Thursday, November 01, 2007

Joel Zumaya: Pitcher Or Myth?

My initial thought the first time I saw Joel Zumaya light up the radar gun at 102 mph was that it was too good to be true.
I mean, this kid came out of nowhere and started throwing as hard as any pitcher in the history of baseball.
As hard as Ryan. As hard as Feller. As hard as Koufax.
It was unbelievable.
To top it off, there is a charismatic element to Zumaya that livens up all that surrounds him.
Well, now it does seem like "Zoom" was too good to be true. Since he suffered that freakish finger injury early last season, he’s almost been more a myth than a pitcher. The shoulder injury he suffered when a box fell on him during the San Diego fires is very hurtful to the Tigers. Even on a staff with Justin Verlander, he just might be the most talented pitcher.
It will cost the Tigers a lot of money to bring in relief help, but their bullpen is thin. It might be smart for them to throw the bank at Mariano Rivera. This does seem to call for drastic measures. There is no upside to it, but at least it didn’t happen during spring training or after the start of the season like last year. The club at least understands the cards they have been dealt.

Random Thoughts

- Emotion is the only thing Michigan State will have on its side Saturday against Michigan. The Wolverines are just a superior football team - and in every way. I thought earlier this season that the gap might be closing in the rivalry. I couldn’t have been more wrong. State has sometimes beaten Michigan under these circumstances, but it seems highly unlikely.

- I thought Dre Bly was a knucklehead when he played for the Lions. He got burned too often on big plays and it seemed a stretch that he went to the Pro Bowl twice wearing the Honolulu Blue and Silver. And he threw Joey Harrington under the bus as if he was the only problem. As far as I’m concerned, Bly was part of the problem, too. A big part. The Lions miss him so much, they are 5-2.

- The Colts are a great team. They are at home. They are the defending Super Bowl champions. How can New England be a 5-point favorite in this game? I know the Patriots have been impressive this season, but come on. I am taking the Colts.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

I truly hope and pray Joel Zumayan does not become this generation's Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. The Bird had such a tremendous season back in '76 when the Tigers were truly awful. Maybe not '03 terrible, but nonetheless, truly awful.

Any other established major league relievers, beside Riveria, that fans like myself could look for the Tigers to obtain?

Zetterberg for MVP! Great to see Huds and Cleary get goals tonight. And can I get an "Ozzie, Ozzie"?

10:52 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Hi Pat: Losing Zumaya is bad but it will cause the Tigers to find more pitching, then when Zumaya comes back they will be even better. Zumaya is young, being 22 he has a great chance of coming back. He has good pitching mechanics.
Rodney could be the best reliever in the MLB if he figures out how to get right- hand hitters out. Rodney get left hand hitters out almost as well as Bobby Seay does. But right-handers just rip him. The right hand hitters must be sitting on his above average fastball or his great change-up. He need to develop a slider or curve or cutter to stop this. If he does that he would be a great stopper. From a Financial point of view, developing a third pitch would means big bucks. Why make $2 million as set-up man when he could make 10 to 15/million per year as a closer. A right hand pitcher can move the ball from right to left much easier than move the ball left to right as Rodney does with his great change.

9:55 AM 
Blogger Barry said...

Hey Pat: Most of the contenders Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, Rockoes ect should be contend with their present closer. The Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and maybe Cubs will be going after a closer. There are three good ones, Cordero, Riveria and Gagne so it does look good for the Tigers to sign one of them. The Rockies might be trading one of their relievers. All these guys would help the Tigers probably be better than Jones or Zumaya?

12:14 PM 
Blogger Scott (Thinking Man) said...

Hi Pat,

I was 11-years-old when Mark "The Bird" Fidrych came up and set the world on fire for the Tigers in 1976. While I had begun to follow baseball by that time, Fidrych probably cemented my interest in the Tigers and baseball. The following year, of course, he got hurt and his career never recovered.

I feel like I'm watching the same movie with Joel Zumaya. I looked forward to every time he came into a game in 2006. You expected something amazing every time he came out. Last season, after he came back from the finger injury, I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall. Well, it fell on Wednesday. I hope for his sake, he can come back and be close to what he was before, but I have my doubts. This type of thing doesn't happen unless you are somehow star-crossed.

This really puts the Tigers in a spot. As you said, the price for Jones just went up. Now, they really need two relievers ... such as a Scott Linebrink. Both will be expensive, and if you sign a Group A, you lose first round draft picks. It's a double-whammy.

This obviously puts more stress on the starters, too. Time to take the kid gloves off of Verlander and Bonderman. And for gosh sakes, I hope Andrew Miller can throw strikes this year!

Is Rick Porcello ready yet?

