MRI Reveals Torn UCL for Joel Zumaya

Multiple sources are reporting that the MRI Joel Zumaya had this morning revealed a torn UCL in his right elbow.  A torn UCL will mean Tommy John surgery and that he will not pitch in the 2012 season.

Zumaya, who has battled numerous injuries the past 5 years, none worse than this which could end his career.  Zumaya could get another shot in a year or two but may have to contemplate retirement now.

 

Here is the definition of a torn UCL via ConcordOrtho.com:

The ulnar collateral ligament can become stretched, frayed or torn through the stress of repetitive throwing motions. If the force on the soft tissues is greater than the tensile strength of the structure, then tiny tears of the ligament can develop. Months (and even years) of throwing hard cause a process of microtears, degeneration, and finally, rupture of the ligament. The dominant arm is affected most often. Eventually the weakened tendon my rupture completely causing a pop and immediate pain. The athlete may report the injury occurred during a single throw, but the reality is usually that the ligament simply finally became weakened to the point that it finally ruptured.

 

Zumaya was a low risk, high reward signing for the Twins which didn’t work out.  The Twins could have signed another right handed reliever for around $1 million but opted not to this offseason.

Terry Ryan will meet with reporters down in Fort Myers Florida later today to provide more details, Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN tweetedJust talked to Terry Ryan, who said #Twins will likely stay in-house to patch bullpen w/ Zumaya out. Said Zumaya is “distraught.”

Reliever Michael Wuertz is still on the market and could be a cheap replacement option for the Twins but it appears as of right now they will not explore that option.  That could change in the coming weeks if no one stands out in camp and shows they can help the Twins bullpen in 2012.

 

Feel free to share your thoughts below on Zumaya’s injury and what the Twins should do next

 

Photo credit to news-press.com

Zumaya already injures elbow?

Earlier today, newly acquired reliever Joel Zumaya was throwing batting practice to Twins hitters.  Members of the media seemed to be impressed saying he was “throwing quite hard”.

Not long after that a flood of tweets came in saying Zumaya cut the session short and walked off the field with Twins head trainer Rick McWane.  Neither Zumaya or the Twins commented, but early reports are saying it appeared to be an elbow injury.

It was confirmed not long ago that Zumaya will undergo an MRI tomorrow to find out exactly what happened.  We should know more after the MRI tomorrow when Twins GM Terry Ryan will most likely talk with the media and give more information.

From 2007 and on, Zumaya has be oft-injured and has not thrown more than 38 innings in a season.  The Twins took a gamble and signed him to an incentive laden contract with the hopes he would be able to stay healthy and provide the bullpen with the power arm they have been missing for years.

I loved the gamble at the time, my only problem is the Twins did not do anything to provide insurance if Zumaya got injured.  Quality right handed relievers were signing for around $1 million at the time and the Twins easily could have upgraded the bullpen and provided good relief in case Zumaya was injured.

It will be interesting to see what the MRI shows tomorrow, until then we will just have to wait and hope this isn’t a major set back for him.

 

Photo credit to mlb.com

Twins Pitchers and Catchers report today!

Baseball season is finally here, Pitchers and Catchers officially report to Spring Training today.  Following a disastrous 63-99 season, the Twins have invited 66 players to camp this year and the roster will work it’s way down to 25 by the end.

It’s a good move by the Twins, creating some competition for everyone and showing that they are ready to put 2011 behind them.  By all reports catcher Joe Mauer and center fielder Denard Span look to be in great shape and ready to go, the big question mark will be first baseman Justin Morneau.

The Twins’ season largely depends on the heath of Mauer, Morneau and Span.  If all three can stay healthy and produce, the Twins will almost certainly drastically improve on last years record.  If the team experiences the rash of injuries and lack of production they did last year, it’s going to be a long summer….again.

There are a few position battles I am interested in watching during Spring Training.  First off is the bullpen, there are a couple of spots that should be open for competition and a lot of guys competing for them.

Second is the third catcher spot.  Most think that Drew Butera is a lock to take this spot but it will be interesting to see if J.R. Towles, who was a highly touted prospect and was signed by the Twins to a minor league contract this offseason can out perform Butera and make the big league club.

