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Red Reposter - Pizza > Fruit

Dave Cameron runs down the 10 best transactions of the winter
The Madson deal checks in at #9, which I think is a little low. Also, the Mat Latos trade checks in at #3, though he thinks the Padres were run away winners in the deal:

"The Reds needed to make a deal like this, but I love this trade for the Padres. Alonso might not have star potential, but as a left-handed hitter with opposite field power, he should be able to hit well enough in Petco to be a useful piece, and there’s value in having six years of a cost controlled Wally Joyner hanging around. Grandal is the real key to this deal, though, as a switch-hitting catcher with power and patience who could easily be more valuable than Latos over the next six years by himself. Toss in a terrific buy-low arm in Edinson Volquez, who is a perfect fit for Petco, and a good young bullpen arm in Boxberger, and the Padres restocked their talent base in a hurry without drastically making their team worse for 2012. In fact, if Alonso and Volquez perform as expected, the team could actually be better than they would have been with Latos and some random first baseman. Toss in the long term value, and this deal was just a huge win for San Diego."

No news on Brandon Phillips' contract extension
Sheldon asked Jocketty if there was anything to report and he replied, "Not really. We really haven’t had a chance to talk with them. Hopefully in the next few weeks, it’s something we can address."

I'm of the opinion that if this extension were a go, it would have happened weeks ago. The Reds have to be diplomatic about this and say all the right things like "Hopefully soon" and "We are still in talks", but the fact that it has dragged out so long gives me the impression that the team and BP are just too far apart. It's gonna be tough to see ol' BeePerino go, but ultimately I think it would be even tougher to see him struggle to stay above replacement level in his mid-30s.

Tigers' owner Mike Ilitch got mad guap
and is not afraid to throw it around like Weezy in the club. Joe Sheehan says, "Ilitch represents an approach to sports-team ownership that is in short supply these days: wanting the next win more than the next dollar. Far too many franchises are run as if they're the corner grocery, with the need to stay in the black for the next month, next quarter, next year the primary goal, and winning a secondary one."

The Prince Fielder signing was roundly criticized for being enormously short-sighted. The Tigers already had a 1B (Miguel Cabrera, who is better than Prince), and a DH (Victor Martinez, who won't play in 2012 because of knee surgery). But once Vic went down, Illitch gave the directive to go after Prince. It's short-sighted and expensive, but make no mistake; the Tigers are now far and away the favorite to win the AL Central. Signing Prince made the team better, and that's the most important thing to Illitch.

I think Bob Castellini should take note, especially in regards to the Roy Oswalt sitch. Oswalt will make the team better, so much better in fact that they would likely be clear favorites to win the division this year. Making the playoffs would likely pay off whatever cost it takes to get Oswalt. See, getting Oswalt would be an investment, one that has a solid chance of paying off and then some. Illitch is the kind of guy who gets that (though to be fair, 200 million bones is ca-razy. But the argument still has merit on principle).

Da Briz sez it makes too much sense for the Roy Oswalt to not come to the Reds
To sum up, he says that for a team like the Reds, who are squarely in the middle of the contention window, every marginal upgrade counts. The difference between Roy Oswalt and Bronson Arroyo could quite literally be the difference between 1st place and 2nd place (or 3rd place, for that matter). Of course, the money is the big reason this likely will not happen, but if Bob were more like Mike Illitch, this would have been done last week.

Sheldon has a nice interview with prospect Ryan LaMarre
The similarities to Drew Stubbs are striking and many. He's a big, strapping specimen of an athlete. He runs like a gazelle, evidenced by his 55 steals last season. With that speed, he covers a tremendous amount of greenspace out in CF. He has a respectable walk rate and hopes to hit for some power, though that hasn't quite shown up in the games yet.

In fact, he's been consulting with Stubbs on the craft of centerfielding: "In Spring Training, I got to meet [Stubbs] and go over for a few Major League games. I watched how he played the outfield, how he went about his business. I asked him questions about what he looks for on defense and what he does. He's been open to it and helping me whenever he can. He's someone I hope I can see myself as one day." LaMarre is probably not the level of prospect Stubbs was, at least not yet. He doesn't have the same Light Tower Power, and his penchant for strikeouts isn't nearly as alarming. His defense doesn't look as strong as Stubbs' either. He's very much a Stubbs-lite at this point in his career. He has room to grow though, so he's certainly one to keep an eye on moving forward.

