Kazmir Deal has me Dazed and Confused
Steve Nesius / AP
Not sure why last nights often delayed finalization of the eventual announcement of the Rays sending Scott Kazmir to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim effected me so much. like this. We all had a gut reaction that the team finally made a decision based on business and not talent. But why is my head still buzzing with questions and a gut feeling of fan betrayal by my franchise? Why is it I have a silly instinct we do not know all the facts yet, and that the real reasoning will anger me more down the road?
When the Rays traded away Fred McGriff to the Chicago Cubs, or even when my baseball buddy Toby Hall to the Los Angeles Dodgers, it did not get to the pit of my stomach. Maybe this time it is the stark realization that we all knew was coming, someday,some time. But this trade came right out of leftfield for all of us.
Heck, I personally was thinking that maybe in early January the Rays would have to revisit the thought of life without our fireballing leftie, but last night’s actions were not completed with ease or grace and it tore through the Rays Republic like a dull knife into a fine steak. Tearing roughly at our hearts and digging deep into our ever swirling thoughts and adverse reasoning for such a move now at this pressure moment in the season.
And the final realization that he was going to play the rest of the season out with an American League division leader and playoff contender seems to throw even more gasoline on the campfire. Logical thinking was missing in the reports and the final conclusion to the trade. Think about this for a second Rays fans. If we do garner an eventual spot in the playoffs, we could face Kazmir wearing that red and white jersey Angels gear as early as mid- October. And if he dominated us that day, I would chalk it all up to instant karma getting some revenge on the Rays front office.
I really still a bit numb and the constant waves from anger to understanding is not helping matters at all right now. The whole trade make-up at this point in the playoff drive is mass confusion to me and it still rolls around in my mind like a clump of tapioca pudding blocking the funnel points within my mind. My current Rays thought process has been reduced to a puddle of odd muck.
Screaming in my mind is the thoughts of “was this truly a salary dump?”, and thoughts of a conspiracy theory of if this had a level of motivation from the Pitching Coach that maybe Kazmir could not conform to “his” system? But I will hold that anger for another blog. This is a Irish wake for the loss of a young ace who might just flourish under his former Pitching coach, and make all of us regret this move. And deep within the recesses of my mind, I hope he gets us right between the eyes.
I seem to remember something Kazmir said around the time of the Trade Deadline that “if he wanted to go somewhere else, he would not have signed that contract extension in 2008”. How did someone who held 8 individual player bio pages in the Rays 2009 Media Guide all of a sudden become expendable? And he was in the first season of his recently signed 3-year contract, it is not like he was going into his option years, or facing Free Agency in 2010.
I was incredibly excited when in 2008, on my birthday, Kazmir signed his 3-year contract extension covering 2009-2011, with a club option for 2012. And it still puzzles me deeply that a guy who is the Rays All-Time leader in wins (55), strikeouts (874) and quality starts (62) can just be tossed away for prospects?
The Rays return of low tier players in this deal is not so wildly impressive that it merited a fast and furious trade. Those same minor league players that might have been in the same proposal the Angels dangled in front of the Rays noses before the Trade Deadline. Hopefully the player to be named later announced after the end of this season will be the keystone to this move. If not, the Rays gave up too much for so little in this deal.
I have seen Kazmir sweat, bleed and endure heartaches in the Rays colors since he got here from the New York Mets. So to say I am not happy right now would be a true understatement. Kazmir has been as special to the Rays community as he was on the mound. Fans used to flock to events with Kazmir because of his ever-growing smile and pure joy to chat with the fans. I know i will miss the head nods and the small chatter with him before a start.
Also moving onto Anaheim with Kazmir will go the Scott Kazmir Foundation, which held annual poker tourneys and helped the Children’s Dream Fund in this area. Gone will be his swagger when he walked in for charity events for the local Edwards Family Foundation he co-founded with ex-Ray Bobby Seay and boxers Winky Wright and Jeff Lacy. And gone will be those extra set of hands he supplied for the Rays Field Renovation Program, which he did in conjunction with the Rays Foundation.
More and more this is smelling like a Risk Management decision that an ex-Wall street guy like Andrew Friedman could see from a mile away. Was Kazmir a failing commodity to the Rays? Was there a downward skills spiral coming that none of us could see beyond his recent resurging numbers? Could there be a plausible action/reaction here that would make us understand the move?
As of right now, the answers are just dust in the wind. The Kazmir decision has been made on a purely unemotional level and have been claimed to be a “business decision”. And that is the clincher to all of this. For everything Kazmir has been, or could have done for this team, the ultimate decision might have come down to a few numbers and letters on a report or a email.
But truth be told, if we face Kazmir in the postseason either in the relief role or as a starter, I will clap for him. I am still swirling in the sea of information and gut reactions to this trade. But I am taking it more on the level of a guy is now gone that I trusted with my team, a player I knew would do it “The Rays Way” no matter what. I am dealing with a huge explosion of emotion and will be for some time.
Trades are never fun, and when they make no sense they send you into a turmoil of unexpected actions and reactions. This is a decision by this new ownership group that has me befuddled and confused and we all deserve answers to our questions. Screw the business aspect of it all for a moment. Is this going to be the Rays “company line” from now on? Use our personnel to the
ir height of trade value, then pluck them from the Rays tree and moved onto another bush to ripen.
Is theRays front office trading of our favorite players going to revolve into something this impersonal and cold? Are the Rays going to just use business sense from now on and not reward or value playing hurt or extra effort? If the Rays do go this route, maybe it is better they do it like they did to Kazmir. Maybe it is better to clip their wings and send them away before we grow attached to them. Pawns in a business plan played out on the greens grass of the MLB.