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The Cabrera Predicament

Since transitioning into the bullpen almost one week ago, Daniel Cabrera has followed the relief pitcher's existence -- with one glaring difference. He has yet to actually pitch. Since last Tuesday, Cabrera has watched every Washington Nationals' game from the bullpen. He has waited and waited.

Ineffective as a starter, Cabrera has become a spare part. He last pitched on May 16, a start against Philadelphia that prompted the organization to send him to the bullpen. There, he would become either usable or disposable. Because of the right-hander's limitations -- the team does not trust him in close games -- his first week in the bullpen, which coincided with six consecutive contests decided by three runs or fewer, has given him no chance to make a case for his value.

For the moment, the Nationals have an eight-man bullpen; Cabrera is its eighth member. But with two position players, Jesus Flores (right shoulder) and Elijah Dukes (left hamstring) beginning rehab assignments, Washington might not be able to maintain its overstuffed bullpen much longer.

"I believe with the guys coming off the DL we'll probably have to go back to seven," Manager Manny Acta said.


Cabrera's greatest value, at least in theory, comes as a starter. By early September, when several of Washington's rookie starters will presumably reach their innings-pitched limits for the season, the Nationals may need some replacements in its rotation. But even that scenario requires Cabrera to redevelop his mid-90s velocity, something he never showed in his eight starts (0-5, 5.95 ERA). The Nationals insist that Cabrera's $2.6 million salary won't prevent them from cutting ties midseason, if indeed that's the desired step.

In the meantime, Cabrera is not complaining. Asked yesterday if he felt frustration about his marginalized role, Cabrera said, "I'm in the big leagues, man."

Said Acta: "I am concerned that he hasn't seen action, but we keep him at work in the bullpen whenever a day or two goes by that he doesn't get into the game. He throws a good bullpen side over there. The fact is, we need to put him into a situation where he can have success. I'm not going to bring him in in the ninth inning when we're tied right off the bat. We're waiting for a situation where he can come out, have a fresh inning, and the game is not late and tight. We have to do what's best for the team."

*

Nick Johnson, a late scratch on Sunday because of a stomach pain, said today that he fully recovered -- though it required a short trip to the hospital and lots of fluids. "Bad stomach," Johnson said. "Saturday after the game I had some pretty sharp pains. Then I came to the park [on Sunday], started hitting. I told [trainer] Lee [Kuntz]. Had some blood work. And everything came back good."

By Chico Harlan  |  May 25, 2009; 7:15 PM ET
 
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Next: The Reviewed, Debated Home Run

Comments

Why aren't the Nats wearing their blue stars-and-stripes jerseys and hats? I mean don't get me wrong, I think the things are hideous, but I thought the point was that they were going to wear them on holidays. Are they only allowed to wear them at home?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | May 25, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Who is the Mets third-base coach ... Tim Tolman? Nice throw, Austin.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | May 25, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Nice play by Kearns in RF!!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | May 25, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

So are we supposed to feel sorry for this Cabrera guy? Here's a fun stat: he has 13 more wild pitches in his six-year career than Jamie Moyer has in 23 seasons.

Posted by: abu0987 | May 25, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Why would Manny have Kearns who is slumping horribly batting in the five hole trust me this is going to come back to haunt us in this game Harris is hitting almost .280 and he's a lefty this is why Manny needs to go.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 25, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

What is so difficult about three little initials: DFA.

Does ANYONE not currently on mind altering drugs or other necessary medications believe Daniel Cabrera is a major league quality pitcher?

DFA.

It's that simple.

Posted by: randy_boyd | May 25, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Please Nats, do not let Cabrera pitch in any game where its close. I think its time to just pull the plug. How can he, with his unbelievable wildness, be a positive for the young pitchers ?

Posted by: JT2009 | May 25, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

read manny's lips....cabrera isn't getting anything close to game action unless the nats are way behind and he doesn't want to burn his other releivers. why not just release the guy and move on?

Posted by: surly_w | May 25, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Wild thing,
You make my heart sting,
You walk everything!

Posted by: grandstander | May 25, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

@ CiL - you may have already heard this, but both teams are wearing red caps for Memorial Day.

Posted by: Section220 | May 25, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if our staff hasn't given up more hits (or walks or HBP) to pitchers than any other team in baseball.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | May 25, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I did hear that 220, thanks. I can't believe they even got the Yankees to wear red hats today. That still doesn't explain the absence of the blue jerseys however.....

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | May 25, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Why would Manny have Kearns who is slumping horribly batting in the five hole trust me this is going to come back to haunt us in this game Harris is hitting almost .280 and he's a lefty this is why Manny needs to go.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 25, 2009 7:38 PM

FWIW, Maines vs. Nats hitters:
Kearns, 5-17, 2 HR's
W. Harris, 0-3, 2 BB's

Posted by: baltova1 | May 25, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

FAN INTERFERENCE!!!!

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | May 25, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

FAN INTERFERENCE!!!

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | May 25, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

bull!!!!!!

