News: Kazmir Headed to Angels

Following tonight’s game against the Tigers, the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they have traded Scott Kazmir to the Angels for prospects Alexander Torres, Matthew Sweeney, and a Player to Be Named Later.

Torres was 13-4 with a 2.75 ERA in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas this season.

Sweeney was hitting .299 with nine home runs and 44 RBI for Rancho Cucamonga.

…this is clearly a salary dump to try and free up money for someone such as Carl Crawford, and the Rays have also questioned Kazmir’s work ethic recently which prompted the rumors leading up to the trade deadline and eventually the move that was made…

…the question I have is that if Tampa Bay has to clear salary for Crawford, what incentive does he have in remaining with the Rays if they have to free up so much to retain him by trading their Major League talent away…it should be interesting how his situation unfolds in the offseason…

Quote: Jim Duquette on Scott Kazmir

Speaking of the trade deadline…

In 2004, on the trade deadline, Mets GM Jim Duquette traded a 20–year-old LHP Scott Kazmir to the Rays for Victor Zambrano, who had gone 21-17 in the previous two seasons.

Kazmir had been 25–17 with a 3.49 ERA in 358 innings, during which he struck out 405 batters.

However, this season, in which he has spent time on the disabled list, he is just 4–6 with a 6.69 ERA, and just 58 strike outs.

and, of course, zambrano was last seen hopping in pain off the mound in Shea Stadium, in what has got to be the most bizarre exit from a team ever

This afternoon on MLB Network, Duquette was asked why he made this deal, to which he responded:

“I’m still answering questions about the Kazmir trade.  It was six years ago… Kazmir, here’s a guy that what we talked about in the evaluation he turned out exactly like we thought; his stuff, his makeup, his desire, all the things that Kazmir turned out to be we had right… What we didn’t have right was the guy we got back, Victor Zambrano.  In that, when you’re sitting in the GM chair, and you’re going, ‘What were we looking at, what were our scouts looking at.’  It ended up, he was broken.”

like i said the other day, the buzz around kazmir is that his elbow may be a ticking time-bomb, and that he may not put in the effort to raise himself from this level pitcher to the next level… i guess what duquette is saying is that, it is these concerns that were of concern to the Mets… and so, today, duquette is comfortable with how they evaluated him… in addition, though he is confused by recommendations made to him about zambrano, he believes zambrano was damaged goods when they got it

The 25–year-old Kazmir will earn $20 million through 2011, after which he could become a free agent.

Buzz: Rays shop Kazmir, Crawford and Pena

Joel Sherman of the New York Post believes the Rays have shopped LHP Scott Kazmir to the Mets and Rangers.

According to Sherman, “Tampa is trying to see if they could trade Kazmir, Carlos Pena and in the right blockbuster even Carl Crawford to free up dollars to make a bigger trade.”

the buzz around baseball seems to be that if the crawford is to be traded, it will be in the off season, and not this week before Friday’s July 31 Trade Deadline… the same can be said for Blue Jays OF Alex Rios and Padres 1B Adrian Gonzalez

…from what I can gather, the Rays and Mets have talked… however, i have zero idea what they’ve talked about… i believe the Mets are still looking for offense… i also believe they are skeptical, but intrigued by kazmir, because he’s making too much money considering questions about his health, work ethic and stamina…

…however, from listening to reporters, talk radio and people around the game, it sounds like the Rays are trying to essentially trade kazmir and a bat, like a crawford or pena, to get Victor Martinez from the Indians, among other things, and will do whatever they have to do to make it happen

The 27–year-old Crawford is batting .311 with a .372 OBP, 30 extra base hits and 48 stolen bases this season for the Rays.

Crawford has a $10 million team option for 2010, after which he can become a free agent.

damn, man, he is a perfect fit for Citi Field… he’s a good defender, but in the box and on the basepaths he is a tailor-made for that building, short of being yet another left-handed hitter

Buzz: Halladay and Kazmir and the Rangers

Update, 3:20 pm:

MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Boston Red Sox have made a “strong offer” for Halladay.

