phppoq00rJoe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus has been on a Rays kick recently. In his latest, Sheehan thinks the Rays should trade Scott Kazmir.

So, I think they should trade him. Kazmir is exactly the kind of player who should be marketed aggressively by his team, especially when he’s going well, because his perceived value is much higher than his actual value. Kazmir is a left-handed starter who throws in the mid to high 90s, has a strong breaking ball and is young enough to get people excited about his potential. In part because of the circumstances of his becoming a Ray, one of the worst trades of the decade, Kazmir has had a disproportionate amount of attention focused on him since before he ever threw a major league pitch.

Separate the pitcher out from all of that, and you get someone who is good, but not great, someone high-risk with a decreasing likelihood of high reward. Someone who fits the mold of a player who brings you back more, considering the money you’ll save on his (reasonable) contract, than you’re going to get from him on the mound.

Sheehan then throws in about 800 more words that basically say Kazmir is an injury risk and won’t get any better.

To which we respond: HE IS ONLY 25-YEARS OLD! Since when is 25 a peak season for major leaguers?

It is easy to forget how young Kid K is considering he already has 125 career starts. And it is also easy to forget that Kazmir has never had a serious arm injury despite warnings to the contrary since he was drafted out of high school. And maybe it is easy to forget that no team in baseball cares for their pitchers better than the Rays do. Last year, the Rays had five pitchers make at least 27 starts. Not many teams can boast that claim.

But let’s look past the part where Kazmir is perceived as a 34-year old middle reliever. Trading another starting pitcher just doesn’t make any sense.

In fact, it goes against the Rays business model (something we have argued previously). For the Rays to compete in the AL East, it is imperative to lock up young talented players to long-term deals and below market value. That is what they have in Kazmir, who is signed through 2012. And the Rays understands as well as any team, the value of pitching and more importantly the value of pitching depth.

The Rays traded two starting pitchers this off-season because they had to. There just wasn’t room on the roster. But at this point, there is no need to trade Kazmir, and as Sheehan points out, there is no immediate need on the major league roster that needs to be filled.

We know Sheehan is just trying to stir the pot. But this one doesn’t fly. The Rays are too smart to trade Scott Kazmir.

Prospectus Today [Baseball Prospectus]

 
 

6 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    There’s a fine line between pitching depth and a log jam. The Rays are fortunate enough to have quality depth at this position, but they are lacking in other areas – 1B and 2B are the glaring holes. Re-signing the guys they have after 2009 will cost more money and the Rays are not built to do that. They will need to trade some pitching to get major league ready guys for 2010 (unless Brignac proves he’s ready for the big leagues? and/or Aybar plays everyday?) — which will also save them $10+ million in payroll. I just don’t see this front office holding on to young arms and giving Pena and Aki a combined $25+ million next year. Whatever they do (or don’t do) I’m sure it will be interesting and good for the team. Go Rays!

    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      Its a commonly shared thought throughout the Rays-iverse that Aki will not be resigned and neither will Bartlett when he comes due, but as far as Pena is concerned I think they’re gonna ride that horse as long as possible.
      The only viable replacement for Pena (currently in the org.) would be Aybar, but they may try him at second after Aki heads to Boston (speculation, of course).

    • Michael says:

      Where do you get Pena and Aki getting $25 million combined next year??? Pena will be in the third year of his 3-year $24.5 million contract and will be paid $8.5 million or so. The Rays have something like a $4.5 million option on Aki, so even if they keep both it won’t cost them more than $13 million for the pair. Pena at that price is a steal if he continues to produce like he has the past two years, while it can be argued that $4.5 million for Aki is a little steep considering they have what look to be able replacements on hand in Willy Aybar and Reid Brignac for next to nothing.

      Aki seems destined to be traded or have his option declined after this year, unfortunately, while the Rays have until the end of 2010 to figure out what to do about Pena.

      • Scot says:

        The Rays have a solid minor league program. However, they appear to be pitcher prospect heavy. Whom do they have to replace Pena? Is their logic, 4C players are a dime a dozen, e.g., Hinkse, that it make more sense to develop middle fielder and fleet of foot center fielders and buy corner players now that they have tied up Longo until my 14 year old daughter has entered graduate school?

        So my question is – who do they have to replace Pena?

        As for Kaz – ALL players are trade-able (if possible) if their perceived value is greater than their actual value. Kaz is pretty cheap (and proven) at the moment, but in a couple years, he will not be.

        If there is a player that who should be on the market, and probably is over valued by most GMs, it is Crawford. Here is someone whose numbers are getting worse even as he reaches 27. As Maddon said, “I wish he would take more walks. “

  2. Joe D. says:

    Another posablity is that the Rays have another great season, have better than expected ticket sales/revenue, and can afford to have a little more pay role then expected, maybe that’s all just a pipe dream. But I don’t think that the parallels between the ’97 Bucs and the ’08 Rays are that far fetched, the only difference, and it’s a big one, was the Bucs had a new stadium waiting for them next door for 1998.

  3. JoeBucsFan says:

    Kazmir’s produced and he’s got fabulous potential still. What a combination. The Rays paid him for his production and his age and his left arm, not for his potential. Agreed that the Rays are too smart to dump him. (Surely he might be gone if he was a righty, but then he wouldn’t have the same value.) Let him go out there win 15 a year through 2012. He doesn’t have to be a No. 1 starter. Who cares if he only wins 15 a year and drains the pen? Good enough.

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