When the Florida Marlins acquired outfield prospect Cameron Maybin and equally prized left-hander Andrew Miller back in 2007, they thought they had made out very well in the trade that sent power-hitting Miguel Cabrera and talented left-hander Dontrelle Willis to Detroit Tigers. But as is often the case, potential doesn’t always pan out. Miller struggled in Florida, culminating with a 8.54 ERA in nine appearances last season. Maybin was as underwhelming, hitting .234 with a .304 on-base percentage in a half-season’s worth of games. The Marlins had lost patience with two players they not long ago thought the world of.
They failed to comprehend that Miller is still just 25 and that Maybin is only 23. A team, due to financial limitations, that has no choice but to rely on their farm system and fill out their roster with inexpensive assets under long-term team control pulled the plug too quick. Miller was traded this past week to the Boston Red Sox, and Maybin was sent to San Diego on Saturday.
Miller has the pitches to succeed; he just doesn’t know where they are going. Maybin has incredible athleticism; he just hasn’t figured out major league pitching enough to put it to use. He has a career .306 batting average in the minor leagues and a .390 on-base percentage, but those numbers have yet to translate to the major-league level. Boston gave up a solid young arm, 26-year old Dustin Richardson, for Miller, while the Padres traded two pieces of their stellar 2010 bullpen, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica, for Maybin. Neither party would have made the deal if they didn’t think the return would pay dividends, no matter if they were immediate or down the road.
Webb and Mujica combined to appear in 113 games last season for the Padres. Webb, 24, was 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA in 54 appearances, while Mujica had a 12-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio in 54 appearances, the highest such rate among relievers. San Diego gave up a pretty penny, but they believe Maybin will be special.
His potential power particularly excites the Padres, and he will definitely get a chance to showcase it, as General Manager Jed Hoyer has already said he will be their everyday center-fielder:
“We want him to come in here and feel secure he’s going to play center field for us. I’m confident of where he’s going to play in the field. He has the skill set, he has power and can steal bases.
His career path was unusual. He was up in the big leagues at 20, part of a major trade. I think he’s a guy who didn’t have a normal path. We think letting him play every day here will help him realize his potential.”
Maybin doesn’t possess a great deal of plate discipline, but if he does find a way to get on base at a regular clip he has the ability to steal 30-plus bases and make a tremendous impact. He will be playing in Petco Park, an incredibly spacious ballpark, and could be a candidate to lead the league in triple. Lightning quick with gap power. And now he has to harness his talents and be the player the Marlins failed to envision. With job security right off the bat, I have a feeling he will.