Monday morning we all awoke to the news that Cameron Maybin wants to start in center field this season for the San Diego Padres. He proclaims himself to be in the proverbial “best shape of his life.” Maybin is clearly eager to prove that his past is just that, his past. All he wants is a chance to earn the starting center field job back.
He was the starting center fielder but with the additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers he is left with no position. Maybin had a career year in 2011. A season in which Maybin hit .264 with nine home runs and 40 stolen bases. 2011 was Maybin’s finest season in Major League baseball. He comprised a defensive WAR of 2.0 and a total WAR of 4.5, not too bad for a 24-year-old. He was rewarded handsomely with a five-year extension worth $25 million dollars.
Since that 2011 season, his numbers have dropped off dramatically. Health has been a major issue as he has had knee, wrist, and arm injuries to name a few. The worst part of the whole contract was it was back loaded and Maybin is due $8 million this season and $9 million next season. With his $1 million dollar buy out for 2017, that’s $18 million dollars the San Diego Padres are on the hook for. To pay a bench player that kind of money can be suffocating to a small market team.
Wil Myers is slated to start the season in center field, and provided he is healthy he will more than likely be there April 6th at Chavez Ravine. So where does that leave Maybin? Here are his comments to Corey Brock of MLB.com:
"“I feel when I’m in center field, I give us the best chance out there….. To me it’s an open competition. Everyone be ready. My motto is, Put up or shut up, this year. Staying healthy this year, and let the play speak for itself. I don’t like coming off the bench. I’m going to do everything in my power to show these guys that I can play every day.”"
Those are pretty bold statements from a player who has struggled to get on the field in seasons past. With injury issues and a 25 game suspension for meth-amphetamines, he has a chip on his shoulder and is eager to tell anyone about it. Dennis Lin of The San Diego Union-Tribune also talked to Cameron Maybin, in which he said:
"“For me, each day I come here, I feel like I’m the most athletic guy on the team. I’m Healthy. My approach is this is an open competition. I feel like I’m the best option in center field, so the only thing I can do is come into spring, work hard and prove it. I’m excited about doing that.”"
When Padres manager Bud Black was asked if agreed center field was an open competition, he replied: “Agreed. Yeah. Sure.”
Not the most ringing of endorsements, but I’m sure Black is happy Maybin is ready to play. Health will be the key to Maybins’ future with the San Diego Padres.
While speaking further to Dennis Lin, Maybin wants it to be known he is going to be a good teammate. Nor does he want to be traded. In Maybin’s own words:
"“I definitely want to be a part of what we have here, for sure. I don’t want to get mixed up. I want to play first. But second, I want to win, so when it’s all said and done, whatever the role is, I’ll embrace it and run with it.”"
Perhaps Maybin can exceed expectations and be a valuable commodity for the San Diego Padres. His defense, when he is fully healthy is exactly what the Padres need in the spacious outfield at Petco Park. He is saying the right things to be a valuable member of the team.
Then again if Cameron Maybin is starting on opening day then something has gone wrong. The only possibility I see him starting on Day one if Bud Black decides to put Wil Myers at first base against Clayton Kershaw, and Maybin flanks both Upton and Kemp. A likely scenario, provided Myers can play an adequate first base.
Regardless of what everyone believes, nothing is really certain on this Padres roster. Upton and Kemp could play either left or right. Jedd Gyorko could start at third base opening the door for Cory Spangenberg. Who will be starting at shortstop and center field? Where does Will Middlebrooks play?Will Yonder Alonso have a break out year or just continue to disappoint? Basically there could be any number of formations come opening day. Spring training will dictate where everyone will potentially play.
Add the name of Cameron Maybin to the list of position battles. He is motivated to showcase his skills. Perhaps if he completely tears it up in spring training, the Padres can find a team that will take on his contract. Probably not possible, but the way he is talking, the man is on a mission.
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