The Aftermath of the Scott Kazmir Trade

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I have taken a few days to write a post about the trade of Scott Kazmir for multiple reasons.

  1. The trade supposedly fell through at one point
  2. I needed proper time to read about low level minor league talent that I do not have an in depth knowledge of
  3. The inclusion of the player to be named later has taken on a life of its own

A good friend texted me the day of this trade and said that a friend had alerted him of a rumor about at a trade of Scott Kazmir to the Angels.  If you’ve ever read this site, you know this is something that I think was long overdue.  While I love the ceiling (although he may be getting close to it) that Kazmir possesses, his inconsistency, especially from a BB standpoint is a little too much for me to handle.  Yes, he had been pitching better the last couple outings, but his ERA for the year is still a 5.92.

A lot of people around the Bay Area are quite upset about this move, calling it a pure salary dump, but after a few days of reading, analyzing our future contracts, and letting the odd timing of the deal stop bothering me, I think it is one that is going to help this ballclub.

  • Salaries – Scott Kazmir was owed 8 million dollars for the 2010 baseball season and 12 million for the 2011 season.    This move will allows us to pick up the club option on Carl Crawford, who finally seems like is putting every available tool to his disposal to use.  With the expiring contracts of Troy Percival and Chad Bradford and with little expected arbitration increases for Dioner Navvaro, Grant Balfour, Joe Nelson, Gabe Kapler, and Lance Cormier the Rays payroll will sit at around 37.72 million.  BJ Upton,  JP Howell, Matt Garza and Shawn Riggans will all see their first years of arbitration.  Riggans has been hurt and won’t see more than 1 mil coming his way.  BJ has been struggling all year with the bat, but still steals a ton of bases and should see a couple mil offer from the Rays. Matt Garza and JP Howell should see significant raises to the 2-4.5 million dollar marks.  Jason Bartlett should also see a significant raise to the 5 to 6 million dollar mark.   Let’s for examples sake say Riggans gets 1 mil, BJ gets 2.5, Matt Garza gets 3 mil, JB gets 5.5 mil and JP Howell gets 2.5 mil.  Our opening day payroll with pretty much the exact same team on the field will be 49.5 million dollars.
  • Pitchers in minors – Besides clearing up some payroll, the Rays have 3 starting pitchers in the minors that need ML roster spots. Wade Davis, Jeremey Hellickson and Andy Sonnastine (who will pitch tommorow for the big club).  I would expect both Hellickson and Davis to get the call up on Tuesday when the rosters expand with Davis and Hellickson getting a solid chance at grabbing a rotation spot, especially if Sonny struggles.  Wade has a 3.20 era in 150 AAA innings this season.  Hellickson has a 2.66 era in 50 AAA innings and just pitched a 8 inning 1 hitter last night in Durham, striking out 12 guys.
  • Players acquired in trade – From DRaysBay.comMatthew Sweeney missed all of 2008 with a broken ankle. He’s a big, strong guy with some injury issues. Right now he plays third base and if you know anything about the Rays, you know that won’t be the case whenever he reaches the majors. If he stays healthy, pencil him in as your potential 2011 first baseman or designated hitter. He’s in High-A ball and figures to be major league ready by the time Carlos Pena leaves at the end of next season.  Alexander Torres is a lefty with swing-and-miss and groundball generating abilities. As you can guess, his fastball has good sink to it despite his short stature. He has control issues and he’s in Double-A, but he’s also striking out a lot more batters than most left-handed starters are capable of. Maybe he’s nothing more than a pen arm, maybe he’s a back-end starter.  Both are 21-years-old and neither were ranked in the Angels 2009 pre-season top 10 per Baseball America. John Sickels’ last ranking of both was of the C+ variety. Purely from the rankings, that’s not a great return, but the numbers don’t suggest either is a C+ prospect. Both have some issues but I can’t look at either’s statistical profile and label them as nothing but fodder. There’s upside and certainly some downside to be had here, and with the way prospect rankings change on a whim, I’d be shocked if both are C+ players come next year.

"From ESPN.com’s Keith Law – Angels third baseman Matt Sweeney missed all of 2008 with a major ankle injury that included a fracture and ligament damage, but he’s healthy now and he’s going to hit. His swing is so good it’s hard to describe: He’s strong with good hands, sets up in great position to control the bat and yet still hit for power, accelerates his wrists quickly, and makes hard contact. He’ll go to Rancho Cucamonga, a good hitter’s park, at age 21 this year, and he should hit for a high average and big power. If you’re in one of those insane fantasy leagues with deep minor league drafts, he’s a great sleeper to target because he didn’t play last year and is going to jump onto prospect lists by next winter."

  • PTBNL – The old player to be named later.  Generally, not a signinficant piece of the puzzle, but rumored around the Bay Area and hinted at by Joe Maddon to be the best player in the trade.  This particular player might have to wait to clear waivers as he may already be on the 40 man roster, and most likely the teams will just wait till the offseason to make the last piece of the trade.  When I originally got the text from my friend Carlos, the first thing I said was Brandon Wood and who…Yesterday, Brandon Wood’s name was listed as one of the possible players that the Rays may be able to choose from.   Wood has been a top prospect in the Angels system for a few years now, and from what I can read about him, has a little bit of a tenuous relationship with skipper Mike Scosia. This guy is the real deal when it comes to power hitters in the minors, and as you can see, has 22 HR and a .911 OPS in AAA this season.  He has been called up at two seperate points during the year for the Angels, but only got a few ABs both times.  He is a high strikeout guy, but has true power in his bat, sound familiar (Carlos Pena).   Pena is a FA after next year, and trading him this offseason and promoting Wood, if he were to be the PTBNL would trim another 10.25 mil off our payroll putting it around 39 million dollars.

The Rays opening day lineup could look like the following:

1b Brandon Wood/Ben Zobrist

2b Akinor Iwamura/Willy Aybar

SS Jason Bartlett/Ben Zobrist

3b Evan Longoria/Brandon Wood/Willy Aybar

LF Carl Crawford/Desmond Jennings/Fernando Perez

CF BJ Upton/Desmond Jennings/Fernando Perez

RF Matt Joyce/Desmond Jennings/Fernando Perez

DH Ben Zobrist/Pat Burell

SP James Shields/Matt Garza/David Price/Wade Davis/Jeremy Hellickson

MR Dan Wheeler/Grant Balfour/Joe Nelson/Lance Cormier

CL JP Howell

That lineup at around 39 million dollars gives us some flexibility, mainly to look and acquire a C from another team.  We have a surplus of OF’s and with BJ Upton going into crapper mode this season (sorry BJ, I still love you) and the play of highly touted Desmond Jennings and of speedster Fernando Perez as well as as the acquisition of Matt Joyce in the spring, we have the ability to move another player who will be entering Arbitration in BJ Upton.  We will also most likely continue to look to add under the radar arms to our bullpen.

While I don’t love the timing of the deal, although we look like we are finished in the WC race, this is the reality of baseball today.  The Rays will be forced to make moves like this and ones like potentially moving Carlos Pena or BJ Upton.  The fans will not love all of them, but for the most part, the fans don’t understand the intricacies of the financial world of baseball.   Let’s hope Sweeney and Torres have nice futures for the Rays (as it was about time we started reinforcing the lower levels of our minors) and that PTBNL is a guy of Brandon Wood’s caliber.