Looking back, Kazmir-Zambrano trade wasn't as awful as it seemed
Never heard back.
I'm not upset. Duquette is someone I know a little bit, someone I like and respect as both a former baseball executive and, now, as a fellow member of the media. Maybe he was busy. Maybe he had to cook dinner, fly to Guam, buy a sofa, meet my Uncle Marty for sushi. My guess, however, is that Duquette simply doesn't want to answer the 432,532,211th question of his life about Kazmir,
I completely understand.
It has been nearly six years to the day since Duquette, in his only season as New York's GM, famously dealt his team's top prospect, the 20-year-old Kazmir, to Tampa Bay for a pitcher who, in 2003, led the American League in walks, wild pitches and hit batsmen. Not that Zambrano didn't have an upside. He threw hard, his fastball had some wicked movement and, at age 28, he was still in the prime of his career.
"The feeling is that we still have a chance (this year)," Duquette said at the time. "We're still in the mix. Let's go for it. With these guys added to the rotation [the Mets also acquired
The trade was a disaster.
At the time, New York was seven games behind Atlanta in the NL East standings and 7 1/2 back of San Diego for the wild card. It was a listless, heartless, ill-fitted collection of players.
Unbeknownst to the Mets, Zambrano was suffering from a bum right elbow. He would last three seasons in New York, going 10-14 with a 4.42 ERA in 39 appearances. He hasn't played in a major league game since 2007.
In the ensuing years, as Kazmir emerged as Tampa Bay's ace and a two-time All-Star, Mets fans grew to place the deal among the worst in franchise history. There was
And now there was Kazmir for Zambrano -- Duquette's personal Waterloo.
With, ahem, one problem.
While Duquette was certainly foolish to take on Zambrano, his worries about Kazmir have, by and large, proven true. At the time of the deal, Kazmir boosters were comparing the youngster to another
Yes, Scott Kazmir has had a nice career. But nice is often misleading. Now in his seventh full season, Kazmir has never posted an ERA lower than 3.48, has never won more than 13 games and has only thrown one complete game -- in 2006. After beginning last season with an 8-7 record and 5.92 ERA for Tampa Bay, he was unceremoniously shipped to the Angels for
Now, with his velocity down, his once-potent slider nonexistent and his ERA a major league-worst 6.92, Kazmir has been placed on the disabled list by an organization perplexed and befuddled by a should-be ace. He recently made the worst start in the 49-year history of the Angels, permitting 13 earned runs over five innings against Oakland. "Looking at video, I can't even tell if that's me out there," Kazmir recently told ESPN. "It's getting a little out of control."
In other words, the man has broken down. He will likely never be Ron Guidry or, for that matter, the Scott Kazmir of four years ago.
This doesn't mean Jim Duquette was right. The trade was unambiguously dumb and irrational and unsophisticated. But after six years of being reminded of the blunder, it's time to let him move on.
The baseball landscape is one littered with boneheaded swaps -- many worse than Kazmir for Zambrano.