April 19, 2014

Grady Injury Leaves the Tribe Behind the Eight Ball

I said it last week. I said it three months ago. I said it when the season ended. The Indians needed to cut ties with the Grady Sizemore era.  The reasons were simple: The guy has a broken down body, his skills are eroding, and the Indians cannot afford to bank on a guy that simply cannot be counted on. They had no financial reason to keep him on the roster, yet they decided to give him the one year, $5 million base plus incentives much to my chagrin.

Last Friday afternoon, the Indians let it out that Sizemore had suffered a back injury that would shut him down for the next few weeks. This injury occurred during his knee rehabilitation and before he even stepped foot on the field in Goodyear, Arizona. It was not a good sign. At the time, we were told that he wouldn’t be ready by opening day, something I found curious considering we were still six weeks before the start of the season and Sizemore’s latest ailment was called a “back strain.” Like last year, Grady would start on the DL and hopefully come back a couple of weeks into the season.

Yesterday, Manager Manny Acta told the media that there will be an announcement about Grady’s situation today; something Acta termed “ominous.”

I looked up the definition of the word “Ominous.”  Here it is:

Giving the impression that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen.

Now the news has been dropped: Grady will be missing more time than we thought. Eight-to-twelve weeks, in fact.

I don’t want to be the guy who said “I told you so,” but I told you so. I was on record from day one saying this was a bad idea and here we are, not knowing when and if Grady will be back in a Tribe uniform. And when he does come back, will he ever be close to becoming the player that he was from 2005-2009?

Look, I get that the Indians have that history with Grady and want him badly to succeed and make a big comeback, but in the end, counting on Sizemore to play such a big role without covering themselves on the back-end is a huge concern.

You look up now, and all of a sudden, your best left-field option is Shelley Duncan. No offense to Shelley, who I love as a role player, but he is at his best when he is not exposed every single day. Being a bench guy who can play left field and first base and start against tough lefties is what suits Duncan.

With the Tribe in a constant search for that big middle of the order bat ending in 1B Casey Kotchman, they left themselves very vulnerable. With Grady’s injury history so fresh in their minds, wouldn’t the prudent thing have been to add that bat as a guy who can play both first base and the outfield? Or should they have ended up with an outfielder as their free agent signing/trade acquisition and gone through with a plan of rotating Carlos Santana, Duncan, and Michael Brantley (yes, this was out there and discussed this winter) at first. This also would have given the ace defensive catcher Lou Marson more time behind the dish. Had Grady stayed healthy, then you give him plenty of rest days with Brantley taking his place. If Grady gets hurt, Brantley takes over permanently.

Now with the extended absence of Sizemore, there is no doubt that Kotchman will play first base every day. Left field will most likely be manned by Duncan, and right-handed Aaron Cunningham, who Acta singled out as being very impressive so far this Spring, could be the real beneficiary. Cunningham is out of options and was going to be fighting hard to make the club. With Sizemore out, it looks like the former Padres top prospect will get that roster spot.

Another guy who could squeeze out extra playing time will be utility man Jason Donald.  JD showed in the final two months of last year that he can handle the stick (.295/.333/.727 in August, .348/.392/.812 in September) and play anywhere on the diamond. The Indians took that a step further this winter by putting Donald in Center field, where reports had him looking very natural. This spring he will also spend a lot of time getting himself better acquainted with the position. It wouldn’t shock me at all to see Donald a couple times a week in the outfield.

All of this comes back to Grady. The Indians gambled that he would get back to his old form and so far, even before one single Spring Training game is played, they look like they have lost. I hope we don’t spend the entire season trying to figure out who can produce regularly in that spot Sizemore was supposed to take. I think we saw enough of that last year with the various injuries to Sizemore, Travis Hafner, and Shin-Soo Choo.

Mark Goldman/Icon SMI

  • Harv 21

    “Mr. Kearns, Mr. Kearns, please pick up the white courtesy phone.”

    JK.  But think I see the ominous shadow of The Muscle, smelling blood as he circles overhead in the blue Arizona sky.

  • http://www.cinpleweb.com/ stin4u

    Again, five million down the drain.

    I don’t care what anyone says about no other options in free agency, I would have much rather seen this team pocket that money and put ANY warm body out there in center field. There is no justification in saying hindsight is 20/20 on this one, anyone could have predicted this would happen and that was why I was so vehemently against his re-signing.

    /frustrated

  • mgbode

    what I want to know is if we were able to get his contract insured.  that would have been impossible, right?

  • mgbode
  • Natedawg86

    Delmon Young would have looked real good…

  • Natedawg86

    Delmon Young would have looked real good…

  • Jeff D

    Maybe this gives us a chance to get an extended look at Russ Canzler, who we picked up from TB this offseason (last year’s AAA MVP?)  He played 30+ games in LF in AAA last year…he might be a bit of a butcher out there, but personally I’d like to see if the guy can hit…

    Just thought I’d mention it, I don’t see Canzler’s name come up much when we talk about alternate LF options.

  • Natedawg86

    What about Beau Mills?  Where is he at?

