Joel Zumaya to miss half of 2008

Joel Zumaya underwent shoulder surgery to repair an injury sustained while moving stuff in the fires.  The procedure was an AC joint reconstruction.  The Acromioclaviclular joint is the joint effected when you hear the term “separated shoulder.”  However this procedure isn’t one that is common amongst pitchers and Will Carroll notes that there aren’t any comps to draw upon.

I’ll have more tonight.

Notes from the conference call:

Dombrowski received the information Monday and talked to Joel on Tuesday. The fires were 2 miles away from his parents home and he was getting items from the attic and the box fell on his shoulder. It happened on Sunday and Sunday night Joel’s father called Kevin Rand to let him know what happened.

Dombrowski got the call that it was a serious situation about 10 minutes after the Renteria press conference ended.

There was no rotator cuff damage, but there is no way to know if he’ll make it back until he gets on the mound again. The doctor thinks he can come back, but there is no way to know until he starts throwing hard again.

Dombrowski is going into the year planning on Zumaya not being available. Right now the focus is on getting Todd Jones and Kenny Rogers back. If they can’t retain Jones they will be “aggressive” in pursuing someone to pitch at the back of the bullpen. The Tigers don’t’ view Fernando Rodney as a potential closer at this point.


This stinks.

But beyond that, the Tigers need bullpen help. Duh. I really think the intention all along by the Tigers was to sign Todd Jones to be the transitional closer, but in the event that Jones didn’t want to come they would have gone after an established set up man. Now that changes things. Now it looks like they will be going after the established set up man regardless. As for the closer’s role, it is Jones if he wants it. Dombrowski said as much in today’s call. But if Jones doesn’t return I think the Tigers will jump into the Francisco Cordero/Mariano Rivera fray. That’s what I take away from them being “aggressive.”

Of course this has other implications as well. Instead of the team needing to spend $6 million or so to shore up the bullpen for this coming season, a move for one of the premier closers and a set up guy more than doubles that cost. What impact this has on acquiring a left fielder or starter beyond Kenny Rogers hasn’t been determined yet. It also means that the Tigers stand a good chance of losing their first round draft pick because both Rivera and Cordero are Type A free agents.

MLB Trade Rumors compiled the following list of relievers, their age, and their ranking (A means losing a first round draft pick)

Armando Benitez (35)
Joe Borowski (37) – $4MM club option for ’08 – Type B
Francisco Cordero (33) – Type A
Octavio Dotel (32) – $5.5MM mutual option for ’08
Eric Gagne (32) – Type B
Hitoki Iwase (33)
Masahide Kobayashi (34)
Todd Jones (40) – Type B
Al Reyes (37) – $1MM club option for ’08 – Type B
Mariano Rivera (38) – Type A
Bob Wickman (39)

Middle relievers
Jeremy Affeldt (29)
Antonio Alfonseca (36)
LaTroy Hawkins (35)
Jorge Julio (29) – Type B
Joe Kennedy (29)
Scott Linebrink (31) – Type A
Troy Percival (39) – Type B
David Riske (31) – Type B
Julian Tavarez (35) – $3.85MM club option for ’08
Mike Timlin (42) – Type B
Luis Vizcaino (31) – Type B
Kerry Wood (31)

Given the message sent by the Renteria trade, I’d be stunned if the Tigers didn’t look outside the organization to fill both spots (considering Jones an outsider at this point) – especially given that Dombrowski is going to operate as if Zumaya won’t be available at all. Trying to mix and match with Eulogio De La Cruz, Jose Capellan, et al was one thing when the team had to adjust in mid season. But with a full off season to work with Dombrowski won’t be content to mix and match and hope with the guys he already has.

Of the above list, in addition to Cordero and Rivera I like Eric Gagne. I don’t think he’s as bad as he showed in Boston. He won’t cost a draft pick, and he could be relatively cheap. Who knows, he may even do a one year deal to re-establish his value like Pudge Rodriguez did with the Marlins in 2003. Jorge Julio has posted solid strike out rates through out his career, but he has struggled with walks at times, and is only 29. And Kerry Wood wouldn’t be a bad option if you didn’t have to rely on him. He has upside and could help in the rotation or out of the pen.

