Brandon Phillips is a good player, one of the best players for the Cincinnati Reds. Yet he continually disappoints fans with his lack of hustle.
Case in point: Tuesday night against the New York Mets.
Phillips laces a pitch off the left- center field wall that ended up taking a weird bounce. Had he been hustling, Phillips would have easily cruised into third with a triple. Instead he admired his hit and managed to only make it to second.
Joey Votto followed Phillips with a deep drive to left-center. Had Phillips been on third he would have been able to trot home on sacrifice fly. Not a big deal? The Mets beat the Reds by one run.
“He’s been talked to about this,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve talked to Brandon quite often".
Phillips is one of the Reds best players. He plays outstanding defense at second base, and has a Golden Glove to show for it. He has been a career .274 hitter for the Reds and is very durable, having battled various finger and wrist injuries throughout his Redlegs tenure. He's the only Red to play every inning this year.
But he is not the leader the Reds need.
He has claimed in the past of his desire to be the "face of the franchise", and how he wants to play the rest of his career in Cincinnati. Sure, he busts out that huge grin for the annual Reds van PR campaign. He does his part in the community to ensure the Reds maintain a positive image with it's fans.
Unfortunately, he simply doesn't lead by example on the field.
"I guess he’s better than he used to be. We’re trying to get him to the point where he can be a big difference maker every day. He certainly has the skill and ability,” said Baker.
Better than he used to be?? Last year he was called out in a series against the Royals for missing a sign. He was also criticized for lack of hustle on another deep hit that could have been a double or triple. Instead, Phillips got a single out of it.
There is no need to admire the ball you hit Brandon, that's what replays on the scoreboard and game tape are for. The Reds are bad enough on offense as it is (.238 team average), they need every base they can get.
Joey Votto and Scott Rolen hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning of the Mets game, and both players practically sprinted around the bases. Was this a direct signal from the true leaders of the team to Phillips?
Baker has always been a "player's manager," and it really does show with the way he handles Phillips. A day after the gaffe he was once again in the starting lineup, business as usual.
“What’s tough as a manager is when you’ve got an A-student who’s getting Bs,” Baker said.
Time to put Phillips in detention for a few games until he learns his lesson. But will he even get the message?
History says no.