12:32 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

The only thing michigan state had on there side in my mind Saturday was yellow flags. Man did they shoot htemselves in the foot. If I were Dantonio I would have pulled a Bobby Knight on the sideline and smacked several kids in the head. Or at least took my finger and just poked my finger in the melon and said hello McFly anybody home.. McFly... hello what the hell are you thinking. STUPID PENALTIES is an under statement. To your school's credit. They have some talented players on both side of the ball. Unfortunately its only a few and to far in between which would make up a solid squad. 11 guys on each side of the ball you need more the 3 guys that are good. I just think MSU talent level isn't there. Similar in case to MSU's basketball squad compared to Michigans.

I don't know if I'd throw the book at Rivera or not. Yeah I'd love to have him. Maybe in a two year deal. But I think Francisco Cordero would fill a need just as effective and cost you a bit less. Just a hunch! I understand the Tigers are content on platooning in left field, but I think Jenkins would be a solid signing still. If not him a guy like Matt Stairs. I just think we need a solid left handed bat despite what are lineup looks now.

I know it's only been two games, but you really have to like how Flip is spreading the minutes around his team. If you can keep the starters around 37 38 minutes tops. I think this team can be pretty damn good with there debth. Only area I am concerned with is the boards.

Boy South Florida came down to reality really fast didn't they.

Hey Book did you happen to catch that Kansas/Nebraska basketball game Saturday. Looks like Kansas are hitting the gates running toward that NCAA oh crap wait a minute that is a football score. WTF Nebraska LOL. Has a school (other then Notre Dame this year) fallen out of the graces of College Football like Nebraska has.

10:43 PM 
Blogger Scott (Thinking Man) said...

Hey Pat:

Tell Houdini to stop stealing:


BY DREW SHARP
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

It's now official: Joel Zumaya has become Mark Fidrych.

How can anyone not fear that, after his latest serious injury setback, Zumaya might amount to nothing more than a one-year wonder?

Zumaya has graduated to that fraternity of hard luck, star-crossed Detroit athletes. It's a shame because he shared Fidrych's dramatic flair on the field as well as The Bird's youthful quirkiness that proved most enduring. But, sadly, it also seems he shares Fidrych's flair for fluky accidents.

Sounds similar to my post, doesn't it?

8:26 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember listening to your after game show with Drew following the last time State beat Michigan. Ive never forgotten how you two spent the entire show giggling like little school girls, poking fun at Michigan.

Well Mr. "straight down the middle", I didn't detect much glee in Sundays column. Just whining about comments from Mr. Hart, like Michigan was the only one trash talking.

Objectivity?

7:53 AM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

I watched the Colts - Patriots game last night, and I noticed something strange in the first quarter. Every time the Colts ran the ball, Clark would come un-set and walk toward the line about a second before the ball was snapped. As I watched longer, I noticed that he only did this during run plays, and always remained set in his position until the snap for pass plays. I watched this for the rest of the game, and it was kind of funny. I could tell whether the play was play action or a run purely based on what happened before the snap, and it was consistent throughout the game. I wonder if this is part of the reason that New England became so much better against the run as the game wore on? It seemed strange to me that a profesional football team would have such a tell sign as to what they are doing before the snap.

-Marty

8:54 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
It's unfortunate, but I don't think, given his track record during his brief major league career, that the Tigers can depend on Zumaya. They don't want to have the same situation they had with The Bird where they are waiting all the time for him to come back - and he never does. Osgood, obviously, has something left in the tank. He has been surprisingly good.
Caputo

9:50 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
Zumaya's future is iffy. Age has little to do with a shoulder injury like that. Often they result in the end of a career. Medical advances haven't been made to repair shoulders to the same degree they have for elbows for pitchers. I'd say odds are, at best, 50-50 he will ewer be a truly effective major league pitcher again.
Caputo

9:55 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
In my opinion, without a big time setup man like Zumaya was in 2006, the Tigers need to have a better closer than Todd Jones.
Caputo

9:56 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Scott (thinkingman),
Just look at the domino effect Zumaya's injury had on the Tigers last season. If toss everything about their pitching staff out of whack. Conversely, it brought everything together in 2006.
Caputo

9:58 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
What has happened to Nebraska shows you how quickly the mighty can fall in college football. It's why Michigan has to be careful with how it might handle a departure by Lloyd Carr. They must hire the right coach.
Caputo

9:59 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
I treat Michigan and Michigan State equal when it comes to praise or criticism. Always have. Always will. I have poked plenty of fun at MSU, too. You are the one who is slanted. But that's OK. that's why there is a rivalry between the two schools.
Caputo

10:02 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
Teams do those motion things to just throw the other team off. There must have been something about the Patriots defense they were trying to get them to react to on running plays, you know, pulling a linebacker or something from his normal position, by moving Clark. Tom Moore is too smart a coordinator to tip things off without reason.
Caputo

10:04 AM 

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