Great Moments In Fleece History: The Scott Kazmir Trade

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If you’re a fan of the New York Mets, don’t read any further.

On July 30, 2004, the New York Mets dealt top pitching prospect Scott Kazmir and pitcher Joselo Diaz to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for starting pitcher Victor Zambrano and relief pitcher Bartolome Fortunato. The Mets found themselves 6 games out of a playoff spot at the trading deadline that year, and increased pressure from the Wilpons to win “now” was the cause of Jim Duquette (then General Manager of the NY Mets) to push the panic button…and push it hard.

Victor Zambrano appeared in 39 games as a member of the Mets (35 starts) from 2004-2006. Zambrano went 10-14 in that time, posting a marginal ERA of roughly 4.45. He was oft-injured, and never achieved success with the Mets’ ball-club.

Scott Kazmir, on the other hand, has become one of the brightest young starters in baseball. While he has issues at times finding the plate, Kazmir has become a strikeout machine for the Devil Rays. Since the trade, Kazmir has posted a 34-29 record for Tampa, with an ERA of 3.64. He has 617 strikeouts in 570 2/3 innings pitched. Oh, and he is also turning just 24 in January of 2008.

The NY media has thrown fuel on the fire, making reference to this fleece quite often over the last few years, and who can blame them? To this date, no one truly knows what went on in the Mets’ front office that season to make them pull the trigger on such a monumental fleece. Duquette fitted himself, and every New York Mets fan with a warm, fuzzy, size XXXL fleece for years to come. Regardless of Kazmir’s success in the coming years, Zambrano’s failures will cement this trade in “the Hall of Shame”, while Kazmir’s achievements will serve as a reminder to the Mets organization: Oh, what could have been?

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Reds Snag Cordero

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According to Ken Rosenthal, the Reds have reached a preliminary 4 year agreement with closer Francisco Cordero worth $46 million. The deal reportedly includes a 5th year option which could bring the total of the deal to $57 million.

The Reds can now move David Weathers back to his customary set-up man role. Cordero was an all-star last season, converting 44 out of 51 save opportunites with a 2.98 ERA.

While Cordero was impressive in 2007, this seems like an extradinarily steep price to pay. The Reds’ will be using a nice chunk of their payroll on an above average closer, and a nice warm fleece.

The Brewers will have to recover from losing both Scott Linebrink and Francisco Cordero, leaving two gaping hole in their bullpen.

Olney: A’s Firesale?

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At ESPN, Buster Olney reports that Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane is deciding on whether or not to test the trade market with starting pitchers Danny Haren and Joe Blanton. Speculation is that if one was to go, chances are both would be traded (possibly including closer Huston Street as well) in an attempt to rebuild the team for the coming years. Haren could command four or five top flight prospects, and Blanton could command roughly three prospects.  Billy Beane would be attemtping to fleece some organization’s farm system in return for the two young pitchers.

Omar Minaya of the New York Mets has been determined to land a top flight SP this offseason, and Blanton and Haren would provide such an upgrade. Billy Beane has been said to covet Mets’ outfielder Lastings Milledge, as well as pitchers Aaron Heilman and John Maine. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers have also called Billy Beane to inquire on the players’ availability. Expect the Boston Red Sox to be heavily involved, as well, should Danny Haren hit the trade market. Theo Epstein and “Red Sox Nation” would be salivating over a potential pitching rotation of: Beckett, Haren, Schilling, Dice-K, and Wakefield.

Report: Castillo signs with Mets; 4 years, $25M

 

According to www.impactodeportivo.com.do, the New York Mets have signed free agent 2nd baseman Luis Castillo to a 4 year deal worth $25M.   This report is unconfirmed by the Mets.

If true, this is a gigantic fleece for Castillo over the Mets. The 2nd baseman has battled injuries in recent years that seem to have robbed him of one of his greatest assets: his speed.  Castillo can still handle the stick well, though.  In 50 games for Los Mets last year, he hit .296 with an impressive .371 OBP. 

Still, this deal takes Castillo into his age 36 season.   Coupled with the Yorvit Torrealba 4 year offer which fell apart, this offseason appears to be a short sighted one for Omar who may be looking to save his job by saving 2008.   Stay tuned.

 Update: Omar Minaya was spotted wearing a fleece given by Castillo’s agent as a gift.

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