The Tigers suffered their first casualty of the 2008 season this week when it was learned that Joel Zumaya hurt his shoulder attempting to move personal items after the wild fires in southern California where he lives. He had surgery on his shoulder yesterday that required AC joint reconstruction. He will miss part of the 2008 season but Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus says there is no comparison to look at in terms of previous pitchers with a similar injury. Therefore, there is no way of knowing how long it will take for him to regain his strength and velocity.
This is obviously bad news for a team that had problems with both their starting staff and bullpen in 2007. The "good" news is the timing of the injury allows him to get a head start on his healing and also gives the Tigers a chance to sign a replacement.
I just heard the conference call on XM radio on the way home from work. Dave Dombrowski said it was a serious injury but that the surgery went well and the doctors expect him to recover in time. They think he'll be back at some point in 2008 but it's really not known how long it will take and of course there is never any guarantee that he'll get back to 100%. Dombrowski said he will operate as if Zoom will not be back next year.
How do they replace Zoom? The team's current goal is to get Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones signed. If Jones is not signed, then they will pursue a closer. If he does sign, then Dombrowski said that they should be ok but that they would be open to finding a setup man. I think that was just GM speak for "we are not panicking over the Zumaya injury" as I believe they'll pursue another reliever if they sign Jones and two if they don't.
Since Jones does not have the talent to come in with runners on base or to pitch multiple innings, he can only be a closer. So, if they sign him, that limits their options. At this point, I think it would be better if he did not sign because I'd rather see them pursue a closer such as Francisco Cordero or Mariano Rivera.
It's been an active week for the Tigers and there is sure to be more activity in coming weeks. It should be an interesting off-season. Billfer has more on Zumaya in his weblog