Brandon Phillips is a good baseball player. He is a fine defensive second baseman who hits for power. He is reasonably durable and, on the field, likable. The Reds invested heavily in Brandon Phillips last spring, signing BP to a six-year contract extension worth $72 million.
Brandon Phillips is a great fantasy baseball player – he racks up RBI and home runs and plays a weak offensive position. Dusty Baker and the Reds are not playing fantasy baseball, they are playing real baseball. They must win games, which is shines a light onto Brandon Phillips shortcomings.
Brandon Phillips makes a lot of outs at the plate. He drives in runs because he hits behind two of the most prolific on base machines in baseball, Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto. The Reds, who refuse to move Joey Votto out of the third place in the batting order, have struggled to find an ideal #2 hitter. After a recent losing skid, Brandon Phillips sounded off on twitter about the need to make a change. It wasn’t the only sounding off Phillips would do in the hours that followed.
— Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP) August 28, 2013
— Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP) August 28, 2013
Nothing wrong with these comments, obviously. Just a ball player who wants to help his team win. Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters that Phillips cleared his mini-screed with the skipper before he sent it out into the world.
Brandon Phillips is a lot of things, ideal number 2 hitter is probably not one of them. If you subscribe to The Book’s school of thought on lineup construction, a team’s best hitters belong in the 1, 2, and 4th spots in the lineup. A hitter with Brandon Phillips profile might (good power, not so much with the getting on base) you might slide him in third (where he hits with two outs most of the time, but his ability to go deep is valued) or farther down the lineup, fifth or sixth for example.
The most common Reds lineup in 2013 features Choo first, Zack Cozart second, Votto third, Phillips fourth and Jay Bruce fifth. Recently, Dusty Baker replace Cozart (who is terrible) with Todd Frazier, who isn’t having a great year himself but seems a better fit than Cozart. Baker is bound an determined to place a right-handed batter between lefties Choo and Votto (not to mention Bruce.)
After Phillips plea, Dusty Baker indeed relented and moved Phillips into the second spot in the lineup just as he requested. After Baker posted the lineup, Cincinnati Enquirer Reds reporter C. Trent Rosecrans made a few comments on his twitter page. They seemed innocuous enough. Below are the pertinent tweets, (other posting on his timeline were removed for space)
Much like BP’s tweets, this is just a guy presenting the facts as he sees them. Rosecrans is a good reporter with a sabrmetric lean, you could say. This hardly appears like an attack on Phillips….
Unless, of course, you’re Brandon Phillips. Phillips took exception to the comments and made his feelings very well known (via HBT):
How does anyone defend Phillips for his comments? You cannot. It is quite disappointing to hear him attack the reporters physique rather than the substance of his words, probably because there isn’t much Brandon Phillips can say.
It’s been written here many times before that a player with an understanding or appreciation for advanced stats or thinking “differently” about the game is great and all, but it isn’t a requirement. Phillips doesn’t need to care about anything more than RBI, as that appears to be the basis for his own evaluation. The Reds, however, cannot fall into the trap of paying him for his RBI rather than the other abilities which make him a good baseball player.
And judging by the Reds contract with Joey Votto (and Phillips comments about THAT issue), the Reds get it and Phillips doesn’t it. Batting order is overemphasized and because it’s easy – it’s right there in black and white! It’s a buzzfeed listicle posted daily for your scrutiny – why not hit player X in slot Y? THE MANAGER IS AN IDIOT!
True to form, the Reds went out and dropped a ten spot on Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals. The newly minted number two hitter had two hits and scored two runs but, alas, could muster an RBIs. Jay Bruce, the lucky dog who gets to hit clean up now, collected five. Funny how that works.
Rosecran’s employer issued a statement on the incident, stating they are “disappointed in Phillips’ reaction” but understand things get heated during a pennant drive. Hopefully both Phillips and Rosecrans can put it behind them and both continue to do their jobs – no matter how each man interprets what the other’s job should entail.
And the rest
Ken Rosenthal writes with great wisdom and clarity on the Yasiel Puig benching. Biggest takeaway here: the players were policing this (as they should), only after those pleas fell on deaf ears did the manager intercede. [Fox Sports]
I don’t know if Rosenthal has plaques detailing his writing prowess, but he probably doesn’t need them to know he’s good. Other writers, on the other hand… [CBS Trollvision]
The Byrd Man, baby! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
The reason Ted Berg of USA Today was put on this earth. [For the Win]
Please remember: #2015 is still two years away. The Marlins still need to work out some kinks. [Washington Post]
— Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) August 29, 2013
Travel disparity among MLB teams. Here’s a tip: don’t live in the Pacific Northwest. There, problem solved. [ESPN]