Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Sugar Land Skeeters Sign a Big Name Pitcher ... For Real This Time ... Wait, Maybe Not

(This post originally appeared on Bus Leagues

(Update: Skeeters, never stop being you. Seriously.

The same day everyone wrote about how Scott Kazmir was joining the Sugar Land Skeeters, the Skeeters website had a headline that stated "Two-time AL All-Star, former Major Leaguer join Skeeters". Of course, "AL All-Star" doesn't always mean American League. In this case, it means Atlantic League. And that convenient comma between "All-Star" and "former", that can mean two separate players. In this case, it does as the Skeeters signed Steve Moss (Atlantic League two-time All-Star) and Luis Figueroa (formerly of the Blue Jays. Giants, and Pirates). Gotta love the Skeeters.)

A few months ago, Brian wrote about the Sugar Land Skeeters "announcing their presence with authority" by signing a former Major League pitcher named "Liriano". While most would associate that surname with Francisco Liriano, the Liriano in question was actually former Brewers and Phillies hurler Pedro Liriano.

Issuing press releases like that are par for the course in the bus leagues.

Sometimes, however, there is no ruse to the reports.

On Wednesday, Ken Rosenthal of reported that the Skeeters really signed a former Major League All-Star. One without a common surname. One with the last name "Kazmir", as in former Tampa Bay Rays moundman Scott Kazmir.

The move makes sense for both parties. The fledgling Atlantic League ballclub will get a nice boost in publicity and probably attendance.

For Kazmir, the Skeeters are not far from his home in Houston and should give him a place to attempt to rebuild his career, which disintegrated faster than an Acme Disintegrating Pistol. The Skeeters also have some other ex-Major Leaguers which Kazmir can work with, such as Gary Majewski and of course, the aforementioned "other" Liriano. The Skeeters also have a pair of veteran ex-Major Leaguers on their coaching staff, manager Gary Gaetti and pitching coach Britt Burns.

That Kazmir will be working with Burns is interesting. From 1980 to 1985, Britt Burns was one of the top lefties in the American League, an all-star who twice finished in the running for AL Cy Young. He ended his 8-year career after the 1985 season when a degenerative hip sidelined him. He played his last full season at 26 years old. He attempted comebacks with the Yankees in 1990 and the Red Sox in 1991 before walking away from the game for good. He ended his career with a 70-60 win-loss record and an average season of 13 wins and 12 losses.

By comparison, from 2005 to 2009, Kazmir was one of the top lefties in the American League, a two-time all-star who led the league in strikeouts in 2007. He ended his 8-year career (if it is indeed over) in 2011 when various injuries and a diminshing fastball sidelined him. Although he pitched 1.2 innings for the Angels in 2011, he played his last full season at 26 years old. He ended his career with a 66-61 record and an average season of 13 wins and 12 losses.

The Skeeters finally have an ex-All Star.