I think we all knew this day was coming, but perhaps not quite so soon. After looking decidedly unimpressive in a "B" game on Monday, the "please reserve judgment" sign has now been turned off on Scott Kazmir's spring struggles. Some of us are still on the fence as to what to make of his pre-season performance though. Who better than to debate Kazmir's future than our old friends, Good and Evil.
Dare we still harbor hope for Kazmir, or should we just abandon ship now?
GOOD: Are we really overreacting to a spring training performance? Have we not learned this lesson over and over again through the years. Scott Kazmir is a talented pitcher, but he is working on a lot of different things right now. As such, it is unfair to think that he isn't going to hit some bumps in the road as he tries to rebound from his tough 2010 campaign. Instead of harrassing the poor guy, we should all be showering him with support and encouragement.
BAD: Oh, please. Not this drivel again. I don't care about Kazmir's feelings. Boohoo! Why should we support him after what he did in 2010? He is the one who sucked. He is the one who pitched like q pussy(cat). He is the one who faked an injury so he could be placed on the DL instead of getting lit up like a Christmas tree every five days. Boohoo! If he wants our support, he needs to earn it and turning in a mediocre performance against a bunch of low-level minor leaguers isn't really a good start.
GOOD: Now that is no way to be a good fan, now is it? We need to support Scott because he is an Angel, no matter how poorly he performs. We should all want him to succeed because if he does well, then it only improves the odds of our beloved Halos doing better. Remember the Golden Rule: do unto others as they would do unto you. So let us all wish Kazmir the best.
BAD: His best? That's awfully subjective, no? His "best" was a few years back in Tampa when he still had a mid-nineties fastball and confidence in a once-devastating slider. I hate to break it to you, but he waved bye-bye to those abilities before he even arrived in Anaheim. His "best" probably isn't that good anymore. Hell, we might be seeing his "best" right now.
GOOD: Have some faith, my friend. You act as if Kazmir is dead and buried. The man still has a lot going for him. He is just 27 years old and has shown a renewed commitment to his craft, working diligently with the coaching staff all off-season long and dedicating himself to improving his conditioning. Many a pitcher has successfully made the adjustment from being a power pitcher in their youth to becoming an effective starter who relies more on craft and guile than pure velocity. Why can't Kazmir join them? He's shown that he has the spirit and somewhere in there he still has the talent. All he needs from us is some patience and our belief in him.
BAD: Now that's just dumb. The guys who lose their velocity AND stuff are WAY, WAY, WAY, WAY, WAY, WAY more likely to flame out then to re-teach themselves how to pitch. Kazmir isn't the second-coming of Jamie Moyer, he's more like Oliver Perez v2.0. And guess what? Oliver Perez is getting set up to be dumped by the Mets. The Angels should be readying themselves to do the same. The Mets are smart enough to know that a guy's salary shouldn't dictate whether or not he gets a chance to hurt the team's chances of winning. Kazmir is a sunk cost and the Halos should cut bait with him now before he does irreparable damage to their playoff hopes by gagging away every fith game all in the name of attempting to salvage a little bit of a bad investment. Seriously, the Mets even realize this basic economic principle and they are owned by a bunch of asshats that had their vast fortunes stolen out from under them by Bernie Madoff.
GOOD: I pity you for having such a defeatist attitude. Do you not believe everyone deserves a second chance? Kazmir may not be the dominant pitcher of his youth, but writing a guy off entirely because of one bad season is no way to run a team. What kind of message does it send to the rest of the roster if the organization just gives up on a guy before he even gets a real shot at redeeming himself?
BAD: it sends the message that the franchise puts a premium on winning! If you can't help the team win, you have no business being an Angel even if it means eating an eight-digit salary. Now that's the kind of team I would want to play for, not a team that would knowingly shoot itself in the foot because they don't want a trade they made a year and a half ago to look bad.
GOOD: Clearly I'm not going to sway you into believing that Kazmir can regain his previous form, but answer this for me: who would replace him? Hisanori Takahashi may be first in line, but he showed last season that he is not cutout for starting in the big leagues when he turned in a 5.01 ERA as a starter in the pitcher-friendly National League. Besides, he is more valuable to the Angels as a reliever. They could opt for Trevor Bell, who I think has a solid future, but he has 80+ major league innings under his belt and has yet to show that he is ready for the big leagues. Their last resort is Matt Palmer, but that seems like a true desperation move. With such underwhelming alterantives at their disposal, it seems to me that the Angels would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn't at least let Kazmir take one last try at salvaging his Angel career.
BAD: Well, that's a great idea. I can't wait to tell you how wrong you are at the end of May when Kazmir gets DFA'd after starting the season 1-7 with a 6.49 ERA.
GOOD: Believe what you want. I'm perfectly content to watch Scott continue refining his new approach and building his confidence. I have a good feeling that by the end of the season this whole episode is going to be a distant memory.