Brandon Phillips’ interview with MLB.com was noted mostly for his “how the [expletive] am I declining” comment, but John Fay of Cincinnati.com notes that Phillips is either lying or deluded about something else too: the source of his beef with local reporters.
Phillips is not talking to the four daily beat guys who cover the Reds because, he says, they have noted his struggles without noting that he was hit by a pitch on the wrist last June and that that injury may very well have been the source of his struggles. Fay calls Phillips’ b.s. out for what it is:
Phillips can talk or not talk. That doesn’t matter to me. There will be 24 players on the roster who will talk. But the notion that we didn’t write about his injury is blatantly false.
It was mentioned over and over again.
Fay gives examples. And, personally speaking, I remember such comments from him, Mark Sheldon, C. Trent Rosecrans and Hal McCoy, who Phillips is also boycotting.
Fay is mostly diplomatic here, talking about how Phillips may have a big year and saying that fairness dictates that reporters mention the injury as a reason for Phillips’ decline. Frankly, I think they can and should be more pointed with Phillips over this than they are, but credit to Fay and his colleagues for taking the high road.
But kudos, too, for Fay not doing what a lot of writers who deal with difficult players do, which is to remain silent and allow the player to dictate the (false) terms of a given controversy. One can and probably should let a player be delusional if he wants to be, but one should not stand by when those delusions serve to cast aspersions on others.
Good job, Mr. Fay.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.