About three weeks ago, Walt Jocketty traded four players for San Diego pitcher Mat Latos. This trade surprised me. I knew that Jocketty had to do something this offseason and I was waiting patiently for him to make a move. Unlike other Reds fans, I wasn’t getting frustrated with Jocketty for not making a move; I knew he would make one eventually.
The four players Jocketty gave up to get Latos were Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger. The only one I was really concerned with when I heard about it was Boxberger. That young pitcher had some serious potential to be a really good reliever or even a closer. Yes, Alonso is good and yes, he may turn out to be a star, but he was blocked here. And as much as some fans wanted Votto to be traded now, that wasn’t going to happen. Votto is their best player and the Reds are going to try to win with him now. And I like that. Alonso, a great guy, can now be free to play first base and actually get substantial playing time. And the Reds have Neftali Soto, another up and coming first baseman in the minors, if Votto leaves after 2013. Grandal was blocked here by Mesoraco and Volquez probably wasn’t going to do anything big this year anyway. He had run his course here. (The only thing I hated about that was that he was the last guy left from that Josh Hamilton trade 😦
Mat Latos is a 24-year-old right handed pitcher. He’s very tall at 6-6. Last year, he had a 3.47 ERA with 185 SO in 194.1 innings pitched. 1.18 WHIP, .233 BAA (9th in NL), 16 HR, 62 BB, His W-L record was 9-14, but I don’t look at that as much, especially given the anemic offense that the Padres had last year. He didn’t get a whole lot of run support. Getting Latos gives the Reds a solid number two starter behind Johnny Cueto. Some people have questioned his maturity, but I think that aspect of his life is behind him. During an interview with Lance McAlister, he was asked about that and he said it was just stupid stuff that guys tend to do as a young kid in the majors. I tend to agree with him. Everybody’s done stupid things and most people overcome that to be a much more mature adult. I think that’s where Latos is and I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch this year.
The next trade the Reds made, which happened just before Christmas, was to acquire Cubs LHP Sean Marshall. In return, the Reds sent Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes. Marshall, considered by many to be one of the best relievers in MLB, had a 2.26 ERA in 75.2 innins pitched. He was third in the NL in holds with 34. He had 79 SO, 17 walks and only gave up 1 home run all season. He also had five saves during 2011. He was at his best in September, only giving up one run in 12 innings pitched for a 0.75 ERA. Also, fun fact: Marshall is 6-7. I think that means the Reds now lead the majors in players who are 6-3 or taller 😉
In this trade, just as with the Latos trade, the Reds didn’t give up guys who were going to be a key part of 2012. Travis Wood can be great when he wants to be, but based on last year’s performance, probably wasn’t going to be a part of this year’s starting rotation. Dave Sappelt was a good utility player, but he did swing a lot at the first pitch. He got better as he got more at-bats, but I still saw him as an average utility player going into 2012. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about Ronald Torreyes. I looked him up and saw that he had a .350 batting average at Dayton. After reading about him, he is probably the one I am most concerned about. He sounds like he has some serious potential, but it’s just that: potential. And the Reds got a bonafide relief pitcher to make the bullpen better for this coming year.
When news of both trades first broke, many Reds fans weren’t too thrilled at the idea of giving up four players for Latos, including Alonso and Boxberger, and then three players for Marshall. All I heard via Twitter or sports talk radio was that the Reds were trading away the future. Honestly I don’t get Reds fans sometimes. Isn’t the goal of baseball to try to do whatever possible to go the playoffs and ultimately win a World Series? That’s what the Reds are doing by trading for Latos and Marshall. They see a window of opportunity to win now and they are bolstering their roster to try to go for it. Prospects are just that: prospects. I think fans sometimes rely too much on the potential of future players, even though they have yet to do anything at the major league or even the Triple-A level. Don’t get me wrong; I know not all fans are like this. But I think a lot of Reds fans were conditioned into this way of thinking (don’t give up prospects because they’ll do something someday) during the years that the Reds weren’t good and they had a lot of good prospects such as Votto and Bruce. Well, guess what, that time has come and it’s now the Reds opportunity to try to win something with those guys.