Prepare yourself for Brandon Phillips being traded this off-season. The writing is on the clubhouse wall. And in Cincinnati Magazine.

The on-field case for moving the Reds’ second baseman is fairly straightforward. Declining, though still above-average skills. $50 million better spent elsewhere.

When the trade takes place, rest assured that baseball factors will be the stated rationale. But anyone paying close attention the past few months will know that’s not the reason. In reality, off-field issues will have precipitated the end of Brandon Phillips’ career with the Reds. The same front office that wasted no time firing its manager won’t flinch in making the move.

The Imperative of Reshaping the Clubhouse

The spilt Champagne was still swirling down the drain in the Pirates’ winning locker room when Bob Castellini fired Dusty Baker.

In this case, listening is believing. The summary dismissal of the Reds’ skipper was designed to shake up the clubhouse in a search for effective leadership.

“Did you see the team playing with great passion, vigor and confidence? And as a team? I don’t think that anyone can say that positively. I think it was apparent that they were not playing up to their potential.”

That’s how Bob Castellini explained Baker’s firing.

“And as a team?”

That tiny, but so revealing, rhetorical question in the middle of Castellini’s statement is how you know. The Reds aren’t finished with major steps aimed at reshaping the clubhouse from the neck up. Firing the manager was just the first move. Next comes building player-based leadership in the locker room. Insiders like Jeff Brantley have pointed a knowing finger at the lack of accountability among the Reds’ players.

Joey Votto and Jay Bruce seem like natural candidates to lead the team. But by most accounts, their temperaments aren’t suited for getting in the faces of teammates when the situation calls for it. And who on the current roster has the stature to let the former MVP know that his blatant base running mistakes, forgotten out counts and occasional defensive indifference are unacceptable?

Leaders can emerge when given space. The Reds cleared the way in 2008 for the next generation of players like Votto, Bruce and Phillips when they sent Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. packing. The Red Sox went through a similar transition last off season. Player leadership provides the intensity and focus you’ll see in the Cardinals on Wednesday when they take the field in yet another World Series.

Brandon Phillips has veteran status, a strong personality, visions of grandeur and a happy-go-lucky approach. That combination worked as the Reds climbed into baseball’s elite. But moving from postseason contender to winning the World Series requires more serious leadership. It’s hard to imagine new players having effective space in the Reds’ locker room with BP still on the team. If the Reds are looking for change — and their breathtaking dismissal of Baker plainly proves they are — Phillips’ oversized and self-created role dictates that the club replace him.

Not that DatTradeBP really needs to be forced on anyone. The Reds brass has to be aching to do it.

Calling Bob Castellini a Liar

In April 2012, just five days after the Reds signed a 10-year, $225 million deal with Joey Votto, the club gave Phillips a six-year, $72.5 million contract, running through 2017. Most analysts viewed the Reds offer as surprising and generous.

In light of that reaction, Bob Castellini must have been stunned to read Phillips’ jaw-dropping interview with Cincinnati Magazine this summer. The second baseman called out the Reds’ CEO, accusing him of lying during the negotiation.

“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,” Phillips said. “But what can I do? I just feel like it was a slap in my face.”

A few days later, Phillips kept digging, erasing any ambiguity. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans asked Phillips about his use of the L Word: “Phillips was asked if he thought he was lied to by Jocketty and Castellini. ‘Do I feel like they lied to me? If someone tells me they don’t have no money and you find $200 million somewhere, what does that sound like? You tell me.'”

Protip: Don’t call your employer a liar in public (twice).

A Profane Message to Reds’ Fans

A month later came Phillips’ infamous and ugly episode, caught on video, where he unleashed a profanity-filled and derogatory tirade toward Rosecrans. BP’s foul mouth went viral, producing a mountain of negative publicity for the Reds. Phillips did apologize privately to CTR. But he never expressed regret publicly for his language or inappropriate behavior.

Did anyone in the Reds organization express disapproval with his behavior? If so, it’s a warning BP didn’t heed.

In late September, as the Reds were getting swept into third place by the Pirates, Phillips sent a direct message to us at Redleg Nation. In 140 characters or less, he not only expressed disdain for our fan site, he let loose with more profanity.

[After deliberation, we chose not to reveal the tweet at the time because we didn’t want to risk causing a distraction. Publishing the actual text would also violate our site guidelines on profanity.]

Phillips’ disparagement of one of the Reds’ largest fan sites is ironic. Just a couple years ago, in the run up to the negotiation over his extension, the Reds’ second baseman launched a calculated, self-promotional charm offensive toward Reds’ fans. He parlayed that newly constructed goodwill into $72.5 million.

In the Cincinnati Magazine interview, Phillips connected his popularity to the contract: “Number one, the fans love me here. …  [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.”

When you take the ‘charm’ out of the charm offensive, it just leaves offensive. Rich from our ticket money and offensive.

The Inevitable Conclusion

Trading Brandon Phillips will surely divide Reds fans. But given all that’s transpired the past few months, it would truly be shocking if Brandon Phillips lines up at second base for the home team in Cincinnati on Opening Day 2014.

From a GM’s perspective, there are valid baseball and clubhouse reasons to do it. John Fay speculated this week that the Reds’ aggressive inquiry on Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero was an indication they are seeking alternatives at second base. That’s Walt Jocketty looking to take a large step in the team’s pursuit of accountability and leadership.

Beyond the clubhouse needs are the insults to the owner/CEO and the vulgar behavior toward the press and now the fans. The Reds organization works hard at, and is largely successful in, creating a classy, fan and family-friendly context for the team. The Castellini family won’t put up with a player that is no longer representing the Reds in a positive way.

As Dusty Baker found out, when Castellini and Jocketty reach the same conclusion, even for different reasons, they don’t fool around.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 152 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t miss him as long as the trade brought back another decent second baseman. I’ve heard rumors that Atlanta is interested (makes sense, BP is from Georgia) but that would send Dan Uggla to the Reds. No thanks. There’s a reason he was left off the Braves’ postsesason roster, and he’d be a lineup killer for the Reds unless they bury him in the 8 hole.

    • @dc937: In addition to batting below .200, Uggla is a terrible 2nd baseman and is getting paid $13M for each of the next 2 seasons.
      So”no thanks” is right. There is article about the Braves offering Uggla and a top prospect for Phillips. I don’t think the Reds bite on that.

  2. I for one will be shocked if they trade Phillips.

    For all the negative aspects that were pointed out in this article, there is simply the matter of there aren’t many players who could step in and replace Phillips’ production both on offense and defense.

    A Phillips just starting to decline is still better than a lot of 2nd basemen out there.

    • @CI3J: Not if his attitude is such that he is a detriment to the team. Votto was less than stellar in the field this year, and his baserunning was suspect(as was Phillips’). The Cards are in the WS because of harmony and production, but they are not really a very good defensive team. If the Reds get some hitting out of the 2nd baseman, then they probably can be just fine.

    • @CI3J:

      I’ve been a BP fan for years, but his production on offense has not been that great over the last season and 1/2, unless you think RBI is the only stat that counts, and unless you think have the top 2 OBP guys in the league in front of you doesn’t impact that stat.

      i love his D, but i can live without it if trading him allows us to spend money in smarter ways.

  3. Any idea who the target clubs might be? BP is still an excellent fielder and a pretty good hitter for a 2nd baseman. The length of his contract is a negative, but it seems like the Reds should be able to get a decent return for him. And use the money toward signing Choo.

    • @MikeC: Aside from the Braves, Fay mentioned the Dodgers. There’s the Yankees if Cano leaves. And the Mets and their fans have been interested in BP for a long time.

  4. Shopping and actually making a deal are totally different things. Replacing Phillips won’t be as easy as some seem to believe it would be.

    • @GolfGuy75: Or as hard as others believe.

      • @redmountain:
        You’re right, I believe that replacing Phillips for the 2014 season will be very difficult. I don’t see the Reds being able to make a deal that helps the Reds in 2014 by dealing Phillips. They will be negotiating from a weak position–trying to dump an apparent has been with a terrible contract who is a cancer in the community and the locker room.

