First Rumor of the Winter: Brandon Phillips

You may have heard the news that Dusty Baker has been fired by the Cincinnati Reds. With that news comes the first rumor of the winter.

On MLB-XM this morning, Reds announcer Marty Brennaman spoke at length regarding the Baker firing and where the Reds were headed going forward. Brennaman suggested — based on his private conversations with people inside the Reds organization — that there would be sweeping changes to Cincinnati’s roster, with the goal of bringing in a few players with “fire in their bellies.” Apparently, part of the reason the Reds faltered in the last week of the season and in the Wild Card game was because there was no one in the clubhouse taking charge, being a leader, and emotionally picking up the team while it was down — which was part of the reason Baker was fired (he was rarely seen in the clubhouse speaking with his players). Scott Rolen was mentioned as a player who used to hold that leadership role, and a similar type of player is expected to be brought in to Cincinnati this winter.

But who will go? Brennaman suggested that there are whispers that Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips could be on the block. Not because he lacks leadership, but because he may be their most valuable tradeable asset. Also mentioned was starting pitcher Homer Bailey, who will be offered arbitration but who, according to various sources, is not interested in signing a long-term deal with the Reds. If it’s true he won’t consider a long-term contract, Brennaman speculates Bailey will also be shopped this winter.

Brennaman also said that it’s unlikely Bronson Arroyo will be brought back, but that the team will do whatever they can to keep Shin-Soo Choo in a Reds uniform.

So there you — start your Cincinnati speculation in the comments.

Mets Item of the Day

Seems that Indian Summer is here (is it politically correct to say that? I’m so confused ever since we lost our freedom of speech a few years back), so how about this nifty retro T-shirt, complete with the MetsToday Mr. Met logo?

New York Mets Vintage Let’s Go Mets Mr. Met Logo T-Shirt by Red Jacket

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. izzy October 4, 2013 at 11:06 am
    Isn’t Terry Collins a lucky guy he didn’t bring his team to the playoffs, where winning is suddenly important! Anyway, Brennaman has credibility??? For years we have been hearing how great Baker is with his players, now he doesn’t talk to them? Something sounds wrong. And they want to get rid of Phillips! Well, who needs the best second baseman in the league. Maybe they’ll want the least of the Mets problems instead.
    • Joe Janish October 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm
      I think Brennaman has credibility — he’s been the voice of the Reds for almost 40 years. When you’re that close to an organization for that long a time — longer than any beat writer, longer than anyone inside the Reds — yeah, I think he probably knows more than most about what’s happening.

      During the radio interview, Brennaman explained that Baker is a “players’ manager” because he’s hands-off and doesn’t call out their mistakes in the media. But, unlike, say, Terry Francona, he rarely cavorts with them on a personal basis.

  2. NormE October 4, 2013 at 11:49 am
    I know that some people think that Phillips is a hot dog, but I think that he gets great pleasure out of the plays that he pulls off. Watch him play 2B often enough and you realize the limitations of Daniel Murphy. It’s like comparing a concert pianist to a barely competent piano player.
    Unfortunately for Phillips he has been asked to fill the clean-up slot in the Reds line-up. He hasn’t done too badly, but that’s not the best place for him. I’m not sure what I’d give up for him since he’s probably begun the down-side of his career, but I’d love to see him in a Mets uniform.
    • DaveSchneck October 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm
      I think Phillips is a terrific 2B but his age does scare me a little. The Mets are going to need to take a risk somewhere this offseason, but I think they should limit that risk to the sorely needed power bat. That is the hardest commodity to acquire, so I would prefer if they did not take risks at other positions,where the need isn’t as great, unless the acquired player brings power.
      • Joe Janish October 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm
        The age factor worries me a bit as well, perhaps because of how quickly and far Luis Castillo and Robin Ventura fell after reaching age 32.

        However, I disagree on the positions of need and power. From my perspective, the game is back to the 70s and 80s, and therefore, the goal should be to get stronger defensively — particularly up the middle — and instead of worrying about finding power bats, get more athletic. How many power bats are you going to find for 2B, anyway? I think this concept of fixing horrific defense at 2B is taken far too lightly in this new “retro” era of 3-2 and 4-3 ballgames.

      • NormE October 4, 2013 at 3:32 pm
        Very reasonable p.o.v.
        • Jon C October 4, 2013 at 8:27 pm
          I agree with Joe in the sense that if you were to build a team from the ground up, it would be better to focus on defense up the middle. But the mets are not in that situation. We have the roster we have. And part of that is daniel murphy. We don’t need advanced statistics to tell us how terrible he is at fielding. I will note however that he did rank 7th overall in WAR (3.0) while Brandon Phillips finished at 12th (12.6). Murph hit much better. Furthermore, Murph is already under contract and on the team—Phillips will require giving up some assets to attain.

          Murph isn’t the weak link on this team. I believe he can excel as the 3rd best bat in the lineup. I don’t think we need a “power” bat necessarily, but just give us one elite player to upgrade over any of our current 1b or outfielders. Even assuming that phillips is better Even if it could be argued that you can find a better 2b than murph on the market, improving those other positions would be a far bigger upgrade.

          In order to improve defense up the middle, I would then try to go “cheap” on trying to acquire a weak hitting, 8th batter type, solid defensive SS. This is considering that while we may dream, we likely are not going to be getting an elite SS anywhere.

