New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays

Without knowing what we know now, if I was to tell you that a starting pitching rotation could feature Scott Kazmir and/or Daisuke Matsuzaka, you might wonder what year it was. I’d probably tell you that my favourite movies of the year thus far are Sunshine and Zodiac, then you’d tell me how good No Country For Old Men will be when it comes out in the fall. It would be 2007, and somehow the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays outbid the Boston Red Sox for Matsuzaka and that Victor Zambrano for Kazmir trade is about to look a lot worse for the New York Mets. Alas, it’s 2013 and two broken, almost out of Major League Baseball hurlers battled for a fifth spot in the Cleveland Indians’ rotation and Kazmir has landed it.

Kazmir was chosen as the Indians’ fifth starter on Monday by manager Terry Francona. The 29-year old left-hander beat out Matsuzaka (released) and Carlos Carrasco for the job, although, the latter will serve a six-game suspension to begin the season. Kazmir joins Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers, and Zach McAllister in the starting staff.

Kazmir’s decline from American League strikeout leader (239) in 2007 was predicated more on an inability to stay healthy than a lack of pitching prowess. When he was healthy, Kazmir was a very good pitcher, even if control was never really one of his strong suits. His injury history reads something like this, though: shoulder, shoulder, shoulder, elbow, quad, hamstring, shoulder, back, soul.

I guess you could say it’s a good first draft of the first chapter of a feel-good comeback story. I’m not entirely convinced this ends well, as a Major League pitcher with a broken body faces a difficult task to stay healthy for a full season. Whatever the case, Kazmir enjoyed a reasonably succesfull spring, throwing 13 innings and giving up five earned runs, 13 hits, one walk, one home run, and striking out 13. The bulk of the damage versus Kazmir was delivered by the Seattle Mariners on Saturday, though, when he gave up 13 hits and five runs over five innings.

So here we are, and Scott Kazmir has deferred the end of the line for the time being. We can hope for the best, but the dominance pictured below is a thing of the past.

And the rest…

Vernon Wells and redoing the Yankees’ offseason [Baseball Nation]

Pablo Sandoval gives himself two years to deal with weight issues [Yahoo!]

Chris Young the pitcher to opt out of contract with Nationals [MLBTR]

Orioles lose Wilson Betemit to a knee injury, explore replacement options [Orioles Insider]

Good read on being a Latino ballplayer in Arizona [Grantland]

Re-imagining the Toronto Blue Jays marketing campaign [DJF]