        I do appreciate the argumentativeness, though. Was hoping that ended on this site at the end of the season, but that was wishful thinking, I guess.

    • @GolfGuy75:

      Well, I think that is why the Reds are pursing the Cuban second baseman Guerrero. If you are able to move Phillips and his salary that will open up payroll for a Latin America prospect that will probably cost 6-8 million per season versus the 11 million BP will cost you.

      That frees up payroll space for Shin Soo Choo, or locking up Mat Latos long term.

      The departure of Bronson Arroyo already freed up at least $12 million.. So sign a young up and coming player and lock up Shin Soo Choo for a few seasons…

      I also think the Reds need to part ways with Homer Bailey, sell high and sell now.. He has expressed interest in not signing a long term deal. You could probably get a top prospect or 2-3 good prospects. Trade him for a stud 3B bat.

  5. I got a direct message from him on Twitter too. Only thing I did was tweet his slash lines to another user. I would do the Uggla trade if no one else will take him. Save $24 million.

    • I’m in favor of trading BP, mainly because of his contract and – if he isn’t traded this year – an outright contract dump will be needed down the line.

      I don’t think it’s fair to characterize his entire relationship with Reds fans as a “calculated, self-promotional charm offensive”. He’s been tweeting kids for years.
      I forget exactly when he showed up for a kid’s Little League game, but in any case it’s always possible to look at the good things someone has done and say it was only for selfish reasons.

      • @pinson343: The thing is, even going to the kid’s game in West Chester…he made sure it was publicized…if it was just for the kid, why did we have to read about it in the Enquirer? Why is he always the last guy to take the field for the Reds? Why is he the guy that says the team needs more “swag” and he’s the only one with swag?

        • @Bill Lack: Bill: there may well be good reasons to trade BP, but I can’t see any need to rationalize it by painting him as a bad guy. So what if his going to the LL game was “leaked” to the press? He went and he stayed and that probably meant alot to the kids. I don’t know him personally, but he seems to be–like most of us–complex and capable of contradictory behavior. He still plays the game as if he enjoyed it, and I find that refreshing.

          • @greenmtred: I didn’t say he was a bad guy. I have always said he’s a “me guy”, which I entirely believe. I think the reasons we do things matter…that’s my opinion. He went to this kid’s game, GREAT. But if he went just for the kid (or kids), why did it have to be publized? Why does he always have to be the last guy to take the field? Why does he have to showboat? I find it old and tiring…

          • @Bill Lack: Not to get too philisophical, but at their core, everyone is a me guy.

  6. Just some food for thought.. we don’t -have- to get a new second baseman if BP does get traded. Frazier frankly stunned me this year with his defense over at third, he could fill in at second until/if we find someone better defensively. After this year though it would not be a surprise if Todd could handle himself quite well at second too. That would leave us looking for a third baseman instead which is a much easier thing to do.

  7. The butt tag, where he didn’t really even make the tag in time, was a good example of his becoming a little too playful on the field.

    And take a look at the #ButtTag tshirt ad in the left column.

    • @pinson343: The shenanigans have got to stop – this is baseball (intense, driven, focused sport) -not a circus (thank goodness the ring leader has left town).

  8. As others have said above, there is no one to replace him. Frankly, I think the degree to which BP is a distraction or a destructive clubhouse force is exaggerated by his detractors. What can’t be argued is that the Reds don’t have any obvious replacement for him.

    • @BenL:

      I tend to agree with this. I think people, especially on this site, had their feelings hurt by BP and are now biased against him. I’m aware his stats declined this year, but as I said, a decline from BP is still pretty good compared to other 2B around the league.

      This reminds me a little of how people acted WAY to sensitively to Ludwick when he (rightfully) called out the Cincinnati fans for not supporting the team by going to games.

      • @CI3J: This is his second straight year of offensive drop, 3 of the last 6 below average (and 2 not much above).

        And as for Ludwick, the fact that a guy that hasn’t played all year had the nerve to call out the fans is pretty ballsy (IMO) and to do it on the same day the team set an attendance record is pretty stupid and not helping the ballclub.

      • @CI3J: BP was hurt after getting hit on the hand in Pittsburgh in early June – the Reds need to simply hire a tough nosed manager that won’t put up with Brandon’s shenanigans. BP’s a smart dude, if he knows he doesn’t have the latitude to get away with it – he won’t do it. Dusty was simply too darn soft.

      • @CI3J: A player is NEVER right for calling out fans. A weekday afternoon game is what drew Ludwick’s ire. Folks have to work. And it’s poor form and reflects poorly on himself to try and deflect blame to the people who drive the immense revenue realized in baseball.

    • @BenL:

      BP has always been a cancer in the clubhouse..

      Example: BP was upset Josh Hamilton was getting more attention than him, next off season Hamilton was gone. And I would of taken the last few years of Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto batting back to back than BP and Votto..

      You don’t think it caused a rift in the clubhouse when you think you deserve more money than your coworkers around you.

      Go stand on your desk at work or send an email saying you deserve more money than Johnny in the cubicle next you; and see if it doesn’t cause negative energy and people to dislike you.

  9. Steve, I must say that your posts just keep getting better and better. Keep it up, good sir.

  10. There was an interesting article a few days ago on Beyond the Boxscore that made a very convincing argument that a win is worth $7 million, not $5 million as is usually said. Using that number, the rest of BPs contract looks to be roughly fair. He’s got 4 years left for a total of $50 million. If he bounces back a little this year, and then declines pretty quickly:

    2014 2.5 WAR
    2015 2.0 WAR
    2016 1.5 WAR
    2017 1.0 WAR

    That’s 7 WAR at just over $7 million per WAR.

    (Article claiming that a win is worth $7 million:

    • @BenL: I’m in the “trade BP” camp, but I do believe his contract isn’t out-of-line. I think your estimates are a bit aggressive (namely, 4.5 WAR over the next two years), but not by much.

      I think this is a classic case of ‘addition by subtraction.’ BP is a good baseball player and will be, even declining, for a few more years.

    • @BenL: The problem that I have with the win value analysis is that it is contrary to accepted market principles, although I will grant you that professional sports deviates from standard principles to some degree.

      FanGraphs’ WAR system uses a positional adjustment. The specific adjustment is set at +12.5 for C, +7.5 for SS, +2.5 for 2B/3B/CF, -7.5 for RF/LF, -12.5 for 1B, -17.5 for DH. At the outset, these seem to be relatively subjective, so one could argue with their accuracy. In any event, based on positional adjustment, if Phillips moved to SS, his WAR would increase. If he moved to RF, his WAR would decrease. Ostensibly, this means that a SS is “worth” more than a 2B, and a 2B is “worth” more than a RF. Why? Well, logically, more RFs are capable of replicating the same numbers.

      So, we would assume that based on demand, the cost for C would be higher than 1B. That isn’t the case at all. Of the 25 largest contracts ever given to MLB position players, the numbers pan out this way: 1 – C, 9 – 1B, 0 – 2B, 4 – SS, 1 – 3B, 4 CF, 6 – RF/LF (based on the position played at the time of the deal). This deviation is the opposite of what you’d expect. Corner OFs and 1B, the easiest positions to replicate in terms of WAR, is valued FAR more than C or SS.

  11. I must say, I’m curious as to what RN would do that was so ‘tasteless’ that BP would take notice. We, as a collective, generally service his metaphorical nether-regions for his defense on a weekly basis… and save for pointing out a dip in OPS this year in exchange for RBIs, haven’t really attacked him nearly as much as we do other players including the much superior, Mr. Votto.

    As far as trading him, I think the idea of using him to bring in a RH-slugging-third baseman and move the ToddFather to 2nd is a grand idea. Todd’s range is lower, but he has proven a more than adequate glove; and he went through most of his younger career as a middle infielder (up until AAA/AA, as I recall).

    • @Zach:

      I like Todd Frazier and admire how hard he plays, but moving him to 2B could be disastrous for the team defense. He would obviously be a down grade over Phillips and with the year Votto had defensively the right side of the infield could be shaky at best next year. (I think Votto improves next year, but there probably aren’t many more gold gloves in his future.) Plus moving Phillips means a new double play tandem, and who knows how a Frazier-Cozart duo works? Reds need to find ways to shrink the gap between them and the Cardinals and one of the only areas Reds were clearly better was defensively.

