Scott Kazmir is the best left-handed pitching prospect in the majors and is doing things at age 23 that no pitcher has done since (god this hurts) World War I. Just to clarify that's the first one, which ended in 1918. We'll get to that in a second. Scott Kazmir was also the best left-handed pitching prospect in the Mets farm system until their team was highjacked by a renegade GM named Jim Duquette who was in power for three months and caused years of anxiety. Imagine Mets fans it's 2007, the Mets lineup is anchored by homegrown talents Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Lastings Milledge, with Beltran, and Delgado driving in runs. The rotation with Kazmir and 2005 first-round pick Mike Pelfrey as your third and fourth starters, with Aaron Heilman locking up wins from the bullpen.
Hmm.. A young homegrown nucleus combined with quality vererans that take pitches and expect to win. That sounds a lot like the formula for a certain New York baseball team that won four championships in the late 90's. However these are the Mets and they can't just leave well enough alone. So as torture to Mets fans everywhere, myself included, here are some tidbits of information on just how good Kazmir really is.
-Scott Kazmir topped Dontrelle Willis to complete the Devil Rays' sweep of the Marlins. You could make a strong case that Kazmir, not Willis, is now the "best young left-hander" not just in Florida, but in the majors. At the time of last year's All-Star break, Willis was 13-4 with a 2.39 ERA while Kazmir was 3-7 with a 4.59 ERA. But since then, Willis is 10-11 with a 3.72 ERA and Kazmir is 14-4 with a 2.61 ERA.
Kazmir is tied for the major league lead in wins. Over the eight previous years of Tampa Bay's brief history (1998-2005) no Devil Rays pitcher finished a season ranked among the top 30 winners in the majors.
"I think he's the best pitcher in the AL East right now," Devil Rays
rightfielder Jonny Gomes said. "And maybe the best pitcher in the game."
-John Romano, The St. Petersburg Times
-"...There he was again Tuesday, him and that God-given left arm, tying for the major-league lead with his sixth win, his fourth straight, outlasting the World Series champion White Sox at Tropicana Field...Kazmir has allowed one earned run or less his last four starts...Since Opening Day, all eight of Kazmir's starts have come after Rays' losses. The Rays have won seven of those starts, and Kazmir has got the win in six. That's what aces do.
In his first major-league start, in 2004, then 20-year-old Kazmir won at Seattle, starting off with a 97-mph fastball to batting champ Ichiro Suzuki. Four starts later, he outdueled Pedro Martinez at Fenway Park. And it's probably not coincidence that Kazmir already has won three times in the cauldron of Fenway, becoming the first lefty to beat the Sox three times in the Fens before he was 23 since before World War I"
-Martin Fennelly, The Tampa Tribune
-People who aren't Mets fans get a fascinated kick out of watching the way Mets fans torture themselves every fifth day, whenever a kid left-hander named Scott Kazmir takes the ball for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and, more often than not this season, looks like a mixture of Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Sid Fernandez and Bob Ojeda. The first reaction of the non-believers is a natural one: Move on. Bad deals happen. They happen to every team. There was Brock-for-Broglio.
There was Ryne Sandberg-for-Ivan DeJesus. There was Jeff Bagwell-for-Larry Andersen. The Mets weren't involved in any of them. Get over yourself.
But there is no getting over anything for Mets fans, because through their history, when the Mets make a trade, they generally get over on no one.
Given that prism, perhaps you can understand why Mets
fans look at Kazmir and see Sandy Koufax, why they remember Kris Benson
as if he were Walter Johnson, why they are absolutely certain Lastings
Milledge will eventually become Willie Mays and Mike Pelfrey will be a
latter-day Bob Feller ... for another team. After all: what fun is it
being a Mets fan without all that attendant agony?
-Mike Vaccaro, The New York Post