Friday, December 12, 2008

The End Of An Era

Today is the deadline to tender contracts to players under team control, and the Orioles have decided that they've had enough of Daniel Cabrera. The towering righty with the powerful arm and no control was non-tendered and will be a free agent. The team apparently didn't want to go to arbitration with Cabrera and risk having him pull in $4-5 M or so after his 8-10, 5.25 ERA, 6.58 tRA, 65 tRA+ season.

I have to call this a bad decision. As infuriating as Cabrera is 95% of the time, he still provides above replacement innings. I'm no longer drinking the kool-aid with Daniel, but I'd be highly surprised if he isn't worth $4 M next year. Plus, who's going to pitch now? Guthrie's solid and Olson should be decent, but after that it's a whole lot of, well, crap. Maybe Daniel really wants to stay and approaches the team about a contract at a cheap rate, but I doubt it. Oh well.

The team also let Lance Cormier go (though they still may try to sign him to another minor-league deal) even after his solid season (4.53 tRA, 99 tRA+).

On the bright side, there are some other players that look interesting.

LHP Chris Capuano was non-tendered by the Brewers after missing all of 2008 with Tommy John surgery. In 2007 and 2006 he posted back-to-back 4.33 tRA seasons and combines a good strike-out rate (7.4 K/9 career) with decent control (3.0 BB/9). He may not be ready for the start of the season and the Brewers are going to try to bring him back on a minor-league deal, but I'd still make an inquiry.

Charlie Haeger is a 25 year-old righty who throws a knuckleball. While he hasn't had much success at the major league level, I like the idea of having a guy in the organization who can float 'em up there to eat innings as a swingman - the kind of thing R.A. Dickey did for the M's last year.

Chuck James is a worse (though younger) version of Capuano. Actually, other than his HR problem, he's not too dissimilar from Garrett Olson either. (I don't want five of the same guy, but you try filling out this rotation.)

Ty Wigginton was let go by the Astros despite his .285/.350/.526, 23 HR, .377 wOBA, 112 wOBA+ season. He is pretty bad with the glove, but swings a consistently above-average stick. The O's have no place for him - I'm just surprised he wasn't tendered a contract. Considering Casey Blake got 3 years and $17 M, having Wiggy around for one year at $7-8 M seems like a solid investment. I know the 'Stros need to cut payroll, but I would've thought that they could sign and then trade him. Now they get nothing.

The main problem for the Orioles is that many of these bargain type players wouldn't have spots on the roster. The team needs pitchers and there aren't many even OK ones being let go - that's what makes the decision to drop Cabrera seem even stranger. I wonder if someone will scoop him up on the cheap and get a solid (though not close to his potential) season from Daniel.

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