The news broke out on Sunday that John Maine had signed a minor league contract with the Marlins. Maine, 31, hasn't pitched in the majors since he was with the Mets in 2010. Maine could provide value to Miami as a right-handed starter or long reliever. However, it appears more likely that Maine was brought in to give Triple-A New Orleans a veteran starter to mentor the younger pitchers. Maine has fallen a long ways since
John Maine was born in 1981 in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the same town that produced Al Bumbry and Mike Matthews. He played college ball at UNC-Charlotte, where he had a very successful three years before deciding to forego his senior season. After being selected by Baltimore in the sixth round of the 2002 MLB Draft, Maine needed only two years in the minors to reach the big leagues. Sporting a fastball in the mid-nineties, a decent slider, and a effective changeup, Maine rapidly shot his way to the top of prospect lists during his final year in the minors.
John Maine's first two seasons in Baltimore were not great but he still had some promise. In the offseason of 2006, Maine was traded to the New York Mets for Kris Benson. From 2006 to 2010, Maine was an average back-end starting pitcher with New York. However, during his last three seasons with New York, Maine was bothered by a bone spur in his shoulder. How much this affected his numbers we will never know, but there is something to be said for a pitcher who can battle through that kind of pain. Maine underwent in 2008 and 2010.
John Maine has spent the last two seasons on the brink of the majors, in Triple-A. In 2011, Maine's career appeared to be over after an awful season pitching for Colorado's Triple-A affiliate. Maine posted a 7.43 ERA and walked more batters than he struck out. However, he bounced back in 2011 with the Yankees' Triple-A ballclub. In 2011, Maine posted a 4.00 FIP in fifteen starts for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Apparently, this was enough to keep his career alive.
By giving Maine a minor league contract and an invitation to Spring Training, the Marlins are not exactly making a huge commitment to him. The chances of John Maine being out of baseball by the time the season starts are higher than you might think. However, if Maine can stay healthy and continue to return to his old self, Miami could have something special. The Marlins are giving John Maine an opportunity in Spring Training to prove to them, and the rest of Major League Baseball, that Maine still has a future in the majors.