Angels stick with Scott Kazmir despite MLB-worst 6.92 ERA

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Scott Kazmir has the highest ERA in baseball among pitchers with at least 50 innings this season, allowing 71 earned runs in 92 frames for a ghastly 6.92 mark. In his final start of the first half Saturday he allowed a franchise-record 13 runs in five innings against an Oakland lineup that ranks among the AL’s worst, making him 0-4 with a 13.72 ERA in his last four outings.
And despite all of that, the Angels are sticking with him in the rotation to begin the second half. Kazmir will start Tuesday against the Yankees in New York, which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
Kazmir’s struggles date back to last year, when he had a 5.92 ERA in 20 starts for the Rays and showed decreased velocity, averaging a career-low 90.5 miles per hour with his fastball. He pitched well in six starts down the stretch before struggling in the playoffs, but the Angels’ decision to trade infielder Sean Rodriguez and pitching prospect Alex Torres for Kazmir was highly questionable at the time and looks downright terrible now.
Kazmir is making $8 million this season and is still owed $12 million next season plus $13.5 million or a $2.5 million buyout in 2012. Rodriguez has a decent .726 OPS as the Rays’ part-time second baseman and Torres is thriving at Double-A as a 22-year-old. In other words, unless pitching coach Mike Butcher can work some kind of miracle with Kazmir the trade is only going to look worse and worse for the Angels.

Report: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.