Scott Kazmir

It seems like he’s been around since the Hoover administration, but the baby-faced lefty who Jim Duquette traded for Victor Zambrano is still only 33. (I swear I thought it was Steve Phillips, but Mr. Google tells me I’m wrong.) For the last three years, according to Similarity Scores, his most similar pitcher by age has been Ubaldo Jimenez, and his top four pitchers by overall similarity score are Yovani Gallardo, Francisco Liriano, Wilson Alvarez, and Tim Lincecum. He looks young, but his arm’s already fallen off once, and being associated with those names would seem to suggest that it’s liable to do so again some time soon.

As Jeff Pearlman recounts it, it’s heartwarming fun to revisit the trade:

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 Kris Benson from Pittsburgh] we have a chance to win every night.”

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. Mike Piazza missed 94 games the year before, 2003, which was an utter disaster (66-95) from the start as opposed to a season that eventually spiraled into hopelessness the way 2004 did. In 2004, Piazza was healthy but woefully miscast at first base. Jason Philips was the great bespectacled hope behind the plate, Kaz Matsui was butchering balls at shortstop, a person named Eric Valent somehow accumulated 270 at-bats and the overmatched Art Howe was managing. With or without two new starting pitchers, the Mets were wretched. They finished the year 71-91, a whopping 25 games behind Atlanta and 21 out of the wild card.


Kazmir’s basically had two careers: through age 24, he was a fireballing two-time All-Star in Tampa Bay, with 9.7 K/9 and a 123 ERA+. He was awful the next three seasons and missed all of 2012 due to injury. But he made a remarkable comeback, and from 2013 to 2016, he pitched in a different city every year and mustered 8.3 K/9 and a 103 ERA+: he had basically gone from Tim Lincecum to Kirk Rueter. But considering that Lincecum himself couldn’t do that, it was pretty remarkable. And then he missed all of 2017 due to injury, too.

Expectations for Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy in 2017 should be more or less exactly the same as they were for Jaime Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey in 2016. As countless motivational posters have cheerfully exclaimed, expect nothing, and you’ll never be disappointed.

102 thoughts on “Scott Kazmir”

  1. I swear to god I saw like 200 of that guy in Cobb County. All white people look the same to me.

  2. How is that not actually Tyler Pastornicky?

    EDIT: Okay, just looked. Kazmir’s face is far more balanced and less bug-eyed terror inducing than Pastornicky’s.

  3. @1 – Me too a little, but if Kazmir wants to pitch for a few months and then get traded or released (depending on the outcome) and we push back Gohara’s service clock back a year in the process, I’m not going to be too pissed…especially given it’s happening in a year I doubt we win the WS.

  4. If Kazmir is good and healthy enough to be in the rotation that helps and makes the Braves stronger. I wont be mad either way. I think Gohara is a lock for the rotation. I think he’s ahead of Newcomb or at least should be.

  5. Being a Braves fan is mostly about rooting for expensive 1-year reclamation projects to have a good first half so we can trade them for a rookie-ball pitcher that walks a guy per inning.

  6. Last month I posted the names of the 3rd basemen on the NL playoff teams as examples of the level we should aspire to as an organization. So, I should be celebrating that we have added 3 National League Champions to our roster.

  7. As we saw with Bartolo Colon turning into a figurative pumpkin after being just a physical one, I don’t think we should be worrying about a lack opportunities for the young kids. We’re still only one season removed from rushing Newcomb almost a half season before they would have liked. We have 7 candidates for the rotation if ST started today, and three have had injury issues in the last 12 months (Fried, McCarthy, and Kazmir). I’d be shocked if Gohara doesn’t make 30 starts if he’s able.

  8. @9, Soroka could easily be on our rotation next year too. Or not. I think getting these guys experience is important, especially in yet another lost season with low pressure and low expectations.

  9. AA has already said that he intends to break prospects into the major leagues via the bullpen this year. What that looks like, who knows. Does that mean Allard, Soroka, or even Touki could hit the pen this year? Who knows. But that’s probably one of the more interesting things said this offseason, and it hasn’t been mentioned on here, I don’t think. If you don’t think the Braves will know how to use our relievers, prospects, and their options correctly, then it’s not very noteworthy, and I certainly have my doubts. But if Snitker, Hernandez, AA, scouting, etc. can manage that process properly, then there’s a TON of talent that can infuse a bullpen that finished 27th in baseball last year.

