Indians Centerfielder Grady Sizemore may have roamed his final days in center field for the Tribe. He is out for the season with that nagging left knee of his, which he had surgery on. And ever since his All-Star caliber campaign in 2008, the production has gone south for Sizemore.
I realize that 2008 was only a couple years ago, but Grady now has an exposed weakness. Indians Coach Manny Acta put Sizemore in the two-hole for opening day, hoping that Asdrubal Cabrera could consistently get on base and open up a hole for Sizemore between first and second.
Grady is a dead pull hitter; this is his restraint. Hitters who use the whole field establish a threat to the defense, and pitchers pitch to these hitters differently. But with a one-dimensional hitter, the opposition can attack that weak spot at will. AL pitchers have done that to him, and Grady Sizemore's production has declined because of it. Sizemore hit 33 home runs in 2008, the vast majority of them yanked into the right-field corner and into the Progressive Field visitor's bullpen. He is also yet to have a 100 RBI season. Before the injury, Sizmore was batting only .211 without a home run and 13 RBI's. He struck out 35 times in just over 120 at bats. The other quality of Sizemore's that has decreased over the years is the number of plate appearances. He is having the utmost difficulty staying on the field.
With the ferocity that Sizemore plays in center field, it comes at a high cost. He did have four plus seasons of 600 at bats, but another season like that might be distant, if not miles behind him.
He was a great player in his day, but his run might be over, at least with his current team.
The options that the Tribe has to replace are underwhelming though. But Trevor Crowe is a more then capable guy in center field. His outstanding throwing arm already gives him an edge in the field, plus he can play all three outfield positions. Austin Kearns isn't exactly the long term solution, or a natural center fielder, but he has been a nice find for the Tribe. Seeing that Shin-Soo Choo is a lock in right field, Crowe never should need to play any other spots. But he can, and that is a worthy characteristic.
Michael Brantley is also an option. Everyone seems to have forgotten about him since he was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus. The Indians can not afford to get little out of him because they gave up C.C. Sabathia for him, and acquired Matt LaPorta in the same deal. Brantley has great poise at the plate, and a good eye for the strike zone as well. Both Brantley and Crowe can hit atop, or lower in the order. Sizemore is strictly a middle of the order type hitter, which is limiting. The more options a manager has, the more flexible he can become with his lineup.
Overall, with these two options in center field, there is more versatility in both of them. Grady Sizemore was an All-Star one season, but was a limitation to the team.
The Indians can not trade Sizemore until he gets healthy, which will likely come when the 2010 campaign is over. What is really unfortunate is that deadline deals usually get more value than off season trades. Most of the borderline playoffs teams can find themselves in a desperate situation to give them the advantage. There are usually more buyers then sellers at this time of year.
And the playoff races are tight lately, very tight. In fact, the largest lead in any of baseball's six divisions was the Texas Rangers over the Los Angeles Angels by three-and-a-half games. So, if the Tribe could have dealt Sizemore in July, they would have been much better off. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A deal at, or near the winter meetings is the most likely scenario.
Sizemore will turn only 28 on August 2nd. He still has some value on his plate. It could mean that fans will need to say goodbye to "Grady's Ladies." But then again, Tribe fans had to do the same to Pronkville as well, and they have seemed to recover. The question is: will there be any takers for this banged up ex-All-Star?