Yes, the Astros did pick up some pitcher named Justin Verlander at the waiver deadline, but the real news is they pulled an Angels OF named Cameron Maybin off the slag pile of waivers. The trade for Verlander has resulted in one direct win by the pitching stud, but Maybin has turned into a home run hitting hero, whacking three critical home runs in the last four games the Astros have played. On Sunday his three run homer flipped a 3-4 deficit to the Mets into a 6-4 lead on the way to an 8-6 win. The last two days, Astro fans awoke to see that Maybin had broken late inning ties with two run homers as the Astros swept past the M’s 3-1 and 5-3.
The Astros have a lot to thank the Detroit Tigers for at this point as they ride a seven game win streak into Oakland. First, the Tigers decided that their best deal at the waiver deadline was with the Astros and told Verlander it was Houston or nowhere. Second, they traded Justin Upton to the LA Angels. To make room for Upton, the Angels released……Cameron Maybin. There are other Detroit connections here. Maybin was a first round draft choice in 2005 by….the Tigers. Maybin is no stranger to Verlander. They played together twice, in Maybin’s rookie season of 2007 and again for one season in 2016.
While Verlander knew no other organization than the Tigers, Maybin has been a bit of a traveler being part of two high-profile trades, one to the Marlins (with a cast of 1000’s) for Miguel Cabrera and one from San Diego to Atlanta for Craig Kimbrel. When he was released by the Angels, every team in the AL had a shot at him before the Astros took him on along with the approx. $1.5 million owed him on his contract.
So what did the Astros think they were picking up in Maybin? Well frankly he would be a fourth or fifth OF. Good fielder, good base stealer, a Jake Marisnick with less power. Despite what he has done here, he only had six HRs and 22 RBIs with LA before the trade. His .235/.333/.685with the Angels pretty closely marked his career numbers. Before these three home runs he had not had a home run since June, ironically hitting three homers in five games between June 17 -June 22 and then going 40 games before the next one with the Astros.
Going forward? Let’s face it. Maybin may not hit another home run this season or he may stay hot. Baseball is the most fickle and unpredictable of sports. But if all he did was help the Astros with their hitting mojo when they were struggling to stay ahead of the crazy hot Cleveland Indians….well that was a heck of a pickup.