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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Indians - Re-sign Grady Sizemore
Cleveland Indians sign OF Grady Sizemore to a 1 year/$5 million contract.
Up to $4.5 million in incentives as well. $.5 million for being named comeback player of the year and an additional $4 million based on plate appearances ($0.25M each for 450, 475 PAs. $0.5M each for 500, 525, 550, 575, 600, 625, 650 PAs—thanks to Cots for laying it out so clearly)
After Sizemore’s age 25 season according to similarity score the top matches for Sizemore were Barry Bonds and Duke Snider. After a lousy year by his standards (and the start of his injury problems) the top comp was still Bonds. Yes, I know all about the issues with similarity score. And besides, being somewhat comparable to Bonds at 25 doesn’t mean much in terms of career progression. Still it’s safe to say that only very good young players can be sensibly compared to the young Barry Bonds.
Since he’s been hurt he hasn’t been anything close to the same player. He’s due to play center field again. Given the other regular outfielders that’s pretty much a must. I can’t imagine either Choo or Brantley being adequate in center. But I’d be more than a little surprised if Sizemore is either—he’s fairly clearly lost a big chunk of his speed (of course he says he’s healthy, so you can hope for some recovery here. It’s never safe to bet against professional athletes, but as I say I’m not optimistic). And it would be nice from a career point of view if he wasn’t faced with the demands of center while attempting to re-establish himself.
But the speed issues aren’t what’s threatening his career. The young Sizemore had a broad set of skills (which is why Barry Bonds pops up on his list of comps). I wouldn’t be all that concerned about the drop in batting average in the past few years. Or the complete disappearance of his running game. Those are normal consequences of injury. What really concerns me is his plate discipline. The good Sizemore would be expected to walk 85+ times a year and in the last couple of years he hasn’t been close to that. Last year in particular he was noticeably less patient than he was in the past and for the past two years he’s simply been swinging and missing far more often than he used to. Maybe that too is injury related and is correctable now that he’s healthy, but there was a fundamental change in approach last year and that’s often a sign of future problems.
Oh well, I guess that’s why he’s signed a contract that’s so heavily incentive based. The risks on the Indians side aren’t huge. Even the Sizemore of last year is a tolerable platoon DH (I’m not in love with a platoon player who hits .239/.300/.452 with the platoon advantage, but it’s not a crippling problem and at least there’s no long-term commitment). And if he does bounce back (at least part way), well the Indians at worst have exclusive negotiating rights with a player who claims to be happy to be in Cleveland. If all of the incentives are claimed and the Indians get the Sizemore of 2009 (his worst year as a regular) the Indians get something of a bargain. That’s an indication of a pretty reasonable gamble on their part.
I’m not optimistic that we’ll see anything more than that (and the risk that he’ll implode either due to injuries or his new inability to make regular contact or the impatience of 2011 is not small), but I honestly hope to be wrong here. Sizemore is a personal favorite and I’d love to see something approaching the Sizemore before he got hurt.
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