Tag:Reds
Posted on: January 3, 2012 3:22 pm
 

Beyond the closer -- baseball's best facial hair



By C. Trent Rosecrans


When it comes to baseball facial hair, all the glory seems to go to the closers -- from Rollie Fingers to Rod Beck to the modern-day duo of Brian Wilson and John Axford. Wilson's beard has made him baseball's version of Peyton Manning -- appearing in more commercials than games. And then there's Axford, the Brewers' closer won the title of Mustached American of the Year from the American Mustache Institute, despite the fact he's Canadian.

Well, why should closers have all the fun? We need to get back to the glory days of the 70s and 80s when mustaches weren't just for the closers, they were for everyone in baseball. So, with that in mind, here is some of baseball's best mustaches, beards and other facial hair variations that are sported by players other than closers.

The outfielder -- Toronto's Eric Thames

 

Thames gets bonus points for versatility, changing his facial hair throughout the season, from simple stubble to some fantastic sideburn-mustache combos. Kudos to Thames for several of his combinations and his sheer willingness to experiment. A true All-Star in terms of facial hair.

The infielder -- Seattle's Brendan Ryan

 

Ryan finished the season clean-shaven, but hopefully he's using the offseason to get this glorious 'stache back in shape for spring training. Ryan also knows how to sport some awesome stirrups, so the man knows his style.

The starter -- Minnesota's Carl Pavano

 

Pavano's 'stache has its own Facebook page, as well it should.

The middle reliever -- Cincinnati's Sam LeCure

 

LeCure used his mustache to raise money for prostate cancer as part of the Movember movement. While a native of Missouri, LeCure went to college at Texas, so he's taken note of the great gunslingers of the old west for inspiration for his 'stache.

The manager -- Seattle's Eric Wedge

 

Like Ryan, Wedge shaved late in the 2011 season. Let's hope Wedge brings back the mustache -- which just commands respect. 

The bench coach -- Tampa Bay's Dave Martinez

 

Martinez didn't shave his beard, but he did give it a good trim late in the season. But you've got to give the guy credit for keeping that glorious monster alive during a Florida spring and summer. Sure, Tropicana Field is air conditioned, but you've got to leave the ballpark sometimes and that humidity is deadly.

The umpire -- Jim Joyce



Joyce became a household name for the way he handled his blown call costing Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010, but his mustache screams authority and confidence, meaning we believe him now when he says out or safe -- no matter what's happened in the past.

The mascot -- Mr. Redlegs

 

Mr. Met is probably the best mascot in the game, but the Reds took the Mr. Met template and one-upped him with a handlebar mustache -- which is like the bacon of facial hair, it makes everything better.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 11:19 am
 

And the Bloggies go to...



By C. Trent Rosecrans

No need to get dressed up -- but the Bloggies are here and they're best viewed in sweatpants or pajama pants. The winners, the winner get nothing. But we get to fill out a post and bring something new.

So, Monday (Part I) and Tuesday (Part II), we put up the nominees in several categories and let the fans vote. Well, we couldn't just stick to that, because we all know the internets is for disagreement over awards, so Matt Snyder and I will chime in with our picks, as well.

Best Moment(s) of 2011
Fans: World Series Game 6
Snyder: Game 6
Rosecrans: Sept. 28

Most Historic Milestone
Fans: Derek Jeter's 3,000th
Snyder: Jim Thome's 600th
Rosecrans: Jeter's 3,000th

Biggest Surprise
Fans: Cardinals
Snyder: Albert Pujols to the Angels
Rosecrans: Cardinals

Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Fans: Ryan Braun's failed test
Snyder: Braun
Rosecrans: Coco Crisp not sticking with the 'fro

Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Fans: Red Sox
Snyder: Red Sox
Rosecrans: Red Sox

Most Bush League Moment
Fans: Carlos Zambrano quitting on his teammates
Snyder: Carlos Guillen's celebration in the Jered Weaver/Tigers feud
Rosecrans: Zambrano

Worst Call
Fans: Jerry Meals
Snyder: Billy Butler's "inside the park" home run
Rosecrans: Meals

Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
Fans: Ozzie Guillen
Snyder: Nyjer Morgan
Rosecrans: Guillen

