Sep 23, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) singles during the first inning against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Is Brandon Phillips the Answer at Second Base?

Sep 28, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) in the dugout during the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

It was fairly easy to envision the Royals offseason shopping list. The Royals needed at least one, maybe two, starting pitchers, a second baseman and a right fielder. If they were able to locate a middle of the order bat in that list as well, it would be a bonus. While it was expected that the Royals may end up bargain hunting at second, potentially bringing in a decent veteran player for a year or two, Kansas City may have set their sights upon a bigger catch, someone that could provide that middle of the order production from second. That player – Brandon Phillips.

According to a tweet by former Reds and Nationals General Manager, and current ESPN baseball analyst Jim Bowden, not only are the Royals discussing bringing back Ervin Santana and a Carlos Beltran reunion, but they have also discussed trading for Phillips. While the interest in Beltran and Santana are hardly surprising, the potential availability of Phillips may seem quite unexpected.

Yet, Phillips may have set the stage for his potential departure from Cincinnati during the past season. He complained publicly about the contract extension that teammate Joey Votto received, calling it a “slap in the face.” He then went off on a reporter who criticized the Reds moving Phillips up into the second spot in the lineup twice, going on a profanity laced tirade when reporters went in to interview then manager Dusty Baker. It could be that the Reds are tired of Phillips act, and are looking to part with someone they consider a malcontent.

Is that truly the type of player that the Royals would want to introduce into a young clubhouse? Phillips has had his moments of controversy previously, most famously when he referred to the Cardinals as “little bitches” in 2010. However, Phillips is a player who not only plays hard, but will also play hurt, willing to do what it takes to be on the field and help his team win. While Phillips is no longer the 20/20 player of his youth, he has hit exactly 18 home runs in each of his last four seasons, while providing excellent offense from second base. Even though Phillips had a down year in 2013 by his standards, his .261/.310/.396 batting line with 18 homers is still light years ahead of the .243/.296/.304 line that the Royals got from second base last year.

Another facet of Phillips game, which seemingly goes without notice, is his defensive capability. Phillips has won four Gold Gloves, including three in the past four seasons. He has consistently ranked among the league leaders in most defensive categories at second, and even ranks 17th all time in fielding percentage. Pairing Phillips with Alcides Escobar in the middle of the infield could be a major benefit to the pitching staff.

Brandon Phillips may not have been a player that was on the radar for the Royals until recently, but he could solidify not just second base, but the middle of the Royals lineup. It will be interesting to see what happens with Phillips now in Cincinnati.

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  • Cartimo

    The problem with players who start getting big money is that their head also gets big. Its like they become a look but don’t touch object.

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  • KingofKauff

    Certainly an upgrade, but cut those home runs in half with the kauffman factor and we are paying a whole lot for decent production. The NL central stadiums are band boxes in comparison. CHC, MIL, CINC. I used to live in cincinnati, my 12 yr old son could launch balls to all fields and his name is not Prince.

  • jimfetterolf

    Not that huge an upgrade over Bonifacio, expensive, and will require a trade. Bear in mind that Ned Yost isn’t under oath when he talks to Bob and has a habit of using the media for misdirection.

    • DownUnderFan

      Your saying Ned does not always speak the truth? Shocking!

      • jimfetterolf

        He’s under no obligation to. What is shocking is how many folks don’t realize that. That’s just basic negotiation tactic, both he and Dayton Moore keep their cards close to the vest.

  • metalhead65

    the reason his average was down even though he never complained about it was the pitch he took on the fore arm in june. he was batting above .300 at the time,he only missed 4 games but was never the same after. plus it would be nice to see what he could do at 1 spot in the order for a change instead being moved from second to cleanup to leadoff in the order like he has been the last 2 years. and screw your metrics the man is the best defensive second baseman in the N.L. if not baseball. the reds would be stupid to trade him because he hurt some fat sports writers feelings.

  • DownUnderFan

    Royals could acquire Phillips, but at what cost on the Royals side. Cincinnati is just not going to give him away and the Royals strengths are also the Reds so will be difficult to figure out what the Reds want that KC has in trade.

    And then there is the money; $12 to $15M per year over the next 4 years. Is David Glass willing to pay that money for a 2nd baseman who could easily flop in that period. Think Jose Guillen.

    I would at least talk to Cincinnati about what they would want, but they would also have to eat some salary in the process and even then, they don’t get a Zimmer, Mondesi or Bonifacio (the younger) in the deal.

  • DownUnderFan

    BTW, Phillips would be a HUGE upgrade on Bonifacio (the older) at 2nd base. He is better defensively, has more power and hits better in critical situations.

    I for one would not count on Emilio to put up 2012′s two month numbers over a full season either.

    But the real issue is Phillips would cost nearly 3 times the price of Bonifacio. Guess it comes down to what David Glass is willing to spend to get him and whether Phillips adds enough to get the Royals into the playoffs.

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