Phils Should Consider Sizemore, Not Kubel

Jayson Stark reported Thursday that the Phillies are kicking the tires on Grady Sizemore. The team also has interest in former Twins outfielder Jason Kubel. The news came on the heels of the Ryan MadsonJonathan Papelbon hoopla and the Phillies’ meeting with another former Twins player, Michael Cuddyer.

The list of Philadelphia’s targets changes daily, but Kubel and Sizemore pique interest for various reasons. Sizemore is notable from a risk-versus-reward standpoint, since the Phillies’ current left fielder is John Mayberry — who works better as the right-handed half of a platoon; the team has clearly stated it prefers that Dom Brown remains in Triple A for the season. Kubel will be an interesting case study in terms of how teams value his breakout/outlying 2009 performance. Will he get paid handsomely, despite consecutive mediocre seasons?

Obviously, both players are risky for different reasons.

Sizemore, though, represents a good risk, since the potential reward is substantial. With Kubel, the likeliest scenario has a team paying $6 million to $7 million per year for a .335 wOBA, poor defense and below-average base-running.

In both cases, a heck of a lot has to work out to justify a team’s investment.

The Indians probably thought Sizemore’s medical outlook is bleak, and that he hadn’t done enough in 2011 to eliminate questions about his future. That’s perfectly reasonable. Paying Sizemore $8 million would have required an insurance policy in the form of another outfielder. Committing $10 million or more to that position wasn’t desirable, given the team’s budget.

The Phillies are in a different financial position. Philadelphia could afford to give Sizemore an incentive-laden deal with the hope that he rebounds.

In the process, Sizemore would form an effective platoon with Mayberry. If things didn’t work out — injuries being the likeliest cause — that probably means playing-time incentives weren’t met. The investment risk then would be mitigated. But the Phils would need to do more to make a Sizemore signing beneficial. Signing him to an incentive-laden, one-year deal — with a second-year team option — would be worthwhile. That way, if he rebounds, he isn’t overly expensive the following year, and he’d be back for a second season.

But Sizemore might not want to sign that type of contract — and he might find a lengthier, guaranteed offer elsewhere. Still, the Phillies should pursue him, especially since Cuddyer, whom they are interested in, would be relegated to a corner-outfield spot next year. Better to offer Sizemore — who has infinitely more upside — an incentive-laden deal than to guarantee Cuddyer more money over a longer period to play the same position.

Kubel carries less injury risk — even though he missed significant time in 2011 — but has less upside. He also isn’t worth the deal he’ll eventually sign. From 2007 to 2011, he posted one great year at the plate, two decent years and two average years. That’s just on the offensive side — and Kubel is below-average defensively. But perhaps the Phillies are anchored to his 2009 performance and view him as the one-great-year guy. It wouldn’t be surprising if they, and other teams, see him that way.

Kubel really isn’t worth all that much. If he were willing to sign for something around two years and $10 million, then he might be worth the performance risk; but three years and $21 million — which might seem reasonable for a power bat — wouldn’t really fly. The Phillies have Mayberry and Domonic Brown knocking on the door. Committing three or more years to a corner outfielder with an already crowded outfield doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Sizemore could probably be had on a smaller deal, both in money and in length of time. Kubel might be similarly available, but he isn’t as talented and he represents bad risk for the team.

Ultimately, signing Sizemore could help the Phillies. He’s worth the risk, barring a major medical malady that might turn up in a physical. Kubel, on the other hand, only looks good relative to Cuddyer, who looks worse given their likely contracts. And that should never serve as the justification for making a move.



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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.


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DrBGiantsfan
Guest
4 years 9 months ago

Since this is an evidence based site, it might be a good idea to do a study of success rated for athletes recovering from micro-fracture surgery. My impression is that it’s not good at all, but I haven’t done a systematic review of the known cases.

