January 25, 2010

Come and get some swagger

Admit it. I know exactly what’s been on the minds of some of you Angel fans. You’ve still got that bitter taste in your mouth from an ALCS that seemed winnable. You’ve probably been focusing on what went wrong and some of you keep coming back to a guy who was supposed to make a difference. You keep coming back to Scott Kazmir. I’m right, aren’t I?

I know you’re wondering why the Angels traded for this guy. You’re thinking, “If this is the insurance policy for John Lackey’s departure; somebody got swindled.” You’re ready to call the baseball police or at least your local sports talk show to ask “What we’re the Angels thinking?”

I know the off season hasn’t gone like you hoped it would and you’ve got lots of things to get off your chest and the first item on your agenda is Kazmir. Go ahead and bring it.

Better yet, step into the batter’s box of public opinion and take your swings at Kazmir. You know you want to do it. You want to bash this guy because somebody has to take the blame and you’re thinking you know all about this guy and what he’s going to do or not do in 2010.

You want a piece of Kazmir? Like I said, step into the box, but know this and know it well; Kazmir is going to strike you out. In fact, he’s going to blow away that negative opinion and bad attitude you’re hanging on to. He’s going to make you wonder what happened. You’ll be shaking your head and looking over your shoulder and saying “Man, he’s pretty darn good after all.” And then, it’s going to happen; you’re going pause and a grin is going to find the corner of your lips and then that grin is going to turn into a Cheshire cat-like smile because Scott Kazmir just blew your mind by showing you what he can really do. I’m telling you that day is coming. You are going to learn that you were wrong and for one of the few times in your life, you’re actually going to be glad you were wrong and not be afraid to admit it.

Mark my words. Quote me all you want. Scott Kazmir is going to be an ace and he’s going to have a great season. In fact, I believe he’s going to have the kind of season that will make us forget about that guy who left town to pitch in Boston.

What’s that I hear? Do I detect a bit of skepticism? You want to know what happened to Kazmir in the 2009 post season. Well, it beats the heck out of me. Let’s just say that I don’t believe Kazmir’s 2009 season and more specifically his 2009-post season is indicative of what he’s capable of doing. 2009 will not define Kazmir; I believe it will motivate him to greatness in 2010.

I’m thinking all that because reports from Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription required for whole article) indicate Kazmir is working hard to get back to being that top-of-the-rotation guy the Angels believe he can be. Word is he started working out one week after his season ended. Let me remind you that was three months ago. Kazmir is no slackey, err slacker.

This is a guy who’s clearly on a mission. I know, I know – that phrase gets used to death, but it fits with what’s going on here. According to Olney, Kazmir has been working on some very specific goals; things like strengthening his core, allowing him to repeat his delivery consistently. And that delivery is going to feature what he hopes is an improved slider. He’s working on a new grip to give his slider more spin.

What’s it all mean?

Let’s just say that Kazmir is working on stuff that isn’t going to show up in any of those projections that have become so popular. How could it? Did Bill James know that Kazmir was going to be stronger and more fit before he projected Kazmir to have a 3.90 ERA, a 3.84 FIP and 176 K’s in 2010?

No, he didn’t. You can’t measure stuff like this and if one could factor this stuff in; wouldn’t it stand to reason those projections (courtesy of FanGraphs.com) are shy of what he really might do?

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’m thinking boo-ya! Heck yeah, Kazmir is going to blow his projections away and then some.

Look, most projections already have Kazmir showing significant improvement over his 2009 season. And that’s without factoring in the work he’s doing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m learning to appreciate sabermetrics, but sometimes things happen that you just can’t predict. Kazmir is throwing a wrench into the projections by doing work that’s going to make a huge difference in how he performs.

It’s time to expect big things from Kazmir. Time for roto geeks to move Kazmir up on their draft sheets (myself included) and for Angel fans to flock to the team store to buy his jersey.

It’s also time to wipe that bitter taste of losing in the ALCS from your lips and time to start thinking about a better season in 2010. Come on, you know you want to believe. Spring is almost here and being optimistic will put a little extra pep in your step or even; dare I say… a little swagger!

BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

  1. Hes gonna shut em down this year!!! CY YOUNG all the way, 21 wins 220 + Ks