      • @GolfGuy75: Carpenter is NOT a good defensive 2nd baseman and the Cards did just fine. Barney won the Gold Glove last year, but how did that help the Cubs?

        • @redmountain: You took the words right out of my mouth.

          The skill cap for 2nd base (in my opinion) is much lower than that of 3B or SS.

        • @redmountain:

          The 2013 Cardinals were better than Cincinnati in almost every possible way. As much as I hate to say that, it is the truth. Team defense may have been the one advantage the Reds actually had. Moving Frazier (a fine 3B) to 2B is going to down grade TWO positions in all probability. That would weaken the Reds’ defense which was the only point I was trying to make.

    • @BenL:

      I tend to agree with this. I think people, especially on this site, had their feelings hurt by BP and are now biased against him. I’m aware his stats declined this year, but as I said, a decline from BP is still pretty good compared to other 2B around the league.

      This reminds me a little of how people acted WAY to sensitively to Ludwick when he (rightfully) called out the Cincinnati fans for not supporting the team by going to games.

      I think he ranked 13th

      I must say, I’m curious as to what RN would do that was so ‘tasteless’ that BP would take notice. We, as a collective, generally service his metaphorical nether-regions for his defense on a weekly basis… and save for pointing out a dip in OPS this year in exchange for RBIs, haven’t really attacked him nearly as much as we do other players including the much superior, Mr. Votto.

      As far as trading him, I think the idea of using him to bring in a RH-slugging-third baseman and move the ToddFather to 2nd is a grand idea. Todd’s range is lower, but he has proven a more than adequate glove; and he went through most of his younger career as a middle infielder (up until AAA/AA, as I recall).

      I’m not 100 percent sure but I think they tweeted datdudedp after another one of his rally killing dps.

  12. My biggest concern came about when he was photographed wearing skinny jeans. Unacceptable behavior.

  13. I forget where I read it, but I saw the Blue Jays could be interested. How about Phillips for Lawrie straight up? Move Frazier over to 2B. Done. 🙂

  14. Phillips mouth = crapped in his hat and signed his ticket out of Cincinnati. Funny that he made those comments about a contract that was a bad business decision for the Reds. I don’t blame the Castellini’s for their resentment after offering generous contract and overpaying to the hometown favorite that should have never been done. What a dope, If Phillips had a better offer then why did he not take it? Top that with the attack of C. Trent and the deal was sealed for BP and for Dusty who laughed about it. I am glad Dusty’s gone for so many other reasons but am sorry to see BP have to go but it is time. Under the circumstances the Reds will be lucky to get a bag of balls for him but they will take it to get rid of the cancer in the club.

  15. I read the Enquirer article about Uggla. If I had confidence that Uggla may get to his Marlin numbers, then I would possibly do it. If not, I would look for another route. Not unless it was a purging of behavior in the clubhouse I wanted to get to, also.

    But, I do look to trade BP. Trade while still high. As well as, I just wouldn’t want his attitude on the team anymore. Though he’s been a team player by batting all over the order from 1-4, he’s been more of a individual sideshow with his key piece in the Cards fight, his butt-tag, his pickoff by the Phillies, etc. I could swear a couple of plays this season he made look 10 times harder than they needed to be, again, for him to show off. I see Chad Johnson 2.0. And, we had the chance to get two #1 picks from the Redskins for Chad. But, a year or two later, we settled for one 2nd round pick from the Patriots for Johnson.

    To who, though? That’s always the other half. However, I would actively let him out there. But, Uggla as in? Nope. We would need more in the package. Just what would be in the package?

  16. Is there a chance that this is a ploy by the organization to humble Phillips somewhat? Walt Jocketty is as tight-lipped as any GM in baseball, so if the Reds really intended to trade Phillips I have a hard time believing it would be made public before it was finalized. I am sure Castellini was upset by the comments, but he is a shrewd businessman and I don’t see him weakening his team over a personal matter. (In the long term it might be better for the Reds to trade him, but I just don’t see it in 2014.)

    By going public with this, the front office may hope to quiet Phillips and some of his antics so that it is not an issue for the next manager. I would like to think that some private conversations have been had between Phillips and the front office so that Phillips knows exactly how irate The Boss was and that certain behaviors will absolutely not be accepted going forward. If so, then I think that Phillips can be a contributing member of the 2014 club.

    • @GolfGuy75: I don’t think that this is a ploy and BP will never be humble. They can’t fire him and they can’t do much else besides offer him and see who bites. They can be patient. Up until spring training. But, the Reds l,ook to be ready to cut bait.

    • @GolfGuy75: Ploy to humble? Nope. BP can’t be humble. Maybe for a day or two. But, then, he’s off on making himself the show again.

      I do believe Walt may have tried to throw interest off Guerrero by saying no, the Reds weren’t interested in him. Possibly thinking if he said “No interest”, then maybe others will say, also, which would leave the Reds more negotiating room for the player. As for the numbers Boras was asking, I would look to put a condition in the contract, something like provided the player makes the major league club out of ST or has some BA or OBP by the end of the first season, or something. Because, from what I heard, it seems pretty much uncalled for with Boras asking that much for a player who hasn’t played much ball for the last year. I’d look for some kind of contractual protection that he can and will produce, at least through his first season.

    • @Steve Mancuso: I’d make that trade, if the Reds can’t do any better. Phillips is a major league average hitter, and was identified by Stats, Inc. in an article I read around Labor Day as the “most average” hitter in baseball. He has become painfully slow; he has lost a step defensively (IMO); and as Steve correctly notes, he is a pain in the neck for a variety of reasons. (I have felt for a couple of years, just reading body language, that Joey Votto doesn’t really get along with him. But I certainly don’t know that.)

      The Reds sooner or later are going to have to eat some of that awful Phillips contract, because by 2016 he will be unplayable. They might as well take their medicine on that now. Uggla is at least right-handed, and fits GABP better than Turner Field. He could play about half the games, plus some at DH and perhaps some in left field.

      • @Big Ed: He wouldn’t get a lot of at bats as a National League DH. He’s a poor fielder and he can’t hit as well as BP. We don’t know whether Joey likes BP or not, but unless Joey remembers how to play defense, he needs BP to cover for his one-dimensional self. As someone else noted, defense is the only area in which the Reds were clearly superior to the Cards (could argue about pitching, I suppose, but they’re too closely related to differentiate), and even defensively they declined a bit compared to recent years. Maybe the Reds need to trade BP, but I agree with the others who have said that he will be much harder to replace than many seem to assume.

        • @greenmtred: “Unless Joey remembers how to play defense…”

          JV is rated 13th of 19 first basemen by fangraphs. That’s not elite, but his defense was a POSITIVE contribution this year, with 6 DRS.

          He had a lot of errors, as you “eye test” folks will say. But he had equally many diving stops that many people don’t make.

  17. Phillips for Brett Gardner and a prospect, given Cano signs in LA……that would be like trading for a year of Gardner and two prospects (with the QO)….Then, sign Michael Young. This would mean more interchangeable parts for the new manager.

  18. BP has to be dealt. What a lot of people are failing to acknowledge, second basemen don’t just decline after their year 32 season – they fall off the face of the earth. An average defensive BP, which is what he’ll be in the next year or two, is worth NOTHING. And people are saying he’s a good hitter “for a second baseman,” what is that qualification of? That being the 14th rated second baseman in terms of wRC+? Thirteenth in slugging, as a “run producer” no less? 14th in .OPS? His 5.9% BB rate? By what metric is Brandon Phillips a valuable hitter? Not a single one. Brandon Phillips is an offensive liability, a guy who can’t match up offensively with the likes of Marco Scutaro and Brian Dozier. His defense is great, sure. But that also declines faster than power numbers or on base ability.

    Which is why Choo, albeit probably in left field, is a better buy than BP. Choo won’t lose his ability to get on base, and his power numbers should remain roughly the same playing at GABP for the next few years, if not increasing a bit as he ages and tries to hit a few more out. If you the only thing of value you really get in a trade for BP is financial flexibility to keep Shin Soo Choo around, that’s a deal worth making. Which is why I may not be sold on the Uggla deal, but there is definitely a move to be had.

