|The Angels traded Alex Torres (left) and Matt Sweeney to Tampa Bay on Friday for pitcher Scott Kazmir. A third Angels player is to be named.|
Once the Rays’ game in Detroit ended last night, the rumored trade was officially announced. The Angels acquired LHP Scott Kazmir from Tampa Bay in exchange for Arkansas Travelers’ LHP Alex Torres, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes’ third baseman Matt Sweeney, and a player to be named later (PTBNL).
The trade was originally announced on AngelsBaseball.com as just Torres and Sweeney, but then that press release was deleted and replaced by one which said that the trade fell through. Mark Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times wrote that “The leak from the Angels’ side enraged Rays officials and nearly led them to call it off because it aborted their protocol of notifying their player first.”
There’s no doubt that Kazmir has issues. I wrote on May 10 that the critics who bashed the Angels for selecting Joe Saunders over Kazmir in June 2002 had been proven wrong. Since then, Saunders has struggled but we learned that it was due to shoulder tightness which has been apparently corrected by a stint on the disabled list and a cortisone shot. Kazmir, however, has had ongoing battles with mechanical problems that have led to repeated DL visits.
Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune published an article today that calls Kazmir “the Ace Who Never Was.” Fennelly couldn’t resist also taking a cheap shot, writing:
The word from Detroit is the Rays beat the space shuttle to the punch by launching Scott Kazmir into space. Well, not space, but a place just as spacey, the left coast, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or whatever they’re called.
Infantile insults aside, Kazmir at age 25 remains one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball. A rare left-hander with mid-90s velocity and a wicked slider, his best seasons were during and after Mike Butcher worked with him in Tampa. Butcher was a long-time Angels minor league pitching coach who was hired by Joe Maddon to be the Devil Rays’ pitching coach in 2006. When Bud Black left to manage the Padres, Mike Scioscia brought home Butch to become the Angels’ major league pitching coach. Kazmir’s best ERA year was 2006 at 3.24, and in 2007 it was 3.48. Reuniting Kazmir with Butcher might solve whatever problems are going through his young head.
As for what the Angels gave up … You can read about Torres and Sweeney in the many articles published this morning on various newspaper sites, as listed on FutureAngels.com. Torres is about the same in physical build as Kazmir, although he lists as about two inches shorter (5’10”). He put himself on the prospect radar this year, although you won’t find many star left-handed pitchers of his stature in the big leagues. As for Sweeney, he was always a potential power hitter but he missed all of 2008 with a leg injury and part of 2009 with a hip injury, and his defense has always been suspect.
When the trade was “unannounced,” rumors abounded that a PTBNL had been added to the deal. Normally a PTBNL is chosen later from a list of players agreed upon at the time of the trade, but it appears in this case that the player’s name is already known. Topkin wrote, “The one not named is considered closer to the majors and someone Maddon, a former Angels coach, called “a very interesting player that I’m very excited about.”
HalosHeaven.com claims it’s Jordan Walden, based on Walden not appearing on the Arkansas Travelers’ roster. But Walden hasn’t been on that roster for weeks. He’s been on the Tempe Angels’ roster since August 16 while on rehab assignment for a recurring forearm injury. The Tempe rosters are on FutureAngels.com.
Flawed logic aside, if the player is already known but hasn’t been announced it could be for several reasons. MLB rules prohibit trading a player while he’s on the disabled list, unless the player approves. Another rule prohibits trading a player within the first year after he signs. Topkin says it’s someone closer to the majors than Torres or Sweeney.
If I were the Rays, I’d be asking for Trevor Reckling, Will Smith or Ryan Chaffee. None of those, however, are disabled, so there’s no reason not to include them now in the trade. So it could be Walden despite the flawed reasoning of the HalosHeaven.com post. It could also be a position player pending some other transaction.
When I originally heard it was just Torres and Sweeney, I thought the Angels were getting off cheaply. But as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for,” and Kazmir is worth more than those two. When the other cleat drops, we may think twice about this deal.
UPDATE August 29, 2009 4:45 PM PDT — In discussing the PTBNL with someone on the Angels MLB.com board, we realized that the PTBNL could be someone on the 40-man roster who isn’t on the 25-man roster. That opens a new list of possible names. Among those are Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez, Matt Brown, Terry Evans, Sean O’Sullivan, and more. They also include two major league pitchers on the disabled list, Scot Shields and Dustin Moseley. These players would have to pass through waivers first, which could explain the delay.
If you’re looking for clues, it was pointed out that Matt Brown didn’t play the last two nights for Salt Lake. You’d think that the Rays wouldn’t want to risk an injury to a future employee by letting him play while he passes through waivers.
What if the player is claimed on waivers by another team? That would complicate matters. It would seem likely that the Angels and Rays would have a “backup” list if that happens. Or they could simply wait until season’s end when waivers are no longer required and then complete the transaction.