Cleveland Indians Take a Chance with LHP Scott Kazmir

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IJanuary 8, 2013

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Scott Zazmir #19 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws a pitch against the Cleveland Indians on September 8, 2010 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians signed left handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, according to Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

At one point in his career, Scott Kazmir was one of the best left-handed pitchers in the American League. Initially a product of the New York Mets farm system, Kazmir left for Tampa Bay after being acquired in the Victor Zambrano trade in July of 2004. That deal haunted fans in Flushing for years.

By the end of the 2004 season, Kazmir made his big league debut. By 2005, he was a Rookie of the Year candidate. In 2006, he made his first All-Star team.

In 2008, he was an All-Star once again, leading the league in strikeouts. He helped pitch the Tampa Bay Rays first into the playoffs as a Division Champion. Then in Game 2 of the 2008 Division Series against the Chicago White Sox, Kazmir got the win over Mark Buehrle. He would go on to start Game 1 of the World Series.

By the end of 2009, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and pitched well in his six starts. He would pitch in the Division Series and ALCS for the second-straight year. 

By the start of the 2010 season, he was an established big league starter and only 26 years old. 

Then the wheels came off. Hamstring and shoulder issues contributed to a dreadful 2010 season. His 5.94 ERA was the worst in baseball for qualifying pitchers.

According to Kevin Baxter of The Los Angeles Times, the Angels sent Kazmir to an extensive offseason workout program between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The results were disastrous. He pitched a single game in April of 2011 where he could not get out of the second inning. As of this writing, he has not thrown a pitch in the majors since.

The Angels eventually released Kazmir, eating more than $14 million in the process.

After stops in the Domincan Republic and an Independent League in 2012, Kazmir wants to climb back to the big leagues.

With a starting staff, according to MLB.com, that includes the likes of Justin Masterson, Brett Myers, Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Carrasco, the Indians rotation has some question marks of their own. 

Kazmir represents a low-risk and low-cost option for the Indians. But if he works out, the Indians will have picked up a left-handed starter who has been an All-Star multiple times, has postseason experience and is still under 30.

That would be quite an upside if he pans out.

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