63 thoughts on “Joel Zumaya to miss half of 2008”

  1. Well now, any hope for Schilling or any major position player free agents is over. They have to do something to shore up that bullpen now.

    Such bad luck.

    As noted by others, Detroit has a terrible history in this regard.

  2. Well… it looks like we need Todd Jones back as our closer since Zumaya is going to be out for majority of the season…. what the heck? Argh.

  3. This puts the potential plan of starting the year with Jones as closer and then moving Zumaya into that role later in the year if Jonesy falters out of the question. Given the severity of the injury, since we don’t know what to expect from Zumaya when he does return (or if?), the plan of moving him to the closer role for ’09 also seems to be in doubt. I think DD has to sign a closer for 2-3 years now. That would take Jones out of the picture entirely. Maybe he could land Cordero?

  4. I think, sadly, this is the beginning of the end for Zoom-Zoom. I’m almost not surprised that something like this happened to him. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall when he came back this past season. This is Mark Fidrych all over again.

  5. Well, quite the bummer. Looking at 2008, Jones would be a good call, but now with Zoom questionable after that too, maybe Cordero from the Brewers would make sense longer term? We really don’t have a great relief prospect in the minors after De la Cruz, and he was so so in his initial call up. I guess this could dampen plans to trade many more young pitchers too…looks like we will need plenty of arms with Zoom out, depending on Kenny to pitch all year, and the up and down seasons of Bonderman and Robertson.

  6. This could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

    Suppose they are able to sign Todd Jones…Rogers and maybe Mantei

    Dombrowski will probably still feel that for depth reasons he needs another solid guy – Cordero/Rivera etc.

    if Joel can come back in 250 days with even some of his “stuff” that would help

    obviously it isn’t good, but to look on the bright side it is a lot better that it happened now rather than in spring training so at least we might have him for 81 games rather than 0

    all this puts pressure on the front office to add a reliever – which IMO we needed with or without Zumaya (who wasn’t that good last year even prior to the injury)

    Our biggest concerns IMO are in order

    1) Resign Kenny Rogers^by far the most important
    2) Resign Todd Jones or other closer
    3) Sign a veteran FA SP (would Mike Maroth come back?)
    4) Bullpen
    5) Lefty LF with some speed

  7. In my defense I saw him pitch his 1-hitter live against the Yanks

    also just like Bonderman IMO he could be really good, just needs to get mentored by Kenny every day

  8. What a shame.Your post doesn’t say if it’s his pitching arm,which I assume is the case.If so,it’s hard to imagine him returning throwing 100mph.Any orthopedic surgeons out there who can weigh in?
    The bullpen was shaky before this.Cordero has to go to the top of the Tigers shopping list now.Let Jones walk.Please?
    Why on Earth would you want Maroth back?If you’re going to go after a starter,get in the bidding for Schilling.

  9. Maroth has no velocity. He could transform himself into a crafty pitcher in time, perhaps. I just don’t want to see it happen with the Tigers. Schilling isn’t the answer: we don’t need two fortysomething starters.
    If we replace Zumaya with a thirtysomething set up man, as we might have to, this franchise has gone from a team on the rise to, i’m guessing, one of the oldest teams in the league. All in 18-19 months!
    Thirty plus at every position other than centerfield, a pushing 40 closer, a 43 year old #3 starter, and a 39 year old DH with a bad shoulder. This could end really, really badly.

  10. Such gloom and doom, Stephen. 40 is the new 30. These guys have lots of modern technology and pharmachology to keep young.

  11. Ive never seen stephen post anything positive

    btw, doesnt Joel know he can afford to pay people to do this kinda stuff for him now?

