Scott Kazmir isn’t getting a lot of attention from teams as he attempts to make a comeback, and understandably so.
He hasn’t pitched in the majors since April 3 of last season, when he lasted just 1 2/3 innings and gave up five runs for the Angels. Before that, he had fallen off badly after the Tampa Bay Rays traded him to Los Angeles in 2009.
He’s getting a little bit of attention now, however, from his original team, reports the New York Daily News.
The Mets planned to send a scout to a scheduled showcase in Houston for the team’s former top draft pick, Scott Kazmir, a club insider said Wednesday.
The story contains no quotes from the Mets’ “club insider,” but this is probably little more than a courtesy call. Kazmir hasn’t been good in a long time. Then again, the Mets don’t have a whole lot to lose just by looking.
The Mets drafted Kazmir in the first round in 2002, then sent the promising young left-hander to Tampa Bay in what became a notorious trade (from a Mets perspective) for mediocre veteran Victor Zambrano in 2004. It would be a heck of a story for Kazmir to make a triumphant return to New York, but it’s probably more likely that
a point guard from Harvard will come out of nowhere to light up the NBA pigs will learn to fly.
A minor-league deal with a spring training invite is about the best Kazmir can hope for at this point.
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Chin-lung Hu never really got another shot in Los Angeles after struggling as a rookie in 2008, and today the Dodgers traded the 27-year-old shortstop to the Mets for left-hander Michael Antonini.
Once upon a time Hu was considered a top prospect, but his bat never developed enough to match his strong glove and now his potential tops out at utility man.
He’s hit .303 in 274 games at Triple-A, but it’s an incredibly empty batting average with just 19 homers and 46 walks in 1,135 plate appearances and his .754 OPS is anything but impressive at hitter-friendly Las Vegas.
Antonini was an 18th-round pick in 2007 and spent this year between Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 4.49 ERA and 131/31 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. Antonini doesn’t project as a big leaguer, but unlike Hu he won’t require a spot on the 40-man roster.
When the Mets signed D.J. Carrasco to a two-year, $2.5 million deal earlier this month the assumption was that they’d use him as a middle reliever, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that he’ll likely be given a chance to claim a rotation spot in spring training.
Carrasco has experience as a starter in both the majors and minors, but he really found significant success in the big leagues only after shifting to the bullpen full time in 2008. For his career Carrasco is 5-8 with a 5.01 ERA in 23 starts compared to 18-10 with a 4.03 ERA in 221 relief appearances.
His role will ultimately depend on whether the Mets are able to sign a low-cost veteran starter or two from what’s left on the free agent market and Carrasco’s versatility gives them an additional option, but keeping the 34-year-old right-hander in a bullpen role would probably be the right decision.
Prior the Red Sox signing Carl Crawford last week Peter Gammons reported that they “continue to talk to the Mets” about a potential trade for Carlos Beltran (which is obviously no longer an option).
For his part Beltran told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo that he was unaware of the rumors until a family member in Puerto Rico informed him, because he’s not “into the computer searching.”
Beltran, who technically is a 34-year-old outfielder even if he sounds like an 84-year-old grandparent, added that he doesn’t expect a trade to take place because no one from the Mets has broached the subject with him since Sandy Alderson took over as general manager.
He’s owed $18.5 million in the final season of a seven-year, $119 million contract and the Mets would no doubt have to eat a significant portion of that remaining salary to move him.
As for Beltran’s surgically repaired knee, DiComo writes that he’s yet to begin running at full speed yet, but “has been able to focus on the lower-body exercises he was forced to ignore last winter.”
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks “are closing in on a deal to sign” Henry Blanco, with the veteran catcher expected to receive a one-year contract.
It makes sense for the Diamondbacks to find a right-handed-hitting backup for the left-handed-hitting Miguel Montero, who’s entrenched as the starter behind the plate.
Blanco brings very little to the table offensively, but even at age 39 he’s capable of shutting down the opponents’ running game, throwing out 45 percent of steal attempts during the past three seasons.
Arizona would be Blanco’s eighth team in 14 seasons. He played this year with the Mets, hitting .215/.271/.300 in 144 plate appearances.