Kazmir Needs to Rediscover Himself Quickly…..Or Might Be Gone

 

kazmir.jpg

Hearing more than a few whispers from the West Coast that former Rays southpaw hurler Scott Kazmir might get one more chance to save his Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim roster spot. It is incredible that the one Rays pitcher who once lead the American League in strikeouts is considered on the ropes at the ripe age of 27.

I then decided to hit the website 60ft60in.com and found out that the old “Rays Kazmir who used to toss in a fastball between 92-95 mph has been MIA on the mound recently. The website had Kazmir listed between 88-92 mph now with his heater that used to put players on their heels and set up his slider and change-up to be exclamation points to his strikeout totals.

l3olpk-b78649734z_120100607225144000gefoomnu_2.jpgGone is the “hair on fire” Kazmir that used to post a bushel of first pitch strikes, then toy a bit with hitters hoping to get them guessing wrong on his secondary pitching arsenal. I truly thought the 2009 Trade Deadline deal that sent him to the Angels and his former Rays, now Angels Pitching Coach Mike Butler would be the new epicenter of a transformation again of Kaz back into a mound terror.

Now the only terror is in the eyes of Angels fans, and some of us old Rays fans who still think he has something left in the tank. It is incredible to think that the Rays saw this fall from grace coming with Kazmir, instead focusing on dumping his extreme salary instead of a pitcher on the decline.

At the time of the trade I had mixed feelings on the move not knowing if an infielder who was the “Player To Be Named Later” INF Sean Rodriguez would amount to anything in a Rays uniform. Funny how life sometimes reshuffles the cards and tonight you will see S-Rod in his most demanding and important start of the season, subbing for Evan Longoria again at Third while Longo’s tummy muscle heals.

You know Kaz will enjoy this visit back not only to a place where his Ferrari is still parked, but to have a few late night I-Hop reunions with buddies Longoria and B J Upton to try and remember a better moment in Kaz’s career. I do not know what it is like for a baseball player to stand at the edge of the abyss and see their career possibly at a critical crossroad, but I have stood at that point before.

New+York+Yankees+v+Tampa+Bay+Rays+z_eU0oWiEG8l.jpgHopefully Kazmir can reach down within himself and pull out that fiesty competitor who once was brazen enough during a rehab assignment in the Spring of 2008 to predict a Rays playoff push plus was the man on the hill during their last World Series game start.

I want Kaz to dins again that guy who used to breathe fire and intimidate and have hitters second guessing at the plate. I would love to see the velocity increase and his pitching arsenal possibly be extended with a cutter or knuckle-curve. I just want to see the old Kaz that used to stride to the mound begging teams to find a way to beat. Now he is just beating up himself on the mound by inconsistency and frustrations that stem from his location and power not clicking in unison.

In the end, if his next start is his last Angels appearance and the team decides to eat his huge contract, let’s hope he stays in the game, possibly as a reliever. Years ago I toyed with the idea of asking why the Rays never considered Kazmir as a possible closer or Bullpen guy when his velocity and shoulder were bothering him back in 2008.

Back then Kazmir was needed extremely in a budding Rays young rotation and the idea would have either been met with laughter or a possible ribbing by everyone around me. But today maybe that same option can be revisited. If the Angels do not see Kazmir as a long term alternative in their rotation, can he be adjusted with any degree of assurance into a relief option that would not only possibly re-energize his career, but give him a MLB pitching option that could prolong his career.

You only have to look at former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz to see that sometimes a step back can be productive and bring you back into the fold not only as a competitive piece of your team, but let you adjust and possibly re-channel your energies until you can again find that niche for you in baseball.

Believe me, if I had a chance to sit with Kaz for a few moments in an I-Hop somewhere in Tampa Bay over the next two days, I would try and pick his brain and see where he is mentally and physically in regards to the game right now.

200809152014728632633-pf_standard.jpgA step back is always better than a step outside the comfort level of the team. You have to ask yourself if the Angels are in an “all or nothing” decision point with Kazmir, or if they too would entertain a relief option with the possibilities of Kazmir earning his millions as a key component of the Angels Bullpen.

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Kazmir has turned his pitching around before, done the almost impossible and made believers out of critics before. The problem is this time it might be for all the marbles, and I wonder Kazmir has the “Devils Eyes, Aggies or Bumblebees marbles in his bag of tricks.

