07 April 2008

A Tale of Two Pitchers

Weather permitting, today's matchup pits Daniel Cabrera against Carlos Silva. Both are international signings, who are merely 2 years apart. Both are amazingly average pitchers with Silva showing the extremes more on a season to season scale where Cabrera illustrates the extremes on a game to game scale. The main difference is that Cabrera strikes out quite a few batters and walks quite a few. Silva does neither. Case in point, Silva's 2005 season consisted of 188.1 major league innings and 9 walks. 9. On April 12, 2006, Cabrera walked 9 Devil Rays in 5 innings of work. These guys bookend the walk spectrum.

Cabrera was an international pickup backed in 1999 out of the Dominican Republic where he was once considered a good 1B prospect. When he signed with the Orioles, he focused exclusively on pitching. He spent two more seasons at our facilities in the DR until 2001 when he was added to the Gulf Coast roster. He walked nearly a batter per inning, but only had a 5.53 era. A combination of poor control and decent life to his pitches made him somewhat difficult to hit. In '02 he hung out with the fresh college draftees in Bluefield and dominated them with amazing control. In '03, his control lessened at Delmarva and he was knocked around in A ball. In '04 . . . he had 5 solid games and then was promoted to the bigs, which ,at the time and now, seems like a bad idea. The 2004 Orioles did not have a lot of depth and when Matt Riley, who was ineffective, got injured . . . Cabrera was their most competitive option. An inexperienced, large pitcher like Cabrera should have been left in the minors where he could experiment and learn at a slower rate. I assume they valued winning immediately more valuable than letting him develop. Although, he probably never would have been an exceptional pitcher, this started his arbitration clock and perhaps stunted his performance growth. Since then, he showed some promise and had solid outings in '05 and '06. Last year was arguably his worst although he did manage to reduce his pitch counts (almost 9 less per 9 innings) and walks . . . along with reducing his strikeout rate. He can be a frustrating pitcher. He has nasty stuff, but it doesn't translate into much success. Do we have cause for hope?

Although his 2007 ERA was 5.55, his FIP was 5.06. That isn't too far from average. His ERA was probably inflated by a poor defense who could not handle his uptick in groundball percentage. He hit 50% groundballs, which is very good and means his slider is working well. Luis Hernandez should help shore up the left side of the infield and drop Cabrera's ERA to something closer to his actual performance. Hernandez' bat probably won't help getting those wins. It also seems that bad luck got to Cabrera as he gave up about 70% more homeruns than normal. That might be a blip and, if it is, he will register an ERA of about 4.50.

Lit Consulted:
Baseball Cube
Baseball Reference
The Hardball Times

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