Brandon Phillips' trash talk comes back to bite

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Brandon Phillips is flashy and likes to live large.

He drives a custom Audi with purple paint and Gold Gloves on the wheels, and he blames his sweet ride for his recent reckless driving charge. (“I really didn’t know how fast I was going. That’s how powerful the car is.”)

The Cincinnati Reds’ All-Star second baseman also likes to talk, and he leveled some choice words at the St. Louis Cardinals before Monday’s game between the top two teams in the NL Central.

“I’d play against these guys on one leg,” Phillips insisted before the game. “We have to beat these guys. All they do is bitch and moan about everything — all of them. They’re little bitches — all of them.

“I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love the Chicago Cubs. Let me make this clear: I hate the Cardinals.”

We got the message, loud and clear, and there’s nothing wrong with injecting a little spice into a division race that has until recently flown below the radar.

The problem for Phillips is that a response came quickly and with much authority as the Cardinals responded with a 7-3 romp on Monday night to pull within a game of the division lead.

Even worse, Tony La Russa used Phillips’ quote in a clever ploy to drive a wedge between Phillips and his Reds teammates. La Russa told Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“I don’t think that will go over well in his clubhouse,” La Russa said. “Phillips is ripping his teammates. (Scott) Rolen, Edmonds, (Miguel) Cairo, (Russ) Springer, all of the ex-Cardinals over there. He isn’t talking about this year. He’s talking about the way we’ve always played. And those guys are old Cardinals. Tell him he’s ripping his own teammates, because they were all Cardinals.”

Oooh snap!

For the record, Phillips was 0-for-5 with a strikeout on Monday.  Lucky for him, he has two more games to back up his talk.

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Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.