Let me make this real clear: Daniel Cabrera has got to go.
One of the more puzzling developments of the this offseason was that the Nationals first offered a contract worth nearly three million American dollars to Daniel Cabrera and then handed him an even more precious commodity: a slot in the starting rotation.
The move itself, I guess, wasn't all that odd – bad teams make bad decisions all the time. I was taken aback, though, by the apparent ease with which this decision was made. Cabrera, it seemed to me, wasn't the kind of guy you're so happy to get ahold of that you don't consider alternatives. Had they watched him?
I sure had. A Daniel Cabrera start for the Orioles was tantalizing and ultimately heartbreaking. There were times when he was the only guy on Baltimore's staff who could bruise a grapefruit with his fastball, and it was shocking to see him rear back and blow one past a batter. He never seemed to have same confidence in his heater that I did, though, and he always pitched like he was getting yelled at. Walks, walks, and more damn walks.
The Orioles let him go, and that should have told the Nats something. Even wildness doesn't scare teams away from tall young men with blazing fastballs, and so it was here: Daniel Cabrera's fastball is now as limp as a dude trying to get his credit card refunded by Enzyte.
He lost to Arizona last night, and according to the good people at Brooks Baseball, his fastball averaged just under 91 MPH. Some people can get away with that – Greg Maddux, for instance. Daniel Cabrera has nothing in common with Greg Maddux except the letter after his name on a baseball card, and when he's not at least in the mid-90s, he's as useful as . . . well, Enzyte.
The Nats were aware of Cabrera's declining velocity, but they thought pitching coach Randy St. Claire could fix it. That's not ridiculous, since St. Claire is a miracle worker. Back in 2004, he messed with Livan Hernandez's arm angle and turned him into a Cy Young candidate. The fact that this got far less press than that knuckleballing Japanese schoolgirl has nothing to do with the quality of the miracle. In 2004, he taught Hector Carrasco a changeup, and out of nowhere the once and future journeyman put up a 2.04 ERA. One more like that, and he's officially eligible for sainthood.
But it hasn't happened, and it's time to give up. Cabrera's 0-4, he's walked more than twice as many batters as he's struck out, and he's throwing almost two wild pitches per start. Worst of all, he's impossible to watch. There's nothing less entertaining than a Daniel Cabrera start – I've seen Battlefield Earth; I know.
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Written by Ryan Moore