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.