The Real Price the Reds Paid for Trading Josh Hamilton
The Real Price Paid by the Reds for Trading Josh Hamilton
by Robb Hoff
July 5, 2012
Edinson Volquez looked great his first year with the Cincinnati Reds after the trade that sent slugger extraordinaire Josh Hamilton from the Reds to the Texas Rangers.
His two-seam fastball would skid a foot back across the plate, making left-handed hitters look helpless and righties not able to pick-up the difference between the two-seamer and a nasty late-breaking slider.
But after Tommy John surgery, Volquez never did quite get the same swing-back action on the two-seamer and never returned to throwing his slider, which had made him a true four-pitch pitcher.
The 12-6 curveball that Volquez developed post-surgery was one he never could control once he returned to the Reds, and his total ineffectiveness over the last year-and-half with the team revived the grim truth about what the Reds gave up in Hamilton.
In retrospect, there's no one in their right mind who would say to trade Hamilton right before he broke out. Risking his relapse into a total alcoholic and/or crackhead seems like a small price to pay for a team that could now have an outfield of Hamilton-Stubbs-Bruce and a meat of the order of Votto-Hamilton-Bruce.
This is why Reds pitcher Mat Latos has expectations that it will be nearly impossible to meet.
Latos inherits the Volquez legacy and his performance now has to be gauged in relation to Hamilton because Volquez was part of the package the Reds sent to the San Diego Padres to get Latos.
As if that weren't a high enough standard, Latos has to be gauged even harder than that because the Reds forked over some prized prospects in addition to Volquez to get Latos.
Yonder Alonso will be the Padres starting first baseman for the next few years. Yasmani Grandal is clearly their catcher of the future. Brad Boxberger will likely be their closer once the Padres deal current closer Hutson Street to a contender.
So the pitching matchup tonight between Volquez and Latos has a lot more meaning for Reds fans than just the outcome in relation as to whether the Reds can return to a tie for first place in the N.L. Central: it is a reflection of their future.
After last night's pathetic effort at the plate against former Reds ace Aaron Harang in a loss to the Dodgers, the real price the Reds paid when Hamilton was dealt becomes more glaring.
It was the second loss in the first week of July in which the Reds scratched just one run across the plate.
The one-run woes have been a part of the Reds story this season. Their offense is manic, but when the Reds offense doesn't comply with the three-run homer strategy, the hitters lack the discipline and the manager the will to force the team to focus on ways to get runners on base, get them over and get them in.
Josh Hamilton in the lineup solves that problem entirely.
So if the Reds hitters are bamboozled once again by a former ace of theirs, the words "Josh Hamilton" will resonate with every hopeless Drew Stubbs at-bat, every rookie decision by shortstop Zack Cozart at the plate, every first-pitch swing that second baseman Brandon Phillips rolls over to the left side of the infield, and every robo-swing by All-Star rightfielder Jay Bruce.
All Reds fans can hope for tonight is that the words "Mat Latos" ringer richer than the disgusted mutterings that are likely to unfold again tonight with every failed Reds at-bat.