As the season winds to a close and the inevitable discussion on the 2012 Indians begins, there is one major issue that will need some consideration this off season – what do you do with Grady Sizemore?
Sizemore is in the final year of a 6 year, $23.45 million deal, although the Indians hold a team option for 2012 at $8.5 million. So what does the Tribe do? Do they pick up the option, and hope that Sizemore is healthy enough to contribute in 2012, or at least healthy enough to flip in a trade? Do they decline the option, yet try to negotiate a new, cheaper deal with the center fielder? Or, do they decline the option and cut ties completely?
I’m sure we all remember how Sizemore arrived in Cleveland – when Bartolo Colon (and Tim Drew) were traded to the Montreal Expos in 2002, the Indians received Sizemore along with Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips (and Lee Stevens in a salary dump move for Montreal). It was obviously the swindle of the century, as the Expos were facing a potential contraction and tried to do as much as possible with their position as a contender in ’02. Cleveland made its share of mistakes on their end of the deal as well; giving up on Brandon Phillips so quickly is the first thing that comes to mind. One of their big successes in the deal was the acquisition of Sizemore.
At the time, Sizemore wasn’t necessarily the headliner in the deal (even though he was a 3rd round pick in 2000 for the Expos); that honor appeared to go to Phillips and Lee. But once he was called to the majors in 2004 he impressed and became a fan favorite (especially among female fans who formed groups like “Grady’s Ladies.”)
Sizemore was an all-star in 2006, 2007, and 2008; won gold glove awards in 2007 and 2008; and won the Silver Slugger award in 2008. During that time period, the frail Sizemore that we’ve come to know was nonexistent – he played in all 162 games in 2006 and 2007, and played in 157 games in 2008. By 2009 he was down to 106 games, in 2010 it was 33, and now in 2011 it currently stands at 64.
In May of 2010, Sizemore underwent the complex microfracture procedure on his knee. In 2011, he’s dealt with problems in his other knee. Manny Acta once mentioned that his injury problems were because he played so hard, without regard for his body. At least in 2011, Sizemore appeared timid in the outfield, almost afraid to chase hits with the reckless abandon fans were used to. In my opinion, the only way Acta’s statement makes sense is if he meant that the years and years of hard play added up to cause Sizemore’s current issues. Because he certainly hasn’t approached the game with that same zeal this year.
As one of our commenters pointed out earlier this season, Sizemore’s strikeout totals haven’t exactly improved over the past several years. His on base percentage numbers have plummeted as well. It’s baffling to me how he can still be placed in the lead-off spot with some regularity; I guess they’re just trying to help him find a comfort zone. Here are some of Sizemore’s stats over the past few seasons:
2006: 162 games played, 655 at-bats – 190 hits, 28 home runs, .290 average, .375 OBP, .533 slugging and 153 strikeouts.
2007: 162 games played, 628 at-bats – 174 hits, 24 home runs, .277 average, .390 OBP, .462 slugging and 155 strikeouts.
2008: 157 games played, 634 at-bats – 170 hits, 33 home runs, .268 average, .374 OBP, .502 slugging and 130 strikeouts.
2009: 106 games played, 436 at-bats – 108 hits, 18 home runs, .248 average, .343 OBP, .445 slugging and 92 strikeouts.
2010: 33 games played, 128 at-bats – 27 hits, 0 home runs, .211 average, .271 OBP, .289 slugging and 35 strikeouts.
2011: 64 games played, 243 at-bats – 55 hits, 10 home runs, .226 average, .291 OBP, .444 slugging, 79 strikeouts.
Since Sizemore came off his most recent stint on the DL, he is 0-14, with 6 strikeouts (through the 6th inning of today’s game against the White Sox).
So what are your thoughts on Sizemore? Do you think that he just hasn’t been able to find his groove since he came back from the DL? Do you think he’s still hurting, and just pushed to come back too soon? How do you weigh these factors when considering the 2012 option?
For me, I’d like to see what Sizemore looks like over the next couple of weeks before I’d make a final decision. Picking up the 2012 option certainly can’t hurt – it’s not a crippling amount of money for the team. Perhaps if they can sign him cheap while his value is low, that may not be a bad idea either. Of course, in that scenario, you have to hope that he can recapture some of that 2006-2008 magic.