Best Twitterer
Fans: @DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips)
Snyder: @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy)
Rosecrans: @BMcCarthy32

Biggest bonehead move
Fans: Mike Leake been caught stealing
Snyder: Leake
Rosecrans: Leake

Best celebration
Fans: None: They're all lame
Snyder: None
Rosecrans: None

Weirdest injury
Fans; Matt Holliday and the moth
Snyder: Holliday
Rosecrans: Holliday

Most impressive home run
Fans: Francisco

Snyder: Upton

Rosecrans: Upton

Best defensively play
Fans: Phillips

Snyder: Revere

Rosecrans: Revere

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: December 27, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Voting for the 2011 MLB Bloggies, Part II



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With just a few days left until 2012 brings us a whole new year, it's only fitting to look back at the year that was. Sure, there's an actual baseball season, including spring training, the regular season and the postseason, but things happen nearly every day throughout the entire calendar year. So we're going to create a fake award and call it a Bloggie. 

We'll set the table with some nominations and let you, our readers, vote for the winners. We did Part I on Monday and this is Part II: Electric Boogaloo. Friday, we'll post the winners and our staff picks. Without further ado ...

Best Twitterer
• @JGuthrie46 (Jeremy Guthrie): The Orioles starter loves his Air Jordans and often gives updates on his newest kicks, but he also trash talks with his teammates in an entertaining feed.
• @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy): The A's right-hander may be the most prolific tweeter of English Premier League analysis in baseball. He also shows off a great sense of humor.
@LoMoMarlins (Logan Morrison): The Marlins' brass may disagree, but Morrison is candid and entertaining with his tweets, even if it got him in trouble with the front office.
@DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips): Phillips not only engages with his fans on Twitter, but also brings them into his real life. He's held contests to give away not just merchandise, but also a trip to spring training and even asked fans what to do on a day off, and when a kid invited him to his baseball game, Phillips showed up.
@str8edgeracer (C.J. Wilson): The off-season's most sought-after starter tweeted during the season, throughout the World Series and even in free agency.



Biggest bonehead move
• A-Rod's popcorn snafu: Usually having a famous actress feed you popcorn is a badge of honor -- unless you're Alex Rodriguez. Not only did Fox cameras catch then-girlfriend Cameron Diaz feeding A-Rod popcorn during the Super Bowl, but then Rodriguez made it worse by allegedly was upset about the shot.
Mike Leake's shopping spree: The second-year Reds pitcher was arrested for taking $60 worth of shirts from a downtown Cincinnati Macy's in April. He eventually pled guilty to a lesser charge.
• Distracted baserunner: The Reds and Phillies went 19 innings on May 25, but the game could have ended earlier -- with a different winner -- had Phillips been playing more attention to pitcher J.C. Romero than to his conversation with Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. While gabbing with Rollins, Romero picked Phillips off at second. What made it worse was that the Reds had two on and one out -- and were a ball away from loading the bases -- before Phillips got picked off. After walking Scott Rolen, Romero walked Jay Bruce to load the bases with two outs, but David Herndon replaced Romero to get out of the inning.
Beer and chicken: Beer and fried chicken are great things -- unless you're consuming those two in the clubhouse as your team is playing on the field. The backroom hijinks got Terry Francona fired and may have cost the Red Sox a shot at the playoffs.
Tony La Russa's communication breakdown: If the Cardinals hadn't come back to win the World Series, Tony La Russa's gaffe in Game 5 would go down as one of the worst of all time. La Russa claimed the crowd noise at Rangers Ballpark prevented him from communicating with his bullpen. He said he wanted his closer, Jason Motte, to get warmed up, and instead Lance Lynn was told to get warm. When Lynn came into the game, his manager was surprised and the Cardinals went on to lose the game.



Best celebration:
Brewers: Milwaukee's "Beast Mode" was inspired by Prince Fielder's kids and the movie Monsters, Inc.
Diamondbacks: Was the team's "Snake" inspired by the movie Dodgeball?
Yadier Molina: The Cardinal catcher either did a "cry baby" or motorcycle celebration during the NLCS.
Rangers: Texas' "claw and antler" started in 2010 and started the signaling to the dugout trend.
None, they're all lame.



