he True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Mets non-tender Victor Zambranoh

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mets non-tender Victor Zambrano

The Victor Zambrano era has officially come to an end. Exactly 864 days and 8 hours (approx. depending on when you read this) later the Mets have rid themselves of Victor Zambrano. Zambrano was the last and main mistake made by former-Met and current Baltimore Oriole GM, Jim Duquette. On July 31st, 2004 the Mets dealt one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, in Scott Kazmir for 29 year old Victor Zambrano, a former minor league catcher whose career era at the time was 4.47 and he owned a 35-27 career record. Considering he played for the lowly D-Rays 35-27 was pretty darn good. Once Zambrano arrived it was leaked that Rick Peterson claimed that Zambrano had a mechanical issue which was causing his control problems, and that Peterson could fix him in "ten minutes". The same infamous quote that is now used whenever Zambrano's name is mentioned in a conversation.

Three starts into his Mets career Zambrano is finished for the rest of the 2004 season. So a pitcher who was supposed to complete the Mets rotation, and help the Mets make it to the playoffs barely pitched for them. It later came out that Duquette was told about Zambrano's balky shoulder. That same season a 20 year old Scott Kazmir made his major league debut, and pitched in nearly three times as many games for the D-Rays as Zambrano did for the Mets.

Then 2005 came around and Victor Zambrano and Scott Kazmir were both in their team's rotations to start the season. By the end of the year Zambrano had lost his starting job (he finished the year with a 4.17 era which isn't terrible, but he was maddening to watch and the Mets had other options), and Scott Kazmir had out-pitched Zambrano to the tune of a 3.77 era in 186 innings pitched and 174 strikeouts.

Then came 2006. Victor Zambrano was dreadful throughout. His 6.75 season era is painful to type, much less watch. What's worse was Zambrano walked eleven batters all sason, and struck out only 15, a terrible ratio. Zambrano finished with only five games appeared in all season after running off of the field in his fifth start after throwing a nasty pitch to strike out Andruw Jones. Then Scott Kazmir took over the league. Not only did Kazmir become the all-time k's leader in Devil Rays history (pretty said, huh?), but he pitched to a 3.24 era with 163 strikeouts in 144.2 innings pitched. The era and the strikeout totals would have led the Mets pitching staff by far. Kazmir solidified himself as a future in major league baseball, while Zambrano solidified himself as a fixture of jokes from Mets fans.

The Mets dealt Kazmir citing that they didn't believe his body would hold up over the years, and so far they have been right. Despite having a terrific season Kazmir was on the DL twice and made only 24 starts. So, so far, the Mets were right to deal Kazmir, just not for the pieces they received.

Now that the Zambrano era is officially over Scott Kazmir's name will only be mentioned when the prospect of dealing top notch minor leaguers, like Lastings Milledge, comes to fruition.


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