Tigers relief notes

With the deals for LaTroy Hawkins and Brandon Lyon it appears that the market for “back end of the bullpen pitchers who could potentially set-up or close” may be getting steep for the Tigers. And with that the club may turn to in house options.

Jason Beck spoke with Dave Dombrowski who said that a return of Fernando Rodney is unlikely calling it a “long shot.” More frightening though is that the team is viewing Joel Zumaya as a legitimate option for the closer role.

I’m on board with not sinking a lot of money into a bullpen. I think the Tigers have done a good job the last few years of mixing young guys, minor league free agents, and fringy closer material guys together the last few years. It’s a quantity over quality approach where you hope enough guys make it work each year.

But going into a season with Zumaya competing for the role of closer is a ridiculous gamble and yet another reason to question the clubs intention to compete in 2010. In 2006 Zumaya was incredible. He hasn’t been healthy or effective since then. The velocity is certainly still there, but the results haven’t been for too long to “count on him.”

Ryan Perry and the newly acquired Daniel Schlereth would like be competing for such a role as well so all the eggs aren’t in Zumaya’s incredibly fragile basket. Still, those other options are particularly assuring at this point in their career either.

23 Comments

  1. Chris in Nashville

    December 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    I was thinking about thinking about Zumaya as a closer the other day and came up with an interesting argument for it. Do you guys think that putting Zumaya only in the closers role would help keep his innings down by not having to pitch more than 1 inning at a time and not having to warm up as often if he’s only coming in the 9th? It COULD keep him healthier longer. Just a thought. He clearly has the stuff for it and there are certainly worse options. It seems like Leyland likes to use him for more than 1 inning too much in a set-up role and maybe that has caused the wear and tear.

    • Jeff Molby

      December 10, 2009 at 1:09 pm

      But he doesn’t necessarily have the stuff for it. Yeah, he has some serious heat, but unless his secondary pitches are consistently useful, he’s going to continue to get tagged often enough to make him look like Matt Anderson.

      Having said that, you have to keep giving him chances and I hope he lives up to his potential.

      • scotsw

        December 14, 2009 at 12:35 am

        His secondary stuff is often very, very good. He has an excellent curve ball. I do worry that he’s afraid of using his change-up, though, after giving up a dramatic homerun with it. News to Joel: Guys have hit your heater out, too. It happens. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great pitch to have.

        For what it’s worth, I think it’s about 80 percent sure they sign a veteran to compete for the closer’s job this year. Maybe a 1-in-4 chance that veteran is Rodney.

  2. Mat

    December 10, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Good point about quantity over quality. I’d think that between Zum, Perry, Schlereth and maybe some other young arms you’d find a solid closer.

    • TSE

      December 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm

      I’m not sure we’re going to have enough closing opportunities to go around for that many guys.

      • Mat

        December 10, 2009 at 12:49 pm

        The thinking was that one of them would step up into the role, not that all of them get saves. Loading up the pen with quality arms is more important than having individuals with defined roles. Paying a premium for an established closer when they seem to materialize frequently doesn’t seem wise unless you have an established deficiency. We won’t know that till you give the guys you have a shot. You may incur some bumps in figuring it out, but eventually someone will establish themselves as reliable.

      • Kathy

        December 10, 2009 at 1:04 pm

        Remember, all your predictions have been wrong so far.

        • Mark L

          December 11, 2009 at 11:37 pm

          Maybe he’s hoping that by predicting it, it will turn out wrong and we’ll have a great season.

  3. Keith (Mr. X)

    December 10, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I still like Zumaya. I don’t think it’s a ridiculous gamble at all to put him in the mix of candidates who could close for us in 2010.

  4. Kathy

    December 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    If he’s acquired the mindset to be a closer, then fine. It took Rodney a few years to reach that point.

  5. Joey in Portland Or

    December 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Sadly, I think Joel had his career year in his rookie year.

    • scotsw

      December 14, 2009 at 12:39 am

      In all seriousness, why do you think that? He’s still quite young, and hasn’t had the chance to play all that regularly due to injuries. He has worked very, very hard to rehab from each injury, and seems to be completely healthy (so they say). He looked very good at times last year, despite having another shortened year. It’s on him to be ready and to play consistently, but the ability is certainly there.

  6. Brenden

    December 10, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I’m not having very many warm and fuzzy feelings about next season…

    • TSE

      December 10, 2009 at 9:55 pm

      Our best bet is to hope we have dominant pitching. If all of these pitchers can pan out then we can be quite dangerous. Also it would be nice if Inge and Guillen had career years, and if Sizemore and AJ can blossom. That’s all we need is a few breaks there and we’re set.

      It could be a great season, and maybe we get a killer player at the deadline if things end up looking good.

