Last night in Downtown Cleveland’s Playhouse Square, the Indians held a Town Hall Meeting, where fans were invited to ask questions of new General Manager Chris Antonetti and Field Boss Manny Acta about the upcoming season, which by the way, starts in just over two months.
The hottest topic on the table was the health of Grady Sizemore, who missed most of last season with a knee injury that required the very tricky Micro-fracture surgery.
During Sizemore’s absence, Michael Brantley, a key piece to the future of this club, took over the Centerfield job and played well. While the Indians would like to continue his growth at the plate, there was no doubt he was a top notch defensive player in the center of the diamond.
That is where things get interesting.
Many, including me, have said that upon Sizemore’s healthy return, he should be moved to Left so Brantley is free to roam in Center, his natural position. While we all are wowed by Grady’s great range and speed, his arm is one of the worst in the game. Over the past three seasons, teams have liberally run on him every chance they could. Brantley on the other hand, has the range of a healthy Sizemore AND a cannon throwing arm.
Antonetti addressed that right out of the box last night, saying unequivocally that if Grady is healthy, he will be in Center.
“No. 1, that’s where he’s most comfortable,” Antonetti said. “No. 2, talking to our medical people, center field is less demanding on his knee because, while he may have to cover more ground out there, he doesn’t have to decelerate as quickly. In left and right field, you have to make a lot more quick stops.”
I understand Antonetti feeling the need to coddle his “star” player, but in reality, it is not what is best for the club right now. Sizemore’s contract has a team option in 2012 that is “manageable” ($8.5 million) for the Tribe’s current situation, but attractive to a big market team. The real reason Antonetti is putting his foot down on Grady in Center is that they not only need him to bounce back for their team to be successful, but though they would never say it publicly, they would love to have Sizemore get back to a max trade value so they can sell him off the way they did CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez.
Think about it. They have a ready-made Centerfielder in Brantley that can be plugged right in and if they can get a king’s ransom (not like the Lee trade), it’s in their best interest to move Grady before he hits the free agent market.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves here. I’m just thinking in terms of 2011. The Tribe needs a healthy season from Sizemore as well as a return to the form that made him so good from 2005-2008. The last two seasons have been mostly lost. An outfield that features Grady, Brantley, and budding star Shin-Soo Choo is very formidable and a good base to build around.
Lets just hope Grady can regain his old form.