Welcome to the inaugural Weekly Wroundtable, a new Wahoo’s on First feature in which the members of the WoF staff will weigh in on one of the most important issues or questions facing the Indians.
This week’s question is: Should the Indians pick up Grady Sizemore’s option for 2012? By Tuesday (three days after the World Series ends), the team will have to make a decision about whether to bring him back for $9 million or to hand him his $500,000 buyout and let him test the free agent market. A few years ago the thought of letting Grady walk would have seemed ridiculous, but after three years of injuries and declining production there’s a good chance he’ll be suiting up for some other team next season.
In general, it turned out that we all agreed on what the team should do, but we each had different reasoning and came to different conclusions about what the front office should do next. Read on to see what we thought.
Lewie Pollis: Imagine if someone said that the Indians were considering signing a banged-up, lefty-hitting outfielder to a one-year, $8.5 million contract. He was a star once and he’s still only 29, but thanks to injuries and declining plate discipline he’s averaged just 52 games and been below replacement-level for the last two years. He’s still got solid power, but he needed to be handled with care and his days as a regular fielder were probably older even before his knee surgery this month.
My response would be: we already have Travis Hafner. To be fair, Sizemore can still play the field to some extent, but I can’t see him holding up as a regular anywhere but DH. They’re both lefties, and Hafner is better and his contract is immovable. Unless you trust his knees to hold up in the outfield, where do you put him?
Now that he’s lost his face-of-the-franchise status (most fans seem to want the team to decline the option), the only reason to keep him around is if the team brass thinks he can play the outfield every day. I’d be happy to bring him back on a cheaper or incentive-laden deal, but there are better ways for the team to spend that money.
Jon Rudder: Let me be the first say this, I am as big of a Grady Sizemore fan as anyone. The very way that he plays: leaping against walls, hitting memorable home runs and making mind boggling catches. I’ve defended him, praised him, and anxiously awaited his return to an Indians lineup that was very much in need of him this past year.
I am a fan of Paul Cousineau’s idea for an incentive-based contract that would keep Grady in Cleveland and the Indians would be on the hook for $9 million. But is that what is best for the franchise? Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more clear that the answer is no.
Good organizations know how much they can get out of a player, and when they have gotten all that they can out of them. Grady can have an impact when he’s in the lineup, but getting him there is the dilemma. The two knee surgeries (one major and one minor) in the last year will pose nothing but problems as Grady continues to grow older. His speed will be nothing what it was, and though his swing was altered to relieve stress on that injured knee, he continues to strike out at a growing rate. For good of the organization, it’s best to move on.
Ed Carroll: The Indians should not pick up Grady Sizemore’s option for the 2012 season. Mind you, I’m not saying the Indians shouldn’t have Sizemore on the club, because they kind of need him. But they don’t need what he has been the past three years, and they shouldn’t gamble $8.5 million that he’s (finally) fully healthy.
The Indians need to restructure Grady’s deal if they are serious about keeping him, because for a small-market club on the cusp of contention like the Tribe, $9 million is too much to risk. I don’t care if he could get that kind of money on the open market—Cleveland shouldn’t be the team to pay it.
If Grady is healthy, he’s a viable MVP candidate, but he hasn’t been anything close to healthy since 2008. The $8.5 million is too much for the Tribe to risk on Grady Sizemore, even for just one year.
Geordy Boveroux: I don’t think it’s the best idea for the Indians to pick up Grady Sizemore’s option. There are obviously some holes on the team that need to be filled—right-handed power, a first baseman to challenge LaPorta—that the money should best be spent elsewhere.
In a perfect world, Sizemore could renegotiate with the Tribe and return in 2012 and hopefully beyond. When he first returned early last year Sizemore showed flashes of his old power potential and obviously was a big boost to the team.
The future that I’d mostly like to see is having Sizemore resign to a cheaper contract and using some of the money saved on pursuing Josh Willingham. Having them essentially split duties (Willingham plays left field when Sizemore is out, Michael Brantley takes over in center field) could limit the possibility of injuries and add some power to a lineup that was starved for runs at the end of last year.
The biggest issue is there are a lot of teams that are in need of a big time center fielder. While Sizemore is surely not that any more, there will be one front office that will think he can be. Putting Sizemore on the open market could me he never returns, but that might be better than the risk involved in spending $8.5 million on him.