Not everyone can succeed in baseball.
Take yours truly for example. I’m a first baseman in high school, and while I’m a decent fielder, calling me a capable hitter would be a remarkable compliment. If Jonathan Mayo had ever seen me play, he would say that I don’t profile as a first baseman and that my hit tool is a -7 on the 2/8 scale.
The point of saying this is that not everyone can play baseball for a living. You probably won’t ever see me on a professional field, unless I can find another job in baseball (or if a team would hire a teenage bat boy).
Anyway, since not everyone in baseball can succeed, it’s tragic when fate takes its own course and interrupts what could have been a player’s chance to blossom into a superstar in the major leagues. The name Lyman Bostock immediately comes to mind as one of these instances.
Grady Sizemore is another one of those cases.
From 2005 (his age 22 season) to 2008 (his age 25 season) , Sizemore hit .281/.372/.496 and was a regular 20/20 threat, topping out in 2008 with a .268/.374/.502 line, 33 home runs, 90 RBI, and 38 stolen bases. He also finished 10th in the American League MVP voting that year, winning a Silver Slugger and his second career Gold Glove, while also making a third All-Star Game. He was also remarkably durable, never appearing in fewer than 157 games from 2005-2008.
Sizemore was originally acquired by the Indians in 2002 with Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens from the Montreal Expos for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew in one of the more lopsided trades in baseball history.
The sky was the limit for Sizemore, but a variety of injuries soon took over the career of one of baseball’s next superstars. Beginning in 2009, Sizemore missed 56 games. In the 106 he did play in, he still posted a respectable line of .248/.343/.445 with 18 home runs, but it was a far cry from the numbers he had posted in the few seasons prior.
After playing in 33 games in 2010 (and hitting only .211/.271/.289 without a home run), a bruised knee caused Sizemore to be placed on the DL, and ultimately resulted in him missing the rest of the season.
In 2011, Sizemore returned to play in 71 contests, but again fell short of posting the numbers he had at the beginning of his career (.224/.285/.422).
He has not appeared in the majors since then.
The Indians took a chance on him in 2012, signing him to a 1-year/$5 million deal, but a back injury suffered in spring training caused him to miss the entire season.
Sizemore is currently a free agent, but after news suggesting that he could be open to signing a new contract in the offseason, I began thinking about what he could bring to the table. Now 31, Sizemore is no longer the young kid that he was in his best days with the Tribe. But, since he would likely sign for a minor league contract, he’s a worthwhile risk for the Indians, as well as any other team in baseball.
I’m always a fan of minor league contracts. No matter how useless the player is, a team isn’t guaranteeing a roster spot and is paying very little money. It’s a low-risk, high-reward business, as signings like Scott Kazmir and Ryan Raburn (among others) have paid huge dividends for the Indians this season.
Selfishly, I would love to have Sizemore back. He’s still one of my favorite players (my cousin used to be part of the Grady’s Ladies club). Among my massive sum of Indians memorabilia and clothing, I still have two shirts with his name on them, and I continue to hope that he will return to the major leagues and resume what looked to be a tremendous career.
I also feel that, as long as he’s healthy, there’s still plenty left in the tank.
But the Indians have a crowded outfield. Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn, and Drew Stubbs currently make up the starting outfield. Ryan Raburn (recently signed to a 2-year extension) plays there off the bench, and Nick Swisher can play there as well when he isn’t at first base.
However, if Sizemore could return to the form he showed at the beginning of his career, the Indians would surely find a place for him.
Teams like the Mets and Twins (both in need of outfield help) have been linked to him in the past, and I personally feel that he’d be a great fit in either place. Both teams have bright futures ahead of them, and Sizemore could be a great piece to help either club. He could receive plentiful at-bats and show the league what it’s been missing the past few seasons.
I’m still a big fan of Sizemore. I just want him to return to his glory days, even if he ends up playing elsewhere. While I’d love for him to stay with the Indians, I also want him to make the decision that’s best for him and his career.
We all know that the talent is certainly there for Sizemore to excel again in the major leagues.
But is the opportunity there as well?
I think so.