Kazmir Signing Shows You Can Never Have Enough Pitching, Plus Waiting for Swisher
By Mike Brandyberry
Friday evening Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Cleveland Indians had signed left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir to a minor league deal and an invitation to Spring Training. The Indians are taking a low risk chance on an injury-riddled pitcher who has had a strong Winter season in Puerto Rico.
Kazmir pitched in only one Major League game in 2011, surviving only 1.2 innings and allowing five runs, with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He did make five starts in the Pacific Coast League in 2011, losing all five. Kazmir pitched much of 2012 with the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League. He was an American League All-Star in 2006 and 2008 with the Tampa Bay Rays.
One reader tweeted DTTWLN and said, “if Scott Kazmir is the answer, I don’t want to know the question.”
I’d say the question is, “what happens when you have a struggling pitching staff and you need more pitching?”
Granted, Kazmir may not be the answer to the Tribe’s prayers, but as the Indians starting rotation is currently constructed, Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Zach McAllister are the only arms who have solid spots. Carlos Carrasco is trying to return from Tommy John surgery and Corey Kluber, David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez will all battle for the final spots. Carrasco, Huff and Gomez are all out of options and will have to clear waivers before being sent to the minor leagues.
Who on that list makes you want to say, “No, no, Mr. Kazmir, we’ve got all the pitching we need over here. You’ll have to try and find your All-Star career somewhere else?”
Meanwhile, the Indians signed Kazmir to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. No guaranteed money, just a guaranteed opportunity to prove his value against the Tribe’s other starting pitching contenders. It seems to be little risk, with potential reward for the Tribe. If Kazmir can’t find his big league form, the Indians have lost nothing.
A Wish for Swish
The Indians continue to sit and wait for free agent outfielder Nick Swisher and his decision, while the Tribe reportedly has a four year, $50 million contract offer on the table. Swisher was in Cleveland with his wife this week and wined and dined with Indians brass and Buckeye alum including, Jim Tressel and Dustin Fox. The Indians tried to show Swisher Cleveland’s small town feel, yet Hollywood touch and Buckeye ties to entice the couple.
Swisher left town without signing, reportedly to visit another city, but has not had contact with other teams. He previously indicated he had no interest in the Seattle Mariners or San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers are currently pursuing Michael Bourn and Cody Ross to replace Josh Hamilton.
That may leave Swisher with just Cleveland or the Boston Red Sox as possible landing spots. If the Red Sox finally complete their contract with Mike Napoli, the Sox may not have room in their lineup for Swisher, whether they want him or not.
Regardless of outcome, the Indians have done their diligence in trying to lure Swisher to Cleveland. A franchise that has earned the reputation of chasing free agents in the final hour has run to the front of the pack and pushed the hardest to land Swisher.
Maybe, just maybe, the Indians will land the player they seem to covet the most this winter.
Friday, Russ Canzler was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was designated for assignment when Mark Reynolds’ contract was finalized and he needed added to the 40-man roster. Canzler’s designation was a bit of a surprise after hitting .269 in 26 games in September with the Tribe. Cleveland chose to DFA Canzler instead of other potential possibilities in Cord Phelps or Thomas Neal.
With other roster moves possible this winter, it may only be a matter of time before Phelps or Neal receive their own removal from the 40-man roster.
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