Angels Hope Scott Kazmir Will Help This Season and Beyond
As often happens in baseball, one team's trash is another team's treasure.
To the Rays, Scott Kazmir was a guy with a 5.92 ERA who was due to make at least $22.5 million between now and 2012. To the Angels, he's a two-time All-Star who is signed for two more years with a track record of success against the Yankees.
However you slice it, the deal gives the impression that the Rays aren't holding much hope of returning to the postseason this year. They dealt Kazmir just as he was pitching better, in exchange for a couple 21-year-old minor leaguers (pitcher Alex Torres and third baseman Matthew Sweeney) and a player to be named. With a four-game deficit in the wild-card race -- and two teams to leapfrog -- it's probably wise for the Rays to start looking to the future.
That future does not include paying Kazmir $8 million in 2010 and $11 million in 2011, along with a $2.5 million buyout or $13.5 million in 2012. It's hard to blame them, considering that Kazmir has had injury problems throughout his career, and this year he had fifth-worst ERA of any pitcher who had thrown at least 100 innings.
The glass-half-full Angels, though, were obviously ready to write off this season as an aberration. Kazmir, after all, had an ERA below 4.00 every other season he'd been in the majors, including double-digit victory totals, and a winning record, in every other full season he'd pitched. Last year he was the Rays' ace as they shocked the baseball world, winning the pennant.
The Angels have been scrounging around for pitchers to fill out their rotation all season. The top three pitchers are set for the postseason, with John Lackey, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana. Joe Saunders would be a logical No. 4 starter, but he's struggled and was recently on the disabled list. Unfortunately for the Angels, they had no one to push Saunders for that spot. They were giving the ball to such guys as Matt Palmer, Sean O'Sullivan, Shane Loux and Dustin Moseley, to name a few.
Now, they have Kazmir and Saunders to compete for that final spot in the playoff rotation.
Kazmir also has a track record of success against the Yankees, a potential playoff opponent of the Angels. Kazmir is 6-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 14 career games against the Yankees. This season Kazmir is 4-0 with a 2.92 ERA against the Yankees and Red Sox.
Looking even further down the road, Kazmir gives the Angels some depth if they fail to re-sign Lackey, who is a free agent. Negotiations with Lackey haven't gone far this year, and the pitcher seems destined to at least test the market.
For the Angels, who can afford the financial risk more than the Rays, it was a no-brainer to part with two second-rate prospects in exchange for Kazmir's possible upside, this year and beyond.