I guess we shall see on Saturday, April 9th in Anaheim when Kazmir squares off against the Toronto Blue Jays. Kazmir has come a long way since his Major League debut against the Seattle Mariners on August 23, 2004. By the way, he won that debut going 5 innings with a 4-hitter and 4 K’s in a Rays 9-0 victory. Hope a little bit of his past rubs off on Kazmir that day…or else…………..


14 Comments

Kazmir. I kind of forgot about him. I remember when the Rays traded him, I was confused. But they did pretty well without him! Hope he can turn things around, he’s a guy I never hated, even when he was on a rival team.
-Virginia
http://southernbelle.mlblogs.com

How could you ever hate smiling Scotty K.
Never threw teammates or his old team under the bus, doesn’t play the “blame game” or ponder “What if’s”.
Just took the mound every 5 days and tried to live up to his early dominating reputation.
Hope Scotty finds his groove.

Rays Renegade

I remember that first trade when he went to the Rays from the Mets. TB was picking up good young pitchers and Kaz was at the top of the list. Hope he gets his stuff back.
http://wrigleyregular.mlblogs.com/

Russel,
Twice the Rays have either trade for or given Kazmir to another team, and they got a great return on their prospects and players recieved. He was a great Rays player, and one I used to enjoy talking to before games. He still strolls over as an Angel, but the talks are a bit more abbreviated.
I do wish him boatloads of luck in his Sat. start.

Rays Renegade

I agree with your comments. How can anyone not like Kaz? Even through all of this he’s remained pleasant, team spirited and willing to work hard. No one seems more confused over the state of his arm than Kaz himself. I think this is part of why he’s been getting so many chances. Most of us are rooting for him…but after Sunday, Cliff? He couldn’t even last two innings and when he was on the mound he looked absolutely lost and this after a mediocre at it’s best moments ST. I don’t think there’s much hope for the time being. I really want to be wrong, especially if they do let him pitch on Saturday, but I think he’s done. I wish him well whatever the future brings, Halo or not.
Kristen
This is a very simple game…

To be honest… I’m surprised he’s made it this far. Maybe he needs to take the Gil Meche career path…
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

I remember when Kazmir and Bedard used to put on left handed pitching clinics for their respective teams, now theyre both on a downslope, unfortunate thing, but hey thats what make the guys that do it forever great. Go Os

theorioleonslaught.mlblogs.com

Congrats again on No. 1 status in FAN category of MLB.com/blogs Latest Leaders! Just posted on the community blog, will add more links shortly…

Mark/MLB.com
http://mlblogs.mlblogs.com

Kristen,
Actually talked to Scott yesterday after the game and I asked him where he was setting up on the rubber. I remembered he had a similar problem a few years ago in the Spring and he just adjusted his spacing on the pitching rubber and everything came back into play. He smiled and told me his grip and release point are consistent, his plant foot is only inches off at best. Just something between his grip in the glove and hitting the mitt that is escaping him right now.
He is still confident, determined and wants to produce for the Angels.
Hopefully Scotty K will get it done Saturday…For his sake, and the Angels.

Rays Renegade

Jeff,
Hopefully it will not come to a decision like that. Scott was in high spirits during his brief 2-game trip back to Tampa Bay. Hopefully he pitches well in Angels Stadium on Sat and this decision, situation will evaporate into thin air.
Got finger, toes and eyes crossed.

Rays Renegade

O’s,
It is something to see two of the best Southpaws a few years ago struggling like they are right now. I still think if Bedard can stay healthy, he has a small shot at some redemption.
For Kaz, it is all about redemption now and a chance to wear a uniform in 2011.
Angels Jury will render it’s decision sometimes after Kazmir’s Saturday start….Hopefully it will turn out in his favor.

Rays Renegade

Hey Rays Renegade – I watched Wednesday’s game and just wanted to tell you how impressed I was watching Hellboy. That kid is really going to be something. I know he got hit, but he also got 10 strike outs against guys who’ve been hitting. I don’t think he’s going to get hit as much once he starts seeing batters the second and third game around.
– Kristen
This is a very simple game…

Kristen,
Just think of how that game would have turned out if the termites did not eat the Rays wooden bats……That’s my excuse for the missing offense, and I’m sticking to it.
Seriously, I have been a huge “Hellboy” fan since he hit Double-A.
Might have a few struggles, but next season could vault to the number 3 spot with a departure of a pitcher or two…….Whispers are already filling the eardrums about Shields.

Rays Renegade

Thanks Mark.
Been a fun ride on top, got a feeling it will end soon…..

Rays Renegade

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