Shocked. That's the emotion I felt when I heard the first rumblings of the Scotty Kazmir trade. Why trade Kazmir? Why now? Why trade a starter when the wild card is still up for grabs?
The mechanics of the trade are simple. The Rays moved the franchise's all-time wins leaders for 2 prospects. The Anaheim Angels get Scott Kazmir. The Rays get left-handed pitcher Alex Torres, third-baseman Matt Sweeney, and the ever popular "Player to be Named Later." To boil it down: The Rays, in the middle of a playoff hunt, traded for prospects.
To say I'm upset about this turn of events is an understatement. The Rays were getting ready to face a do or die stretch of their season. They are still in a playoff hunt. They were 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox with 6 games remaining against them. And instead of facing the stretch head on, management trades one of the starting pitchers. Not only that, they trade a starting pitcher that's actually looked good his last couple of starts. Kazmir was someone who could actually help the team now.
As it stands now, it looks like the Rays' front office threw in the towel. I know that some are saying the Rays were looking toward the future. I know that some say the Rays are just selling high. But, I say they're giving up. Does anyone actually think the Rays couldn't get an AA pitcher and a single-A 3rd baseman in the offseason? Why the rush?
Of course, Andrew Friedman and company could have a master plan. They say they don't make moves in a vacuum. But, if that's the case, they handled today real poorly. The rumors started flying hours before the game and we didn't get official word until after the game with a short press release saying a bunch of things we already knew. Kazmir had to find out from reporters in the locker room before the game!
And even if I do accept the premise that this was "just business," what about the team? Think about the message this kind of move sends to the team. To me, the team looked shell-shocked. They didn't want to be there. If Scotty gets sent west, who's next? We're all one team. Right?
I hope this is more than just a salary dump. But, to be honest, something really stinks here. This is only the 2nd time the Rays have ever contended this late in the season and here we are doing the same thing we did before last year. To me, it's as if the curtain has been pulled back on the wizard.