Last week, Cameron Maybin was doing the media rounds at Spring Training. We were hearing the usual from a guy coming back from injury, but one thing that stuck out to me was his stated desire to be more cautious in the outfield. I’ve never thought of Cam as a particularly reckless player, and I grew concerned that his injury history was getting in his head. I had this weird notion I couldn’t shake that Cam was going to change his style of play and that was going to be detrimental to his defensive value. And then, yesterday, he went and gave the same effort he always does. He made the same kind of play demonstrating the glove and range that makes him a plus defender at a position which prioritizes good defense. He dove and hurt himself, inconveniencing me and throwing my plans out the window. Cameron Maybin is the worst.
Maybin had a breakout season in 2011, Fangraphs having him at a 4.2 WAR. That was good enough for 7th amongst centerfielders in Major League Baseball (slotting him above such players as Josh Hamilton, Bossman Junior Upton, and Michael Bourn). Showing vast improvement upon his stints with the Marlins and Tigers, the long-touted potential finally bearing fruit at the Major League level, the Padres rewarded him with one of those team-friendly/win-win scenario contracts I just can’t shut up about. I’m sorry, did I say “team-friendly”? I meant to say “HUGE CONTRACT!” Let’s break down this contract which guarantees him $25M over 5 years (h/t to Cot’s):
2012: $500k, 2013: $3M, 2014: $5M, 2015: $7M, 2016: $8M
“But that only adds up to $23.5M!”, you say. Correct! He also received a $500k signing bonus, and the contract includes a $9M option for 2017 which includes a $1M buyout. $25M/5 guaranteed, $33M/6 if the option is picked up. While being a Padres fan screws with your perception of baseball’s financial realities, this is not a huge contract. We’re fans of a team that claimed to be hamstrung by Phil Nevin‘s $8.5M contract, so I know how it goes. Shake it off.
The problem with the Maybin situation isn’t his contract, his heart, his ability, or his desire to be on the field. Some of the Padres’ more ignorant fans would like to suggest that Maybin is somehow stealing from the team, insinuating a lack of desire (or worse) on his part. As he’s a player who puts for A+ effort on the field at all times, and (as Bryant of Woe, Doctor! pointed out on Twitter) he sustained his latest injury exerting a tremendous amount of effort in a SPRING TRAINING GAME, that’s a farce. The problem is his ability to stay healthy (a VALID point of discussion), a trend I can guarantee you Cam Maybin himself would love to see reversed more than anyone else. To say otherwise, to trash Maybin for his body giving out on him and insinuating he’s stealing from the team is definitely 80-grade self-loathing. I know you really want to watch him play baseball (I want to watch him, too!). I know his injury is a huge inconvenience to your baseball watching, and we’re sorry for that.
WE HAVE TO BLAME SOMEBODY, RIGHT? Sure, why not? Can we put it on the Padres for having jumped the gun on a player who has an extensive history of injuries? I think you can make a valid argument for that. I really do. I still would argue that the contracts to both Maybin and Cory Luebke were good process that didn’t work out, however. Perhaps where Byrnes may ultimately be held accountable is in how the team was constructed and its ability to handle covering for the several injury-prone players we’re supposed to rely on. But that’s another subject for another day.
* – not the worst.
(UPDATE: Cameron Maybin MRI has revealed a tear in his left biceps tendon, which will have him missing 2-3 months.)
The Vocal Minority posts on Mondays. Follow me on Twitter. Injuries suck. Get well soon, Cam.