Tonight the Rays face Scott Kazmir for just the second time since he was traded to the Angels for Sean Rodriguez and two prospects. This Saturday is the one year anniversary of that deal, a move that was made even though the Rays were just 3.5 games out in the Wild Card race. And even though Kazmir was coming off his three best starts of the season, the Rays decided to dump Kazmir and the more than $20 million remaining on his contract.

Some saw the trade as a smart move. Others saw it as waiving the white flag. We just thought it looked bad for a team trying desperately to build a fanbase.

But was the chance to rid themselves of an expensive contract and add depth to the farm system the only reason for the trade? Maybe not.

According to two sources close to the Rays, the biggest reason for trading Kazmir was his negative influence on David Price. At the time, Price was struggling through a rookie campaign in which he would finish 10-7 with a 4.42 ERA.

According to our sources, it was accepted among those close to the Rays that prior to the 2009 season, Kazmir liked to partake in illegal recreational activities with his good friend Edwin Jackson. It is unclear if this played a factor in Jackson being traded prior to the 2009 season. We will let you draw your own conclusions on that one.

More importantly, when Kazmir and Price became friends during the 2009 season, the Rays apparently grew concerned.

None of our sources ever saw Kazmir and Price do anything illegal. But it is well-accepted among those close to the Rays that the front office was very concerned about Kazmir’s influence on Price. And that this was THE major factor in the decision to trade Kazmir. And it may have also been a factor in when the Rays decided to pull the trigger. The feeling was that the Rays needed to trade Kazmir as soon as possible to get him away from Price.

And how has the move worked? This season, Kazmir is 8-10 with a 6.40 ERA. Meanwhile, Price has transformed into a Cy Young Award candidate by going 15-5 with a 2.97 ERA.

If Price’s emergence this season can be attributed to the departure of Kazmir, then it doesn’t take 20-20 hindsight to realize the Rays made the right move.

When we contacted the Rays about this story, they refused comment.

 
 

81 Comments

  1. Sublime says:

    Wow, Kaz smokin weed, who would have thunk it…Probably everybody, but he was probably to High to realize it! That’s crazy.

    • Scot says:

      Except the possession and use of marjiuana is not illegal in several states under certain conditions. Since the wording is: “illegal recreational activities”, I’ll assume either that means Kaz was into producing child pornography or enjoyed, while driving, coasting to a stop at a traffic light which is illegal in California.

      • Scot says:

        Wish one could edit comments – let me state again: I’ll assume that Kaz is either into producing child pornography or enjoys, while driving, coasting to a stop at a traffic light – which is illegal in California.

  2. Beth says:

    Cork, this post makes me very uneasy. You are basically spreading rumors that your readers can’t possibly substantiate or disprove, and they are rumors that could be very damaging to both Kazmir and Price. And you are spreading allegations that are at best third hand knowledge (e.g. you’ve learned this from sources who heard it from someone else). I hope you are quite confident that these folks know what they are talking about.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      My point is only that this IS what people around the team believe. I have no idea what really happened, the Rays didn’t want to talk about it.

      • Beth says:

        And my point is that your reporting it serves to spread rumors that may or may not be true, and in spreading those rumors makes them harder to refute if they are false. This doesn’t meet the standards of true journalism, and it’s the sort of thing that therefore gives blogs a bad name — bloggers are free to circulate rumors without any of the checks and balances that apply to journalists. Sorry, much as I admire 99% of what you do here, I don’t think this passes the sniff test.

        • JoeRaysFan says:

          Beth – Cork has a four-year track record here of not spreading wild rumors. The archives speak for themselves. All bloggers are not the same. Don’t make that mistake for one minute.

          You have no tangible reason to believe this does not pass the sniff test, as you call it.

          • Beth says:

            Third hand rumors can’t, by definition, pass the sniff test.

          • TP says:

            “None of our sources ever saw Kazmir and Price do anything illegal.”

            Tangible reason for the sniff test not to be passed, I’d say.

          • Anon says:

            TP, maybe wrong, but I took that to mean that Cork was making it clear that nobody is accusing Price of anything. Notice that he doesn’t say the same thing about Kaz and EJax.

          • Mike says:

            Who wrote this story? Perez Hilton?

            I’d stick to baseball analysis if you want to keep your credibility.

          • Cork Gaines says:

            I’m not sure why you think this is not baseball analysis. I wanted to learn more about this trade and why it happened when it did. This is the story I was told by more than one person.

            Personally I don’t give a shit what Kaz did/does in his spare time anymore. If I did, those activities would be more prominently referenced in the title. But unfortunately I could not write about A without at least referencing B.

      • Mike says:

        Cork,
        Probably breaking a rule here since the “reply” button was turned off on your reply to me.
        I don’t think speculating on a players drug use is baseball analysis. And that’s what everybody that reads this story will remember. Don’t think it’s fair to connect those player’s names to drugs based on hearsay. Just my opinion.
        Take care,
        Mike

  3. Stephanie says:

    At the time of the trade the Halos were hoping to avoid another postseason loss to the Red Sox. Kaz had a history of success in Fenway and a contract that the Rays absolutely had to get out from under.

    There may be some truth to what you are saying about Kaz/Price. But I think this trade has to happen either way.

    • Scot says:

      I agree that Kaz was probably history for economic reasons. Note he finally went out the door when it looked like he had “turned it around.”

      This was a major fleecing of the Angels.

  4. Mike says:

    Seems highly unlikely they would get rid of Kaz and Jackson because of alleged illegal activities and at the same time keep others who performed well, but almost certainly also engage in the activities you allude to (i.e. members of the bullpen who will go unnamed).

    Also, Price got better because he had a year of experience. He struggled as a rookie, as almost every rookie does. Now he trusts his stuff and has the confidence he acquired last year, and knows he can be successful every game because he has done it before. Blaming his struggles on Kaz is pretty uncalled for.

  5. anonymous says:

    i’m not at all surprised to hear Kaz was partaking in illegal activities since i can pretty much confirm that it’s true. what i am shocked about is to hear he was partaking with Edwin Jackson. Anytime i know of that occurring it was BJ – not EJ – that was joining the activities.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      BJ was indeed Kazmir’s best friend on the team.

    • Scot says:

      Anonymous “can pretty much confirm that it’s true” which is all the evidence I need: Kaz liked to date sheep and they were concerned Price was becoming interested in horses. Of course we all know why Upton is named what he is…

  6. Joe says:

    >>> Third hand rumors can’t, by definition, pass the sniff test. <<<

    Says who?

    • Andy says:

      The ‘sources’ go unnamed, and according the article, even the ‘sources’ lack any first-hand knowledge that anything ever occurred. Nothing to see here other than rumor and innuendo.

      If someone other than ‘anonymous’ wants to stand up and say “I’ve seen Kaz take a bong rip,” I’m all ears. But nobody is doing that here.

      • Billy The Kid says:

        My point exactly, I think its kind of pathetic that they even put this article on the website because its just bad press for all parties involved especially with these unnamed sources, its just sad that this is what our world has come to…….

  7. Danny says:

    first of all, these aren’t rumors – these are facts that are passed through a chain of sources and make their way to the blogger…..

    things like this always work themselves out in the respect that if someone is making up wild, unsubstantiated rumors about players – the credible sources that a blogger has will distance themselves from the blogger as well as refusing to share information as freely as before, if at all….

    BASICALLY WHAT IM RAMBLING ABOUT IS – BETH – don’t be such a cynic – anyone w/ half a brain knows either 1st or 2nd hand that Kaz liked the wacky weed – and if you know any stories about Durham when Delmon, Elijah and BJ were around – you’d know about that smoke inhalation on their floor of the hotel was a well documented danger –

    maybe you miss Kaz and his 5 inning – 100+ pitch outings, i dont know -but these are not rumors, but actually well attested (if not documented) facts!!

    Thanks Cork for all the good info – great blog – wouldn’t spend my time here if the info wasn’t good – keep up the good work!!! GO RAYS!!!

    • Andy says:

      Fact: I think you’re doing cocaine right now.

      Prove me wrong.

      • Andy says:

        Further, since the sources are anonymous, how would the reader ever know if they distanced themselves from the writer?

    • Beth says:

      Danny: Please don’t take my concerns about Cork’s post to be a plea to get Kazmir back.

      Next, what “anyone with half a brain knows” and “what we can substantiate and therefore what is proper to publish” are two different things.

      I guess what we all disagree about is when it’s appropriate to discuss such unsubstantiated rumors in such a public forum. We’re not just a few friends chatting; we’re on a well respected blog that I’ve seen quoted on national blogs and in newspapers.

      And I guess Danny and I disagree about separating “fact” from “rumor.” Any information passed through several sources has become a rumor. Whether the rumor is based on fact or not is not something any of us can verify unless someone with first hand information were to make that public.

    • Scot says:

      Ahh yes – just like in Washington, D.C., where “facts” are negotiable.

      Of course it doesn’t take a half brain to see that Kazmir is really an extension of Kaz which means he is from Kazakhstan which is in the bottom 3rd of the Corruption Perceptions Index (120 out of 180) and is where the cycling team Asatana is based which has had several confirm performance enhancing drug users including fellow Texan Lance Armstrong.

      Yes, anyone with half of brain can see from these arguments that Kaz is a deceptive Texan PED user who hate America. Fortunately, he is not a comedian.

    • Billy The Kid says:

      Your a clown!!!! How are they facts? They are nothing but RUMORS… You have no clue what you are talking about and there is absolutely NO PROOF of this article being anything but fictitious

  8. Joe D. says:

    So last week with the posts about CC’s tattoos, and Longo’s “bring ‘too’ cool” I took the stance of “as long as they produce on the field”.

    In this case, if these allegations are true (Prof. work cited page?) it’s a totally different story, because we’re talking not only detrimental to the rest of the team, but aslo illegal.

    I raise this question though, what’s the code of ethics here? If Scotty K is doing something illegal, I’m assuming drugs based on the wording here, isn’t it the responsiblity of the team to suspend him, prove their case to the MLB Players Union (drug test), and either void the contact or, seek help for the player? Not trade him for prospects, seems very unethical….

    • Mike says:

      Is marijuana on the banned substance list? I am not sure that it is. Even if it is, a team can’t just accuse a player of taking drugs. He would have to have failed a drug test. The player’s union would have a field day if a team just suspended a player because they thought he was smoking marijuana based on reports from anonymous people who herd about it from someone else who may or may not have been there.

      • Scot says:

        Last I read, maryjane is on the WADA banned list which is the list that MLB uses. However, some countries have tried to remove it because there is no evidence that it improves performance (and it probably costs money to test for it), but only the US keeps pushing to retain it on the list for “moral” reasons.

  9. Jordi says:

    Teams make trades like this all the time. Fans just don’t hear about it. After the 1986 season, the Mets traded future MVP Kevin Mitchell to keep him away from Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry as Mitchell had a gang background and was accused of being violent. Unfortunately for the Mets, they couldn’t eliminate all Gooden and Strawberry’s bad influences, but they tried in Mitchell’s case. I’m sure it happens a lot more than people think.
    I’ll give it to Cork, he is doing a lot more digging lately and that’s very cool. Remember, the person who talked about the dirty cups was anonymous too, and no one questioned that.

  10. Sublime says:

    Teams trade players with “alleged” drug issues all the time! Jumping different sports, but Chris Carter (football) and Chris Mullin (basketball) come to mind. Their substance usage wasn’t really “known” at the time, but their respective clubs released them to appear to give them a new start or wake-up call to get their stuff together.

  11. MJ says:

    I find it very hard to believe they would trade kazmir because he smoked weed and they thought d price would ruin his career by doing the same. If these are the “illegal activites” u are referencing, it’s laughable to think it is so severe they would trade a player primarily for this reason.

  12. Alan says:

    MLB must not have the ability to randomly test for marijuana? We all know that stuff makes you lazy not to mention its illegal, but it just might be the lesser of two evils when it comes to young developing players. Would you rather have them out drinking and chasing women at strip clubs or sitting at home smoking weed and playing Xbox? No need to be worried about any slander here, just stating what many people already knew.

  13. ben says:

    when did this site become a total tmz gossip place?

    • Sublime says:

      As soon as you stepped in the door Ben, as soon as you stepped in the door! lol :-) Race, Weed, and Politics gets the comment section jumpin’!

  14. Gary says:

    Kaz sure pithed as if he were high sometimes toward his stay with us.

  15. Tom says:

    If Kazmir continues to pictch at his 2006-2008 level, I do not think smoking weed (If he actually was) would have been issue.

  16. Joseph says:

    Duemig is talking about this right now on 620. For those that are doubting it, Duemig basically confirmed it by saying that Kazmir’s relationship with David Price was well known by a lot of people. He added that there were other reasons for the trade, but this was definitely one of them.

    • Tom says:

      If Duemig says it then that means it is true?

      • Joseph says:

        It proves that the story is well known

        • Scot says:

          It proves that people were willing to accept this story without evidence. But, what the heck – the US invaded a country without evidence.

          • John S says:

            Wait I am still looking for the Weapons of Mass Desctruction… any advice? That was said by our President through “Federal Intel”.. Only for the truth to come out 6 months ago through Karl Rove’s book… Great I have no idea in what to believe in…

            I can personally state that I know BJ Upton does and I will rest at that. Oh and that he and Scott were very good friends, as we have been out in Ybor all together. I have never seen Scott puff “the magic dragon”, so draw your conclusions.

  17. ali420 says:

    Since were on the subject, CC used to partake also, but this was years ago. It’s crazy, the MLB doesn’t even regularly test for marijuana, but when you look at it, it’s not like weed helps, only when playing video games…..

    • JR says:

      maybe he was talking about the roids! By the looks of Scotty K’s carreer it looks like he may have stopped his usage! (tongue in cheek)

  18. JR says:

    I read this blog ALL the time, I started back in 07, one of the main reasons is because The Professor adds a twist. There are so many stats that can tell you about a player (WARB, WHIP, on and on and on) but it doesnt tell you about the person. Baseball is a long season and I think Cork does a great job keeping it different everyday! Now, for everybody saying that “it’s not right to speculate” on what players do or not do, I wish we couldve been around for the Bonds, Clemens, and pettite days…

  19. Ryan Glass says:

    This is another priceless post in a long line. Great work!

  20. Kudos to Beth for standing up to you bullies. For shame.

  21. Vic says:

    C’mon! Don’t blame the weed yall. Weed makes baseball way more entertaining!

  22. Don says:

    Of all the reasons to trade Kazmire…this was about #6…
    You want the first five?
    Think about pitching ability…then go from there…..

  23. robert says:

    Haven’t read a fact yet and why would anyone in the organization bad-mouth Kazmir now? Well after a trade that worked in the Ray’s favor. Someone’s blowing smoke… On the other hand, Cork’s a straight-shooter, this just seems so weirdly timed.

    • Sarah says:

      I thought perhaps the “inspiration” was tonight’s pitching match-up. But I agree, Robert, that the timing is odd. If the Rays’ concerns about Scott’s extra-curricular activities were indeed so widely known, then why wasn’t that part of the discussion when everyone was speculating about the trade a year ago. On this blog, the Professor was very critical of the Rays for making this trade — Prof, didn’t you sources on the Rays clue you in then? And if so, why didn’t you make that part of the discussion?

      If this information is being “leaked” by Rays staffers only now, you have to wonder why.

  24. Robert says:

    One word: Xanax.

  25. Katie says:

    I kind of think it’s a good thing that Cork did this. I mean being on the newspaper staff last year at my high school, we would never publish stuff like this in our newspapers because of the controversy surrounding touchy subjects like this. We don’t like to think of players doing stuff like this off the field and other players being infulenced by these things as well. But it happens, as a result Kaz got traded because he was a “Bad infulence of some sort apparently.

    Cork, I think you did a good job covering this, we don’t know what’s really going on in the clubhouse and what players are being badly infulenced by other players. I think gave us a sneak peak at what was really going in the clubhouse in 2009 and some reason as to why Kaz was really traded.

    Then again, Im just a junior in HS who was on the newspaper staff my first two years of HS so I probably don’t know that much anyways. But hey, this article certainly caught my attention and that’s a good thing.
    Because good journalists do catch the attention of others.

