Indians Tough Decisions About To Be Made

By: T.J. Zuppe

72 hours after the final out is recorded in the 2011 World Series, the Cleveland Indians will be on the clock. In that time frame, the team will have to complete their decisions on pitcher Fausto Carmona and outfielder Grady Sizemore’s options for 2012.

A great deal has been made about the seven-million dollar option on Carmona and roughly nine-million dollar option on Sizemore the Tribe holds in their hands.

But what will be the club’s decision?

Neither one has money due in the astronomical range next season. Both actually are reasonable figures when the two reach ultimate production. But can the team count on that?

Outfielder Grady Sizemore

Sizemore hit .224 last season, with 10 home runs and 32 runs driven in. He also struck out 85 times, while not stealing a single base, an element of his game that made him dynamic in the past.

The one-time talented centerfielder has only played in 100 games or more one time in the past three years. He has not reached beyond 500 at bats since 2008.

Sure, nine-million for the Sizemore of old is a steal, but lately its been Cleveland getting swindled.

As for Carmona, 2011 was not a season to remember. The expected ace pitched more like a back-end rotational arm, putting up an earned run average above five for the fourth time in his career. He also lost a career-high 15 games.

However, with question marks in the rotation, can the team afford to let the 27-year old right-hander go?

With Carmona, the team does have another route they could take. If the club decides to not pick up the 2012 option for him, he does not simply become a free-agent like Sizemore.

Instead, he would still be in control of the Indians as an arbitration eligible player. Yet, keep in mind, the seven-million dollar figure would probably save the Tribe some cash, and would help avoid the dreaded arbitration they so desperately look to avoid.

At the end of the day, it probably makes the most sense for the Indians to say yes to Carmona.

Sizemore, on the other hand, has many glaring negatives surrounding his option. But one notch in the positive category would be his trade value.

To Cleveland, a nine million trial would be hard to swallow. However, for a team like the Yankees, Red Sox or Phillies, that figure is much easier to absorb with the hope he regains some form of his old self.

The team could decide to pick up that option and test the trade waters on a player like Sizemore. They could also see how he starts the season, before attempting to ship him off mid-year.

After all, if the Indians do let him walk away, they gain nothing in return.

We should find out within the next few days the fate of both players in Cleveland. But keep this in the back of your mind; whatever the Tribe decides may not be the final indicator of their long-term plans with the club.

Follow T.J. on twitter @TJZuppe

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