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?


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: " exchange for right-handed pitcher Mat Latos."

Double wow.

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?


Gonzo said...

Well written sir. I must say I was one of those who was 'enamored' with Latos, and still am to a certain extent, but looking at the long term benefits of this trade. After-all, the team is trying to win a world series... My lack of faith is seeping thru. But, overall I am excited to see what Volquez is able to Petco, and with coach Basely(sp?) helping him. Let's hope Rizzo is the next to go, doesnt seem likely he will succeed in Petco.

GTH said...

I agree regarding Rizzo. Love the guy, loved when we got him for AGon. I think he is a superstar in the making and will be. I just don't know if he will be in San Diego. Plus he has the added pressure of being "the guy" who Adrian was traded for. It also seems clear that Byrnes is not enamored with Rizzo like Hoyer was.

Hopefully this doesn't read as me not being a fan of Latos. I certainly was. But not like I was of Peavy. Peavy's starts were appointment viewing for me. Somewhere in my closet there is a Peavy jersey. Latos never reached that level for me. But at his best, Latos was electric. And it's always risky to trade someone with that level of talent. Then again, what good does it do to have an ace on a 70 win team?

Avenger-in-Chief said...

I think you have the right mind set here, Geoff. While I did view Latos starts as "must see" his future is uncertain. I like the 4 for 1.

On a side note . . . Go, Go, Rizzo!

I've soured on Rizzo as I believe his swing is geared to mash AAA pitching. And I'm a big Believer in my Belief.

Dis said...

Agreed. What Latos did bring to the table, which will likely be taken up by others, but will still be missed, was his work with the Padres and the community. In the few times I have gotten to interact with the team, Latos was always present, friendly, and the most recognizable player there. And at 2+ years, he was (sadly?) one of the most tenured players we had in a Padres uniform. I'm damn curious to see what the opening day lineup looks like, as we've brought in a team's worth of prospects from trading Adrian, Mat, and Adams. I'm all for future buy in, but this "brighter future" certainly seems a while off.

GTH said...

It's crazy to think that Headley and Hundley might be the longest tenured Padres? Anyone else? I guess Stauffer has been here for awhile now. Weird.

I'm all for future buy-in as well. Being a Padres fan these days, you pretty much have to be. But I'm also for stockpiling prospects for a purpose. Having two minor league championships is great, but only if that translates to the MLB product at some point. My expectations for 2012 will be incredibly low (though, they were low in 2009 as well and they won 90 games), but my expectations beyond 2012 have skyrocketed.