-

11.29.2011

Offseason Rundown: Sizing up Sizemore and New CBA

Nino Colla | Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips
The semester that has engulfed my personal clock is finally coming to an end this week. Just think that at the start of it, we were discussing Indians baseball and towards the middle of this next one, we'll be discussing Indians baseball. Right now? Indians offseason, of course! I know everyone around these parts is talking Urban Meyer, but my team won on Saturday, so I'm just going to bask in that glory for the first time in eight years and go onto some Tribe talk.


[DOWNSIZING]

In the end of it all, Grady Sizemore is back for four million dollars less than the Indians were scheduled to pay him.

In possibly the ultimate end of it all, Grady Sizemore could earn that four million back.

Photo - AP via Yahoo! Sports
Essentially what the Indians did is tell Sizemore that they were not going to pay him that, by his injury standards, pay him an astronomical contract. But they would pay it to him if he remained healthy. 

Basically Sizemore doesn't even have to play good, he just has to play. All of Sizemore's incentives are based off plate appearances. he does have small $500K bonus if he wins Comeback Player of the year, which would mean he needs to perform well, but he can still earn $3.5M if he plays enough.

You can't fault the Indians line of thinking though. If he plays, he is likely to play well. If he isn't playing well, the Indians simply won't play him. I'm sure the Indians would gladly fork over the extra $4 million to get a healthy Grady Sizemore that produces. That will probably mean he helps them to the playoffs. If not, they trade him to someone who could use him and get something in return.

This is Indians Front Office 101, only on a bigger scale with someone who wants to be around in Cleveland.

And we touched up on this last time, but it seems like Grady Sizemore almost felt compelled that he owed Cleveland this. I would also believe Antonetti personally flying to Arizona to inform Grady that they were not picking up his option played a big part in keeping the bridge with Sizemore open.

For once, it is nice to hear someone say the following.

"I just wasn't ready to say goodbye. I wasn't ready to move on," Sizemore said. "I just had a hard time letting go of Cleveland and saying goodbye. I'm familiar with them, and I still consider it home. They know me better than anybody. It was just hard to leave."

Then you have Antonetti talking about how he was not sure if Grady would be open to returning. I'm sure the other teams pocket books had something to do with that.

"I'm not sure I was overly optimistic about it," Antonetti said. "Fundamentally, there was that mutual interest in both parties for Grady to remain an Indian. But we are very well aware that when players go to the free-agent market a lot of things can happen, and there are different factors that come into play."

To me, reading that it sounds as if Antonetti wanted to keep Sizemore from the very start, but knew full-well he could not make any additions what so ever if he brought Grady Sizemore back for $9 million dollars without any sort of cushion. So he took the risk of letting Sizemore walk and if he did, he'd find another project to go after.

It also would seem as if Grady Sizemore had the Indians in mind the entire time. This deal got done quickly and quicker than other teams like Boston thought. Although Boston was not a serious contender, Philadelphia, Chicago (Cubs), and Colorado all were.

You can check out the expanded salary document that is attached to my expanded salary, bonus and service time chart. I have all of Sizemore's incentives listed. He'll make $250K for 450 and 475 plate appearances and then it goes up to half a million for every next 25 plate appearances until he reaches 650.

If you want some perspective, he hasn't hit 500 since 2009, which if the Indians got that production they'd probably be content. But this is someone who reached the 700 mark four times between 2005 and 2008. So if he does that and reaches 650, then something definitely went right and they'll get some good production out of $9 million.

But if he isn't healthy, there is no way he reaches 450, which he did not reach in any of his injured stints.

The deal makes fundamental sense all around for both parties. Grady knows that this is his only shot at this point to get a big contract. He knows the Indians will give him an opportunity and that if he wants to make a lot of money with a nice long-term contract (and he's entering the back part of his prime years after this season, so this is his last shot for that) he needs to sign a one year deal and re-establish himself.

I do think $5 million is a lot for someone with some injury history, but because this is Grady Sizemore, it twists my arm a little more into accepting it. Paulie C. probably put it best that neither side is estatic about the deal, but they also are not thinking that this was a horrible deal.

The work is not done though. With Sizemore back (he'll play center field, a topic we'll have to revisit later) and Brantley coming off a late injury issue, I'd feel a lot more comfortable if the Indians got another bat that could play the outfield, or best scenario first base and the outfield.

[BARGAINING...COLLECTIVELY?]

First things first. People are going to continue to analyze this new collective bargaining deal and around Cleveland, scrutinize how it hurts/helps the Indians. I'm not going to do that, because I have absolutely no clue if it will help or harm the Indians in certain spots.

Here's what we I do know and think though.

- Another wild card. Just more of an opportunity for another AL East team the Indians to get into the postseason. You win one game and your in, awesome.

- The Indians are probably hurt by the fact that a team can sign one of their Type A free agents and they no longer get their draft pick. But that system was messed up anyway. The one year the Yankees signed Burnett and Teixeira, the team that really needed the pick (The Blue Jays) did not get it, the Angels did. Hogwash. There is also no more trading a player with the promise the other team gets draft picks if the player walks at the end of the year because said player needs to be on the team the whole season.

