The early start to winter falls right in line with the hoopla surrounding the Red Sox, as a late-season collapse has fans more than ready for the club to stoke the hot stove and get to making changes up and down the roster.
September collapse or not, however, we already knew where one of those changes would occur, and that's in right field.
That's because J.D. Drew is all but certain to be gone, with his contract having expired. That means that among new general manager Ben Cherington's long list of offseason moves to make is finding someone to take Drew's spot.
Initial reports indicate that Grady Sizemore could be a potential target for Cherington. The Boston Herald reported that Sox will likely at least look at bringing Sizemore on board. With Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury presumably patrolling left and center, it would mean that Sizemore would have to move from his natural position of center to right should the Sox sign him.
"He would not rule out playing a corner outfield spot if it was the best opportunity to show he's healthy and an elite player," Sizemore's agent told the Herald.
It's an intriguing possiblity at the very least. When healthy, the 28-year-old has shown the type of ability that would make him one of the better outfielders in baseball.
Between 2005 and 2008, the outfielder averaged 160 games per season and became an Indians fan favorite in the process. He hit .281 in that span and averaged 27 home runs and 81 RBIs in those seasons. He posted an OPS of .868 and even swiped 115 bags over those four years.
Again, when he's healthy, he's an All-Star at the very least. The problem, of course, is that the injury bug has taken a liking to Sizemore in the last few years. An elbow injury, a groin injury and subsequent hernia surgery cut his 2009 season short and limited his production. A knee injury ended his 2010 season after just 33 games. Last year, it was more knee problems and another sports hernia issue.
Unfortunately for players like Sizemore, these type of things follow you around. Whether it's fair or not, if you miss what's perceived as too much time due to injury, you're labeled as injury-prone. Just ask Drew.
So would making a run at Sizemore be worth it? Only for the right price. The only way it would make any sort of sense for the Sox to bring in Sizemore is under their terms. Injuries clearly seem to be an issue that would keep a team from investing too much money and too many years in him, but would he even fit in Boston?
That's where the move seems to make a little less sense. The biggest problem with Sizemore, aside from his medical history, is the batter's box he stands in. Sizemore is a left-handed bat, and adding him to an already lefty-heavy lineup may complicate things for Manager X when he finally takes over. This gets complicated even further should the Sox decide to resign designated hitter David Ortiz.
All of a sudden, you're looking at a lineup that could potentially feature a ton of left-handed bats. Ellsbury, Ortiz, Sizemore, Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez all come to mind. Let's say there's a lefty on the mound. There are some decisions to be made, and that doesn't even take into account that if a lefty is pitching, it forces Jarrod Saltalamacchia to turn around and hit right-handed, something he did at a .209 clip last season.
Also, there's the issue of defense. Right field at Fenway Park isn't the easiest place to play in all of baseball, and Drew's adaptation to it is one of the more overlooked strengths of his time in Boston. Also, Sizemore's arm is average at best, even for a center fielder. You want a big arm in right, particularly Fenway Park. Of course, if Sizemore comes to Boston to play center fielder after say, a blockbuster trade, then maybe it makes a little more sense. But the truth is that he's not a great fit defensively, either.
Putting Sizemore in the Fenway Park outfield just doesn't seem to add up. Unless Cherington can get Sizemore for an absolute bargain (unlikely since there will probably be plenty of teams lining up to get someone high on potential and likely low on cost), he should pass on Sizemore. Instead, take a look at someone like Michael Cuddyer. Or maybe Josh Willingham. Or, you could stay in house and let Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish duke it out for the spot.
There are obviously those who would like to see Sizemore in the Red Sox outfield this season. For the right price, Sizemore is the type of name that many would love to take a chance. The fact, though, is that Sizemore just doesn't seem to fit.