Weirdest injury:
Jeremy Affeldt: The Giants left-hander suffered a deep cut that required surgery on his right hand when he used a knife to attempt to separate frozen hamburger patties.
Sergio Escalona: The Houston reliever suffered a spraining ankle when he tripped over a glove during batting practice.
Matt Holliday: The Cardinals left fielder left a game after a moth flew into his ear.
Zack Greinke: The Brewers' ace debuted on the disabled list after he broke a rib in a pickup basketball game before spring training started.
Chris Narveson: Another Brewer pitcher with an odd injury, the left-hander cut himself while fixing his glove.

 

Most Impressive home run:
Juan Francisco

Justin Upton

• Prince Fielder

Mark Trumbo

Mike Stanton




Best defensive play:
Asdrubal Cabrera

Brandon Phillips

Ben Revere

Jeff Francoeur

Sam Fuld




So, cast your vote and check back Friday for not only the winners, but also the choices from our staff.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Reds, Cubs complete Marshall-Wood trade

Dave SappeltBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Reds and Cubs made the trade sending Sean Marshall to Cincinnati and Travis Wood to Chicago official on Friday, with the Reds also sending outfielder Dave Sappelt (right) and minor-league infielder Ronald Torreyes to the Cubs.

The deal had reportedly been agreed upon on Wednesday, thought neither Sappelt or Torreyes had been identified in reports at that point.

The Reds will get Marshall to help their bullpen, while Wood should step right into the Cubs' rotation.

"Sean is not the type of pitcher that we set out looking to trade. He does a lot of things that we like, on the field and off the field. He’s exactly the kind of guy we want to be a Cub," Cubs president Theo Epstein said on a conference call (via MLB.com's Mark Sheldon). "But, he had one year remaining on his contract until free agency, and under the new collective bargaining rules it’s unlikely that he’ll have any draft pick compensation attached to him. So rather than let him walk at the end of the year with essentially nothing in return, we felt turning him into a Major League starting pitcher who has five years of control was certainly worth doing, and obviously [we got] the two prospects on top of that." 

As for the other players, Sappelt played in 38 games for the Reds last season, hitting .243/.289/.318 in 118 plate appearances. The outfielder will turn 25 on Jan. 2. He hit .313/.377/.458 at Triple-A Louisville last season and is a .309/.362/.459 hitter in his minor-league career.  Torreyes is 5-foot-9, 140 pounds, but hit .356/.398/.457 as an 18-year-old at Low-A Dayton, mostly at second base.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:53 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:19 am
 

Homegrown Team roundup: Who is our champ?



By Matt Snyder

Well that was fun. An entire month of Homegrown teams has now been concluded. Now it's time to see how this thing would play out -- and let's avoid any "realistic" talk. Nothing about this is realistic. It's an exercise intended for fun and entertainment.

If you need to review the teams, go check out our landing page, where there's a link to the Homegrown unit from each of the 30 teams.

We'll run through this thing division by division, then the playoffs and then pick a Homegrown World Series champion. I encourage the comments section at the bottom of this post to be used for you readers to do this on your own as well, doing as much as every single divisional breakdown or as little as simply posting your World Series picks. Let's get interactive and discuss, as this is a truly subjective exercise. I also have no doubt some people will post comments telling us we're idiots for predicting the Mariners to win the AL West, for example, thinking this is predictions for the real 2012 season. When that happens, please direct them to this paragraph. Thanks in advance for your help.

[Note: I'll put our staff rankings in parentheses, but those are the average of rankings by three of us -- editor Michael Coulter and bloggers C. Trent Rosecrans and myself. The picks below are only mine, so there could be some differences.]

AL EAST
1. Blue Jays (5)
2. Rays (6)
3. Red Sox (7)
4. Yankees (16)
5. Orioles (30)

We do an exercise like this and we end up right back where reality is: With the AL East having three of the best 10 teams in baseball. Of course, the Yankees aren't included this time, so there is some variety here ... except for last place.

AL CENTRAL
1. Royals (10)
2. Indians (11)
3. Tigers (17)
4. White Sox (24)
5. Twins (27)

The division lacks elite teams and I could see arguments for either the Royals or Indians. Maybe even the Tigers. I ultimately went with the Royals because I like their lineup and getting Zack Greinke back atop the rotation gives a boost.

