Oh them injured arms

by billfer on July 29, 2009 · 17 comments

in 2009 Season,Injuries

Two injured Tigers pitchers are on the way back, and one is on the way back to Alabama.

Joel Zumaya

Zumaya started to feel pain again in his shoulder and with that comes a “diagnostic” trip to see Dr. James Andrews. There is a possibility that Zumaya will need surgery to clean up bone shards that is a part of last year’s stress fracture.

While I hope for the best for Zumaya, this story is probably a non-factor for the Tigers and their chances this year. If Zumaya can come back that’s great, but it shouldn’t even factor into the Tigers plans one way or the other.

Jeremy Bonderman

Rod and Mario mentioned during the telecast that Bonderman was set to pitch a simulated game prior to the Indians game on Friday. Bonderman is supposedly feeling great and Dave Dombrowski has said that a bullpen role could be in Bonderman’s future. With Porcello’s recent struggles and the uncertainty around what Luke French can contribute down the stretch, I have to think the Tigers need to at least explore Bondo starting down the stretch.

Nate Robertson

Robertson, like Bonderman will throw a simulated game before the weekend. Robertson is recovering from a procedure to clean out his elbow. I have no idea if it would be a successful endeavor, but the Tigers should look at an extended rehab session for Robertson to stretch him out as well.

Fu-Te Ni and Bobby Seay have made a nice left-handed tandem out of the pen and I can’t see Robertson dislodging either one of them at the moment. The mission to make him a starter does a)buys the team more time with him in the minors and b) if he pitches well it’s another potential starting option.

 
 

{ 17 comments }

stephen July 29, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Zumaya’s 2007-2009 stats
87 innings,
3 saves
20 holds
14 blown saves.
1 injury playing Guitar Hero
1 injury ‘stacking boxes’ and/or flipping a dune buggy.

Vaya Con Dios Zoomie!

Andrew July 30, 2009 at 7:16 am

Unfortunately, 2006 keeps looking more and more like the only good year Zumaya will ever have. It’s a shame he keeps getting injured.

scotsw July 30, 2009 at 9:36 am

Zumaya’s 24 years old and still throws 103. He’s the best bloody pitching prospect in the major leagues. Good lord, people are impatient.

When he is well, he is untouchable. You don’t give that away.

Matt July 30, 2009 at 11:32 am

Joel Zumaya is the “best bloody pitching prospect in the major leagues?”

Really? The best? In the major leagues?

He’s not even the best pitching prospect on our team, not to mention the entire league.

scotsw July 30, 2009 at 11:42 am

I’m not saying he’s the best pitcher. I’m saying that nobody in the majors has an arm as good as his, and at age 24, he has plenty of upside and is still learning the game. Thinking of him as a “prospect” instead of a finished product is appropriate.

Some people are ready to get rid of him because he’s been inconsistent. Given his age and the interruptions of his development due to injury, that’s bat-guano-insane. I’d expect inconsistency under the circumstances. It’s not just the injuries themselves, it’s the lack of work.

Calling him the best prospect in the majors might be hyperbole, but saying he’s the best young arm isn’t. People are WAY too ready to get rid of him, and that makes zero sense.

Matt July 30, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Sorry, still don’t buy it. Just because the guy can throw 103 doesn’t mean you can say “nobody in the majors has an arm as good as his.”

Hell, Verlander can throw 101-102. Does Joel’s extra 2-3 m.p.h really give him the best arm in the majors?

I agree that Zumaya has plenty of upside. (Although I’d argue that Porcello has even more, which further damages the argument of Zumaya being the best at anything.)

I’m not saying get rid of the guy (especially since you won’t get too much for him right now) but I wouldn’t call him the best anything at this point.

scotsw July 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm

I’m not saying it “just because” of the speed. He has a gnarly curve when it’s working, and the potential to learn when and where to throw a good change-up. The stuff is awesome, not just fast. Easy to forget, perhaps, but true. If you’re among those who think Zumaya is Matt Anderson, you’re vastly underestimating him, IMHO.

