06-01-2006, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Kasmir Deal Is A Debt The Mets Still Owe
Four out of every five days, the Mets are a resurgent franchise, flush with charismatic leaders and bankable stars, hailed for their progressive thinking and bold strategy.
But on the fifth day, when Scott Kazmir takes the mound for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, everything the Mets have accomplished comes temporarily undone. No longer are they the team that leads the National League East. They are only the team that traded Kazmir for damaged goods named Víctor Zambrano.
The trade was bad enough, with Kazmir possibly bound for the All-Star Game and Zambrano out for the season because of elbow surgery. But add to the package all the teasing, tweaking and public flogging the Mets have endured, and maybe it really was their worst deal since they sent Nolan Ryan to the Angels for Jim Fregosi in 1971.
"It's unbelievable they are still talking about it," said Kazmir, who will pitch tomorrow night in Baltimore. "It's still going on."
For the third straight summer, the Mets are being bombarded by the same question, as if played on an endless talk-radio loop. "Where would you be if you had not made that (fill in the blank) trade?"
Theoretically, they would be World Series favorites, with a starting rotation as strong as its batting order and a young ace to complement an old one. But just as easily, they could have continued down the path they were on at the time of the trade, trusting oversized committees to make personnel decisions and a disorganized medical staff to offer approval.
"People always like to say, 'What if?' " said Jeff Wilpon, the Mets' senior executive vice president. "But the positive that's come out of this is what we learned from our mistake. We have moved on."
Few organizations have been criticized so vehemently for a single move, and even fewer have reacted so drastically. Much of the Mets' progress in the past two seasons can be traced to the conference call in July 2004 when they decided to deal Kazmir. Approximately 10 club employees — scouts, coaches and executives — were on the line. A couple of vocal members endorsed the trade. No one raised a strong objection.
"We had too many cooks in the kitchen," said Jim Duquette, then the Mets' general manager, now the vice president for baseball operations of the Baltimore Orioles. "In that situation, if someone disagrees, he might not speak up. The loudest voices are the ones that get heard. It does become sort of like a mob mentality."
The Mets, in many ways, have spent the past 22 months answering for that one call.
They hired Omar Minaya as general manager and authorized him to consolidate the baseball department, in part because too many fringe people had been allowed input into the Kazmir trade.
I heard rumors that it was Al Leiter and Peterson that didn't like Kasmir. I'm still mad over this trade, and the Diamondbacks knew Zambrano was damaged goods from day 1. I'm just happy we have a GM that has some sense and don't throw away prospects like it's going out of style.
"Behind every successful woman there is an astonished man." - Four Star General Ann E. Dunwoody
"Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege."
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."