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May We Now Turn the Page On the Kazmir Trade?

Mike SteffanosTuesday, May 16, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

By now, everyone has heard the news that Victor Zambrano's Mets career is likely finished, with the strong possibility that he may be done, period. Maybe it serves to close the door on a truly pathetic page in Mets history. A team that had no real chance to contend made 2 "today" moves at the expense of young talent in their farm system. Now that the Mets are finally a legitimate contender, neither one of those two pitchers will be helping them.

Maybe now the local sports media will eventually grow weary of giving us constant Scott Kazmir updates. I wish the kid well, but I have no masochistic desire to follow his career any more closely than I would any other AL pitcher. To me, the media has been enthusiastically complicit in somehow painting Victor Zambrano as a sort of villain in this story, understanding how betrayed a lot of the Mets faithful (including this writer) felt about this deal. At some point everyone needed to move on, as there was no way of calling back this lunacy, but the media continued to milk the story for every last bit of effect, as they continue to do today.

Don't get me wrong, I think about this trade and it makes me ill, much in the same way I look back on the Samuel trade and others from that time period. Eventually, however, you have to turn the page and let things go. I have no desire to watch Kazmir with envy from afar, nor do I wish to root against him in some pathetic effort to lessen the sting. The accommodation I made with myself is to stop thinking about the kid, period. I don't check box scores when he pitches, I don't read the countless things still written about him in New York tabloids. I've moved on, because it accomplishes absolutely nothing to linger over a 2-year-old mistake.

Victor Zambrano was a product of an instant gratification culture that permeated the Mets during the 90s and the early years of this decade. These years for me personally marked the low point of my Mets fanhood that reaches back to 1969. I watched fewer games, and paid less attention to them year round, then at any other point in those 3-1/2 decades. Even when they made the playoffs and World Series I rooted for them, but I didn't get overly excited in their future, because I felt no belief in what they were doing. Ironically, it was promoting Jim Duquette and all the talk about building from within that brought me back all the way in 2003 -- only to witness this most Steve Phillips-like of moves a year later.

I have to admit that I didn't trust Omar Minaya all that much when they hired him. From his time in Montreal, I worried that he was someone that traded all of his talent away. Yet he avoided doing something really stupid at the deadline last season, at the expense of being accused of not doing anything. All winter there were reports of dubious player moves, but none of them happened. What we have instead is an interesting balance of solid veterans and some very good young players. Wright is 23, Reyes will turn 23 in June, Bannister is 25, Sanchez is 26, Nady, Heilman and Julio are 27, and even Beltran is only 29. The injured Anderson Hernandez is 23. John Maine, who we're likely to see again, is 25. Mike Pelfrey is 22 while top position prospect Lastings Milledge is 21.

The point here is that the Mets seem to have finally settled into a regime that concerns itself with the future as well as the present. I feel fairly secure that the person who emailed Marty Noble about trading Milledge for Livan Hernandez does not represent the thinking of the Mets -- and back a few years I couldn't guarantee that. Things aren't looking that great for the Mets right now, with Lima getting another start and the Phillies winning every night, but no one in the Mets' hierarchy is panicking, and that's a very good thing when you consider past mistakes.

NY Post: Pelfrey in June?
Joel Sherman finds a "growing sense" that the Mets top pitching prospect will be promoted to the majors in June. Sherman cites factors that he believes will influence the decision:

There are many collaborative parts influencing that progression: Victor Zambrano's season-ending injury, hesitance to extract Aaron Heilman's durable/effective arm from a pen being worn down by too few rotation innings, the lack of faith in the old/young quartet of Jeremi Gonzalez, Jose Lima, Brian Bannister and John Maine, and the rampaging, second-place Phillies' early decision to elevate their top pitching prospect, Cole Hamels, to the rotation.

A couple of days ago, Omar Minaya said that the only thing that will influence what happens with Mike Pelfrey would be how he performs. The Mets want to be confident that Pelfrey can sustain a level of performance at the major league level. Nobody wants to see this kid rushed up to the majors, only to pitch like a 22-year-old Lima and have to go back down. As a Mets fan, I'd love to see him help us this year, but I'm not going to be clamoring for his promotion until the team's development people feel he's ready. I've been impressed by what they've accomplished with the farm system, and I'm inclined to trust their judgement.

More Mets Stories:
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Pro Sports Daily Mets

Comments (11)

No. The Kaz trade has exploded into a cloud as large as the Nolan ryan trade. At least Fregosi was solid ML player/all star and Ryan a Ml debutant.

