Why Did Jim Duquette Trade Scott Kazmir?

You are free to post your theory on why Jim Duquette traded former Mets first-round pick Scott Kazmir (and Joselo Diaz) to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano (and Bartolome Fortunato) on July 30, 2004. But even better than theorizing, you can ASK HIM YOURSELF!

Duquette, along with former Yankee reliever Jeff Nelson, will be at Foley’s in Manhattan (18 W 33rd St, across the street from the Empire State Building) on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, at 7 PM for a night to raise funds for baseball programs in Ireland. Money raised will go to travel and shipping expenses for baseball clinics in Ireland.

A group of baseball scouts and players – known as the Baseball Miracles group – will be traveling to Ireland in to hold clinics in Limerick and Dublin on January 18 and 19. As part of the clinics, over 1,000 lbs of donated baseball equipment will be shipped to kids in Ireland.

I plan to be there too, so in addition to asking Jim Duquette about the Kazmir deal, you can ask me why I’m so damn grumpy. Looking forward to seeing you.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. friend January 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm
    The Mets had a pitcher named Kazmir,
    Whose future seemed to be unclear.
    It’s confusing, I know,
    But the way these things go,
    Duquette pronounced he was out of here.
  2. Jamie Herstein January 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm
    Duquette traded him for a few reasons.
    1. He (Duquette) wasn’t very smart
    2. They were about 3 games out of a playoff spot and thought somehow that Victor Zambrano would get them over the hump. Bad thought.
    3. Rick Peterson thought that Kazmir had too small a frame and poor mechanics which would lead to an arm injury down the road (he was correct – eventually)
    4. My favorite reason – Rick Peterson – thought he could “fix” Zambrano’s mechanics, which were leading him to be wild, in “5 minutes”. Wrong again.

    It is one of the worst trades in Mets’ history in my opinion. Not because Kazmir became the next Nolan Ryan (he clearly didn’t but had his moments). But he did excel in 2006-2008 which were the prime Mets years. Kazmir could have put them over the top potentially. Or, someone better than Zambrano could have put them over the top, and EVERYONE knew that Duquette got fleeced in that trade. At best he wasted a valuable trade chip. At worse, he lost Kazmir for his prime years.

    • Joe Janish January 6, 2014 at 8:10 pm
      It was actually 10 minutes, but who’s counting?

      I agree that Kazmir could have been the “missing piece” in ’07 and ’08; though I wonder if the Mets still would have made the trade for Santana if Kazmir was pitching like an ace? Maybe they wouldn’t have needed to. Hmmm ….

      From what I’ve heard, it wasn’t as much Duquette’s decision as it was Jeffy’s — who was being advised by two “geniuses” named John Franco and Al Leiter (in addition to Peterson).

