Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Randy St.Claire On Daniel Cabrera

He throws as hard as anyone in the game. One of the most gifted pitchers around. And for five years he frustrated The Baltimore Orioles so much--they unequivocally released him this past winter. Gone--Sayonara. A Free Agent for the first time in his professional career, Daniel Cabrera is now a member of Our Washington Nationals. A once promising--now project pitcher that Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire has been given the task of straightening out. By some, St.Claire is considered a miracle worker. Can he again work some magic with Our New Number 40--all 6'9" of him?

It's a good question.

In the four days in which The African Queen and I have been in Viera for Spring Training--no one has attracted the attention of Baseball Management like Daniel Cabrera. Every time he pitches--Our Team President Stan Kasten, Our General Manager Jim Bowden--Assistant GM's Mike Rizzo and Bob Boone and Director of Player Development--Bobby Williams--have all been on site to witness his work. Today, even Our Director of Scouting--Dana Brown--a pitching expert like no other--watched Cabrera throw.

More than any other signing this past winter--Daniel Cabrera has the highest ceiling of any of them. And it's Randy St.Claire's job to correct this big Dominican from his flaws from the past and harness his God Given talent into the quality pitcher so many envisioned 8 to 9 years ago coming out of the D.R.

Every day Cabrera has thrown--St.Claire has been right by his side--commenting, encouraging, changing and hopefully having his knowledge sink in to Daniel. Randy St.Claire realizes more than ANYONE out there--that Cabrera really could be GREAT. And he doesn't want to see that talent wasted.

This afternoon after practice had ended--Randy St.Claire stopped by to talk with Sohna and I--specifically about Daniel Cabrera. Here is that conversation with Our Number 46 about Our Number 40.

The other day you seemed to be trying to get Cabrera to extend himself out while throwing? (SBF)

“I am trying to get him into a better rhythm. For pitchers, especially really tall pitchers, they have a tendency to have a really tough time with their timing. They are tall in stature. They are long in their deliveries. And in pitching you have to have perfect timing. If you watch (John) Smoltz, (Roger) Clemens, these guys that are really good like (Tommy) Glavine—they repeat their delivery every single time. It’s like watching art performing right in front of you in the form of their deliveries because it never changes. Their delivery is always the same for each pitch. It’s absolutely amazing. And that is why they are so good.”

“When you are really big like that (Cabrera), if you work in parts, it’s tough to re-sync everything. I see him like someone who has been trying to throw strikes but has had command issues in the past. It’s almost as if he has become a little too methodical. He gets too slow (in his delivery) and now he’s trying to throw the ball 98MPH. So that makes it hard for him to start up from a slow standstill into a really fast delivery. He's not consistent."

“So, he always gets a little bit out of whack. His timing gets off. When you release a pitch—here—here—here (raising his right arm and showing three different release points). You end up being fractions of an inch from being belt high and knee high. So I am trying to get him to have a little more rhythm. A better flow in his delivery.”

Cabrera seemed to have a good side session warming up with you, but when he went in to pitch batting practice—you were standing there rotating your right hand telling him to pick up the pace—pick up the pace? (SBF)

“Because he wanted to revert back to his old self. He started to get a little slow. So I yelled at him to pick up the rhythm a little bit. He and I have been talking about it and everything. He likes it (Randy’s Ideas). In fact, he threw the ball well today. I got to see about five minutes of it and he looked good. I am happy with him right now. I am very pleased with him. He looks good.”

You also said to him today that his body was going in one direction and the ball was going in another? (SBF)

“Yeah, it’s his lines. He got upset on a couple of his pitches where--in his line--he is stepping toward that down and away fastball---but he's trying to go arm over the side with it. So, that makes him hard to step here (Randy stepping slightly toward his left center) and placing the ball here (toward the inside corner). His arm is coming through in the wrong slot and he needs to correct that. He was getting mad (at himself) for not being able to execute that pitch down and in. Or down and away to that left-handed batter.”

“I really just need to show him what I am talking about." (in person and on tape)

Over the years, I am sure you have seen many talented guys like him. Some make it, others don’t—even with all their talents. Where does he stand right now? (SBF)

“You really don’t get a lot of talented guys like him. There are not a lot of guys that throw 98 MPH!! Now there are a lot of guys that throw 90 MPH OK? But not that can throw 95, 97, 98—there are very few like him. He's gifted and special."

He does seem to have the ability to be exceptional if he could ever put it all together? (SBF)

“He does. He has all the ability in the world and we need to harness that. He hasn't done it so far and it would be sad if we could not work him out. But I am very pleased with not only Daniel's work, but everyone so far. This has been a great camp thus far. Really, really happy with what we have to work with. There is some talent here that really was not here in the past.”

With that Randy St.Claire had to head back to the clubhouse for more meetings. As frustrating as Daniel Cabrera has been to The Baltimore Orioles--if he ever turns it around--Our Washington Nationals would reap some very serious benefits. I am betting on Mr. St.Claire to succeed--when others have not.

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Anonymous said...

If anyone can fix Daniel Cabrera, it would probably be Randy St. Claire.

Here's my issue, if the Nats can get DC40 back to success, will he want to come back for year 2?

I wish the team would really push for 2nd year Team options on these 1 year deals.

They are going to put a lot of resources into a player that could easily be gone on July 31st if he has a great season. Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

SBF--what's really interesting about this situation, and I never thought about this before, is that when St Claire talks about taller pitchers, he really knows what he's talking about--I mean look, for example, at the work he did with John Rauch--one of the tallest players in baseball history; St Clair knows of what he speaks, and Cabrera will be the beneficiary to the St Clairian Benefactor, and I got all this commentary into ONE long sentence.

Anonymous said...

If anyone could straighten out Cabrera, it would have to be St.Claire. Hearing what Randy is saying, Cabrera could be an exceptional pickup. I am crossing my fingers we score on this one.

Anonymous said...

Can you all do me a favor? I am a host "Mom" for the Dayton Dragons in Dayton, Ohio. Love the Reds but when one of our boys was taken in the Rule 5 Draft in December (Terrell Young) I became an instant supporter of the Nats. Love your site by the way. Can you all tell him his host family is thinking about him and maybe you all could post some pics for me? I search every day for some pics but never see any. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

"Mom," you should feel quite at home in NatsTown. We specialize in ex-Reds.