The analysis of the Mat Latos trade is endless. Some feel the Reds were fleeced. Ex-Red GM Jim Bowden has so much as said it’s the equivalent to the Herschel Walker deal between the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys. That is a little overdramatic even for Bowden. He would know a thing or two about fleecing the Reds though…
The trade should raise many questions, some about Latos and some about the look of the 2012 Reds. After taking a couple of days in order to let the dust settle on this deal, I came up with a handful of questions.
(If you want a good look at the trade, check out Doug Gray’s take on RedsMinorLeagues.com. He knows his Reds prospects and his take might not be what you think.)
Back to the task at hand here…
1. Will Latos recover the lost velocity?
Latos missed the beginning of 2011 due to a DL stint. Bursitis in his throwing shoulder was the cause for his residency there. He made his first 2011 start against…the Reds on April 11th. He hurled six innings allowing three runs (all earned), striking out seven while walking two. He also surrendered two home runs (Chris Heisey and Jonny Gomes). Latos took the loss that game while the winner for the Reds was…Edinson Volquez. Yes, irony is flowing here.
Now on to the real question…
That bursitis was possibly the culprit. Not an easy issue to overcome either. In checking out Latos and his average pitch velocity of 2011, he did lose almost a full MPH off his fastball and slider. His changeup suffered a little more of a loss, but Latos was still able to maintain about a 10 MPH difference between his fastball (92.8) and change (82.5). His slider, despite the drop in speed there, was still devastating to opposing hitters. In fact, according to Fangraphs, it was Latos most effective pitch.
As long as his slider still has the break and as long as there’s a discernible difference between his fastball and changeup, the loss of velocity shouldn’t be a major issue, if at all. If Latos reclaims that 1 MPH, things could be even better.
2. What about all the questions about Latos and his maturity?
That one was quickly answered by ken over at Red Reporter. There’s no one thing to grab from ken’s post and say “this is the thing to quote” because you must read the entire post in order to get your answer. ken also links to other posts which shed more light.
One thing everyone must keep in mind here: it’s a process just like everything else a player experiences. One will grow from those and having a respected veteran such as Scott Rolen around cannot hurt either.
3. Will Edinson Volquez be the next pitcher to benefit from Petco?
Before I dive into this one too far, I got to get this off my chest. I thought Reds fans would be estactic that Volquez was finally out of Cincinnati. Wasn’t he always viewed as “the guy that was traded for Josh Hamilton” and unable to live up to his end of the deal? So why all pining from some people about this?
No question that Volquez is better served in a pitcher friendly park. Petco fits that bill as it was the second most pitcher friendly park in the National League for the 2011 season (according to Baseball Reference) behind only AT&T Park. With his bouts of wildness to seemingly less than caring attitude (on occasion) to calling out his offense for lack of run production, Volquez was walking a thin rope. A change of scenery was a necessity…for Volquez and the Reds.
If he does reclaim some of his former glory, good for him. Let…it…go.
4. How does the Reds farm system look after three of its top ten prospects are gone?
In trading Yonder Alonso (#3), Yasmani Grandal (#4) and Brad Boxberger (#10), the Reds are a little thinner. I doubt anyone would dispute that fact, but the Reds do still have assets. Look at the other seven prospects for crying out loud:
1. Devin Mesoraco, c
2. Billy Hamilton, ss
3. Yonder Alonso, 1b/of 4. Yasmani Grandal, c
5. Zack Cozart, ss
6. Daniel Corcino, rhp
7. Robert Stephenson, rhp
8. Didi Gregorius, ss
9. Todd Frazier, 3b/1b/of
10. Brad Boxberger, rhp
5. What else could Walt be planning?
The biggest question of the day, or minute even. Reports earlier today indicated the Reds could land free agent OF Jason Kubel. Kubel elected to go Arizona on a two-year, $15 million deal. With the Alonso trade, some think that getting an outfielder is even more pressing. Not sure I agree with that, but I do know it was on Walt’s list heading into this offseason…and I bit, too. And so did John Fay (I think). Or was he already convinced of such due to Alonso being dealt?
And please spare me the talk of Ryan Ludwick or Rick Ankiel. I would almost rather have Cody Ross over those two. Actually, and I will reiterate what I stated in the podcast, what is wrong with Chris Heisey? No faith? I know an extra outfielder is needed, but I think Heisey right now is better than the other three.
Closer may be the next thing to look for, but you have to wonder what would be the price in a trade. I’d still like a bona fide leadoff hitter, but that may be a pipedream at this point…or pray someone emerges as that guy.
Walt’s work is not done, a fact we all know.
I’m just waiting for my #Reds column on TweetDeck to explode…