Angels cut ties with Scott Kazmir
Reporting from Seattle — The Scott Kazmir error came to an end Wednesday when the Angels released the struggling left-hander and ate the remainder of his $14.5-million contract for this season, closing the book on one of the worst trades in franchise history.
“I don’t have any regrets,” General Manager Tony Reagins said of the deal that sent infielder Sean Rodriguez and top pitching prospect Alex Torres to Tampa Bay for Kazmir on Aug. 28, 2009.
“At the time of the deal, we were in position to go to the postseason, and Kaz pitched pretty well for us down the stretch. Obviously, things went in a different direction after that. But you make decisions in this business and live with the consequences.”
The consequences for the Angels were that they paid Kazmir a total of $22.5 million in 2010 and 2011 and got very little return on their investment.
Considered one of the game’s best young left-handers in 2007, when he was 13-9 with a 3.48 earned-run average and an American League-leading 239 strikeouts, Kazmir was 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA last season.
The 27-year-old made one start for the Angels this season, giving up five runs and five hits, walking two and hitting two in 12/3 innings at Kansas City on April 3.
The Angels put Kazmir on the disabled list because of lower-back tightness and sent him to extended spring training in Arizona for a month in hopes he would find a consistent delivery.
But once he began a minor league rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Salt Lake, Kazmir deteriorated rapidly, going 0-5 with a 17.02 ERA in five starts, giving up 22 hits in 151/3 innings. He walked 20, struck out 14 and hit six.
Not only did Kazmir lose considerable velocity on his fastball, which used to hit 94 mph, he lost command of all of his pitches. In one start, he threw three pitches behind the backs of right-handed hitters.
“I’m stunned, because I remember how good he was,” Angels pitcher Dan Haren said. “I think some of it was mental, because physically, he’s in great shape. The obvious thing is the drop in velocity, but with age, most pitchers lose velocity.
“It’s a matter of learning how to pitch with less. Whether it was him not accepting he doesn’t throw hard any more or still trying to figure out how to pitch at 88 mph, it never came together for him.”
Reagins and former Angels GM Bill Stoneman were in Salt Lake for Kazmir’s last start Tuesday, when he was tagged for six runs and five hits in 12/3 innings.
“It seemed like he was searching for solutions,” Reagins said. “I don’t know if it was confidence. I don’t know if it was mental. He just didn’t have the type of success — pitch execution or command — that he needed.”
Jered Weaver threw a career-high 128 pitches in his five-hit shutout of Seattle on Tuesday and now leads the major leagues with 1,735 pitches, but Manager Mike Scioscia is not concerned about the right-hander being overworked.
“If he was not bouncing back between starts, if he wasn’t throwing his bullpens, if he was out of his mechanics, that would be a sign you’re over-extending him,” Scioscia said. “That hasn’t been the case.”
Weaver, who is 8-4 with a 2.06 ERA, has been just as effective beyond the 100-pitch mark as he is before it. Opponents have hit .189 against him through 100 pitches and .180 against him beyond 100 pitches.
“If you’re seeing a steady decline in stuff and velocity, if he wasn’t sharp, then obviously it would be taking a toll,” Scioscia said when asked about the possible long-term effects of Weaver’s workload. “We’re not seeing that.”
Scioscia will flip-flop Haren and Tyler Chatwood in the rotation against the New York Mets this weekend, moving Haren to Saturday and Chatwood to Sunday so Chatwood can “work on some things” with pitching coach Mike Butcher. … The Angels have signed 30 of the 49 players they selected in the draft, including outfielder Andrew Ray (fifth round), catcher Abel Baker (seventh) and USC pitcher Logan Odom (eighth).
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