The Red Sox reportedly offered Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Ryan Westmoreland  for Halladay.

Original Post:

In a post to his blog for the New York Post, Joel Sherman is reporting that the Texas Rangers have entered the Roy Halladay sweepstakes.

Sherman notes that the Rangers have two stumbling blocks when it comes to completing a trade for Halladay.

One of the stumbling blocks, according to Sherman, is that the Rangers aren’t sure they want to give up three of their best five or six prospects in a deal, a requirement from the Blue Jays.

The other issue is money and the Blue Jays will not take Vincente Padilla’s $7 million contract in a deal.

Sherman also reports that the Rangers recently turned down a deal for Scott Kazmir, with the Mets being only mildly interested in a reunion.

Buzz: Angels like Kazmir, no Talks

Yesterday, Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse said the Rays may look to trade Scott Kazmir, which, according to other reports, could free up money to help them acquire a pitcher like Cliff Lee.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com later said the Angels are interested in acquiring Kazmir.

However, today, Mark Saxon of the OC Register says the Angels have not discussed Kazmir with the Rays, and instead of are focused on acquiring a front-line starting pitcher like Roy Halladay or Lee.

Kazmir had been 25–17 with a 3.49 ERA in 358 innings, during which he struck out 405 batters.

However, this season, in which he has spent time on the disabled list, he is just 4–6 with a 6.69 ERA, and just 58 strike outs.

The 25–year-old Kazmir will earn $20 million through 2011, after which he could become a free agent.

Buzz: Rays talking about Scott Kazmir

Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse says the Rays may look to move Scott Kazmir, which, according to other reports, could free up money to help them acquire a pitcher like Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com believes the Angels are interested in acquiring Kazmir.

…i have been getting lots of e-mail from fans who are worried Omar Minaya will make a trade like in 2004, when the Mets panicked and sent Scott Kazmir to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano, because, when seven games back of the Wild Card, like now, the team thought it would contend for the post season… instead, they traded a young arm in kazmir, missed the playoffs and hopefully have been regretting it ever since…

…how bizarre would it be, when in the same situation, essentially, the Mets traded to get kazmir back… i have no reason to think this will happen, and i am pretty much sure it will not, but it would an interesting twist of fate

Kazmir had been 25–17 with a 3.49 ERA in 358 innings, during which he struck out 405 batters.

However, this season, in which he has spent time on the disabled list, he is just 4–6 with a 6.69 ERA, and just 58 strike outs.

The 25–year-old Kazmir will earn $20 million through 2011, after which he could become a free agent.

Video: One-on-one with Franco

To watch video of my interview with John Franco, during which we talk about his new role with the Mets and rumors about his involvement in the Scott Kazmir trade, click play below:

Read: What if Kazmir Stayed?

At Gotham Baseball, Eric Stashin discusses the repercussions of trading Scott Kazmir in 2004.

Stashin writes:

“I don’t think that the Mets would have won a championship in ’06, even with Kazmir.  It wasn’t the starting pitching that did them in during that series. You just can’t say that Kazmir would have made such a drastic difference, changing the course of the series.  Game 7 came down to the bullpens, with Aaron Heilman giving up the game winning shot in the top of the ninth.  It was a crushing blow, but one that Kazmir could have done little to prevent.”

Stashin also points out that without having traded Kazmir, the Mets wouldn’t have Johan Santana right now.

…these speculative pieces are fun to read but hard to quantify…all i do know is that after begrudgingly watching him as a ray for a few years, i have finally let go of the disappointment in trading kazmir…i can’t lie though, that picture does irk me a little bit…

Note: The Kaz Mir Jersey

Yesterday, while leaving Shea Stadium, I saw a guy wearing a Scott Kazmir Mets jersey.

I stopped him and asked if he spent money on it prior to the trade, or after.  Naturally, he ordered it online after the trade.

What’s interesting, though, is it was sent to him with a space between the Z and M in the last name.

Apparently, he said, the team will not ship out jerseys with No. 19 and the full last name of Kazmir on a Mets jersey.

