Why does Littlefield get a free pass on Kazmir?

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Why does Littlefield get a free pass on Kazmir?

Postby Draftnik on Sun May 28, 2006 10:50 am

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06148/693833-194.stm

I remember the Bucs got a few B level prospects (Wigginton, some pitcher, etc) for Benson from the Mets. The next day the DRays traded some Zambrano guy for Kazmir who was a high A level prospect at the time. Now Kazmir is 22 and tearing it up for the DRays. Gammons can't stop praising the guy in his ESPN Insider blog. Littlefield never gets A level prospects in his deals. Benson was the top pitcher on the trading block that season and Littlefield failed to get the best prospect on the market.
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Postby Stoosh on Sun May 28, 2006 1:29 pm

Benson certainly had the better pedigree than Zambrano, but ironically, at the time they were dealt, Zambrano had a career record of 35-27, while Benson was 43-49. Both had career ERA's over 4.00 when they were dealt.

The big difference between the two was contractual. Zambrano was arbitration-eligible at the end of the 2004 season, so New York was getting him for at least a year and a half. Benson's deal was up at the end of 2004 and he could've been a free agent.

Not defending the deal at all here (because Littlefield probably could've had Kazmir had he been willing to kick another significant prospect into the deal), but...

1. I believe the lynchpin to the deal was Wigginton and not necessarily Matt Peterson. Peterson was pretty much regarded as the Mets' next-best pitching prospect after Kazmir when the deal was struck. You could've made some argument that Yusmerio Petit was better, but I believe he was still in A-ball at that point and he was a little harder to project.

2. In addition, I don't think anyone expected Wigginton to bottom out the way he did here. He had a solid 2003 season - his first full season in the majors. And he looked to be building off that in 2004 when he was dealt (in 86 games with the Mets in '04, he was hitting .285 with 12 homers).

Again. not defending the deal, but it didn't look nearly as bad in 2004. A lot of Pirate fans were a little ticked that they didn't get Kazmir, but the main reason for that stemmed from the extra year on Zambrano's deal.
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Postby Vanbiesbrouck on Sun May 28, 2006 1:52 pm

Yeah, sure would have been nice to have Kazmir so we could mishandle his development instead.
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Postby Stoosh on Sun May 28, 2006 2:36 pm

Littlefield's certainly bothced his share of personnel moves and he deserves all the criticism he gets for them. But I have a hard time knocking him for developing some of these pitchers.

The media loves to point out that Bonifay was responsible for drafting some of the pitchers who factor into the organization's long term depth chart, most notably Burnett in the 1st round and Snell in the 26th round in 2000, and then Duke in the 20th round of 2001. It may be true that Bonifay drafted them, but those players developed under Littlefield's watch.

His choice of Bullington over Upton in 2002 was very questionable, but that 2002 draft did produce Matt Capps, who looks to have a future as a reliever here. In 2003, Littlefield drafted Maholm in the first round and Gorzelanny in the second round. Maholm is one of the three best pitchers on the staff right now (impressive considering he lost a half-season of development when he was hit in the eye with a line drive in the minors). And Gorzelanny is the best prospect in Indy and almost certain to be called up to the rotation here during the second half of the season. 2003 also produced Josh Sharpless in the 24th round, who has evolved into one of the organization's best up-and-coming relievers.

I can jam Littlefield for a lot of things, but I think he's done a pretty fair job developing some of the names on this organizational pitching staff. Some of these guys - especially Duke, Snell, Maholm, Gorzelanny, Sharpless and Burnett - look like they can factor into the longterm future of this franchise.
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