Thursday, April 21, 2011
Free Scott Sizemore
The year is 2009 it’s an exciting season for the Detroit Tigers as they went all the way to a 1-game play-off with the Minnesota Twins, which they ended up losing and finishing in 2nd place. The second baseman at the time was Placido Polanco, who was hitting .285/.331/.396 and was in his last year of his contract. It became obvious during the season that they will not be bringing him back and instead will be going in-house as they were looking to shift payroll (which also facilitated the three-way trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks sent away Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson and bought back Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth).
The in-house candidates were Scott Sizemore, Will Rhymes, Danny Worth and Brent Dlugach. Sizemore was the clear frontrunner as he came off a strong 2009 season hitting a combined .308/.389/.500, splitting time between AA and AAA and earning himself Tigers minor league player of the year. Dlugach had a solid season himself at AAA, hitting .294/.349/.446. Worth was the defensive specialist, but only hit .229/.294/.296 at AA and AAA. Rhymes only hit .260/.324/.354 at AAA but was a favorite of Leyland’s and had strong defense abilities. Only Dlugach made the majors that year as he could also play SS, giving the manager flexibility. Also, as the Tigers were in a tight race, so playing time would’ve been limited as Polanco wasn’t going to sit for a significant time.
As the off-season came, it became clearer and clearer that Scott Sizemore was going to inherited the second base job. However in October while playing in the Arizona Fall League, Sizemore suffered an injury to his ankle that required surgery. He was off to a great start, as he was batting .368 with 3 HR, 2 doubles and 9 RBI in 19 AB in the 6 games he played. The good news was that he would be ready for Spring Training.
Spring Training 2010 came and despite not 100% healthy and only hitting a lackluster .241, he had earned his first shot at the majors. And it proved to be a disappointment as he only hit .206/.297/.289 in 115 PA before getting replaced by Will Rhymes. How much was due to rookie jitters and his injured ankle is anyone’s guess. The fact remained that the first go-around was a failure. Later, Sizemore would have to spend some time on the DL as it was apparent he wasn’t fully recovered.
Meanwhile, it was Will Rhymes’ first try at the majors after hitting .305/.370/.415, which proved to be very successful as he hit .304/.350/.414 in over 200 PA at the ML level, giving him the edge for the 2011 starting second baseman’s job. Sizemore would go to hit .298/.378/.472 in AAA which earned himself a September call-up after a brief stint in July. In that September call-up, Sizemore hit .308/.357/.577 showing that it may not be such an easy choice to go with Rhymes in 2011.
Flash forward to Spring Training 2011. It’s a tight race between Sizemore and Rhymes and no fan knew exactly who would win the job. Sizemore hit .243/.300/.432 while Rhymes hit .328/.375/.406. Jim Leyland went with Rhymes and he had the better Spring and didn’t do anything to lose the job after the year he had in 2010, implying that it was Rhymes’ job to lose.
Here we are, 3 weeks into the season and Rhymes hasn’t shown his magic of last year, only hitting .208/.283/.208 in a Tigers lineup that’s struggling to score runs. Sizemore, down in AAA, is hitting an impressive .390/.468/.537. His ankle is fully healed, the Tigers need offense and Sizemore has earned another chance. Free Scott Sizemore!!