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 25, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

That's absurd....they not only get the call wrong they take ten minutes to do it....im glad lannan didnt hurt his arm since he didn't throw any warmup pitches...WHAT A JOKE

Posted by: theredskin | May 25, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

looks like tonight be cabrera's big debut from the bullpen. whoohoo.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 25, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

First and foremost it wasn't a home run.Second why would you throw a dead fastball hitter a pitch like that in his wheelhouse, you're playing a team that has two of its best players(Delgado&Reyes)out for the series you have a punchers chance to take two of three maybe you get lucky and sweep em but not with bonehead moves like the above mentioned pitch to Sheffield stupid just plain stupid.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 25, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

A home run on a ball that never left the park, and made contact with the fan's glove well inside the outfield wall.

Thanks goodness we have instant replay now to get these things right.

Posted by: joebleux | May 25, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

OK, now, forgive the football coach in me but, after the umps ruled it a HR, and they were obviously completely wrong, Manny should have ripped the ump crew chief's backside and gotten ejected.

This is my one problem with Manny.

I think he is a pretty decent manager but, his team, I believe, needs to know sometimes that he is behind them and is capable of getting pissed and that he is not a robot.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 25, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

What Manny should say to the media after the game:
That was the most blatant case of fan interference I've seen since Jeffrey Maier, and it's no coincidence that New York teams were the beneficiaries of both calls. You mean to tell me that if we were playing the Royals that that call wouldn't have been overturned? Because it absolutely would have been. There is no excuse for four otherwise competent umpires to all get together and be that wrong, unless there is something else at work here. Go ahead, fine me, suspend me, I want to bring this to everyone's attention. We just got screwed because "It's just the Nationals", well guess what, that stops now, because someone in the Commissioner's Office has some explaining to do.

What Manny will say after the game:
Getting mad won't solve anything, and besides, we weren't hitting tonight, so we weren't going to win anyway.

Sigh.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | May 25, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Nice at bat by the Franchise...

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | May 25, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

thanks for nothing, AK

Posted by: BGinVA | May 25, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

>Why would Manny have Kearns who is slumping horribly batting in the five hole trust me this is going to come back to haunt us in this game

Ya think?

Posted by: Brue | May 25, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

No reason not to send Guzman from 3rd on Dunn's fly ball. I also vote that W.Harris stays in the outfield for Kearns/Willingham when Dukes gets back. Kearns clearly can not hit any longer in the cluch

Posted by: JT2009 | May 25, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Batlova 1: What did I tell you about Kearns batting in the five hole hate to say i told you so but.........

Posted by: dargregmag | May 25, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Before that AB Kearns was hitting .217, that is miserable. I like his defense but, he is not hitting nearly enough to be on the roster let alone playing almost everyday.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 25, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Bringing in DCab in the 7th. Conceding defeat down only 3 runs. Gotta love it.

Posted by: RickFelt | May 25, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

We lost a run by holding Guzzie at third. The ball was way too short to score under normal conditions but hasn't Listach been watching Pagan in right? He's been jumping to catch routing fly balls and is way out of his element which he proved with his throw halfway between home and third. I guess we did play it by the book though so no one will second guess Manny.

Let's play some agressive ball, what have we got to lose!

Posted by: Nonno | May 25, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Follow the bouncing ball...

Posted by: NickfromGermantown | May 25, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

well, he can throw a curve for a strike... that's about it though.

Time to go, $2.6 mil or not, he's taking up a roster spot.

Posted by: grandstander | May 25, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

all right...Ball 4 AND a wild pitch on the same pitch! Guess what, Manny and Randy? Cabrera still stinks!

Posted by: BGinVA | May 25, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

2 walks and a wild pitch (so far). I am a big Manny fan, but please, what could the Nats have expected ? Please, we do want to see wins from time to time.

Posted by: JT2009 | May 25, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Get Cabrera out of there! Thank you, Manny!

Posted by: BGinVA | May 25, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

DCab.... DFA... the time is NOW !!!

Man up Acta and do the right thing. Can Wild Thing DCab...

Posted by: randy_boyd | May 25, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the last of Cabrera. Thanks JimBo.

Posted by: JT2009 | May 25, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Time to go, $2.6 mil or not, he's taking up a roster spot.

Posted by: grandstander | May 25, 2009 9:49 PM
__________________________________________________________

That's it though, the Lerner's don't want to eat that money. They would rather trot this dude out there to embarrass the franchise rather than eat the money.

Not sayin', just sayin'

Posted by: Section505203 | May 25, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

DCab, 3 walks,bouncing/wild pitches...DCab=DFA

Posted by: NickfromGermantown | May 25, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

3 walks and a wild pitch ... that's a tough stat line to believe. Of course, this is just par for the course for Cabrera. I don't think there's much of a predicment. Unless one of the kids flames out, I cannot see Cabrera in the rotation again and I have to believe he'll have a short career as a reliever too.

