Make Or Break Year: Scott Kazmir

50609112710_Mariners at AngelsIt's hard to believe that it's been almost seven years since the infamous Victor Zambrano-for-Scott Kazmir swap. The Mets received just 202 2/3 serviceable innings out of Zambrano (4.42 ERA) while Kazmir was busy establishing himself as one of the game's best young hurlers in Tampa. Before his 24th birthday, the hard-throwing southpaw had 97 big league starts to his credit, and he owned a 3.64 ERA with 9.7 K/9 in the AL East. At 23, he took home the AL strikeout crown with 239 whiffs.

The Rays rewarded Kazmir with a four-year contract extension after that season, but things have gone downhill since. He missed the first month of the 2008 season with an elbow issue, and then battled a quad strain in 2009. With his ERA sitting at 5.92 at the end of August '09, the Rays traded Kazmir and the two years left on his contract to the Angels for three young players.

Although he pitched well after the trade (1.73 ERA in six starts), things really fell apart in 2010. Kazmir hit the disabled list twice for shoulder soreness/fatigue last season, and when he was on the mound he was rarely effective. His velocity had declined considerably and the strikeouts were proving harder to come by. All told, Kazmir pitched to a 5.94 ERA with nearly as many walks (79) as strikeouts (93) in 150 innings last season, and only eight times in 28 starts did he complete six innings of work.

Kazmir's stock is at an all-time low, which is not where you want it to be with free agency coming up after the season. The Halos are unlikely to exercise his $13.5MM option for 2012, and unless he regains his pre-2009 form, Kazmir is in danger of falling into the Jeremy Bonderman category of reclamation free agent starters.

It's not all bad news though. Kazmir will turn just 27 years old tomorrow, and his 39.1% ground ball rate in 2010 was his best in three years. AL East and World Series experience works in his favor, and an offseason of rest could also do wonders for his achy wing. Next winter's crop of free agent pitchers is weak, so Kazmir could parlay a strong 2011 season in a nice contract. A lot has to change for that to happen, though.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


73 Responses to Make Or Break Year: Scott Kazmir Leave a Reply

  1. Thurman8er 5 years ago

    Given the horrible decisions the Angels have made this entire off-season, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them give Kaz an extension. This is a front office that needs to get their head in the game and see when it’s time to cut their losses. Putting your faith in Mike Butcher to get Kazmir back to where he was, just because they used to work well together isn’t going to cut it. He’s hurt. He’s not the same kid. Sad but true. Move on.

    • cookmeister 5 years ago

      i think you are over-reacting. the Wells deal was bad, but don’t go saying how dumb the FO is and they they could give him an extension, that’s just not-likely. if he pitches well, i could see them resigning him after the season for much less, but that’s it.

      • Thurman8er 5 years ago

        Sarchasm: the gap between those who aren’t serious and those who don’t get it.

        • corey23 5 years ago

          what is sarchasm?

          from all of us in oakland, keep up the good work kazmir!

        • cookmeister 5 years ago

          not sure what sarchasm is, but it is apparent that you still have the Wells deal-hangover… i am in no way defending Reagins (i am actually fairly upset about the deal), but this is the same guy that got Teixeira for basically nothing and Dan Haren on a really good deal. If some other desperate/bad deal happens, Reagins has to be gone

        • Karkat 5 years ago

          Seriously people? It was a pun. Come on, internet.

          It’d be more fitting to their previous moves if they traded Kazmir for Barry Zito, though.

          • East Coast Bias 5 years ago

            I would have used sarkazm. GET IT?!

          • OCSportsGeek 5 years ago

            I see what you did there…

  2. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    Kazmir scares me….a .287 BaBIP and a 5.83 FIP.

    He would be worth a try if the Angels literally asked for practically nothing in return but salary relief and paid his buyout of $2.5 mil. That being said…baseballs are very expensive and NYS gives up a lot souvenirs in the 1st half of the year.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      FIP is arguably the most important stat for a pitcher. And I go crazy when I see a 4.75-5.00 FIP. Sheesh.

  3. Pete 5 years ago

    I don’t want to bring up the white elephant in the room, but there is one here, and its probably the cause of Kazmir’s falloff.

    • NatsTown 5 years ago

      elaborate?

      • I think he is very incorrectly trying to say steroids…

        • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

          Yeah I agree w/ David. Kaz had lots of success in the testing age. If he were using he would’ve tested positve. If he was using HGH then he should keep at until they come up with a test ’cause he sucks. He should send a few kits to NYS c/o AJ Burnett (cough) I mean… B.K Gillette…..the clubhouse guys will get it to him.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      That was the strangest most indirect thing I’ve ever read on this site.

    • Ferrariman 5 years ago

      Kazmir has a pet elephant?

      • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

        New picture eh? Been a while.

        • rzepczynski 5 years ago

          not really

          • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

            I’ve commented like 5 times this month…from July-December, 3000 comments.

          • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

            finger injury?

          • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

            I got a really good gig with Beyond the Box Score. So that’s where I’m usually at.

    • Ferrariman 5 years ago

      Kazmir has a pet elephant?

    • hrbomber1113 5 years ago

      this is just stupid. He hasn’t been the same since he pitched in the 08 All Star game when he wasn’t supposed to. he needs to have the surgery and get it over with. Obviously, he has lost velocity and it hurts to throw the great slider he used to have. Same thing happened to Johan except he still had the amazing change up and pitched in the NL.

    • Overwork at a young age?

      Kazmir pitched a ton of high leverage innings before age 24.

  4. cookmeister 5 years ago

    Kazmir might be one of the most important players if the angels want to have success. if he struggles, there is just a black hole at the 5th starter spot and our FO will look bad once again… if he comes back to his old self and has a good year, the rotation sets up to be one of the better ones in the MLB, and could be the reason they win

  5. Karkat 5 years ago

    We’re looking at this the wrong way. Kazmir is just finally playing like Victor Zambrano.

  6. tacko 5 years ago

    Oliver Perez 2.0

    • $1529282 5 years ago

      That’s a sad, but very accurate comparison… poor Kazzy. Always liked him.

    • Tko11 5 years ago

      Not quite…Ollie is far worse.

  7. Cody 5 years ago

    If the Angels get good years out of Kaz and Dan they could have one of the top rotations in baseball. Just look at it Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, Dan Haren, Joel Pineiro. That’s a very good rotation if they pitch to their past standards.

    • Thurman8er 5 years ago

      It’s a very good top 4. But what could possibly lead you to think they could get a good year out of Kazmir?

      • Because its his contract year and he is still young?

      • Cody 5 years ago

        All they need is a 4.00 ERA and 10-15 wins and that’s a good year for Kaz being that he is the #5 starter right now. And I’m not just some angels homer either I’m a big Red Sox fan.

        • Thurman8er 5 years ago

          What could possibly lead you to think they could get a 4.00 ERA out of Kazmir?

          • Ferrariman 5 years ago

            his track record before 2010 and his age?

  8. Donskoy 5 years ago

    He either has to regain his velocity (which I don’t think is going to happen) or he has to relearn how to pitch. I think he’s going to have a few off years, just barely staying in the Major Leagues, and then reestablish himself at, like, 31.

  9. MetsEventually 5 years ago

    Worlds biggest facepalm. Damn.

  10. Redsoxn8tion 5 years ago

    I can see the Yankees making a big push for him if he hits FA next year.

    • I am Urban Legend 5 years ago

      yup. especially if it means wiping it in the Mets face. (see doc/darryl/cone)

  11. Kazmir, Bonderman & Francis are all reclamation projects that are probably done.

  12. AngelsWatcher 5 years ago

    This is funny you people really are bad fans always find something to complain about, this is the same type of negative comments that people said about Cliff Lee in 06 and more in 07 yet look at that left hander now. Not that there the same but I believe he has the ability to be really good if not great again.

    • SalaryCapPlease 5 years ago

      As an Angel fan, I couldn’t agree with you more about Kaz. However, most people who post on this website are not Angel fans so they get caught up in recent events and lose sight about what is still there.

      Before the 2010 season started, I must have read article after article about how the Angels are slowly becoming a model franchise: from the front office to the players. It’s amazing how a single season/offseason can change such a public perspective.

      It’s comments like “Arte Moreno will have you know they were never actually seriously interested in success” and “lol angels” makes me realize how near-sighted baseball fans are. Quite honestly, I am the same way which is why I think most people will rant or whine about a different team next offseason. Also, it’s Arte’s money, not anyone else’s.

      The Angels rotation is very solid next season with or without Kaz. If he shows that “he has the ability to be really good if not great again” like you say then it will be icing on the cake as the 5th starter. They will be fine.

  13. Clearly he is having shoulder issues. The Angels would have been wise to have just shut him down at the end of last season. He needs time to build up shoulder strength and get his mechanics in order.

  14. bjhaas1977 5 years ago

    trade kazmir back to the mets for ollie perez. if the are taking on bad contracts!

    • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

      And if they trade for Zito they’d have the least productive team in history for the price tag.

      • I am Urban Legend 5 years ago

        the mets in 1992 and 2003 were FAR less productive with one of the top 3 payrolls in baseball.
        i dont see ollie making the team at all. I do see castillo being motivated to make the decision harder for them to make. if he hits .400 in spring training, plays vintage defense, speaks the queens english, is all smiles…I wonder if Sandy will keep him or were the Wilpons just holding onto him last year so the GM this year would score some easy PR points by releasing ollie/perez.

        these are the wilpons, and everything is about image.

    • Mdey 5 years ago

      I’m sure the Mets would do it. Kazmir has more upside than Perez does. Reagins would probably demand that Luis Castillo be included as well.

  15. Cody 5 years ago

    All they need is a 4.00 ERA and 10-15 wins and that’s a good year for Kaz being that he is the #5 starter right now. And I’m not just some angels homer either I’m a big Red Sox fan.

