Before we discuss the details let’s take a trip back to 2005.
Tampa Bay, then still the Devil Rays, are perennial dwellers in the basement of the AL East.
Even though the team was headed for another last place finish and 60-something win season, Tampa had several young bright spots.
Two of them were left hander Scott Kazmir and up and coming slugging infielder Jorge Cantu.
Kazmir was able to log 186 innings for the club that year at an ERA of 3.77. The 21 year old appeared to be MLB’s next big thing.
But Cantu was not to be outdone. In his first full year as a major leaguer, Cantu slugged 28 home runs, hit 40 doubles and drove in 117 RBIs. He managed a line of .286/.311/.808 on the season and even garnered a few MVP votes.
The two seemed destined to be fixtures of a Tampa team that would ultimately break out of the basement and leap forward into contention.
Jump ahead to the present. Tampa changed their name and with it their place in the standings. They have been able to turn things around, even making the World Series in 2008.
This must be thanks to the two aforementioned players, Kazmir and Cantu, right?
Cantu didn’t last long enough to a see a winning season in Tampa. He was traded in 2007 at the deadline. He’s only been able to come close to matching his 2005 season once. In 2008 with the Marlins Cantu was able to hit 29 home runs and 41 doubles while posting an OPS of .808.
He was able to carry a little bit of that magic over into 2009, but has since lost it.
I guess I have to give Kazmir a little more credit, at least involving his impact with the Rays. He stuck around long enough to not only see a winning season, but a World Series. He was actually a solid contributor the season the Rays went to the Fall Classic, where they ultimately lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.
However, Kazmir’s horse and carriage quickly turned into a pumpkin. He was shipped out of Tampa to the Angels and has not been the same pitcher since. It’s gotten to the point where the two time All-Star can’t even post solid numbers against minor leaguers.
The writing’s been on the wall for Kazmir for some time now, as people have been speculating it was just a matter of time before the Angels cut him loose.
Apparently the same can be said for Cantu and his horrendous line of .194/.232/.285. In his 57 games with the Padres this season, Cantu has only managed 7 extra base hits.
So the two who seemed to have story-book beginnings to their careers have had anything but as of late.
On the bright side, they are each under 30 and figure to be picked up by other clubs eventually, likely on minor league deals. Kazmir is after all a left handed pitcher that has shown promise, and some club will remember it was only 3 years ago that Cantu hammered 29 dingers while playing both corner infield positions.
But for now the two former teammates have found something else they have in common.
They are both free agents.