Former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson talks Zambrano trade, and how he found out he was being fired

WASHINGTON ? APRIL 13: Pitching coach Rick Peterson
WASHINGTON ? APRIL 13: Pitching coach Rick Peterson /
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The Mets have had their fair share of embarrassing organizational moments, but two of the worst were easily the awful Victor ZambranoScott Kazmir trade, and how GM Omar Minaya fired the team’s coaching staff in 2008

Our buddy Jake Brown got a chance to talk to former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson this week on his podcast, The Jake Brown Show, and he had some really interesting things to say.

The entire interview can be found here, and we definitely encourage you guys to give it a listen because Peterson covers a ton of stuff, but what really stuck out to me was when he spoke about the culture of the team back then, how the Zambrano-Kazmir trade debacle unfolded, and how he found out he was being fired.

The Zambrano Trade

When it comes to Jim Duquette, the trade of Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano may go down as the most memorable one he made, and not for good reasons.

If you’re unfamiliar with this trade, here’s a quick recap. It took place in 2004 — Duquette’s only year as the Mets General Manager — with the Mets far back in the standings (7GB of Atlanta), but looking for any spark it could find to revitalize the franchise. Zambrano was unfortunately not it.

Peterson recalls the time after the trade when the Mets realized they got a bad deal from Tampa Bay.

"“The report said Victor Zambrano’s UCL is in major danger and he has already had a Tommy John Surgery a couple of years prior. It took about nine days before he was ready to pitch. I asked Jeff ‘why don’t we get Kazmir back.’ He said, ‘well the protocol, it may not be possible.’ Because of that trade, our team doctor, our team trainer, and Tampa Bay’s trainers all got fired over that trade on how medical information is passed between teams. And the protocol in the commissioner’s office, they set a brand new protocol of before a trade, here are the medical documents that have to be in both teams’ hands before a trade is consummated. So that was basically the result of the trade.” “Fast forward, two years later, Zambrano threw a pitch in a game in Shea Stadium and grabbed his elbow and sprinted off the field and went right into the trainer’s room, they had an X-ray in there. I went in after the inning was over. I was standing up and he was sitting down and he put his head in my chest and was literally crying like a 5-year-old, and he said ‘I feel terrible. I’ve never thrown one pitch here healthy. My elbow has been killing me ever since I came here.'”"

The then 28-year-old threw hard but ended up having a bad elbow. He had already had Tommy John surgery, but would ultimately go under the knife again as his UCL was just not good at all as Peterson described.