Mar 4, 2011; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Scott Kazmir throws a pitch during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Rays Notes: Kazmir Grateful for Opportunity, Fans Prefer Trop in Poll, Potential David Price Trade

Scott Kazmir had to have a sense of entitlement. No one could deny that he had earned it. He came into the majors for an organization that had never had a consistent pitcher in his short existence and proceeded to become its first true ace. He signed a 4-year extension before the 2008 season and guaranteed that the Rays would make the postseason that year- as we all know, he was right. And then, as suddenly as he had burst into the scene, he was gone, getting traded to the Angels after he dropped off in 2009 and then completely falling apart in 2010 and his only start of 2011 before getting released. However, Kazmir refused to let his story end like that, fighting to restore even a fraction of the ability that once made him a great pitcher as he went to Independent ball and the Puerto Rican League, and after making a breakthrough, pitching effectively and getting his fastball velocity into the 90-94 MPH range, Kazmir is finally getting a second chance after he signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians with an invite to major league camp in spring training. This time, Kazmir is taking nothing for granted and is simply grateful for the chance, speaking to the Houston Chronicle.

“I’m just looking for an opportunity,” Kazmir said. “I don’t feel like I deserve anything. I feel like I have to go out there and prove myself again. I really do.”

Rays fans and simply baseball fans would like nothing more than to see Kazmir make it back to the major leagues. It’s amazing that he’s gotten back to this point after just how far he fell, and hopefully his already incredible story has another chapter still ahead.

The Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9, and AM 820 News polled residents of Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties about their preferred destination for a Rays stadium, and Tropicana Field remained the clear favorite, with 42% of Pinellas residents and 28% of Hillsborough residents making the Trop their selection in the poll. The primary reason that residents want the stadium to stay where it is was the issue of public money being involved in construction of the new stadium. However, this poll really means absolutely nothing. It’s clear immediately that the Trop did not get a majority of votes even in Pinellas and sentiment could very well change if their was a concrete proposal on the table that both the Rays and the city of St. Pete were willing to work with. What was most interesting was that the only statistically significant result of the poll was the approval rating of the Trop, which has fallen from 54% in 2010 to 50% in 2011 down to 42% this year. Tampa Bay residents are not exactly riling for change in the situation at this point, but at the same time they might be ready to be swayed when the right opportunity for a new stadium comes around.

To close, Buster Olney discussed (Insider-only) the top story lines heading into the 2013 MLB season and number seven on his list was “The David Price Sweepstakes.” Olney talked about how Price’s increasing salary will force the Rays to trade him sometime before the start of the 2014 season, calling that “the best time to trade him” and saying that “When he hits the market, the baseball world will revolve around the left-hander.” We saw this offseason with the trade of James Shields that the Rays are willing to trade even critical pieces of their ballclub if they are able to receive the type value in return that will gives them the best possible chance to improve their ballclub in the long-term even without such players. We know for a fact that the Rays will greatly consider trading Price between now and 2014. At the same time, though, they’re not going to trade him because his salary is going to “force” them to do so. They’re not going to deal him unless an offer blows them away. It doesn’t matter if the other 29 teams are all making pitches for Price if none of them give the Rays the offer they’re waiting for. Only time will tell what the Rays will do with Price. Whether the Rays will trade Price and to which team is definitely going to be a captivating story line over the next year, but you can’t get ahead of yourself and start talking when a trade will happen before you deal with if.

Tags: David Price Rays Stadium Scott Kazmir Tampa Bay Rays

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