But yes, the time has come for Mr. Zumaya to learn some artistry.

RPS July 30, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Certainly thinking of him as a prospect makes sense. Along those lines, you have to figure out if the perception of his future abilities is greater than what you think his abilities will actually be. I think that a number of teams will look at him and see a dominant closer-to-be in need of slight tweaks. I look at him and see a guy with a golden arm who takes a lot of freak injuries and has a big streak of hardheadedness. Freak injuries may just be freak injuries, and hardheadedness in a 24 year old is certainly curable. I still think that his trade value when healthy is greater than his most likely actual future value. More succinctly, I think actual Zumaya will never live up to the myth of Zumaya. Not that he’s a lost cause, or a terrible burden, but just that I think a good trade when healthy is the way to maximize his value.

Andre in Chi July 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Send him to the Cubs for Bradley!

scotsw July 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm

I think when he’s healthy, his actual value will be extraordinary.

Smith July 30, 2009 at 3:01 pm

When I think of Zumaya in 3 years, I think of Bobby Jenks.

I agree that he’s still sooo young. Zumaya is one of the (extremely) rare individuals who can throw 100+mph and still have movement on the ball (the polar opposite of our friend Matt Anderson). Then factor in his nasty off-speed stuff, and I can’t imagine people would be ready to give up on him. Let the kid grow up.

scotsw July 30, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Let’s talk about Bonderman a bit…

In his start this year, he looked ok. Not great, but sure looked like a major-league pitcher. If it’s true he’s feeling better (and it makes sense that his surgical recovery is still progressing), and it’s true that a couple more mph have come back, I think there’s plenty of reason for optimism that he’ll be back mid-August.

Do y’all think he can finish the year as a solid #5 starter? Or at least allow the Tigers to move Miner to the rotation for the rest of 09?

If he’s healthy, he’s a better-than-.500 type starter, and I think it would be foolish for the Tigers to use their trade bait for another starter at this point.

Mark in Chicago July 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm

If the velocity isn’t there, Bonderman can’t consistently get big league hitters out. Simple as that, and it was demonstrated in the start he had in Chicago.

Andrew July 30, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Hey, I never said anything about cutting Zumaya loose or giving up on him. Is he talented? Heck yes, when he’s healthy. I’m just being realistic here in thinking that he might not ever pitch a full season in the Majors again.

Look at his track record with the Tigers:
2006 – wrist & forearm inflammation due to Guitar Hero
2007 – May – ruptured tendon on finger
2007 – Offseason – injured shoulder moving boxes
2008 – Missed first half due to shoulder injury
2009 – Placed on DL in March

Appearances –
2006 – 62 games
2007 – 28 games
2008 – 21 games
2009 – 29 games

MarkJ July 30, 2009 at 2:51 pm

On Zumaya:

It’s too early to give up on him but given his injury history it’s hard to believe the team will ever be able to count on him for a full season. He really needs to take a couple miles an hour off his pitches if that’s what it takes for him to stay healthy. I know it’s a boost to hit 103 mph, but if you’re injured by the all star break every year then it’s not really helping the team in the long run. If his ego won’t let him throw at less than 100 mph then his career is not going to be a long one, that much is clear.

It’s time to find out what he can do when he keeps the velocity in the mid to upper 90s. Maybe he’d be effective, maybe not, but it’s clear that if he keeps throwing his arm out every year after 20 appearances or so he’s not going to provide much.

Mark in Chicago July 30, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Good point MarkJ. Zumaya could conceivably pitch at 96-97 (with more movement?) and dial it up to 100 if he needs to. He’d be more effective that way, almost like adding another pitch.

MarkJ July 31, 2009 at 10:25 am

Yeah, my problem with him is that he seems completely unwilling to dial back on the velocity, like it’s unmanly or something. I think it’s great that he can hit triple digits when he needs to but there are very few, possibly no, pitchers whose arms can do that regularly without having their arms fall off (figuratively speaking of course). Even Nolan Ryan used his top velocity sparingly and he had one of the most durable arms in the game.

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