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Indians Indians Archive Cleveland's Quasar
Written by Brian McPeek

Brian McPeek

grady1Quasar- a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. A quasar is extremely luminous and is a compact region in the center of a massive galaxy surrounding its central supermassive black hole.The energetic radiation of the quasar makes dark galaxies glow, helping astronomers to understand the obscure early stages of galaxy formation.......

On June 27, 2002 Cleveland’s own quasar was acquired from the Montreal Expos in the signature trade of the post-90’s Indians. Grady Sizemore was a relative unknown in the deal that sent Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew to Montreal in the unpopular trade that signaled the towel being thrown in on the Glory Years Tribe, but for an all too brief period of time Sizemore was the star in that deal that shone brightest.

Sizemore was acquired along with Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens in June of 2002 but he spent a couple of years in the Indians’ farm system developing his wide range of talents. He made his Major League debut in July of 2004 and then exploded on the scene in the 2005 season, helping to make some dark galaxies glow and becoming the key to the Indians ball club from that moment on.

The last few years have erased Sizemore’s impact from what it actually was. We see him now as a guy that can’t stay on the field and a guy that, if you believe the whispers and the internet/twitter rumors, may never get back into a Major League lineup again. Multiple surgeries, a couple of which are debilitating and serious for the weekend warrior, much less an elite athlete, have limited Sizemore to just 210 games in the last four years. The list is meaningless in the grand scheme of things but we’re not talking having a knee cleaned out here or breaking a thumb there.

grady2Since 2009 Sizemore has undergone two hernia surgeries, had his left elbow surgically repaired, had micro fracture surgery on his left knee in 2010, had his right knee operated on a year later and capped it all off with micro discectomy surgery on his back this past March. Sizemore actually strained his back in February while rehabbing the right knee injury and never even made it healthy to spring training after he had signed a one year, $5million deal with the Indians in the offseason that could have paid him $9million had he reached certain incentives.

Those incentives aren’t going to be reached. Not this year. And Tribe fans should likely stop looking toward potentially getting a healthy, if not impactful, Sizemore back in the lineup.

It’s another kick in the face to the Indians and a fan base that had every right to believe they were witnessing the career of a transcendent player when he burst on the scene in 2005. Injuries were the farthest thing from the fans’ mind, especially considering Sizemore played 158 games in ’05 and 157 in ’08. Those years sandwiched the 2006and 2007 seasons when Sizemore played in all 162 games during those two seasons.

And when he was healthy he was ridiculously productive:




















































Grady Sizemore was one of the top ten or twenty players in all of baseball during that four year span and there was nothing whatsoever to indicate he wasn’t going to be exactly that for the next ten years. In 2008 Sizemore was 25 years old and was a 3-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a Silver Slugger award winner and he had finished in the top 23 in AL MVP voting in each of his first four full seasons in Cleveland, including top 12 finishes in ’06, ’07 and ’08. He was a terrific offensive player (albeit one who did strike out a lot) and he was a gazelle in CF who could not only run down balls in the alley or over his head but also a player who would not hesitate for a split second to lay out, dive and give up his body in the pursuit of either the baseball or the next base. He played the game hard and played it with a grace and passion that made you think this was a ridiculous athlete with a football-first mentality.

And he was.

grady4Sizemore was a football, basketball and baseball star at his Seattle-area high school and he was headed to the University of Washington to play both football and baseball before the Expos drafted him in the 3rd round in the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft and offered him 1st round money ($2million) to sign.

Contact never fazed him. He’d hit walls, warning tracks, middle infielders and the ground with reckless abandon, endearing him to teammates, fans and opposing managers alike. Ozzie Guillen, then managing the White Sox, called Sizemore ‘Superman’ for the hard and aggressive way he played the game.

And there’s the rub.

That hard, aggressive, football-mentality that Sizemore applied to baseball had an effect that couldn’t be measured during the four seasons where he was in the lineup every day. But it sure seems like it was tearing Grady down while he was doing it. The human body isn’t meant to take that kind of punishment. Not in most cases. NFL Players don’t average four year careers. Sizemore’s approach to the game of baseball was similar and appears to have cost him as much as those football players too.

What was supposed to be the dawn of an MVP-caliber career, if not a Hall of Fame career, one that would see Sizemore put up ridiculous numbers for 15 years, was actually morning, afternoon and night. At least it certainly seems that way now. Sizemore will be 30 on August 2nd. You typically (now that the steroid era is apparently over) don’t get healthier, bigger or stronger as you head past thirty toward 40. The shame of it being that Sizemore should be in the midst of his most productive seasons right now (regardless of whether they would have actually been with the Indians had Sizemore actually been healthy) instead of the subject of this ‘Whatever Happened To…?’ column.

The effect on the Indians is devastating. Not only was Grady great on the field but he was easily their most marketable player. Good looking and easy going, with talent and production to burn, makes an easy commercial. But endorsements and marketability aside, the Indians haven’t seen a weapon like Sizemore since he began missing more games than he played and they have no one on the roster right now that approaches his all-around ability and talent.

Sizemore in the lineup, hitting anywhere from 1st to 5th, would lengthen and extend a lineup in dire need of production. His ability to run and steal a base as well as take hits away in CF would be a huge improvement over Michael Brantley as a centerfielder, and that’s taking into account that Brantley’s production has been decidedly solid this season. But Brantley isn’t the athlete or the creator that Sizemore was. Brantley’s not as dangerous a threat to hit the ball out of the park or drive himself in nor to take hits away but….BUT…. with a healthy Sizemore in CF and Brantley in LF, well, tell me that scenario isn’t one that anybody other than Johnny Damon’s and Shelly Duncan’s immediate family wouldn’t be thrilled with.

But you can spit in one hand and wish in the other. See which hand fills up faster. Sizemore isn’t likely walking back through the clubhouse door. That’s depressing.

What it shouldn’t be is cause to hate on the player or suggest that he’s a china doll or fragile in any way. Sizemore never gave us any cause to question his desire or his toughness. You can say what you want about him getting banged up regularly since 2009 but there’s no way you can really fault him for any of it. This is, after all, a town that reveres Bernie Kosar for his four good years and forgives the mediocrity of the remainder of his career. 


Sizemore played the game hard and he played it that way every time he took the field. You can’t “un-teach” that trait. The same reasons we love Jason Kipnis are the reasons we fell hard for Sizemore. You could no more tell Sizemore to ease up than you could tell Kipnis the same thing. We despise guys who jake it or who turn the intensity on and off and yet we’ll criticize a player like Sizemore for hurting his knee trying to break up a double play.

That’s a trait that’s ingrained in some guys (and not nearly enough guys, to be honest) and one that we should appreciate in Sizemore, as it made him the player he was for the years he was that player. It wasn’t a long enough period of time for us or the Indians.

But it’s that four year period of greatness and production that should define Grady Sizemore. Not the four years since.

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