…from what i can gather, this is their policy for any player who is not on the Mets, and has more to do with the league than the specific team…the thing is, i just can’t see how this is enforced…however, in a case like kazmir, which is so obvious, and such a notorious deal, it makes sense that it would be censored…

…i had never heard of such a scenario, and wonder if any other fans have gone through the same situation

Buzz: Kazmir's Day may be Numbered

“Even though he is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility, there’s already talk that Scott Kazmir‘s days as a Ray are numbered,” writes the St. Petersburg Times.

According to the report, the Rays approached Kazmir about a long-term extension last year, ‘but nothing developed.’

In early November, in the New York Post, citing ‘an executive familiar with the team’s thinking,’ Joel Sherman wrote that the Rays may entertain offers for Kazmir, depending on how the market develops for Johan Santana.

first off, i vowed to stop taking the bait on rays rumors years ago, after they sat on Aubrey Huff and Danys Baez…that being said, good god…could you imagine if the Mets ever re-acquired kazmir and he got hurt, or stumbled or fell apart…it’s not a reason to deny a trade, but it’s certainly a reason to hesitate…i mean, they’re finally at a point in which we never mention his name, and then bam, here we go again

Kazmir is eligible for arbitration this off season, for the first time in his career, and is eligible to be a free agent after 2010.

In three seasons with the last-place Rays, Kazmir is 33–26 with a 3.53 ERA while striking out 576 hitters through 537 innings.

…by the way, how badly do you think the Yankees would love to sign this guy when he becomes a free agent in a few years…not only would they get an outstanding, young, left-handed pitcher, but it would make me and every other Mets fan sick

News: Mets Bring Back Joselo Diaz

According to Baseball America, the Mets have signed minor-league, free-agent RHP Joselo Diaz.

…yes, his name should sound familiar to you, since he’s the other guy who went with Scott Kazmir in the tampa bay deal…

…so, one down from that deal…and one to go

hat tip to Adam Rubin for the link

Buzz: New Names, Lee and Burnett

Omar Minaya, talking to reporters yesterday from Orlando…

“We’re always looking for a frontline starter, and that’s difficult to do…Teams aren’t willing to give them up unless you really blow them away and give them a lot of players.”

Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi recently told ESPN.com that he is willing to entertain trade offers for RHP A.J. Burnett, who may opt out of his contract with Toronto after next season.

In his nine-year career, the frequently-injured Burnett has started at least 30 games in a season just once.  Yet, in 177 career starts, he is 69–66 with a 3.76 ERA, having struck out nearly one batter per inning.

…i could see the Mets being interested…burnett will likely cost a pitcher in return, but as long as the jays are freed of his money i am not sure the price in talent will be all that much…

Burnett, 30, will earn $12 million this coming season, but has o-trade protection against 15 teams.  

Meanwhile, according to Mark Hale in the New York Post, the Mets have talked to the Devil Rays during the GM Meetings, but not about LHP Scott Kazmir.

my guess is on talks involving either Dan Wheeler, Al Reyes or Edwin Jacksonjackson is 24, a fallen prospect with a quick arm and arbitration eligible this off season…while wheeler and reyers are two relief pitchers who were of interest to many teams, including the Mets, during last year’s trade deadline

Meanwhile, in Newsday, Ken Davidoff reports that Minaya had dinner last night with Indians GM Mark Shapiro. 

According to Davidoff, citing ‘a person familiar with the team’s thinking,’ Minaya and Shapiro intended to speak about potential matches in a deal for pitching.

Davidoff rules out the Mets acquiring C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona or Jake Westbrook, meaning a likely option could be LHP Cliff Lee.

Lee, 29, will earn $3.75 million next year and $5.75 million in 2009.  His team will hold an $8 million option for 2010.

Last season, Lee got bumped from Cleveland’s starting rotation, then was demoted to Triple-A after starting the season 5–8 with a 6.38 ERA.  However, he won 14, 18 and 14 games in each of the previous three seasons, while compiling a 4.50 ERA.