The New York Mets upset a lot of fans when they traded left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano back in 2004 as they figured he’d be the next big thing in the Major Leagues. They were right, up to a certain point, after Kazmir had several good seasons down in Florida. He made 34 starts for the club in 2007 and his 239 strikeouts were tops in the American League.
His first season in Tampa saw him start seven games, followed up by seasons with 32, 24, 34, 27, and 20. His ERA in those seasons was 5.67, 3.77, 3.24, 3.48, 3.49, and 5.92 and his win totals were 2, 10, 10, 13, 12, and 6. He only went below the .500 mark in the win column his first season there when he went 2-3. He was shipped to the Los Angeles Angels and made six starts going 2-2 with an ERA of 1.73
But the wheels have fallen off Kazmir and his bandwagon recently after suffering elbow injuries and losing command of his pitches. He started 28 games for the Angels last year, going 9-15 with an ERA of 5.94. This year has been a nightmare for him with an ERA of 27.00 in just one start and the Angels released him on June 16 eating his $14.5 million salary along the way. Kazmir had been pitching for the Angels’ salt Lake team in Triple A and was 0-5, allowing 30 runs in 15 1/3 innings for a 17.02 ERA.
But Kazmir’s just 27 years old and there may be several teams interested in seeing if he has anything left in the tank. Kazmir once had a 95-mph fastball along with a wicked slider and some teams have a hard time believing he’s completely lost it. The New York Mets might be one of those interested clubs as manager Sandy Alderson told the press he’d consider giving him a chance.
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It might not be such a bad idea since the Mets Triple A team the Buffalo Bisons is pretty thin when it comes to starting pitching. The Mets themselves are short in lefthanders especially in the bullpen and Kazmir is technically a free agent. The Angels are on the hook for his salary and the Mets could snag him for the Major League minimum.
The addition of Kazmir would add some depth to the organization as well as help the Bisons immediately. He’s still young enough to get back on the right track and the Mets don’t really have anything to lose after giving up on him when he was a 20-year-old. Kazmir may not have turned into the pitching star many believed he would, but he was still solid during his time with a struggling franchise in Tampa.
But while Alderson may view Kazmir as a salvageable pitcher, the Angels obviously didn’t and that’s why he was released. Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia said Kazmir’s skills just seemed to evaporate in thin air as he lost velocity on his fastball as well as his command. But he praised the pitcher’s work ethic and said Kazmir worked his tail off to try and turn things around. However, he added that instead of progressing, things actually got worse for Kazmir.
Scioscia went on to say that some other club will likely give Kazmir another chance since he’s a talented pitcher who has just lost his way at the moment. That club could be the Mets if somebody else doesn’t beat them to the punch.