Our friends over at Cincinnati Magazine don’t always write about the Reds, but when they do, it’s always interesting. We linked to this piece about Aroldis Chapman a few months ago. Now, Justin Williams has this fascinating profile of Brandon Phillips.
Before I get into the comments that are going to cause all the controversy, I want to note that Brandon comes across as very likable here. We shouldn’t be surprised by that — Brandon is a very likable guy — but this isn’t a hatchet piece. BP’s enthusiasm and the unique flair he brings to the ballfield are treated as admirable traits, and I’ve come to love those characteristics of our second baseman as well. Brandon Phillips is genuine. He is who he is.
The piece also shows Phillips’ thoughtful side, as well as how much he likes this community. Several years ago, someone in the Reds front office told me that Brandon was the go-to guy whenever the higher-ups needed someone, be it for a community appearance, or a charitable event. At the time, they really considered him the face of the franchise, I was told. BP seems to be happy to accept that mantle:
“Number one, the fans love me here. I love it here. It’s a blessing. It shows that [the team] invested a lot of money in me to go out there and do my job, and to keep representing the Reds in a positive way,” he says. “I feel like that’s the only reason I got that deal—if they didn’t feel I was important to the city, then I wouldn’t still be here.”
Sometimes the fact that he has no filter, however, comes back to bite him. Case in point:
“I just feel like they didn’t have to sign Joey to that contract. He still had two more years on his,” says Phillips. “And for [the front office] to go out there and sign him before they sign me, and they knew I was going to be a free agent?” Phillips shakes his head. “I understand Joey’s a good player. He’s one of the best players in this game. But I feel like I am too. I told them that this is where I wanted to be. I begged them. I told everybody I want to finish my career here. And then they give someone a contract who didn’t ask for nothing?”
With Phillips hoping to garner a deal in the range of the league’s highest paid second basemen, the numbers weren’t adding up. Rumors were beginning to swirl about Phillips being used as a trade asset later in the season. Quietly, the Reds front office offered him six years for $72.5 million. Phillips says that Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty and team owner Bob Castellini—chairman of Castellini Co., the billion-dollar national produce distributor—made clear it was all the team could offer. Phillips swallowed his pride and signed the deal, though he clearly hasn’t forgotten what he perceived as a slight.
“To this day, I’m still hurt. Well, I don’t wanna say hurt. I’ll say scarred. I’m still scarred. It just sucks that it happened,” he says. “For [Castellini] to sign somebody for $200 million, there must be a new vegetable or fruit coming out that we don’t know about. For him to do something like that and tell me they didn’t have any more money, that’s a lie. But what can I do? I just feel like it was a slap in my face.”
Phillips’s voice trails off as he shakes his head again. It’s not in his nature to be serious for this long. “But how can someone slap you in the face with all that money?” he finally says, the smile returning to its rightful location. “It’s a nice slap in the face.”
I’m not sure what to say about that. You don’t have to be a devotee of sabermetrics to understand how Votto and Phillips differ as players, in terms of value to the club.
Before you start hammering Phillips, however, go read the entire profile. It’s worth your time, trust me. Brandon Phillips isn’t a bad guy. And I can’t wait to see what he has planned when the Reds win a World Series.
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org.