Brandon Phillips gives a ball to a heckling fan signed “Dear Drunk Guy . . .”

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Brandon Phillips doesn’t take actual fact-based criticism very well sometimes, but he’s a pretty good sport about drunk hecklers.

Wednesday night, the Reds-Pirates game was a soggy affair, which pretty much emptied out PNC Park. One of the people who stayed was a Pirates fan, who decided to heckle Reds players pretty continuously. Since the park was empty, the players heard him loud and clear. One of them was Brandon Phillips who smiled at the jeering and then, after the game, did something fun. From the Pirates’ fan brother over at Reddit:

. . . after the game, Brandon Phillips runs over and hands my brother this ball. He said Mr. Phillips was completely cool about the whole thing. We’re Pirates fans, but I’ll be rooting for the Reds as long as is doesn’t mess with Pittsburgh’s chances at a pennant.

This is what he wrote on the ball-

Dear Drunk Guy, Thank You 4 All The Love & Support!! Now Take This Ball And Shut The Phuck Up!! 🙂

From Yours Truly,

Brandon Phillips

A pic of the ball can be seen here and here. Here’s a pic of Phillips with the fan.

Just another fun night at the ballpark.

(Thank to Allison for the heads up)

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.