I Sense a Disturbance

The biggest baseball news yesterday was that of the trade between the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees. The M’s sent Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to the Evil Empire and received Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi in return.

And I waited. Patiently, I might add.

Then a few tweets hit. Now, there are some upset at this deal? The upset individuals are lamenting what the Reds sent to San Diego in the Mat Latos trade. I agree it was a lot (it cannot be argued), but there are more pluses than minuses to that deal…despite what Ol’ Leatherpants thinks. There’s a reason he’s no longer in Cincy as the GM.

So, if you feel inclined to re-hash, go right ahead. Wait. I’ll save you some time from Googling an infinite number of websites to do your homework. I’ll even add a bit for your reading pleasure…

First things first. Some were hacked that Walt Jocketty didn’t make any deals at the Winter Meetings. When he did make a deal, cries about what talent went the other way surfaced. You simply cannot have both. If you want the Reds to improve, you must give in order to receive. Does that line sound familiar? It should.

Mat Latos

Green hats?

Mat Latos was acquired from the Padres for Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger and Edinson Volquez. A vast majority of Reds fans could have cared less about Volquez being included in this deal. They just wanted him out of a Reds uniform. Enough said there.

With Alonso and Grandal, you have to view it as such. Both were blocked. Alonso by Joey Votto. Grandal by Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Hanigan. The only way to keep either or both was to find a defensive position for each. The Reds had toyed with the idea of letting Alonso “audition” for a left field platoon. Grandal is at least a year away from the bigs anyway, but I was sad to see him go. Sure, both had nice bats, but defense does mean something. Grandal wasn’t too shabby in the field. Learning a new position isn’t as easy as some believe.

The only player in this deal where anyone could have a remote sense of asking “why” is Boxberger. He was on track to be the closer…in about a year. If the Reds wanted to win in 2012, that would serve them no purpose. All three of these players (yes, sans Volquez) could turn out to be phenomenal players. I can’t see it though. With where they might be playing, I like Boxberger’s chances.

At one time, there was chatter about Pineda and the Reds. While I like Pineda, and there isn’t a whole lot not to like, I don’t feel he’s as advanced as Latos. Latos has two and a half seasons to Pineda’s one. Yes, there is the age difference (Latos is 24. Pineda will be 23 in a few days). So you can theoretically knock one season off that to make it one and a half seasons for Latos to one for Pineda. Even if you can find the means to quantify that, it’s a bigger difference than you think. Even though it may be only ten games (to be exact), you not only gain the experience from playing, you gain the experience from learning and charting pitches, too.

Looking at records alone, you will slide to the Pineda camp (9-10 for 2011 compared to 9-14 for Latos), but as we’ve all witnessed in the days of sabermetrics, it goes well beyond merely wins and losses. There are a plethora of contributing factors to why a pitcher’s record is what it is. Some he can control, some he can’t. I believe we all (well, almost all) can agree on that.

There are similarities. The biggest is that both are coming from pitcher’s park to hitter’s parks. Latos has already stated he will not change his pitching philosophy. He doesn’t need to. That lone about home-away splits, you know?

I Split G PA AB R H HR BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG BAbip
Home 31 758 689 72 158 17 56 179 3.20 .229 .287 .348 .283
Away 41 1001 908 102 203 22 79 234 2.96 .224 .286 .351 .276
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/14/2012.
I Split W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9
Home 12 13 3.11 31 185.1 158 72 64 17 56 179 1.155 8.7
Away 15 16 3.57 41 244.1 203 102 97 22 79 234 1.154 8.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/14/2012.

But acquiring Latos was more than just getting a potential ace. It was more than dealing two former first round picks. It was about freeing up some funds. Those funds were used, quite well I might add. You don’t get the likes of Sean Marshall and Ryan Madson everyday. Well, you might if you had a $100+ million payroll. Walt added two big pieces…and he may not be done yet.

Take a second and look at what the Yankees sent back. The Yankees dealt arguably the most prized catching prospect in all of baseball in Jesus Montero. Noesi isn’t merely a “throw-in” either.

So, per a question I saw on Twitter, would Reds fans have been willing to send Devin Mesoraco to Seattle provided Pineda was coming to the Queen City? According to Baseball America, Mesoraco is considered the Reds top prospect. Seems logical…

I wouldn’t…even if Grandal was still in the organization. I think Mesoraco will be a fine addition to the Reds roster…and I’m not the only one in that boat either. Nathaniel Stoltz of Seedlings to Stars thinks Mes will have a nice career. In his top 100 prospects list, he has Mesoraco at #12.

Conclusions: Mesoraco may not be a star, but it looks like his floor is “average starting catcher,” and that’s got a ton of value. It’s quite likely that he’ll be a well-above-average backstop for many years, contributing in every facet of the game save for baserunning. If he can return to 2010 form, he could be a regular All-Star selection, but even if he’s more of a doubles hitter and he doesn’t shut down the running game, he should have a career equal to that of the backstop he’s replacing in Cincinnati, Ramon Hernandez.

I don’t think too many fans would be disappointed with a career similar to that of Monie. Hopes may be a bit higher, I’m sure, but Stoltz does qualify that. If Mesoraco cannot shut down the running game…

As for Montero, Stoltz has him at #42 (I hear the gasps). Why? I have to say I side with Nathaniel on this.

As highly publicized as Montero’s hitting exploits have been, he’s almost as famous for his ineptitude behind the plate. He’s a pretty massive player for a catcher, and he lacks the requisite flexibility to make anything look smooth. He did cut down on his passed balls this year (seven in 88 games in Triple-A), but he threw out just 20% of basestealers. It’s long been assumed that Montero would fail to develop enough defensively to hold down an everyday catcher job, and while he’s to be applauded for his attempts to improve, the chances that the Yankees give him more than a Matt LeCroy role defensively seem extraordinarily slim.

Mes has a more rounded game. He won’t pack the projected punch as Montero, but his defense should help make up for those “deficiencies”. Montero is one-dimensional. I’m wondering how all that will translate to Safeco?

Maybe this is why Pineda is not a Red. The M’s wanted Mesoraco and Walt said no and he didn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t budge. The Reds got the guy they wanted.

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Tags: Baseball Cincinnati Reds Mat Latos MLB Reds Payroll Reds Trades

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