There's been plenty of reaction around the media, blogosphere, and twitterverse to the Reds' acquisition of Mat Latos. RSC's excellent Latos White Paper is a necessary read about the team's new number 2 (1?) starter. Below are some older articles that help explain how Latos has become one of baseball's most promising younger pitchers, while shedding some light on his reportedly mercurial nature:
- This early scouting report discusses some of the makeup questions that have dogged Latos since high school. The Padres took a chance on him in the 11th round of the 2006 draft, but still waited to sign him for nearly a year (which is no longer permitted). Latos exhibited enough maturity while pitching for a Florida community college to convince the Padres to pay him a $1.25M signing bonus.
- During Latos' breakout 2010 campaign, he received plenty of media focus on his meteoric rise to stardom. This Yahoo article sums up the maturation process:
He stopped yelling at teammates for making errors, stopped snatching at return throws from the catcher when he believed an umpire missed a call, and toned down the self-loathing when he didn't perform up to his own expectations. "I learned to breathe through my eyelids," he said. "When I was younger, I always had an excuse. Now, I throw a pitch and I can accept that I made a mistake and somebody hit it. How can I be mad at somebody else on the field? I'm never going to be perfect, so how can I expect anybody else to be perfect?" "I still have that hotness in me. There are plenty of times I want to let it out."
- Latos received some tough love from a Padres minor league instructor early in his career. It very well be responsible for the growth that enabled him to succeed in the big leagues:
Latos got away with his me-first attitude until he collided with Padres roving pitching instructor Mike Couchee.... After a poor bullpen session one day, Latos and Couchee bickered until Couchee decided he'd had enough. He asked Latos if he would be mouthing off like this to Padres manager Bud Black. Latos said no. "Then grow up," Latos remembers Couchee telling him, "and go about your business as if you were in the majors." "A light turned on," Latos said. "I decided to quit acting like I was 16 years old."
- ESPN the Magazine also went into some depth about Latos' new-found maturity in 2010. Latos' professional nadir may have occurred during a game in Cincinnati, shortly after his 2009 big league call-up:
[Heath] Bell had little patience for such an attitude that day in Cincinnati, and almost immediately after hearing Latos, he yelled, "Listen to us! We know what we're doing here. You're a talented pitcher but we can make you that much better. You walk around here like you're a veteran thinking like you're somebody. You have to be humble. We have to work as a team."
It's a long but interesting article, and well worth the read.
After the jump, other hot stove news.
Arizona has signed Jason Kubel to two years
The Diamondbacks now have a pair of Leftfielders. Perhaps Gerardo Parra is now expendable? He's coming off a nifty little two-win season and is not eligible for arbitration until 2013.
- The Cardinals are kicking the tires on Carlos Beltran
According to Ken Rosenthal, St. Louis did "extensive background work on free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran last week and maintain strong interest in him." Presumptive RF Allan Craig just underwent knee surgery, which might explain St. Louis' interest.
- J-Roll re-ups with Philadelphia
The deal is for 3 years and $33M, with a vesting option for a fourth year. Rollins said at the beginning of the offseason that he wanted a five year deal, but I don't think anybody seriously believed that was going to happen.
- Brewers go to Plan J to cover for Braun's suspension
Milwaukee successfully bid on Japan's Norichika Aoki with a modest $2.5M post. Aoki is a 30 year-old LHB outfielder, and probably limited to LF due to his arm. While he won't provide the power desired from a leftfielder, Aoki's been, well, a-okay when it comes to getting on base. Before the league-wide offensive lull of 2011, Aoki slahshed .336/.411/.472. Last year he hit .292/.358/.360.
- And the winner of the Yu Darvish posting sweepstakes is ...
still unknown, though Toronto is rumored here to have submitted the winning bid. According to a more recent report fromSI, the winning bid bested the record $51.1M fee Boston paid for Daisuke.
- There's no news on the Prince Fielder front, but there is a Book
Like he has for his other big ticket clients, Scott Boras has "published' a promotional book on Fielder, designed to impress front offices and possibly his client. Said one GM: "It's kind of like the Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar. You look forward to it coming out each year. But you're not really going to do anything about it."
- The best Christmas montage I've seen in some time
- Dallas Latos is happy to be coming to Cincinnati
THANK GOD. Or just you. Thank you, Ken.