Tigers deal Maybin, Miller for big Fish
Minor Leaguers on the move in Nashville
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The initial shock will wear off in Miami. The numbness will subside in south Florida and the anger baseball fans are feeling now about yet another Marlins' fire sale will die down.
And when it does, folks who follow the baseball team that plays in a football stadium will come to realize that the blockbuster deal the Marlins and Tigers have pulled off isn't bad enough to send the few people that still attend Florida games packing. I'm not running down to Miami Beach and burying my head in the sand on this one.
Trading Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis is a dangerous and unpopular move in a city that has a winless football team, a lousy basketball team and a mediocre hockey team. Cabrera is a stud and Willis, despite the rough 2007 he had, is as likeable and talented a player as I've ever seen. If you're upset that Larry Beinfest has ripped off the face of the organization and handed it away, I can understand that.
But I also know that the players who the Marlins are getting in return -- all six of them -- are pretty good players, two of whom clearly have the potential to be great players. This group can be collectively just as valuable to the Fish as Cabrera and Willis were. It won't happen overnight and this year figures to be pretty miserable in Miami while fans wait for these players to develop.
But I firmly believe that Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio De La Cruz and Mike Rabelo are going to be of great benefit to the Marlins before all is said and done. The consensus on Maybin and Miller are that they are can't-miss prospects. While there are no guarantees, these two guys come about as close as you can get.
Maybin is dynamic and likeable in much the same manner as Willis. And he can play. He's a genuine five-tool guy who can hit, run, field, make the coffee, paint the house, cut the grass -- you name it. Maybin was No. 3 overall in MiLB.com's recent ranking of the Top 50 Prospects, and with good reason. While he may never crush the ball the way Cabrera does, you'll never have to worry about his attitude or his waistline.
Miller, meanwhile, has the stuff to lead a rotation. I first saw him a few years ago in the College World Series and was impressed by the way he handled himself in pressure situations. He's got nerve to go along with that talent and will likely get the chance to grow into the role of staff ace beginning this season.
He has a mid- to high-90s fastball, and a slider that would make Sparky Lyle proud. If anyone is worried about losing Willis, don't be. Sure, it would have been nice to have both of them in the same rotation but the economics of baseball in south Florida don't work that way.
The possibility of having Badenhop and Trahern join Miller in the rotation some day should salve any anger felt at the loss of Willis. We chose Badenhop as the Tigers organizational Pitcher of the Year and for good reason. He wins consistently. He's 32-13 with a 2.89 ERA in three Minor League seasons and easily qualifies as one of the best-kept secrets in baseball.
Badenhop is a groundball pitcher with awesome control -- 94 walks in 402 innings -- thanks to a heavy, sinking fastball. Like Maybin, he's an outgoing guy who'll play well in the Miami market.
Trahern is not much different. He's coming off a successful run with Team USA and is even better at inducing a grounder than Badenhop. He's pitched much better than his record would indicate and he projects to be a 200-inning, workhorse type of pitcher. Throw in De La Cruz and his near 100-mph stuff and the Fish got some pretty good pitching in return.
So if you want to cry, stomp, kick, yell, scream or whatever, go ahead. But get it out of your system before Spring Training rolls around. Then grab a lawn chair and head up to Roger Dean Stadium to watch your new Florida Marlins. They won't have Cabrera and Willis, but I'm betting that someday you'll be saying that Willis and Cabrera are no Miller and Maybin.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.