  12. I agree with Kathy – heck look at the 2007 Tigers

    Major injuries – Kenny Rogers (40+), Joel Zumaya (under 25), Fernando Rodney (30ish), Jeremy Bonderman (under 25), Nate Robertson (30ish), Sheffield(35+)

    As has been stated before – it probably has more to do with genetics, conditioning and workload than it does age – especially because older player’s bodies up until a certain age have adapted better to the workload and stress of a Major League season…

    Well in this case it was a freak accident…but then again Zumaya has had what – Guitar-Hero, Blown his finger warming up in KC and now had a box fall on him while moving boxes…

    Zoom was our trick? Rentaria our treat?

  13. They said he can start throwing in march, so if he is not good by the all star break I have a feeling he will be signing cards at Gibraltar trade center for a long time. Also comcast can have him replace the slowskys. 🙂

  14. Boy, I sure am glad it isn’t an certainty that his career is over. It could be worse.

    Plus, like it has been said, it forces us to get some right-handed help in our pen, which was needed anyway. If Joel comes back in July, that will be good for us and better for him. His player value may drop because he is seen as injury prone now, even though I don’t think he is. This was, like he said, an absolutely freak accident.

    Best wishes Joel. The Tigers will make it through the first half of the season without him.

  15. BobS – Yes, it’s the throwing arm. And no one really knows at this point about his recovery. The doctors like his chances for a full recovery, but there aren’t any pitchers who have had this procedure to compare him to. He could be fine, he could be done, or it might be something in between where he has to learn a new way to pitch.

    Stephen – Can’t blame you for being skeptical of the story. I just reported what Dombrowski said Zumaya told him.

    As for the team’s age, yes it’s a concern and the first thing I thought of after the Renteria trade. But 3/5ths of the rotation is under the age of 25 and Nate is hardly old. Inge is over 30, but far from old and we don’t know what will be in left field next year. At the same time you kept pushing to trade prospects for guys on the wrong side of 30. How do you expect the team to get/stay young when you dump top prospects? It would be nice if every player was between 24 and 31 but it just doesn’t work that way.

    As for Maroth, sure sign him. It would only be to a minor league contract and a non-roster invite anyways as I can’t imagine a team giving him a big league deal.

    On Schilling – I’m in favor of it and I’ll explain it in an upcoming post.

  16. What a reason for us all to come back to the blog. Hi everybody.

    I had the Maroth thought myself on the way home from work. Why not? Get him on board, give him a role, and see what happens. You could do it for lunch money in the scheme of things.
    I’m skeptical about the injury explanation myself. What the F was in that box???

  17. Are you serious?!!? Are you kidding me? This is absolutely beyond belief.

    I just found out about the injury and rushed here to get the details–half expecting some inside scoop that it was all a mistake.

    Stephen I initially took the story at face value, but I have to admit that upon further consideration, I’m a bit suspicious. Whatever happened, this is just terrible, depressing news.

  18. As far as “outside” help, I agree that Gagne is a good bet for the price and that Cordero is the best target for an “A” guy, assuming Jones wants to go to Atlanta.

    Long range, and this is pure speculation, but you wonder if Bonderman may make an ideal closer, as a two-pitch guy, if we can fill the rotation out with some of our other young talent.

  19. Considering how well Bonderman tends to do in his first inning of a game, I do NOT want to see him as a one-inning pitcher (closer)! 😛

  20. This still seems like a very weird way to injure yourself. A box falling on you requires surgery??

  21. Joey,

    My dad ripped his bicep and couldn’t use his left arm at all for several weeks. The surgery was pretty major. He did it lifting a heavy box. So yeah, I’ll believe that a box falling on you requires surgery.

    One thing no one has mentioned is that when he comes back, we’ll be able to hold onto him for longer because he will be viewed as injury prone. I don’t think he is (I think he must always have a black cat walking in front of him), but he will no doubt be viewed this way.

