Jun 26, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Indians pitcher Scott Kazmir (26) throws in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland A's: Is Scott Kazmir an Adequate Replacement for Bartolo Colon?

When Billy Beane pulled the trigger on a two-year $22 million deal for the left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir, all indications pointed to the departure of veteran Bartolo Colon and lefty Brett Anderson. Colon was demanding more money than the budget restricted Athletics can give him, and considering he’ll be turning 41 in a few months, the Athletics didn’t like the idea of exploring a multi-year deal with Colon.

Shortly after the signing of Kazmir, Colon expectedly signed elsewhere – a two-year $20 million deal with the New York Mets . As for Anderson, the A’s picked up his $8 million club option for 2014 and were able to deal him because of their rotation depth. Anderson was recently dealt to the Colorado Rockies for left-hander Drew Pomeranz and minor league right-hander Chris Jensen, and Colorado received $2 million in the deal. Anderson has been unable to stay out of the trainer’s room the past few seasons, assumably one of the major factor’s in the decision to deal him away.

Colon was unquestionably the A’s best pitcher last season, though the A’s are deep enough to survive without him. Oakland consists of a number of sufficient arms, such as Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, and Dan Straily to complement Kazmir, with Tommy Milone also in the mix.

But Colon was the lead horse of the pitching staff last season.  The 40-year-old went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 30 starts for the A’s this past season. He finished second in the American League in ERA and sixth in Cy Young voting. Expectations for Kazmir should certainly not be to replicate the greatness of the 2013 Colon, although the lefty must be an adequate replacement for the veteran or else the A’s starting rotation merely took a dip.

Sonny Gray and Jarrod Parker are the two terrific young right-handers whom are expected to pave the way for A’s starting rotation. The emergence of Gray last season created a tremendous amount of confidence in the youngster to rely heavily on his arm next year. Parker has been one of the A’s top pitcher’s for the last couple of seasons, and now he will play the role as the A’s number one pitcher. The question is about Kazmir.

Kazmir finished 2013 with a 10-9 record, striking out 162 batters in 158 innings, posting a 4.04 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Not excellent numbers, but they’re fairly legitimate considering Kazmir pitched all of 1.2 innings in the major leagues in 2011 and 2012, as he tried to earn his way back into the show. He went 7-5 with a 3.06 ERA in his final 18 starts, displaying improved velocity, and an overall resurgence after battling injury for quite some time.

By next season, Kazmir should be able to form himself into the best pitcher he’s been in a long time. Last year was Kazmir’s first full season as a regular rotation starter since 2010, and he was able to post adequate numbers. As long as Kazmir is able to remain healthy, I believe he’s capable of recording significantly improved numbers compared to a year ago. I anticipate that he’ll be an adequate replacement for Colon, at the very least.

Tags: Bartolo Colon Billy Beane Jarrod Parker Oakland Athletics Scott Kazmir Sonny Gray

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