  7. Tim D

    December 10, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Bonderman will be an option to close if they don’t think he is up for 200 IP. If we break down the staff they have now:

    Starters
    1. Verlander
    2. Porcello
    3. Scherzer

    Candidates for 4-5
    Bonderman
    Galarraga
    Robertson and Willis (added for courtesy reasons only)
    Coke?
    Miner
    Bonine
    Figaro
    Turner (you never know)

    Bullpen
    Seay
    Miner
    Perry
    Coke
    Fu Te Ni
    Schlereth

    Candidates
    Zumaya
    Fien
    Losers in starter contest

    Bonderman is a real key. If he can start they will have a solid 1-4. If he can’t but can be effective out of the pen hen could close or set up. If he’s crap they are in trouble. Galarraga is another biggie. If he can be league average they will be ok for a number 5. Turner will be in the picture. Soon.

    Coke will be a valuable middle innings guy, maybe an occasional starter. A LH version of Miner.

    I see the closing candidates as:

    1. Perry
    2. Schlereth
    3. Zumaya
    4. Bonderman
    5. Miner

    I’d rather bet on Perry or Schlereth stepping up than spend a bunch of money on Rodney. We’ll likely see Weinhardt, Satterwhite and Sborz at some point this year. I would look at the low risk, high reward possibilities. Brett Myers. Daniel Cabrera as a short reliever? Chad Cordero, Danys Baez, etc.

    I see 2010 as a re-organization if not rebuilding year. The fans supported the 2009 team very well considering the economy. But the attendance was down 635,000. That’s probably $30-40 million off the top line with no savings on the bottom line. And I doubt they will do better this year. They had to do something to cut the bottom line expenses. It will be interesting to see what they can get for some pieces come spring training or the trade deadline. Health and productivity could make several guys valuable to other teams for a run at a pennant: Guillen, Ordonez, Inge, Laird, Bonderman. They will have a lot of holes to fill come 2011 but they will at least have some dough to do it.

    The great payroll gamble they made after 2006 to “win now” has failed. The economic collapse plays a large part in that. But I think the young core they have now is vastly superior to what they have had in the past. Verlander and Cabrera are the stars and both are way under 30. Porcello, Turner, Scherzer, Sizemore, Jackson, Perry, Schlereth all have big upside. I think they will be fine. For 2010 I’m looking at .500 unless they surprise me and go out and get some more pieces.

    • kes

      December 11, 2009 at 8:22 am

      You really think Bondo could close. It seems like he always gets rocked his first inning out. I would put Inge in the closers spot before Bonderman. (Maybe not, just a thought)

  8. Stormin Norman $

    December 10, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    If there has been one consistency with respect to Joel Zumaya, its been his inconsistency. I question whether he has what it takes between the ears to be an effective and consistent big league pitcher.

    Note to self: there are numerous big league hitters (on every team) that will crush 95-100mph fastballs if they’re thrown belt high with no movement.

  9. JAY RC

    December 10, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Rotation:
    Verlander/Porcello/Scherzer/Bonderman/Coke or Robertson

    As for the bullpen, assuming that Seay is dealt and Rodney not re-signed:

    Miner
    Ni
    Schlereth
    Satterwhite
    Weinhardt
    Perry
    Zumaya

    While I realize this would be a young and inexpierienced pen, why not find out what some of these kids have got? Then when 2011 rolls around they actualy have some innings logged.

    Thoughts?

    Side note:
    Just think of 2011
    Verlander/Porcello/Crosby/Scherzer/Turner
    and Oliver joins the pen

  10. Steve

    December 10, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    well… here’s the thing
    i know you all are going to grill me, but todd jones wasn’t the best closer but he got the job done because he had the closing mentality. Rodney… closing mentality, he kicked ass in a save opportunity. I fear that if you keep switching things up and don’t give someone the closing job, that mentally it could mess things up.
    i can see them calming zoom down and doing the 7th or long relief same with coke , 8th ni, and then hit them with schlereth/perry. *granted sclereth and perry get some strike throwing ability.

    think about it.
    verlander throws 7 (batter gets used to the righty)
    hit them with ni as the specialist
    then BLAST them with perry
    switch it up again, and hit them with schlereth… who’s the k-king

    or even better

    scherzer for 6 innings (k them to hell)
    knock em down with zumaya
    back of with coke (avg fast ball 90.8)
    nail them again them with perry or schlereth.
    (i really liked the verlander (fast) rodney (faster) zumaya (fastest) todd jones (… todd jones) idea because of the change in velocity
    but thats only my idea

  11. Stormin Norman $

    December 10, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    The Tigers should proceed with their 2010 pre-season plans as if Robertson, Willis, Bonderman and Zumaya are not even on the team…and should one or two of them becomes healthy (physically and mentally) they should view that as an unexpected bonus – but i doubt they get any meaningful long-term production out of any of these 4 next year… so unless some youngsters (a/o Coke and Gallaraga) step up, the Tigers will likely have three reliables and a committee of pitchers making up the 4 and 5 spot in the starting pitching rotation… not unlike a lot of other teams out there.

  12. ian (seattle)

    December 10, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    BRING BACK TODD JONES!!!!

    seriously, I could see Weinhardt/Zumaya/Perry closing out the games…a rotating role.

  13. jcm

    December 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Matt Capps Is now available

  14. Mark

    December 13, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Not sure if we’ll score enough runs and have a lead to even need a “Closer” ??