January 27, 2011

Not Quite Good to the Last Drop

Look, when the Nationals DFA Justin Maxwell to make room for Todd Coffey you're going to get puns. Deal with it.

There was a time when I thought Justin could be another homegrown draw for a franchise that desperately needs to forge connections to its community. A Maryland native and University of Maryland grad, Maxwell would have formed a great 1-2 punch with Ryan Zimmerman. Both were 2005 draft picks. Justin would have been UMD to Zimm's UVA, cannon-armed outfielder and slick-gloved infielder, Stevie Wonder to Ryan's Frank Sinatra. Alas it was not meant to be.

A series of Nick Johnson-esque injuries prolonged Maxwell's road to the majors, and walk-off dramatics aside, he never showed enough with the bat to earn regular playing time. He never hit for contact, struck out more than you'd like to see in a guy who had just okay minor league power numbers, and didn't hit either lefties or righties well enough to distinguish himself as a platoon candidate. Justin peaked as a 5th OF/defensive replacement/pinch hitter, and his fate was more or less sealed when the Nats signed Rick Ankiel earlier this offseason.

This may not be the end of the road for J-Max in DC, but it is a sizeable pothole. The team has 10 days to trade Justin, release him, or attempt to clear him through waivers back to the minors. A 27 year-old outfielder with a 201/319/379 career line isn't likely to be enticing trade or waiver wire bait, so there's a fair chance Maxwell will be back at AAA Syracuse in 2011.

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