The third is the utility infielder spot.  Most likely this will go to last years Opening Day short stop Tsuyoshi Nishioka.  With the offseason signing of Jamey Carroll, Nishioka will have to compete with infielders Brian Dozier, Luke Hughes and a few others to make the club this year.

The one thing that might give Nishioka is his contract, it would be tough to pay a minor leaguer $3 million.  But after last season, if Nishioka shows he is not ready I expect Terry Ryan to send him down to AAA and give either Dozier of Hughes a shot.

Look for an upcoming post on my initial projections for the 2012 roster in a few days.

 

Twins Focus 2012 Predictions

Seth Stohs of the Twins Centric group and SethSpeaks.net recently posted his 2012 Minnesota Twins predictions.  You can view them by clicking here.

I figured I would go ahead and post my 2012 Twins predictions as we are now less than 2 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training in Fort Myers, FL.  Here they are:

 

1.) Twins Hitter of the Year 2012 

Joe Mauer.  I look for Mauer to come back with a fury this year.  By all accounts he is in great shape and as healthy as he has been in years.  With a full offseason to get his regular workouts in, I expect Mauer to put up numbers similar to his 2009 MVP season more than last seasons production.  I am expecting 28 home runs out of him as he hit in 2009 but expect somewhere around 12-15 with a lot of doubles.


2.) Twins Pitcher of the Year 2012

Francisco Liriano.  Frankie Fastball had a very disappointing year last year.  Coming off a 2010 season where it seemed like he was reverting back to his pre-Tommy John form, the wheels came off in 2011.  Liriano has the ability to be the “ace” pitcher the Twins need and I predict he will be back to his 2010 form in 2012.  Liriano pitched some Winter Ball this year and the Twins are hoping that helps him this season as it did in 2010.  Not to mention, it’s a contract year for him.


3.) Breakout/Surprise Offensive Player of the Year for the Twins 2012
(not necessarily the best hitter, but a guy who far exceeded expectations) -

Trevor Plouffe.  Last year Plouffe put up some great power numbers in his time spent between AAA and the majors.  I expect him to continue that momentum in 2012 and be the Twins breakout offensive player of the year.  It was announced after the season that Plouffe would be moved to the OF, mostly due to his throwing problems while playing SS last year.  Plouffe can fill in at LF, RF, 1B, 2B, SS and 3B if needed which means Gardy will find a way to keep him in the lineup if he continues to hit.  If Revere isn’t able to handle starting a full year in LF, Plouffe could be the one who takes over for him.


4.) Breakout/Surprise Pitcher of the Year for the Twins 2012
(may not be the best pitcher, but really stepped up)

Matt Capps.  Two years ago the Twins acquired Matt Capps for catching prospect Wilson Ramos from the Washington Nationals.  He helped propel the Twins to a Central Division Championship that year and held down the closers role while  Joe Nathan was out.  Last year was a disaster for Capps though.  He was regularly booed off the field towards the end of the season and had lost the confidence of Twins fans.  Little did we know he was battling through injury and unlike most of the roster tried to play through it.  By all accounts Capps is healthy again, so much so the Twins re-signed him to a one year deal plus an option.  Twins fans aren’t expecting much from Capps but I feel he is the pitcher who is going to surprise and actually contribute quite a bit this season.  If healthy all season, Capps has the chance to help one of baseball’s worst bullpens last year improve.


5.) Twins Rookie of the Year 2012

Liam Hendriks.  Hendriks made his major league debut last year and ended up posting a 6.17 ERA in 23.1 innings.  As we saw last year, injuries happen throughout the year and it is entirely possible the stating rotation does not end up as it starts at the beginning of the year.  If a starter has to be replaced, I fully expect Hendriks will be given a good shot to make the rotation.  He has the stuff, and I think whether it’s in the rotation or the bullpen…Hendriks will help the Twins quite a bit in 2012.


