Cameron Maybin Rumors

NL West Notes: Maybin, Duke, Bichette Jr.

It's never too soon to begin looking ahead to the First-Year Player Draft. Here's more on a potential first-round pick and a couple other items of note out of the NL West …

  • Padres GM Jed Hoyer inquired several times last season with the Marlins on the availability of center fielder Cameron Maybin, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. Of course, the Padres eventually got their man in Maybin, whose memorable early-career homer off Rogers Clemens feels like a lifetime ago despite the fact that he's only 23. In acquiring Maybin, Hoyer and the Padres felt like they were getting a guy who is still younger than many minor league prospects and could have room to grow after he was perhaps rushed to the big leagues at just 20 years old. Plus, "His skill-set sets up very well for our style of play, our ballpark and our division," manager Bud Black told Brock.
  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers acquired Zach Duke from the Pirates in November because he thought the left-hander could benefit from a change of scenery, blogs Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Towers added that he covets lefties and good athletes, and said that despite Duke's dip in production in 2010, "his stuff didn't really deteriorate over the last couple years." Duke, non-tendered by the Bucs prior to being dealt to Arizona, posted a 5.72 ERA in 29 starts for the Pirates in '10 but has a career ERA of 4.54.
  • The Rockies may have deja vu all over again: Dante Bichette Jr., the son of former Blake Street Bomber Dante Bichette, is a projected first-round draft pick, according to the Denver Post. Bichette Jr., projected as a third baseman in pro ball, has signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Georgia, according to the Post, but if a team is willing to select him in the first round of a draft that is shaping up to be historically deep, there's always the chance he could be lured away by big money. You may remember Bichette Jr. from the 2005 Little League World Series, in which he starred for his team from Maitland, Fla. The Rockies, by the way, have the 20th pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

Matching The Team To The Stadium

Fenway Park has the Green Monster, Coors Field has the humidor, and Minute Maid Park has the Crawford Boxes. Lots of stadiums have quirks or tendencies that favor certain kinds of players and big league executives are well aware of it. MLB GMs say they prefer to have players whose skill sets match their parks, but that's just one consideration when constructing a roster.

The Tigers, for example, play 81 games per season in spacious Comerica Park, so GM Dave Dombrowski says he looks for outfielders who can cover lots of ground whenever possible.

"Fortunately we have an outstanding defensive center fielder now in Austin Jackson," Dombrowski told MLBTR last week in Orlando. "But you know you have to have an outstanding center fielder in Comerica Park who can really go get the ball or it’ll hurt you a great deal."

Jackson, Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn will be in the Tigers organization in 2011, but longtime right fielder Magglio Ordonez is a free agent, so the Tigers may look to acquire a corner outfielder via trade or free agency. If they do, Comerica Park will be a factor.

"Even your corner outfielders, it’s hard to get just a guy who is a stationary type guy because our outfield’s big, so we take it into consideration quite a bit,” Dombrowski said.

Like Comerica Park, San Diego's Petco Park has a larger than average outfield. And Padres GM Jed Hoyer acquired former Tigers prospect Cameron Maybin partly because his athleticism should make the club better defensively.

"Having a big station to station team that plays poor defense doesn’t seem like a recipe for success given the ballparks we play in,” Hoyer said.

No team adds or subtracts players purely because of their ballpark and the Padres are no exception. But because of the unbalanced schedule, Hoyer is intent on fielding a team that can cover lots of ground at Petco.

"We play 81 games there, we play nine in AT&T Park, we play nine in Dodger Stadium, the outfield in Coors Field is huge so you start adding it up and the number of games we play in big fields is a lot and we need to be fast," Hoyer said.

Similarly, some teams in homer-friendly ballparks are inclined to acquire pitchers who keep the ball on the ground. Camden Yards has been one of baseball's five friendliest home run environments for four years running, according to ESPN's park factors, and the Orioles front office knows how their home stadium plays. As president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail points out, you can't hit a ground ball out of the park.

"We do pay attention to [ground ball rate], we definitely factor it in," MacPhail said. "All things being equal it’s a positive, but it’s not a sole driver in terms of what we do."

If the O's really did make decisions completely based on ground ball rate, they would not have signed Koji Uehara, who was effective in 2010 despite allowing 2.5 times as many fly balls as ground balls. Instead, park factors are one element of the team's decision-making process.

"If we think we can find the right guy even if he doesn’t have that [ground ball] number that would be ideal, we’ll [consider him],” MacPhail said.


