• Kazmir On The Move Or: How The Rays Lost Their Nerve

    Posted by on August 28th, 2009 · Comments (7)

    Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Angels are close to acquiring Tampa’s #1 starter, LHP Scott Kazmir.

    As a Yanks fan that has watched his team lose to Anaheim time and again in the regular season and the playoffs, this isn’t great news.  The only silver lining in this dark cloud is that Kazmir is oft-injured and inconsistent so maybe (just maybe) he goes out west and provides the same 50-50 flip-of-a-coin inconsistency for the Angels that he’s been giving Tampa all these years.

    What I want to know is why Tampa is cashing out of the playoff race now, when they could’ve gotten more for Kazmir during the non-waiver trading deadline.  Sure, Tampa has prospects in Hudson Valley (Short Season A-ball), Montgomery (AA) and Durham (AAA).  But I’m surprised they’d give up on ’09 when they’re still in the Wild Card hunt…especially with Boston coming to town for a key three-game series next week.

    For all the ass-kissing of the Tampa franchise over the past 18 months or so, I have to say this move makes no sense to me.  They’re a well-run franchise but they too are not infallible (despite what the chubby in Peter Gammons’s pants says).  Yeah, you could say that I’ve grown to dislike them.

    Update 4:50: SI.com’s John Heyman is also reporting this trade so it seems even more like a done deal.  Heyman is saying that the Rays will get back Double-A LHP Alexander Torres and High-A 3B Matthew Sweeney.  Interestingly, Heyman says that either Wade Davis or Andy Sonnanstine will take Kazmir’s spot in the rotation.  I get Wade Davis; he’s pretty solid.  Sonnanstine, however, well, I’ll just be diplomatic and say that he’s not quite up to MLB snuff…

    Update 5:30: MLB.com is reporting that this deal fell through.  Oh well.

    -Posted by MJ

    Comments on Kazmir On The Move Or: How The Rays Lost Their Nerve

    1. butchie22
      August 28th, 2009 | 5:57 pm

      The Los Angeles Assholes of Pasadena,Orange County California got Scott K,unh? Tampa needed salary relief but they seemed to go sour on Kazmir this year as well. Kazmir has been pitching well lately thanks to Rick Petersen BUT he hasn’t been the Kazmir of old.

      It is weird that the Tampa Rays are only 3 games out of the Wild Card and made this trade. Are things that bad financially this season for Tampa? I know they bumped up the payroll to 63 million and that their attendance is up but are there cash flow problems? Stu Sternberg is a Wall Street guy so I wonder if he is a”nickel and dimer” when it comes to team profit. I wonder if he approaches this team as a pure investment as opposed to a vanity project…..

    2. Raf
      August 29th, 2009 | 7:32 am

      The trade is official. TB gets salary relief, and Wade Davis in the rotation. It isn’t so much TB giving up on the season, Kazmir’s numbers have been on the decline. At least they flipped him for some useful parts before he bottomed out.

      Some combination of Davis, Sonnanstine, or Jeremy Hellickson (AAA) will get his starts I suppose.

    3. MJ
      August 29th, 2009 | 9:27 am

      @ Raf:
      1) I agree they get salary relief. But why sign him to the three-year contract extension if you couldn’t afford him? Didn’t the Rays front office project future expenses?

      2) He’s been pitching much better of late and his season stats don’t tell the full story.

      3) IMHO, Wade Davis belonged in the rotation out of camp but they had to give Niemann the shot because he was out of options.

      3a) I just don’t see what the fuss is over Sonnanstine. He’s got a pretty weak fastball that he doesn’t throw enough to keep hitters honest and everyone just sits on his good, albeit predictable, curveball. From an amateur scouting perspective, he seems more like a bullpen guy to me.

    4. Raf
      August 29th, 2009 | 11:58 am

      The Rays can afford Kazmir. I think they see the trend, and moved him while he was hot. Kazmir is still better than what the Angels have been throwing out there; if you think it’s bad that the Yanks have Mitre, the Angels are starting 3 equivalents. Think of it like when the Sox flipped Arroyo; they could afford to keep him, but something better came along.

      It’s not so much his season stats, but his k/9 has been declining and his bb/9 has been rising. His velocity has been on the decline as well.

      I think Davis gets the starts, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other guys start as well. At any rate, it’s a good deal for both clubs.

    5. MJ
      August 29th, 2009 | 12:03 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Think of it like when the Sox flipped Arroyo; they could afford to keep him, but something better came along.

      LOL, not really! Wily Mo Pena sucked!

    6. butchie22
      August 29th, 2009 | 2:01 pm

      Raf wrote:

      The Rays can afford Kazmir. I think they see the trend, and moved him while he was hot. Kazmir is still better than what the Angels have been throwing out there; if you think it’s bad that the Yanks have Mitre, the Angels are starting 3 equivalents. Think of it like when the Sox flipped Arroyo; they could afford to keep him, but something better came along.
      It’s not so much his season stats, but his k/9 has been declining and his bb/9 has been rising. His velocity has been on the decline as well.
      I think Davis gets the starts, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other guys start as well. At any rate, it’s a good deal for both clubs.

      As an aggregate, yes Kazmir hasn’t pitched like he has in the past. That seems to be a major impetus for the trade. However, they saved 20 million dollars and that certainly was a factor as well. The economy went into the tank the last year BUT their attendance is up BUT as I have said Sternberg is a Wall Street guy. He keeps a close eye on the bottom line and I wonder if Kazmir’s saved money is due to the cash flow issue.

      Interesting link to a St Petersburg Times that explores the wisdom of the 60 million dollar payroll for Tampa. For the blog article, it seems that in some way it was a risk to have the patroll as 60 million in 2009, they couldn’t really afford it per se. And according to the article, they had no flexibilty @ 60 million.

      http://blogs.tampabay.com/ballpark/2009/01/tampa-bay-rays.html

    7. butchie22
      August 29th, 2009 | 6:09 pm

      Interesting tidbit from Buster Olney:
      It’s the “12.5 Percent Club”: The players in Major League Baseball whose salaries account for at least one-eighth of their teams’ payrolls. Kazmir is in line to make $8 million next season, under the terms of the multiyear deal that he signed just 15 months ago. Given that the Rays increased their payroll to $63 million at the outset of the 2009 season and didn’t see a dramatic improvement in attendance despite their World Series appearance last year, the Tampa Bay Rays already were going to have to do some serious payroll juggling, with the rising cost of their talented core rapidly increasing.

      The Sunrays couldn’t afford him after all………..

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