Angels Acquire Scott Kazmir

Reports have it that the Angels and Rays are on the verge of finalizing a deal that would send pitcher Scott Kazmir to the Angels in exchange for two 21 year old prospects, pitcher Alexander Torres and 3Bman Matthew Sweeney.  Reports also claim that no money will be changing hands, meaning that the Angels will be absorbing the more than $20 million still owed to Kazmir on his current contract running through the 2011 season.

If the terms listed above are correct, I like this deal a lot more for the Rays than the Angels.  The Rays dump a lot of salary and get two prospects with a lot of up-side for Kazmir, obviously a very talented young pitcher, but who has some major risks associated with him going forward.

There’s no doubt that Kazmir was a terrific pitcher from 2005 through 2008, but he has been brutal this year, posting a 5.92 ERA in 111 IP.  He has 91 Ks this year, which is a good sign, but he’s missed a good deal of time the last two seasons with injuries.

Looking at his numbers the last two years, I have to wonder whether the great year he had in 2007 at age 23, when he pitched 206.2 innings and threw a whole lot of pitches (89 walks and 239 K’s) took too much out of his arm at too tender an age.

At the very least there’s definitely some real risk to the Angels on Kazmir’s remaining contract obligations.

Assuming that the Angels really are taking on all of Kazmir’s remaining contract, they gave the Rays too much in the way of prospects.  Both Torres and Sweeney have their own risks, but they definitely have real talent.

Torres has spent most of 2009 pitching in the very hitter-friendly A+ California League, and he pitched extremely well there.  He posted a 2.74 ERA with 124 K’s and 63 walks in 121.1 IP.  He’s since been promoted to AA, where he’s got a 4.20 ERA after three starts.

Torres’ control needs a lot of improvement, but he’s far along in his professional career for age 21, and he appears to have the stuff you look for in a legitimate prospect.

The main concern with Sweeney is that he had a major ankle injury requiring surgery, which cost him all of the 2008 season and the first half of 2009.  Since coming back this year, however, he’s hitting .299 with an .896 OPS in 58 games in the California League.  That’s awfully good for his age and all the time he missed to the ankle injury.

The question with him is obviously his ankle.  If it’s now right, he’s a legitimate prospect.  If it’s not, he could be the next Dallas McPherson, a great talent whose career has been completely derailed by injuries.

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