Before wearing out his welcome in Miami and coming to San Diego, Cameron Maybin was a top prospect. In 2007, he was rated the sixth best prospect in all of baseball. His teammate, left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller, was rated the tenth best prospect in baseball and together, they were shipped from Detroit to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera. It was a mega-trade in the style these kind of things tend to be: two major prospects for one of the best players in baseball. It was a fair deal for both teams, or at least it was as fair of a deal as Florida would get.
Cut to three years later. Cabrera remains one of the best players in the league, Maybin was traded for a couple of middle relievers, and Miller was just non-tendered by the Red Sox. So it goes with prospects. As Padre fans, it’s a reality we know all too well. Our own former top prospect, Matt Antonelli, was also non-tendered this week. There’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to a minor league player, which is going to make the Adrian Gonzalez trade feel like we’re stepping out on an invisible bridge.
After years of teasing, the Padres and Red Sox have made reality of the rumors as Adrian is shipping up to Boston. It’s as surprising as a foregone conclusion can be. Once Jed Hoyer came over and his staff was filled with ex-Red Sox front office guys (Jason “Duncan” McLeod, Josh Byrnes as of this week), the fit was just a little too snug. These guys know too much about the Red Sox system and they know which players to target. Which is good, because with a deal that includes no major league players, people are going to expect that they’re certain with their picks.
Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes. These are the names of your new hope, Padres fans. Anyone expecting Clay Buchholz will surely be disappointed–but this is something of a buyer’s market. The Red Sox are playing for a World Series title and trading one of the better pitchers in the league wouldn’t help achieve that goal. But then, as a double agent, Hoyer would know that, right?
This is going to be a hard one to swallow. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s already stuck in a lot of throats out there. The Padres just traded one of the best players in the league and franchise history for a handful of players who may or may not pan out. Like Jorge Arangure said on twitter, “(The) Gonzalez trade will make or break Padres franchise for years to come. Big decision for Hoyer.” I don’t have to tell you about the limitations this franchise has, or that our only real hope is to produce our own talent. Ideally, this trade will help set us up for the best case scenario, Kelly joins Mat Latos and Simon Castro to give the Padres the kind of rotation that leads teams to the World Series. But what if he doesn’t?
Without Adrian, it will be hard for the Padres to compete in 2011. Chase Headley will become the elder statesman. It will fall to the new class of Padres, including Cameron Maybin, to make things work. And while the former Boston farmhands develop (or not) down below, everyone in San Diego will be forced to sit and wait and hope that when the time comes, something’s there to catch us when we step out.