Winter meetings have typically been boring the last few years. The art of trades through baseball just doesn’t happen that often anymore. Especially not super stars being traded for premium home grown talent. Tell that to the Tigers and Marlins. I guess they missed the memo.
The Tigers and Florida Marlins shocked the baseball world with the trading of 6 prospects for two proven Major league Baseball All-Stars. So who came out on top? True we will probably have to wait for a few years to really see who came out ahead of this one. However if you polled the baseball world, an uproar would say the Tigers can rake in the chips off this winning hand.
Sure the Tigers got a lot in just two players (Willis and Cabrera). But what did they have to give up? How bout a kid that projects to be as good if not better than Ken Griffey Jr. who was the best player in baseball through the 90’s decade? Or how about a kid that was a consensus number 1 pick in the 2005 draft but fell because of his contract demands? There’s really no doubt that the centerpieces of the package sent to the Marlins came from both Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller. These two were the hopes and dreams of a future for Tiger fans everywhere. Now, they are wearing a big fish on the front of their jerseys. However, they aren’t alone. How about the four other players that came to the Marlins? We’ll look into this a little deeper.
Andrew Miller is an ace in the making. Often compared to Randy Johnson at a young age, this kid is tall, lean and has a power arm that managers drool over once he declares for the draft. A standout at the University of North Carolina, Andrew Miller has always been sought after. Now a change of scenery for the Marlins, he’ll get his shot at fame. The Marlins pitching staff is deep and adding Andrew can do nothing but make it even deeper than before. He has a plus fastball with late darting movement, and a plus plus slider. In college he was known for having a change up that was decent however, he never really had to throw it much. This is a pitch that he must pick up in order to become the star that he is projected to be. This hurts to see a guy like Andrew Miller walk away. Florida watch-out, you’ll know about this kid real soon.
Another star brought in on this trade, perhaps even bigger than Andrew Miller is the young centerfielder Cameron Maybin. This kid is a five-tool player and is solid all the way around. He too fell to the Tigers due to his contract demands. But boy is he one special player. Cameron is projected to be a perennial .300/30/100 hitter and not to mention swipe about 40 bases a season as well. His instincts are far and between the norm of players in the outfield. His combination of speed and power will make him a phenomenal player for many years to come. Deemed untouchable, this kid will be a star one day. It’s not a question of “if” he will become great; it’s a question of “when”. A lot of people think he will be ready by mid 2008, but opening day 2009 looks more like it.
The other four prospects packaged aren’t too shabby either. Burke Badenhop, was the Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year this year. Mike Rabelo was Pudge’s lone backup this year and could start for the Marlins. He handles pitching staff’s well and has a good arm with a good sense of the game to call the right pitches. Dallas Trahern is a sinker ball pitcher that has had miserable offenses to help him out throughout his career (which his record doesn’t serve him justice compared to how great this kid really is). Eulogio De La Cruz is a closer in the making. This flame-throwing youngster has good movement and can top out a little over 100 MPH. Consistency is all he lacks.
The Tigers shipped out six prospects today, two earlier this off-season (for Edgar Renteria), and three last year (for Garry Sheffield). One has to ask how much is left on the farm? This is where the question of an organizations depth really comes into play. Luckily for the Tigers, they aren’t totally depleted. They still have Rick Porcello and Scott Sizemore as top tier prospects. And a few extra in terms of Brandon Hamilton, Danny Worth, Luke Puthoken, and Charlie Furbish and there is still a little left. This talent has great upside, however is so young that it’s hard to predict how many of these kids will actually pan out. It’s no secret the Tigers have dealt a great blow to their farm, however the crops were grown and harvested, and bartered for the commodities that should hopefully bring a World Series title or two to Motown.
Sure the Tigers have given up quite a bit in just the last two years. They no longer have nearly the depth that they had before this off-season began. However with the mastermind Dave Dombrowski at the helm, cultivating his young ones, one can only imagine how much longer it will be till his seeds grow into yet another crop that will harvest many more World Series titles to come.