Outs Per Swing takes a look at Scott Kazmir’s numbers and notes that almost all are regressing this season. This leads to the question: “Should The Rays Trade Scott Kazmir?”

So why would you consider trading a 24 year old flame throwing left hander? Because his trade value has never been higher than it is this season. His last start aside, he’s been having a good season and people still see Kazmir as a player who’s not yet reached his full potential. But who’s to say this isn’t as good as Kazmir gets? What if he’s just a good, but not great, lefty who continues to have injury problems?

OPS goes on to note that the Rays have a stockpile of young pitching and have an immediate need for offense, particularly in the outfield. They specifically point to the package the A’s received this year for Dan Haren, and note that a package for Kazmir would be equal to, or greater in value.

Back in February, we predicted that Kid K would be traded this off-season. That was before Kazmir signed a 4-year contract extension. Now our position is that, unless the Rays want to be the A’s, that is “always the bridesmaid and never the bride”, they absolutely cannot trade Kazmir.

There are several reasons…

  1. Kazmir is still young at 24, the youngest pitcher in the rotation. OPS wonders if “this isn’t as good as Kazmir gets?” Rarely do players peak at age 23. Not even Barry Zito peaked that early. Most 23 year old pitchers are still in the minors and yet Kazmir has 122 career starts and 46 career wins.
  2. Yes, Kazmir’s numbers have regressed this season. But it is just one season and he missed Spring Training. This could just be a case where Kid K never got his feet under him this season. And yet Kazmir still has an ERA+ of 124.
  3. Young, power lefties do not grow on trees. Most GMs and managers would give their left cajone for just one, and the Rays will have two next season, with Kazmir and David Price.
  4. Kazmir is signed to a below-market contract for the next 4 seasons. He will make $14 million over the next two seasons ($6MM in ’09 and $8MM in ’10). Kazmir would be worth double that amount on the open market.
  5. Why not trade Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson? Both are young (25) and both have shown considerable improvement this season. Neither player would bring back a Haren-like bounty, but teams will pay handsomely for a young pitcher entering their prime with an upward trend in their stat line.
  6. If the Rays trade Kazmir, both Jackson and Sonny are in the rotation next season. In what is arguably a bad year for Kazmir, his numbers are still better than Jackson and Sonnanstine. Kazmir gives the Rays a better chance to win the World Series. Which is more likely: Kazmir winning 20 games and the Cy Young award in ’09? Or Sonnanstine or Jackson doing the same…ever?
  7. Winning is about 3 things…Pitching, Pitching and Pitching. You can never have too much pitching, especially when that pitching is a known commodity. Kazmir is not a prospect that may one day be a good pitcher. He is a good pitcher with the ability to be a great pitcher.

Nobody trades a pitcher like Scott Kazmir, unless their name is Billy Beane (and maybe the Marlins). Beane has done a great job stockpiling talent, but he is rolling the dice every season hoping a roster full of 24-26 year old players will blossom at the same time. That doesn’t happen very often. And once a player hits arbitration they are traded. The down-side is a roster that is constantly in flux.

The Rays on the other hand are stockpiling talent and signing young players to extensions that keep them with the team into their peak seasons. Trading Scott Kazmir goes against what the Rays are trying to do. That is, build a team that can compete every season.

OPS does note that the Rays should only consider trading Kazmir “if the right situation arises.”

If the Rays had failed in their efforts to sign Kazmir to a long-term contract then we would be on board. But building a core of young talented players that have a known price tag over several seasons is the goal of this franchise and why they will not only be successful this season, but for seasons to come. To make a short story, long…Trading Kazmir goes against the Tampa Bay Rays business model.

Trading Aces; The Rays $40 Million Dollar Question…. [Outs Per Swing]

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12 Comments

  1. Robert Rittner says:

    I agree with you absolutely as I commented on the OPS site. The Rays do not have a surplus of pitching. We have quite a few prospects and some young pitchers who are doing well this year, but that can evaporate quickly.

    Look at what the Angels did this off-season. They supposedly had 5 excellent starters-Lackey, Escobar, Weaver, Santana, & Saunders with some depth behind them. In fact, there was quite a bit of discussion that one of them (perhaps Santana who looked bad in 2007) might be available in a trade because the Angels had no room in the rotation.

    So what did they do? They traded for another starter (Garland), and lucky they did as Lackey was down for quite a while and Escobar all year.

