Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mat Latos: Was He Worth It?

There are a few Reds who are under performing. And by a few, I mean about 80% of the roster. Of them, few have been met with the disdain that Mat Latos has received. I've read comments all across Reds blogs and message boards saying things such as "We traded our future for this?", "Maybe the Padres will trade us back Boxberger for Latos straight up!" or "He's just another Petco product!" And this is without touching on what's been said to his wife on twitter.

Latos was brought in with the expectation that he would be the Reds future ace. The team gave up a lot or a player that doesn't become a free agent until 2016. When you pay that kind of price for a player this young, expectations are high. Some have said this is a risky move from the start, citing the rumors of Latos being a head case. Others are saying that giving up Yasmani Grandal and Yonder Alonso was way too high of a price to pay.

Latos hasn't exactly come out of the gate strong this year. After three games he's 0-2, with an 8.22 ERA, giving up 21 hits, 14 runs and walked 8. A pretty horrid start considering the Verlandian numbers some of Reds Nation have expected him to put up. But as with everything else in April, there are three words you should chant to yourself, especially when the season begins like this one has:

Small Sample Size, Small Sample Size, Small Sample Size...

Latos is a slow starter. His ERA in April avereages at 5.57. Awful. But the rest of the year he averages an ERA of 3.16. That's a difference of 2.42 runs. Yes, you read that correctly: His ERA in April averages two and a half runs higher than what he pitches the rest of the year.

Here's his ERA by month:

April: 5.57

May: 2.41

June: 3.55

July: 2.54

August: 3.35

September: 3.93

I can understand having your patience wear thin with Drew Stubbs. He's been hacking away and striking out in ways that make you wonder if he needs an eye exam for the past two years. I've also been guilty in the past of vocally demanding to no one in particular in my living room that Homer Bailey be traded before his performance completely ruins any value he has left. I've been right there with you throwing things at my TV when Baker calls in a struggling guy out of the bullpen in a high leverage situation and lets the game slip away when the team's best reliever is rested and sitting on his glove. I know what's it's like to shout out loud "Seriously!?" when you see a guy in a slump, with an average the same as his on base percentage penciled in at lead off. I get all of that frustration and I'll be the first to admit that like many Reds fans, I'm very prone to overreaction.

The difference here is that the other complaints have come after years of frustration. Latos' has only pitched three games in a new time zone, pitching to catchers he's unfamiliar with and in a month where he historically struggles. Things are going to get better. Latos is going to prove he's worth the price we paid and he's going to do it soon. So until then take a deep breath and give him some time. Come August you'll see a lot of #55 jerseys around Great American and you'll feel like a fool for ever comparing this to the Hamilton trade, I promise.

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