Reds fans knew at least one starting pitcher would be dealt during the off-season. Johnny Cueto, the ace, and Homer Bailey, with his long-term contract, were not likely candidates to depart Cincinnati. Mat Latos and Mike Leake were the two most talked about possibilities (perhaps because everyone forgot about Alfredo Simon, despite his stellar first half in 2014). Leake will stay put with the Reds; Simon is now a Tiger; Latos returns to his home state of Florida for the 2015 season.
I believe the Reds gave up too much for Latos in 2011, even though the four players sent to San Diego have not amounted to much. Sure, Edinson Volquez had a nice year with Pittsburgh in 2014, but that was after five subpar seasons. I hope Kansas City gets their money’s worth for him. Back to Latos, though. I believe the Reds bought high and sold way too low. The biggest problem Cincinnati faced during the off-season was left field, but that problem was ignored in both trades. They unloaded payroll without adding much talent.
Getting rid of Latos’ salary was important, especially if they are able to put some of that cash toward retaining Cueto, but the failure to address the current or future personnel needs of the organization is troubling.
Also troubling is the interview published by Ken Rosenthal on FoxSports.com over the weekend. Latos spoke with the writer about leadership issues that he saw within the Reds clubhouse after the departures of Bronson Arroyo and Scott Rolen. However, the pitcher did not indicate that he tried to address those issues while he wore the Cincinnati uniform.
“When Scott was there, we had guys doing exactly what they were supposed to do. After Scott left, we had guys with two years in the big leagues, in the clubhouse, on their phones, laying down in the video room, just hanging out during games, not in the dugout, not cheering their teammates on. Our dugout looked like a ghost town. After Bronson, the same exact thing. We had starters in there roping our (clubhouse attendants), like, cattle-roping our clubbies. Guys on their computers, buying stuff, hanging out in the clubhouse. We had a guy with a year-and-a-half in the big leagues wandering around the clubhouse, hanging out. We had a closer in there sleeping until the seventh inning.”
The Reds had several players that could have (and apparently should have) stepped up and put a stop to this behavior. Homer Bailey, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick—all veterans with experience who should be teaching the younger guys the proper way to act in the big leagues. This is definitely an issue that Bryan Price must address during spring training, but it is up to the players to enforce it during the season.
I again question Latos’ willingness to address problems with his former team, but failing to act while he was here. That kind of openness is generally frowned upon by management, and the Bledsoe Brothers might want to address that with their client so he doesn’t diminish his free agent value when the 2015 season ends.