    As far as fits go, the Braves, Royals, Yankees (w/o Cano), Dodgers, Blue Jays, Giants, White Sox, Tigers, Orioles, and Nationals would all see an upgrade at second base with BP in the fold. All of them, save maybe the Royals, have the financial flexibility to take on his contract. If the Royals want him desperately enough, they’re going to have to include something massive in terms of young players and prospects (like Moustakas, Starling, Mondesi, Perez) for the Reds to retain enough salary to move him, or send a near equal size deal (Alex Gordon) the other way. Let your imaginations run wild on the other teams possibilities. Oh, the only reason I include the White Sox is because of their move for Abreu. Plus they’re one of the few teams that could send an MLB ready replacement to the Reds in Gordon Beckham.

    These are just a couple ideas. But make no mistake, there will be no shortage of takers for Brandon Phillips. Just like the Reds’ revenue is on the up, a lot of other teams have upward financial trends as well. There are moves to be had.

    • @hermanbates: the Royals are intriguing because their farm system is LOADED with talent. I’m not sure what they are currently ranked, but from what I saw and read last year, they could be at the top of the list. That could mean they don’t want BP, or they really might want him for a couple of good seasons while some of their youngsters mature. With that team alone you can do some creative things in a trade.

    • @hermanbates:
      I suppose the phrase “pretty good hitter for a second baseman” is open to interpretation. In 2013, Phillips was 5th in the NL and 12th overall in OPS+ for players with 130 games at 2B. Maybe the fact he has been able to stay healthy enough to play helps qualify him as a better than average hitting 2B.

      As far as the conclusion, I agree he should be attractive to a number of teams and I would rather see the money go toward resigning Choo. How the Reds fill the position and the rest of the roster changes will determine the success of any trade that may happen.

    • @hermanbates: BP is a valuable hitter because of his willingness to bat in different places in the order, and because of the rbi total–that’s a metric. I know that everyone will say rbi is meaningless, but since runs win games, you need to do more that quote the party line. You also undercut your argument when you identify ten teams for whom he would be an upgrade at 2nd (some of them good teams, at that) and talk about the “massive” return he could command.

      • @greenmtred: RBI is a statistic, yes. It is not a predictive statistic. There is no guarantee BP ever get’s that close ever again. A lot of players hitting with similar numbers, very average, not-special numbers, would have done the EXACT same thing that BP did. And by your argument of hitting anywhere in the lineup, I suppose that means the Rays have the most valuable players in the league as Maddon changes the hitting spots of his players pretty consistently. The notion that a player has to hit in the same spot game in and game out is antiquated notion – just like using the RBI to do anything other than look at the past. And it’s very obvious that there are a lot of antiquated teams out there, so I didn’t do anything to my argument. Teams value BP the way you do; they see a run-producing, flashy second baseman. That isn’t totally wrong, but that’s not a vital player to a team, and BP is super-overrated. But that can work to the Reds’ advantage trying to trade him.

      • @greenmtred: Willingness to hit in different spots in the lineup? You hit where the manager pencils you in. He’s no more or less willing than anyone else to hit any other spot.

        Would he be “willing” to hit 7th? Doubt it.

  19. Also, Frazier, per fangraphs, was a better defensive player than BP last season. Just so people know that.

    • @hermanbates: Frazier was great at third this year. Rolen-esque; and that is saying something since Scotty in his prime was as good as it got at the hot corner. But Rolen on his best day was not the defender Phillips is. I think this is one more case of defensive stats being misleading. Metrics have come a long way for offense, but scouting is the only accurate way to judge defense.

      • @preach: The problem with scouting is time.

        I agree, if we can watch every defender at a given position every day, we can get an idea of how they rank relative to one another.

        Maybe some folks have the time for that. No one on this board does, I’d wager.

        In lieu of being able to accurately judge defenders by our own eyeballs (because we can’t watch everyone), some stats have been created to attempt to do that.

        Whether or not you believe in the actual numbers product, the methodology used to grade each player is the SAME, so the rack-and-stacks (13th or 19, for example) are accurate.

        You can argue “6 DRS” isn’t reliable, and it may not be. But saying someone was “average” or “great” compared to their peers is plenty accurate.

        I say all that to say this; BP and Frazier were roughly equivalent with a slight edge to Frazier, and Cozart was the most valuable positional defender for the Reds this year (due to his playing a good SS, which is the toughest position).

  20. I am all for trading BP. Just who is a likely replacement. Frazier is not an adequate replacement. I don’t want him even playing 3rd base.

  21. If Todd Moved over to second base I would love to see us work a three team trade where we trade to Phillips to a third team and we get back Middlebrooks from Boston, with the third team giving up some pitching or prospects going back to Boston. I think Will could be a great player. Good home run power in limited at bats, had a sophomore slump, get him while his stock is low and they have a replacement for him already.

  22. Uggla’s BABIP this year was .225. The other peripherals (K-BB) are pretty much in line with his career norms, so I guess you could make the case he is due for a bounceback. That’s still a high risk situation. It’s probably worth looking at some other teams to identify potential trade partners.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: If it wasn’t a matter of economics I would take a chance on Uggla. I think he is due to rebound and he has some real pop for a middle infielder. Defense would take a hit, but as in Choo’s case I think it would be justifiable. But, it is always a matter of economics and that money seems mighty high for a guy who needs to have a bounce back year.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: I believe Uggla hits a lot of fly balls, which have lower BABIPs than grounders or line drives. I don’t think all players can bounce back from poor BABIP years, due to the types of hitters they may be.

      With that said, Uggla may have another good year left in him, but it’s probably “A” good year, meaning 1. And it may take 3-4 years for that year to materialize.

  23. Phillips hit worse than luminaries like Daniel Murphy, Marco Scutaro, Neil Walker. He’s slower than me. Once he loses a step in the field, all that’s left will be a cocky grin and ill-advised tweets.

  24. Ken Broo obviously reads this blog. While I greatly respect his opinion I strongly disagree with the point he was making in contradiction to this post on the radio today.

    The outburst he had with C Trent is NOT what ownership expected when they signed him to his large contract. As I’ve said, BP has got to go for that reason alone. Reds ownership cannot allow such thing to take place. I WILL NOT BE A FAN OF A PERSON WHO IS CAPABLE OF DOING THAT, nor of an organization that allows such an incident to take place! Period. End of story.

    • @TC: I can forgive BP for the outburst. He apparently apologized privately to C Trent. I think your statement about not being a fan of a player who can blow up like that or an organization that doesn’t move a player because of it is a bit excessive.

      Look, people lose their tempers. I mean, I am about as mild mannered as can be and I went off on a manager at work, in the heat of the moment. I later apologized and we moved past it. I’m glad and I believe my employer is glad that I wasn’t terminated over the incident.

      What about the Dibble vs Pinella incident back in the day? They had to be separated to keep from coming to blows and that was Dibble’s boss, not an outsider.

      My two cents.

  25. watchg st louis on their run: trade what u can for what you can get…if u can get out from under that contract, do it….STL is always 3 steps ahead….

  26. Have BP and Chad Ocho-Johnson ever been photographed in the same room? Because I’ve heard this song before.

    All we need now is to find out that BP and Ludwick were eating fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse between at bats, and that Dusty knew about it.

  27. Hal McCoy has a post up this afternoon at the Dayton Daily News about Phillips. His reporting is basically consistent with the other recent stories that the Reds are shopping him. The reasons he gives are the ones mentioned here – the $50 million contract, accusing his boss of being a liar, and the blow up with CTR.

    McCoy also adds this about BP’s reputation on the team:

    While Phillips is popular with fans through his Twitter account and his willingness to sign autographs, he is not so popular in the clubhouse and is thought of as a self-promoter. Said one man who is in the clubhouse every day, “You can’t tell by Brandon’s face whether we won or lost, but you can tell if he went 0 for 4 or 2 for 4 no matter if we won or lost.”