    Terrible bench at the beginning of last year, 27th ranked bullpen, 22nd ranked starting rotation, poor defense at the outfield corners and shortstop, mediocre defense at second. If you can start chipping away at those problems, I think you can transition from “this is a lost season” to “this is a season where the Braves will be relevant into August/September and provide very encouraging results to 2019”. That’s where I’m at.

  10. It’s a lost season from a wins and losses perspective, but certainly there’s tons to look at developmental-wise.

    I mean it’s certainly possible that all the guys on the roster who have been not-good suddenly become good in 2018. Not very likely, but possible. I just can’t make myself look at it that way.

    I’m fine with all the minor league arms going to the pen. They’ll get plenty of innings if we roll out bad veteran starters.

  11. Longoria’s package includes Denard Span, which is another CF who doesn’t have an elite bat. Getting Span back tells me they deal Kiermaier. If they deal Kiermaier too, they deal Archer. And the Longoria package is a quantity over quality trade, so I think the Braves could make the same deal. May it be so!

    In other news, they must really hate Mallex Smith. :)

  12. Interesting note on Kazmir, it looks like $8M of what he is owed for 2018 is actually deferred to 2021. Not sure how the team is treating that, but it could mean a little more money to spend in 2018.

  13. The Giants have a huge 2018 payroll (maybe the highest?). Maybe one last hurrah before they rebuild.

    Tucker has some power and could easily play corner OF for a month while we wait for Acuna, and be a bench bat or something. I dunno if it means we can finally say bye to Markakis, but it’s a start.

    Adding Gators to your team seems like a bad thing to do in general, but I guess in our case it’s worth a shot.

  14. I’ll take 20 HR style suckage over Emilio Bonifacio / Danny Santana style suckage any time. Somebody has to be on our bench, right?

  15. Tucker has had good minor league numbers. He’s been a quad-A player at best to date. He’s also stuck behind like, 20 better OF prospects in Houston. I don’t mind acquiring random marginal options to press Neck for playing time.

  16. As fodder for the fourth OF slot, Joey Terds was fine. As the hope to fill a starting position both would be less than appealing.

  17. As long as the ptbnl isn’t a top prospect, I see very little down side to getting Tucker. We are lacking power throughout our system and Tucker looks like he can provide decent pop. Not a huge trade, but he could help slightly at some point.

  18. So the Nats paid Matt Adams $4.5 mil to be a power bench bat and 1B Insurance for Zimmerman. Can’t believe the Braves didn’t think about doing that.

  19. Do the Nats do a 5-man bench? The 1B power bat-type really doesn’t seem to work with the 4-man bench. Plus, Freeman has typically been more durable than Zimmerman, and if we need another Matt Adams, we’ll trade another Juan Yepez.

  20. Where Are They Now?

    Juan Yepez had a triple slash of .275/.309/.387 in 152 A- PAs for the Braves last year. After being traded to St. Louis, he had a .260/.308/.388 in 328 A- PAs. The man’s consistent.

  21. The return from these types of trades is usually cash if the guy ends up in AAA or doesn’t produce, or a guy from a pre-agreed list if Tucker meets some plate appearance threshold. I can’t remember the ptbnl ever being anyone interesting.

  22. Not sure how many teams have a 4 man bench, but I’d assume it’s not very many which may show us why it’s still a terrible idea.

  23. I’m old enough to remember when 10-man pitching staffs were the norm. The micromanagement of both starters and relievers is probably the thing I hate most about the modern game. A 4-man bench, where you’re almost certainly going to burn 1-2 of those guys as pinch-hitters in a 9-inning game, is unworkable IMO. You’re almost sure to run out of players in an extra-inning game, and lord help you if there’s an injury.

  24. Matt Adams
    drew initial euphoric opinions that are now equaling Sadam’s
    as long as they threw from the right
    the Chop House, he softened our awful power blight.

