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.


Eliane Thompson / AP

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.


Sharon Ellman / AP

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.


Steve Nesius / AP

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.


Steve Nesius / AP

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.

24 Comments

Tough loss to the Rays, I’ve been hoping against all hope that the Rays would hang tough and catch the Sox over the six games they play in September – This club needed Kazmir down the stretch and shipping him out of town makes absolutely no sense considering how close the Rays are to making it into the post season. 4.5 back is not insurmountable considering you do play both the Rangers and Sox. While the Rays definitely have their work cut out for them over the next two weeks, it was not out of the question that with Boston still not putting it all together and Texas sporting some very young and inexperienced pitching that the Rays could have returned to the playoffs… I have my own theories but that’s just someone looking in from far away

Todd Price
http://wayoverpriced.mlblogs.com

I was stunned when I heard Kaz got traded. The only reason this makes sense is if the front office really thinks Kaz is on the decline and that they won’t get anything better for a starter posting a 5.92 ERA during the offseason (prospects Alex Torres and Matt Sweeney aren’t exactly nothing). The Rays aren’t in a rebuilding mode, so a straight-up salary dump doesn’t make any sense. At any rate, I still wouldn’t count the Rays out of the Wild Card race just yet.-Erinhttp://plunking-gomez.blogspot.com

Todd,
Have to say with the wound still fresh there is no reason besides a salary dump of $1 mllion towards the 2009 budget.
I agree Kamir has been the guy to get the tough games for the Rays the last 2 seasons. He was the starter in the games where they beat the Fenway Park curse (Sept 9,2008), First clinch of a playoff berth ( Septe 20,2008), and first win in a World Series game (Game 2).
Maybe by Spring Training 2010 this will make sense.
As of today, it is a white flag being tied to the pennant post.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Erin,
If I was to put myself into Andrew Friedman’s shoes, I might not have done the same.
But he has been known to have a few deals in advance in his pocket when he makes a deal some times.
This does get them closer to their 201o proposed budget, but they still have some tinkering to do with the roster.
This move actually works well for the Angels so they can add Kazmir to their playoff roster because he will be on their roster on August 31st.
Kazmir is 2-0 against both the NY Yankees and the Bosotn Red Sox. Might be a benefit to the Angels.
Guess this is a classic “We shall see” scenario

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Cliff – This sucks. Big time. I’ve been avoiding blogging, ESPN, Sprtscenter…baseball in general. What was the reasoning for this? The REAL reason? Kaz is back with Butcher now. He’s going to be just fine. The Angels are getting one heck of a guy. On and off the field.
Here’s hoping we meet Kaz and the Angels in the playoffs!
Ginny
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

Ginny,
A couple people within the Rays organization have told me it will be fine, but I really think the timing is so suspect.
You only owe Kazmir !1 million the rest of the season.
we have given 2.5 million to a closer who has held a 40-man roster spot hostage all year.
I would have DFA’d Percival the minute he said he was healthy this year.
Wade Davis now has the eyes of the franchise on him, not just the big shots but the fans.
If he falls, someone’s head will have to go………….period!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Honestly, I think the move is a huge benefit for the Rays. Kazmir has been terribly inconsistent (though better of late) and his contract carries big dollars. The Rays will make the playoff push just fine without him. I’d go as far to say that he wouldn’t even be a starter in a playoff series anyway (maybe a spot 4th starter at best) and they’re gettin’ some good raw talent in exchange (while dumping big $$$ off the books). Of course, I’m not a Rays fan, so the loyalty part is removed from the equation, but in terms of baseball moves, I think it’s a good one — savvy even.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

I saw that they recalled Sonny, not Davis. If Davis has all eyes on him – why bring up Sonny? Oh wait – Sonny has the experience! They want him on the roster for the playoffs …if we get there! Thought Davis was the next “big thing”?! I’m starting to wonder about the management.