Padres Notes: Nishioka, Hairston, Durango

Here's the latest on the Padres from MLB.com's Corey Brock…

  • San Diego won't be making a bid for Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka. (Twitter link)  Brock says the club can't afford to get into the bidding or signing process.
  • As part of a reader mailbag, Brock says that the Padres' next focus is on finding help for the middle infield.  He thinks the Friars will be looking to sign an infielder to a one-year contract, similar to the deals David Eckstein (now a free agent) signed with the team over the last two seasons.  San Diego will be free to sign either a second baseman or a shortstop since Brock thinks Everth Cabrera could easily make the transition to play second if need be. 
  • Jerry Hairston Jr. and the Padres are both interested in having Hairston return in 2011.
  • The Cameron Maybin trade seems to leave Luis Durango without a position and, in Brock's opinion, without a spot on the roster.  Brock thinks Durango could be packaged with a pitcher in a trade since other teams could be attracted by Durango's speed.
  • Speaking of the Maybin deal, Brock believes "the Padres got a steal" from Florida.


Hoyer Talks San Diego Outfielders, Relievers

Last year this time, Jed Hoyer was two weeks into his tenure as Padres GM. Now, he's attending the Orlando GM Meetings with a better sense of his club and a surplus of outfielders. He told MLBTR that he likes having outfield depth, but Cameron Maybin, Ryan Ludwick, Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, Scott Hairston, Chris Denorfia, Aaron Cunningham and Tony Gwynn won't all end up on next season's Opening Day roster and Hoyer did acknowledge that a trade is possible.

"Whenever you have surplus, if a team asks about a guy, you're always going to be willing to listen," Hoyer said.

The Padres like Venable in right and Maybin in center. Tony Gwynn's 2011 role has been unclear since the Marlins sent Maybin to San Diego. He is a non-tender candidate (like LudwickHairston and Denorfia) but Hoyer says Gwynn could be covering even more ground than usual at Petco Park next year.

"He's a guy we can use in all three outfield spots and going forward that's probably how we think of him," Hoyer said.

The Maybin trade left the Padres short on relievers, but don't expect immediate additions to the San Diego 'pen. The Padres are likely to replace the recently-traded Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica with other relievers later in the winter. As expected, Hoyer says the Padres will do a lot of their "damage" late in the offseason.


Padres And Marlins Discussing Maybin

2:54pm: The Padres have acquired Maybin from the Marlins, pending a physical, reports Tom Krasovic of Fanhouse (via Twitter).

2:09pm: Maybin will be traded and a deal with the Padres is getting close, a source tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo (via Twitter).

12:25am: The Marlins have also discussed Maybin with the Royals, according to Frisaro (Twitter link).

11:54am: The Padres and Marlins are discussing a trade involving Cameron Maybin, tweets MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. It is unclear who or if any other players are involved in the discussions.

Maybin, still just 23, has yet to establish himself in the big leagues after coming over in the Miguel Cabrera-Dontrelle Willis trade in December 2007. He's a .246/.313/.380 career hitter in 610 plate appearances, mostly with the Marlins. UZR loves his defense in center, rating him at +5.1 at the position for his career. 

Maybin is out of options, so he will need to clear waivers to go to the minors starting next season. He does have four years of team control remaining, however. Florida traded Andrew Miller, the other key piece they received in the Cabrera-Willis deal, to the Red Sox yesterday.


Odds & Ends: Maybin, Blue Jays, Orioles, Oswalt

Links for Thursday night, as interleague play keeps Dan Haren's 1.000 OPS out of Arizona's lineup….


Maybin Still Part Of Marlins’ Plans

Mike Stanton's getting all the attention and at least Cody Ross and Chris Coghlan are getting playing time. Cameron Maybin's getting benched, but Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald that Maybin is a "big time" part of the team's future.

"I'm not sure that's going to happen right now," Beinfest said. "But definitely in the future [Maybin figures in]."

Now, Maybin is struggling. He has a .225/.290/.341 line in 201 plate appearances this year, with five homers. Maybin, who was considered a top-ten prospect by Baseball America leading up to 2007, 2008 and 2009, has the potential to do considerably more on offense. To his credit, his defense has been above-average in about 1000 major league innings.

Beinfest told Navarro that he doesn't believe Maybin deserves a demotion to the minors. Maybin is on track to be a borderline super two candidate after 2011, so the cost-conscious Marlins could prevent him from obtaining super two status by demoting him for a few weeks now.

It seems like Maybin has been in the majors for ages, but like the man he was traded for (Miguel Cabrera) he reached the majors at an extremely young age. Maybin, 23, is younger than prospects like Desmond Jennings and Pedro Alvarez, so he has plenty of time to realize his potential and it's no surprise that Beinfest expects that to happen in a Marlins uniform.


2005 Draft Throwdown

While dreams are coming true for hundreds of high school and college players this week, let's compare the paths of some 2005 first round draft picks. Nothing is more interesting than seeing how teams did choosing players at the same position. In a draft, it is the closest teams come to the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. Meanwhile, those lists haunt fans' memories for years to come.

  • Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) vs. Ryan Braun (Brewers): This battle between Zimmerman, picked fourth, and Braun, picked fifth, was to be a test of hot corner prowess. But while Zimmerman has excelled at the position, winning a Gold Glove in 2009 and grading well under more advanced defensive metrics, Braun settled in left field after proving to be a disastrous fielder at third base. So far, Braun has a .931 to .836 edge in OPS, but with Zimmerman putting up an .888 in 2009 and at .986 so far in 2010, that gap may well have disappeared. Moving forward, the edge goes to Zimmerman, a terrific hitter, though a notch below Braun, but a far more valuable defensive player. Both teams won here, though.
  • Cameron Maybin (Tigers) vs. Andrew McCutchen (Pirates): These high school center fielders went back-to-back, with Maybin going tenth and McCutchen going 11th. The early returns suggest that the Tigers made a poor choice here, though they ultimately packaged Maybin in a deal for Miguel Cabrera, so they're not exactly complaining. McCutchen has hit since he arrived in Pittsburgh last season, and a 23-year-old with an .847 OPS in his first 733 major league plate appearances stands an awfully good chance of being an elite player for years to come. Maybin is still immensely talented, and could turn into a star- but McCutchen already is one. Pirates win- how often do you get to read that?
  • Craig Hansen (Red Sox) vs. Joey Devine (Braves): This throwdown is a lesson in the perils of college pitchers. They seem like sure things, compared to high schoolers, and from the start, the Red Sox and Braves thought they had their ninth-innings mapped out for years to come. Hansen, drafted 26th out of St. John's, has yet to find command at the major league level, with 63 walks against 70 strikeouts in 93.2 innings. The right-hander was one of the moving parts in the three-team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles. Hansen's troubles were baffling, until the discovery of a degenerative nerve condition that has his career in doubt. Devine, chosen 27th, got traded to Oakland for Mark Kotsay, so Atlanta didn't benefit much from choosing him, either. The Athletics got a fantastic 2008 out of Devine- a 0.59 ERA in 45.2 innings with 49 strikeouts. Tommy John surgery kept him out for 2009, but he is currently on track to return to Oakland by the end of June. Winner here? Clearly, the Athletics.

Odds & Ends: Strasburg, Guillen, Marlins, Posey

Some links as the first week of baseball comes to a close…

  • Stephen Strasburg, who struck out eight over five innings of work in his pro debut today, will be limited to about 100 innings this year, according to MLB.com's Peter Gammons (via Twitter). Gammons says Scott Boras negotiated that condition into the righty's deal with the Nationals last summer. However, Nationals farm director Doug Harris told MASN.com's Ben Goessling that a 100 inning cap for Strasburg "doesn't hold water" (Twitter link). Harris says 150-160 innings would be reasonable for Strasburg (Twitter link).
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck explains that Carlos Guillen nearly became an Indian six years ago.
  • Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post wonders how long the Marlins will let Cameron Maybin struggle before calling on top prospect Mike Stanton.
  • Buster Posey had a huge opening week in Triple A, so Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News wonders (via Twitter) how long the Giants can keep him in the minors. The timing of Posey's call up matters a great deal to the Giants, as I explained here.

Odds & Ends: Posey, Maybin, Penny

Links for Wednesday…

  • Due to Bengie Molina's injury, the Giants have changed their mind and called up top prospect Buster Posey according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  So Posey's clock starts earlier than planned.
  • Speaking of service time, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith tells me Cameron Maybin's call-up gives him 129 days of service time after this year.  That puts him on the fringe of Super Two status after the 2011 season.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick ranks the impact of trades made by contenders in July.  He talked to an exec who thinks Matt Holliday "could make an extra $3MM a year as a free agent this winter because of his strong finish."
  • Yahoo's Gordon Edes has his trade deadline winners and losers.
  • Ryan Doumit's agent Matt Sosnick shot down recent negativity surrounding his client, while Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gets to the bottom of the catcher's recent benching.
  • Brad Penny still hates the Dodgers, a team he'll face twice this month according to Baggarly.  Baggarly also has a quote from Penny ripping on the Marlins.
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has more from Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy, who knows he gained trade value when the team delayed his free agency.
  • J.C. Bradbury of Sabernomics wonders whether the Braves should pick up Tim Hudson's $12MM option for 2010.  Hudson has the right to void that option, not that he would.  Back in January Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the Braves "fully intend to exercise it, barring some unexpected turn of events."
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs notes that Kendry Morales has matched the production of the Angels' former first baseman, $180MM man Mark Teixeira.
  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has comments from Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes on the team's Jon Rauch-Kevin Mulvey swap.  Piecoro says the D'Backs have about $23MM to work with this winter as they presumably look to add pitching.
  • Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times guesses Ken Griffey Jr. will retire after this season.