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.

Analysis

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)

Closers
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.