AL WEST
1. Mariners (1)
2. Angels (15)
3. Rangers (23)
4. A's (26)

I feel like Seattle would have this thing clinched in early September. The other three aren't even close here.

NL EAST
1. Braves (2)
2. Phillies (8)
3. Nationals/Expos (9)
4. Mets (14)
5. Marlins (20)

Very strong division here, as I wrote that the Mets Homegrown unit would challenge for the NL wild card. It's just that three teams in this division (and two more in the West) happen to very clearly be better.

NL CENTRAL
1. Cardinals (13)
2. Pirates (12)
3. Astros (21)
4. Reds (18)
5. Brewers (25)
6. Cubs (29)

Like the AL Central, this is a sub-par division. In the rankings where three of us voted, the Pirates edged out the Cardinals, but I still think the Cardinals' Homegrown team is a bit better and these are my picks. Definitely feel free to do something different in your own picks below -- and I know my boy Trent would. I do think 83-85 wins would take this thing, though, and the winner would be destroyed in the first round of the playoffs.

NL WEST
1. Diamondbacks (3)
2. Dodgers (4)
3. Rockies (19)
4. Giants (22)
5. Padres (28)

Two-horse race here, as both the D-Backs and Dodgers came out ranked in our top four overall. The other three teams in this division aren't even .500 ballclubs in this exercise.

PLAYOFFS

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
NL Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers

ALDS
Blue Jays over Royals in 3
Mariners over Rays in 5

NLDS
D-Backs over Cardinals in 3
Braves over Dodgers in 5

ALCS
Mariners over Blue Jays in 7

NLCS
Braves over D-Backs in 6

THE HOMEGROWN WORLD SERIES
Mariners over Braves in 7

Can we say it was a pitchers' duel for the ages in Game 7 with Adam Wainwright vs. Felix Hernandez? Sure, why not? This is just for fun anyway.

So those are my picks. Again, make your own below and we can compare.

CONCLUSION

I probably don't have to do this, but I felt like clarifying a few things. First of all, you know how sometimes people leave comments like "it must be a slow news day!" like it's some kind of huge insult? Yeah, it's actually true some of the time -- especially in the offseason. Aside from the whirlwind that is the Winter Meetings -- and this year's version was insane -- the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas in baseball can be a collective "slow news day." And we knew this. So we came up with the idea to run this series, as it would give us something of substance every single day for 31 days (including this recap).

Now, we didn't just do it to kill time. That would be a waste of readers' time. We wanted to do something that was a bit unique, interesting and also fun. Making fictional lineups is pretty fun for any die-hard baseball fan. Think about, is an "All-Star team of players over 30 years old" really worth anything but a fun discussion? No. It's entertainment for those of us who love talking baseball. That's what the Homegrown series was all about. If you aren't a die-hard fan or hate ever thinking about something unrealistic, it's not for you, and that's OK.

Most of the feedback we got was good. Some was really bad, but that's the way things go. No exercise is ever going to be universally accepted, especially when the Internet provides the cloak of anonymity and someone can just type "this is awful, you suck" and then move along to the next page. For everyone who weighed in, thanks for the feedback. We appreciate all comments, both good and bad -- but mostly, we were happy to see that so many did find it interesting and fun. That was the goal.

As for any "flaws" in this exercise, if one was trying to draw some broad, sweeping conclusion, there would be many flaws. The Yankees, for example, are generally always picking in the last few picks of the first round in the MLB Draft and also lose picks frequently as they sign top-shelf free agents. On the other hand, teams like the Rays, Pirates and Royals have enjoyed quite a few chances to pick toward the top of the draft and to also nab supplemental picks as free agents depart. Plus, there's a reason there are real-life trades: Because no team could possibly have enough foresight on how prospects turn out and put together a well-rounded roster from draft/international signings only.

Also, in an effort to avoid inconsistency, we only used the 40-man rosters and major-league free agents. If a player is retired or in the minors and not yet on a 40-man roster, we didn't use him. Several Giants fans, for example, really wanted prospect Gary Brown to be used as the center fielder, but he's not on the 40-man (yet). I understand that if this was a realistic scenario, the ballclub might more quickly promote a guy to fill a hole, but, again, this wasn't meant to be "realistic" in any stretch of the term. And on Brown specifically, he spent 2011 in High-A ball, so he's hardly big-league ready.

