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Scott Kazmir is “in denial about his continuing struggles”

Mar 25, 2011, 10:48 AM EDT

Scott Kazmir AP

Scott Kazmir has a 7.79 ERA this spring after pitching horribly last season, yet after every poor outing he talks about stuff like “throwing the ball well” and feeling “so much better.”

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes that Kazmir “is either one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball, as he seems to believe, or in denial about his continuing struggles.”

For instance, after getting knocked around for eight runs yesterday Kazmir said:

I feel like I was throwing the ball well. The walks, I didn’t particularly like, but I thought I was attacking the strike zone. A couple of things didn’t go my way, and it kind of snowballed on me. My slider felt great, and my fastball had a downward tilt to it. But they put some good swings on it. That’s baseball. No matter how you feel, you’ve got to have some luck on your side.

He’s right, of course, and plenty of pitchers suffer from some combination of bad luck and bad defensive support. The problem is, he isn’t one of them. Kazmir went 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA last season and has a 5.17 ERA in 34 starts since joining the Angels via midseason trade with the Rays in 2009.  His xFIP during that time is 5.47, so there’s an argument to be made that he’s actually been lucky.

Once an overpowering strikeout pitcher with mid-90s velocity, Kazmir’s average fastball has dipped in miles per hour from 92.1 to 91.7 to 91.1 to 90.5 since 2007. In other words, he’s been awful since mid-2009 and has been hemorrhaging velocity on his fastball since 2007. And it sounds like he’s lost even more miles per hour, as DiGiovanna reports that he was clocked in the high-80s yesterday.

DiGiovanna speculates that the Angels may soon have no choice but to move free agent signing Hisanori Takahashi into the rotation and release Kazmir, but they’d clearly prefer to have Takahashi in the bullpen and cutting Kazmir would involve eating the $12 million he’s owed this season and $2.5 million buyout on his contract for 2012.

Or as manager Mike Scioscia put it:

Regardless of what options we have or don’t have, our goal is to get Kaz back pitching as effectively as he did at the end of 2009. That’s our focus now. We’ll see where this leads.

Losses, most likely.

  1. BC - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Man, I don’t have any idea what’s happened to this guy. It’s not like he’s 37 years old or anything, or missed 2 years with injury. Gotta be mechanical. He’s just fallen off the table. I don’t get it.

    • sdelmonte - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:31 AM

      There are times I think that when Jim Duquette traded him, he or someone in the organization was not wrong in seeing him as being of limited value. If there is a mechanical issue, it would be been there in his Mets days.

      Not that the trade for VZambarano was a good one, of course. But the idea of trading Kazmir might have been reasonable.

      • gammagammahey - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:35 AM

        As a Mets fan, I wouldn’t have minded watching those mechanical issues from 2005-2008.

      • BC - Mar 25, 2011 at 1:41 PM

        If Kazmir had kept up what he did his first handful of years, I’d still be cursing the VZambrano trade, but now, I don’t really care. At least one source of Mets Agita has been cured.

  2. crom1016 - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    Is it possible that Scott might have been on PED’s till 09? Im in Tampa and this guy was lights out. I dont mean to label him a juicer but how else to explain the rapid loss of velocity. No one seems to look at this posibility.

    • cur68 - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:46 PM

      crom1016; Craig’ll hold him down, you grab the orchidometer from the Bonds post and get a quick measurement. I’d help but I’m not getting anywhere near his wedding-tackle.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 25, 2011 at 1:01 PM

      He’s pitched in a good drug policy era in MLB.

      He was a power pitcher who got hurt a lot and lost some of his speed. Looks like his injuries left some chronic loss of skill.

      • zacksdad - Mar 25, 2011 at 1:59 PM

        Where is the HGH testing in your “good drug policy era”? Maybe the Canadian doc that got busted was his supplier. Wasn’t Gary Mathews Jr also clean in your good era, except for that small fact of getting HGH delivered to his house and he has never tested positive.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:05 PM

        I’m just sick of the HGH/steroids allegations being thrown out there without caution or severe proof.

        I don’t recall saying MLB became perfect in Kazmir’s time. If you guys want to waste your Friday afternoon spouting off in reply, go ahead.

      • zacksdad - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        If the baseball players do not like being in the umbrella of suspicion, then why do they not allow better testing. They claim that taking blood from them is invasive. I had a physical this morning and do not feel less of a person by losing a little blood.

        They also claim they are clean because they never tested positive. Yet whenever they test positive they claim the test was bad. So since there is no positive way of determining if a player is dirty, we can only look at situation. I do not believe Barry Bonds ever tested positive, so I guess his 73 homeruns were clean in your mind. Oh there was the testing that the players were told about and they still tested positive but we are not allowed to know the results.

        Thanks for letting me waste some of my time. :)

  3. The Dangerous Mabry - Mar 25, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    Zacksdad: There’s a fair chance you’d feel differently if at any random time, someone could walk into your office and demand your blood. As often as they wanted, whenever they wanted. That’s what “random blood tests” means.

    Saying you have nothing to hide is different than inviting constant disruptions and invasions in your life.

    • zacksdad - Mar 25, 2011 at 6:35 PM

      If I got paid what they did, they could take blood from me every day. But I believe in the Olympic athletes and the bike tour riders also do random blood tests. There are also many jobs that such as drivers and probably cops and other public jobs where they have to submit to random testing. Do not get upset at what we need to do to find the cheats, blame the cheats that cause the other athletes to have to go through this. But if I was an athlete, I would want this so I am playing against players that are on a equal field not amped up athletes.

      And actually I believe they are only allowed to do so many tests a year. Not as often as they want.

  4. baseballfan2468 - Jun 5, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    It’s not mechanical, it is mental. He used to eat pot brownies before pitching, especially when he was with the Rays – pretty much the whole team did. He stopped doing that and started pitching like crap. He has some sort of mental block now that he can’t pitch unless he is high. When it comes to drug tests, they have to test for specific drugs – they can’t just have a random test to test for any drug. The normally will not test for marijuana unless the player is caught with it or if they have suspision that he is using it

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