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.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.