Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Which Cabrera shows up tonight?

Tonight, the Orioles try to bounce back from their Opening Day loss against the new-look Tampa Bay Rays when Daniel Cabrera takes the mound opposite Matt Garza.

Cabrera has been the subject of much debate and hand-wringing in O's nation ever since Cabrera came up in 2004.

The 6 foot, 7 inch right-hander throws the ball hard, but seems to not know where it's going most of the time. He's infamous for his pitching line which usually includes a high rate of walks to go along with his high rate of strikeouts.

He's even been called Daniel CaBBrera in some parts. And deservedly so.

One of the most interesting questions of 2008 is how Cabrera will perform. His 2007 campaign was the worst of his career (5.55 ERA), although he did manage to collect a career-high 204 IP. But even more worrisome, Daniel struck out less and was hit harder than ever before.

Former pitching coach Leo Mazzone may have played a part in Cabrera's struggles, as Mazzone was a "pitch my way" kind of guy. New pitching coach Rick Kranitz wants pitchers to pitch to their strengths, and Cabrera seems to work better under this tutelage as he worked well with Ray Miller, who was cut from the same cloth as Kranitz.

Everyone says that Cabrera needs to gain more control, but what he really needs to do is miss more bats. He's always going to walk batters, we need to accept that. But Cabrera can be successful as long as he learns to pitch with runners on base. If he can do that, he might finally become the dominant pitcher we all hope he can be.

Tonight is just one game, but if Cabrera comes out and pitches well, he could set the tone for his coming out season. And with former ace Erik Bedard now pitching in Seattle, the O's are going to need Cabrera to step up in a big way.

And in a season that is sure to be lacking in just about everything except losses, watching which Daniel Cabrera shows up in 2008 will at least be interesting.

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