        • DaveSchneck October 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm
          I don’t disagree with you or Joe about prioritizing defense, especially up the middle. Murphy’s defense at 2B is not acceptable every day. Despite their offensive and defensive woes, pitching is actually the biggest need for 2014 right at this moment. My reasoning as to why they need to target a #4 power bat as priority 1 is because that is the toughest thing to acquire. DW needs another bat in te lineup behind him that can scare the opponent. Fill that need, and then a plus fielding SS right behind it, and they are on their way. The other needs are all important, but they are more available than the big bat.
        • Dan B October 5, 2013 at 9:25 am
          Unfortunately the Met lineup already has too many bottom of the lineup hitters. Catcher, centerfield, and ss can’t all hit eighth.
        • Joe Janish October 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm
          No one player can be the “weak link” when the entire chain is busted.
        • Jon C October 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm
          haha fair enough joe—don’t think thats a problem that can be addressed in one offseason though

          dan: I don’t think lagares and darnaud are 8 hitters…theyd be great as 6th/7th 😀

  3. JC October 4, 2013 at 11:25 pm
    Nothing in this report that couldn’t be gleaned from reading a dozen sports blogs. Brenneman isn’t saying anything that is real news and he’s not saying anything that he isn’t allowed to say.
    • Joe Janish October 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm
      JC, some people here don’t have the time to glean dozens of sports blogs. Further, I found this to be an apt discussion topic considering the Mets may be in the market for middle infielders and pitching. This site isn’t about breaking news, it’s about the back and forth banter.

      But thanks so much for your contribution to the conversation!

  4. argonbunnies October 5, 2013 at 12:36 am
    Reasons why I hope the Mets don’t get Phillips:

    1) Last month he freaked out at a reporter for questioning whether his low OBP should be in the #2 spot. The last thing we need is a hothead who thinks getting on base doesn’t matter and can’t handle media criticism.

    2) Doesn’t always hustle or play smart. I don’t mind a show-off, but if you’re going to show off, at least bring the effort to match. I’ve seen a slumping Phillips jog out grounders more than once.

    3) Is over-rated defensively. I don’t mean he isn’t excellent — he is. But it’s easy to over-estimate opponents we only see on highlight reels. He won’t be making one of those spectacular plays every day, and he’s not as fast as he was a few years ago.

    4) Is over-rated offensively. His 2010-2012 OPS was .827 at home, .727 on the road.

    5) If the Reds decide to move him, someone will pay as if #1-4 were not the case. Let’s not be that someone.

    • Joe Janish October 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm
      Argon, I really love watching Phillips play, but agree with you on all counts. I similarly enjoy watching Jimmy Rollins, and Rollins, also, has those bouts of pouting and lack of effort that drive me out of my mind.

      But, if it were up to me, I’d take an aging combo of Phillips and Rollins up the middle over Murphy/Tejada any day of the week.

      Still, you’re right — Phillips is over-rated in many ways. He could turn out to be the next Roberto Alomar.

  5. argonbunnies October 5, 2013 at 12:47 am
    Adam Rubin listed Arroyo as a pitcher who might be in the Mets’ price range, as opposed to expensive guys like Garza, Nolasco and Lincecum. I dunno if that’s true — I might prefer Arroyo to those guys regardless of price — but if it is, I’d like to get him. He pitches a lot of innings, doesn’t beat himself with walks, and Citi Field should help a bit with his biggest problem, HRs. He doesn’t rely on velocity and should age well. He’s probably not better than a #4 on a good team, but he’d bring important stability while we’re working our young guys into the rotation and bullpen.

    Lincecum as a high-upside gamble is interesting, though… I’d love to sign him for one last chance to start and then convert him to relief if it doesn’t take quickly. I’m positive he could be an utterly dominant reliever, possibly even in an old-school multi-inning role.

    • Joe Janish October 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm
      Arroyo has to be #1 on the Mets’ list of free-agent targets, for his ability to eat innings alone.
  6. George M October 5, 2013 at 8:50 am
    Often on this blog the “lack of leadership” phrase has been used. No leadership in the dugout by a player or players. There are times that all of us see the obvious and assume it is true. Now we all know that we have several intelligent and thoughtful players and coaches who really understand how the game is played on and off the field. They know that they cannot speak out, tweet, email, or in any way express ideas, opinions, or concerns about manager or coaches. It is not done period. Some of the Reds players and coaches wanted change because they could see that the cancer of “Oh well there is tomorrow” was affecting some of their teammates. Younger less wise players looked at the manager as a friend or grandpa instead of a leader (parent).
    Back to the players and coaches who knew that Dusty had to go and only Mr. Bob could take that action. Bob needed to see what was going on and at great personal expense (stature, actions, and results) they sent the message in the last two weeks of the season and knew that once Bob got the idea he would look into it. As Steve M said,” Bob Castellini does not mess around” and certain players and coaches knew this. They got the job done in a very smooth manner with very little noise and absolutely no hint of what was going on.
    Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it – Dwight David Eisenhower
    • Joe Janish October 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm
      FANTASTIC! Thanks very much, George!
    • argonbunnies October 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm
      Not sure what this means. Who sent the “ditch Dusty” message, at what personal expense? Are you saying the players tanked on purpose?
  7. Andy October 6, 2013 at 5:43 pm
    If Phillips signs elsewhere, I wonder if the Reds might be willing to trade someone useful for Murphy?

    Flores could always replace Murphy as the least of the Mets’ problems.

  8. mikee October 14, 2013 at 4:42 am
    what about braun we could get him cheap and be a fresh start for him.He solves the power shortage and protection for wright