Saturday, December 17, 2011

Putting the Latos Trade in Perspective


by: Will Hicks
Staff Writer/Contributor

I was anticipating a pretty boring day today. I was going to clean and pack my apartment as I prepare to move and watch the UofL basketball game. As part of my morning routine I checked Twitter just to see what was going on. As I read Yonder Alonso’s tweet "Time to close this book and begin another....sad but happy at the same time ..." I knew it was going to be an interesting day. This was the big trade the Reds fans had been waiting for and the organization had been promising.

I couldn’t find any trade details at this point. So I texted my go-to guy for all things Reds, Jimmi, who informed me that the Reds had received Mat Latos, a young, solid, right-handed pitcher. I had heard the name before but that’s about it. About that time Denver Post sportswriter Troy Renck tweeted that Volquez was reported to be in the deal. And later the Reds official account had given the details.

"Reds acquire SD’s Mat Latos for Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, Yasmani Grandal and Edinson Volquez."

My initial reactions need to be prefaced with the idea that I would not make a great general manager. I would probably hold on to players I liked longer than I should. However, at the same time I understand that it is a business and things need to be done.

Jimmi and I were fortunate enough to meet Yonder Alonso and others as part of a #BPGIVEAWAY and liked him from the start. With all the players there, He ASKED US if we wanted a picture and chatted with us for a few seconds. So obviously I like the guy and wanted him to do well as a Red. But again I understand the business and knew he was likely trade bait. It did not bother me that he was involved in the trade.

After reading that Volquez was part of the deal from Renck (who we were also lucky enough to meet) I was still very happy with the deal. I had given up on Volquez a while ago. He just didn’t seem to perform up to the expectations set by the Reds and seemed to me to have some attitude problems. I think he is one of those talented players who just need a change of scenery. I am happy for him and wish him luck, but glad he is gone.

That’s when I saw the news that minor leaguers Grandal and Boxberger were also included in the trade.

After reading that there were some curse words and confusion. How could the Reds give up that much? Especially with Jocketty continually saying that teams were simply asking for too much in the trade market. I’d like to see the trade offers he rejected, just for kicks.

After a few minutes of just reading fan reaction I relaxed and did some more research and just thought about it for a moment. I believe that Devin Mesoraco proved more than capable in the big leagues last year at the catching position. So in theory, he blocked Yasmani Grandal from any advancement. So trading him makes some sense.

Many suspected that Brad Boxberger would be given every opportunity to pitch in the bullpen this season and might be given the shot to be the closer for the Reds in the near future, if he proved himself. Although I think that was a long shot, by trading him this just confirms to me that the organization will try, and have some faith in their ability, to resign Francisco Cordero. Cordero gets a lot of heat from fans, including myself, but is vastly underrated.

So with all that said, I can understand why they traded each INDIVIDUAL player. All of those players showed great potential but no one was completely proven and each faced some obstacles. It is also important to remember that prospects are in fact, just prospects. I hate bringing this up because I had blocked it out of my memory but was reminded by Jimmi of some failed can’t-miss prospects. Do you remember Brandon Larson, the 14th pick of the 1997 draft who was supposed to solve our problem at 3rd base? He is now playing independent league ball. This trade is part of a win-now mentality. And with the recent struggles of all the other teams in our division, this might make the most sense. However, I still feel that trading ALL FOUR for one player in return was a mistake.

Mat Latos will certainly help us win. Here is a look at his common statistics, along with some other data that a Reds fan should find interesting.

He is a solid right-handed ground ball pitcher who’s career ERA is 3.37. This is not just a product of him throwing at pitcher friendly Petco Park. He posts only a slight increase on the road where it hits 3.57. There might be some inflation at the hitter friendly Great American Ballpark but not much. He has pitched twice in Cincinnati going 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA and allowing the Reds to only a .111 batting average over 14 innings. Although it is a small amount of data, he owns a .500 or better record against everyone in our division except for the Cardinals.

April is his worse month by far, where he carries a 5.57 ERA before settling down the rest of the year. (His next highest month is September with a 3.93) So let’s remember take some time before officially declaring a win or loss in this trade.

I still feel that I am just convincing myself that it wasn’t a lopsided trade in favor of the Padres. Here’s hoping Latos can solidify the starting rotation and help lead the Cincinnati Reds to the World Series and help us forget about our reactions to this trade.

You can follow Will on Twitter @willpower36.

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