Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips wants a long-term contract extension, but do the Reds?

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Brandon Phillips said yesterday that he’d “love to get an extension” from the Reds, telling John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that “it would be nice to be here for the rest of my career” and “I want to know a guarantee instead of a possibility.”

So why haven’t the two sides worked something out already? General manager Walt Jocketty told Fay that he’s had some communication with Phillips’ agent, but with the second baseman under contract for this season at $11 million and the Reds holding a $12 million option or $1 million buyout on him for 2012 there’s really no huge rush to get a new deal done.

Presumably any long-term extension would likely start at $11-$12 million per season and the Reds may not be so keen on keeping Phillips at that price after opening up their wallet for some younger building blocks this offseason.

In five seasons with the Reds he’s averaged 21 homers and 24 steals while playing very good defense at second base, but Phillips’ overall production has been less than spectacular with a .275 batting average, .326 on-base percentage, and .447 slugging percentage. During the past three seasons his .764 OPS ranks tied for 10th among all second basemen with Orlando Hudson, who signed a two-year, $11.5 milllion deal with the Padres this winter.

Hudson is a couple years older than Phillips, so it’s not a perfect comparison, but Phillips-like production can usually be had for significantly less than $12 million per season, not to mention a long-term commitment. Phillips is 30 years old and has slugged just .407 away from the Reds’ hitter-friendly ballpark during the past three seasons. He’s a very good all-around player and has been worth $12 million in most seasons so far, but the Reds may not want to pay him like that into his mid-30s and it would be tough to blame them.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.