  22. Rings,

    Regarding Bonderman being made closer because he is a two-pitch guy: why would this mean he can’t start? I can think of several very good two-pitch guys: Clemens (FB/SPL), Johnson (FB/SL), Ryan (FB/CRV), Koufax (FB/CRV) …

    Bonderman has the stuff to be a good starter, and isn’t mentally tough enough to be a great bullpen guy. He will do fine with his fastball/slider duo if he can stop beating himself and not trusting his stuff.

    And on a side note, does anyone remember reading anything about Bonderman having a blister or something that prevented him from throwing his sinker? I read that and did a double-take; I’d never been aware that he threw a sinker. Unless he was just talking about his 2-seam FB … which he definitely throws in addition to the 4-seam.

  23. Mike R, care to chip in with the rosy perspective on this one?

    We could use it.

    While it’s nothing good from this story for Tiger fans or the Tigers themselves, losing a reliever is 100% easier to deal with then losing, say, a key cog in the starting rotation. Bullpen performance fluctuates so much from year to year and every team’s season can be made or busted based on bullpen performance. Guys like Tim Byrdak come out of no where to be very good for a long stretch and guys that are normally good wind up sucking. So, from a pure baseball perspective, losing Zumaya is 100% easier then if this were to happen to someone like Justin Verlander.

    That said, I’d love a 2 year deal with a 3rd year option or something similar for Eric Gagne. He was terrible in Boston but that doesn’t undo just how lights out he was in Texas for nearly twice the length of his sample size in Boston. He also proved that serious injury qualms can be nixed as he was healthy most of last year with his only real injury (that I can recall at least) was a hamstring or groin or a leg injury (I don’t remember what it was exactly, but I don’t remember it being upper-body) and less severe then what he sustained previously.

    Plus, he saves a draft pick as opposed to a Mo Rivera or Franky Cordero (how nice would it have been to just have kept him instead of dealing him in that terrible Juan Gonzalez trade?).

  24. Chris in Nashville…no, 30 isn’t the new 20 however, that was one of the most difficult birthdays for me, too. When your young, you tend to think 30, 40, 50, 60 is old. Not so for many folks today, especially if they take good care of themselves. Ballplayers are much more cognizant of keeping fit and healthy compared to the old days what with workout regimes, private trainers, and yes, pharmaceucals and I don’t mean the illegal ones. The only thing about Kenny that worries me is not so much his age but the injury from last year and whether he has the stamina to go a whole season and postseason.

    Very surprised Billfer mentioned Gagne. God in heaven….Boston hates him. He was awful there, but we seem to be able to pick up some guys from other teams who perform poorly and they do OK. I’m also willing to give him a chance, btw. As for Zumaya, there are many rumors that this was not a moving accident. However, his type of injury may be career ending. The doctors told him he has a good chance for recovery, but who knows? Although I dearly love Mike Maroth and at times he pitches well, he was deplorable for the Cardinals. Maybe it was still the lingering effects from his TJ surgery. I’d sure look at him in a bullpen throwing session before making any offers.

  25. Bilfer,maybe you could do a post on other conspiracies like the JFK assassination and 9-11 for commenters dissatisfied with the ‘official story’ explaining Zumaya’s injury.

  26. BobS, here are some of the reasons people aren’t satisfied with the official story is thus:
    1. The Tigers announced they released Dmitri Young purely for performance issues. Yeah, right.
    2. Gary Sheffield said he was contemplating retiring. That lasted about 36 hours.
    3. Kenny Rogers just happened to have a brown smudge on his palm.
    4. Dave Dombrowski said there was no way Cameron Maybin was going to get called up.
    5. The fact that Zumaya hurt his arm in October 06 playing Guitar Hero wasn’t released until December 06.
    6. Professional athletes have a long, storied history of coming up with creative contract-covering excuses for their injuries. (See Jeff Kent).
    Whether it’s a government or a sports franchise, an organization has to earn trust. Professional sports, the Tigers in this case, have a credibility gap. I don’t blame them–it’s not always in their interest to tell the truth–and perhaps Zumaya did get hurt moving boxes, but a healthy level of skepticism toward institutions is what makes this country great.
    I’ll stop her before i lapse into ‘This Land Is Your Land.’

