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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WaPo: Cabrera Designated For Assignment

Unable to find a place for him in their rotation or their bullpen, and unable to tolerate the idea of watching his continued struggles, the Washington Nationals on Tuesday designated Daniel Cabrera for assignment, cutting ties with the pitcher they signed in the offseason. In eight starts and one relief appearance, Cabrera could find neither the strike zone nor his old mid-90s velocity. The team informed the right-hander of its decision after Tuesday night’s 6-1 loss to the Mets at Citi Field.

By removing Cabrera from the roster, the Nationals will eat the remainder of his one-year, $2.6-million contract.

“You have to put your best 25 players on the roster that are giving you a chance to win,” acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. “I look beyond the contract and look at the execution and performance of the player, and it wasn’t up to par. I was tired of watching him.”

Tripon Posted: May 27, 2009 at 04:39 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, nationals

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   1. Chris Needham Posted: May 27, 2009 at 12:25 PM (#3195208)
That's the second time he's said something fairly classless when he's dumped a player.

It makes for good copy, and we were all tired of watching Cabrera, but shitting on the players on the way out probably isn't something a GM should do.
   2. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: May 27, 2009 at 12:34 PM (#3195211)
Cabrera would make a good reclamation project for a minor league deal.
   3. Chris Needham Posted: May 27, 2009 at 12:38 PM (#3195215)
Good luck with that!
   4. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: May 27, 2009 at 12:51 PM (#3195219)
haha, not saying its likely but it's worth the zero risk
   5. RJ in TO Posted: May 27, 2009 at 12:51 PM (#3195220)
Cabrera would make a good reclamation project for a minor league deal.

His strike out rate has cratered (from 9.5 per 9 IP to 3.6), his walk rate has spiked (from "high" to "trout-esque"), and his velocity has apparently dropped to fairly pedestrian levels. I'm not sure how much there is left to reclaim.
   6. Chris Needham Posted: May 27, 2009 at 01:07 PM (#3195227)
He's sure to star for the Long Island Ducks.

(At least he'd get better defensive support there)
   7. Answer Guy. Posted: May 27, 2009 at 01:08 PM (#3195228)
It makes for good copy, and we were all tired of watching Cabrera, but shitting on the players on the way out probably isn't something a GM should do.


Yeah, it's probably fine to say that you want your best 25 players on the roster, and that Cabrera wasn't it. But "tired of watching him?"

So I take it that Cabrera's going to refuse his assignment?
   8. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: May 27, 2009 at 01:13 PM (#3195230)
As an Orioles fan, I feel Rizzo's pain, but I agree that it was a classless thing to say.

Can't say I'm surprised by this. Cabrera looked absolutely horrible by the end of last season -- no velocity and no control is not a good combo.
   9. Chris Needham Posted: May 27, 2009 at 01:14 PM (#3195231)
One of the stories I read this morning said he'd already told them he won't go to Syracuse.

The other half of that was when he released Steven Shell -- a perfectly mediocre, generic middle reliever -- he complained about how he looked out there, and how he didn't give off the "aura" of a pitcher.

I can't say I've been overly excited with Rizzo so far.
   10. sbiel2 Posted: May 27, 2009 at 01:20 PM (#3195233)
He's not a reclamation project at all. People say that his problem is mental, but I don't see evidence of that. It's a physical skill to be able to throw a ball accurately. A lot of media act like velocity and stuff are physical and command is mental, but that's just not right.

Cabrera looks to me like a guy who threw too many innings too young and has lost velocity, movement, stuff. If he can still throw 96, then no radar gun has picked it up in a year. And he never had command. So now he's washed up at 28.

The question is why Bowden handed him 2.5 mil in the first place. Put it with Dmitri Young and Paul Lo Duca as evidence that Bowden wouldn't have been able to build a winner even if he did have money to spend. What money he had, he wasted.
   11. Chris Needham Posted: May 27, 2009 at 01:25 PM (#3195235)
Cabrera was worth 2.5 million if you accept him for what he is: a 5th starter.

While it seems silly to pay that much to someone at the back of the pen, he has a track record of success in that role: 180 innings or so of 90 ERA+ ball.

His role was to eat innings, saving us from having to call up mediocrities like Craig Stammen up before they were really ready.

Now he's failed in that role a bit, but the idea made sense. What didn't make sense, though, was the idea of him as a reclamation project -- as if St. Claire were going to be able to turn him into a #3 starter.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 27, 2009 at 01:28 PM (#3195238)
I'd guess Cabrera needs some arm surgery. Shoulder? Elbow? That velocity drop is pretty extreme.
   13. Martin Hemner Posted: May 27, 2009 at 01:35 PM (#3195244)
This team is currently a mess, but is there some hope for a decent rotation next season. They could run out Strasburg, Zimmerman, Martis, Lannan and Detwiler/Balester/someone next year. With a decent defense, it might be okay.
   14. sbiel2 Posted: May 27, 2009 at 02:24 PM (#3195294)
Cabrera was worth 2.5 million if you accept him for what he is: a 5th starter.

