If past performance is a fair gauge, southpaw Scott Kazmir should have no trouble adapting to a steady diet of Major League Baseball, American League West style. He’ll make his Angels debut, if all goes as planned, on Wednesday in Seattle.
The Houston native has flourished against the Angels’ three division rivals. This is an important residual benefit of the deal that brings Kazmir – 25 and signed through 2011 with a club option for 2012 — to Anaheim at the cost of lefty Alex Torres, infielder Matt Sweeney and a player to be named later.
In 28 career starts against the Athletics, Rangers and Mariners, Kazmir is 15-5 with 173 strikeouts against 63 walks in 166 innings pitched.
The two-time All-Star is 7-3 in 13 starts against Oakland with a 3.16 ERA. He’s 5-1 against Texas with a 2.28 ERA in nine outings and 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA in six career starts against Seattle.
Kazmir is 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA in five starts at Safeco Field. He’s 4-2, 2.96 in eight trips to the post at the Oakland Coliseum and 2-1, 2.52 in four starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. That makes him 9-4 in 17 outings on foreign AL West soil.
In a season that has brought an uncommon number of struggles within the division, the Angels certainly can use Kazmir’s touch.
If the five-man rotation stays intact for the balance of the season, Kazmir should have seven starts for the Angels. He’s 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA in 20 starts, but his past three have been among his best of the year, with his velocity moving back into more familiar territory after a dip earlier.
Kazmir’s home debut — he lost his only start at Angel Stadium, three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings — figures to be on Sept. 8 against the Mariners. That would be followed by a Sept. 13 home start against the White Sox, a Sept. 18 challenge in Texas, a Sept. 23 home assignment against the Yankees, Sept. 29 at home against the Rangers and, finally, the Athletics in the season finale on Oct. 4 in Oakland.
That, mind you, is just one blogger trying to map it all out, subject to change along the way. But it would make five of his seven projected starts against AL West foes.
A quality athlete who has been timed at 6.7 in the 60, Kazmir was a quarterback at Cypress Falls High School in Houston his freshman and sophomore years before hanging up the pads to focus on his main sport.
Kazmir was taken in the first round, 15th overall, by the Mets in 2002 after being named Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year.
The Mets brought him along carefully for 2 ½ seasons before shipping him to Tampa Bay on July 30, 2004 – beating the non-waiver Trade Deadline – in a four-player swap. Veteran right-hander Victor Zambrano was the object of the Mets’ affections.
Zambrano was 10-14 with a 4.42 ERA in 39 games for the Mets across three seasons. Right-hander Bartolome Fortunato, also acquired in the deal by New York, was 2-0 with a 7.06 ERA in 17 appearances for the Mets.
Kazmir, meanwhile, has pitched in two All-Star Games (a scoreless inning each) and five postseason games representing Tampa Bay, where he was 55-44 with a 3.92 ERA in 145 games at the time of the deal.
Here, from the New York end, was a classic deadline quick fix gone awry.
Brad Penny clearly would have value to the Angels if he clears waivers on Saturday when the 72-hour window for released players closes. The veteran right-hander was handed his release by the Red Sox on Thursday to open roster space for reliever Billy Wagner, acquired from the Mets in a waiver deal.
Penny, 31, signed a $5 million free-agent deal with the Red Sox, but he will not reach any of the bonus incentives for innings pitched. He was 7-8 in 24 starts and 131 2/3 innings for Boston with a 5.61 ERA. His bonuses in $500,000 increments were to kick in with 160 innings pitched.
Penny’s performance this season was a far cry from the back-to-back 16-win seasons he delivered for the Dodgers in 2006 and 2007. He started the ’06 All-Star Game for the National League in Pittsburgh – yielding a mammoth homer to Vladimir Guerrero – and was third in the ’07 NL Cy Young Award balloting after going 16-4 with a 3.03 ERA.
Eleven American League clubs would have a shot at claiming Penny before the Angels, whose record is surpassed only by the Yankees. With less than a quarter of the season remaining, he’d amount to a bargain-basement pickup at less than $100,000 with the Major League minimum at $400,000.
With the Angels going with young Trevor Bell in the fifth spot in the rotation, Penny would be a natural fit for the estimated six starts remaining. He’d have to sign by Monday to be eligible for a postseason roster spot, unless an injury opens space.
Penny certainly showed in 2003 with the Marlins that he didn’t mind postseason pressure, twice beating the Yankees in the World Series with a 2.13 ERA in his two outings.
Penny requested his release on Wednesday night.
“Because we ended up letting him go, our feelings don’t change about him personally,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “We really appreciated the way Brad went about his business. He was a good teammate, and he worked hard. We’re always pretty honest about the fact that we do what’s in the best interest of the organization and the team, and we try to tell the players that.”