DD
Guest
DD
4 years 9 months ago

According to the few sites I’ve seen, it’s very rare in MLB to have this surgery, but Carlos Guillen had it done and was also out about 11 months. doesn’t look like his recovery was very good either, as far as avoiding future injury. It is much more common in the NBA for some reason, and those players have had success after the surgery. Below from Wikipedia:

“There have been many notable professional athletes who have undergone the procedure. Partially because of the high level of stress placed on the knees by these athletes, the surgery is not a panacea and results have been mixed. Many players’ careers effectively end despite the surgery. However, some players such as Jason Kidd, Steve Yzerman, John Stockton, Kenyon Martin and Zach Randolph[19] have been able to return at or near their pre-surgery form while players Ron Harper, Brian Grant, Chris Webber, Allan Houston, Penny Hardaway, and the late Derek Smith never regained their old form.[12] Others such as Jamal Mashburn and Terrell Brandon never recovered and retired. Portland Trail Blazers rookie Greg Oden underwent the procedure on his right knee in early September 2007 and missed the entire 2007-2008 NBA season. At only 19 at the time of the surgery, doctors were confident that he would return to at or near full strength by the 2008-2009 season; he had a second microfracture surgery, this time on his left knee, in November 2010.[20] The Detroit Pistons player, Tracy McGrady also underwent microfracture surgery, doctors were confident that the 2 time scoring champion will return to full strength. As of 2010 he has not had the same speed and jumping ability as he formerly did.”

Sean
Guest
Sean
4 years 9 months ago

Guillen is also 7 years Sizemore’s elder and way past his baseball prime. Given perfect health, Sizemore would in his prime for at least the next 2-3 years.

I honestly have no idea what to expect from Sizemore for the rest of his career. I could see him flaming out because of the knees, but could also see a few 30HR seasons out of him.

YazInLeft8
Member
4 years 9 months ago

Haven’t I been reading the disastrous numbers of Sizemore’s recent season over and over? I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole.

Very interesting stuff about Kubel, I didn’t realize how bad he was.

DD
Guest
DD
4 years 9 months ago

Kubel made $5.25 mil last year, and as Eric said with two mediocre years (Target Field suppressed or not) he can’t expect more than $7-8 mil/year for 3 years, even if multiple suitors call him and are bullish on his future. If I’m the Phils, I pass.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
4 years 9 months ago

I’m not sure why any NL team would even consider Kubel, who belongs as part of a DH platoon. He screams Raul Ibanez, only worse at the plate. I’m also surprised the the Phils are considering adding still another LH hitter to their lineup. Cuddyer may be expensive but at least he’s right handed.

DD
Guest
DD
4 years 9 months ago

Chuck – double check the Phils lineup. Their projected starting 8 (presuming Rollins resigns and Mayberry is in left) includes only Utley and Howard, when healthy, as lefties. The whole “Phils are lefty heavy” is no longer the case, especially if Utley bats 2nd. Also, check Kubel’s last 3 years against Ibanez, Kubel has an aggregate .349 wOBA to Ibanez’s .342, with Kubel still in his prime.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
4 years 9 months ago

Does anyone ever stop to look at Sizemore’s actually numbers? Look, he has had a ton of leg injuries, and that certainly explains his lack of stolen bases and poor defensive performances. But what explains the fact that his BB% has plummeted and his K% is now hovering around 30%? His bad knees have made him a remarkably undisciplined hitter?

I am not saying that for a team like this Phillies who have the resources and are in a win now mode shouldn’t take a chance, but as an Indians fan I am tired of hearing that “if only he gets healthy” stuff. There is absolutely no reason to believe a healthy Grady Sizemore, at this point, would be a very valuable piece. He was good 3 years ago? So was Milton Bradley.

Blue Jays Fan
Guest
Blue Jays Fan
4 years 9 months ago

If his injuries slowed his bat speed (or he wasn’t willing to swing at 100% speed), he would have to decide whether to swing earlier. This could cause him to start guessing at pitches instead of reacting. This could could cause him to chase a lot of pitches out of the zone. This is a potential reason, but I obviously don’t know if it is legitimate.

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
4 years 9 months ago

Can somebody explain who starts at 1B while Ryan Howard is out? And what is our best guess at how long Howard is out? I still can’t believe the timing of that Howard injury.

In any event, it’s not clear to me why John Mayberry can’t be an every day player.

My assumption is that the Phillies will want to sign a left-handed 1B/OF for cheap to start at 1B while Howard is out and who can then (upon Howard’s return) either a) platoon with Mayberry in the outfield or b) be the team’s fourth OF and backup 1B. I don’t really understand why the Phillies would want to commit very much money to such a player. I will say that Jason Kubel is exactly such a player but he likely is under the impression that he’s much more than that (i.e., an every day player and possibly a borderline star), and my guess is that somebody out there is liable to agree with him.

