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Is Cameron Maybin Expendable?

Cameron Maybin had a rough first couple of weeks at Lakeland, but since then he’s been pretty hot.  For the season, he’s hitting .321/.437/.481 and while the homeruns aren’t there, he’s been scoring runs like a mad man and he has 35 in just 44 games.  He’s 15 for 19 in stolen base attempts, and 14 of his hits have been for extra bases. 

The problem is, the Tigers now have some depth in centerfield.  While not the same caliber as Maybin, Gorkys Hernandez has put up very good numbers at West Michigan.  He’s five months younger then Maybin and he’s tearing up the Midwest league to the tune of .315/.379/.406 and like Maybin, the power isn’t there but a 26/13 strikeout to walk ratio isn’t that bad for a guy playing his first full season in the minors. 

You also have Maybin’s teammate, Ovandy Suero.  He leads the minor leagues with 35 stolen bases and while the kid has no pop (his ISO is .009), he’s a switch hitter who can fly.  Other then the complete lack of power, the knock on Suero is, while he’s hitting .291, he’s doing it as someone who will be turning 25 next month and is still playing High A ball.

And then there’s Brent Clevlen, although he’s once again strugging in at Toledo (.207/.296/.296).  Although he’s shown flashes, he’s probably pretty far down on the centerfield depth chart list.   Clevlen reminds me of Eric Munson.  He’ll give you flashes to let you know there’s something there, but you usually won’t be able to give the guy a chance because just as often, he’s not producing.

So you have two top prospects in Hernandez and Maybin and two fringe ones in Suero and Clevlen.  And we haven’t even gotten to the current Tiger centerfielder, Curtis Granderson, who has 30 extra base hits already this year and while Granderson is striking out like he did last year, you can live with those if he can keep up the .583 slugging percentage.  And Granderson is only 26 so he could be around for quite some time.

Bottom line, with all of the centerfielders, would you consider trading Cameron Maybin?  Just to speculate, the Reds are in last place so I have a feeling that Adam Dunn might be on the block.  If we could package Maybin and maybe Mike Maroth for Dunn, it would go a long way towards boosting the offense with Andrew Miller in the wings waiting for a spot on the rotation.  I’d like to see what Maybin can do in Double A though.  If he gets promoted this year and lights up Double A as a twenty year old, he’s probably a keeper.  But then there’s always the chance that Maybin’s trade value is as high as it’s ever been.

I understand this is just starting a dialogue, but I think it would be complete lunacy for the Tigers to entertain trading Cameron Maybin unless they are just blown away with an offer.

Right now, they have maybe four or five position prospects they should feel confident will be major league players to one extent or another, not including Shelton and Santiago.

At least a couple of those guys are probably going to be role players who will either back up regulars (Hollimon) or share a platoon (Larish). That leaves them having to cover a helluva lot of positions with established major leaguers and that is a very expensive way to do business. Just ask the Mariners.

Maybin is a potential impact player who may have the defensive skills to move Granderson to left while providing valuable offense from a premium position. Plus he could play for about six years before he would cost what one year of somebody like Dunn would cost.

The Tigers need to be hording guys like Maybin and planning going away parties for truly expendable players like Craig Monroe and Sean Casey.

Posted by Matt in Toledo on May 25th, 2007 at 10:33 am

Brian, I’m pretty sure Maybin is considereed the top prospect in the system by a wide margin. He is untouchable. Hernandez may bring his status up to that level eventually, but the scouts and the statheads are just gushing praise for Maybin. Clevlen and Suero do not even belong in the discussion. Clevlen has virtually no chance of putting together any kind of real major league career, and guys like Suero rarely amount to anything, no matter how many bases they steal. They are the Brian Hunters and ther Nook Logans of baseball. You have to be able to drive the ball. Juan Pierre is a great example of someone who made it despite a complete lack of power, and even then he is a grossly overrated player.

Read this and then tell me Leyland knows what he’s doing:


Posted by Dan on May 25th, 2007 at 11:01 am

I think that any trade needs to weigh the current value versus future value. Smoltz for Alexander helped Detroit in 87 and helped the Braves for a while longer. However for every trade in which the minor leaguer pans out, you have numerous examples the other way. Remember when Moises Alou was traded from the Marlins to the Astros? Anyone remember what the Astros got? Oscar Henriquez, Manuel Barrios and Mark Johnson not exactly household names.

As of right now I don’t see why the Tigers would trade for more offense, they are first in the majors in runs scored, 2nd in average, 6th in OBP, and 1st in SLG. Why trade a trop 20 prospect for more offense? If anything I trade for some middle relief help, that area concerns me more, and for that you don’t have to trade Maybin.

Posted by Ryan on May 25th, 2007 at 11:24 am

I wouldn’t trade him either but it reminds me to a lesser degree of the Tigers first base problems a few years back with Carlos Pena, Dmitri Young and Eric Munson. The good news is, Maybin’s is at least one year away and the Tigers have time. Then the question is, do they move Granderson to the corner or does Maybin start there. It definitely makes Monroe expendable like Matt says.

Dan, I agree. Suero is more of an “interesting” player then he’ll ever be good. In fact, with all of those steals, he might be trade bait. And Clevlen has probably exceeeded his shelf life as a prospect.

Then again, this is a much better issue to have then the Tigers had in 2003 when guys like Alex Sanchez, Andres Torres and Hiram Bocachica were battling it out for the centerfield job.

Posted by Brian on May 25th, 2007 at 11:44 am

Having seen Maybin play at West Michigan, it is obvious by the way the other team reacts when he is at the plate or on base that he is a game-changing player. I’ve seen him walk and create a run all by himself by disrupting the pitcher and catcher. Some compare him with a young Griffey, minus the power. I’d love to see an outfield of Granderson, Maybin and Ordonez. To me, the Tigers’ focus should be middle relief, although Zumaya’s eventual return wiill help stabilize the bullpen, and signing Mark Texeira as a free agent firstbaseman this offseason.

Posted by Ed on May 25th, 2007 at 1:47 pm

Interesting Bocachica was mentioned when we’re talking about needing middle relief. He was traded for Tom Farmer and a PTBNL that turned out to be Jason Frasor. Frasor would be nice to have in the bullpen right now.

I know it’s silly to second guess trades like that. Especially when you don’t put them in the context of when they happened, but it’s interesting to see how important good player evaluation is.

Posted by Matt in Toledo on May 25th, 2007 at 2:59 pm

Yeah, Frasor had missed all of 2001 and in 2002, he had a pretty mediocre season at Lakeland as a 24 year old so he probably viewed as some pretty low on the totem pole.

It is interesting how these guys bounce around. Because after the Tigers traded him, he was dealt again and then he was the Blue Jays closer all within the next two years.

Posted by Brian on May 25th, 2007 at 4:17 pm

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