June 14, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore (24) during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Could Grady Sizemore Provide A Second Half Spark for the Tampa Bay Rays?

Now that spring training is underway, we have a firm grasp of what the Rays roster will look like for the beginning of the 2013 regular season with the obvious exception of the last 2-3 roster spots available.  Those last few positions on the 25 man roster are usually platoon type of players, specialist pitchers, and some roster depth.  While we will see the roster finalized by the start of the season, injuries occur, trades are made, and things happen throughout the year.  One player that could have be an interesting option for Tampa Bay to be a second half spark if given an opportunity would be none other than Grady Sizemore.

It’s no secret that Grady has barely seen the diamond since 2009, being bit by the injury bug several times over the last 3 to 4 years, but has a history of success early in his career.  Being a 3 time All-Star, 2006-2008, and 2 time Gold Glove winner, 2007 & 2008, Sizemore knows what it takes to produce at the major league level.   Sizemore carries a .269 career BA but that is not indicative of his true ability, hitting .281 from 2005-2008, his pre-injury years.  During the peak of his performance, 2005-2008, Sizemore averaged 27 HR, 81 RBI, and 29 SB all while playing well above average defense in center field (28.6 UZR/150).

Grady Sizemore’s injury concerns essentially began in the spring of 2009 with a groin injury, forcing him to pullout of the World Baseball Classic.  From there injury concerns seemed to spiral out of control derailing the career of the one of the most prominent center fielders in the game.  In September 2009 Sizemore elected to have elbow surgery, as the Cleveland Indians were already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, followed by surgery on his lower abdomen a week later to remove a hernia, related to the groin injury in early spring.  Hoping to come back healthy in 2010 he was again derailed after just 33 games, this time having microfracture surgery on his left knee. Sizemore showed some promise in 2011, slamming 21 doubles and 10 home runs in just 71 games, but more new issues and then a sports hernia problem derailed Sizemore for the third year in a row. Then in 2012, Sizemore began the season on the 60 day DL due to back surgery in spring training and suffered several setbacks throughout the season, not once playing in a major league game.

Sizemore just underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in September, and does not want to commit to a team until he is ready to play again, according to his agent, Joe Urbon.  “It could be Opening Day. It could be midseason,” Urbon said. “Midseason is more likely.” But even if Sizemore isn’t even going to try to play for the next few months, he still might be able to help a major league team in the second half of the season, and the Rays could be that team willing to give him a chance.

Andrew Friedman and the Rays have a history of successes with low-risk, high-reward moves that always seem to pan out one way or another.  A one year deal to see what Grady Sizemore has left in the tank to give and could showcase his talents once again could make sense for Tampa Bay, especially if they’re in contention for the playoffs. The Rays have nothing to lose signing Sizemore at some point in the season and seeing if the player that electrified baseball fans with his incredible all-around game from 2005 to 2008 still has the ability to contribute in the major leagues.

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  • phattitudes

    Grady Sizemore could be a great addition if he could regain his old form. But he like Myers and probably Guyer and Chirinos are all in the category of potential 2nd half additions. The problem is the Rays still need help just getting out of the gate. They have done a nice job of bringing in hitters who have produced above average OBPs in their career. Of the 15 American League teams we have 6 hitters with career OBPs over .340 (above average per saber metrics) against right handed pitchers. That ranks us 2nd in the AL. We also have 6 versus left handed pitchers and that ranks us 5th in the AL. The problem is we are no very strong in SLG and therefore our OPS numbers are low. We have 3 hitters with an OPS over .800 (above average) against right handed hitters. This ranks us a middle of the pack 8th in the AL. Versus left handers we have only 2 which ranks us a dead last 15th in the AL. It would be nice to address this issue before the start of the season. These are the hitters that bat 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc in your lineup. If you do not have enough, you get pitched around. It puts us in situations where you need 3 hits to score a run. That’s a tough road. We have yet to replace the power aspect of what we lost in Pena and Upton. Hopefully opportunities will arise to address this. We have a lot of talent in camp and possibly could put together a package from our excess to add that “big bat” that hasn’t yet been obtained.

    • Robbie_Knopf

      There isn’t as much of a power issue as you’re saying. A healthy Longoria, Kelly Johnson, and then bounce-back years from Luke Scott and Matt Joyce would make up for the 46 homers Upton and Pena combined for by a wide margin. The Rays would love another big bat, but just relax and realize that the Rays are what they are right now, and that’s a very good baseball team.

      • phattitudes

        Actually, I am relaxed. I even love the moves the Rays made so far. I am also excited about the turn around potential for many of the Rays. I. like the Rays, would just love another big bat. This team has depth and some of that depth could be considered excess. The suggestion is to use that excess to make them ever better.

        • Robbie_Knopf

          I’ll do an article on Alfonso Soriano over the next couple of days. Maybe he could be an option.