Sunday, December 18, 2011

Latos for Alonso, Who Wins?

Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Dustin Moseley, Cory Luebke--sound like an all-star team?  Maybe not, but all four of these Padres pitchers had ERAs below 4.00 last season (Clayton Richard's 3.88 was the highest of them).  In fact, Luebke and Moseley posted lower ERAs than--the now pass√©--Mat Latos (although Moseley pitched in 11 fewer games and Luebke spend the majority of the season as a reliever).

But nevertheless, the Padres do not have a completely nonexistent pitching staff without their former number one.  No, none of these pitchers had winning records last year (including Latos), but it's a difficult feat to accomplish when one's team only wins 71 games.

As for the Reds, Latos slots in nicely behind Johnny Cueto and gives Cincinnati a strong one-two punch for next season.  Clearing out Edinson Volquez was a good move as well seeing as, since 2008, his best season included a 4-3 record and a 4.31 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP.  And while he finally able to stay healthy last season, a 5-7 record with a 5.71 ERA tells me that some fans wish the disabled list would be expanded to accept players who are not injured, as well.

Who's going where?

To the Padres: Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger

Alonso: The 24 year-old first base prospect looked good enough that some believed that the Reds may have been willing to trade 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto in order to provide Alonso with playing time.  In 47 big-league games last season, he put up a .330 BA and batted in 15 runs with 5 HRs.  In Louisville, he's put up .296 BAs with 12 HRs and 56 RBI in each of the past two seasons.  Alonso and Jesus Guzman will have to battle it out for a starting position in 2012, which will create pressure on both to play to the best of their abilities.  This will be valuable for the Padres.

Volquez: He went 17-6 in 2008 with a 3.21 ERA.  If he can return to that form, he may be the biggest steal in the deal.

Grandal: Grandal jumped from High-A to AA to AAA last season, putting up combined numbers of 14 HRs and 68 RBI, supported by a .305 BA.  2 of those RBI came during his short (4 game) stay in AAA, where he batted .500.  Grandal is 22 years old and is entering only his third season of Pro-Ball in 2012.  With only Nick Hundley ahead of him, look for Grandal to make the majors soon, possibly as a September call-up. 

Boxberger: This 23 year-old AAA reliever posted a 2.93 ERA in 25 appearances with Louisville last season.  He also spent time in AA, putting up a 1.31 ERA in 30 games.  He managed 11 saves over the two levels and pulled out a combined 0.97 WHIP.  Boxberger is also entering his third year of professional baseball next season.  While the Padres' bullpen is relatively strong, most of its players are young, so Boxberger would fit right in--and possibly quickly.

To the Reds: Mat Latos

Latos: Breaking with tradition, the Reds' sole acquisition had a stellar sophomore season in 2010--posting a 14-10 record with a 2.92 ERA with an amazing 1.08 WHIP.  The numbers dipped a bit in 2011--9-14, 3.47 ERA, 1.18 WHIP--but they were some of the best on the NL West bottom-feeding Padres.  Latos will be the number two after Johnny Cueto and gives the Reds a strong pitcher who may be able to push the team from third in the NL Central into second (last year's Wild Card spot), and with the extra Wild Card for next season, the Reds will certainly be a threat.  But Latos will not be able to do it alone, and the Reds definitely need to make some more moves before the winter is up.

So, who wins the deal?

In the short term it looks like the Reds will reap the benefits of the trade more so than the Padres.  The addition Latos and the subtraction of Volquez will make the rotation significantly better, possibly enough to contend.  In the long term, however, the loss of Yonder Alonso will hurt the team.  If Edinson Volquez returns to 2008 form, the Padres will have won hands down, but even if he does not, the rebuilding franchise has certainly added key assets for the future.  Alonso could be a superstar and the pick-up of Grandal cannot hurt.  Throw in Boxberger and the Padres have a good future looking back at them.  They still need a few more parts and will not be ready to contend for a couple more years, but this deal moves them much closer to that goal.

Neither team can live solely from this trade.  Other moves will need to be made before either is ready to make the post-season. 

So for 2011, this is a great trade for the Reds.  After that, it is Padres all the way.

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