Posted by: grforbes | May 25, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Who the freak is our 3rd base coach? And what the heck is he doing over there. BTW nice chicken call by the umps on a ball that was obviously not a home run. What a game.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 25, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Thank the lord that Manny got it right and got DCAB out of there. Looks like Putz is gonna keep the Nats in the game, thanks Jerry!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 25, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

The Mets bullpen must have watched the same pitching tutorial video that Daniel Cabrera watches.

Posted by: BGinVA | May 25, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Two walks to start the inning...we really should have scored...

Posted by: BGinVA | May 25, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

So does this mean Maxwell stays up when Dukes returns. I assume Bard goes down when Floes comes back

Posted by: ecmdfan | May 25, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

"Two walks to start the inning...we really should have scored..."

agreed...that's gonna hurt.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | May 25, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Kip Wells throwing 96?

Posted by: artvandelay2 | May 25, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

I was listening to the game in the car during the "home run" - but just saw it on MASN now. How in the holy heck can that be a home run????

Posted by: kevinx | May 25, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Kearns had better come through (or, at the very least, not hit into a DP)

Posted by: BGinVA | May 25, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Lets see here...Strikeout or GIDP?

Posted by: amorris525 | May 25, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Like I've said before, you can't spell Kearns without "K"

Posted by: BGinVA | May 25, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Kearns you stink!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 25, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Manny's toast. Something has to change.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 25, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

eww...what happend to the offense?

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | May 25, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Shoot. All because the umps blew the stupid HR call. Even the anchors on MLB Network disagreed with the umps.

Oh, and we didn't hit with a darn tonight either. When you're given nine walks, you have to make them pay for it and we didn't.

Posted by: BGinVA | May 25, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

31 down, jeez how much longer can this go on? Like I said a few days ago, its either no luck or bad luck, pick your poisen.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 25, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Manny has demonstrated tonite why he needs to be fired if the Lerners,Kasten,and Rizzo are serious about turning this franchise around then Acta must go. I don't want to hear about the nice guy bull sh&t. A fan in an earlier post said it all he is robotic, now watch his post game presser no emotion,his batting Kearns in the five hole cost this team a shot at winning the game Kearns has not hit the ball in the last month why on earth would you hit him fifth? i mean does this guy have a common sense bone in his body.He has no fight in him whatsoever just go along to get along Manny that's why this ballclub is almost twenty plus games under .500. A team reflects its manager,it's a miracle what Rick Eckstein has done with this team's batting order,with mild mannered Manny in the clubhouse it's a wonder,the pitching staff fears no one especially Manny you think Manny gonna get in somebody's face? not a chance Rizzo and Kasten need to make a change if this was any other team he would have been gone in fact he would never been asked back after last season.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 25, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Was the Olsen/Willingham trade a positive for the Nats ? for that matter, was Kearns/Lopez ? I think its just we have the wrong team out there. Serious changes have to be made.

Posted by: JT2009 | May 25, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

It's a shame that Kearns had an assist that pretty much any major league RF could make tonight because it will give the gutless wonder an excuse to continue putting him in the middle of the frigging lineup every night.

Posted by: RickFelt | May 25, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

So now we have the same BS to look forward to over the next five days. Manny will use every excuse not to play Willingham and the losing will go on and on.

What needs to happen ASAP;
DCAB DFA
Willingham for Kearns
Maxwell back to AAA (he needs to play everyday)
Dukes and Flores need to make it a quick rehab.
Manny gone if they go 0-6 on this road trip

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 25, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

"It's a shame that Kearns had an assist that pretty much any major league RF could make tonight..."

...Yeah...a real bummer. Tool.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | May 25, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

A manager can't take a player out of the lineup just because he's had a few bad games (like some here seem to want). Everyone goes through slumps at times; if the manager took a player out when he's in a slump, morale will drop and the losses will grow even larger.

However, at the same time, Manny has to know when it's a slump the player won't work out of soon - at least not while playing in the majors. It the ability to judge just when that is the I don't think Manny has. He's left some in way too long.

I like Manny, but I like the players more, and I really hate to see them try so hard and lose. And if Manny can't start making some of the hard decisions, I'm afraid he has to go. Maybe not at the end of this road trip - but by the All Star game, for sure. The team and fans deserve better. Now if the owners will just listen.

Posted by: LoveThoseNats | May 25, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Bad teams keep bad players around for years and years. That's one reason the Nats are bad and that's why Austin Kearns is still around. And will be around to haunt the Nats forever. But don't worry, he's such an upstanding guy. What a freakin joke.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 25, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

BTW, again I ask, who is heck is our 3rd base coach and how do you hold Guzman at third with 2 outs and Kearns coming up? Have any of the coaches watched this team recently?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 25, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Kearns shoulda been fired years ago. Why is he still here? What are Kasten and Rizzo doing? Seriously? How is Acta still here. How is Cabrera still on this team. Who is running this rudderless ship?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 25, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm done. Whats the point?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 25, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

That Acta started Kearns in RF on opening day after years of non production, Milledge in center and had Dukes on the bench tells you after all this time, Acta hasn't a clue about his players. The guy is really really terrible. But so is Kasten. Bowden would still be here if he hadn't of imploded. Nothing gets done from the top down.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 25, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

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