Scott Kazmir: Where Will He Land? The Future of Kaz
Sunday, June 19, 2011
MLB reports: Things did not go as planned for Scott Kazmir. A first round pick of the New York Mets (fifteenth overall) in the 2002 draft, Scott Kazmir has gone from can’t miss prospect to baseball outcast. Only twenty-seven years old, Kazmir now sits at home awaiting to find out if he still has a baseball future. The Texas Native was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2004 season in a package for mediocre starter Victor Zambrano. Considered a steal of a deal at the time for the Rays, Kazmir played in Tampa Bay until the 2009 season when he was moved to the Angels. Despite $14.5 million in guaranteed money still due to him, the Angels saw enough after a poor 2010 season and atrocious start to the 2011 campaign. Now the rumor mill has Kazmir possibly headed back to the Mets, the team that originally gave up on him early, in order to restore his flailing career.
The debate on Kazmir is whether he is suffering from injuries, physical or mental concerns. Kazmir had shoulder and hamstring issues in 2010 and spent time on the disabled list. In 2011, Kazmir lost a great deal of velocity and control, despite reportedly being injury-free. Looking at Kazmir’s numbers in Tampa Bay in 2009 and Anaheim in 2010 and 2011, the trend of decline was becoming obvious. If you remove Kazmir’s six games played in Anaheim after the trade in 2009, we have been viewing a pitcher in a free fall since his twenty-fifth birthday. Now as Kazmir ponders his future, the baseball world is left to wonder what happened and where Kazmir will play next.
I look at Kazmir’s health record and consider his elbow issues of 2007 and 2008. Aside from the 2005 and 2007 seasons, Kazmir has never successfully completed a full season in the majors injury-free. Even though he may not be considered injured today, the number of injuries that he has suffered throughout his career have apparently finally taken a toll. Having suffered elbow and shoulder injuries at such a young age, it is difficult to ascertain if his arm and body will ever fully recover. Based on his poor showing of the last two years, the mental strain of his failed performances have likely compounded the issues further. Wherever he lands in the future, our reports are indicating that we will likely never see the All-Star Kazmir from 2006 and 2008. Even though he is only twenty-seven, the future looks bleak for Scott Kazmir.
Over the coming days we will learn more about the teams interested in signing Scott Kazmir. The two New York teams have jumped to the forefront of the race. Other teams that make sense include the Boston Red Sox, who love their scrap heap former top prospect pitchers, the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers, who have been linked to Kazmir for some time. Analysts have been speculating for the last two days that the Mets are the top destination. Our projection though is Texas landing Kazmir. Born and raised in Texas, Kazmir would likely prefer a homecoming, combined with playing for the contending Rangers and its top pitching coach, Mike Maddux.
Sometimes a player performing poorly requires a change of scenery for a rebound. Playing in a new city for a new team can reinvigorate some players. But such is not the case for all. Especially with pitchers, we have recently seen some very highly considered hurlers seemingly decline overnight. Dontrelle Willis. Rick Ankiel. Two former top prospects turned horror shows. Is Scott Kazmir next? The chance for rebound is there, but it appears to be slim at best. The Angels, long considered a team highly skilled in developing pitchers, flushed a great deal of money in writing off Kazmir. From everything I have read, I can’t see that they are wrong. While the Mets were blasted ever since trading Kazmir, the reality is that the Rays only got four very good seasons out of him. The next Nolan Ryan may in fact have become the next Victor Zambrano. Ironic how life works out sometimes.
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