Facing a crisis in pitching that threatens to continue their recent trend of division series flame-outs and could even jeopardize their lead in the American League West, the Los Angeles Angels on Friday afternoon were negotiating to acquire left-hander Scott Kazmir(notes) from the fading Tampa Bay Rays, according to baseball sources.
Desperate for help at the end of their rotation and getting uneven and/or injury-muddled seasons from John Lackey(notes), Ervin Santana(notes), Jered Weaver(notes) and Joe Saunders(notes), Angels GM Tony Reagins was considering sending two prospects to Tampa Bay for Kazmir, once the future of the Rays franchise and now a high-priced, expendable part.
Kazmir, 25, missed about five weeks in May and June because of a quadriceps strain that resulted from a change in his delivery, borne of a left-elbow strain from the season before. Due in part to that, Kazmir is having his worst professional season, with a 5.92 ERA and an 8-7 record in 20 starts.
Beyond this season, the Angels might need to rework their rotation, as Lackey can be a free agent. Kazmir will be under the Angels' control for three seasons, the first two for $20 million, the third at the Angels' option for $13.5 million.
In 2007, Kazmir led the AL in starts (34) and strikeouts (239), and was decent again in 2008. Beset by injuries and mechanical inconsistencies, however, he became the spare piece in one of the better young rotations in baseball. He has pitched slightly better recently, however, and it appears the Rays view strong outings against Texas and Toronto and Kazmir's increased fastball velocity as their chance to sell high.
If the deal goes through, which it hadn't as of the middle of the Rays' game in Detroit, they would receive two prospects. Alex Torres is a 21-year-old, left-handed pitcher from Venezuela who is 13-4 with a 2.75 ERA in Class-A and Double-A. Matthew Sweeney, 21, is a left-handed hitting third baseman/DH in A-ball.
Nick Adenhart(notes) died in early April, Lackey and Santana began the season on the disabled list, and the Angels have scrambled for quality innings ever since. In a 14-team league, the Angels rank 11th in starters' ERA and 12th in relievers' ERA. Youngsters Sean O'Sullivan(notes), Matt Palmer(notes), Shane Loux(notes) and Trevor Bell(notes), who was to start Friday night, have come and gone, leaving the Angels – who talked to the Toronto Blue Jays about Roy Halladay(notes) and Cleveland Indians about Cliff Lee(notes) at the trading deadline – little choice but to go outside the organization.
Two splits may have caught Reagins' eye:
Kazmir's best month is September, when his ERA is 3.47.
And his lifetime record against the Rangers is 5-1, with a 2.28 ERA.