Mat Latos Isn't Enough
by Robb Hoff
June 18. 2012
The Battle For Ohio between the Cleveland Indians and The Cincinnati Reds on Monday night didn't quite live up to its billing as a showcase of animosity between Tribe pitcher Derek Lowe and Reds manager Dusty Baker, but it did have more than its share of fireworks.
Much of which came courtesy of hapless Reds starter Mat Latos.
Although Latos did not bear the brunt of a loss in a 10-9 slugfest won by the Indians, he did once again serve a painful reminder to Reds fans that he is not anywhere close to filling the role of the Number Two pitcher in the rotation.
The trade with the Padres to get Latos had many Reds fans wince because of its high price in prized prospects. And if the worst of those concerns aren't playing out just yet, there's one thing that's clear: Latos has not pitched to the level of second best.
Blame it on the conversion from the space void of Petco Park to the Reds' band box on the Ohio River. Blame it on a flood of left-handed hitters or a history of early season struggles for Latos.
Or face the fact: despite the stuff, Latos just isn't ready to be a star.
The sooner the Reds face up to the obvious, the better positioned they will be to swing a deal for a real Number Two and not the second coming of Edinson Volquez, who by himself appears to be too high a price in return for Latos alone, much less three of the Reds best prospects on top of that trade.
Latos may prove his worth in a year or two, but the Reds -- and their fans -- can't afford to wait. The Reds need a legit Number Two by the end of the regular season.
The bidding war is already out there for the one clear choice: Cole Hamels.
The media has already conceded that the Phillies will trade Hamels to the Dodgers, but don't be so sure. The Reds have one more prized prospect in their bag and his name is Billy Hamilton.
Clearly Hamels could not be re-signed by the Reds after the season and undoubtedly he will find himself in a Dodgers uniform in 2013, but the rental cost for Hamels should be exceptionally high, especially in the new environment of wildcard baseball.
Maybe the Reds can sweeten the deal to get a better return than just a rental to fill the Number Two void for a playoff push, but if the Phillies can't get over the hump for a playoff push, the Reds should be front and center to take a crack at Hamels like they did Cliff Lee two years ago.It would be even better if the Reds could unload a handful of second-tier prospects for Hamels akin to what the Brewers had to give up to the Indians to rent C.C. Sabathia not too long ago. But that's way too much to hope for if you're a Reds fan.
Maybe this time around Bud Selig and MLB won't stand in the way like they did by allowing a bankrupt Rangers team under the control of Selig's office to cut in front of the Reds to land Lee.
Maybe this time around the Reds won't be so overmatched like they were in the 2010 divisional series.
But the way Mat Latos has flopped so far this year, the Reds are going to have to seriously consider making a bold move if they want to have the kind of one-two backbone it takes at the front end of a rotation to win a five-game series, much less a seven-game one.