And a Juan Gonzalez injury. It’s the dreaded hamstring strain this time. Hamstrings aren’t the type of injury that just goes away; especially in baseball, a player is one change of direction away from injuring it further. Combine that with Gonzalez’s injury history, and you have a big blow to Juan making the club.
Grady Sizemore is next in line, and he’s been playing well enough to make the club. As far as I’m concerned he’s ready for the majors now. Having Sizemore in center strengthens the outfield defense, but you obviously would lose a lot of power in the lineup. But Sizemore does have some pop; for what it’s worth, Baseball Prospectus really likes Sizemore in 2005, projecting a .285/.358/.447 line for Grady (projected 356 at-bats). He might be a better leadoff option than Coco Crisp down the road, but hitting him second in the lineup against right-handers would be a great spot for him this year.
With Sizemore in the lineup, here’s the 2005 baseball ages of the projected starters:
Coco Crisp – 25
Grady Sizemore – 22
Victor Martinez – 26
Travis Hafner 28
Casey Blake – 31
Ben Broussard – 28
Ronnie Belliard – 30
Aaron Boone – 32
Jhonny Peralta – 23
That’s a pretty young lineup. Not as young as the lineup in 2003, when at times the team ran 9 rookies out there every day. But for a team that scored 858 runs last year, that’s young. That’s what’s so promising about this team; not that they were successful last year, but that there’s still room for improvement based on how young the lineup is.
Of course, Gonzalez could still recover from the hammy and accumulate 400 or so at-bats. But right now, I think that’s wishful thinking, especially given what’s happened in the past three seasons. So let the Grady Sizemore era begin.