Todd Jones Notes

Todd Jones made his official retirement announcement today. While the news broke yesterday, it was obscured by the long overdue Matt Millen firing. Today, we have some notes and links of interest:

Jason Beck covered the presser today, and it sounds like Jones got emotional, as he’s prone to doing. For all the complaints around the Tigers about effort, heart, pride, loyalty, etc. they were elements that could never be questioned with Jonesy. If you so desire, you can check out the presser for yourself.

The Tigers will honor Jones with a pregame ceremony on Saturday. The ceremony will take place at 6:50, so if you’re heading down try and get in a few minutes early and cheer Todd on. I’m a little bummed because I’m going to 2 of the 3 games this weekend and I’m missing that one.

Jones is going to be a big part of FSN’s telecast on Friday night. Jones will be on the Tigers Live Pregame show, and the whole show will be a Jones retrospective. It will take place in the Big Cat Court. He’ll also spend an extended stint in the booth with Rod and Mario.

On a slightly humorous note, the American Mustache Institute takes a look at the 2 Detroit mustache’s that stepped aside yesterday.

Todd Jones retires

It’s really not all that surprising, but Todd Jones has announced his retirement. This was likely to be Jones last season regardless, but the injury and resulting ineffectiveness likely sealed the deal.

Jones is the Tigers all time saves leader and his 319 career saves places him 14th in the history of the game.

I’m hoping that he joins the team this weekend and that he can be honored in some way. He deserves to go out to cheers instead of the cavalcade of boos he was serenaded with his last time on the mound.

Congrats on a great career Jonesy.

Sporting News Today – September 24, 2008

And that will close the book on Todd Jones

It is looking more and more like Todd Jones has thrown his last pitch. He was with the team the past couple days, but the shoulder isn’t getting better and he is headed home to Alabama.

Jones called a team meeting before the Tigers went out on the field for batting practice and, with hugs, was saying good-bye to his teammates when the clubhouse doors re-opened to the media.

Jones said he’d continue rehabbing and will try to be back, but it doesn’t sound promising.

I know it’s hokey, but I was really hoping that Jones could come back and make an appearance at the end of the season. Just come in and record an out (yeah it might take a couple batters) in a low pressure situation so he could walk off the field to cheers. His last outings at home were atrocious, and he was booed off the field. For a guy that truly loved being a Tiger, and is the team’s all time save leader, you’d hope he could at least go off on a high note.

Jones made me nuts some times, or maybe even frequently. And when he’d blow up he’d face the music. My favorite quote the day after an awful 2006 performance in Toronto came when he was asked how he slept the night before. Jonesy’s response…

I slept like a baby. I woke up every 2 hours crying.

Todd Jones back to the DL

Todd Jones is back on the disabled list. After 1 outing. Makes you wonder why he was brought off the DL in the first place doesn’t it? Of course it did take him a half hour to get out of that inning so that may explain it. Or perhaps Todd is toast and he’ll just finish the year on the DL instead of being outright released.

Oddly, Gary Glover had his contract purchased by the Tigers to fill Todd’s spot in the bullpen. Glover wasn’t even in the organization until last week when he was added to Toledo. Glover appeared in 29 games for the Rays this year with 18 walks and 22 strike outs in 34 innings. I don’t get this at all. Why not give Casey Fien a shot? Or bring back Francisco Cruceta who is striking out everybody in Toledo (or at least everybody he doesn’t walk) with 52 K’s and 20 walks in 36 innings? Or bring back Clay Rapada who is already using an option year and move Bobby Seay from lefty specialist to 7th inning guy.

I guess it’s better to give a handful of innings to a 31 year old journeyman pitcher who has wowed coaches in his 3 innings at Toledo. I’m sorry, there may be very valid roster management/option/service time issues at play here. I don’t get it though.

Junkballing: Booing, Injuries, Waivers and Minors

A hodgepodge of all the stuff that went down this week that just didn’t fit anywhere else:

Much ado about a boo

A lot of disgruntled fans did a lot of booing this week. Gary Sheffield received his share when culmination about frustration with his production collided with Sheff being Sheff. That was noisy, but not too surprising. Sheffield responded somewhat, and was still a little misguided.