    • @Steve Mancuso: And of course Hal knows a thing or three about feuds between players and writers 🙂

      I was about to cite some of his “adventures” as examples of how this kind of stuff has been going on forever and is just more seen in today’s media saturated world.

      But of course when a player starts going a naming names from the front office in a bad light, that’s different matter.

    • @Steve Mancuso: The part about reputation is more telling to me and underscores that there was no enforcer in the room this year.

      Votto needs to be that man because it is going to be hard for anyone else (especially a younger guy) to play the role when the $220M+ man is in the room, especially if Votto is TOOTBLANing and playing half hearted defense like he did in 2013

    • @Steve Mancuso: I have to agree, Steve. BP’s offensive skills are diminishing; his RBI’s this season are only because of how many times Choo and Votto got on base in front of him. BP is a step slower in all respects, in the field, with the bat, and running. And, while all of those should be enough to be considering letting him go, just seeing and hearing him do his shtick, he’s doing nothing but trying to be a show himself. I could have sworn he was purposely making some of the defensively plays he made harder than they needed to be, just so he could show off. And, when you get players like that who don’t keep their head in the game, you get things like the butt-tag, just needless antics that don’t need to go on, just the player trying to be entertaining for the fans (aka self-promotion), instead of simply winning games.

      BP may do what’s best for the team with things like moving to the 4 hole this season when Ludwick went down. But, what about everything else? Sorry, I’m just tired of his shtick. It’s Chad Johnson 2.0. The Bengals had the chance to get two #1 picks from the Bengals back then when Chad just started his downturn. They waited a season or two and got left with one 2nd round pick from the Patriots. The only question for the Reds, who to fill in for BP.

      No one would be able to replace BP and everything he’s done for the Reds. But, the day to fill in for him was going to come sometime. Might as well be now.

      • @steveschoen: This is an old complaint, but clearly, the rbi were not “only because of how many times Choo and Votto were on ahead of him..” He had to do something right to drive them in. I couldn’t have done it, not now or in my salad days.

        • While this is true, there is an expectation that all major league players are going to get hits every now and again. What Phillips did with the opportunities he had was not extraordinary in any way. His RBI total is the byproduct of him being a major league baseball player and have the top two OBP guys in the NL batting in front of him; nothing else.

          • @prjeter: Not exactly “nothing else.” BP did have an OPS w/RISP of .873, with a higher slugging percentage than either Votto or Bruce in those situations. Maybe that’s not extraordinary but it’s certainly something. I’m not projecting he’ll do that in the future, but let’s at least be accurate about what he did in the past. And, for the record, I’m on board with trading BP.

          • @GeorgeFoster: I suppose I had too much implied information in my post. By saying his RBI total is a byproduct of him being a major leaguer and having men on base in front of him I was implying even his .873 OPS is within the norm of the blanket statement “major league player.”

            There is always variation around the mean for most stats (like OPS). So we’d expect him to be around .740, and he happened to be at .873, which I agree is fact and we can’t discount it, but all major leaguers will have times when they outperform their expected performance. BP had his this year with RISP. It doesn’t mean he did anything extraordinary, it simply means he’s a major leaguer whose stats are subject to variation.

            Perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch, I admit, but I just don’t think there is anything remarkable about “100” RBI given the opportunities he had.

  28. Had to sit my little man down today and tell him the Reds were thinking about trading BP. I still can remember my Dad having a similar conversation with me when Pete signed with the Phillies.

    I really don’t think the CTrent episode was that big of a deal for BP. After CTrent’s article on how terrible Reds fans are from last fall, BP didn’t really say anything I disagreed with. Now, I think it was a HUGE part of the Baker firing because it was a prime example that he had no control at all in the locker room. Also, I can’t really comment on here consistently defending, even encouraging, Joey’s profane outbursts and then say the Reds should trade BP because he had one.

    To me, the Cincy Magazine article was the key. Mr. C seems like a stand-up guy and also the kind of guy who you don’t call a liar in public and expect to stick around.

    • @Kyle Farmer: Big difference between Votto and Phillips on profanity. Votto does his profanity outbursts because he’s upset with himself for making an out at the plate. He does it when there may or may not be a microphone able to capture any part of his voice. Brandon Phillips interrupted his Manager’s press conference or whatnot to speak into microphones to personally berate someone else.

      Votto: Profanity directed at himself, not meant to be heard by others.
      Phillips: Profanity directed at others, fully intended to be heard and recorded by others.

      Don’t see how you can even compare the two.

      • @ToddAlmighty: Couldn’t have said it better.

        Also, since we’re all “worldly” adults, we know what Votto is likely saying even if the mics didn’t clearly pick it up (i.e.- a kid might not catch it). Big difference between that and clearly and eloquently dropping multiple f-bombs directed at another person while there are multiple recorders and mics around.

        • @prjeter: Public profanity is public profanity is public profanity, regardless of how one wants to paint it.

          And by the way, this particular outburst by Phillips wasn’t really in public. It happened in his manager’s office in the presence of I would guess to be less than a dozen individuals. None of those cameras or microphones or recorders were live on the air when the outburst occurred (as opposed to the ones that were when Votto had his best known outburst).

          Anything that made it onto the air or internet or into print from the Phillips situation did so because of the conscious decision of an editor to run with it. Over the years, any number of similar situations have been covered by the media without the explicit revelation of the profanities.

          • @OhioJim: Excellent point about the editor who had to make a conscious decision to run the piece. I hadn’t considered that.

            I suppose from an “effect on the viewing audience” perspective, you could argue Votto’s is worse than Phillips’. I still feel, however, that Phillips’ outburst will have a longer-lasting effect on the Reds’ community than Votto’s semi-frequent outbursts after recorinding a bad out.

    • @Kyle Farmer: Oh man… there is a HUGE difference between Votto and Phillips on this point. Gracious. It’s a gulf. Now I’m not condoning Votto for firing an F-missile every time he makes an out, but the only people I know who are offended by it are some older ladies at church (who, by the way, use the same word the same way when they lose at bingo).

      Who among us?

      The same cannot be said of Phillips.

  29. Would the departure of BP change the dynamic of things (negatively) for other players? I know that BP was at Frazier’s wedding in the offseason last year. Did not see the likes of Joey or Bruce in the pictures that I came across.

    Do the bullpen & pitchers kind of do their own thing separate from the starters and bench players? I’ve always wondered about the dynamic of a team outside of the field and clubhouse. I’d imagine that they spend a lot of time with each other just with the traveling for road games.

  30. I have been a huge reds fan my entire life but I think if they trade Phillips I may lose all respect for them and stop watching them. Honestly, there are 3 players on the reds roster that are fun to watch play, Phillips, Hamilton, and Chapman. If Phillips is traded they will lose a lot of fansm possibly including me

    • @redsfan48: I feel a bit sorry for you if you can only appreciate the skills of three guys on the roster. Last season, outside of the three players you listed, the Reds also had the two guys with the highest OBP in the NL, Gold Glove caliber defense and a great bat in RF, superb defense at 3B, and one of the most dominant rotations in all of baseball.

      Watching Phillips’ defense is admittedly a ton of fun, but I’m open to shopping him due to his age and his failure to run out ground balls. Even in the playoff game, he was jogging to 1B on grounders to the left side. Bugs the heck out of me. For someone with such a high ground ball percentage (46% in 2013), some effort on those plays would be encouraging to fans and teammates.

      Fans may be disappointed in a trade which I understand. I don’t think the Reds will be able to get another second baseman in 2014 who will outperform BP in 2014. The key is the following three seasons where he will likely continue to decline, and also freeing up his salary to improve other positions.

      • @dc937: I may not have been quite clear in my statement, I appreciate the talent of nearly everyone in the starting lineup but in my opinion only those 3 that I mentioned are exciting to watch play. Even Votto isn’t all that exciting to watch cause of all the walks.

        Phillips though is one of the most popular Reds with the fans and I honestly think the front office will have a hard time explaining a Phillips trade to the fans

        • @redsfan48: That’s fair, my fault for assuming that “fun to watch” meant “good baseball player”. And you’re right, those are probably the three most exciting guys on the roster (Phillips jogging to 1B excluded). Throw Hoover and LeCure on that list too for the awesome facial hair.