  27. 1. The Tigers announced they released Dmitri Young purely for performance issues. Yeah, right.
    2. Gary Sheffield said he was contemplating retiring. That lasted about 36 hours.
    3. Kenny Rogers just happened to have a brown smudge on his palm.
    4. Dave Dombrowski said there was no way Cameron Maybin was going to get called up.
    5. The fact that Zumaya hurt his arm in October 06 playing Guitar Hero wasn’t released until December 06.
    6. Professional athletes have a long, storied history of coming up with creative contract-covering excuses for their injuries. (See Jeff Kent).

    I don’t know that these are all the best examples.

    1. well that’s a good one
    2. Gary Sheffield probably did contemplate retiring. Not sure what this has to do with the credibility of the Tigers org.
    3. Not sure how this fits
    4. Dave Dombrowski said he didn’t have plans to bring Cameron Maybin up in September. It may be possible he changed his mind. Heaven forbid.
    5. From what I’ve heard the team told reporters during the playoffs but told them to keep it quiet. That isn’t so much a team credibility issue as it is a reporter one – and even then I’m not sure what would have been gained by us knowing sooner.
    6. Absolutely

  28. I just can’t stop laughing. This injury sucks in every possible way, but I can’t stop laughing. Injured by your own trophies? It’s a dictionary-quality definition of “taken down a peg”.
    I like what Eric said. If he comes back throwing well, the eventual long-term contract just got a lot cheaper. Tiny silver lining.

  29. Perhaps I shouldn’t have placed them all under the rubric of the franchise gilding the truth, but i think they’re all examples of why what jocks/organzations say shouldn’t be taken as take-it-to-the-bank truthiness.

  30. This is terrible, terrible news. I’d like to repost my comment from late last July, but I fear a reprimand. It goes something like this “We’re (in big trouble).”

  31. Stephen,thank you for your wise counsel on the virtue of skepticism regarding institutions (and their often nefarious motives).Many mistakes might have been avoided if our elected officials had been held to the same standards of evidence that is apparently applied to sports franchises. Hopefully more of our fellow citizens will heed your advice in coming months as the administration applies the full court press for war with Iran.
    That being said,I’m not exactly sure what the Tigers have to gain by hiding the ‘true’ facts behind Zumaya’s injury,nor do most of the examples you provided(save #’s 1 and 6)offer much in the way of explanation.
    As someone who has balanced on a stepladder while lifting heavy objects into garage rafters as well as taking them down,Zumaya’s depiction reads as pretty credible to me.

  32. It almost seems odd enough to be believable. If I were to make up a story, I’d probably say I fell off the ladder. We may never know. I’m just glad it happened now and not the end of spring training like Kenny’s injury last year or in May like Joel’s finger problem.
    Let’s do all we can to get Cordero, who seems the closest thing to a sure thing. If Zumaya still recovers and becomes a great closer, then we’ll have two. I can think of worse problems.

  33. Has this been posted? Got this in an email…

    he True Story? Here’s the exact quote from JoeyBoy79 on the forum on the Zumaya story:
    “Wow, Zumaya hurt his shoulder while moving “items” at his home…..more like Mr. Zumaya was hurt while racing his YZF 450 at the imperial dunes on sat afternoon. I believe it was about 2:30pm, when we ran into the mess while we were out riding. Z was placed in a neck brace and strapped onto a back board and hauled away in a Medic-Rail. There was two rangers on the scene and just a handful of people. Moving items, more like trying to out jump kid on a dirtbike.”
    Thats a direct quote with all of JoeyBoy’s bad grammar and punctuation. Also, as has been said in this forum already, the time line is a key. Do what I did and do an online search for the Harris fire, which was in the San Diego area, including Chula Vista. Guess what. A release from the fire service states that “all evacuation orders and warnings will be lifted for the Harris fire effective Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 3pm.”
    So Zoom Zoom was moving stuff to escape the fire the next day??????????
    Dum, da dum dumb.

