Oakland A’s Sign Scott Kazmir
I was a little surprised to see that the A’s signed Scott Kazmir today for two years at $22 million because I still tend to think of Kazmir as a sore-arm pitcher who threw too many pitches at a too young an age. However, after looking at his 2013 numbers for the Indians, I see there is method to Billy Beane’s seeming madness.
Kazmir threw 158 innings while walking 47 and striking out 162 this past season. There’s nothing to dislike about a strikeout rate better than 9.0 per nine innings pitched, and his walks and K/BB rates are the best of his career, which is saying something given how well he pitched for Tampa Bay from 2005 through 2008. In short, there’s a good chance his arm is really close enough to where it was early in his career for him to be successful the next two season when he’ll be 30 and 31 years old respectively.
At any rate, I think the A’s made the right move signing Kazmir, rather than giving the same deal to Bartolo Colon. I just don’t see Colon having two more good seasons left in him. He’s either going to start pitching like his age (41 in 2014) or test positive for steroids again.
Other reports say that the A’s made the same offer they made Kazmir to Tim Hudson first, but lost out to the Giants who offered Hudson $1 million more and the opportunities to pitch in front of full stadiums and bat for himself. Hudson is a pretty good hitting pitcher with a career .170 batting average and a career .430 OPS.
However, I think Hudson’s chances of making the post-season in 2014 and 2015 are probably better with the A’s than the Giants, because the A’s are the younger team. On the other hand, the Giants have a lot more money to spend on talent, having sold out their stadium almost every game in 2013 following their 2012 World Series win.
Now that the Giants have signed Ryan Vogelsong for slightly less than the 2014 team option the Giants declined, their rotation is probably settled, and the Giants’ attention most likely turns to obtaining a right-handed hitting power bat, either for left-field or first base, assuming the Giants are willing to move Brandon Belt to left field to sign a lead-footed slugger to play at 1B.
There don’t appear to be many prime power-hitting right-handed outfielders with National League experience in this year’s free agent class. Shin-soo Choo has some pop, but he’s a left-handed hitter and likely wouldn’t hit for a lot of power at AT&T Park, although his ability to get on base would make up for it. More importantly, he’s likely to require a $100 million+ contract to sign.
A much cheaper option would be Michael Morse, who’s coming off a poor season mostly in Seattle, which is a tough place to hit. Morse’s production has plummeted the last two seasons since his big year at age 29 in 2011. However, there’s at least some possibility he’d hit better returning to the National League. Morse is coming off wrist surgery to remove bone spurs which affected his hitting since last May, but he is expected to be fully recovered from the surgery by Spring Training.