- There are now some limits on draft pick spending. Based off where a team picks, they have an assigned spending limit. That means teams like the Indians can no longer overpay high school talent that they select in the 50th round. Well, they could, but they can't sign any of their other picks. 

- There are steep taxes now if you spend over-slot, which is still stupid and still favors big spenders. The Indians can never think of going over slot, while teams like the Yankees can. Just do away with taxes and put a hard cap on the damn thing. I still do not understand the scope of all these rules, so I will not pretend to dive into them and know what I'm talking about.

- I am a big fan of this "competitive balance lottery" however. Teams like the Indians have a chance to win extra draft picks. And it's nice because if the team does not want the pick, they can trade it.

- There is also an adjustment to the international spending just like the draft spending. Teams will be restricted in terms of how much they spend based off how much they win. It is rather cool that teams can trade spending limits though. I could see this hurting a team like the Indians though because if they spend for International Free Agents and they ended up winning, then that would hurt them and their way of acquiring talent.

- The one that I can definitely say will impact the Indians is the minor wrinkle about minor league contracts for veterans. Now there are built in clauses about making a major league roster to where a player can opt out and receive a $100K bonus if they are not on a major league roster by June 1. The Indians like to have a lot of depth guys in Triple A, always have. So they may end up spending a little more to keep those guys.

Bottom line, there are some real interesting things included in the new CBA that can and probably will impact a lot of teams. But this game is always changing and the new CBA is just part of that change. The Indians will have to adapt, which I have no doubt that they can. Teams will adapt and find out new plans of attack if their old ones do not work.

And it sounds like that with the new drafting restrictions will significantly impact the draft pool anyway and just force more players from High School to just go to college. So really, it impacts the Indians just as much as it does the rest of the MLB. If anything, the Indians and other teams will just start drafting the players they want to give big money to in the first ten rounds.


[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

You probably noticed the uniform changes the Indians announced by now. In case you did not, it will be return to old-school, sort of. Instead of all the flashy gray and silver or whatever it was around the classic script Indians across the chest, it will be simply two colors. The home whites now sport a Script Indians in red with blue outline and blue piping around the collar and sleeves while the navy alternates will have red Script Indians with a white outline and gray piping around collar and sleeves.
Photo - MLB.com/Cleveland Indians

I like it. It's more clean when you compare it to everything. It kind of looks like the jerseys the teams of the 90's sported. They are minor changes and they compliment the other uniforms with the block lettering well. And Chief Wahoo stays, so that makes the Wahoo lovers happy. Of course it makes the haters angry that it is still around, but that will continue to be phased out as they really push Block C.

They have also been making the minor tweaks to the piping and outlines for the past several seasons, so this was coming.

Jon Heyman says that Carlos Pena can get a multi-year offer on the market. I'd rule him out for the Indians if that is the case. The years is the thing.

On Twitter the other day, I saw a MLBTR post about Yonder Alonso, a first base prospect for the Reds, being shopped for pitching. I decided to make a comment based off the fact that MLBTR mentioned in the Indians. Now of course this is where speculation starts and "______ TEAM IS TRADING FOR YONDER ALONSO" ends. 

It was probably unfair of me to throw out a name involving the Indians, but I did anyway considering others have this offseason. Many hold the belief that Chris Perez should be dealt for two reasons. The first is that he'll net you a good return and if you can get a capable bat for a closer, you do that deal. The second is that he's going to regress and that Vinnie Pestano is certainly capable of taking over the closer's role.

Look I have no doubt that Vinnie could do the job, but I'd rather not test that theory unless absolutely needed. The bullpen was the best thing about this team last year, so excuse me if I'm not ready to damage the depth without being absolutely certain about Pestano and the return you would get for Perez. If you were to hypothetically deal Perez for Alonso, then I'd be worried about Matt LaPorta syndrome. Granted Alonso looks more polished than LaPorta, but we said that about Andy Marte and look where we are.

Bottom line, I don't think Chris Perez is going anywhere, nor would I deal him unless some team came out with an offer that you simply do not say no to. But no one is going to do that. Perez would be the only arm in my opinion that the Reds would think about dealing for in-exchange for Alonso, because Ubaldo and Masterson are certainly not on the table. If Cincinnati was crazy enough to ask for Fausto, then you do that deal, but right now, I don't think that avenue is a match. The Reds can ask for the world, because they got a MVP over at First Base right now, so Alonso isn't exactly a big need for them.

In minor Indian news, Luis Valbuena is gone. I know you are so excited about this, so am I. The Indians dealt the man we call Baby Louie to Toronto after the Tribe designated him for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

John McDonald, Jayson Nix, now Valbuena, the Blue Jays certainly like our utility infielders don't they? This was for the best though as Valbuena simply no longer fit into the plans of the Indians. He was too inconsistent and with guys like Donald, Phelps, and Hannahan, there was no point in keeping him around unless it was in the minor leagues for depth. Juan Diaz's inclusion onto the 40-man, basically says, we got ourselves a deep shortstop option if we need it, so we don't need you Valbuena.

I will miss the nickname, but not the anger that it is said with when he botches a routine grounder.

0 comments: