This past offseason, Sandy Alderson went dumpster diving in order to find inexpensive pieces to fill out the Mets roster. Chris Young, Chris Capuano and Taylor Buchholz all fit this description, and have produced for the Amazins (in Young’s case, when he was healthy). Soon it might be time for Alderson to reach into the trash pile once again and pickup another player who has a chance to help the Mets: Scott Kazmir.
Yes, that Scott Kazmir. The same Scott Kazmir who the Mets traded along with Jose Diaz to Tampa Bay in exchange for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunado. The same Scott Kazmir who, in his first four years in the Major Leagues, posted a 3.64 ERA, 1.393 WHIP and 9.7 K/9. And the same Scott Kazmir who is likely to be released.
In 2009, Kazmir was dealt to the Angels for Sean Rodriguez and minor leaguers Alex Torres and Matt Sweeney. Since ’09, Kazmir has really struggled, owning a 5.54 ERA and 1.515 WHIP, while seeing his K/9 fall to 6.3. He made one start this season, lasting just an inning a third, surrendering five runs on five hits and two walks. Following the poor outing, he was placed on the disabled list with tightness in his lower back and has made five rehab starts, where he has also bombed. In 15.1 innings, he’s allowed 29 earned runs on 22 hits and 20 walks with 14 strikeouts.
Should the Angels go ahead and release Kazmir, the Mets should sign him to a minor league contract and assign him to Buffalo. The Mets would not be on the hook for the remainder of his 2011 salary (about $7 million) or his 2012 buyout ($2.5 million), so the risk is low. Furthermore, the Mets could opt to have him continue making starts, since as it stands the Mets have little depth in the Triple A rotation, or they could stick him in the bullpen. Kazmir is now primarily a three-pitch pitcher, utilizing a fastball, slider and changeup. While his fastball has always been good, averaging a speed of just under 92 mph for his career and worth 0.2 runs per 100 pitches, according to FanGraphs, his slider and changeup have been less than stellar, worth -0.22 and -0.68 runs per 100 pitches, respectively. As a reliever, Kazmir could focus on his heater and one of his secondary pitches (probably his slider), hopefully making both more effective and maybe picking up some velocity on his fastball. The lefty has only made on relief appearance in his big league career (3 IP, 2 H, ER, 3 BB, 4 K), but has held lefties to a life time batting line of .231/.300/.345, as opposed to righties who are hitting him at a .255/.345/.426 clip.
If released, the Mets should sign Kazmir and reunite him with the organization that drafted him back in the first round in 2002. Yes, he’s declined in the past few years and owns a career BB/9 of 4.2, but he is only 27 there is virtually no risk and he could help the organization in some way. At the very least, it makes for a good story.