6.) Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year 2012

Chris Parmelee.  Last season, Parmelee came up in September and was nothing short of impressive in the majors.  Before his call to The Show, he hit .287/.366/.436 with 13 homeruns and 83 RBI in 610 PA.  I look for him to improve on those numbers taking the confidence from his time in the big leagues and rolling it into this season.  It is quite possible he spends a good part of the season on the big league club but I expect him to start the season at AAA.  I would not be surprised to see him tear it up early and earn a call to the bigs sometime mid season.


7.) Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year 2012

Alex Wimmers.  Drafted out of Ohio State in the first round two years ago, Wimmers had a down year last year.  He struggled early in the season with his control but eventually turned it around.  Whatever problems he was having, he seemed to sort them out and I am expecting a big season out of Wimmers in the minors this year.  If he is able to put up the numbers he is capable of, look for him to rise quickly through the system this year and possibly be on track to join the big league club sometime next year.  Possibly earning a September callup this year if he really gets going in 2012.  He was believed to be one of the most “major league ready” pitchers in the draft a couple of years ago, he has the ability so it’s not out of the question to think Wimmers is primed for big things in 2012.

 

 

Please feel free to share your list below in the comments section.  If you disagree with me on any of the selections, I would be happy to hear why and who you would put in the spot instead.  Feel free to comment away!

Will Valencia improve in 2012?

After former Twins third baseman Corey Koskie left before the 2005 season, the Twins had trouble finding a suitable replacement for years.  They trotted out such names as Tony Batista, Mike Lamb, Joe Crede, Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto to name a few.  Then came the 2010 season when Twins prospect Danny Valencia finally broke into the big leagues.

Valencia impressed during his time with the Twins  (85 games played).  He hit .311/.351/.448 with 7 homeruns and 40 RBI in 322 plate appearances.  The Twins and their fans were confident they had finally found Coskie’s replacement for years to come.

2011 was Valencia’s first full season in the majors and the results were not on par with his rookie season.  This was not surprising as most major league players regress and go through a “sophmore slump” of sorts in their second year.  Valencia hit .246/.294/.383 with 15 homeruns and72 RBI.

Valencia did lead the Twins in RBI in 2011 (72) with Michael Cuddyer finishing second at 70.  A closer look at the numbers may explain the drop in production from his rookie season.  In 2010, Valenica’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was a very high .345.  That evened out in 2011 as his BABIP dropped to .275.

What that shows is Valencia was very lucky on a lot of balls put in play in his rookie season by finding the right spots, or was extremely unlucky last year as he was hitting them right to the defense.  Either way, don’t expect Valencia to put up another .345 BABIP like year in 2012, but don’t expect it to be as low as last year either.

If I were to make a prediction for Valencia in 2012, I would say his batting average falls somewhere in the .277-.280 range.  Don’t expect much more power as he should hit around 15-18 homeruns in 2012.  RBI totals are a bit tough to predict as it really depends on where he hits in the lineup and how often runners are in scoring position while he is at the plate.  If he is left lower in the order,  I think he will be just fine.

Valencia’s defense still leaves a little to be desired but is one area he can definitely improve on with some hard work and practice.  Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is a perfect example.  Morneau initially was not thought of as a great defender but eventually turned himself into one of the better fielding first basemen in the AL by working at it.

Twins fans shouldn’t expect huge things from Valencia in 2012 but should definitely expect to see some improvement over his sophmore season.  I would be shocked if he hit over .300 but .280 with a little power and some clutch hitting is about as much as a major league team can ask for out of it’s third baseman.

Valencia hit .298/.353/.469 over 5 minor league seasons and hit .292/.347/.373 in 49 games at AAA in 2010 before being call up to the big leagues.  It’s not out of the question to think Valencia can creep closer to the .300 range in the near future but don’t expect it in 2012.

Valencia is 27 years old and still has plenty of time ahead of him.  Expect him to be a factor which will help this lineup score more runs in 2012 and continue to be the mainstay the Twins have been looking for since Koskie’s departure.

 

Please feel free to share your thoughts and expectations for Danny Valencia’s 2012 season below in the comments section…

Photo credit to bleacherreport.com