Boy, when Tony Reagins makes a trade, he really makes it dramatic, doesnt he? After a crazy Friday night, the Angels finally came away with the high-end pitcher they’ve been looking for all season long. Better late than never, I suppose. But just because Kazmir is now sporting the Angel red doesn’t mean that all questions and concerns are resolved. Let’s take a look at some of the lingering issues that come with Kazmir’s arrival:
- What’s with the 5.92 ERA? Kazmir’s reputation precedes him for most fans, but the uninitiated may not know Scott’s credentials and get a bit concerned over that ugly 5.92 ERA. Well fret not Halo fans, Kazmir’s unfortunate stat line this year can be largely attributed to an early season quad injury that he tried to battle through before heading to the disabled list. He has been much better since, posting a 4.41 ERA and .231 batting average against since coming off the DL. That injury aside, Kazmir has been a model of consistency posting ERAs of 3.77, 3.24, 3.48 and 3.49 from 2005 through 2008, so don’t worry too much about him, that ERA will be down in no time. Even if Kaz is still fighting some struggles, it is worth noting that when he had his career season in 2006, Mike Butcher was his pitching coach and no doubt can straighten out whatever mechanical or approach issues he might still have.
- Does this mean Lackey is gone after the year? The immediate assumption about Kazmir’s acquisition is that the Angels brought him in so that they can kick John Lackey out the door in free agency this summer. That assumption is on the right track, but misses the mark by a little bit. Where it goes wrong is assuming that the Angels want Big John gone, but that just isn’t the case and certainly isn’t an absolute. It is an if, but since it is a big if, the Angels are covering their ass. They know Lack is going to be the top free agent pitcher on the market and they don’t want to get end up losing him and have no ace to replace him. But now they do in Kazmir (hopefully) should they lose Lackey to someone else. Don’t think for a second though that they don’t want him back. It isn’t as if there is a “one ace per team” quota that the Angels can’t violate. Even the most simple-minded of baseball fans knows that you can never have too much good pitching and the Angels will be happy to have that problem next year so long as they are able to afford it.
- How much is Kazmir really going to help? Having Kazmir is nice and all, but will he actually be able to help? In short, hell yes. Kaz’s top priority right now is to help the Angels win the AL West, which just so happens to be his specialty. Against Oakland for his career, Kazmir is 7-3 with a 3.16 ERA. He’s 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA lifetime against Seattle and historically owns the Rangers with a 2.28 ERA and 5-1 record. That’ll do just fine I think. Once the post-season rolls around, Kazmir will be just as useful. Though he struggled to keep his pitch count under control in some games, Kaz started five post-season games and went 1-1 with a 4.21 ERA which is more than acceptable for a young player’s first foray into the post-season fray. Oh, and did I mention that he is also a Red Sox (8-7, 3.59 ERA) and Yankee killer (6-4, 2.53 ERA). I’m sure that won’t come in handy at all.
- Who is the “player to be named later”? We won’t be able to really grade this deal until the Angels make public who the PTBNL is. Joe Maddon is on record as this being the player he is most excited to acquire, so obviously it is not a conditional choice or anything like that. But who is it? Simple deduction tells us it must be someone on the 40-man roster since they can’t name the player yet (SIDE NOTE: it could also be a player on a minor league DL, but that person would just have to approve the deal and there is no reason for a minor leaguer to delay approving the deal, so that rules it out for me). I can’t imagine that the player is anyone on the active roster for the Angels since Tampa isn’t going to want the Angels regularly using someone who will soon be their property. This same axiom is going to apply to the forthcoming September call-ups for the Angels. So keep a close eye on who gets the call tomorrow. Halos Heaven believes that the PTBNL will be catcher Bobby Wilson, which is very plausible, especially if the Angels call up Ryan Budde to act as the third catcher instead of Wilson. Really, any player that becomes a September call-up is pretty much ruled out as the mysterious PTBNL. My best guesses would be that it winds up being Wilson, Sean O’Sullivan, Freddy Sandoval, Terry Evans or Mark Trumbo.
Don’t let that 5.92 ERA fool you, Kazmir is no chump.
Hey! I ain’t gone yet!
Let’s not forget that Kazmir has a recent taste of post-season success… unlike the Angels.
Who is the Player To Be Named Later? We should find out soon enough.