Joel Zumaya to the DL

Not surprisingly, Joel Zumaya has been placed on the disabled list. His shoulder is the culprit but the diagnosis on the press release was limited to “sore.”

Francis Beltran gets called up to take his spot. Why not Casey Fien or Francisco Cruceta, or someone else? This is probably a 2 day call up until Todd Jones can be activated on Friday. Beltran is fairly expendable whereas Fien would require burning an option and Cruceta could be lost through waivers when he would be sent down.

Ah, the closer by committee

The Tigers are going the route of closer by committee. Sort of. In the sense that Kyle Farnsworth, Fernando Rodney, and Joel Zumaya will all get opportunities there is definitely a committee of people who will be closing games. But it seems as if it will be pre-determined heading into the game – at least tonight when Joel Zumaya will close if the situation presents itself.

I guess what I’d prefer is to just wing it each game. See who is throwing well, and the match-ups coming up in the 9th. And on another note, why not throw Bobby Seay into the mix.

Todd Jones out as closer

Jim Leyland hasn’t been shy about making changes to established roles this season. He quietly announced a big one on the radio pre-game show with Dan Dickerson when he said that Todd Jones is out as closer and Fernando Rodney would primarily assume the role.

It had become clear over the last couple weeks that Jim Leyland was losing confidence in Todd Jones. Leyland announced a couple weeks ago that he was going “to watch him” speaking more about his usage and indicating that Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney would receive some opportunities. In Baltimore he let Joel Zumaya pitch a second inning to try and get the save instead of Jones.

On Friday night Aquilino Lopez was warmed up and at the ready if Jones started to unravel – the type of move Leyland would NEVER make in the past. We all remember a certain game in Cleveland last year where Jones didn’t have it, got hammered, and Leyland refused to get anybody up in the pen. Jones blowing the Friday game after coming so close to securing the win was apparently the last straw.

Even with 2 blow-ups, Rodney has been the Tigers most effective reliever since coming off the DL*. Since June 16th Rodney (and not counting today) has thrown 14 innings and has allowed 8 walks, 10 hits, and he’s fanned 12. Over the same period Todd Jones has thrown 14.1 innings and allowed 22 hits with 2 walks, 4 HBP, and only 4 K’s. (And if you were wondering about Zumaya he’s gone 16.1 innings with 16 hits, 15 walks – ouch, and 16 K’s)

*Actually Bobby Seay probably deserves to hold that title. Over the same span he’s allowed just 6 hits and 6 walks in 12.1 innings with 13 strike outs. Why are the Tigers looking for a lefty reliever?

Rodney is much maligned though among Tigers fans. I attribute it to the fact that he wears his hat crooked. And when he blows up he really blows up. Still he is capable of extended periods of dominance – like 2006 for example. Or even last year after he returned from the DL and allowed all of 3 hits and 4 walks in his first 11 games back while fanning 17.

Now there are questions about this move. Primarily what role does Todd Jones play? He can’t be brought in to tough jams. Does he fill the Aquilino Lopez role of keeping a deficit from expanding, or eating an inning or two with a multi-run spread? And second there has to be concerns about Rodney’s health. He looks great at the moment, but he’s missed big chunks of the last 2 years and a 45 pitch outing today probably isn’t the best strategy.

I like seeing Rodney get the opportunity, and I like the willingness of Leyland to make a move. Stubborn is a difficult tag to hang on the skipper this season in that he’s tried a number of things. I think Rodney will probably fare okay, but be ready for a different type of rollercoaster. Jones would take you through highs and lows in any given outing but would typically get the job done in most outings. Rodney will wow you sometimes and kill you other times. It’s a matter of inter-outing rollercoaster versus intra-outing rollercoaster.

UPDATE: The Detroit News has some audio with Todd Jones. He says all the right things, but the guy is crushed. And yes, he’s struggled and the move is the right one to make, and he’s a professional, and he gets paid millions of dollars, and he’s made some questionable comments in his columns. I know for all those reasons people aren’t supposed to feel sympathy, but I can’t help it. I do.

Denny gets Bautista’d

Denny Bautista is odd man out of the bullpen with the return of Joel Zumaya. I’d offer up my feelings, but instead I’ll point you to Detroit Tigers Thoughts who already has it covered.