We knew all of these so-called "flaws" heading in. I cannot possibly stress enough that the object of this series was for entertainment and nothing more. There's no need to go thinking too hard about it or getting worked up about your favorite team being either over- or underrated. Who cares? This isn't reality. Take the series for what it's meant to be.

Most of all, we thank our readers for taking part in this fun little exercise and encourage each and every one of you to post your rankings or standings or simply pick a World Series champion below. The beauty of it is there's no wrong answer, as it is entirely subjective. Get the discussion going as you sit in the office with nothing to do on the last day before Christmas weekend.

We have had a few requests for possibly doing these again next year -- but instead placing the players on the team they debuted in the majors with. That's definitely something we'll look into. We take all feedback seriously here at Eye On Baseball.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: December 21, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Reds, Cubs close to dealing lefties



By C. Trent Rosecrans

After adding to the front of their rotation, the Reds are adding to the back of the bullpen, getting closer to acquiring Cubs lefty reliever Sean Marshall in return for left-handed starter Travis Wood and two prospects, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler confirms.

Marshall, 29, has just seven career saves, but figures to be either the closer or set-up man for Cincinnati, which lost closer Francisco Cordero to free agency. Marshall was 6-6 with a 2.26 ERA with the Cubs last season, striking out 79 batters in 75 2/3 innings. He is signed through this season at $3.1 million in 2012 and will be a free agent after the season. He would join fellow lefty Bill Bray in the bullpen, as the team has said it expects Aroldis Chapman to move to the rotation.

Wood, who will be 25 next season, is 11-10 with a 4.18 ERA in 39 big league games and 35 starts. Last season he was 6-6 with a 4.84 ERA, striking out 76 batters in 106 innings. The Reds drafted Wood out of high school in the second round of the 2005 draft. He's under team control through the 2016 season and isn't arbitration-eligible until after the 2013 season.

The Reds sent three of their top 10 prospects to acquire Mat Latos and appear to be selling out for the 2012 race after watching their biggest divisional rivals lose major pieces with the Cardinals losing Albert Pujols and the Brewers facing a season without Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun facing a 50-game suspension.

The Cubs, on the other hand, appear to be listening to offers for just about anyone on their roster -- except for maybe Starlin Castro. Several sources have said the new Cubs brass now sees the state of the franchise as a long-term project and that there will be no real quick fix. David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com wrote the same thing on Wednesday, noting baseball officials say Chicago could be in for a "complete and total rebuild."

Wood would help the team long-term, even if he's nothing more than a fourth or fifth pitcher in Chicago, because he is affordable and under team control for so long. The Cubs could also try to deal closer Carlos Marmol, who is under contract through 2013 and outfielder Marlon Byrd, a free agent after the season, in an attempt to shed payroll and acquire prospects. However, finding takers that will take both money and give prospects could be tough for any of those names. The team's best trade chip is right-hander Matt Garza, who is under team control for the next two seasons. Based on what the Reds gave up for Latos, the Cubs could be tempted to move him for prospects -- the exact thing the previous regime gave up to get Garza.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:24 pm
 

Why the Padres traded Mat Latos

Yonder Alonso

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every trade happens for a reason -- or two reasons, actually. One for each side. With Saturday's big deal between the Reds and Padres, we'll look at the reasons for both sides. You can read the Reds' reasons here, but here's why the Padres sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati:

The Padres aren't expected to contend in 2012, instead, they're building for the future, just as they did last season when they sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. While the Padres sent Gonzalez to Boston because they couldn't afford to pay him what he was going to make, they traded Latos to add overall talent, getting two big leaguers and two prospects who aren't far off. 

As for Latos, the 24-year-old came into 2011 as the team's ace, but failed to live up to his outstanding 2010. The Padres were unhappy that Latos came into spring training last season out of shape and they also questioned his maturity at times. San Diego has stockpiled young pitching with the likes of Tim Stauffer and Clayton Richard -- with Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin in the minor leagues getting closer to being able to contribute. And let's face it, you don't need swing-and-miss stuff to succeed at Petco Park.

