With the trades of Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, I sit and ponder when is it time to give up on prospects.  Both Miller and Maybin were once considered can’t miss prospects.  So much so that they traded away possible future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrerra.

At the time I thought the trade was brilliant for the Marlins.  I felt Miller had the stuff of a number 3 or 4 and Maybin would be a perfect to bat in the two or three position in the lineup.  I wasn’t alone either.  Their respective rookie cards / autographs / game used items sold for some nice coin.  There were some 1/1 Miller cards going for $50 – $100 and the aaction they were getting on eBay was outstanding.

We all know how this sad tale ends.  Miller was recently traded to the Red Sox to help boster their bullpen as a middle relief guy and Maybin is now going to be roaming center field as a Padre.  I still think Maybin is young enough to turn his career around, but I don’t think Miller in a Major Leaguer at this point in his career.

Miller never got over the hump of reducing his walks.  The guy gave up hits and the Marlins knew that, however they were hoping that his walk rate would decrease over time.  It never did, he was 2-9 this season playing in A+ and AA ball.  His WHIP was around 1.6, which is about average for his career.  He begins a new phase in his life, one of a bullpen middleman.  Maybe he can change it up, but if he can’t lower his walk rate, it’s not going to happen.

Maybin on the other hand has speed and power, he just can’t get on base.  If he could, he would be a 25 / 25 guy and a nice addition to any lineup.  So for Cameron it’s simple take a walk every now and then, oh yeah and quit striking out so damn much.  That is the job for the Padres hitting coach to work with him over the off season.

Which brings me back to my original point, when is it best to cut ties (from a hobby perspective) with a hot prospect.  The answer is easier than you would think. You sell high just like any stock.  Got any Bryce Harper cards? Sell them now get rid of all of them.  We aren’t back in 1989 when Griffey’s card shot from $5 to $50 to $200.  Rookie cards start artificially high, then steadily decrease.  Of every top 20 prospects each year, only one becomes a superstar, 3 become All Stars and the rest are everyday players and bench warmers.  If Harper’s cards are worth say $600 now, how much more can they possibly go up.  There are going to be thousands and thousands of his autograph out there.  I’m sorry if anyone offers me $1000 for my Bryce Harper signed baseball bat, I am taking it and laughing all the way to the bank.

The odds that a hyped rookie will make it is so slim that it’s almost never worth stockpiling cards of prospects in hope that they make it.  Instead, work the other way find guys that are ready to make the leap from prospect to All Star or from All Star to Hall of Famer.  That’s where the real money is.  What is your take on this?

5 responses »

  1. deal says:

    The Cabrera trade also happened for Financial reason. The Marlins were operating under move him or lose him mode (apparently they still are – Uggla has also been jettisoned ) – I think the move was the right thing to do – they just got the wrong guys.

    If the Marlins end up getting somebody like Andrew McCutcheon or Colby Rasmus (Lower HS draft picks from the same Rd as Maybin) the trade may have been viewed as a success. It is hard to tell with HS talent, but if you go looking for it at least your are aiming Hi – Hi Risk Hi reward.

    Not sure how the Marlins can justify a new stadium when they are trading away everybody.

  2. Paul says:

    I’d almost rather take my chances in Atlantic City than try to make money on baseball prospects.

    The more important lesson is to not be the guy who’s spending thousands on Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg or whoever. Even if they succeed, there’s no room for their rookie cards to go up.

  3. jl says:

    I have the delima in Philly Dominc Brown, sure in his MLB debut he was everything that the phillies fans expected, but as the month went on he was benched and played only as a filler. I give prospects at least there Rookie season and the sophmore year, only becuase it takes that long to develop into the system. Strasburg was pressured to be the hype, and Harper, still has to go through the system, collectors go nuts, I just wait.

  4. You would have thought I learned my lesson along ago with Greg Jefferies, but I didn’t. The one thing that has changed is that I spread the money around and try to diversify the prospect portfolio. I do agree with the Harper statement where can his cards go with a price they have now and all he’s done is play in the Arizona Fall League.

  5. Corky says:

    I pulled a 2007 Finest Andrew Miller autograph and I thought I was golden at the time. I figured a couple of good seasons from him and I could sell it for a nice chunk of change, that didn’t work out to well. Fortuantely I pulled it from a box and didn’t buy it. I rarely buy in to the hype, you make a great point, sell early while people are still paying insane prices.

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