UPDATE: It appears that the Tigers tried to move Bautista prior to DFA’ing him. Regardless I think it’s a bad move. Bautista hasn’t been bad. Rodney is a long shot to make it through the rest of the season. And while the rehab stint was good for Zumaya can he be counted on holding up? If it’s me I’m hording talent and sending down Dolsi or Miner – and I’m a Dolsi fan.

But instead they are keeping 3 guys with options and losing a guy who hasn’t pitched that bad.

Head west young man

Joel Zumaya’s rehab assignment is finished. He was to throw for the Mud Hens today so he could work in back to back games, but they opted for a bullpen session instead of the noon start. Following the 14 pitch session Zumaya was on his way to the airport to meet the team in San Diego.

Now San Diego is his hometown having grown up in Chula Vista. That means he’ll be home for 3 days with the team not playing the Padres until Friday. Here’s hoping that he avoids any manual labor and calls in professionals if need be.

He won’t be activated of course until the Friday game, which means someone needs to go down. There are 3 bullpen pitchers with options in Freddy Dolsi, Zach Miner, and Casey Fossum (nice sleuthing Eddie) who could be candidates.

Tigers Minor League Wrap & Rehab Report: 6-16-08

Syracuse 2 Toledo 5
Joel Zumaya pitched 1 inning, allowing 2 hits and an unearned run, but he walked no one and fanned 2. Clete Thomas is playing again and was a triple short of the cycle with 2 stolen bases so the ankle is probably okay. Chris Lambert fanned 6 in 6 innings while only allowing 1 run on 4 hits.

Erie DNP

Lakeland 3 Sarasota 2 (11 innings)
Gary Sheffield hit 3rd and DH’d tonight. He flew out twice and walked before being lifted for a pinch hitter. I’m not sure if he aggravated something or if it was part of the plan. Brennan Boesch had 4 hits and Ryan Strieby had 3. Duane Below allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk in 7 innings while striking out 3. Jay Sborz pitched 3 perfect innings of relief.

Wesst Michigan DNP

Another good outing for Zumaya

Joel Zumaya pitched a scoreless inning fanning 1 batter. He threw 11 pitches, 8 of which were strikes. He’s set to do back to back outings on Monday and Tuesday and if all goes well he’ll be back for the Padres series.

On another note, Francisco Cruceta also pitched a scoreless inning striking outtwo. Nine of his fourteen pitches went for strikes.

Junkballing: No shortage of news

I’ve got to give this Tigers team credit for one thing. There’s no shortage of news. Last week I tried to put together a timeline of all the announcements and news coming out of Jim Leyland’s office. I couldn’t get it legible at less than 1200 pixels wide. And that was before all the news from the last week.

Vance Wilson

Wilson received awful news in that he needs to do Tommy John times 2. His contract with the Tigers is up this year and with a 12 month recovery period, he is done as a Tigers player and may be facing retirement. He’s well respected in the Tigers organization and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Wilson back in another capacity in a few years. Best wishes to Vance.

Roster moves: Rapada

Clay Rapada was optioned to Toledo to make room for Eddie Bonine. This isn’t a merit based demotion but a matter of the guy with options getting sent down. It’s something we may see again next week when Rodney and Zumaya return. Dolsi could be one of the guys out based on contract status. Fossum, Seay, Bautista, and Lopez are all out of options.

Granderson’s struggles

Detroit Tiger Tales takes a look at Curtis Granderson’s struggles. He finds among other things that Granderson is taking a lot of pitches, both out of and in the strike zone and it’s possible he’s being to passive. That’s something I could buy, and his timing seems to be off as well with a lot of ball popped up to the left side. I trace it back to the Tim Wakefield game. Look at his gamelogs and see what happens from May 6th onwards. It’s a 554 OPS with only 4 walks. Right now his OBP is the same as Pudge’s.

Zumaya-Rodney updates

I think I spied Joel Zumaya in the Tigers dugout last night. But he is experiencing some soreness in his side. If everything goes as planned he’ll pitch tonight, and then back to back on Monday and Tuesday with a possible return to the team for the San Diego series.

