It’s easy to forget how good Grady Sizemore once was.
In a four-year period beginning with his first full season in 2005, Sizemore averaged 27 home runs a year, 116 runs scored, 41 doubles, eight triples, and 29 stolen bases per year with an OPS over .860. He earned MVP votes in all four years. He was named to three consecutive all-star teams and won two gold gloves.
Oh, and he averaged 160 games played per season as well.
Those days are long, long gone.
“It’s sad,” Indians manager Manny Acta said regarding his one-time MVP candidate. “I won’t call it disappointing. I’m just sad for the human being that he is, and the type of player that he is. Especially for me, because one of the things that attracted me the most to this job was Grady Sizemore, being able to have a player that was going to help me win ballgames by himself.”
Once one of the game’s most durable, Sizemore began dealing with injury issues during the 2009 season when a knee injury wound up requiring microfracture surgery. It took almost a full year for Sizemore to make it back to the field in 2010, and when he did it wasn’t particularly pretty. Finally healthy, it seemed, heading into 2011, Sizemore wound up seeing three different DL stints last year; the final year of his contract.
This past offseason, Sizemore was viewed as a potential bounce-back candidate and was drawing at least some level of interest from Boston and Texas. Neither of those clubs were looking at him as an integral piece of the lineup, which was understandable. Instead of allowing the marriage to end, however, Indians GM Chris Antonetti worked out a one-year, $5 million deal with his former superstar. Sizemore said at the time that he felt he owed something to Cleveland after missing so much time the past three seasons.
Just before Spring Training this year, however, Sizemore came up with a back strain, which eventually lead to surgery that was to have kept him out until June. Set backs have mounted upon setbacks and now here we are.
In the past four seasons, Sizemore has averaged just 55 games per year and hit a combined 28 home runs.
Grady Sizemore isn’t the reason Cleveland fell apart in 2012, but he is representative of a front office that has tried to cut corners time and time again to no avail. The Indians have been hamstrung by ownership’s unwillingness to loosen the purse strings over the past three seasons. Instead, they try to catch lightning in a bottle by offering low-end contracts to second-tier players and veterans well past their prime. Those are the type of parts that can be useful in putting the finishing touches on a roster, but not ones that should be counted upon to carry a contending club.
Once again this winter, Antonetti will have a chance to part ways with Sizemore, along with two other prominent members of their 2007 ALCS club, Travis Hafner and Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona). It is well past time for Cleveland to move on from all three.
For more on the Tribe, see Wahoo’s on First.