This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: Genesis Cabrera
Stats (Cardinals): 1-1, 32 G, 32.0 IP, 32 H, 6 HR, 18 BB, 38 K, 5.06 ERA, 5.01 FIP, 1.563 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR
Statcast (both teams): 11.6% barrel, 29.7% sweet spot, 111.2 max exit velocity, .311 wOBA, .317 xwOBA, 24.3% K, 10.0% BB
To be a professional athlete, you have to have deep reservoirs of confidence. If you go into a game thinking you are going to get beat, you likely are going to get beat. You have to think that you are the best, that you can do anything the team wants you to do and, perhaps, that they don’t realize what they have. That mindset is valuable to have until it is freed from any restraint and suddenly you are wanting more opportunities than the team is willing to give you.
In his last appearance as a Cardinal, Cabrera gave up two earned runs in 1.1 innings to a struggling Washington team to bring his ERA over 5.00. While reliever ERA isn’t necessarily a great measure (OK, ERA for anyone isn’t a complete story), it was pretty clear that Cabrera wasn’t exactly your go-to guy. He could be something like that, as indicated by six outings prior to that Nationals game where he threw five scoreless innings, though even then he allowed three of the seven runners he inherited to score. Cabrera was up and down, on for a stretch and then just shelled for a stretch. Command was iffy even when he had the big strikeout numbers.
Yet, even with all these red flags, Cabrera pushed for more important innings. With Ryan Helsley on the injured list, he thought he should be the guy at the end of games. The Cardinals disagreed. Cabrera being designated for assignment shocked a lot of Cardinals fans but when John Mozeliak explained it later in the day, it made more sense. It was a testament to his potential, though, that the Cardinals got minor league catcher Sammy Hernandez from the Blue Jays (their first St. Louis acquisition but not their last) for him even though the Jays could have gotten him for free had he slipped through waivers.
And, because 2023 was miserable on all fronts, Cabrera then went up north and didn’t allow an earned run until September. The final month was a little more like the Cabrera we knew, including a four run blowup against Texas, but either a new place and a little more unfamiliarity helped him out or the Blue Jays figured out how to tweak him a bit to be more consistent. If it’s the latter, that doesn’t really speak well of the Cards if they couldn’t see it.
What’s in store for 2024: Cabrera will go through his second round of arbitration this winter but there’s no reason to think Toronto won’t have him on the roster when next season starts. We’ll see if they’ve fixed him or they are in for their own version of the Genesis Cabrera Experience.