Brandon Phillips' trash talk comes back to bite

5 Comments

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.

Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your HBT updates here.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

Getty Images
1 Comment

It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.