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11.19.2011

Offseason Rundown: Grady Sizemore Nearing Return

Nino Colla | Saturday, November 19, 2011 | | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips
Things are going to go smooth in this first edition of the Offseason Rundown and do you want to know why? I entered in my password correctly on the first try with no sort of interruption. You see my password is long, elaborate, coded with weird characters, and the title of a song from the 1990's. I know I just dropped a hint, but if someone is able to crack that and get into my blogger account, more power to them?

[WE KNEW YOU'D BE BACK!]

Grady Sizemore can't stay away can he? Several reports have been swirling since last night (Ken Rosenthal and confirmed by Sizemore's Agent) that Grady Sizemore and the Indians are nearing agreement on a one-year contract. Of course Sizemore's option was not picked up just a few weeks ago and he became a free agent. As of earlier in the week, there were as many as eight teams interested in Grady Sizemore, with the Colorado Rockies seemingly being the team that was in the news the most. The Red Sox were also up there, but now it is the Indians as the team that looks to be giving Sizemore the deal he will sign.

Photo: Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports
There's a few things at work here... The first is the fact that anywhere he goes, he's going to virtually get the same contract, right? I mean, if Boston wanted to they could probably give Sizemore more guaranteed money if they really wanted him. But that is not what Grady is looking for. Grady is simply looking for an opportunity to re-establish himself. Is Boston really a place he can do that? If anything, Colorado made more sense, but in Cleveland he knows his surroundings, he knows the circumstances, heck, he knows he'll have a spot in the lineup. He knows the training staff.

And in all likelihood, the Indians will be giving him incentives (Hoynes saying that it could reach the $9M he didn't get when his option was declined) that if he is healthy, he could probably reach, which means if he does what he intends to do, he gets paid either way. And if he does what he intends to do, the Indians have a force in the lineup, they, if everything else goes right, get what they want and get to playoffs, and everyone is happy.

That's the happy story side of all this. The unhappy story in this if you believe Grady Sizemore is a waste of time and there is no reason to be bringing him back. I guess if that's the case, you will have to go be unhappy somewhere. I don't think this signals the Indians disinterest in adding another bat though and some reports have them not ending here. Antonetti has also already said the Indians can get creative and we'll get to that in a bit.

There is also an interesting nugget that Buster Olney revealed in his blog post Saturday morning. He has some friends of Sizemore saying that Grady feels he owes the Indians something for his injury history.

Awhile ago back when Sizemore was lighting up the city and a future star in the making, there was this doom and gloom type of mentality that seems to come with all good things this city gets (understandable so, but also very silly to think about years in advance, no wonder this city is always depressed). The idea was that Sizemore would play his ass for a few more years, be really good, get us somewhere and then take millions and millions of dollars in free agency. Or the Indians would trade him for prospects right before that would happen. Something along those lines.

I always believed, and this carried into the recent years in which Sizemore is hurting every other day, that Sizemore felt a little different about this organization thanks to the type of players this regime has acquired and the attitude they've sort of built up. An attitude that maybe the Cleveland Indians are just a little bit more important than other things, as long as everyone is treated fairly.

I think the Indians have treated Grady Sizemore fairly and that has probably been something he's realized on more than one occasion when he's sat around on the disabled list. And now in a position where he could say, whatever I'm going elsewhere because I'm getting more money, it is good to see Sizemore realize the time and money that was previously invested in him and at least say, I kind of owe them something, right?

Right Grady, right. Welcome back, even though you never went anywhere.

[ROSTER SHAKE-OUT]

With the Indians adding everyone that they did in September, a lot of intrigue and suspense was taken out of Friday's roster decisions. There was two spots open on the 40-man, which could have meant anything given that the Indians seem to be a little bit more active in this whole "Hot Stove" thing. Those spots could have gone to player that needed Rule V protection, or they could have been saved for future planned additions.

Photo: MILB.com
Or they could have used both spots, created another one, and used that newly opened spot as well. Which is what they did. So there is your intrigue, there is your, shock. The Indians did not surprise many with the addition of Scott Barnes, who is closing in on being just another option for the Indians in the major league rotation. He joins like likes of Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, and Zach McAllister as potential arms the Indians could call upon if they need it. Remember, it's good to have depth. I'd say, I thought the Indians might think about not rostering him because of the injury and think a team would pass, but better safe than sorry.

Some of the other names up for rostering included Bryce Stowell, Rob Bryson, Bryan Price, all bullpen arms. I thought of them all Rob Bryson was sure to get locked up, but that was not the case. The Indians went in two different directions and added shortstop Juan Diaz (acquired in the Russell Branyan trade with Zeke Carrera) and pitcher Danny Salazar. What, really? Yep. What this essentially came down to in my mind was need more than anything. If someone like Stowell or Bryson get picked, I think the Indians think there is no real loss in that. They have already added guys like Hagadone and Putnam, so they have quite a bit of depth in the relief aspect.

