Scott Kazmir was released by the Los Angeles Angels yesterday after going 0-5 and allowing 30 runs (and hitting six batters) in 15 1/3 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake City, and Mets general manager Sandy Alderson refuses to rule out a return to New York for the 27-year-old pitcher.
Kazmir was a first-round draft choice for the Mets in 2002 and was immediately the top pitching prospect for the team--and a fan favorite among Mets followers who paid attention to minor-league stars in development. In 2004, the Mets organization traded him and fellow minor-league pitcher Joselo Diaz to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for pitchers Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato. Kazmir's subsequent successes--he led the American League in strikeouts in 2007 and started Game 1 of the 2008 World Series for Tampa Bay--contrasted strongly with that of Zambrano's, who went 7-12 for the Mets in 2005 and earned a 6.75 ERA in five games in 2006 before Tommy John surgery essentially ended his career. Mets fans never forgave the front office for the trade, and speculation still swirls that the lopsided trade cost Mets GM Jim Duquette his job.
Now Kazmir is free to sign anywhere, the Angels content to eat his $14.5 million salary to get him out of their system. Alderson was asked on a radio show on WFAN if Kazmir was being considered, and the current Mets GM said, We look at everybody who hits the wire, and the same would apply to him.
Not a strong stated interest, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News points out that Alderson is typically willing to shoot down speculation about players in whom he is not interested.
The Mets lack depth in pitching, and although the rotation is eating innings and keeping the team in ball games these days, Dillon Gee could find that scouting reports may start to rob him of his surprises for batters, and Dickey could lose control of his knuckleball again. Having Kazmir work out his issues in the Mets farm system might not be a bad idea, if he comes cheap.