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Community Projection '08: Cabrera, Loewen, Trachsel and Burres

If you missed the Jeremy Guthrie projection post in all the hub-bub, you can add to that.

The line we're looking for all the way through: IP, W-L, K, BB, ERA, WHIP


To say that Cabrera's 2007 was a big disappointment would be quite an understatement. His K-rate dipped sorely, his walks weren't really any better, and he showed no improvement. In fact he got worse for the second year in a row at age 26, posting a career-low adjusted OPS+ of 83. He also posted a career-high 108 walks, though at least he did that in 200 innings instead of a hair less than 150.

Cabrera has a lot of people that still make excuses for him. "Well, he's still growing!" He's listed at 6'9", 270 pounds this year, so maybe that has something to do with it. "Well, he just got his eyesight corrected!" This ain't Major League. "Well, he didn't start playing baseball until late!" Sure, that's true.

Does any of that make him actually worthwhile? 200 innings is nothing to scoff at, and his arm is pretty sensational on the odd night, but he's yet to show the ability to pitch consistently at any level, not just the major leagues. Who's going to make the silly gamble that this is the year it happens? 

            IP     W    L    K    BB    ERA  WHIP
05 BAL 161.1 10 13 157 87 4.52 1.43
06 BAL 148.0 9 10 157 104 4.74 1.58
07 BAL 204.1 9 18 166 108 5.55 1.54


The only lefty Canadian still standing in Baltimore has seen his status as one of our potential Twin Towers drop a bit now that 6'5" isn't really that tall, and since Cabrera has grown four inches taller than him. Plus, we just got a boatload of unathletic basketball players from the Mariners. There are a lot of big arms with bad control in the O's system, and Loewen, who turns 24 in early April, isn't quite the promising dude he once was.

It's not that he doesn't have talent, but that's a reservation that can be applied to all of them. It's just hard to overcome control issues. His career 1.44 WHIP and 5.22 BB/9 in 329 minor league innings just don't give me a lot of hope. He's shown the ability to overpower in the minors, particularly during a 20-inning slaughter job on the International League in 2006 (when he sported a 7-to-1 K-to-BB ratio), but he's had his share of issues in Baltimore, as would be expected.

Loewen is at that point where he could go either way. He's also had injury problems enough times to make that a serious concern, and his 2007 ERA over 30 innings was a complete mirage. 

            IP     W    L    K    BB    ERA  WHIP
05 FRD 142.0 10 8 146 86 4.12 1.52
06 BOW 49.2 4 2 55 26 2.90 1.45
OTT 21.1 2 0 21 3 1.27 0.61
BAL 112.1 6 6 98 62 5.37 1.54
07 BAL 30.1 2 0 22 26 3.56 1.75


Trax has been brought back to be The Veteran in a relatively young, inexperienced rotation. Guthrie just finally got past his rookie year, Burres is a castaway that the O's are crossing their fingers on, and Loewen is still a baby in baseball terms. Cabrera's a veteran, even if he acts like he's 11 years old sometimes, hucking fastballs at Red Sox hobbits and the like.

There's no real problem with bringing Trachsel back on a one-year, low-cost deal. He's familiar with the guys on the team, knows his role in the world of pro baseball these days, and is by all accounts a top-notch fellow. If the Orioles thought they needed a veteran just for the sake of a veteran, they picked the devil they knew instead of one they don't, like Kyle Lohse, who is still young enough to have delusions of grandeur.

All the niceness aside, though, you cannot survive against major league hitting with the K-to-BB rate Trachsel put up last year. 

            IP     W    L    K   BB    ERA  WHIP
05 NYM 37.0 1 4 24 12 4.14 1.32
06 NYM 164.2 15 8 79 78 4.97 1.60
07 BAL 140.2 6 8 45 69 4.48 1.56
CHC 17.1 1 3 11 7 8.31 1.85


Burres looks like the favorite to land the fifth starter's job, so let's just pencil him in now. He's a swingman by nature, but, well, options are limited. The Norfolk Tides could have a hell of a rotation this year, though.

Burres is not as young as some might suspect, as he turns 27 on April 8. He's never exactly lit up any level, and since he was drafted in 2000, he's had plenty of time. The Orioles claimed him off waivers from San Francisco in 2006, and he had a fine enough season at Ottawa before sticking with the O's last year as a long man/second lefty/spot starter.

If the Orioles give Burres much rope as a starter this year should he fail to impress, it will show either a lack of faith in the current standing of Garrett Olson and Hayden Penn, or just a serious misunderstanding of how good Burres is capable of being. 

            IP     W    L    K    BB    ERA  WHIP
05 NORW 128.2 9 6 105 57 4.20 1.45
06 OTT 139.0 10 6 110 57 3.76 1.37
07 BAL 121.0 6 8 96 66 5.95 1.70