  34. Happy Birthday, Jim! Some enterprising individual should follow up on the motorcycle accident rumour. If he was taken to hospital in an ambulance, there is a record of it somewhere.

  35. Is it just me, or do the origins of his injury seem really trivial? I don’t care how he got hurt — moving boxes or racing — either way it was a bit of carelessness. Facts are he’s done for 6-8 months so I don’t see the point in worrying about the “truth” to the racing rumors or to his story he released. We can survive just fine with out Joel, so long as Robertson doesn’t have 2 DL stints, Rogers doesn’t have a blood clot in his shoulder (assuming we resign him) and Rodney doesn’t have a couple DL stints leaving us to rely on McKay McBride and Jason Grilli for the 8th innings.

  36. It’s not just you, Mike. I don’t give a crap how he was hurt. The origin isn’t going to change the length of the rehab and it isn’t going to make me any less happy to see him should he come back healthy.

    I can understand fans getting huffy about this sort of thing when there’s the potential to void expensive contracts, but that’s not the case here. So hunting down the “true story” just seems like a desire to be righteous and wag our fingers at the young and foolish Joel.

  37. Or perhaps some people value honesty, integrity, and honoring your commitments(written contracts, in particular, agreeing to refrain from certain activities. Of course I haven’t seen his contract, so I don’t know if there were any prohibitions or not). I don’t find that odd.

  38. Just seems like a big stink about all these rumors of what really went down and like Matt said, a chance to wag our finger and play the moral police. No one’s perfect, so getting to the bottom of this to vilify someone who’s 22 years old with an amount of money made in just 2 seasons of baseball that many of us won’t ever earn in a single year seems so self righteous. I know if I had hundreds of thousands of dollars, right now, at 21 years old, I’d buy me cars and whatnot that go fast and I’d be driving them fast. And I’m not even the typical wrench-head dude that’s into fast cars and whatnot.

  39. Man, it’s not self-righteous to expect a little honesty from a grown man who has already missed key games due to playing Guitar Hero. Hurt yourself while riding your motorbike? Man up and admit it. Seriously, we expect so little from these guys. Are we really living in a time where we’re the moral police because we don’t like being lied to? Wouldn’t you expect a 10-year-old, much less an adult making hundreds of thousands of dollars, to be honest and say what really happened? If no evidence comes out to support the rumors, then great, but saying we’re villifying the guy for expecting a level of honesty most of us learned in Cub Scouts or Brownies smacks of rationalizing away b.s. behavior that doesn’t do either Zumaya or Tigers fans any good.

  40. It’s official, a spark from Joel’s dirt bike started the San Diego fire. While fleeing the raging inferno, he sped to his parents home. While rummaging through their attic to find his fabled guitar, a box came out of nowhere, slamming into Joel and separating his shoulder.

  41. Give the parents a lie detector test. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this before the next catastrophe happens. Joel is a walking time bomb.

  42. This seriously sucks(especially for me cause Zoom zoom is my tiger NO!!). Anyways The next thing on DD list HAS to be a CP.

    1.Todd Jones- Well knowing DD if Jones wants back because the Braves don’t want him(they HAVE a CP in Soriano come on 29y.o. or 41y.o. take your pick), Jones will be your closer come 2008 pitchers report. Now, since Zumaya may be not dependable for the Tigers we may see DD getting into the Gagne(hopefully 2 year deal), Cordero(maybe 2 year deal but for cheap hes not proven), or Mariano Rivera(pushing 40 yikes). I think to be honest is to sign Jeremy Affeldt and push for a Gagne/Cordero FA deal for CP. Affeldt is deffinently proven and should help bolster the Bullpen, While the Gagne deal should be good for Det.

    As for conspiracy theories I don’t care about it, whats done is done and we(and Zoom) have to reap what he has sown(sp?) DD go out and sign a confident closer so we don’t have to worry about going south next year like the White Sox two years after they won the WS.

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