      • TexasGusCC January 7, 2014 at 2:55 am
        Joe, that is exactly how I have heard it also. Furthermore, I think in an interview Duquette said that Jeff “insisted” on the trade after conferring with Petersen.
        Franco and Leiter were not happy with Kazmir’s cockiness, and were sure to tell their buddy Fred at spring training.
        • Brian Reilly January 8, 2014 at 10:24 am
          When jettisoning a young player with significant upside, it’s always nice to hear that a group of relatively meaningless players (see trades of Jeff Kent and Gregg Jefferies) or in this case, a couple of jealous, retired players, provide management with their meaningless and baseless opinions. Better yet, when completely clueless GM’s or in this case, the feckless son of the owner, allows these baseless opinions to influence such a critical decision. We might have two more world series victories if we had kept Kemp and Kazmir, not to mention the $100 + million we would have saved by foregoing the ill advised decision to sign Johan Santana. While I am a big fan of Johan’s competitive zeal, by the time we signed him, his velocity had declined from 96 to 91, a precursor for the eventual shoulder ailments that would plague the latter part of his Met career. Can we just put Jeff Wilpon on a one way ticket to Japan. Tell him we need a key individual to scout the Japanese league.
      • Dan B January 7, 2014 at 10:44 am
        I guess Jeffy skipped the class on player evaluation while attending Palm Beach Community College. What is really crazy is that Tampa Bay got the Mets to throw in a second (though much lesser) prospect in Dias!
  3. NormE January 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm
    Jamie, it was a bad trade. Forget the Kazmir end. I just couldn’t watch Zambrano pitch. It was like watching death in slow motion.
    However, when talking of bad Mets trades you have to consider such deals as the Seaver trade, the Ryan trade, the Amos Otis trade, Staub to Detroit trade and the Dykstra-Samuel trade. I’m sure there were other really bad trades but those come to mind.
    To be fair the trades that netted Keith, Gary Carter and Mike Piazza helped greatly.
    • Jamie Herstein January 9, 2014 at 2:05 pm
      NormE – my opinion on the other bad trades – some of which were a tad before my time (I’m 44).
      Ryan – hate it of course – we could have gotten ALL of his prime years that he had with the Angels. What makes the pill easier to swallow is I don’t think he ever would have wanted to stay in NY – clearly liked Texas being from there. So he would never have been a lifelong Met. Same thing with Kent – never would have lasted in NY.

      Dykstra – that was just a trade to make a trade. I always hated that one. And the idea of lets just make a 2nd baseman Samuel into our center fielder was maybe a top 10 idiotic idea in Mets history

      Here’s another great one. Kevin Mitchell for Kevin McReynolds and Mitchell goes on to win MVP 3 years later. Think he was on the juice?

  4. AV January 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm
    I’m picturing at least one George Costanza “How could you trade Jay Buhner?!” type of moments that evening.
  5. argonbunnies January 6, 2014 at 10:14 pm
    Trading a young flamethrowing injury risk when you’re entering Win Now mode makes total sense to me. You just need to shop him like crazy and land a return that befits his ace potential, rather than what the Mets did — simply giving him away at the last minute. Any flaw in the decision to trade Kazmir is overshadowed a millionfold by the incompetence of its execution.

    As for Victor Zambrano, he was an interesting project, with a sinker that could be downright nasty. He might have been a good get in trade for someone like Eric Valent or Jason Phillips. I recall the Mets considering a complaint against Tampa over the state of Z’s elbow, but it came late enough to seem like sour grapes. Dunno why the Mets didn’t do their own physical when acquiring him.

    • DaveSchneck January 7, 2014 at 9:48 am
      From my recollection, which is a little foggy, I heard that Lou Piniella couldn’t stop laughing for like 15 minutes when he herad that the Mets took Zambrano off his hands, no less for a potential ace. Word was no one made Sweet Lou crazier than Zambrano and his inability to avoid those bases on balls. That trade was an abomination across the board, with Jeffy’s fingerprints all over it, with Franco and Leiter in his ear, and as Agron notes, poorly executed. If the Mets got back a better pticher, who helps the team for 3-4 years, even though the trade was a bad idea it would have not been the poster child for the Wilpon ownership that it is today.
  6. Paul Festa January 7, 2014 at 6:05 pm
    I met him at the winter meetings a few years ago. He seemed like a nice guy, so I didn’t have the heart to ask him about the trade. 😉
  7. Kanehl January 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm
    After Ferdie bought out his co-owner, Nelson Doubleday, and installed the Idiot Son ™ as COO, the Mets had a succession of unqualified GMs chosen for their willingness to pretend that Jeffie wasn’t an end-of-the-gene-pool moron. Phillips was the first and, after he went down in flames, the Wilpons sequentially promoted his two assistants, first Duquette and then Omar. The end result was a bloated payroll, barren farm system and declining W-L records and attendance. No mystery why Duquette made the trade: he and his boss were idiots. Remember, this is the team that signed Kaz Matsui based on the scouting report of the other Wilpon son who was an investment banker based in Tokyo.