Sunday, April 17, 2005


Scott Kazmir Projections

Since Scott Kazmir is pitching against the Red Sox today, I thought it would be a fun idea to project his performance versus Victor Zambrano's for the life of Kazmir's initial major league service contract. Simply using the projected VORP for the two over the next five seasons gives you this:

2005: 15.5
2006: 12.5
2007: 10.5
2008: 15.0
2009: 11.6

2005: 4.7
2006: 5.3
2007: 4.7
2008: 1.3
2009: 3.7

Just from that, you can see that Tampa Bay made out like bandits; this was obvious from the fact that Zambrano somehow tied for the American League lead in walks last year even though he was traded before the deadline to the National League. This year, in 11 IP (small sample size, I know) he has 10 strikeouts (excellent) and 8 walks (vomit). There is almost something bad about striking out this many batters when you give up this many walks. Yes, it helps lower the number of sacrifice flies and the like I'm guessing, since batters run out of outs this way, but it does not allow for another balls in play. His GB/FB ratio is 1.08 so far, and he has not induced a double play. I know, 11 innings. But in 142 IP last year, he had 14 GDP. 189 GB's to 141 FB's. Let's look at an extreme case of groundball pitcher to really make this hit home; Derek Lowe's K/BB for 2004 and 2005 were 1.53 and 1.48 respectively, and he struggled greatly at points during those two years. He walks alot less batters than Zambrano, and gets a lot more outs through double plays (probably even more if the defense behind him was not suspect at times). Even with the double plays he had a hard time being effective, so the fact that Zambrano puts all of these runners on base and expects to strike everyone out in order to get out of jams worries me. Luckily for Zambrano, he doesn't give up too many homeruns (only 13 in 2004, 21 in 2003). I just don't expect much out of Zambrano, even if Rick Peterson claims he can fix him. I'll keep track of this as time goes on in order to see if there has been any change and who is leading the race, Kazmir or Zambrano.

Kazmir isn't making the Mets look dumb yet this year, with 5:4 K:BB and a GB/FB ratio of 0.45. His K/9 is 3.60, but last year it was 11.07, and his K/BB was 1.95. Small sample size applies to this year so far obviously; he has only thrown 10 innings. The only reason I mentioned Zambrano's 11 innings is because he has a problem that needs to be fixed, and it doesn't look to be even going in the direction of fixed, nevermind entirely.

I think Zambrano's VORP projection above is very conservative, and a full good season at the major leagues of even league average pitching would probably knock it up substantially, making this deal more lopsided from the start. The problem is Zambrano's best case scenario is league average pitcher who doesn't hurt you too much, while that is where Kazmir's ability starts him. I'll update this as the season progresses, and even after the Red Sox game today; Kazmir made the Sox look silly in 2004 and then challenged them by plunking Ramirez and Millar in the midst of a no-hitter. Making the Sox look bad at the plate takes a lot of luck and talent combined on occasion, so keep an eye on this one.

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