As for Rodney, he had a terrific outing for the Mud Hens last night and will be back Monday provided he feels alright today.

Spit balls

All the injury updates

An update on four of the fallen Tigers and their progress:

Joel Zumaya

Jim Leyland said that if everything goes right Joel Zumaya could join the team on the next west coast swing when they get to San Diego, which is Zumaya’s hometown.

Of course I don’t know if tonight’s rehab outing is an indication of everything going right. In his first innning he allowed a walk, a single, and a line out but he also fannned a batter and hit 100 mph on the stadium gun. In his second inning of work he made a throwing error on a grounder and then allowed a double and a walk before being lifted.

Fernando Rodney

Rodney was back in Detroit working with Chuck Hernandez. He has another rehab outing on Friday and could be ready to join the team on the flight to San Francisco.

Jeremy Bonderman

Bonderman will be evaluated by Dr. Greg Pearl who did the Kenny Rogers surgery last year. At that point he’ll find out whether or not he needs a rib removed. Rogers is confident that Bonderman will be better off after having the procedure.

Gary Sheffield

Sheffield is ready to begin doing baseball stuff again. Let’s hope his shoulder has healed.

Rodney, Zumaya report to minors on Tuesday

It’s been written about for the last few days, but the team made it official today. Righthanded pitchers Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya are both scheduled to begin an injury rehab assignment on Tuesday, June 3.

Rodney will be assigned to Triple A Toledo, while Zumaya will be assigned to Single A Lakeland.

With Rodney being assigned to the Mud Hens, it seems that he could be back within a week or two. I’d guess that Zumaya is more likely to use closer to the full month allotted as he rebuilds arm strength.

Shuffling the deck and rehab news

A cornucopia of Tigers news that has come out today. Jim Leyland is prepared to make some changes, even if it means hurting some feelings. The skip says:

“So I’m going to change some things around here and see what happens. I think that’s important. As I said, I don’t know if it’s going to work. I don’t know if it’s going to make people angry, but that’s the way it goes.

“I don’t mean for this to sound negative, I don’t mean it that way, but this isn’t about feelings. It’s beyond worrying about egos. This is about doing the job. I’m going to try some stuff.

“We have a great group of guys and I think they’ll understand. They might not agree with it, but the manager has to do what he thinks is best for the team. If this team is what I think it is, they’ll go along with it.

“We have to get it rolling somehow,” Leyland said. “I’m not really a 40-game guy, or a June 1 guy, but you can’t just sit there when it’s not working.

“My general manager has given me a hell of a team here. I haven’t really coached it to the right flow. But I’m not going to sit still. I don’t want to be patient to a fault.”

One thing you can’t accuse Leyland of this season is being complacent. He’s shuffling batting orders, moving people aroudn the diamond defensively, giving pitchers different roles in the pen. The hope is that something sticks. Some of the moves coming out are:

Miggy drops to 6th

Jim Leyland dropped Miguel Cabrera to the sixth spot in the lineup. I have to believe that this move is more psychological that strategic. Let me rephrase that. I believe that the implications of this move will be more psychological than strategic.

Lineup configuration has a pretty limited impact on run scoring. Cabrera hasn’t put up his typical numbers, but has still been an offensive force. He has struggled with RISP to the tune of a 639 OPS. If there is a thought that he’s pressing, perhaps moving him down will take pressure off of him to drive in runs. I don’t really believe any of that and chalk it up more to sample size issues. I’m somewhat supported in this because he has a .903 OPS with men on.

Still odd that Cabrera is productive and gets moved from 5th to 6th while Sheffield was allowed to flounder at the 3 spot.

Rotation flip-flop

With the off day yesterday Leyland is flipping Jeremy Bonderman and Kenny Rogers in the rotation. I’m guessing the move is 2-fold. First, Rogers struggled a little in his last start against the M’s. He allowed 8 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs in 5.1 innings on May 21st. Second, Rogers is a Cy Young pitcher in Oakland. In 45 career starts he is 25-4 with a 3.46 ERA.

Supposedly there is another move coming with the pitching staff.

