Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ghosts Return

As if I need more things to haunt me this winter, Metsblog alerts us to this great news:
The trade market opens in earnest today with the start of the annual GM Meetings. Already, executives are talking about the potential for stars as big as Minnesota ace Johan Santana and Florida slugger Miguel Cabrera becoming available.

But it might just start there. An executive familiar with Tampa's thinking said if the offers for Santana grow to a substantial level, then the Rays would test to see what they could get for Scott Kazmir.

The thinking is that because Kazmir is three years from free agency as opposed to one year for Santana, he might bring nearly as much in return.

The Rays need multiple high-end pitchers, and Kazmir, just about to enter arbitration eligibility for the first time, might be too expensive and ready to depart just as Tampa is projecting contention in two to three years.

How comical would it be if the Mets, with their No. 1 need being a No. 1 starter, found themselves trying to trade for Kazmir 3½ seasons after getting Victor Zambrano for him?
Yeah. That's really funny. It's so funny I want to cry my eyes out. And it's funny because you can count on me to be at Gerry Hunsicker's doorstep offering everything short of a lifetime subscription to Field & Stream to make this happen. Yeah, I know. I should want nothing to do with Scott Kazmir just for the bad feng shui he's caused in our lives just by being traded in the worst trade in baseball history (yeah, I said it...the worst!)

But so what if the Mets have to pay ten times the value they got for Kazmir in the first place (what do you get when you multiply ten by a negative number, anyway?) What, you're scared that the Wilpon's would admit that they made a mistake by trading him in the first place? The free world already knows that the Mets made a mistake!!! If you were to tell a person from New Zealand that you were a Mets fan, they cringe and say "Ooooh, Scott Kazmir." That's how widely known how much of a colossal vapor lock that trade was.

So now he may be available and we want to stick our heads in the sand? I know it's a pipe dream, but let's give Gerry Hunsicker everything short of the kitchen sink and the dirty water filled hot dog carts. Besides, do you really want the Yankees to trade for Scott Kazmir? No no, think about it: do you want to live in a world where Scott Kazmir is wearing Yankee pinstripes?

I know I don't.

C'mon Omar, have some guts and do it. You know you want to see a rotation of Kazmir, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Pedro Martinez and...well, everyone who could be that fifth starter will probably be traded to get Kazmir so...Brian Lawrence, anyone? Anybody? Jose Lima?

Victor Zambrano? Hey, why not, he's available.

(Meanwhile, there's somebody out there reading this after breathing in some second hand weed, and he's freaking out right now. He's running around in his underwear screaming about the time-space continuum being out of whack or something.)

C'mon, Omar. Let's make this week's GM meetings fun! I mean, there's barely anything going on at your meetings...well, besides Paul Lo Duca wandering around following Freddie begging to be re-signed.


choo choo said...

You want to feel worse about the Kazmir trade? Consider this. By picking Scott in the 2002 draft the Mets, rightfully so at the time, passed on some players. Who were they? Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, James Loney, Jeff Francouer, Joe Blanton, Matt Cain.

elliot said...

I think that it's too early for you to call this the worst trade ever. At this point, I'd say that Brock for Broglio was worse (although after Kazmir wins a few Cy Youngs, I might change my mind).

Metstradamus said...


I've written the following all before...and forgive me because whenever I argue this with people, I go on and on and on. But the Kazmir trade was worse. I don't say that for the pure sport of self-hating...but trades in the 60's and 70's like the horrible Lou Brock trade that you mention were made without the benefit of the miles of videotape on players that there are today, without the benefit of extensive scouting reports, and without the benefit of people on the inside and on the outside (media) putting values on players as journeymen, or hot prospects.

In 2004, the Mets had all of those advantages, plus the prism of being reminded over and over again on what happened the last time they traded a phenom for older players (Nolan Ryan). And the Mets STILL made that horrible trade. (And yes, Kazmir was worse than Ryan...because Ryan was traded after he had come up to the majors and had blister problems, so there was reason to be concerned. And yes, Ryan was a horrible trade, but I contend that even though I wasn't around in 1970, there wasn't the outcry about that trade at the time it was made that there was when Kazmir was traded.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again...even if Kazmir turned out to be a bust and Zambrano was actually useful, it's still a horrible trade because any team that trades their number one prospect for a guy approaching 30 with arm problems is unbelievably stupid. It's unbelievably stupid because the Mets could have gotten so much more for the top prospect in your farm system. Todd Helton, perhaps. So I don't need to see whether Scott Kazmir wins five Cy Youngs or no Cy Youngs, or blows out his elbow tomorrow. That trade was incredibly idiotic from jump.

