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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Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.