Word of Scott Kazmir moving from the Rays to the Angels grew from rumored to suspected to official last night, with two young minor leaguers and a Player to Be Named Later. A strange move for a team in the heat of a playoff race, even stranger considering Scott Kazmir's perception around baseball.
Kazmir spent the last few years as the Rays oft-injured ace, serving as the Opening Day starter in 2006 & 2007. As the key piece in the trade often used as exhibit 1A in the ongoing case "The People versus the Mets Braintrust." Obviously trading away a valuable young (cheap) option for player like Victor Zambrano is regrettable, but one nagging question remains: what, exactly, does Scott Kazmir offer?
Of his 5 full major league season, Kazmir posted one good year. One full, good year. His 2007 season featured 13 wins, 239 strikeouts and over 200 innings pitched. 2007 represents the last time Kazmir made more than 30 starts, and the last season his stuff could still be considered "electric."
After pitching his heart out for a terrible Rays team, everything went south for Kazmir. He missed the start of the 2008 season with injury, only to return with something missing. Namely, the zip on his pitches. During the Rays dash to the World Series, each Kazmir start became a endless slough of high pitch counts and bases on balls.
A few injury shortened years, a contact growing more and more exorbitant for the Rays' blood, the allure of potential and suddenly Kazmir isn't the guy traded for Victor Zambrano, he IS Victor Zambrano. A quickly aging arm with control and injury troubles who a deep-pocketed contender hopes will string together a few strong starts down the stretch. The Rays hope they can turn the same trick while quietly sliding a minor league talent in for a former ace without noticing much drop-off.