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The death of the Grady Sizemore dream

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We dreamed big. Then reality hit.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Grady Sizemore experiment has come to an end, and none too soon.

At this point, there is no denying that the experiment was a failure. No matter how good he looked in spring training, when the games stopped being about preparation and started effecting the standings, Sizemore simply couldn't compete. A line of .216/.288/.324 isn't going to cut it in most situations, much less in Fenway Park from a player whose defense had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer reasonably man center field. All told, going by fWAR, the Red Sox paid Sizemore some $1.25 million to cost them half a game in the standings.

It's more than just about his numbers at the plate and in the field, however. When talking about players like Daniel Nava and Jackie Bradley Jr., there are reasons for the Red Sox to keep hoping. With Nava, we're talking about a player who was at the top of his game just last year, and whose sudden decline in April seemed to be primarily a matter of losing his way at the plate mentally. With Jackie Bradley Jr., we have a young, inexperienced player who stands every chance of benefiting from getting more playing time--more opportunities to learn how major league pitchers are beating him, and how he can change. Both players, too, will be around in 2015 if the Red Sox want them back.

None of this is true for Sizemore. His problem is not a lack of experience. His problems cannot be attributed to, essentially, "the yips." Instead, he's a guy who hasn't played consistently for four years. He's been in-and-out of the league with injuries. We can still see flashes of the ballplayer he used to be in the way he takes a close pitch, or in making a diving grab in the outfield. But when he tries to chase down a distant fly ball, the speed isn't there. When he makes contact with the ball, it doesn't sound the same as it used to. The old Grady Sizemore might still be in there, but he's trapped in a body which can no longer function at the level it used to.

Perhaps Grady Sizemore's story does not end here. Maybe one of these days we'll hear that "Grady Sizemore is in the best shape of his life," and it will actually be true. However unlikely that is, however, it's even less likely to occur in the next three months, and the Red Sox have no ties to the Grady Sizemore of the future. He wasn't providing value now, and he wasn't going to provide value in the future. No matter how you look at it, the Red Sox had run out of justifications for devoting a roster spot to him.

There are many incentives in Grady Sizemore's contract, including ones for reaching a certain number of plate appearances, and for staying on the roster so many days. And then there are the awards. $50,000 each for winning the Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, or Comeback Player of the Year awards. $50,000 more for being named an All-Star or the ALCS MVP. $100,000 for being named regular season MVP, or MVP of the World Series.

Such was Grady Sizemore's talent once upon a time that, even six years after his last All-Star game appearance, we still dreamed of these fairy tale outcomes. In another world, where fate isn't quite so cruel, Sizemore is a star in the prime of his career. Here and now, however, the hopes of winter and spring are long dead, and it's time for both parties to move on.