          The front office may have a hard time, especially if Uggla is the replacement. I would be extremely disappointed if he was our starting second baseman for the two seasons left on his contract. Defense is league average but the batting average is horrendous, and he has been steadily declining for three years after a very good 2010 campaign.

          • @dc937: Most fans are obviously not well informed enough to know to question the front office about Uggla.

            I don’t necessarily want a behind the back toss to the shortstop to start a double play. That’s great but the buzz lasts as long as it takes to get to the next play. When the team wins, the buzz lasts until the next game.

    • @redsfan48: Possibly basketball is a better sport for you, then.

  31. I fail to see how his comments to Mr. Rosencrans, this blog, any reporter or on social media matter. Then again, I have no time or patience for listening to the soap opera side of baseball; which I feel is middle school playground type impertinence, the “oooo, did you hear what he said about X” gossip that is devoid of meaning. Declining production, the strong potential of future declining figures and picking up other players that could add a lot of positive production are good reasons to trade BP (or anyone else for that matter).

    • @joelie1274: All I was trying to say is that BP’s antics matter to the Reds’ front office. They’re trying to create a positive, family-friendly image of the team. Phillips’ behavior with CTR, for example, runs strongly counter to that.

  32. Trust me, we’ll all miss BP’s Defense but there’s too much damage off the field. I’ll defend him with the declining numbers by saying he played hurt a lot plus got jacked around with Dusty’s stupid lineups but you don’t take a shot at the man who signs your paycheck.

  33. Man, this is going viral – fast. Get a tough nosed manager to reel BP in (this is once again on the departed Baker as his stench will be definitely lasting for a while). And Bob C created this mess by resigning Dusty a few days after last year’s implosion in the playoffs (and then Terry Francona hits the open market – horrible decision making by the Reds). But this would be the last straw, as BP is a true asset of the Reds and to trade him for Ugly Uggla would be a permanent black mark on the organization. The Reds were making real headway as a bonafide contender. This ultimate decision would set them back years.

    NO WAY!!!

  34. Steve, great effort and insights in this article. The title “Next Step” is appropriate. Ownership of the Reds may be sending signals and the numbers may be correct yet to me solving the initial problem (a new manager) still takes precedent. The choice of a new (no none sense) manager may very well solve the BP issue and have positive results on the whole team. The schedule of things to do before Reds Fest is;
    #1 – new manager,
    #2 – coaching staff evaluation by new manager and GM
    #3 – position by position evaluation based on results, age, projections and free agency
    #4 – budget flexibility
    #5 – evaluations of potential replacements’ (ongoing)
    #6 – put together the 2014 roster (with eye on available trades)
    #7 – Reds Fest
    As with all things in baseball organizations silence from the front office is paramount. The organization has demonstrated that they want to be able to present a positive plan for success at Reds Fest as this is when many season ticket decisions are made and sets the tone of spring training and hope for the future.

  35. If this is about defense, Phillips is flashy and a highlight reel every day. But plenty of 2B can make the plays around the bag.

    If it’s about his hitting, I’d wager that if the rest of the team picks up a point or two here or there, we can safely insert Brodie Greene at 2B next spring and see no dropoff in Reds defense.

    The key is that the other 6 or 7 guys need to start hitting better.

    • @Johnu1: Henry Rodriguez would be a much better option. Greene has struggled through the lower levels of the minors, and has yet to hit at AA. Making him jump up to the majors would be a disaster. But I believe given enough AB’s HRod would produce well enough to plug in at 2nd base. The kid’s always figured out a way to hit.

      If the Reds can get enough salary relief to re-sign Choo (or another FA to upgrade 3B, SS, or OF) by trading Phillips, then I think they could get by with Rodriguez at 2B. If not him, then try to sign Guerrero. But there is not a another prospect that plays 2B in the Reds system that is even close to taking over next year.

  36. Well, I for one would be sad to see BP go. He’s definitely made me cringe now and again with his antics, but more often he’s made me smile. He’s a big reason I look forward to Reds games. His tendency toward speaking his mind is a double-edged sword. Clearly there are times it has a negative impact, but there are also times it’s refreshing and interesting. Baseball interviews are so often an exercise in NOT saying anything, I appreciate BPs honesty.

    As far as the magazine interview… I agree it’s a bad idea to call your boss a liar, and it might just get him traded. But what if its true? What if BP took less money than he thought he should have specifically because he wanted to stay in Cincinnati and Walt told him that money didn’t exist… and then Walt spent it anyway. I can see why that might stick in BPs craw. Votto appreciated BPs honesty here, and so do I – even though I’m uncomfortable with the fact that he said it in the media. Honestly, I’m more upset about him coming after Redleg Nation (though I’d want to actually see what he said before I passed judgment).

    The accusation that his fan-friendly activities are calculated and cynical rubs me the wrong way. I’m sure he knows that it increases his value, but isn’t that what we pay players for? Sure, he gets good publicity for what he does, but that’s a tautology. If he didn’t get publicity, we wouldn’t know about it. In fact, there’s no doubt in my mind that he does positive things that get no publicity and that therefore we don’t discuss.

    Anyway, all in all, I’d rather have BP around for the next few years. I attribute some of his recent decline to injury, and I expect a bounce-back year for him.

    • @groujo: I completely agree. BP is an extrememly popular player with the fans. The front office would have a hard time explain ing a BP trade to the fans.

      • @redsfan48: You keep saying this, but what’s so hard to understand? He is a declining player that’s overpaid. Anybody with a lick of baseball sense understands that if you can get out from under his contract and trade him before he really falls off a cliff, you have to do it. On top of that he called his boss a liar and ripped apart a member of the local media. I think you are clearly underestimating the fan base in stating the FO will have to explain this to them. Only fans with emotional and nostalgic attachments to BP will struggle with embracing this trade. Any fan that can look at this as a business move (which ultimately is what baseball is…a business) needs no explaining done for them. It just makes too much sense.

        • @hotto4votto: He is a declining player that’s overpaid. Anybody with a lick of baseball sense understands that if you can get out from under his contract and trade him before he really falls off a cliff, you have to do it.

          And could not the same be said of Votto?
          They signed him to a job it appears he may not be able to do since his knee injuries.

          • @OhioJim: Do I think the same could be said of Votto? With a straight face? No. He set a Reds record last year for getting on base. Do I think he had a down year? Yes, for him. But still he led the team in average and obp. If your decline is still better than most of the league I don’t think there’s issue there. As to where Phillips has been league average and is consistently falling. I would definitely at the very least wait on Votto to see if there is any improvement a full year out.

          • @OhioJim: For fair treatment, we could make the same argument about Votto AFTER 2014 if he declines from his 2013 numbers. That would be akin to Phillips’ “career” year and then declines in subsequent years. One down year doesn’t mean a player is declining. Two might. Three makes it almost for sure.

    • @groujo: Agreed. Does BP know that interacting with the fans increases his value? Of course he does. He’s said as much himself. Does that mean he does it solely to make money, and secretly he despises the fans? No, of course not. A guy can enjoy interacting with the fans AND know that it’s good for his career. In fact, any publicly known, fan-friendly behavior on BPs part could be subject to the type of criticism in the above comments. It’s both sad and interesting that no one was criticizing BPs for this sort of thing when he was a 5 WAR player…

      • @BenL: That’s the way of sports. The length of a player’s proverbial “leash” is proportional to his production.

        Also, if he would have been dropping f-bombs and making personal insults towards the media when he was a 5 WAR player I’d be just as off-put as I a with him as a sub-2 WAR player.

  37. Couple of things on trading BP. There are only a very limited number of teams that would be willing to take on Brandon’s contract, and those teams know it. So I would assume the Reds decided to accept the fact they’re not going to get a whole heck of a lot in a trade. And if the Reds do start the process of shopping BP around there’s no turning back. Brandon will not be a happy camper knowing the Reds tried to get rid of him, and that’s exactly how BP will look at it. Go Reds! 2014 World Series Champions.