“Compare me to me,” Sheffield said. “If you’re looking for .300, 30 [home runs] and 100 [RBIs], then I look pretty awful right now. I ain’t the only .220 hitter in this game. I ain’t the last one to hit .220, but it’s never a big deal when a lot of guys that play everyday, hit in the same spot everyday, and hit .220 and nobody says a thing.”

But Gary, you’re getting paid to be you and that’s the problem. You’re not being paid to be a .220 hitter.

But there was more booing. Joel Zumaya bore the brunt of it when he and Bobby Seay blew a 3 run lead. Zumaya, who said it felt like his shoulder exploded, wasn’t a fan saying

“I think it’s pretty lame,” Zumaya said. “I give it everything I’ve got.”

Bobby Seay didn’t appreciate it either.

I’m not a fan of booing. I understand it, but it’s not something I do. That said I don’t know that the booing was directed specifically at Zumaya and specifically at the outing. But it was general frustration with the bullpen crapping the bed again.

Oww, my aching…

The medical staff has been busy, but it seems like everything has been reactive. Todd Jones hits the DL after getting destroyed repeatedly. Joel Zumaya hits the DL after blowing up. It’s reminiscent of Jeremy Bonderman’s situation last year. I understand players wanting to play through things, but how many times once the team suffer for a player trying to gut it out.

But then you’ve got the other side where in that previously linked Sheffield article he said he was hurting, his trainer said he’s doing too much, but the organization said he was fine.

“I’m just going to give it to you straight,” he said. “When the organization tells you that you’re fine, I can’t say I’m not fine. I have to be on the same page as the organization. That’s just the way it goes.

“I talked to my trainer, and he said, basically, what I’m doing is unrealistic. That’s what he said. I said, ‘Why won’t anyone say that on my behalf? Why do I always have to come up here and defend me?’ And he just said, ‘Be realistic with yourself.’ That’s all I needed to hear. After that, I felt good about walking on the field. I have no extra incentives to play hurt.

I don’t understand it.

Jeremy Bonderman will be rejoining the team this weekend, but to rehab and likely not play.

And speaking of injuries, Marcus Thames is expected back in a day or two, as is Carlos Guillen who is dealing with a pinched nerve in his back. And Freddy Dolsi was optioned out to Toledo to make room for Todd Jones who is back. Though his role hasn’t been decided. Dolsi will likely be back when rosters expand.

Waivering

Gary Sheffield cleared waivers. Shocking. The bigger news is that the Tigers put in a claim on Raul Ibanez. Corner outfield/DH doesn’t appear to be a need for the Tigers so I can’t figure out the intent unless they hoped to get him for free, and then take the draft picks when he walks. Luckily they didn’t work out a trade that would have had the Tigers sending the Mariners anything of value.

Minor interest

The Tigers have had some good news in their farm system this year from some unexpected sources. And it’s getting some press. Wilkin Ramirez is a high ceiling guy that has had his progression and production limited by injuries. But he’s putting it all together this year earning this assessment from a scout:

“He has power, on-base skills, and don’t forget that he’s a 60 [on the 20-to-80 scouting scale] runner as well. His defense is adequate, but I think he’s the kind of guy who is an everyday corner outfielder on a first-division team—he could be pretty special.”

Also in the same article are some kind words for James Skelton, though scouts still can’t decide if his slight frame is an issue.

Another catcher making noise is Dusty Ryan. Tigs Town recently profiled him.

With the Tigers concerns at the catching position heading into 2009, Ryan will have a wonderful opportunity to enter Spring Training with a chance to impress and earn a big league job.

Finally, Ryan Strieby has been destroying the Florida State League.

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.

Todd Jones to the DL?

Hey, what do you know? Another injured Tiger. This time it looks like Todd Jones, who has been bothered by a sore shoulder for 6 weeks, may hit the disabled list. I’d guess that the move would be calling someone up from the minors.

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.

And then there was one, or maybe two

Todd Jones 3-13-08
Todd Jones pitches a 1-2-3 inning against the Braves
Credit Roger DeWitt

That would be spots available in the seven man bullpen. Jim Leyland ended some of the speculation today by announcing that Todd Jones, Bobby Seay, Tim Byrdak, Jason Grilli, and Zach Miner were locks. The ambiguity now surrounds Fernando Rodney and his health. A healthy Rodney would of course be a part of the plan, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Of the aforementioned locks, the first 3 weren’t a mystery in the least. Grilli was also fairly assured of a spot because he’s a Leyland favorite. But Zach Miner wasn’t a given in my mind. Not that Miner isn’t deserving, but that his option status afforded the team some flexibility that Denny Bautista, Yorman Bazardo, and Francisco Cruceta couldn’t. And while it would really be a blow for Miner to go to Toledo, there’s a very strong likelihood that injury or ineffectiveness would lead to a call-up at some point.

