As if the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim didn’t already look great this season, but they just got better. They just acquired Scott Kazmir from the Tampa Bay Rays for two Double-A minor-league players. Was this a Rays salary dump? The Angels needed pitching help and if he can pitch like he did at the beginning of last season, they should be the favorite to win it all this year.
The Angels are sending Alexander Torres and Matthew Sweeney to the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire Kazmir. Torres is a 21-year old pitcher with a big arm and Sweeney will probably end up being a 1B or DH eventually, they are both in Double-A. It is a small price to pay for Kazmir, who has struggled this season with an ERA around six. But he has a 51-41 career record with a 3.85 ERA with strikeout power. Kazmir does have is injury-prone and doesn’t last long into games, due to him being a strikeout pitcher. If the Angels pitching coaches can turn Kazmir into a finesse pitcher who can use his strikeout power on occassion, he’ll be able to last longer into games.
People forget that Kazmir is still only 25 years old. His name has been in baseball’s lexicon since he was a young prospect with the New York Mets. He was traded in one of the worst trades this decade, when the Mets sent him to the Rays for Victor Zambrano. He can still learn how to keep himself healthy and be a possible #1 or #2 starter for the Angels. John Lackey is a free agent after this season and they could let him go, since they will be paying Kazmir about $10 million over the next two years, plus an option for a third.
I like the deal for the Angels, they have money to spend and the Rays do not, so this deal had to happen. Yes, the Rays could have held onto Kazmir and traded him for more in return, but they needed to dump Kazmir’s salary and wasn’t guaranteed a similar deal would have been offered this off-season, since the economy has yet to rebound. I think the Angels are now the team to beat in the American League.