  38. Look, I like BP but I have seen the dropoff in his overall numbers and the Cincinnati Magazine style rubbed me the wrong way. I still see some offense from him as far as his OPS among NL 2B and his RBI total. Sure his RBI were also a product of people being on ahead of him as well as some luck, as always. BP did some things right in driving those guys in though and he was one of the few that had a lot of success in that area. I also still feel that despite the flash, his defense remains top 3 in MLB at 2B. I watch a lot of games and a lot of teams and defensively, he is a special talent.

    All that said, if I were GM I wouldn’t actively shop him however, like with any player, I would be willing to listen to offers for him. If I heard a strong one, maybe I’d pull the trigger. Uggla and a prospect would probably not do it. Uggla is a bad 2B and his offensive skills have dropped like a stone. He also wouldn’t save any money over the next couple of years.

  39. A very good post by Steve. Phillips has had some very good seasons with the Reds but his time is up in Cincinnati. Uggla from Atlanta is only a rumor to make things interesting. BP will be attractive to many teams and the Reds might well trade for other position players than a second baseman.

  40. BP needs to be traded simply from a business perspective. Cincinnati simply can’t afford to pay BP $50MM over the next 4 seasons, even if BP’s performance can minimally justify the cost. A mid-market team can not play the game the same way as large-market teams. The extracurricular antics simply turned the Reds ownership and management perspective to wanting BP gone and commiting to trading BP this off season.

    Trading BP will create a reasonable return because he has real value and there are large-market teams that need what BP can offer. I do expect the return to be prospect(s) rather than major league replacements, but the prospects will have real value.

    Replacing 2B on the major league roster can be done internally by moving Frazier over to 2B or promoting Rodriguez to start at 2B. The offensive replacement for 2014 will have to come from another addition to the major league roster from a trade or FA signing from the cast savings generated from the BP trade.

    Prior to 2013, Frazier was almost universally panned as an inferior defensive 3B to Scott Rolen. That opinion turned out to be a load of bunk. Now Frazier is being panned as incapable of playing 2B defensively. Well bunk again. Frazier is an athlete and a baseball player. He could probably play a reasonable SS at the major league level, but at 2B and 3B he would excell defensively.

    Henry Rodriguez slashed .364/.382/.485 in spring training. After struggling early in AAA at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, Rodriguez slashed .343/.396/.371 after the all star break. Rodriguez has simply hit at every level and has a career FLD% of .973 at 2B, including .990 at 2B in 2012 and .988 at 2B in 2013. The only thing he has left to prove is that he can also play at the major league level.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I didn’t realize HRod was such a good hitter. I guess his sub-par beginning to 2013 in AAA clouded my stat-eyes. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a shot to start 2014 if BP gets traded.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I think that this is the best idea. I think Rodriguez needs to get a shot. I also think Frazier will hit better this coming season If he hits 270 with 80 RBI, I will take it. Remember he also plays a decent LF which open up a spot at 3B.

      • @redmountain: I haven’t heard that Hen-Rod can play 2B … or anywhere very well. That’s the problem. Which is why I’d concentrate on improving the hitting of the rest of the lineup and finding a guy who can actually play 2B. The notion that we need a good hitter at 2B … it’s a whole lot easier to shake a tree and have 3 gloves drop out of it.

        • @Johnu1: In his last 38 games (2012-2013) at 2B, Rodriguez had a .989 FLD% (2 errors in 178 chances) playing on minor league fields. I grant you that Rodriguez struggles (that’s being kind) at SS & 3B, but he can play an average to above average defensive 2B and no one in the organization has questioned his ability to hit. With BP locked into 2B on the major league roster, there just wasn’t a position for Rodriguez due to his poor defense at SS & 3B. Well if BP isn’t locked into 2B on the Reds major league roster, things change.

  41. I don’t see it as a priority but if it can help the team, especially in re-signing Choo, then I don’t have a problem with it. I wouldn’t miss watching DatJogger fail to leg out another grounder.

  42. Reading the comments on this topic gives me real hope that the Reds might actually be able to get some players with value in exchange for BP. I agree that he has got to go and now is the time.

    He’s in decline and seems to be the last person to realize it.

  43. Phillips for a Dodger outfielder not named Puig?

    • @go_reds1: I don’t think the Reds could afford Crawford, I do not believe that you will get their CF, so that leaves Ethier-no I dont want him.

    • @go_reds1: That would be a complicated, risky proposal, but just might be something that works. For the Dodgers, they want to move Ethier or Kemp. Ethier is a LH slugger with a pretty severe split. That doesn’t fit for the Reds. Kemp is coming off two serious, season-ending injuries (shoulder in 2012 and ankle in 2013) and makes $21MM per season for the next six seasons. Would the reds be interested and could the Reds make the deal work? Hmmm… ❓

      • @Shchi Cossack: Your original premise was that Phillips needs to be moved as a business driven deal because the Reds can’t afford to pay him 50M over the next 4 years. Kemp is 3 years younger that Phillips but is showing signs he could be headed down the same road as GriffeyJr in that his body may be used up by age 30 for the position he plays. The $128M owed Kemp (the amount actually still on the books per Baseball reference) over the next 6 years seems to me to be even more unaffordable than the 50M to Phillips.

        • @OhioJim:

          Kemp is 3 years younger that Phillips but is showing signs he could be headed down the same road as GriffeyJr in that his body may be used up by age 30 for the position he plays.

          Ergo the risk. Obviously, the Reds are in no position to assume another $21MM per season contract, but that goes to the structuring of any deal. The Dodgers have a problem with three highly paid OF for two OF positions and they need to resolve that problem. If it doesn’t work for both organizations, it doesn’t work. That’s the nature of trade negotiations. A viable deal certainly wouldn’t be structured as a one-for-one trade. Ergo the complicated part.

  44. BP is smart and he knew that he could say all of those things and Dusty would not say anything to him. Egos can be handled by the right manager. Look at Lou Piniella in 1990. He had Dibble, Charlton, Myers, and Oester to deal with. All of them were free spirits and had a temper that could explode in a minute. He took them under his wing and yes that did not change but he “controlled” that behavior and got them to channel it to the baseball diamond. If the right manager comes in, he can tone down BP quickly if he knows it will not be tolerated. It is going to take a special man for a special team if everyone played to their capability. I think that it is going to be hard for the Reds to get equal value for him with that contract so it might be such that the Reds will have to contend with him but control him to a certain extent. He is great with the fans and kids so it is going to be hard to explain this to a very restless fan base right now. The fans are not interested in salary dumps, etc. but are interested in championships. The only team that is going to be interested in him is one that feels they are “one piece” short of a championship caliber team. The Braves had a real hole at second last season but I just cannot see Mr. Jocketty signing off on that deal unless Mr. C gives him no choice. That is a very risky move.

  45. I can’t imagine this team without Phillips. He is the heart & soul of this team, aside from the last month of the season where they basically gave up. He is the reason why I love the Reds so much. His attitude & passion is something this team will miss if he is out of here.

  46. If you believe Rodriguez can adequately replace Phillips at 2b, then maybe you trade him to Atlanta for prospects and flip them plus whatever else is needed to get Stanton from the Marlins.

  47. The Reds can do much, much better than getting Uggla for BP.
    And it shows great character and restraint by the editors from posting what BP said to The Nation at that time. I still want to read what he twittered. Maybe the RN editors can share BP’s feelings with us all. The season is over. No need to worry about a distraction. Or once he is traded they can share it with us.
    I just hope they forwarded it on to WJ for his reading enjoyment.
    I have this feeling that the Reds will name Bryan Price as manager tomorrow before the WS gets started and then the front office starts sowing some trade seeds at the WS to be reaped at the winter GM meetings.

    • @WVRedlegs:

      I have this feeling that the Reds will name Bryan Price as manager tomorrow before the WS gets started

      With Jim Leyland stepping down as the Tigers manager and the Cubs manager search well underway, your point about the Reds decision and announcement could be on target. If their dicision is in fact Bryan Price, locking up the manager quickly is not so much the priority since they have probably already made a mutual commitment, but the coaching staff needs to be resolved and there will be competition for those positions too.