  16. NathanielS 5 years ago

    Mike Trout will save us from our sin.

    • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

      unless he’s traded for milton bradley first

  17. ryankrol 5 years ago

    As a former pitcher, I’ve observed Kazmir’s falloff very closely. And it appears to be a simple matter of holding his hands higher when he lifts his leg, and putting the umph in his follow through. The problem is that he lost his confidence, and that will make even the easiest of adjustments more complicated than they need to be. But if it’s his shoulder, then he’s just foolish as Troy Glaus was for trying to rehab it and play through it.

    • bomberj11 5 years ago

      I totally agree with the confidence thing. Send him to the minors for a few starts, bring him back up to start against a weak offense only going five innings, and see what happens.

      • Tko11 5 years ago

        After hes been in the majors for so long, a move to the minors would decrease his confidence even more in my opinion. He needs his velocity back. Maybe watch some tapes from when he was successful and see what exactly hes doing wrong if it is mechanical problems.

    • I am Urban Legend 5 years ago

      I believe Rick Peterson saw something in his delivery in 2003 that would lead to arm problems, he didnt want to change his delivery and lo and behold, 6 years later he developed those arm problems. To his credit, he swallowed his pride and went looking for Rick at some point in 2009 and Rick got him back on track. Not sure what happeend in 2010.

      • Peterson screwed up more than his fair share of Brewers pitchers the past year +.

        I think his star has faded.

        • adropofvenom 5 years ago

          Brewers didn’t have good pitchers for him to screw up…

  18. I am Urban Legend 5 years ago

    Thank You Fred and Jeff Wilpon for approving one of the worst trades in Met history. All because your favorite pitchers Al Leiter and John Franco had a lil beef with the kid in spring training over playing Eminem in the clubhouse. Then one of their newly hired renowned superscouts, who came from the tampa bay org. says that he knows the PERFECT guy to get. Brings it up to Peterson, Peterson gives his blessing, says he can fix him in 15 minutes. Trade approved. All the while Jim Duquette was ADAMENT about not trading Kazmir away for Alfonso Soriano, or anyone in MLB for that matter. When it became apparent that zambrano was damaged goods and kazmir was a beast. The Wilpons once again conveniently blame their GM.

  19. Lunchbox45 5 years ago

    When I was a little girl in Panama, a rich American came to our town and he was wearing the softest most beautiful sweater. I said to him, “what do you call this most beautiful fabric?”, and he said “they call it cashmere”. I repeated the words “cashmere, cashmere”. I asked if I could have it, and he said “No. Get away from me.” Then he started walk away. But I grabbed onto his leg screaming for him to give me the sweater and he dragged me through the street. And then he kicked at me with the other foot and threw some change at me. Oh, but I didn’t want the change Georgie. I wanted the cashmere”.

    • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

      Watching Seinfeld while drunk early in the morning?

      • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

        what makes you think I’m drunk?

        • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

          The random Seinfeld comment…

          • wickedkevin 5 years ago

            If I don’t relate a moment in my day to Seinfeld it is a bad day.

          • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

            exactly

    • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

      THis is THEE most random comment. Are you comparing trading for Kazmir sort of like shopping in the irregular/defective pile at the department store?

      • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

        not really.. I just loved this episode of seinfeld and every time I hear Scott Kazmir, I end up thinking of this quote..

        I guess you could compare Scott to a defective Cashmere sweater, once a young and dominant strike out machine, now a pitcher with a red dot on his slider.

    • kdub53 5 years ago

      The topic here is KAZMIR not KRAMEr!! :)

  20. i get it. his name sounds like cashmere..

  21. but anyway i cant believe how screwed up the mets organization got during the minaya/wilpon era. trades like that really show lack of good judgement

    • I am Urban Legend 5 years ago

      posts like this show you should do some research.
      Omar had nothing to do with this trade.

      this was just another example of how the mets have had the most dysfunctional front office in almost all of sports.

      people are going to start blaming Omar for trading away Kevin Mitchell. smh

  22. Rick Garcia 5 years ago

    i remember when i first heard the Zambrano/Kazmir trade back when it happened…awful day for mets fans at the time…

    Its amazing how the mets got rid of him for nothing yet they held/hold on to guys like milledge and f-mart until they have little trade value left but should have been shipped out earlier

  23. DrLolly 4 years ago

    you know, john lackey has an era above 6. doesn’t that put him in danger of falling into a “jeremy bonderman” category?

  24. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    haha…..guilty.

  25. SalaryCapPlease 5 years ago

    Going by your other posts on the Angels from other topics, you’re as pessimistic as they come. I clearly agreed that I’m just as judgmental as everyone else so this horrid trade receives no praise by me either.

    I also mentioned that anything good Kazmir does will be icing on the cake to a solid rotation. Sure it was dense, but I know I can count on you to number crunch any reason against such a claim. It seems your animosity towards the team has stemmed way before the trade ever happened. What gives?

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