Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Face It: Zumaya Doesn't Have It As Closer

First of all, it should be made clear that Jim Leyland’s decisions by "naming" his closer have backfired on him. It didn’t work with Fernando Rodney. Then, soon as the role was removed from him, Rodney pitched very well Tuesday night.
And Tuesday, again, we saw why Joel Zumaya may not be the Tigers closer of the future after all - and why the Tigers should start developing him to be a starter.
In his career, Zumaya is 3-for-15 in save situations. People who are enamored with his big-time fastball aren’t looking at the results. If he is the next Goose Gossage, he sure has gotten off to a rocky start in the role. Goosage, by the way, began his career as a starter.
They should make Zumaya a starter to protect his arm by stretching it out regularly, and it would help him develop his off speed pitches. Zumaya has been trying to shake off the rust since he returned. How about this: Don’t name anybody closer and just do it by committee between Kyle Farnsworth, Zumaya and Rodney the rest of the season. None, none at this point, seem like good options.

Random Thoughts

- How will the rookies do in the Lions preseason opener? They all got to camp pretty much on time. They are all being counted on heavily to contribute this season. It will be interesting to see how they perform in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Giants. Running back Kevin Smith and linebacker Jordon Dizon will particularly be under the microscope.

- Two games sum up the Tigers’ season: Todd Jones blowing the save on the Friday night against the White Sox in Detroit, and Tuesday’s loss.

- I love Olympic sports, but must admit I have an uneasy feeling about this summer’s game being held in China. Hopefully nothing goes haywire and the games come off without a hitch and no political turmoil.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your comments on the relievers. This year is done, they just need to tread water the rest of the year. As for next year, I think it's time to shake it up. The Tigers are stuck with Bonderman and Robertson's contracts, so why not give them a try in the bullpen? They say relievers only need two good pitches. Bonderman has two very good ones and hasn't been able to learn a third to become a quality starter. As for Robertson, more times than not he is effective the first time through a line-up. It's the second and third (if he makes it that far) that he gets knocked around. I say use Robertson and Rodney as your lefty/right set ups guys, then put Bondy as the closer.

If you make those switches your starters could look like this:

1. Verlander
2. Galarraga
3. Zumaya

4 & 5 - Pick any of the two from Free Agent / Rogers / Miner / Porcello / Willis

Can't be worse than this year, can it?

11:05 AM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...


It is sad to resign ourselves to the fact this team is what it is this 2008 season.

A poorly tuned machine.

When one part functions well, one or more of the other parts fail.

But I am sick of hearing the players shrug it off in the media with statements like "we are professionals - we will put it behind us an move on".

You might as well shrug your shoulders to me and say "oh well .. sh** happens".

But your right about Rodney - without the 'closer' label on his head - he did pitch much better last night.

So how 'bout them Lions, eh?

12:40 PM 
Anonymous Chris Baker said...

Hi Book, I'm a big fan of yours. In regards to your comment about Zumaya, I agree, but I don't think any of the Tigers in their bullpen can close right now. I think Leyland has to stick with the guy who pitches well and leaves them out there and he has to eliminate using people as "roles" We don't have a true closer or a set up man right now. Also, I blame the loss last night on Renteria, I think its time to put Santaigo in. You can reach me at

1:41 PM 
Blogger D_Fenner said...

Leyland seems to be the type of unconventional manager that wouldn't automatically conform to the current standard of having a designated closer. It would sure seem to make more sense to use the committee approach. And with the way Bobby Seay is pitching, shouldn't he be thrown into the mix as well? Sure he isn't overpowering, but if there's ever a couple lefties due up for the 9th then it makes perfect sense.

Zumaya's future as our closer seems more dubious with every save opportunity he gets. I'm not optimistic that the Tigers have a capable closer on their roster or in their system. Anyone think Dombrowski makes a call of Francisco Rodriguez's agent this winter? 15 million annually for a reliable closer actually seems fair if it means we can breathe easy getting those final outs at night.

3:04 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Hey Pat, either have Rodney or Zumaya to close is a good idea so Tiger Management know which direction to go next year. I do not think the College kids just drafted be ready to close next year. Like you said Pat, if Zumaya cannot close, then they should make him a starter. If Tigers completely fall out of race, start stretching him out this year once they determine he cannot close. That way they do not have shop for an expensive starter in the off season. I would take the 25 million they have coming off the books and go get K-Rod and get good ss such as Cabrera or better yet a healthy Furcal. I think the kids need another year in the minors before they can make it to the pros at ss.

5:24 PM 
Blogger Larry said...

Great Blog, today, Book. Ironically, when Jones was knocked over, the rest of the bullpen went down like dominoes. The Zumaya-can-do-know wrong club will have to look for a new savior. . . or as you persuasively suggest, wait until he replaces one of our knucklehead starters.

7:55 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...


Kevin Smith sounds pretty darn good. He seems to have the most important thing that a running back needs - good vision - and he backs it up with the second and third most imports things - agility and tackle breaking/avoidance. He is only missing the least important quality - top end speed. It is funny, because Kevin Jones had all of those attributes except for good vision, and that is the only reason he wasn't that effective. I don't think I will ever understand why fast backs who couldn't find a hole to run if you mapped it out for them are often drafted high, while the ones that can find holes to gain positive yards but don't have the top end speed are drafted low. The latter has historically done better than the former as far back as I have watched football. It will be nice to see how he does this season. This is the first time that it seems that Millen has gotten what kind of player can actually play in this league. The attributes that Smith and Dizon have given me hope that he finally understands which attributes are actually most effective. Although the selection of Cliff Avril is more like his normal draft strategy, so who knows? (That isn't to say that Avril won't be effective, but he was a guy with limited production and wasn't a high energy/motor guy, but had good agility and speed, so it is less likely than say Jared DeVries who had great production, and a great motor, but limited agility and speed. Also a third round pick by the way.)


10:26 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You bring up next year and it is interesting to ponder for the Tigers. Do they blow up most of their team? Do they still go all out salary-wise? This I do know: They must do a better job of evaluating veteran players.

9:41 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
"A poorly tuned machine." Couldn't have said it better myself, Fred. And that is putting it kindly. I can't imagine this season going worse for the Tigers.

9:50 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Chris Baker,
I agree about Santiago. I'm not sure if he is the long-term answer at short. The Tigers have some decent prospects there, but Santiago has earned a shot to see what he can do playing every day.

9:53 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I see Seay as a situational reliever in an ideal world, but why not? I know this, he couldn't do any worse. And it does seem like he has earned a shot for something good based on performance.

9:54 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

How much better off would the Tigers be if they had invested in a couple middle relievers and a better closer. A lot better. It would have been money better spent than on Jones, Renteria, etc.

9:58 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Suffice to say, the bullpen didn't advantage of the situation.

9:58 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I just got back from the first preseason game and seeing Smith. He didn't gain a lot of yards, but I thought he did well. He has good feet and a decent burst when he hits the line. Also, it looked like he ran a little lower than when he was in college.

10:00 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home