Given that Cruceta hasn’t even made it into the country yet, he of course has to be considered a very long shot at this point. However, his visa struggles could play to the Tigers advantage in that he could probably clear waivers while MIA.

With Rodney likely to start the year on the DL, it will give the Tigers a chance to take an extended look at Bautista and Bazardo. Neither could be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. Officially Preston Larrison and Aquilino Lopez are still in the mix, as is Freddy Dolsi. But it wouldn’t make practical sense to take them at the expense of risking the loss of some valuable bullpen depth.

Other stuff

Good news for Tigers pen?

Given the rash of bad news with injuries, shellackings, and visa problems hitting the Tigers bullpen, today was a nice change.

  • Denny Bautista continued to pitch well. He went 2 scoreless innings with 4 K’s and is going to be hard to leave behind when the team heads North.
  • Jordan Tata, who wasn’t a strong candidate for the pen but would be counted on for depth, received news that he should be able to start throwing again in 3 weeks.
  • Yorman Bazardo and Jason Grilli also turned in strong performances today. Granted it was one day, but it’s better than a kick in the teeth.
  • Clay Rapada, another long shot arm for the pen but also a depth guy, threw a bullpen session. It was the first time on a mound since the 2nd week of camp.

The less good news had to do with Todd Jones. While no one seems worried, a lack of arm strength is pretty troubling. It sounds like he’s confident he can build up the strength, but what if he can’t?

I’ll leave you with a happy thought though. Rick Porcello looked very good, save for one breaking ball that floated over everyone’s heads. He got into the proverbial kitchen of a few guys in his 2 innings of work and nothing was hit hard against him. It’s the first time I’ve seen him on the mound save for still shots, and he doesn’t look like a guy fresh out of high school.

Porcello and moving pictures

The Tigers are going the split squad route today with a home game against the Reds (Dontrelle Willis) and a road tilt against the Indians (Yorman Bazardo). For those with MLB.tv they’ll be able to catch the road game which is set to feature Rick Porcello.

Also of note today, Todd Jones is slated to pitch in the Reds game. Jones of course hasn’t been good this spring and is trying to fix mechanical problems.

If you’re following either game feel free to post your thoughts.

Bullpen woes continue to abound as Fernando Rodney’s throwing session was pushed back two days. I learned that from an overly dire Freep headline: “More bullpen bad news – Zach Miner and Fernando Rodney both suffer setbacks.” Turns out Miner’s setback was that he allowed a homer.

Meanwhile former Tigers farmhand Randor Bierd, who was lost in the Rule 5 draft to the Orioles, has developed some kind of super mystery pitch.

Let the Todd Jones hand wringing begin

What do you get when you take an unsettled bullpen, a closer who kinda makes people nervous on a good day, and two craptacular spring outings? A recipe for Todd Jones hysteria.

Today Todd Jones turned in his second awful outing of the spring in what turned out to be a 9-7 Tigers win. Jones didn’t make it out of the 9th inning before surrendering 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk. Last week Jones was hammered for 6 runs in an inning of work.

Is there reason to be concerned? It’s hard to say sitting here in Michigan. Jason Beck noted after Jones’s first bad outing that it’s tough to gauge closers in the spring when they are coming into the 4th inning of games. Well today Jones came into the 9th inning of a game. I’m not sure the fact that he was facing minor leaguers makes the situation worse or better. On one hand he should dominate these kids. On the other hand that adrenaline rush that closers supposedly rely on probably wasn’t there either.

Beck blogged that Jones was working on locating his fastball today. He clearly wasn’t doing it well based on the results. But Beck also notes that Jones isn’t injured which is the most important thing. If there were reports coming out that Jones was velocity was down, or that he had no movement on his pitches I would definitely be more concerned. At this point though I’m willing to chalk his struggles up to “working on things.”