Think about it, even that stupid A.J. Pierzynski trade for Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan...at the time that trade was made, Liriano and Nathan weren't as highly regarded on prospect rankings as Kazmir was, and it took some success by Liriano and Nathan to make people realize what a horrible trade that turned out to be. Kazmir was stupid, stupid, stupid the minute the trade papers were filed with the league. I'm not sure you can say that about any other trade in history where you don't even need to see what the players do before you pass judgement on it.

I know that by writing all this (again), I'm going to get people telling me to let it go, wash it away, it's old history. Believe me, I agree. I want to. But I'll never let Jim Duquette and that bunch off easy.

Thank you, Elliot, if you've made it to the end of this.

katherine said...

What if we'd had Kazmir instead of Trachsel for the NLCS last October? And instead of endless parade of mediocre or wildly inconsistent number 5 pitchers this summer? It was a bad trade no matter how it turns out with Kazmir in the future, and it has ALREADY turned out terribly from the standpoint of our current pitching staff and performance in 2006 postseason and the excruciating, traumatic 2007.

We probably wouldn't brood over it so much if things had gone really well.

Anonymous said...

Funny you mention second-hand weed. Kazmir was traded because the Mets thought he was a pot smoker (albeit they did have a post-LSD no-hitter Doc Ellis on their staff in the '70s). So as players die from alcohol abuse, Mota the Steroid gets rewarded, and Cameron's use of speed was ignored, and a major player's drug habit is ignored [covered up]I had to live through another Nolan-Ryanesque disasterous trade. (And Kazmir tokes up those wins...)

Demitri said...

Ok heres another one for you. How about the Isringhausen / Billy Taylor Trade?

Imagine if the Mets had converted Isringhausen to a closer in 98 instead of going out and getting Benitez?

How would history have changed if he was in there from 1998-2007 closing out games instead of Franco/ Benitez / ??? / Looper (dare I say Wagner) ?

Makes me feel like the Mets ended up with the version of "Its a Wonderful Life" with the unhappy ending.

Nice photo work by the way Metstra. I can almost see Jacob Marley in there somewhere.

katherine said...

David W won a gold glove?
I don't mean to sound disloyal, but am I the only one who holds my breath everytime he throws to first?

Demitri said...

same deal for Beltran.

Metstradamus said...

Izzy for Billy Taylor turned out to be awful. But that's not even in the same zip code as the Kazmir trade. The hardest thing ever to come out of Izzy's right arm as a Met was when he broke a bone in his hand punching a cooler. At the time of the trade, Billy Taylor was a very serviceable reliever with Oakland. So there was ample reason to make that trade. I don't count that as a "bad trade" so much as I count that as another instance of the council of baseball's lords and fellowships f***ing with my head. There's a difference.

Kinda like how Heath Bell all of a sudden developing movement on his fastball after leaving the Mets despite the fact that the Mets have the so-called "guru" as their pitching coach. You see boys and girls, sick jokes are different from bad trades (I smell future blog title there.)

Metstradamus said...

Let me re-phrase that for those who prefer to speak English:

"Kinda like how Heath Bell all of a sudden develops movement on his fastball after leaving the Mets despite the fact that the Mets have the so-called "guru" as their pitching coach."

elliot said...

Thanks for the detailed analysis, Metstra (may I call you that?). I will grant the point - Kazmir for Zambrano WAS the worst trade ever. My friend tried to make a case that trading Joe Morgan for Lee May was worse, but I convinced him that it wasn't even in the same neighborhood.

Anyhoo, it's not all that important to determine if the Kazmir trade was the worst in history, or merely the second worst. Also, the reason that you can't let it go is that it is still a live issue, and will be until five years prior to Kazmir's HOF induction.

Your point about the benefits of technology available to us is a very good point. Let me make another: we watch baseball for enjoyment. For me, and I suspect most fans (especially the hard core who read these blogs), nothing is more pleasurable than watching a home-grown guy build an all-star career.

Let me add this. I was a young Mets fan when they traded Ryan. I was nowhere near as upset about that trade - at the time - than I was about the Kazmir trade. I saw Ryan as a pitcher who had several years of experience but still had a very high walk rate and a losing record, along with a pedestrian WHIP - plus a mean fastball and lots of strikeouts. Sure, he was a prospect, but he was (to me - at that time) frustrating to watch. I viewed Ryan (again - in context) as somebody who had a ton of potential but may never deliver on it. If I had to choose, I would have kept Gary Gentry over Nolan Ryan.

But then, I'm an idiot.

I am, however, smart enough to recognize how stupid the Kazmir trade was.

dmg said...

as i recall, there was a pretty loud collective head slap in the new york area upon hearing the nolan ryan-jim fregosi trade.
(let's not forget they even threw in three others, in one of those mets low self-esteem moves.)

what i really admire about the baseball gods' perversity is that fregosi would go on to manage the angels in 1979 to their first title of any sort, that of the al west -- with ryan as the ace of his staff.

so yeah, kiwis back then sent us commiserating notes. just not by email.