    Two years ago all the talk here was that the Rays had a surplus of outfielders and needed to deal from strength to get pitching and infielders. Now the same over-confidence applies to the very core of the team's success, its rotation. I can see dealing one of the prospects, say Davis or Hellickson, or even Sonnanstine (whom I really like) or Jackson, but not Kazmir unless the return is impossible to refuse.

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  2. Steve says:

    I agree with the not trading Kazmir thing (though I can understand their point), but I kinda object to constantly lumping Sonnanstine in with Jackson. Hasn't he proven himself to be the better pitcher of the two this year? Yes, E-Jax has had his moments, but he's been a 5 ERA pitcher in the second half. And Sonny pitches two gems for us in possibly two of the biggest games for us all season...and yet he doesn't get any love. He deserves better than to be compared to Jackson all the time.

    It probably doesn't come as a surprise, but I say trade Jackson this offseason. We'll be able to get something good for him in return and at least I think he's the most expendable of our pitchers.

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  3. The Professor says:

    i go back and forth between the two all the time.

    the reason i lump them together is because i think there is a clear delineation between the top 3 and the next 2. The top 3 will have guaranteed jobs next year. I dont think that is the case for either Jackson or Sonny.

    the reason why i often give Jackson the edge over Sonny is more about the way the organization talks about Jackson. I just feel that the organization likes Jax better...for right or wrong. they are constantly extolling his virtues while we don't hear that very often about Sonnanstine and in fact we hear things like "Sonny would be a great relief pitcher".

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  4. kingbad says:

    Never, never, NEVER trade arms for bats!! Major-league pitching talent is worth its weight in gold in the majors; young, left-handed power is worth its weight in diamonds. The reason the Rays, and the Angels, are winning despite a below-average batting order is because they can get quality starts, and above-average defense, every night. A team like Texas, with all the hitters in the world, can't stay above .500. The Rays are playing it exactly right stockpiling arms; they'll be competitive for years. Where will the Yankees be?

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  5. The Professor says:

    in defense of OPS, they were really just stating a "What if..." scenario.

    And they would want at least one young arm in return in addition to a major league bat.

    but there is no minor league arm that will have the upside of Kazmir and the chances they would even be remotely as good as Kazmir are about 1 in 20.

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  6. Michael says:

    Nowhere else to post this and I hadn't seen it posted anywhere else, so I'll post it here and in the recap in the morning:

    Not sure if you could hear it on the TV, but the Rays played your song tonight, Professor. During one of the two pitching changes in the third innings they played Seven Nation Army long and loud at the Trop. I can't say for sure if it's the first time this year but it was the first time I heard it there.

    The Trop was absolutely rockin tonight. What a game, what a team, what a year.

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  7. The Professor says:

    Michael,

    you just took a great night and somehow made it better...Yes! More on this tomorrow

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  8. Anonymous says:

    I definitely think you ride out Kazmir for as long as you can afford him. He's seen as the ace of this staff and he's 24 (although I see it as a tri-headed Dragon instead). I just think it would be the biggest mistake to trade him as he is only going to get better, unless he turns injury prone. At that point, he'll just be a Rich Harden or Ben Sheets; he'll have few innings but many suitors and STILL a high price tag.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh, P.S.,
    Look at how Atlanta's Dynasty (that did not yield as many W.S. as it probably should have) was headed by the excellent young pitching staff they had. With Kazmir, I see the Rays being a perrenial leader for years to come.

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  10. Clayton says:

    They actually played 7 Nation Army twice. Both while the Red Sox were making a pitching change. Not sure that is the perfect spot, but it was a good way to introduce it. They used the clapping hands animation to get everyone on beat. It felt like something that could catch on. They also played Livin' On A Prayer during another pitching change, but the crowd was much weaker than I expected singing along to the chorus. Either way, a clear victory for the Index. Hope it catches on.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    The Rays should trade Kazmir back to the Mets, considering they dishonestly gave up an injured Zambrano knowingly, thus resulting in a change in MLB policy, but the Rays still got to get away with it.

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  12. The Professor says:

    Mets fans cry when they think of Scott Kazmir...Zambrano wasn't hurt and show me where that changed MLB policy. But hey...if making shit up makes you feel better about choking 2 years in a row while the Rays and Kazmir will be in the playoffs. Good for you.

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