January 18, 2012

“Gleeman and The Geek” #24: Zumaya and Arbitration

This week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" was recorded at the Wild Boar in Hopkins, my beer choice was Leinenkugel Honey Weiss, and we were joined by special guest Nick Nelson. Topics included Joel Zumaya signing, Glen Perkins, Alexi Casilla, Francisco Liriano, and the arbitration process, Roy Oswalt rumors, Delmon Young's deal with Detroit, Victor Martinez's injury, revisiting the top Twins prospects of 2011, and John Bonnes' horrible beard.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 24

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

January 16, 2012

Twins add hard-throwing, oft-injured Joel Zumaya to bullpen mix

Joel Zumaya hasn't appeared in a major-league game since gruesomely fracturing his elbow while throwing a pitch to Delmon Young at Target Field on June 28, 2010, but the oft-injured reliever was healthy enough to impress the dozens of scouts attending his workout last month and yesterday the Twins signed him. Assuming that Zumaya passes a physical exam, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that the one-year deal is for $800,000, with $900,000 in incentives.

According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune the contract is a big-league deal that includes a spot on the 40-man roster, but is not fully guaranteed and "the Twins would be able to cut Zumaya in spring training and not be on the hook for all of the guaranteed money if something doesn't look right." All of which means the signing falls somewhere between no-risk and low-risk, with the upside of a late-inning reliever who does anything but pitch to contact.

Of course, given his incredibly lengthy injury history the far more likely scenario is that Zumaya spends most of the year on the disabled list or perhaps doesn't even make it through spring training. Zumaya was a 21-year-old rookie phenom for the Tigers in 2006, posting a 1.91 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 83 innings while holding opponents' to a .187 batting average, but in the five years since then he's thrown a grand total of 126 innings while undergoing six surgeries.

Zumaya ruptured a tendon in his finger in early 2007, separated his shoulder while helping his father move boxes prior to the California wild fires in late 2007, underwent a second shoulder surgery for a stress fracture in late 2008, needed a third shoulder surgery after aggravating the injury in mid-2009, and has been under the knife twice since his elbow exploded in June of 2010. And sprinkled in with all the operations have been several other brief disabled list stints.

What makes Zumaya worth taking a flier after all the injuries is that he's still just 27 years old and has never lost his high-90s fastball. Most pitchers see velocity vanish as the arm problems pile up, but Zumaya actually threw slightly harder in 2010 than he did as a rookie in 2006. For his career Zumaya's fastball has averaged 98.5 miles per hour, which is the highest in baseball among all pitchers with at least 50 innings since 2006:

                      MPH
JOEL ZUMAYA          98.5
Henry Rodriguez      98.3
Aroldis Chapman      98.2
Jordan Walden        97.8
Daniel Bard          97.5
Stephen Strasburg    97.0

He had MLB's fastest fastball in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 before narrowly finishing second to Aroldis Chapman in 2010 and wasn't simply lighting up radar guns. Zumaya also remained effective after the surgeries with a 2.58 ERA and 34-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 38 innings before his elbow snapped in 2010. None of that guarantees the recent elbow surgeries won't sap his velocity, but Zumaya was reportedly clocked in the mid-90s at last month's workout.

Odds are Zumaya won't stay healthy, so if the Twins are viewing him as the final piece of their bullpen and the guy to fill the vacant right-handed setup man role that's a mistake. However, assuming that they're still in the market for a low-cost veteran right-hander like Todd Coffey or Dan Wheeler or Chad Qualls or Michael Wuertz the addition of Zumaya on a low-risk deal makes all kinds of sense. He still has plenty of upside and the contract has no real downside.

January 13, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• By virtue of her contribution to Jay-Z's new song his week-old daughter Blue Ivy Carter has already experienced more success than 99 percent of musicians ever will.

• One bad thing about being George Clooney is that he has to make such difficult tradeoffs.

Alex Rodriguez definitely has a type.

Rob McElhenney gained 50 pounds for the latest season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so naturally now he's interested in the lives of bloggers.

• This would be like arresting me for writing about the Twins or looking at Mila Kunis pictures.

Donovan McNabb finally found a place where his bounce passes are a positive thing.

• If anyone knows Katy Perry, tell her I'm willing to overlook this whole thing.

Bud Selig makes $22 million per year. That's all.

• My blog-mate Craig Calcaterra had some interesting thoughts about guys like us joining the Baseball Writers Association of America.

• This week's podcast is a mailbag episode, so thanks to everyone who submitted questions.

• Last month I opined that Glen Perkins is one of the few athletes worth following on Twitter, as evidenced by this picture of him dressed up as Bear Bryant for the Alabama-LSU game:

And clearly he wasn't kidding about hoping Ricky Rubio popularizes the neck beard locally.

• Apparently my diet has had a profound impact on the world.

• Good news if you like good television: Community is coming back to NBC, for a while at least.

Russell Wilson was the Rockies' fourth-round draft pick in 2010 and played 93 games in the low minors as an infielder, but the Wisconsin quarterback told them he's sticking with football.

• I rented Blue Valentine about six months ago and then watched it again last weekend ... four times. Luckily the free Showtime preview on DirecTV came to an end, because I couldn't stop.

• I also learned that Showtime has some pretty good shows and has definitely closed the gap on HBO. And now I'm confused about why Emmy Rossum isn't a huge star.

• Seven years ago I wrote this article touting Barry Larkin for the Hall of Fame.

Johan Santana is 16 months removed from left shoulder surgery and still not sure when he'll rejoin the Mets' rotation. He's owed $55 million for the next two seasons.

• Earlier this week the "F" key on my laptop stopped working and it's still giving me problems, but rather than getting it fixed I'm thinking about adopting this approach to writing.

• Very few one-person podcasts are any good--which is why I partnered up with John Bonnes for "Gleeman and the Geek"--but Bill Burr's solo show "Monday Morning Podcast" is hilarious.

• Two of my favorite comedians, Tom Segura and Todd Glass, will be at Acme Comedy Club on back-to-back weeks. Instead of talking someone into driving me or figuring out how not to be so clueless getting places and buying a new car I'm thinking of just moving next to the club.

Evan Drellich of MLB.com penned a fitting tribute to Society for American Baseball Research member and all-around nice guy Greg Spira, who died last month at age 44.

• This year's SABR convention is coming to Minnesota from June 27 to July 3 and I've gotten a lot of questions from locals curious about joining, so click here for details about what it entails.

• Finally, in honor of me binging on Blue Valentine this week's AG.com-approved music video is "You and Me" by Penny and The Quarters:

January 11, 2012

“Gleeman and The Geek” #23: Mailbag

This week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" was recorded at Scoreboard Bar and Grill in Minnetonka and my beer of choice was Sam Adams. Our mailbag show back in November went well, so we again took questions from listeners, covering a wide range of topics including the payroll drop, what happens if Justin Morneau can't play, the search for righty relief, disliked players and the media, Danny Valencia's future, Levi Michael's timetable, and Moneyball.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 23

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

January 10, 2012

Got a question, comment, or topic idea for this week’s podcast?

Our first two mailbag episodes of "Gleeman and The Geek" worked so well for the podcast that we're doing it again, so John Bonnes and I are soliciting questions, comments, and topic ideas from the audience. If there's something you'd like to hear us read, answer, discuss, or argue about on tonight's show you can send it to me/us via the comments section, e-mail, or Twitter. And they don't all have to be Twins-related. In fact, non-Twins stuff is definitely encouraged.

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