Recently, former Mets GM Jim Duquette was asked about one of the most famous trade deadline deals in baseball history. That would be the one that sent Scott Kazmir and a minor leaguer to the Rays for Victor Zambrano and a minor leaguer.

Specifically, Duquette was asked why he made the deal. MetsBlog provides the quote and their take…

“I’m still answering questions about the Kazmir trade.  It was six years ago… Kazmir, here’s a guy that what we talked about in the evaluation he turned out exactly like we thought; his stuff, his makeup, his desire, all the things that Kazmir turned out to be we had right… What we didn’t have right was the guy we got back, Victor Zambrano.  In that, when you’re sitting in the GM chair, and you’re going, ‘What were we looking at, what were our scouts looking at.’  It ended up, he was broken.”

MetsBlog feels that Duquette is referencing Kazmir’s recent struggles and that this is exactly what the Mets thought would happen. When we first read the quote, we thought Duquette was saying that they knew Kazmir would be good, but were still willing to make the deal and the only reason it didn’t work in their favor was because they were mislead by the Rays.

Quite frankly we are not sure it matters. Kazmir has made 139 starts for the Rays, winning 52 with a 3.87 ERA. Zambrano made 35 starts for the Mets, won 10 with a 4.42 ERA. We don’t care if Scott Kazmir’s arm falls off in the middle of the night and he never throws another pitch…The Mets got hosed and most Mets fans blame Duquette.

Quote: Jim Duquette on Scott Kazmir [MetsBlog]

 
 

4 Comments

  1. Joel says:

    I saw Duquette on MLB Network when he said the quote in question – he was definitely not referring to Kazmir’s recent struggles. He was simply – and weakly – referring to the fact that the Mets needed a guy who was going to be an immediate impact, not a prospect.

    I still don’t know what the heck the Mets thought they were getting in Zambrano. Even if he wasn’t “broken” all I remember about Zambrano was his crippling inability to get anywhere near the strike zone. If you’re going to trade a prized prospect, make sure you get a guy who throws strikes on occasion.

    Not that we mind, of course.

    • That makes more sense but still doesn’t justify, for the reasons you give.

      as for Zambrano…he was proof that it is possible to have too much movement. He was basically throwing a 90mph knuckler. He had no idea where it was going.

  2. Michael says:

    When I first saw the quote on paper I also got the impression he was trying to defend/justify the move based on Kazmir’s struggles over the past year or so. I remember there being whispers that the Mets weren’t sold on Kazmir’s arm and makeup holding up before the trade. However, that would then that beg the question: Why did the Mets go so far over slot to draft him if they knew all along that he wouldn’t stay healthy or work hard enough? That’d be like saying “we were right to trade him, but never should have drafted him in the first place!” Remember, leading up to that draft (the one where the Pirates chose Bryan Bullington #1, allowing the Rays to get B.J. Upton at #2), Kazmir was pretty much the best prep arm in the draft and was at least a consideration for the Rays at #2 if the Pirates had done the right thing and picked B.J. The Mets scored a major draft-day win by getting Kazmir as late as they did (14th-ish I think).

    Now knowing the quote was said on MLB Network, where I don’t think they’d let a former GM try to salvage his reputation by trashing a current player, I think Joel’s analysis is right. I think he was saying that while they knew Kazmir would turn out to be a good MLB pitcher — albeit with some inherent injury risks in that he’s so much smaller than most starting pitchers — he also didn’t fit in their near-to-medium range plans as a then-20-year-old prospect on a team that thought it had to ‘win now’ to 1) satisfy the fanbase and 2) save the GM’s job.

    I remember at the time it being such a downer that it was almost inevitable that Victor Zambrano would be dealt, when he was about the only pitcher on a really bad team that made you feel like you’re just as likely to see a win as a loss. This is also Year Six of the infamous Chuck Lamar 5-Year Plan, so dealing our best pitcher for prospects was another of the ‘building for the future’ refrain we’d already heard way too many times before. But when I heard about the trade on the radio I could barely believe it because 1) we just landed Scott Kazmir and 2) Chuck Lamar had seemingly made a good transaction. This was obviously a steal for the Rays from the get-go.

    Looking back, this could be one of the defining trades of the era as an example of, if not one of the primary reasons, that clubs now hang onto their prospects so tightly at the deadline. His comment “What we didn’t get right was the guy we got back,” leads one to believe that this trade could also be considered a major turning point (at least on what-not-to-do) in terms of statistical evaluation of veteran pitchers. Yes, Zambrano was a decent pitcher on a bad team and had OK strikeout rates, but his walks, BB/9, and K/BB were through the roof. Looking up his stats on baseball-reference.com now through the prism of 5 more years of refined analysis will make you scratch your head even more than post-trade injuries ever would have.

    In the end, I think what Duquette was saying was that while the deal was obviously a huge dud in hindsight, that if given the chance he still would have dealt a 20-year-old pitcher with amazing ceiling and only a so-so chance to reach it. But only if they got back a pitcher that could help for the foreseeable future at fairly affordable rates — like if the Marlins made Ricky Nolasco or Josh Johnson available because they couldn’t afford them in arbitration, or maybe as the centerpiece for a Jake Peavy deal.

    Again, this was said on MLB Network. No way they let a disgraced former GM come on their network to bash a current player, who still sells a lot of jerseys and T-shirts for his team, in a lame attempt to re-make his reputation by saying “See, we knew all along his arm would fall off!!”

  3. Michael says:

    Not taking comments tonight? I just had two posts in a row not take…

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