The Chicago White Sox have signed Daniel Cabrera to a minor league contract.
A lot of you have already started snickering, I’m quite sure. Daniel did nothing with the Nationals last year to justify his signing by Jim Bowden: 0-5 in 8 starts, with a 5.85 ERA and 35 walks in 40 innings. His fastball was as inconsistent as his inability to field his position. He later made 6 appearances with Arizona with similar results.
As the story goes, Cabrera signed with the Nats mainly because he was familiar with the geography. Having played for the Orioles for 5 years, he sort of knew his way around. He’d actually been offered a little more money by Pittsburgh. The Nats were interested because he’d pitched effectively for Manny Acta in winter ball, and they needed starters. Perhaps he has some prior experience with Ozzie Guillen as well.
Cabrera is the perfect example of a guy who’s moved up the chain because he has one thing going for him, in his case, a 95+ fastball. That he frequently had little idea where it was going was of little consequence, at least to Orioles’ brass. He was promoted to the bigs after only 5 starts at AA ball. He never pitched at advanced A, in the Carolina League. He was, according to sources, difficult to coach, inasmuch as he seemed to leave his lessons in the bullpen between starts. Taking them to the mound on game day was a challenge.
Daniel was a 12-game winner his rookie season - with an ERA of 5 runs a game. That his win total received the focus it did was unfortunate. He happened to pitch on a lot of days where the Orioes scored a lot of runs. He had more walks than strikeouts, but came into the next season with a great deal of hype - and actually pitched better, though his W-L record was below .500. His ERA was an acceptable 4.52. The following year, 2006, he went 9-10, 4.74, though he led the league in walks.
There was always the sense that Daniel could dominate - that big fastball was front and center - but Daniel regressed thereafter. Poor command, and overall, he didn’t seem to be very athletic on a baseball field. His fastball also seemed to lose a lot of velocity the past couple of seasons. It was pointed out over and over again that he hadn’t started to play baseball until he was 17 or 18, but that ceases to be a worthy argument once you’re in the major leagues.
I wish him well with the Pale Hose. He’s a good person who one day, perhaps, will find the feng shui of his delivery. His time with the Nationals was eminently forgettable, other than the two times he walked as a batter.
I’d like to think the days of the Nationals agressively pursuing reclamation projects is now past.