      • @Shchi Cossack:

        Exactly. And Washington and Seattle still have manager positions and coaching positions to fill also.
        If Commish Selig doesn’t like such announcements during the WS, then tomorrow is the day since WS starts Wednesday evening. No need to wait the 8-10 days the WS will cover if they know its going to be Price. Use that 8-10 day window to formulate the coaching staff. Everything will be in place when the free agent market opens up after the WS. It isn’t imperative to do so, but it would be important to be ready to go then.

  48. Wonder if Leyland is interested in coaching still. I know he’s old school, and some of the traits that were frustrating about Dusty would frustrate us about him as well. But I read that he used his splits well with the Tigers, and the results cannot be questioned, as far as getting to WS and having more postseason success. It’s at least a name to consider, and I would think he’d garner the respect of everyone in the club house.

  49. I wouldn’t be totally averse to trading Phillips, but only if we got something back to improve the team in 2014 (we are in a championship window right now), and with his contract, I just don’t see that happening. I tend to agree with the crowd that says that BP can be a valuable contributor if the new manager keeps him in line better than Dusty did. His defense is still valuable (with a bounce-back year from Votto, the Reds have easily the best infield defense in baseball and that’s not nothing). Plus, he’s still a pretty good 6-hole hitter. Same issue as Cozart really. He’s valuable to the team if he’s not sucking up a top 4 lineup spot, and I think everyone was a lot happier with Cozart after he was moved down in the order. This is a Dusty issue, and that’s been resolved. Whether BP’s ego can take being moved down in the order is another matter, but maybe that’s exactly the kind of humbling a lot of are people calling for.

    Regardless of whether BP is on this team or not, Henry Rodriguez needs to be. He has nothing left to prove in the minors, and who wouldn’t take a fast, switch hitting, high-average, low-power guy who can play three infield positions at least passably, over the Cesar Isturises and Wilson Valdezes of the world? Not anyone who reads this blog, I’ll wager. And maybe, just maybe, with a different manager and a viable backup MIFer, BP rides the bench for 10 games the next time he mouths off to CTR, and then maybe, just maybe, it never happens again. Just a thought.

    • @bhrubin1:

      Regardless of whether BP is on this team or not, Henry Rodriguez needs to be. He has nothing left to prove in the minors, and who wouldn’t take a fast, switch hitting, high-average, low-power guy…

      That sounds like an ideal candidate for possibly hitting in the #2 hole. Rodriguez is not a big base stealer, but he does have speed (fewer GIDP), excellent bat control and unlike Cozart, a lot of experience hitting in the top of the order. Rodriguez is more of a get ’em on base guy rather than a drive ’em in guy like Cozart.

  50. When has speculation replaced research and facts? I’m tired of reading Fay and Trent’s articles about what may happen or what they think, the bottom line is that they don’t know any more than any of us. So BP sent this site a nasty message, well boo ho. BP has a whale of a contract, but I’d rather get out of Ludwick’s deal than BPs. This team has gotten this far on defense and BP is a HUGE part of that. What we need is a consistent power hitter in LF and Ludwick isn’t the guy.

    • From Jesse Sanchez/ via twitter…

      Sources: #Dodgers agreed to terms on 4-yr, $28M deal with Cuban prospect Alexander Guerrero. Potential value is $32M.

      • @Shchi Cossack: Must be nice to have all that money to sign everyone in the world. I wonder if Puig’s emergence was a lodestone for Guerrero to go to LA.

        • @prjeter: Yeah, the international draft, international FA and salary cap really need some significant adjustments if competative balance is going to be maintained, but MLB and the Player’s Association have never really been concerned aboput competative balance. Small market and mid market teams are left with the crumbs from the table after the big boys are through devouring the prime rib and satisfying their glutonous appetite.

    • @stevechai:

      BP has a whale of a contract, but I’d rather get out of Ludwick’s deal than BPs.

      I don’t know many people who would disagree with this point, but I don’t think Ludwick’s contract ($13MM) can be traded for an old paint brush and a bucket of rusty nails. If WJ can manuever a trade for Ludwick, light the afterburners and go for it.

      • @Shchi Cossack: Why get rid of Ludwick now that he is healthy? We already ate the first year of the contract after his injury, so we might as well get something out of him in year two. When healthy, he has proven to be a significant contributor on offense. Don’t forget that everybody was just talking about how it was a healthy Ludwig carried our team a year ago. He only played in 38 games this year, so that is hardly enough evidence to justify writing him off. He was also one of the only players to show up in the postseason, which is where the Reds have choked in recent years.

  51. The Blue Jays are looking for 2B help. I wonder if they’d be interested in a BP for Rasmus and and pitching prospect. Their top 6 prospects are pitchers. I’m sure something could be worked out. It would provide P depth for us in the future, provide a stop-gap CF at a reasonable rate for next year while Hamilton is still learning the ropes. It would also allow us some financial flexibility going forward, as well as free up some cash for next year so we could go out and sign an impact FA.

    • @hotto4votto: The Jays are already losing Davis as a FA, so their OF depth is pretty shallow. I also think they really like Rasmus, even though he will be a FA in 2015 barring an extention this off season. I do like the Jays as a trading pertner for Phillips and I also like the thought of prying away one of their pitching prospects and possibly Barreto (SS). Maybe the Jays would also be interested in Heisey to help shore up their OF.

  52. This talk of wanting to dump BP is all bananas if you ask me. BP is one of the best defensive 2Bs that has EVER taken the field. His offensive numbers are also excellent for his position, and his hitting was very clutch leading up to his injury. He just made the friggin All Star team, so I am clearly not the only one to see this. He accounts for far more defensive DPs than he does offensive, as people like to blab about. How many runs do you think HIS defensive play alone saves a season? Don’t forget to include that when evaluating his production. People argue that the Cards and other teams don’t need the great defense from 2B, but this is because they are an offensive juggernaut who can afford it. The Reds CANNOT afford it with their line-up, and MUST continue to have excellent play in the field to be competitive. Those who argue we should trade him based on performance need to GET REAL! Those who argue he is a cancer need to point the finger to the entire apethic team. Just look at the numbers of many on the team compared to previous years and you will see how widespread this downward statistical trend is. What causes an entire team to spiral downward? A clear lack of leadership. Get the right guy in charge and you will see an entirely different team without the need to create an entirely different team. Just sayin…

  53. The reason this is the right time from a baseball sense is that he’s still (slightly) above average overall as a second baseman. Trade partners could perceive enough value in him that they’d be willing to take him.

    If the Reds simply gave away Phillips, they would “get in return” the $50 million they could spend on another player. So you can’t judge the trade by the players that the Reds get back in return. If the Reds expect the trade partner to relieve the Reds of all that salary, they can’t expect to get much in return in players, as Phillips is pretty close to at-value with his contract.

    In another year, when his skills likely decline further, he’ll be upside down. His remaining contract will be worth more than he is.

    The Reds might receive a similar player back in return – one that is owed quite a bit of money but is basically just worth it.

    • @Steve Mancuso: The Reds knew what they had when they awarded BP the contract, and they would be foolish to forget what they have now. Other teams would be willing to take him along with his big contract because he is far better than slightly above average overall as a 2B, which is also why this does not make sense from a baseball sense. Let’s begin with the obvious, which is fielding. Would you argue that there he is not the BEST defensive 2B in the league? If so, please explain because he makes plays that NOBODY else can make. On offense, he was also the BEST 2B in the league when it comes to RBIs with 101, while he was 6th in runs and 7th in hits. These are far better than average numbers offensively. BA is important, but more so for 2Bs who bat toward the beginning of the lineup, and BP delivered in many of the areas expected from the cleanup spot. But for argument’s sake, even if his overall batting was just slightly better than average, when this is combined with his truly exceptional fielding, you have an overall 2B who is one of the best in business.

      Are you arguing that BP’s numbers were THAT bad this year to justify dumping him so early in his new contract? I find that argument hard to believe.

  54. The number of teams that can afford a $50 million 2B with an opening are pretty slim: LAD, DET, SF, TOR, and BAL. Hunter or Bautista coming back could be interesting.

Comments are closed.

About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


2014 Reds, The Brandon Phillips Show


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