They don't have many true shortstops behind the guys like Donald and Valbuena (more in a second) and a guy like Diaz is just that, a true shortstop and now he is on the 40-man roster and just a call-away.

The Salazar move is extremely puzzling though. Salazar has been lighting it up at instructs, but he didn't pitch at all last season. And the highest he's been is Lake County. The chances of him getting taken? Slim to none... And if he does, as surprisingly as Jose Flores was last year, the chances he makes the roster? Even more slimmer to none.

In the grand scheme of things, is it that big of a deal? Probably not. We're talking a few spots. If the Indians need another spot or two (and the way things are shaping up with Sizemore, they'll need at least one), more room has to be cleared, but we're talking moves like the one they made to get a guy like Salazar on. Luis Valbuena was jettisoned and if he does clear waivers, as a first time outright, he'd be sent to Columbus and still remain property of the Cleveland Indians. Will someone claim him? At this juncture, it would not surprise me, but who knows what other teams out there looking at someone like Valbuena as a better option to what they have, or with open roster space.

Also of note, Scott Barnes is now the first listed pitcher on the roster, so. Have fun.

[STILL SANDY]

Can Boston pick a manager already? Seriously what is taking them so long.

The Indians were dealt a little bit of a nervous blow when the Chicago Cubs tabbed Dale Sveum and in turn, left the Boston Red Sox without someone they were looking at. Now the Red Sox continue to truck on with dreams of Bobby Valentine, and more realistic candidates like former Indians minor league manager (and current Blue Jays coach) Torrey Lovullo and current Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. Of course, Alomar won't get hired by the Cubs, but it looks like he had less of a chance in Chicago than he does in Boston.

Word is, the candidates are going to get another round of interviews. Now I would like Sandy to get a manager job down the road, because he deserves it and he seems to have the chops for it. But two things. I don't want that day to come. And when that day does come, A )I'd prefer it not be with Boston and B) I'd also prefer it to not be with Boston. No really, this situation is a mess right now and with the Red Sox entering this new sort of era, it does not look like it's organized and.. just simply put, it's Boston. There's a lot of high-paid guys and really no room for Sandy to be Sandy. Teams like that just need managers that manage the talent given. Sandy deserves a chance to manage a team that he can mold, a situation to someone like Manny Acta, coming in and getting to shape his team in his way.

Sandy won't get that opportunity in Boston. So with a selfish reason, and a logical one, let's hope Sandy Alomar Jr. Gets to be the bench coach for the 2012 season.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Possible Target Discussion..... Carlos Pena was a central figure in our offseason discussion a few days ago and his name has now been brought up by both Paul Hoynes (meh) and Jordan Bastian. Mind you, both merely suggested it, not reported any interest by any party.

As Bastian later mentions in his blog post, the fact that Michael Brantley can play center or left field means the Indians can get creative. They can go out and get an outfielder that plays left or center or a first baseman, or someone who plays both. And now with Sizemore back in the fold as more of a incentive guy, they could probably realistic think of Pena if he's in the price range that is not between "Dumb" and "Stupid". Of course when you are dealing with Scott Boras, dumb nor stupid is never out of the realm of possibilities.

A few days ago, before the Sizemore thing erupted, Jason Kubel's name was brought up by Hoynes at the GM Meetings. He also called Thomas Neal, Travis Neal, so I have no interest in diving into that rumor.

I recently discovered Ubaldo Jimenez is actually on Twitter. Who knew? I certainly didn't. Jimenez is headed to Winter League in the Dominican with guys like Fausto Carmona, so that will be good to see.

Manny Acta placed fourth in the AL Manager of the Year vote. Of course I thought he definitely deserved to be higher than that after what he did, but of course Joe Maddon was a deserved winner.

In other manager news, under the radar pick up of Edwin Rodriguez by the Indians. Rodriguez will manage the Carolina Mudcats, which will be the new Single-A affiliate of the Indians, replacing the Kinston Indians. Rodriguez managed the Marlins last season before being fired and was once the hitting instructor for the Mudcats when they were in the Marlins system as a Double-A team back in 2004. Just a case of someone looking to get back on his feet as a coach in the big leagues. He replaces the departed Aaron Holbert, who left for the Braves system.

Non-Indians Offseason Notes... Big fan of the addition of two wild card teams and the fact that the two wild cards teams in each league play each other in a one-game playoff. Does not water down the regular season (actually makes it more important to win your division) and adds to the drama. Glad they also moved the Astros to the American League, enough with this 6 teams in the NL Central and 16 teams in the NL. Balance things out.

Big move by the Twins to get Ryan Doumit. I mean, healthy he's a great guy to have backing up either Morneau or Mauer at either spot, or someone who can play DH if both are healthy. The problem is you are trying to back up an injury prone pair of players with someone just as injury prone. Yikes.

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