"Some of these guys who I have been around, I remember guys we had in Cleveland like Jaret Wright and Bartolo Colon who were untouchables. Colon went on to have a great career, Wright was injured. It's part of the risk and reward with any pitcher," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. "Mat grew up in a hurry in the big leagues, he was probably going to do very well. We have a very good group of pitchers, and we have a good group in Double-A coming behind them." 

Brad BoxbergerThe bottom line for San Diego is they got more talent than they gave up on Saturday.

In all, San Diego got four players and three, if not all four, could play in San Diego this upcoming season.

Anthony Rizzo may be the Padres' top prospect, but the first baseman wasn't expected to be ready to man the position right away. Yonder Alonso, on the other hand, is more than ready. Playing nearly with any other team, he'd have gotten more than 98 plate appearances than he got with the Reds in 2011. But that's what happens when you're playing behind the reining MVP. In those 98 plate appearances, he hit .330/.398/.545 and showed a bit of power, but his plate awareness was even more impressive. The Reds flirted with putting Alonso in left field and at third base, but he never gained the confidence of the team's top brass at either spot. Byrnes said the team would use Alonso at first, and "probably not" in the outfield.

• Yasmani Grandal was Cincinnati's top pick in 2010. A switch-hitting catcher, Grandal played at three different levels in 2011, hitting 14 home runs between Single-A Bakersfield, Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville. Like Alonso, his former teammate at the University of Miami, Grandal's knowledge of the strike zone and approach at the plate is one of his top attributes. Reviews of his work behind the plate have been mixed so far. While he may not be ready to play in the majors this season, he is still easily the Padres' top catching prospect. San Diego drafted Austin Hedges in the second round of the 2011 draft and have been impressed by him, but he's still several years away from the majors.

• Brad Boxberger (pictured) isn't one of the names many casual fans had heard of, but the Reds were considering him in the mix for the closer spot if they are unable to find a free-agent or trade replacement for Francisco Cordero. The Padres also think he could be a closer for them down the line. A supplemental first-rounder in the 2009 draft out of USC, Boxberger had 11 saves between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011, striking out 93 batters in 62 innings. He has struggled with control, but showed better command in the Arizona Fall League. On Saturday, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said Boxberger was possibly the key to the deal. The Reds had been dangling the other three players, but didn't want to move Boxberger. But the Padres insisted and Jocketty made the move.

• Finally there's the former All-Star, Edinson Volquez. Still just 28, Volquez's talent has never been in question. He has an electric right arm and a great changeup. As much as his control has been in question, the true struggles have been above the neck. He was twice sent to the minor leagues in 2011, mirroring his behavior from earlier in his career with the Rangers. The Reds, unsure if Josh Hamilton could stay healthy and wanting an elite arm, traded Hamilton for Volquez and Daniel Ray Herrera after the 2007 season. Both Volquez and Hamilton made the All-Star team in 2008, but Volquez then had arm troubles and missed most of 2009 and 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Since his return, he's showed velocity, but not control or consistency. He could bounce back, but walks have been his biggest problem, so playing at Petco Park won't help him as much as other pitchers. 

"Volquez is a bit of a wild card here," Byrnes said. "He was a very decorated prospect, an All-Star coming off Tommy John surgery and he hasn't returned to form. We think his stuff is very good, 90-96, a devastating changeup. Given his age, another year past surgery, our pitching coach and our ballpark, hopefully it can turn around for him." 

Latos is a talent, but in the end, the Reds offered just too much for the Padres to walk away from the deal.

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Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 11:54 am
 

Why the Reds traded for Mat Latos

Mat Latos

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every trade happens for a reason -- or two reasons, actually. One for each side. With Saturday's big deal between the Reds and Padres, we'll look at the reasons for both sides. You can read the Padres' reasons here, but here's why the Reds sent four players to San Diego for right-hander Mat Latos:

When the Reds won the National League Central in 2010, Edinson Volquez was their starter in Game 1 of the National League division series against the Phillies against Roy Halladay. Halladay, of course, no-hit the Reds that night, while Volquez was lifted before the end of the second inning, having allowed four earned runs and was saddled with the loss. The need for a true No. 1 was evident even before that game, but became more dire afterward.

