Sunday, December 18, 2011
The Promise of a Brighter Future
The Mat Latos trade nearly got me into quite a bit of trouble yesterday.
There I was, trying to enjoy a nice day out with my wife, finishing up some Christmas shopping and grabbing lunch. Pleasant and completely removed from any Padres rumors or hot stove talk. As we are browsing through some shop in Downtown Pasadena, I check my email from my phone. Not for any reason really, just habit.
Hey, an email from the Padres. What 50% sale are they pushing now...wait, what?
PADRES ACQUIRE EDINSON VOLQUEZ AND THREE TOP PROSPECTS FROM REDS
Wow. That's a substantial haul for the Padres. Must have given up something major. But who? I had to read on. So I kept "browsing," my nose tucked very firmly in my phone. Then I got to this: "...in exchange for right-handed pitcher Mat Latos."
I had to know more. More importantly, as is so much a part of our information culture these days, I had to know what the reaction on Twitter was. Knowing full well that the Latos' are prominent on social media sites and the amount of passion Padres fans have for Latos (#TEAMLATOS being a common hashtag on days he starts). But I was shopping and supposed to be enjoying a nice day out with my wife. I can't just ignore her to read what my Twitter feed says about this trade.
But I had to.
I'm pretty luck in my relationship. My wife is a baseball fan. She gets it. Maybe not to my more obsessive level, but she gets it. So I very casually bring it up. "Oh wow, the Padres traded Latos." Her reaction? "Wow, really? Are you going to write a post about it?"
She gets it.
So I briefly scan Twitter. I don't know if I've ever seen a more substantial schism between baseball experts and scribes (who thought the Padres fleeced Cincinnati) and Padres fans (who saw this as yet another popular Padres player being shipped off for unknown commodities).
I am in no way an expert on baseball prospects, certainly not ones from a team not named San Diego. But I know 4 players for 1 player is a lot. I know that nearly every expert who does know about teams farm system seem to love this move. The Padres farm system, already considered a Top 5 system heading into 2012, is better. The Padres likely have their starting first baseman now in Alonso, they have a bit of a surplus now in catching prospects and a potential replacement for Heath Bell. This all ignores Volquez, who has quality in him somewhere if he can just find it again. Now he moves to resurrection island for pitchers in Petco Park. All in all, this seems like a win.
It's not fun trading away star players. And frankly, the Padres right now are in short supply of players that a casual fan will recognize come Opening Day 2012. But Mat Latos wasn't untouchable, clearly, and never should have been. He has had stretches of brilliance, but stretches of mediocrity. He may or may not have maturity issues (a topic I will completely ignore, except to say it was mentioned prevalently yesterday when this trade was reported, from multiple sources). But what was clear was that Mat Latos was not in Josh Byrnes long term plans. In what has been the clearest example yet, the players Brynes covets are not the same that Hoyer did.
I'm not distraught over this trade. I wasn't when I first heard about it, I'm far less now. The Padres got a huge haul. They gave up a volatile but talented pitcher. But they received in return a lot of pieces that, I hope, will lead to long term success down the road. Or maybe it's because I've always been indifferent to Mat Latos. Always rooted for him, always liked him. But I wasn't enamored with him the way others were, or the way I was with Peavy. It seems folly in today's modern baseball world to fall in love with starting pitchers. To injury prone, to in demand, to on the move.
In either way, I slept on this trade and I like it more than I did yesterday, and I liked it yesterday. Best of luck to Mat in Cincinnati (outside of 6 games). Now, with 3 possible first base options, we wait for the second shoe to drop.
Is Rizzo next?