Say what you like about Billy Beane
Some love him, some hate him, some think it's funny that his name is food. He is certainly the most polarizing GM in baseball. I wager that no other front office exec is the subject of as many internet stories as Mr. Beane. One thing is for sure though, and that is that he is an Oakland Athletic 4eva. Beane signed a contract extension with the A's that keeps him running the team through 2019. He took the job in 1998, so if he plays out this contract, he will have been the A's GM for 21 years. That's probably a record or something, right?

David Schoenfield has position rankings by division
It's kinda un-scientificky, but hey, Spring Training hasn't started yet and we are all really scraping just to keep the conversation going. It's all well-worth the read, but here's the takeway:

"As much as everyone seems to be building the NL Central as a two-team battle between the Cardinals and Reds, I see the Brewers remaining good enough to be in the thick of the race. They have the fewest questions marks in the rotation, and that makes them a decent bet in my book. I agree with other prognosticators who see this division split into two levels. But you never know ... it is, after all, still the NL Central, where anything can happen."

Tom Verducci at SI marvels at the number of good, young pitching talent that was traded this off-season
Five pitchers 25 years old or younger who had established themselves as Major League regulars were traded in the past few months, our own Mat Latos counted among them. A total of six such pitchers had been traded in the previous nine years (Edwin Jackson was traded twice). So The Dootch ranks the five young bucks on the move of this off-season, with Latos slotted in at #2 behind Gio Gonzalez (I think he's wrong). Here's what he said:

"One of the reasons Arizona traded (Max) Scherzer to Detroit after the '09 season was that they believed Edwin Jackson was a better bet to withstand the grind of making 32 starts than Scherzer. Similar doubts could plague Latos, who has been pitching in the pros for five years and accumulated only 614 1/3 innings. He began last season with shoulder bursitis after what I found to be an aggressive jump in innings in the previous season. His velocity has dipped slightly the past two seasons.

The good news for Latos is that he pitched well in the second half of the season (2.87) and he is a four-pitch pitcher, not just a velocity guy, with a big frame (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) who doesn't turn 25 until December. Said the evaluator, "I like Latos. I don't know if he's quite there just yet. People questioned his makeup in the past -- like another A.J. Burnett -- but he could be ready to turn the corner."

Doug Gray at RedsMinorLeagues takes a look at a few Reds prospects who saw their star dim this past season
Junior Arias, Ismael Guillon, and Cody Puckett all fell off as the 2011 summer wore on, and for various reasons. There is hope for them yet, as Doug explains, but it's still disappointing. I was a particularly big fan of Guillon, so I really hope he gets his stuff together this year.

Chris Sabo's Goggles is holding a contest to find a new banner for the website
I thought for a second about opening up such a contest for a new logo here at Red Reporter, but then I thought better of it. You all would mostly submit pictures of guys with sweatpants boners, animated fart clouds, and unfortunate children of the third world with decidedly first world captions over their heads. Anyway, it's a cool thang for CSG to be doing, and if you have any ideas for him, help him out.

Florence Green was the last living veteran of The Great War, the War To End All Wars
She died on Saturday at the age of 110. This obviously has nothing to do with baseball, but if you would indulge my interest in 20th century history. It's fascinating to look back and see the state of the world after WWI. Western society bore witness to the unfathomable destruction that can take place when we are both technologically capable enough and morally naïve enough to make it happen. Ms. Green was the last active participant in the orchestration of the great crucible upon which the Lost Generation earned it's moniker. She and her comrades were supposed to be the last, having spilled enough blood to quench mankind's thirst for violence until our civilization's dying days. And yet, so much death and destruction has followed. And we are all so much more different than her for it. 100 years on, a healthy and long lifetime later, the world is a far different place. And hopefully, a better one.