  • Natedawg86

    What about Beau Mills?  Where is he at?

  • http://www.cinpleweb.com/ stin4u

    Doesn’t he play first?

  • guest

    Did I miss something or did we lose Ezekiel Carrera? 

    If his defense is turned around then I could live with Brantley in LF, Zeke in CF and Shoo in RF.

  • EyesAbove

    Brantley is better off in left, hoping Donald or Carrera can step up in center. Carrera’s defense was really bad last year.

  • guest

    totally agree on Brantley being better suited in LF and that Zeke’s defense was atrocious.

    If Zeke was able to work some things out in winter ball I’d say a a platoon of he and Donald are the best working option at the moment.

    That is unless Duncan picks up where he left off at the end of last year this spring and tears through training.

  • Dcarrol3

    I wouldn’t get my hopes up with Russ Canzler. He’s not exactly young, and sure he won the International League MVP last year…which is the same award Shelly Duncan won in 2009. I can’t believe no one mentions the fact the 2012 Indians have two former MVPs on their team!

    Other International League MVPs: Mike Hessman (They LOVE him in Toledo, probably because he was stuck there so long), Fernando Seguignol (former Columbus Clipper), Jhonny Peralta, Toby Hall (who I think was actually a top catching prospect at one time)

    The list is random. Basically its either top prospects on their last minor league hurrah before making it big (Peralta, Shane Victorino…JT Snow and Jim Thome back in the day) or its guys who are basically AAAA players, too good for AAA, not good enough for the majors (Hessman, Duncan, Jeff Manto).

    I’m pretty sure Canzler falls in the latter category, I really hope he can prove me wrong.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Only if the Indians sell more jerseys, lol.

  • Jeff D

    Yup, I hear ya…I’m not looking for world-beating production here, but something in the ballpark of “league average” production would be a pleasant surprise.

  • MrCleaveland

    Aw poop.

    Oh well, maybe he’ll lead our second-half surge.

     /has another

  • erchoov

    I still can’t believe that our offseason netted the load of crap we brought in.  It looks like the Indians were willing to spend about 20 mill this offseason, and we have a lot of garbage to show for it.  Lowe, Kotchman, Sizemore, (I guess we don’t have to pay Fausto anymore?).  The Garland and Slowy deals made sense to me.  I would have rather got Willingham and Bruce Chen though.  That would have given us a lefty pitcher, and a right handed bat.  It would have been cheaper overall and made this club a lot better than the garbage we brought in.  I can only imagine that Antonetti was told no more than 1 year deals.  If that isn’t the case then he’s not the GM the Dolans need to sell tickets, or win games.

  • Jlcts2

     25 isn’t exactly old either.

  • Jlcts2

    Outside of 91 good games in AA in 2009 Zeke is flat out awful at everything. Except clutch bunts I guess. I’d rather bet on Canzler than Zeke.

  • porkchpxprss

    I wish the Dolan’s understood its this type of stuff, not the lack of marquee free agents, that makes some of us so frustrated with them.  Who in there right mind thought Grady could give you more than 80 games?  Combine a poorly ranked farm system, missing on trades for the marquee names you did have, and blowing just about every f/a signing (Kerry Wood anyone?) and you see a franchise with problems that reach far beyond the financial restraints of not being able to sign big time free agents.  I would go so far as to say that this ownership group is relieved when something like Fielder to Detroit happens because it affords them an opportunity to shift people’s attention away from the other problems this organization has. 
    I have an undying love for the team, and a deep respect for the off field charitable work of Larry and Paul Dolan but I’m really down on the management of this organization right now. 

  • BenRM

    From everything I have heard, this injury shouldn’t be a big deal. In fact, it might resolve a lot of underlying issues now that it’s been identified. 

    I think people are a little touchy about this simply b/c it IS Grady and he’s been a trainwreck lately. 

  • waiting101

    !!!!!!

  • Steve

    Hindsight is 20/20. Throwing any warm body (read: Trevor Crowe or Ezequiel Carrera) out there sets you back a long way. This team has to take chances to compete with the big markets. The only way they can sign someone with that kind of upside is to take on the risk that he might get hurt.

  • Steve

     Where? He makes Duncan look competent in the field, and his .302 OBP last year wasn’t any better.

  • Steve

    What exactly should they have done to put out a team that could win over 90 games?

     This team has drafted and/or developed or acquired good young talent like Santana, Kipnis, Cabrera, Chisenhall, Choo, Masterson, Jimenez and most of the bullpen. The farm system looks down at the moment because they went all in on guys who are helping right now, and for the next few years. They could have maintained Kipnis and Chisenhall’s rookie eligibility and not taken the chance that Jimenez regains ace status and had a solid farm system. Is that really preferable?  Yes, the Sabathia and Lee trades do not look good, but this team has still generally done a good job of turning veterans (Perez, Broussard, Blake, Martinez are also recent deals) into good young players.

  • porkchpxprss

    You’re right, they have gotten the best out of a lot of moves,  I just felt like venting today.