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Grady Sizemore now a free agent

Cleveland Indians Grady Sizemore connects for an RBI double against the Toronto Blue Jays during the second inning of their American League MLB baseball game in Toronto, May 31, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The Cleveland Indians announced today that they have decline to pick up the $9 million option on Grady Sizemore for the 2012 season. The Tribe was hoping to negotiate an incentive-laden deal for the often injured Sizemore, but that didn’t happen so they let him go.

Sizemore was a rising star and an excellent all-around player before he injured his knee. In 2008, Sizemore clubbed 33 home runs and stole 38 bases. But in the last three seasons, he’s only played in 210 games with 28 home runs and 17 steals. This year he didn’t steal a single base, and with all the injuries nobody knows if he can return to his previous form.

The Indians couldn’t afford to take that chance. They desperately need to add some reliable bats to go with their solid pitching staff and Sizemore was too big a risk, particularly since they are stuck with the brittle Travis Hafner for one more season at $13 million.

Sizemore will get plenty of interests from other teams, and the upside is there if he can stay healthy. The big-money teams can more easily absorb the risk.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Report: Indians acquire Derek Lowe from Braves

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that the Atlanta Braves have traded Derek Lowe to the Cleveland Indians. WKNR in Cleveland is reporting that the Indians parted with minor-league pitcher Chris Jones.

This is a salary dump by the Braves. Olney reports that the Braves will cover $10 million of Lowe’s 2012 salary of $15 million. So the Indians get an experienced starter for the bargain price of $5 million for next season.

Lowe didn’t have a great 2011 season in Atlanta as he went 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA. He’s also 38 years old. Yet Lowe eats up innings and his stats from 2005-2010 we excellent and then solid. The Indians have a strong pitching staff led by Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, with Josh Tomlin and Fausto Carmona as well (the Tribe picked up Carmona’s 2012 option today for $7 million). But injuries have hurt their depth in the rotation, and Lowe gives them an experienced starter to add to the mix.

Tony La Russa announces retirement

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa hugs batting coach Mark McGwire after the Cardinals won the 2011 World Series in St. Louis on October 28, 2011. The Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers 6-2 winning game 7 of the World Series. The Cardinals won their 11th World Series after defeating the Texans 4 game to 3. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

What a way to go. The St. Louis Cardinals had an incredible season topped off by one of the most exciting World Series comebacks in baseball history. 67-year-old Tony La Russa apparently has decided that this was the perfect way to end his career, as he announced today that he will retire as manager of the Cardinals.

Already the talking heads on ESPN are speculating that this really won’t be the end for La Russa. Who knows. But he’s had a great career with three World Series titles.

One criticism of La Russa is that he should have won more championships, as he had an incredible team in Oakland that managed to lose two of of three times in the World Series. But baseball is a funny sport. The best team doesn’t always win – the hottest team wins. Baseball history is littered with examples of how a dominant pitcher and a hot team can defeat the more dominant teams. Orel Hershiser and the Dodgers were one example against La Russa’s A’s.

La Russa was hailed as a genius at times, and that happened again after Game 1 of this World Series after all of his moves seemed to work out. Then he was the goat of Game 5 as the Cardinals ran the wrong relief pitcher out to the mound after what La Russa described as a communication problem.

None of those details really matter now. La Russa is leaving the game in the way players and managers can only dream about.

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa ponders his thoughts after announcing he has decided to retire during a press conference at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on October 31, 2011. La Russa, (67) who managed the Cardinals for 16 seasons guided his club to the franchise’s 11th World Championship just days ago. La Russa has 2,728 career wins. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Sunday Evening Quick-Hitters: Reactions from Week 8 in the NFL

Every Sunday evening throughout the 2011 NFL season I’ll compile quick-hit reactions from the day that was in football. I vow to always overreact, side with sensationalism over rationalism, and draw conclusions based on small sample sizes instead of cold, hard facts. It’s the only way I know how to write…

DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING…

St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson looks downfield after making a reception in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on October 31, 2010. St. Louis won the game 20-10. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

