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Grady Sizemore or...


Now, full disclosure before I write this, I really wanted the Mariners to acquire Grady Sizemore around this time last year, on the hope that he would have a healthy year in Left Field and produce not necessarily like his old self but close to it.  Now it's hard to say what would have happened in Safeco, the .706 OPS he posted in Cleveland would have been massively better than what we got, but it's hard to say that it would have been a good idea in retrospect.  Now we have the opportunity again to acquire Grady Sizemore, and perhaps for cheap, and support for that idea is growing with Geoff Baker and Jeff (maybe not growing in Jeff's case, but he's at least open to the idea).  Despite the upside potential, I now find myself with more reservations than a year ago; there's the contact problems that Jeff brings up.  Those may go away as he gets farther from injury (if that's even possible), but the stolen bases that also dissapeared are almost certainly gone for good along with the best years of Sizemore's career.  Still if we could even get the 2009 version of Grady Sizemore for say, 5 million dollars, most of us would be happy.

The problem is, Grady Sizemore is just a stopgap.  Whether you believe we're competing next year or not (I do) Grady Sizemore is not likely to be around in 2013.  If he does poorly, he doesn't get resigned except to maybe a minor league contract or an even more heavily incentivized deal.  If he does well, he likely has pushed his price right back into the octuple digits and it's unlikely the Mariners want to give that kind of gauranteed money to somebody with that kind of injury history - but somebody would.  So it would be important to allow some space for an internal option such as Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, or Mike Carp to get significant time in left field.  This only becomes more obvious when you consider that Grady Sizemore's career OPS vs. Right/Left splits are .891/.693, and in the last 3 years those have slipped to .783/.602.  So while he's still capable against RHP, he's one of the last players you want to bat against a Lefty now.  Judging from some of the articles that have talked about it, Sizemore wants to play Center Field, but failing that, wants to be able to prove he's still star caliber, which means playing 80-90% of the time; not 60-70% as he would in a platoon role.  That could create problems signing him if he's not gauranteed the lion's share of starts in Left (it will likely already chafe that his former caddy is the starting Center Fielder - for now at least).  Maybe it could be worked out where he plays 60% of the games in left and another 20% or so in Center and goes back to his old self.  If that happens, then great, welcome Grady Sizemore, although it's hard to imagine that he gets back to his former level of mediocre against left handers at this point.

I offer, as an alternative, Nate McLouth.  He lacks the local boy legacy and the All Star upside (probably), but otherwise offers a lot of the same things as Sizemore.  His last 3 years OPS vs. Right/Left splits are .771/.590 or virtually identical to Sizemore's (Sizemore has maintained more ability to hit for power, McLouth has maintained high walk and contact rates), he has a similarly worrying injury history but has had less significant (ie:  not the the knees) injuries and is still capable of swiping a few bases.  Like Sizemore he could fill in at Center in an emergency and like Sizemore it probably wouldn't be pretty.  Add in that he would likely be cheaper to sign and more open to a platoon or 4th outfielder role and I think he's actually just the better option with the exception of the former star fan draw appeal that Grady Sizemore carries.

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