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.


  • Drew says:

    I was at Sizemore’s last rehab start in Columbus and he had two strikeouts. In fact, in the first inning the Clippers batted around and Sizemore made two of three outs in the inning. One was a strikeout and the other was a hard line out to 2nd. The strikeout came with the bases load. If I remember correctly, he did that twice that night.

    His defense, speed, and ability to come up with big hits was what made him an all-star. He strikes out so much that he is a rally-killer. His troubles are magnified on the 2011 Indians because it is SO difficult for the team to string together a series of hits.

    I like Carrera, Choo, and Brantley in the OF for the Indians next season and on $8.5M for a 4th OF who also bats LH just doesn’t make sense. A change of scenery can revitalize a person and I think it would be best for both Grady and the Indians that the two seek excellence elsewhere.

  • Derrek in Utah says:


    Firstly I wanted to say as the season is winding down, thanks for running the blog, as you can imagine the Tribe does not get much coverage out west. It is nice to have somewhere to go for an entertaining read on my team every day or so this season.

    I am with you on the season being better than we could have hoped in February, but it is still a sting to be out after being in it for so long. I finally gave in swapped out my Cleveland Ringtone/wallpaper today for my football one. Good season all in all, still a bummer…

    On Sizemore, I know there is always the fear that if you let him go he ends up somewhere in the division and is suddenly the 2007 version of himself, but I just don’t see how you can pay him $8+M based on his last 2 seasons. It is hard to get durable over night, and I just don’t see that happening. If we can renegotiate his deal for cheaper I say do it in a heartbeat, if not, best wishes.

  • Jerry says:

    Agreed……too brittle…..Some folks simply cannot handle the everyday wear of MLB

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    You guys make great points…I think my willingness to keep him is directly connected to my fear that he’ll leave and have great success elsewhere. It really wouldn’t be the end of the world, as he’s been given ample opportunities over the past few seasons.

  • Drew says:

    But $8.5M is way too much money to spend on insurance against the possibility that he goes elsewhere in the division and becomes good again. $3.5-$4M may be about right but lets be honest, Jack Hannahan and Shelly Duncan have produced more than he has in 2011 and they make a combined $1M.
    Can a player sign a contract in the MLB where if he performs he gets specific incentives? For example, if Sizemore signs a $8.5M extension in which $2.5M is guaranteed and if he plays 140 games he gets $2M, he strikes out less than 120 times he gets $2M. He hits over .280 he gets $2M?

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Drew, those are the same reasons that I never really complain about the Tribe not signing some big money free agent. Look at Adam Dunn and the salary he’s making this year – someone could make the league minimum and still (obviously) put up much better numbers.

    I think those deals with incentives are always a good idea. I think Carl Pavano had a setup like that here in Cleveland…if you do well and stay healthy, you make your money. If not, you don’t.

  • Reacass says:

    It is time to cut ties with Grady. If he can resurrect his career, more power to him. But he certainly has not been worth what the Indians have been paying him for the last couple of years and only a fool would bet $8M that he will be an excellent player next year. Take a look at what level player makes $8M a year and you will see how far away he is currently.

  • scott says:

    Having the advantage of writing after you posted the ‘what do we do with Pronk?’ post, i say we combine them, buy out Pronk’s 2012 and DH Grady next season. As a DH, Pronk’s whole value is what he does at the plate, and he hasn’t done much. I like Pronk but at some point you gotta let go. DHing Grady saves all the OF wear-and-tear on his knees and maybe by concentrating solely on hitting he can regain his batting eye. (remember, in his 1st stint off the DL back in May, he was ridiculous with extra-base hits) It’s a 1-year risk: if it doesn’t work out, his contract is up, goodbye Grady. Yes you risk $16.5M (8M Pronk buyout, 8.5M Grady salary), but these days when hitting is at a premium, what else will the Tribe do? There won’t be an available hitter who isn’t snatched up by NYY or Boston and Grady is an in-house option.