Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beltran and Zumaya

Obviously the big news yesterday was Joel Zumaya going onto the disabled list and Francis Beltran being called up to take his place. On the surface, Beltran was an odd choice. With all the love Casey Fien has been getting in Toledo, he would have seemingly been the top choice. Once you factor in the fact that Todd Jones is returning Friday and someone would need to go, it makes sense to go with Francis Beltran. But what if he was the more deserving pitcher?

Beltran has not allowed a run since July 6. In that time, he has walked 2, struck out 15, and allowed just three hits in 9.1 scoreless innings. Beltran has been quietly dominant since Toledo's all star break. During the bullpen series, I have brought up the strategy in buying low on relievers recovering from injuries. Beltran fits this description, as last year was his first full season of pitching since 2005 Tommy John surgery. I would not be opposed to Beltran staying in the bullpen for the duration of the season to see if he is worth keeping around. If you are worried about the roster crunch when Todd Jones returns, I would suggest that Freddy Dolsi can be sacraficed for a couple of weeks.

And now that gets us to Zumaya. Luckily, I haven't been able to watch or listen to the games this week, saving me from sitting through his dreadful outing on Tuesday. But the question I have: WHY WAS HE EVEN PITCHING? The guy is coming off of shoulder surgery, had lingering shoulder problems over the past few weeks, and hadn't been pitching particularly well. You would think that would have set off some red flags. Once again, something appears to be broken when it comes to the Tigers' handling of injuries. I don't know if the blame falls at Jim Leyland's feet, if Dave Dombrowski is to blame, if Kevin Rand is at fault, or if the team doctors have continually screwed up, but there is a long list of Tigers's players dating back to last summer who have played through minor injuries only to have more severe problems result. As much as everybody wants to fix the bullpen and the pitching staff, I think an overhaul in the team's handling of injuries could go a long way in improving the team.

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