My (delayed) two cents

Following the huge Reds trade for Mat Latos over the weekend, I was afforded the chance to actually take a couple of days to really think about the merits of the deal because I was on vacation.

I have no doubt the Latos acquisition is going over well with the players. They were getting irritated by the lack of action since the July Trade Deadline. They wanted to see a sign the front office was going to go for it. This would certainly qualify. It’s a move designed to go for the division title in 2012, and the NL Central seems open for taking with the Cardinals and Brewers in a state of flux.

Generally, I’m not opposed to the idea of overpaying for starting pitching. It’s not like clubs are going to give away No. 1 or No. 2 starters for role players. However for what the Reds gave up in Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger and Edinson Volquez, I think they should have gotten someone with more of a track record than Latos. When the Brewers parted with four premium prospects one year ago, they got Zack Greinke from the Royals — a former Cy Young winner.

Besides his stuff and ability to keep the ball of the ground, Latos’ appeal to the Reds was his age, 24 and that he can be under club control for four more years. Economically, that’s all good. He’s had two full seasons behind him, including a very good 2010. But he’s still an “X-factor” in some ways. He does not assure the rotation of instant ace credibility at the top. He has a reputation of a hot temper and has had moments of immaturity. Within minutes of the trade, two people familiar with Latos let me know about that trait and I’ve seen stories about it out of San Diego since.

I’m already on record as saying the Reds should have kept Alonso. He could have been part of the equation in 2012, and I think he would have been serviceable in left field. Although still unproven, I felt he might have been worthy of replacing Joey Votto in 2014 — should Votto decide to move on. While relievers generally aren’t missed in trades, Boxberger seemed a good bet to help the Reds bullpen this season. As for Grandal, he was blocked by Mesoraco for the long haul. I think Volquez can find his 2008 groove again, someday, but he needed a change of scenery.

The trade in the short term makes the Reds rotation better with Latos in it. I think he can become a very good pitcher in Cincinnati. Is the new-look rotation good enough to improve from last year’s disappointment? We’ll only know next October for sure.

18 Comments

I agree with your assessment. It seems as if management has decided to put all their eggs in the basket to try and win it all in 2012. However, if Latos doesn’t live up to their expectations (and last year was certainly a down year), then the Reds will probably regret making this move. I was OK with the 3 of the players in the trade, but struggle to understand the thinking in including Alonso in it. I believe he will be a stud in a few years.

When the Reds traded Hamilton to get Volquez that looked like a good deal. But it did not work out for the Reds. I agree about Alonzo,, but the Reds still have some great prospects in the minors, so it may work out. A good break for Alonzo though.

Define “ace credibility”. Latos’s peripherals scream ace. He has the best makeup for a starter that the Reds have had since Jose Rijo circa 1992.

Could Alonso play left field? Probably. Could he play a competent left field? Doubtful. I think Yonder can hit, but I think his torrid start has overrated his true hit tool. I see him as around an 860 OPS guy. If Heisey proves to be an 800 OPS bat, his plus glove in left makes his value virtually the same as Alonso’s 860 OPS bat with his weak glove.

Worry about 2014 in 2014 when it comes to first base. There is plenty of time to find options to replace Joey if he leaves. Boxberger is the only person in the trade who truly would have helped the Reds in ’12 and ’13. And why is this move only judged as “short-term” from the Reds perspective? Latos is team control for four years! This is a move that a team who is serious about winning has to make.

After watching a few of Latos’ games in 2011 I have to say the catchers are in for a big work out with that nasty curveball and slider. WOW! That thing drops right out of the strike zone quickly and the catcher usually has to throw to first to get the guy out. With a young catcher just coming up that might be scary. I am not even sure if Hanigan is ready for that. I like what I have seen so far and I think he will do fine in GABP if he gets run support.
I really wish we could have seen these young guys play for the Reds though. I think all three of them will be better than the number one picks they have kept and keep hoping will produce. (Bailey and Stubbs) But, like most people are saying, you have trade lots to get a number 1 / 2 starter.
I heard the Blue Jays were trying hard to get him too so that might have made Walt jump the gun and add more.

OK. Now they MAY have one addition to their starting rotation. Over the last 50+ years the Reds have rarely had more than 1-2 quality starters. They have always viewed other team’s starters with covetous eyes. Starting in the mid-’60′s there was the now infamous Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas deal. (How did that work out??) There have been other more recent attempts to buy pitching (Kyle Lohse, and then the lefty from Minn. -whose name now escapes me- both of whom never earned close to what they were paid to do; one year from E. Volquez for Josh Hamilton -yet another Red who was traded and became an AL MVP; and others if I had the time to go into this at any length). While I can appreciate Jocketty’s appetite to get back to the playoffs, it would appear to me (as a part of the 62-63% of the fans who thought the Padres got by far the better of the deal in the related online poll) that the Reds have simply backed up the truck and unloaded three of their most touted young players for ONE additional member to their starting rotation. Teams like the Marlins, Braves & even the Nationals (more recently) seem to have the knack for coming up with good young pitchers from their own farm system. As a life-long Reds fan, I hope this trade works out. But, given their track record, and the number of quality young players they gave up, I have SERIOUS doubts.
[Addendum: Now what will they do about a closer and left-fielder? They certainly won't spend (don't have?) the money. And what quality bargaining chips do they have left?]