  25. @ 40

    ten men staffs
    some consider one of Baseball’s major gaffs
    a nightmare to keep track of
    most pitching coaches never got the knack of.

  26. @40 I’m with you 100% on the micromanagement of pitching. I sometimes wonder if I even still like MLB with the constant nagging with pitchers and the all-too-frequent pitching injuries.

    If 11 pitchers can’t do the job in today’s league, then today’s brand has problems.

  27. @46 – I don’t think it’s about 11 pitchers being able to do the job. They are just trying to make optimal use of resources. I’m for whatever works best, I’m just not convinced that carrying 13 pitchers is optimal.

  28. You can make the case on the hitting side. Why can’t position players be more versatile? Pitchers have a legitimate injury issue for why they have to carry 13 (or at least teams think they do), but you could make the argument that you should be able to get by with a 4 man bench if more players could play more position. Both situations have their issues.

  29. Part of the “all-too-frequent pitching injuries” in today’s game comes from the fact that each pitcher throws max effort, a gazillion miles per hour, every pitch, every at bat. This also leads to pitcher fatigue after only a few innings, which leads to the need to get more pitchers on the roster, which leads to shorter relief stints, which leads to pitchers throwing max effort, a gazillion miles per hour, every pitch, every at bat.

  30. Peanut’s latest article strongly implies that Kazmir’s main purpose is trade bait if he is healthy. That’s surprising to me. Also, it looks like our bench problems are solved. We’ve resigned Danny Santana to a minor league deal. I can feel the excitement throughout the Braves Journal nation.

  31. Here is the Braves’ current depth chart for starters:

    1. J. Teheran
    2. M. Foltynewicz
    3. B. McCarthy
    4. S. Newcomb
    5. L. Gohara
    6. L. Sims
    7. M. Fried
    8. S. Kazmir

    They have Mike Soroka (20), Kolby Allard (20) and Touki Toussaint making real noise in the high minors. Even if you reduce Toussaint to a relief role in the bigs (reasonable assumption), you still have 10 guys banging around for 5 spots in the starting rotation. There’s no reason not to flip Kazmir if he recovers well. One of Sims, Fried, Soroka or Allard will be a reasonable fifth starter on the 2018 squad.

  32. Sorry. To clarify:

    I think it’s safe to assume, barring injuries, that the top three rotation spots will go in some order to Brandon McCarthy, Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz.

    I think it’s safe to assume that the final two regular rotation spots will be adequately filled by some combination of Sean Newcomb, Luiz Gohara, Lucas Sims, or Max Fried.

    I think it’s safe to say that if three of those four all fail miserably, or something happens injury-wise to one of the other three (pitchers; you never know), then someone out of the bucket of Allard, Soroka and Toussaint will be capable of stepping in and filling the fifth starter role for a while at least.

    All of which is to say that if Scott Kazmir is healthy and the rest of our options are healthy and show similar talent as to last year, there is no reason not to trade Kazmir. And there’s even LESS reason to complain as fans of them potentially trading Kazmir, a journeyman stop gap over 30. It would be like complaining about losing Russ Ortiz.

  33. @49 I know, every pitcher in baseball has to throw 95+ mph nowadays, and in order to maintain a competitive edge over hitters every pitch requires inhuman, unsustainable effort or it’s headed for the seats, and defenses now have to rely on advanced metrics with every batter in order to figure out where 8 guys should be positioned on the field.

    And I think it’s stupid. Utterly stupid. Get the f–k back to where you belong, fielders. Expand that f–king strike zone for pete’s sake, and get back to playing baseball. OMFG. Maddog would go a complete game in a little over 2 hours, but in today’s league he would be toast with these ridiculous goofy concepts.

    Would you rather watch one pitcher try to finish out a complete game shutout or 6 guys in a combined effort??

  34. @48 If there’s real value to be had from more players being versatile then I believe it will come to fruition sooner than later. I happen to think that most of these guys have played at nearly every position at a high school level or above, but it simply hasn’t been the case that they have needed to be that versatile. Of those players who can sub in at multiple positions, do they have a positive value on defense at each those positions or is it more a case of not being a sever liability in the field?