I agree with this, and it's pretty much what I wrote at the time of the signing, which I didn't bash. People harp on Cabrera's "potential," and it's a critique that's 4 years out of date.

But he isn't even a fifth starter anymore. Bowden thought he was, and he was wrong. Yeah, that's 20/20 hindsight, but there were other cheap-ish arms out there that JimBo could have signed. He picked the wrong one. My point is that you can have all the money in the world, and you still have to pick the right players to spend it on.
   15. sbiel2 Posted: May 27, 2009 at 02:28 PM (#3195300)
This team is currently a mess, but is there some hope for a decent rotation next season. They could run out Strasburg, Zimmerman, Martis, Lannan and Detwiler/Balester/someone next year. With a decent defense, it might be okay.


I'm not as sanguine. Unless Detwiler, Strasburg, and Detwiler all maximize their potential, you don't have the makings of a contending rotation there. Lannan could be the 5 on a contender. Martis and Balester probably aren't good enough to be 5s for a contender unless your 1-4 are really, really good. Detwiler not long ago was looking like he might not pan out at all. I want to see him do it against a team that can hit.

BTW, anyone know where we can find a decent defense? Zimmerman and Johnson are the only fielders on the team that even qualify as average, forget good.
   16. Mr Dashwood Posted: May 27, 2009 at 02:29 PM (#3195304)
I'm kind of sad. I was rooting for D-Cab to pull it together. But it was obvious from Acta's expression when giving D-Cab the hook in Monday's game that the manager has lost all confidence.

I'm not altogether sold on the idea he'd failed in the fifth starter role. The problem, rather, is that the Nationals' firemen aren't good enough to put a halt to the fires D-Cab starts. But fifth starters are inherently arsonists.
   17. sbiel2 Posted: May 27, 2009 at 03:22 PM (#3195390)
But fifth starters are inherently arsonists.
I don't agree with this. I think I'm going to write a post about what's a fifth starter. On one hand, you can say a fifth starter is someone who's the 120th to 150th best starting pitcher in baseball. On the other hand, you could look at the fifth starters on contenders, and usually those guys are no worse than average.

Either way, they aren't arsonists. But if you're building a rotation to contend, your 5th starter has to be around average, unless your 1-4 are really special.
   18. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: May 27, 2009 at 03:30 PM (#3195405)
Once you add Strasburg, the rotation doesn't look too bad. It's the position players that are more of a problem IMO.
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 27, 2009 at 03:37 PM (#3195418)
I can see Cabrera making a comeback as a reliever. But man he is wild.
   20. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: May 27, 2009 at 03:39 PM (#3195426)
On one hand, you can say a fifth starter is someone who's the 120th to 150th best starting pitcher in baseball. On the other hand, you could look at the fifth starters on contenders, and usually those guys are no worse than average.


Chris Jaffe/Dag Nabbit did a lot of work on this topic a few years ago for THT, I believe. Maybe he can chime in on this subject if he's around.

EDIT: Looks like it might've been Jeff Sackmann actually. Here's the article I recalled him doing. Looking at the average performance of all five "rotation slots" was sort of a popular subject at the time. I recall a few threads here on that topic in 2006-07.
   21. 185/456(GGC) Posted: May 27, 2009 at 03:40 PM (#3195427)
Eric Seidman:

Cabrera’s pitch selection should have been scrutinized more as well. You don’t throw a fastball with average of worse movement almost 70% of the time if it isn’t 93+ mph.


I don't know what the movement numbers mean here. What's considered average?
   22. puck Posted: May 27, 2009 at 03:40 PM (#3195430)
I'd guess Cabrera needs some arm surgery. Shoulder? Elbow? That velocity drop is pretty extreme.


Dave Cameron had a post on Cabrera's velocity drop.
   23. Chris Needham Posted: May 27, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3195434)
[21] Mr Seidman never saw his 45-foot breaking ball then. Yeah, throw that more!
   24. 185/456(GGC) Posted: May 27, 2009 at 03:50 PM (#3195442)
Chris, I got a kick out of your Susan Powter reference.
   25. Chris Needham Posted: May 27, 2009 at 03:56 PM (#3195459)
I'm just trying to think of what valuable things the memory of that is keeping me from remembering.
   26. JPWF13 Posted: May 27, 2009 at 04:06 PM (#3195478)
On the other hand, you could look at the fifth starters on contenders, and usually those guys are no worse than average.


Very quick and dirty search, 148 starters 2008, by team
best 5th starters:

TBR    Edwin    Jackson    101
CHW    Javier    Vazquez    98
TOR    Dustin    McGowan    98
LAA    Jon    Garland    91 


some teams didn't have even a "5th" starter per se,

The Phillies $4 was at 80, their #5 at 75
and they won everything

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