This move didn’t cost them any money, they can still get a left fielder and a closer. I say bring Cordero back and sign Cody Ross.
Curt

The big factor her is that the Reds have to win this year to have any remote possibility of keeping Votto in a couple of years. Without increased attendance, the Reds will not have the money to pay Votto or any other players that they will want to lock up. The reality is Grandal was at least 2-3 years away from being relevant to the big club as was Alonso due to being blocked. While both may be big losses by the time they were ready to truly be helpful it may be too late for this team. The difference between Latos and some of the other pitchers they have gone after in the past, is he is 24 and has already displayed top of the rotation stuff and control. In 2010 he was considered for the cy young and if you look at last year he had a tough first half but figurede some things out and had a great second half. Latos no question makes the Reds better this year and the Reds actually save money and clear some 40 man roster space. Don’t be suprised if the Reds make another move in the near future.

Unfortunately I think if the Reds offered Fort Knox for Votto he would still opt to move on. I believe he will look to going home to Toronto at the end of his contract. That being said the Reds need to make more moves to improve for this year. I think they are all in but need help in left and a decent closer to feel confident of making the playoffs and beyond. This is a good move if they are not finish by adding a quality starter in left and a closer. If they do not then this move is a waste. btw Cody Ross is not the answer in left.

Good luck Walt.

I think I might rather have Latos than Greinke.
and I like him A LOT more than Gio Gonzalez and like him more than Shields.
his skill set is perfect for great american smallpark

I just spent some time over at Padres.com. They’re blog situation is a mess – we should appreciate how lucky we are. However, someone I assume was the Rockies beat writer wrote an article about the trade for the site (with Mark S’s help) and it drew 139 comments as of a few minutes ago. By no means are the SD fans giddy at what they got for Latos. This comment is not typical: ‘screw alonso, we don’t need a 240lb fat cuban 1bman that can’t run.’ but it will serve to stand for all the negative angst being expressed. The general feeling there is that now the team is thin in pitching and over-supplied with position players, though not at short, second and left. I guess we all could join the same support group. One voice of reason there said we won’t know whether the trade was a good one for a couple of years, so just cool your jets (or words to that effect. I subscribe to that, but I really was looking forward to seeing Alonso play.

i would have liked to get denorfia back from the pads. or, jesus guzman would have been a nice throw-in too. guzman would destroy gabp.

The Reds’ biggest problem in 2011 and the last half of 2010 was not pitching. It was scoring runs. This trade does not address this.

Total offense is not the problem. Second in the league. If you say timely hitting, you might have a better case, but clearly to still finish second in the league in offense says that every team struggles in these ways with lots of ups and downs and unevenness of scoring. We naturally notice more the struggles of the team we most closely follow, Pitching was and remains the problem, with one huge jolt of potential improvement of late. But a very expensive jolt.

Mark, I agree on Alonso. I still remember when Joey came up around the same time Jay did. Bruce had all the prospect hype and everyone was fairly positive on Joey as a .300+ guy with 20 HRs a year, but elevated Jay higher. I’m wondering if Yonder could have been Votto 2.0, especially at GABP. A question for you – what ever happened to Soto coming in to help the young arms (Volquez and Cuetto) a few years ago. They seemed to progress greatly when that happened. Any chance of that happening again? Or does that conflict too much with our current P Coach?

Unfortunately I think if the Reds offered Fort Knox for Votto he would still opt to move on. I believe he will look to going home to Toronto at the end of his contract. That being said the Reds need to make more moves to improve for this year. I think they are all in but need help in left and a decent closer to feel confident of making the playoffs and beyond. This is a good move if they are not finish by adding a quality starter in left and a closer. If they do not then this move is a waste. btw Cody Ross is not the answer in left.

Good luck Walt.

Mark, you make the comment about the Brewers being i flux. Of course, Fielder is gone, but the real problem may be Braun. Any idea how many games he will miss (has it already been announced and I missed it?) and will the MVP be taken fro him (ditto?)?

It would be 50 games, if he’s suspended. And no, the MVP would not be taken back. The BBWAA already said there would be no revoking of the award if the positive test is upheld.

I think Wally still works for the cardinals. Not long ago Josh Hamilton was traded for Volquez. Volquez,alonzer, hamilton grazner and boxman for latos. One less contender for GM of the year.

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