In 2011, Johnny Cueto took a step forward and showed he may be the future ace the team needed. But it still needed a No. 2 -- enter Latos. The 24-year-old went 14-10 in 2010 with a 2.92 ERA and was a Cy Young candidate in 2010. He took a bit of a step back in 2011, going 9-14 with a 3.47, with his walk rate increasing by half a walk per nine innings and his stirkeout rate dropping just a tad more than that. 

Saturday, Latos said he learned from his 2011 to trust himself and not worry about where he was pitching or who he was pitching against. The results show someone who may have learned, going 5-10 with a 4.04 ERA in the first half of the season and 4-4 with a 2.87 ERA in the second half, and bettering his strikeout-to-walk ration from 2.45 before the All-Star break and 3.83 afterward. Opponents' batting average on balls in play dropped dramatically from .314 to .258 in the second half, but his strikeouts also increased. 

Devin MesoracoReds general manager Walt Jocketty said he felt Latos could pitch in Great American Ball Park, which is about as different from the pitcher-friendly Petco Park as you can get.

There's no question that Latos improves the Reds' rotation, joining Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey -- as well as Aroldis Chapman, who will be used as a starter in spring training, at least. But that's not the only reason the Reds made the move.

First of all, Latos will be a Red for years to come. He's under team control through 2015 and isn't arbitration eligible until the 2013 season. He's also just 24, having celebrated his 24th birthday little more than a week ago.

By dealing Alonso and Volquez, the Reds now have more money to play with in free agency or to take on salary. Alonso signed a big-league deal after being drafted and is due $1 million in 2012, while Volquez is arbitration-eligible and could make as much as $2.5 million next season, while paying Latos at or near the minimum.

Like Alonso, Yasmani Grandal signed a big-league deal after he was drafted, so the net move is two more spots on the team's 40-man roster.

"We've got some things on the back burner and the front burner," Jocketty said. "We're trying to do one more deal for pitching and we're looking at potential free agents for offense."

The roster spots and money cleared give the Reds a little more room to make those kinds of deals. They do have fewer prospects, though. The Reds still need a closer (or could use Chapman) and are looking to upgrade their left field options.

Alonso, Grandal and reliever Brad Boxberger were all ranked as top 10 prospects in the Reds system for 2012 by Baseball America. It's a heck of a haul for the Padres. That said, the top two prospects -- Alonso and Grandal -- at least, were redundant to the Reds. 

Alonso is the team's top prospect at first base, but the Reds already have an MVP at first base -- or at least they do for the next two seasons before Joey Votto becomes a free agent. He tried to play left field, but not too many in the Reds organization felt he could actually do it.

And then there's Grandal, the team's top pick in the 2010 draft. The switch-hitting catcher was rated the fourth-best prospect in the Reds' system, but the second-best catcher behind Devin Mesoraco (pictured). The Reds allowed Ramon Hernandez to exit via free agency because Mesoraco no longer has anything to prove at the minor-league level and can team with Ryan Hanigan as a solid catching tandem for the next couple of years. Hanigan, a very good defensive catcher with a good on-base percentage, is under team control through 2014.

While Boxberger is seen as a possible closer, he's still a reliever, and a Triple-A one at that. Jocketty said without Boxberger the deal probably wouldn't get done, and if the Reds really wanted to get Latos, Boxberger wasn't going to stand in the way.

And then there's Volquez. The Reds sent Volquez to Triple-A twice in 2011 to try to get his control issues straightened out, but he never seemed to get it fixed. Voqluez wasn't being counted on in the rotation and didn't really have a place on the roster -- and could cost some money.

There's no doubt the Reds paid dearly -- more than one front-office person told me the Reds grossly overpaid and I tend to agree -- but Jocketty dealt from positions of depth. The deal could hurt the Reds, but losing those players may not hurt them as much as it would another team. The 2012 Reds are better today than they were Friday. With Votto's time in Cincinnati apparently closing in on its last two years, the Reds wanted to make a play in the National League Central that no longer has Albert Pujols, may not have Ryan Braun for 50 games and could still lose Prince Fielder, and they did that by adding Latos.

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