Scott Kazmir Traded to Angels for Alex Torres and Matt Sweeney

Pitcher Scott Kazmir has been traded to the Angels. The Rays are receiving minor league pitcher Alex Torres and minor league power hitter Matt Sweeney. The deal will be announced after the Rays game in Detroit tonight. UPDATE: As we reported, the deal was announced on the Rays postgame show. Tampa Bay also get a player to be named later.

Kazmir is 8 and 7 with an underwhelming 5.92 ERA over 111 innings this year.   He has a 5.10 ERA in August, though he has K'd 29 in his last 30 innings and made it through the 6th inning in 8 of his last 10 starts. He completed the seventh only twice in that time.  High pitch counts and flyballs are his weak points.  Interestingly, the Halos very nearly drafted Kazmir out of high school in the first round of the 2002 draft, but ultimately selected college star Joe Saunders instead because he was closer to the majors.  The two would now be rotation mates.

Matt Sweeney is one of the few legitimate Halos' power prospects, putting up a .299/.379/.517 line with 9 homeruns in 211 High A at-bats this season. He missed most of the past two months with a chipped hip bone, and lost all of last season to ligament damage and bone chips in his ankle.  The twenty-one-year-old's ceiling at the plate remains quite high - think Aubrey Huff in a good year - and he was reportedly making strides with his third base defense before the June injury, though he may eventually have to move to first.

Twenty-one year old Alex Torres has been a revelation since joining the Quakes last year. In a pair of half seasons at High A, Torres went 13 and 5 with a 3.12 ERA and 186 strikeouts over 173.1 innings.  Since his promotion to AA in late July, he's gone 3 and 1 with a 2.77 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 26 innings. He's made it through the sixth inning twice in five tries with the Travelers.  Like Kazmir, he racks up K's but struggles to go deep in games due to high pitch counts.  Unlike Kazmir, he records most of his other outs on the ground, instead of in the air.

My gut reaction: Kazmir will probably perform closer to his career numbers in the months ahead, but he's hit 200 innings only once in five full seasons and has never shown the kind of durability and efficiency necessary to hold down a place at the front of a rotation.  Moreover, he's a significant risk for the kind of catastrophic injury that makes his contract an albatross over the next two years.  It's true that if Torres reaches his ceiling, he wouldn't be much better than Kazmir is now, but Sweeney has a shot at becoming a major league regular with 30 HR power, high average, and good OBP. 

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