You’ve probably seen it already – the Nats have signed perenniel Baltimore potential stud pitcher, Daniel Cabrera, to a one year deal. Cabrera has been a tantalizing prospect his whole career. It might have something to do with his high strikeout rates or his 6’7″ frame or his 95 mph fastball. I am making up the 95 mph, I don’t really know exactly how fast it is, but it’s a good fastball that’s though to hit. Anyway, the question many Nats fans are probably asking is “what’s the point of getting a former prospect who never panned out?” and that’s not a bad question. But Cabrera still is that potential guy, his raw stuff is still impressive and there is always that chance.
So what did the Nats get? Well, they got a guy who has always had good strikeout rates, other than last year and his rookie season. The problem is, he also walks guys. Alot of guys. In a league where striking out more than 7 guys per 9 innings is good, and walking more than 4 is bad, here is what we’ve got
That last season was the most interesting. It doesn’t seem like him at all. Was it an attempt to keep his walks low – which seemed to work – that kept his strikeouts down? Either way – those K/9 rates from 2005-2007 are all great. Even ’07 which seemed low was still pretty good. Last year, however, was quite bad. Meanwhile, the last few years his walks have gone down, but his ERA hasn’t been great. So with fewer walks and fewer strikeouts but a bad ERA, you gotta figure, more hits.
Well, as you can see, that’s just what has happened. He’s cutting down on the walks and giving up the hits. From an evaluating-a-guy standpoint, fewer walks and more hits are probably better, it means he has good control. In practice, you’d rather have your pitcher walk someone than give up a hit, especially when runners are on. His H/9 number can be impressive. He would have been #5 in 2005 and #2 in 2006 in the AL in that stat if he had enough innings to qualify. Last year, even though he brought the walks down, he was STILL walking too many guys. So as his H/9 went up, there are still too many guys on base. His WHIP has been relatively consistent because as he walks less, he is letting more people hit. The fact that’s he’s striking out less guys is an added negative.
What he needs to do
So the question with him is – is he striking out less and walking fewer because he is trying to have pinpoint control? As they say, maybe he’s aiming instead of throwing. It’s possible. If so, then maybe you can live with the higher walks in order to get the strikeouts. In his 2005 season he was able to keep the walks lower (although still bad) while maintaining a great strikeout rate. He’s gotta use what he has though, because last year when he wasn’t walking guys, his K/BB ratio was atrocious. For him, if he can approach a 2 K/BB, it may be the key to him being a decent pitcher.
As a hitter
As if his pitching woes weren’t enough, he is also comically bad as a hitter. Maybe it’s because he’s tall and lanky, but he simply cannot hit. In 14 ML ABs, he has 14 Ks. Orioles fans I have talked to have said he looks terrified in the batters box and may not have ever really swung the bat. Hey, if you were someone who could throw in the mid 90s but never had any idea where the ball was gonna go, would you feel comfortable batting?
In the end
Is a change of scenary going to help him? I don’t know. He hasn’t shown yet that he can put everything together. But it’s worth a shot for a team that doesn’t expect much next season. And he can probably throw close to 200 innings. I think it’s a good pickup for the Nats, and whether he finally develops and they trade him or extend him, or he doesn’t pan out, why not take the chance? Whether or not he can do all the good things in the same season is in the hands of Cabrera, and Randy St. Claire.