Blue Jays Fan
Guest
Blue Jays Fan
4 years 9 months ago

Didn’t the Phils just sign Thome????

hk
Guest
hk
4 years 9 months ago

I don’t think anyone knows how much time Howard will miss, but if it is more than a few months, I (unlike others) don’t think Jim Thome is the answer. I believe one approach they are pursuing is to sign a LF (hence the interest in Sizemore and Kubel) and let Mayberry play 1B in Howard’s absence. However, I would sooner see them pursue Wilson Betemit. He’d probably take a one year deal, could play 1B while Howard is out, platoon at 3B with Polanco when Howard returns and serve as a PH when he’s not starting.

Blackie
Guest
Blackie
4 years 9 months ago

“In any event, it’s not clear to me why John Mayberry can’t be an every day player.”

Ditto. If he were a left-handed hitter I don’t think we’d be having this conversation. There’s some risk that 2011’s step forward wasn’t real I suppose, but he looked pretty convincing when I saw him.

Silencio
Guest
Silencio
4 years 9 months ago

I don’t think either of these guys will be as good as Dom Brown in 2012. Just play him FFS. Hes even left-handed so that when Howard comes back he and Mayberry can go to a full time platoon if they decide that would be best.

Math Nerd
Guest
Math Nerd
4 years 9 months ago

So they want Brown to spend ANOTHER year at triple A??? Wasn’t he supposed to be a seasoned prospect before last season started? At some point don’t you just have to let him play? I mean, they say he’s too valuable to trade. Shit or get off the pot, Phillies…

Rich C
Guest
Rich C
4 years 9 months ago

First I think the Phils thinking is Citizens Bank plays even better than the Metrodome as a hitters park and that Kubel will be helped by the park as his numbers went down when the Twin’s shifted venues. That being said David Dejesus maybe a better cheaper and more productive option for the Phils whose GM commented that he wanted bench players who gave tough AB’s and were selective like the Cards bench, rather than what the Phil’s have become which is a team built on power that save Howard does not hit the HR anymore.

Steve_in_MA
Guest
Steve_in_MA
4 years 9 months ago

No disrespect intended, but why does everyone seem to have been smoking a crack pipe and dreaming that Sizemore is a viable ball player? I realize he was a beast in 2008. That dream has died and is long over. Now, we are 5 surgeries later. He has played in slightly more than 200 ballgames since 2008, with horrible defense and mediocre hitting numbers (except SLG). Why, pray tell, would anyone even remotely think that Grady can or will turn this around? There is no objective basis for it. None. Whatsoever. I wouldn’t tender him a contract at the MLB minimum. And you are suggesting he is viable for an F/A contract at $5MM-$7MM, plus incentives? Just contemplate for a moment how a smart GM could otherwise deploy that kind of payroll, and what risk + results he can get. Its not smart or creative to keep dreaming on every player who, once upon a time, had a great season.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle
4 years 9 months ago

Bottom line: people are intrigued by potential. It’s why every busted prospect gets another chance or two around the league. Is he worth $5MM-$7MM? Not if he gets hurt (which he probably will), but if he stays healthy, he could outplay his contract. Maybe.

Also, organizations may be forced into paying more than they’d normally be willing because weaker teams that have money to spend may want to take a chance on him, driving up his price.

GhostofTedCox
Member
GhostofTedCox
4 years 9 months ago

Sizemore is the most brittle ballplayer I have ever seen. His injuries come on routine plays, not from extra effort. I don’t believe he will again be what he was.

However, if you’re playing with monopoly money, take the gamble. But if your team has a budget, look elsewhere.

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
4 years 9 months ago

Since the Phillies really only need a guy who can a) fill in for Ryan Howard while Howard is out, maybe b) platoon with John Mayberry once Howard returns, and c) not complain if the team ends up deciding to play Mayberry every day, why not sign Johnny Damon? Damon has the reputation of being a great clubhouse guy, he’s durable, and he meets the above criteria. I also don’t think he’s going to be expecting to get paid a ton of money at this point in his career. And I don’t see him wanting to play for a non-contender.

As has been previously discussed in these pages, Damon has a compelling HOF case if he can make it to 3,000 hits. Damon is presently 277 hits away from the 3,000 hit plateau. I think his case is obviously going to be that much stronger if the final 2-3 years of his career (i.e., however long it takes him to get to 3,000) involve as many meaningful games as possible. The Phillies have signed one aging future HOFer this offseason for cheap (Jim Thome), why not sign another (potential) one?

jimbo jones
Guest
jimbo jones
4 years 9 months ago

Mayberry will play first base as a fill in. Don’t be surprised if Thome and even Utley starts a few games at first.

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