The Kazmir Trade
From Wiki Gonzalez
The Kazmir Trade is considered a watershed event in the history of the New York Mets and their fandom.
On July 30, 2004, the Mets traded their top prospect, pitcher Scott Kazmir, to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays along with minor league pitcher Joselo Diaz in exchange for pitchers Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.
The deal came as a shock to Mets fans. The organization had earlier declared Kazmir to be an "untouchable" in trade talks. Zambrano had led the league in wild pitches, walks and hit batsmen in 2003, and would go on to lead the AL in walks in 2004, despite being traded out of the league with two months left in the season. He was an unimpressive 9-7 with a 4.43 ERA when the Mets acquired him. He also was struggling with problems in his right (throwing) elbow.
The Mets defended the deal by pointing out that they were only six games out of first place, and that Zambrano could help the team make a playoff run. Zambrano was also signed for 2005, guarding against the potential loss of free agents Al Leiter and Kris Benson. The Mets stated that Kazmir, for his part, would not be ready for the majors for several years. The team also expressed confidence that Zambrano, already an above-.500 pitcher on a sub-.500 team, had great potential that could be molded by pitching coach Rick Peterson. Peterson famously declared he could straighten out Zambrano's problems in 10 minutes. The Mets further pointed out flaws in Kazmir himself, claiming that he was an injury risk due to his hard-throwing style and small size for a pitcher (listed at 6'0", most likely an exaggerated figure), and questioning his attitude.
(Those in favor of keeping Kazmir tended to believe that the undoubtedly self-confident Kazmir may have upset veteran players like Leiter who were thought to have excessive say in the team's affairs, but that there was no evidence that Kazmir would be a real problem in the clubhouse.)
Public opinion, which had leaned against The Kazmir Trade ever since it was made, soon turned on it viciously. The Mets almost instantly fell out of the pennant race. Zambrano's elbow problems put him out for the season after three starts for his new team. And Kazmir not only was judged by the Devil Rays to be ready for the majors, but threw some great games (five scoreless innings in his debut, six scoreless innings against the future World Series champion Red Sox), lighting up the radar gun with 95+ mph heat and impressing observers with his potential. The Kazmir Trade no doubt was the main reason behind the demotion of Mets' general manager Jim Duquette and the hiring of his replacement Omar Minaya.
Many Mets fans not only are disappointed that Zambrano was on the team's roster instead of Kazmir, but see the move as emblematic of a team that has tried to patch up problems with short-sighted quick fixes, rather than making an attempt to build a championship-quality team from the bottom up. Ever since the "dynasty that never was" of 1986-88, Mets fans have had very few homegrown players to root for.
Some Met fans are sympathetic to Duquette, who seemed to be in a predicament with his win-now bosses, the Wilpons. In their opinion, he was forced to roll the dice in a quick-fix trade in an understandable attempt to salvage his job. Other fans disagree, saying that to give away a prime prospect like Kazmir for a question mark like Zambrano was unjustifiable in any event.
To this day, even with the Mets' many successes, the shadow of The Kazmir Trade hangs over the franchise. In 2006, Zambrano went on the 60-day disabled list with elbow damage he had long been hiding from the Mets training staff. That same year, Kazmir made his first All-Star team as a representative of the Devil Rays.