Maybe Indians owner Larry Dolan is trying to compensate for an off-season that beared far less free agent fruit than anticipated.
Maybe he's trying to prove that he's not cheap.
Or maybe the Indians organization just thinks this highly of Grady Sizemore.
Today, about a month after signing shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a five-year contract extension, the Indians announced they have inked center fielder Sizemore to a six-year, $23.45 million extension with an $8.5 million club option for 2012.
Some veteran free agents with larger resumes didn't get that type of money on the open market this winter. Sizemore's contract is the largest contract ever awarded to a major league player with less than two years of experience.
Now, allow me to play the part of the fearful Clevelander and say I really hope Sizemore didn't just catch the American League off-guard last year, when he hit .289. I hope he really is this good, because he is going to be hitched to this team for a while.
His athletic pedigree seems to point toward actual talent. In addition to baseball overtures, Sizemore was recruited to play quarterback at the University of Washington.
Larry and Paul Dolan have repeatedly said they'd spend money when the time was right. Most fans dismissed their words as hogwash, especially as they watched Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel and Kevin Millwood leave.
While it would be nice to see the Indians actually be able to go out on the free agent market and land a power hitter or front-of-the-rotation starter (it certainly would make life easier on GM Mark Shapiro), you can't fault the Dolans for what they have done with the Indians' farm system. They realize what they have in their cache of young talent, and are pledging alliegence to it with their money.
Think that's the bare minimum that should be expected of them? You are right. But there are some owners in baseball that don't do what the Dolans are doing.
Baseball has its share of self-serving miser owners in markets like Cleveland, owners that don't fork over the cash to sign young players to long-term contracts. Those owners force their GMs to trade players like Sizemore so the organization doesn't lose them with nothing in return.
Think the Kansas City Royals are as bad as they are by accident?
Since 2004, the Dolans have forked over enough money to sign Jake Westbrook, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, C.C. Sabathia, Peralta and Sizemore for three or more years. The contracts given Peralta and Sizemore are of a length and size that surpasses even what the hallowed Dick Jacobs regime was normally willing to spend.
And the Dolans reportedly aren't done spending money on young players. Reports say they are trying to hammer out an extension with pitcher Cliff Lee.
No one will confuse the Dolans with baseball power brokers. That's blatantly obvious. But don't confuse being less-rich than the competition with being less-smart.