  26. Alan says:

    I’ve read this blog long enough to know this is no gossip column. Let’s be real, these are kids, no different than the rest of society’s kids they just happen to be talented enough and have worked hard enough to make it to the Big Leagues. That doesn’t change where they came from or who their family is and who they have as peers. Most of us know people that partake in “illegal recreational activities” and lead functional and normal lives, however when those activates become known to their employers that’s usually implies there IS a problem. If your owner or boss does not condone that type of off the clock behavior, you best not let it get out if you value your job.

  27. Gatorbuc15 says:

    GOOD LORD! THIS IS A HELL OF LOTTA CHATTER!

    Just outta curiosity Cork, is this a record # of responses for a story on your site?

  28. Dustin says:

    Just a couple of things:

    First, I think Kaz’s extracurriculars were well known. I’m a bit of a shut-in, and I’d heard about them (though I might add that the Kaz-is-a-pothead thing seems an excruciatingly minor gripe at best and, from the organization, it sounds more like super-fussy micro-management to me. Further, and I say this as a decided non-expert, I can’t imagine that smoking weed does anything one way or the other to a pitcher’s mechanics–and I’m certain it does nothing worse than does booze).

    Second, I think this is a great comment-thread with some very interesting and thoughtful contributions from a number of different perspectives. Myself, I’m a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I agree that rumor-mongering is a bad thing. However, the rumors about Kaz were (1) active throughout his career with the Rays, are (2) appropriate to mention at this point, given the fact that he’s starting against the Rays tonight, (3) the Rays have a history of getting rid of guys for character issues (witness Delmonster and Dukes), and (4) something good does indeed seem to have happened to David Price this year. On that last point: I’m not at all convinced that Kaz parties too much, that Price did so too last year, or regardless that doing so would impact either pitcher’s performance.

    Third, though this blog is, and has been, very good and very consistent, a blog, generally speaking, is more like an editorial page than it is like the front page. There is a great deal of room for opinion, innuendo, informality, commentary, and the like in a space like RaysIndex than there is at, say, the St. Pete Times sports page. The post is explicitly speculative, quotes no sources, and mentions no particular misbehavior. As such, it should be clear that no accusations are being made. Nothing but rumors and speculations are being discussed. As the comments show, the readers of this blog are very much aware of these things. Though I think the concerns expressed by other commenters above are quite valid, I also think that some of them underestimate the savvy of the readers of this and other blogs.

    Lastly, thanks again Prof, Joe, and (most) of the reader-writers for making this site one of my favorite diversions.

  29. J Severin says:

    This is “journalism” in the same way the Glenn Beck is a journalist. It’s people like you that help keep the public from respecting bloggers. I’m so sorry that I’ve given your site more traffic by reading this drivel. Good day to you, sir.

  30. Mike says:

    My cousin used to work at Club Prana in Ybor City and she has told me lots of stories about certain Rays players who enjoyed getting a bit rowdy. I know for a fact that Scott Kazmir was one of the guys. Regardless of the Marijuana issue (and let’s face it, that went down), if you’re getting boozed up on a regular basis, that does not bode well for your future.

  31. robert says:

    One other thing- Drinking has destroyed more careers in baseball while being socially acceptable, and in some cases, part of team bonding. Baseball history is littered with personal wreckage that has been glorified and embedded into the sport’s lore. The Babe, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Boggs and the 78 beer cross-country flight…. plus many, many, ugly drinking related episodes. Smoking weed, if done in moderation is almost benign compared to the damage heavy drinking can do. Just saying….

  32. Do a little search on Google for Scott Kazmir marijuana and you may be surprised at what you find. Articles going back to his days with the Mets talking about the Mets concerns about his off the field activities and marijuana use specifically mentioned.

    I think this is interesting and I have no problem with it. You are reporting what you got from a source and as much as I’m seeing on the net, it’s probably true.

  33. raysfan137 says:

    Complete agreement with Beth here. This is irresponsible at best. No substantiated facts or anything that can be confirmed or refuted. So someone can google some things about Kazmir’s past. How does wrapping David Price up in that come into play ? Perhaps the Rays knew they had 5 good pitchers that would make an awesome rotation, and that getting rid of a pitcher who had possibly reached his peak – at least with this team – and was very expensive made a lot of sense. They got value for the trade, no doubt. Why does it have to be some evil conspiracy involving illegal activity ? I just started frequenting this blog a few week’s back, but this irresponsible post has turned me away from it. Sorry, but that’s the way I feel. Use the feedback as you will.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      please dont mistake the responsibility of others with what our job is here. It is not our responsibility to report what happened. There are people that get paid to do that for a living. All we have done here is tell you what a lot of people close to the team believe. And it is a FACT that this is what they believe.