  35. I’m in as much of the camp as “trade prospects and contend in 2018” as some, but Gohara only got 18 starts at AA/AAA, and Fried only got 21 starts. You can make the argument Newomb never proved he was ready. If Kazmir and McCarthy are healthy, and the Braves feel like they’re good enough 4th/5th starters, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t give one of our young pitchers more seasoning. Toooooops, this team wins in the upper 80’s, even with 3/5 of the division being mostly terrible, so we’re not going anywhere this year.

  36. You can also make the argument that our prospects aren’t worth much in a trade, except when packaged in bulk. Doing that so a 72 win team can win 77 games in 2018 would be a large risk.

  37. I don’t think you can start with 72 wins to see if a Yelich or whomever will make a difference. The bullpen was trash, Bartolo was trash, the bench was trash, left field was trash, Dansby was trash, 3B was trash, 2B was mostly trash, and Teheran/Folty were trash. The majority of those things have already improved. You just can’t start with last year’s team win total and add wins from there. The 25 players on the roster, cumulatively, stand to be much better.

  38. It just seems like every off season is being built around “We are freeing up money for next winter!”

    Why would a big time free agent want to come here? We would have to overpay.

    Also, why did we ever sign Cakes?

  39. I’m a minority in this, but the Markakis signing never bothered me.

    1. The money isn’t crazy. He may not be a good deal, but he isn’t a “terrible” one.
    2. It’s not like he’s been blocking anyone.
    3. There are worse people to have in the clubhouse

    If we had a stud waiting, or the 11 million could’ve been better used to put us over the top, then by all means, eviscerate the front office, but that isn’t the case here. Unless you’re upset that he hurt draft position by being (a little) better than a quad A player, I’m honestly lacking as to any scenario in which the past three years would’ve been better for the Braves sans Markakis.

  40. Hey, Manny Machado is on the block because Baltimore doesn’t think they can sign him. And he wants to play SS, not 3B. I am personally more than happy to package some prospects to the O’s for him, move him to short, throw him all the money, and tell The Good Hair he’s in the mix for 3B.

  41. We signed Markakis because you have to put someone in RF, and it was him or Joey Terds. He gave us the same performance we would have gotten from the beloved superstar in waiting he replaced (at least offensively) for half the annual cost and less than half of the years committed.

  42. I have a hunch Kazmir ends up in long relief. I don’t think his arm will hold up as a starter. And I don’t think anyone would want to trade for him without ATL eating his salary, which more or less negates the purpose of moving him. He’s not fetching back a significant prospect. Which is all fine – he’s part of the cost of moving Kemp. Get whatever you can out of him this year, thank him for his service, and spend that $ somewhere else next winter.

  43. Trade Dansby in a package for Manny. The guy was the #1 draft pick just three years ago and he has great hair and a marketable persona…who wouldn’t be dazzled by that? Get ‘er done, Thoppy.

  44. Interestingly, Jon Heyman speculated that the Orioles are looking for a deal similar to our Jason Heyward trade where they got something similar to Miller and Jenkins, and he speculates they haven’t been able to get that package yet. It’s a little hard to believe for someone as good as Manny Machado. Maybe they need to hire Coppy.

  45. Trading Dansby for one year of Machado period, let alone right now, would be beyond stupid. Thankfully I won’t have to think about it beyond whenever you all are done talking about it.

  46. Also, why did we ever sign Cakes?

    Your argument for him at the time was Veteran Presents.

    1. The money isn’t crazy. He may not be a good deal, but he isn’t a “terrible” one.
    2. It’s not like he’s been blocking anyone.
    3. There are worse people to have in the clubhouse

    I guess. The other benefit of Markakis is that his signing could convince a set of gullible people that we were in fact trying to compete and rebuild simultaneously, thus helping the team avoid a payroll death spiral.

    We could’ve signed similarly (un)productive players on one-year deals, but whatever. “Whatever” is all I feel about Markakis.