Rodney and Zumaya news

The news out of Lakeland is encouraging for Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney. Both will be embarking on rehab assignments soon. Rodney is likely heading to Toledo while Zumaya will stay in Lakeland to start.

I’d guess that Rodney is probably a week or two away if he is heading to the Mud Hens. But given his problems last year and this year, I’d still be surprised if he made it through the rest of the season.

Regardless, barring setbacks both would be joining the Tigers within a month or so because a rehab assignment can only last 30 days.

Junkballing: Just a link dump

No rhyme, reason, or subheadings. Just a quick link dump as I watch Jair Jurrjens carve up the Pirates.

  • Kaline or Clemente: Joe Posnanski tackles who was the better sixties right fielder.
  • Tigers interested in Cordero?: Ian points to a report that the Tigers inquired about Chad Cordero during spring training. I don’t make too much of this because A)I get the impression the Tigers inquired about every reliever. B)Jim Bowden probably wants Rick Porcello in exchange. and C)It sounds like he’s the second coming of Fernando Rodney’s shoulder.
  • Pitching coach or therapist? It’s about the Mets, but Stephen (yeah, the Stephen from the comments) pens a piece looking at the role of a pitching coach. It’s good. And long. But good.
  • Tigers respond to fans. Sam Hoff, who contributes the “Inning” pieces here sent a request to Dave Dombrowski and Dombrowski followed through. The story is at Sam’s blog.
  • Vindicated or Vindictive? Yeah, listen to Jose Canseco. I’m sure it’s all on the up and up.
  • Joel Zumaya still likes Guitar Hero. Mmm, yeah. In one respect I feel for the guy that he can’t play a video game without it becoming a story.

Some hope

Okay, so I had one subheading. Craig Colwell, who comments here as Craig in CA and is organizing the Tigers/Giants outing, recently wrote a piece for his local paper. He said I could publish it here as well. I figured we’d could use a little reminder of how excited we were all of 3 days ago.


Hope Springs Eternal

Craig Colwell

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.

~Rogers Hornsby
~

The last week of March, for millions of people young and old, brings forth feelings that are equal to those felt by a child counting down the last few days before Christmas. For me, two words sum up this time of year, Anticipation and Hope. The anticipation of Opening Day, and the hope that maybe this year we’ll win it all.

The baseball season is about to begin. The highs and lows of the previous season have been locked away in a closet since late last fall, otherwise they would combine to eat away at my heart and the hearts of baseball fans everywhere. Oh sure there is the occasional peak at the internet and the sports page, to see what the front office was up to. As fans we try to live normal lives during the winter months. The off-season allows our families time to forget our behavior of the previous season. We do a good job most of the time but there are those moments when you’re at the school play or out to dinner with friends when you quietly wonder why Leyland didn’t pitch Kenny Rogers in St. Louis. There is the moment when you pretend to ooh and ahh at the splendor of the Mountains on a family ski weekend, when you’re really oohing and ahhing over the prospect of Cabrerra, Ordonez, Renteria, Sheffield, Polanco, Guillen and Granderson in the same line up. Just between us, I have watched the last inning of the Tigers winning the American League Pennant in 06’ more than a few times this winter. Don’ tell my family, they’re still a little sore that I moved the Mac into the dining room so we could watch the final innings of the Tigers’ east coast games on mlb.com.

As I’ve gotten older my fanaticism is no longer only about my beloved Tigers, but about the game as a whole. Forget about the steroid scandal and the fact that that the American League uses the DH. For me baseball is about helping out with my daughters’ softball teams, hoping to foster a love of a game that has meant so much to me. It’s about loving a game that was so good to my parents in their final years when traveling and getting out on the town were no longer options. Baseball is there for you everyday from April until October. You become intimate with your home team. Baseball is theatre played out over 162 games mixing drama, comedy, and suspense. It’s getting beyond the intense hatred of the Yankees and the Red Sox and realizing that without these despised rivals the game would be diminished.

Opening day is my own personal holiday, it’s a day of hope, it’s a day of reconnection with my childhood, it’s a day to remember and honor a gift given to me by my parents, the love of baseball. For me, all the season’s past don’t combine to equal the season about to begin. You can bet that I have already blocked out the days the Tigers will be in the Bay area.