      • Fiji says:

        Cork, if these known sources to the team are so reliable then why dont you let us know who they are? Becuase, at this point you are simply spreading a nasty rumor that you have absolutely no proof, you are going off of hearsay which is a really pathetic way of reporting. Also, this article is pathetic at best, you are stating the reason they traded Kaz was because of this?!?!? That is absolute BS and anyone with half a brian knows Kaz was a salary dump, the Rays made a huge mistake by offering that type of contract. David Price is a grown man and makes his own decisions. This article is pathetic and really should be removed because its jeopordizing “Rays Index” credibility. Horrible article which is bad for all players named. Especially for players that play or have played such a significant role in the Tampa Bay community. Pi** Poor article and you should be ashamed of yourself for spreading rumors.

        • Cork Gaines says:

          I don’t name them because they don’t want their names known. Two independent sources told us this story. And it was confirmed by others. We gave the Rays a chance to say the story is not true, but they declined to do that.

  34. RZachary says:

    So how bad is David Price’s drug problem? I was hoping he could be here long term, but after reading this article I just don’t know anymore. It’s clear to me that Price has some real growing up to do after hanging out with Kazmir. He’s been better this year, but after his season last year can we really trust him going forward? I mean, what if he falls off the wagon and starts to use again and pitches like he did last year?

    Also, did we make a huge mistake signing Longoria to that long contract? From all of the comments, it’s clear BJ Upton has a huge drug problem too, since he was best friends with Kazmir. And from what I hear on the broadcasts, Upton and Longoria are friends. It does make sense though. Upton is having another bad year and Longoria is not as good as he was last year. It’s obvious they must be using too. Can we give these guys a drug test or suspend them now before it’s too late.

    If only Maddon knew how to control his players, this wouldn’t even be an issue. I bet Lou Piniella wouldn’t have let this sort of thing happen on his watch.

    • Billy The Kid says:

      This is hilarious, you cant be serious with what you actually posted are you? Drug problem? Mary Jane is legal in quite a few states bud and I seriously doubt these guys partake in smoking before games, I am sure its an extra curricular activity that helps them unwind, you should try it you sound really uptight!!! Wait, the paranoia would probably get the best of you!! LOL

    • Katie says:

      Now you want to accuse Longoria of doing marijuaina just because he hangs out with Upton? Longoria may be friends with Upton and probably does a little too much partying sometimes. That however doesn’t mean he does marijuana and weed like Kaz does. And Longoria is just as good as last year. Upton is not. Longoria is in no shape or form like Upton is and that’s that.

      As for David, Kaz probably did have some infulence on him. We don’t know. But look’s at what’s happening to Kaz now from the partying and look at how David is doing.

      Call me out however you want, but I don’t really care

  35. Vanity says:

    James Shields is no angel, and he is still here. Sounds like the Rays have some major substance abuse issues floating around town.

  36. Joe says:

    MLB teams are not allowed to test for marijuana, or act on any suspicions of marijuana use, or so much as tell them not to get high so much, as negotiated by the players association. All they can do is trade a guy if they think it’s a problem. I think the Rays traded Kazmir because he was expensive and not very good. If the Rays started trading guys that got high, the team would look a whole lot different, and there would be a lot of players they couldn’t accept back in a trade

    • Billy The Kid says:

      Not true at all, Everyone in baseball gets tested for marijuana “EXCEPT” guys on the 40 man. If your on the 40 man your safe……

  37. Dylan says:

    I can confirm through a former teammate that Kazmir REALLY REALLY REALLY enjoys the ganja.

    • Billy The Kid says:

      Wow, thanks for the clarification! Nobody is denying that but its hilarious that more than half of the guys on the team do it, but we are calling out one guy? HorseSh!t article, air out the guys that are still on the team Corky lmao

  38. ex-St Pete Resident says:

    Ran into David Price at a head shop in St. Pete last April….

  39. zenny says:

    This looks even more plausible now.

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