This Explodes into nuclear if VZ never pitches again;
1. Because it was a pointless trade (the benson trade was bad enough), the Mets were done
2. They had already stated 'WE WILL REBUILD ",
3. Schuerholtz was already LIVID, because they wanted Benson and felt the Mets were just being spitefull.

I like VZ. I have lobbied, supported, blogged, defended...and now I lament. MOSTLY because the VZ who near no-hit Houston and was terrific in his early showing COULD have been a stud behind pedro. And now we know why the 75th pitch was such a steep cliff for him. but fact is he pitched in pain for 2 yrs. truly commendable.

WHY NOT?....READ MARK PRIOR'S MEDICAL RECORD. HE must build up arm strength.

Right now Evan McLane is a better option. Speaking of soft tossing left handers....good luck Tom

So what does any of that to do with turning the page on something that you can't change? If you were in beer nut range right now you'd be getting the whole handful.

We may look back on the Kazmir deal as the best thing that ever happened to this team, because it shined a light on the dysfunctional operation of the club and made them finally change. Probably nothing less than a complete public relations disaster such as this douchebag deal would accomplish that.

As for taking Benson away from Schuerholtz -- BOO HOO -- that's what GMs do. If Scuerholtz could stop the Mets from picking up a starter he would. What was stupid was trading away Huber when you could have had Benson at the end of the year, or someone equivalent.

Guys get hurt in the minors, too, but I wouldn't rush Pelfrey either.

You hang onto the Kazmir trade if you must, to me there just isn't any point to it any more. I need to get more beer nuts ready.

.......because here i come.

You are right !!! 2 yrs later the track record of J. Duquette is far worse than his cousin Dan.
1. He low balled Vlad.......
2. he ignored Bartolo Colon (FA)
3. He missed on Luis Castillo, then instead of a 2nd baseman he got a SS
(1-3 were all-stars and or MVPs EVERY season since)
4. Alomar for Royce Ring. Other choices brandon Mccarthy, Garland, jenks.........
5. Burnitz hitting .286/18HR for Vic diaz.
(in the case of 4&5 he did not even get the teams top 10 prospect)
6. Huber and Kazmir.

Actually on Kazmir; I was one that thought the trade was not so bad. at the time Kaz was considered a B. Wagner reliver type with bad motion.

How about Zach Day...he has given 1 run in 2 starts as a Nat.

I think a lot of the problem was that the team was being run by committee, and JD wasn't strong enough to take charge.

I'd be real surprised if the Mets could pry a starter from the Nats right now unless they really overpaid.

June-july. Teams such as the Nats/Fla/Cubs may concede early and start dumping salary.

I think if you watch the Mets;
The pitter patter with Lima and now Gonzalez,
In activity with Heilman and
the veiled statements..(Pelfrey and the no panic)

I see June 1 as the day. I think there IS a deal in place for Heilman (ie do not start him and decrease his value).

On the Nats: the concensus is the new owners will CLEAN house: Vidro will go, Soriano, Schneider, Livian.

Vidro was proposed for Kaz (mlb rumors). Vidro has 2yrs remaining. He fits the Mets toooo well, and Kaz could go the other way and play 2nd/SS. Note the salary dump by the Nats.Then the question is what other pieces? Day with Vidro for Kaz and Heilman?

Soriano and Livian makes sense for the Yanks too.

I'm reaching for the whole dish of beer nuts. I wouldn't even consider making that trade.

What I thought at the time of the Kazmir trade is what I still think: who, exactly, ordered up this catastrophe of a trade? I immediately assumed that it was NOT Jim Duquette -- it was, I figured, just too stupid a trade for a baseball lifer to initiate; every serious baseball observer was all over the move from the outset -- and I blasted Duquette for not standing up to his bosses. I figured that he should have refused to make the deal, even to the point of resigning, because he would be the one to take the fallout regardless of whose idea it was.

And that's how it has played out, of course. But in the light of all this time passed and no claims of "only following orders" from Duquette, I wonder again: who ordered up this crap pie in the first place?

Good point. I hope the Kazmir talk is over. With Zambrano all but done, there should be no more 'what could have been.' I hope the kid does great in his carer so it serves as a lesson and reminder of what not to do. His success will not be mud on the faces of the Mets since Duquette is already gone. Instead it will be a testimony for the talent that the Mets system has churned out in the past 3 years. Can't say that about our other local baseball team. I only bring them into the mix since Fat Mike Francesa sees it fit remind us about Kazmir.

DD, Adam Rubin answers this question to some extent in his blog:


To me, the main thing is to avoid such silliness in the future.

Chris, I'm not even sure that there is a lesson here anymore, since the organizational structure that made this fiasco possible is long gone. Maybe if Pelfrey pans out as a really good starter that will help people to let go.

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