Cabrera could help alleviate bullpen concerns

After the two Indians trades a month ago, several questions and concerns began to surface about the Tribe’s bullpen for the 2006 season: They’re losing David Riske and Arthur Rhodes and only getting an injury-prone Guillermo Mota in return. How are they going to replace Bob Howry? Howry did have his share of success last year and was effective as a back end reliever, but are the Indians really losing much in Riske and Rhodes? Riske totaled zero holds in 2005 and Rhodes was MIA the last month of the season.

Despite losing these three relievers and regardless of how Mota turns out with his injury history, the Tribe may be in possession of a secret weapon who is flying underneath the radar. Often the forgotten man in the Indians bullpen, Fernando Cabrera could become a household name as this season progresses.

Cabrera, 24, entered the 2005 season as one of the Tribe’s top 10 prospects. In 15 appearances last season he posted a terrific 1.47 ERA while striking out an average of one per inning. He’s a big, imposing figure on the mound who throws in the mid to upper 90s and possesses a nasty splitter. The young flamethrower, who stepped up as a reliable late inning reliever last season, gets his chance in a full-time role this season. Considered the possible closer of the future for the Tribe, Cabrera has the stuff to dominate hitters. As long as he continues his development as a pitcher, he has the ability to be a vital piece in the Indians’ pen for this season and years to come.

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