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Cameron Maybin trade a bigger gamble for Marlins than Padres

Nov 13, 2010, 7:00 PM EDT

Cameron Maybin

Constricted by a payroll that’s barely a third of that of division leader Philadelphia, the Florida Marlins should be rolling the dice on high-upside players like Cameron Maybin.  Instead, they chose Saturday to give up on the 23-year-old center fielder, sending him to San Diego for a pair of setup men in Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica.

For as long as he’s been around, Maybin is still a pup, one who has hit .325/.401/.477 in 428 Triple-A at-bats.  He’s a career .306/.393/.478 hitter in the minors.  There’s no doubt he’s struggled in the majors, but some of that may have been the result of the Marlins trying to force him into a top-of-the-order role he still wasn’t ready for.  Maybin hit .257/.323/.391 in 499 at-bats in his three seasons with Florida.  He came in at .234/.302/.361 in 291 at-bats in 2010.

The relievers the Marlins are getting back are hardly worthless.   Webb, 25, has a power sinker that makes him look like a closer on his best days.  He’s my choice to be the team’s best reliever next year.  I’m not so high on Mujica, a modest flyball pitcher who has given up 28 homers in 163 1/3 innings the last two years despite pitching half of his games in Petco Park.  He has terrific control, and he should be a fine innings eater in the middle of the pen.  However, his numbers will likely suffer out of San Diego.

This just seems like a backwards trade.   The team that finished two games out of the postseason last year is the one that should be giving up on a youngster in exchange for solidifying the bullpen.  Instead, that’s what the team that finished 18 games out of first place is attempting to do.

And it’s not as though the Marlins have a replacement for Maybin ready to step in.   The other player they used in center field last year, Cody Ross, was given away to the Giants and apparently did some cool stuff in the postseason.  Emilio Bonifacio could handle the position defensively, but he’s a big liability in anything more than a utility role.  Maybe the Marlins will get a young center fielder back in a Dan Uggla or Ricky Nolasco trade.  Alternatively, they could see what the A’s want for Rajai Davis or Ryan Sweeney.

Maybin’s arrival in San Diego could result in Tony Gwynn Jr.’s exit.  Gwynn is an excellent defender in center field, but he doesn’t really have the bat to be of any real use off the bench.  Maybin will get every chance to start for San Diego, but the club should hang on to Chris Denorfia as a fallback.

The Padres will plug their bullpen holes easily enough, so there isn’t a lot of downside for them here.   With his quality glove and pop at the plate, Maybin remains a great bet to have a decent career as a regular even if he never truly fulfills his potential.   He’s an easy upgrade over Gwynn, and the Padres were able to retain their financial flexibility in getting him.  Score one for GM Jed Hoyer.

  1. Old Gator - Nov 13, 2010 at 10:45 PM

    The Feesh desperately needed bullpen help, so on that score this wasn’t such a big gamble. Yes, as usual Scrooge McLoria and Team Tightwad were on the verge of pushing another EYP too far too fast – see Miller, Andrew – because they’re too damned cheap to go out and spend real money on a seasoned ballplayer. However, Maybin has been erratic and was beginning to look more and more like the next Jeremy Hermida type fizzle. On the other hand, it’s looking less and less likely that they will hold on to Dan Uggla much beyond next season – and maybe not even that if he crushes them in arbitration, as I fully expect he will. No Maybin. No Uggla. Cody Ross literally given away. It’s one thing to spend smartly. It’s another thing not to spend at all and try to game the system. This system, though, can’t be gamed as precipitously as the Feesh seem to hope (as opposed to think) it can be.

    As always, the Macondo fans will repay their impecuniousness with contempt and stay home in droves next season.

  2. downwithloria - Nov 14, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    The tigers rushed miller to the bigs 10 days after he signed in 2006. And the same happened in 2007 so by the time the marlins got home they were stuck with the rebuilding project that failed when he ran out of options. Same with Cameron he has great potential but he is out options and the marlins can’t afford to have him learn his way through the big leagues and if he hit the waiver wire he would get snatched up I’m a heartbeat. Now how can you say that the marlins are cheap? Sure they don’t just handout multiyear contracts like other clubs but look at hanley ramirez and josh Johnson and more recently uggla that rejected 48 million dollars! Im not to crazy about the ownership but I’m just saying let’s be fair and recognize that they must be doing a couple things right.

    • Old Gator - Nov 14, 2010 at 6:35 PM

      I agree that the Marlins can’t afford to have him learn his way through the big leagues anymore, which is why that third of a season or so they kept him sitting on the bench in Macondo makes no sense. They really boxed themselves into a corner that way. And if they had the Red Sox’ mistakes to learn from with Miller, why did they make the same one over and over again? Answer: because it was cheaper than going out and finding a seasoned fourth starter. Maybe they are doing something right, but it’s hard to see what they did right with these two. And it’s certainly hard to see what they’re doing right when you take your seat at Joeprodolsharklife Stadium and you need to pay roaming charges to call the nearest other guy in your section.

      How can I say they’re cheap? Off the top of my head, once Uggla is gone I believe the Feesh will fall to the next to lowest or perhaps lowest payroll in the league. Name the last significant free agent they signed. Look at how they let Ross walk for nothing this year – you’re welcome, San Francisco. Look at how they cry poverty while stuffing their pockets. “Cheap” is probably the most polite thing I could call them.

  3. cjvirnig - Nov 14, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    How about the Twins trading Denard Span to the Marlins as part of a package for Josh Johnson? The reality for Florida is this: they weren’t nearly good enough in 2010 to compete with the Phillies or Braves. And that was WITH Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, and Josh Johnson. Given Florida’s budget limitations, the principle return they’ll be seeking in the imminent Uggla trade are top prospects.

    What if the Twins offered Denard Span, Kevin Slowey, Ben Revere (a top outfield prospect), and Kyle Gibson (the Twins top pitching prospect) for Josh Johnson? Seems to me it makes sense for both clubs. Granted, the Marlins got a steal with Johnson’s contract extension last winter, but let’s face it, they’re not winning the NL East in 2011. The Twins have several pieces the Marlins desperately need, and the Marlins have Josh Johnson, a guy who could potentially get the Twins a World Series title.

    Not that it matters much in pro sports anymore, but Josh Johnson is a Minnesota native and Denard Span is a native of south Florida.

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