if they played at a certain position for more than 10 games I gave them credit for that position. Sure, it's a little unscientific, but plenty of players have added depth after only a handful of games of experience. However, not all positions are created equal, so I looked to Bryan Grosnick's post on Beyond the Box Score to determine each player's McEwing Score. Grosnick developed "McE" as a junk stat to determine which major league players were the best utility players in a single season. Even though I'm looking across multiple seasons, I used this guide because I like the simple point system he used based on Tom Tango's positional adjustments.
Right off the bat you can see that the positions considered to be harder are given more value while the positions considered to be easier are given less value. None of these players can offer help behind the plate or in center, but the rest of the positions are represented.
|Player||First Base||Second Base||Third Base||Shortstop||RF/LF||Total|
Being able to play almost every position on the field makes Addison Maruszak the versatility champion. Meanwhile, Corban Joseph, mainly a second baseman all his career, has the least. Maruszak and Canzler are the only two that can play first, though you can probably make the argument than anyone could play first. Still, they need someone who can back up Tex, and it might as well be someone with experience.
Judging by their standings, Sizemore and Anna are probably considered the favorites going into spring training. That doesn't mean that Sizemore's knee will be healthy all year or that Anna will be able to hit at the major league level. And then there's the probability that Roberts gets hurt at some point. The Yankees have room for two infielders at the moment, maybe a lefty bat and a righty bat, so even if Joseph and Maruszak get passed over now, that doesn't mean they can't be useful later.
If the Yankees suddenly need a full-time second baseman, it might be worth letting Joseph play every day. If they need someone on the bench who can play all over the field, then Maruszak, the 27-year-old rookie, could happen. They won't be sexy, they certainly won't be sexy, maybe not even good, but given the options the Yankees have, every little advantage counts.
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