Last year, it appeared that Scott was on his way to superstardom and he was putting everything together. He was on a huge strikeout binge, while decreasing his walk rates. He was giving up hits, but not many that "hurt" him.
Then the All-Star game happened and the wheels fell off on Kazmir's "breakout" season. He went down with some shoulder problems that the NDRO correctly handled by ending his season early.
No information is known on what Kazmir did during his offseason to prepare for his 2007 season, but it's apparent that it had nothing to do with reusing whatever he learned in the 2006 season.
Questions arise on Kazmir's health, seeing as high-90s fastballs are thrown less often and his control has regressed to his 2005 form. My thoughts are that Kazmir is trying to save his arm/shoulder by using his fastball less often, however he'd be decreasing his sliders (due to the torque it puts on the arm) as well.
In the few starts that I've managed to withstand, Kazmir seems more intent on "painting the corners" to get strikeouts rather than going after hitters. Is this Kazmir pitching scared or is Kazmir's ego so inflated after his 2006 season that he believes that his "stuff" is so good that hitters will swing-and-miss at his pitches off the plate? Whichever it is, they seem to have forgotten to read that memo because hitters seem more intent on sitting on his pitches and drawing walks instead.
I've told many people that I could understand if the Rays decided to go through arbitration rather than trying to resign him to a long-term contract, if he continues to show regression. I, for one, would also understand if we chose to move Kazmir to the bullpen as well. Billy Wagner was also a short, promising starting pitcher before he was moved to the bullpen.
It's apparent that Kazmir may get the hype and name recognition out of the pitchers in our rotation, but he's definitely not the "ace" of this staff anymore. His pitching this first half basically handed Jamie Shields that spot.