As the Indians creep ever so closer to Spring Training, rumors are beginning to swirl about the future of Grady Sizemore. Is he healthy? Will he be ready for opening day? Can he return to his all-star form of a few years ago? Will he still be an Indian come opening day? There’s a lot there to digest and as long as we’re being frank, the answer to each and every one of those questions is a resounding… “I dunno… maybe?”
For anyone who has been living under a rock over the past six years or so, all Grady Sizemore has done is become the face of the Indians franchise. At one point he also held the keys to the hearts of every female Tribe fan in northeast Ohio. He’s just absolutely dreamy… uhhh… awkward. Anyways, one can’t help but think of Grady Sizemore when thinking of the Indians. He’s a three time all-star (06, 07, 08), a two time gold glove winner (07, 08), and a silver slugger award winner (08). He also led the league in both runs and doubles in 2006. With all of those accomplishments, it’s easy to see why so many people hold him in the highest regard…scandelous cell phone pictures aside.
Unfortunately, Sizemore’s career has taken a detour over the past two seasons thanks to injury, most notably microfracture surgery on his left knee 33 games into the 2010 season. Indian fans may need to prepare themselves for a dramatically different Sizemore upon his return. Microfracture surgery is typically performed on basketball players. Sizemore, by all reports I have read, is somewhat of a guinea pig for microfracture surgery on baseball players. No one is really sure how his knee will respond. It also becomes a bit more troubling when you take into account that Sizemore’s game has been predicated by speed and quickness over the past six years. It’s this issue that puts the Indians in their current dilemma.
Sizmore is under contract this season for $7.5 mil with a club option next year for $8.5 mil. Given the Indians plan to cut payroll and rebuild that leaves them in a tough situation with Sizemore. He’s the face of the franchise, but may not be the same player he once was. Should they wait and see what they have? Should they trade him before the start of the season before his value drops any further? I don’t know and quite honestly I’m not sure the Indians know either. The Indians also aren’t going to be competitive this year and probably not next year either. So why not trade Sizemore for more pieces and parts?
The problem here deals with value. Sizemore’s value is not as high as it once was. He’s damaged goods thanks to the surgeries and injuries over the past 2 seasons. With that argument, the best bet for the Indians is to trade him now before his value can fall any further. If they go into this season with Sizemore starting in center field and he either gets hurt or underperforms then the Indians will be in the same situation as they are with Travis Hafner, waiting out the end of his contract and getting nothing in return. Can they risk that? This is a team lacking talent in a lot of different places. Sizemore, even at his current value could still net them a reasonable amount of players.
However, Grady is only 28 and entering the prime of his career. There is no reason why he can’t return to all-star form and increase his value. If Sizemore could regain his form from the ’07 or ’08 seasons the Indians could make a killing in a trade with a contender. They could also decide to hold on to him and make him the centerpiece of their next push to the postseason. This could be aided by finally transitioning him to left field and moving him down to a power spot in the line up where he can better utilize his power. Many have argued for Sizemore to make a full-time move to either the 3rd or 5th spot in the lineup. With Michael Brantley as the possible leadoff hitter of the future, why not make the move now?
Of course, should the Indians make the decision to finally trade Sizemore it’s going to go over like a fart in church. If they trade him prior to the season, fans will say the Indians gave up on him too soon, especially if he has a comeback year. Trade him during the season, especially if he plays like the Sizemore of old, and the fans will be all over them like this is Sabathia and Lee all over again. If they don’t trade him and he either gets hurt or has another terrible year, then the Indians are really screwed. It’s really a lose-lose situation for the Indians no matter which way you look at it.
So what is the answer? I think it’s simple. Let it roll with Sizemore this year and see what happens. They still have an option for 2012 for slightly more than they are paying him this year. Why not take the chance and see if Sizemore bounces back. If he does return to form, they should exercise his option for 2012 and then try to trade him before the trading deadline. It also allows room for failure on Sizemore’s part. Should he have another poor season, the first half of 2012 could give him one last chance to increase his value. It would also be a contract year for him and everyone knows players have a knack for having career years in a contract year.
Really what would it hurt. It’s not like the Yankees and Red Sox are breaking the door down trying to make a deal for Sizemore. The only confirmed team with interest in Sizemore at this point is the Washington Nationals. Do they have the pieces to make a deal that is tempting enough for the Indians. Considering that they’ve never been competitive, I doubt it. That’s why they should wait and see what type of market develops for Sizemore’s services. That was their fatal flaw with the Cliff Lee deal. Judging by what they got back in that deal it’s a mistake they shouldn’t rush to make again, especially with their all-star center fielder who doubles as the face of the franchise.
I mean… unless you enjoy rooting for Lou Marson, then you have to do it…