I hope the rest of the team doesn’t fall apart wondering what other “wonderful” ideas the management comes up with next.
Ginny

Oh Jeff,
that is funny.
You had me laughing so hard I spilled my Dr. Pepper all over the desktop keyboard and had to go to the laptop.
Kazmir was the #2 starter, and he has won more big games for this franchise and has gotten better run support than the # 1 or #3 on this team.
He went toe-to-toe with Cole Hamels in the second game of the World Series, and in that game, David Price got the win, not Kazmir because of a bullpen mini meltdown.
Remember the Upton short Sac. Fly?
I personally would keep him over Shields, Neimann or Davis or Sonnanstine.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Ginny,
On Tuesday the MLB rosters expand to 40 players.
If Sonny is brought up before August 31st, he can be added to the postseason roster.
I still think it will be Davis against Lester on Tuesday night unless they send Price against Lester and give Davis another day to settle in up with the Rays.
Just because they pulled Sonny off his start tonight is more precaution because of his promotion along with Davis on Tuesday.
Fernando Perez will also be brought up along with Matt Joyce.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I can feel your frustration and confusion, Renegade, and I’d be the same way. You not only lost a guy who was huge for the franchise and became an integral part of the Rays community but who had a promising future. I get the salary dump thing. But for two prospects and a player to be named later? Sounds like the Angels got a steal.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

I was shocked when I heard about that Kazmir trade. I totally don’t understand the trade stuff but a player to be named later??? I was hoping the Rays would gain some momentum.
http://catlovesthedodgers.mlblogs.com

Jane,
Even if the player to be named later is truly on the Angels 40-man roster, it might be lopsided if they make it deep into the playoffs.
But this deal is going to be tried out in the blogs and in the stands until the end of the season.
If it is received as bad as I think it will be, then Andrew Friedman will get boo’ed at the last few games when they do the minor league year end awards
Always fun to play GM for a moment.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Cat,
Basically, when a team makes a guy in a trade a “player to be named later ( PTBNL), it is usually a guy on the team’s 40-man protected roster. For that guy to be traded to the second team, he has to clear waivers like any other player. But after the season, he is free to be traded at any time to any one the team wants him to go to………It is a slight of hand trick to get around the rules.
And everyone does it!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Does the other team have any idea who this player to be named later is?

Rays Renegade, I completely agree on your positioning…I’d have Kazmir ranked second behind Garza right now but would not move Price either…Salary dumping with your team four games out should result in Friedman heading out of town…that’s weak in my opinion, the Rays have owned the Sox this year and last and had a legit chance to catch them. Price pitched a gem yesterday – hopefully its not all over for 2009.

Todd

That wasn’t the right move to make at all. What was the line of thinking? The Rays are winning it this year. Well now we know what the front office thinks of their playoff chances.
http://tribewithted.mlblogs.com/

Heartruss,
Both teams know who the player is, but because of the waiver situation, the rest of us are in the dark.
Like I mentioned before in the comments, usually between the end of the season and next Spring Training report date, that PTBNL” will be announced and sent to Tampa Bay.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Todd,
I wish I was as confident as Rays Manager Joe Maddon about this move. I think our offense has to push it into high gear against teams that Shields and Garza pitches against.
That is our weak spot right now. Those two guys have been robbed by the offense this season.
Sonnanstine as a replacement for Kazmir is weak.
Sorry, but Sonny went 3-2 in AAA. That doesn’t translate into 5-0 in the majors.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Tribe Ted,
Actually, the Rays Front Office sent out our playoff ticket packages a week ago, and want our money in by September 8th.
This move made me rethink my playoff ticket package, and I will watch from home.
I am not in a falling state of depression here, just pondering the direction of the club for 2010.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Cliff,

I am so sorry to hear of the trade! I would agree – the timing is a bit suspect. I hope that you, the Rays and Kaz will all be fine. Times like these remind us just how much of a business baseball is.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Julia,
Yeah, believe me, i know it is a business.
And out front office is filled with ex-Wall Street guys, so risk management 101 is a prerequisite for a job (lol).
From a fan side the trade had bad timing, but from their viewpoint, capital was gained and a depreciation of the product was saved by trading assets with a winfall in expected salaries in the coming year.
TRANSLATION: We got some minor leaguer’s that will make at worst MLB minimum in 2010 or beyond for a high dollar starter.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I try to make others laugh. Haha. I was being serious in this case though. Sure, Kazmir has done all those things but this year he’s been two (sometimes three) different pitchers on the mound. He’d be a great closer in my opinion.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Jeff,
I can see the logic, but I think the problem with Kazmir had more to do with Rays Pitching Coach Jin Hickey and his system than injuries or mechanical adjustments.
Kazmir seemed more upset when he was following the “system”, and his last two starts he bucked the system a few times, which probably made him extra expendable to Hickey.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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