  47. I don’t think it’s some conspiracy to fool people. They didn’t go all Houston Astros where they lost 100 games 3 years in a row with as many as 111 losses. They made a business decision that you didn’t want become the 2003 Tigers. That’s why Freeman wasn’t traded. That’s why Teheran wasn’t traded. Why is that so hard for people to accept?

  48. @71 – That’s fair; “whatever” isn’t a bad word, and apathy wouldn’t be either. He hasn’t been Tyler Flowers value, but he hasn’t been BJ Upton either. Obviously, he hasn’t gotten the Bupton vitriol, but a lot of anecdotal commentary I hear seems to lean closer that way than I can see the foundation for.

  49. @72 – Agreed, and personally, I’m not upset by it. The past few years haven’t been good by any stretch, but there have been some good moments. Abstractly, I can accept that it may be quicker to build a contender by proactively being as terrible as you can, but I also enjoy coming home after work with the expectation that Freddie could crush a few, Ender make a spectacular catch, or Julio make the Mets look like the Mets.

  50. I tweeted about this but I think Preston Tucker is the exact type of player Braves should be taking a flier on. Dude can hit and John Sickels, head analyst at Minor League Ball, thinks his defense is better than advertised. There’s no more reason to carry pitching fliers on this team and I got a feeling Luke Jackson is just one of many pitchers that will be cast aside this offseason. Really great arms coming with Lindgen, Minter, and Gomez and many more in the system. Here’s a piece Tommy, Stephen and I did on Braves top relief prospects. Seriously, there’s some eye-popping stats in here.

    And Merry Christmas, Braves Journal! Hadn’t made this announcement but the wife and I are expecting number 2 in May! Is it possible to be excited and terrified at the same time?

  51. @76, congrats. nothing to be scared about until you are staring down more children than you have arms to wrangle them with.

  52. ryan,

    you and the Missus were already outnumbered 1 to 2, and now you’re just making it worse. And, even moreso, Better.


  53. Arms? I skilled father can wrangle with all four paws. I mean, they’re really easy to kick over until like year 3 or 4.

  54. Merry Christmas and /or Happy Holidays to all Braves Journalers. It was a rough year for the Braves, but you guys have made it more bearable. Peace on earth, good will to all!

  55. I know Sam’s type. He comes across as gruff, but probably cried like a baby watching Hallmark movies. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

  56. Man, the market’s slow. As it stands, Miami, Philadelphia, and New York all look pretty bad. After all, Marlins finished second last year with 78 wins. New York has only $10M to spend, but Philadelphia seems to have a lot more to spend and the willingness to go long-term.

    BUT, if you get deep into the offseason and Philadelphia and New York are not vastly improved, at what point do you see the easiest division in baseball as a Bryce Harper injury away from being winnable with a 90-win season where you beat the heck out of the Fish, Muts, and Phils? At what point do you go for it?

  57. Chief..thank you for your definitive reportage- a sad day for some of us, a sigh of relief for others no doubt.

    God speed – you were a classy guy while a Brave, a great shame that injuries plagued your time with us. Those who tend to value an individual as much by who he is as by his numbers salute you.

    Bae Bae. Ironic.

  58. Adonis’ departure opens a spot on the 40-man. The 40-man is now even more disproportionate to pitching with now only 12 position players on the 40-man. 2 catchers, 6 infielders, 4 outfielders. Acuna will obviously take a spot at some point, but right now, it pretty much reads like the 25-man: 4 infielders, 2 bench infielders, 2 starting OFs, 2 backup OFs, and 2 catchers.

    With all of the dead weight contracts, projected arb raises, and league minimums, Cot’s has payroll at $116.8M. Cot’s had the Braves’ opening day payroll at $122M last year. That does leave some money for future improvements. I couldn’t possibly bring myself to get excited about Todd Frazier, but he had a 3 fWAR year at 3B last year, and if you could get him at a $10M per for a couple years, that’d be a really helpful middle of the order-ish bat for a short-term commitment. His swing-and-miss is repulsive, but if opening day was tomorrow, Tyler Flowers or Nick Markakis would be your cleanup hitter. It’s like 2015 all over again.

  59. New thread is up. Likely the last of the year. Much controversy plus fawning praise. How can you stay away?

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