- “If only the Rams could now somehow beat the Saints on Sunday, this would be the greatest sports weekend EVER,” uttered the random St. Louis fan on Friday night after the Cardinals defeated the Rangers in Game 7 of the World Series. How do the previously winless Rams defeat a team in the Saints that just racked up 62 points on the Colts? Well, that’s pretty easy. When you can’t stop Steven Jackson even though you know he’s going to get the ball every down, you lose two turnovers over on your side of the field, and you don’t protect your quarterback, you’re going to lose to most opponents regardless of whether or not they have any wins. The Rams won this game because of Jackson and their defense, which sacked Drew Brees six times and returned one of his passes for a game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. Chris Long absolutely abused Charles Brown, who should have been given more help because he clearly needed it. The Rams clearly haven’t checked out and they’ll continue to fight every Sunday. That was apparent for anyone who saw Jackson flip out on his offensive line late in the second half following yet another false start penalty. What a sweet first win this was for a city that is on cloud nine right now.

- It’s not really shocking that the 2-6 Panthers lost another game. But considering whom they were playing and given that they were 3.5-point home favorites, it was a little surprising to see Carolina go down in flames to Minnesota on Sunday. Christian Ponder’s 102.7 passer rating and 8.4 yards per attempt were both season-highs for the Vikings, who apparently just should have started the kid from Week 1 and bypassed acquiring Donovan McNabb altogether. Ponder threw for 236 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-28 passing while earning his first career win thanks in large part to Olindo Mare’s inability to hit a 31-yard chip shot. The miss, which came with under a minute left to play, cost the Panthers an opportunity to force overtime. Good thing Carolina GM Marty Hurney spent so much money on Mare this offseason. Dude was totally worth it.

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Fade Material: NFL Week 8 Predictions

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes on the run against the Indianapolis Colts during their NFL football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana October 23, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

It looks like I’m starting to inch closer to respectability with my NFL predictions. The Steelers, Chiefs and Broncos (by a small miracle) covered last week, while the Packers were a fourth-quarter dud against the Vikings.

That gave me a 3-1 Sunday for Week 7, which puts me at 13-15 on the year. I need one more 3-1 effort today to get me back to .500 and then I’ll really tear things up in the second half. Just you wait and see. Oh, just you wait and see.

Saints @ Rams, 1:00PM ET
After they dropped 62 points on the Colts last week, I’m sure public bettors have been racing to the window to take the over with the Saints today. The Rams have allowed the second-most points this year, just behind…yup, the Colts. But 48.5 points seems way too high for me, although I understand why oddsmakers have jacked up the total given the Saints’ offensive output last weekend. New Orleans plays things more conservatively on the road and I don’t see St. Louis helping cover the over with A.J. Feeley at the helm. I like the under.
THE PICK: UNDER 48.5

Dolphins @ Giants, 1:00PM ET
No matter how well Brandon Marshall tries to spin it, the Dolphins have checked out. Reggie Bush says the team stinks, while Yeremiah Bell says that Reggie Bush stinks. The funny part is that half the locker room seemingly agrees with Bush while the other half agrees with Bell. That’s not good for locker room dynamics and considering the Dolphins have to hit the road to face a well-rested New York squad, I like the G-Men to roll today. Of course, the last time I picked the Giants they lost outright to the Seahawks at home, which caused one of our loyal readers to request that I don’t pick them anymore. Sorry snd_dsr, but I’m going back to the well.
THE PICK: GIANTS –9.5

Lions @ Broncos, 4:05PM ET
The Lions are a complete mess and I get three points? Sign me up! Detroit is better than Denver but Detroit also has zero running game, its quarterback is banged up and its defense can’t stop the run. Oh, and they have to travel cross-country to play a team that seemingly has new life under Tim Tebow. For at least one more week I’m going to UNLEASH THE TEBOW!
THE PICK: Broncos +3

Bengals @ Seahawks, 4:15PM ET
Seattle’s quarterback situation is an abomination but no matter how ugly things can get for the Seahawks, they usually play well at home. Seattle is a tough environment for any quarterback to play in, nevertheless a rookie. Andy Dalton has certainly surpassed expectations to this point, but I think he’ll make a couple of big mistakes to cost the Bengals today. Seattle’s defense hasn’t played poorly this season and if their offense can muster double-digit points I think they win outright.
THE PICK: SEAHAWKS +1

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