In a trade that was on, then off, then on again, and then off again, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finally acquired LHP Scott Kazmir from the Tampa Bay Rays for minor leaguers Alexander Torres, Mathew Sweeney, and the infamous Player to be Named Later.
Even though by trading their 25-year-old lefty, it looks like the Rays are throwing in the towel in 2009, I actually like this trade for the Rays. I know most Rays fans and more importantly the Rays players don’t feel the same way, but at the end of the day this is a smart move by the Rays organization.
Here is why I like this trade for the Rays:
1. First and foremost, Kazmir had $23 million left on his deal. The Angels are taking on all of that $23 million off of the Rays hands. The Rays can now use that money on a Carl Crawford extension or to sign a closer.
I know JP Howell has been okay as the Rays’ closer, but you can’t win a World Series with him as your closer. I am sorry, but you just can’t.
2. Take the name Kazmir off the back of the jersey and what do you got? You got a guy who’s velocity has decreased this year, his K/9 is the lowest of his career (7.4), his ERA is the highest of his career (5.92), and his record is just 8-7.
Kazmir wasn’t worth the money he was going to make.
3. The Rays can replace Kazmir. The Rays can go one of two ways. They can call up top prospect Wade Davis (10-7, 3.26 ERA) or Andy Sonnanstine (5-3, 4.40 ERA) from Triple-A Durham.
The other direction the Rays can go is to sign the recently released Brad Penny. Penny’s stats are strikingly similar to that of Kazmir’s. Penny was 7-8 with an ERA of 5.61. The Rays could get the same production as Kazmir for only around $85,000.
4. The Rays got three prospects for Kazmir. While they are not the Angels best prospects, Torres is a 22-year-old LHP and has a 23-11 record with a 3.19 ERA in four minor league seasons.
Sweeney is a 21-year-old 3B who has hit .285 with a .361 OBP in three minor league seasons.
From the Angels perspective, they are hoping they are getting the Kazmir from his last three starts, rather than the one who has struggled for most the year. In his last three starts, Kazmir is 2-0 with 21 strikeouts in 19.2 innings pitched.
I have two questions for the Angels. 1. Does the acquisition of Kazmir end the John Lackey era in Los Angeles? Lackey is a free agent at the end of the year and figures to be in line for a big contract and 2. what will the Angels playoff rotation look like in October?
The Angels have a five-man rotation now of Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, and Kazmir. Unless the Angels go with an unprecedented five-man rotation in the playoffs, one of these guys is going to have to head to the bullpen.