Tag: Brandon Phillips

baseball grass

Looking ahead to the second half of the season


The All-Star Game is over and, though nearly 100 games of the 162-game season have already been played by most teams, we refer to what happens next as baseball’s second half. And we traditionally take this day — maybe the slowest sports day of the year — to look forward to that second half and see what it holds.

Some contenders are pretenders and some teams which claim to be buyers at the trade deadline probably actually won’t be. Let’s sort it all out.


  • American League East

The Orioles sport a four-game lead and look to be the least-poorly-put-together team in a division in which every team has a flaw. The Rays are hot right now but they dug themselves a pretty big hole. Plus, as I’ll note below, winning could actually complicate their trade deadline plans. Trades will probably loom larger here than anywhere, as either the Orioles, Jays or Yankees getting a starting pitcher could change the complexion of the race. Well, maybe the Yankees could use three starting pitchers with the way things have gone for them, but the fact is that there is no dominant team here and anything could happen.

  • American League Central

This is the Tigers’ division. Everyone else is just living in it. The Royals dropped three of four to Detroit at home leading into the break and lack the consistency on offense, it seems, to mount any kind of sustained challenge. Not that the Tigers are invincible. The rotation seems more vulnerable than it has in recent years, particularly Justin Verlander’s slot, and as always, Detroit will use the second half to try to figure out the best way to deploy its bullpen resources.

  • American League West

The A’s are the best team in baseball and they sent more All-Stars to Minnesota than anyone. But, there they sit, only a game and a half up on the Angels, who have been fantastic this year to much quieter fanfare. And despite the fact that the Angels have a large lead as the top wild card team and a 90%+ chance of reaching the playoffs, they have a big incentive to actually win the division here. That’s because, if the season ended today, they’d play the Mariners in a one-game wild card playoff. The Mariners have Felix Hernandez, and if you have to win one game to survive you do NOT want to face Felix Hernandez to do it.

  • National League East

The Braves and Nats are in a virtual tie for the lead and no one else is particualrly close, but it sorta feels like the Braves have already lost their best chance to win this thing. The Nats were hurt and often looked confused in the first half, but Atlanta didn’t put any distance between them. Now the Nationals are getting healthy and, one feels anyway, like they’ll slowly start to build distance between themselves and Atlanta. One key to all of this, of course, is how hurt Jordan Zimmermann is. He missed the All-Star Game due to a bicep strain. Is that a cause for concern or wass it one of those “get me out of the All-Star-Game free” cards?

  • National League Central

This is gonna be crazy. The Brewers jumped out to a big lead and then slowly surrendered it, skidding into the All-Star Break. The Cardinals, Pirates and Reds started poorly and then righted their respective ships and now all four of these contenders are separated by only three and a half games. The key here is probably going to be health. The Brewers may have less overall talent than the other three teams, but they’re healthier. Yadier Molina, Michael Wacha, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Aroldis Chapman are all key parts of the two most-talented teams which will be out of commission for a while. The Pirates probably have the division’s best player in Andrew McCuthen, but they have the biggest deficit too. If you were trying to properly weigh these teams like they were Pinewood Derby cars in an effort to create a total toss-up of a race for the second half, it’d be harder to do a better job than the fates have done here. Sit back and enjoy it as this chaos unfold.

  • National League West

A one game lead looks close, but these are teams heading in different directions. The Giants’ big early lead was built on a lot of unexpected power that didn’t seem sustainable and wasn’t. The Dodgers’ rotation is frankly ridiculous and, if they want to be total jerks about it, they have the talent and financial resources from which to trade and get more pitching. Or, if you’re the suspicious type, to keep pitching from going elsewhere. They could use the bullpen help, actually. If 2010 and 2012 meant anything it meant that you can never count out the Giants, but I sorta feel like counting out the Giants at the moment.


  • Gridlock

Don’t expect a lot to happen until the 11th hour before the trade deadline, as parity and the second wild card have created a situation in which far more teams believe they can win than in years past and are thus looking to be buyers. Or at least wanting to appear like they’re buyers for as long as possible so as not to signal to their fans that they’re throwing in the towel, thus leading to a drop in ticket sales.

  • The David Price Drama

He’s obviously the biggest name rumored to be on the block, but the Rays are always a bit hard to figure. They are winning an awful lot lately and, at least publicly, are talking like a team which thinks it can contend. If so, they may not be so eager to trade their best player. But that may be bluster, of course — I tend to think it is — and the Rays may very well be trying to shoot the moon in a deal. The Cubs got a tremendous prospect in Addison Russell when they traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics. Given that example the Rays will likely want one — or, more likely, two — top prospects for Price. In an age where prospects are valued insanely highly — probably too highly — it may be difficult for another team to pull the trigger on that kind of deal. This one likely goes to the wire.

  • Bullpen arms are the most likely things to move

Well, the bodies attached to them too. Everyone could use a bullpen upgrade, always. Even teams with great bullpens. There are never enough arms to go around, it seems, but bullpen arms are reasonably priced enough that they tend to get traded often. I would expect most of the moves we see happen be the shuffling around of relief pitchers, most of whom aren’t household names.

  • Teams likely to be the most aggressive buyers

Yankees, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Braves and Giants. All of them either are or, in the Yankees case, think they are, contenders with a flaw or an injury which needs to be addressed and all of them are teams which have shown in the past that they will make a big deal if they need to. The Royals and Mariners, on the other hand, are teams that could use a player but which, historically, have not been too eager to add payroll or enter into blockbusters.

  • Players besides David Price most likely to move

Cliff Lee, Chase Headley, Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn, Erik Bedard, Matt Joyce, Dexter Fowler, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jake Peavy. Bats are in short supply and Headley and Willingham are talked about as candidates to move every year it seems. Eventually they have to be moved, right? The rest of the guys are either playing for losers or are close to walking in free agency.

It’s a two and a half month sprint to the finish, folks. Check back to HardballTalk every day between now and the end of the season for help in sorting out this wonderful, beautiful and unwieldily mess of a baseball season.



Reds hope to get Joey Votto back for the “stretch run”

Votto Getty

After missing a month earlier this season with a distal left quadriceps strain, Reds first baseman Joey Votto returned to the disabled list earlier this week with a recurrence of the very same injury. According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds team medical director Tim Kremchek said this afternoon that while Votto’s return isn’t exactly imminent, the hope is that platelet-rich plasma injections will allow him to come back healthier than before and contribute during the second half.

When asked for context for what Kremchek meant by “stretch run,” Fay writes that the Reds are hoping to have Votto back for the final five or six weeks of the regular season. In other words, he’s likely to miss at least another month.

Brandon Phillips had thumb surgery yesterday and is expected to miss around 4-6 weeks, so the Reds should be in the market for infield depth before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Ramon Santiago is the top internal option to fill in at second base now that Skip Schumaker is on the 7-day concussion disabled list. Meanwhile, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Brayan Pena, and the newly-recalled Neftali Soto figure to split playing time at first base.

Skip Schumaker placed on concussion disabled list

Skip Schumaker Getty

Brandon Phillips underwent surgery yesterday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and now the Reds will be without one of the potential options to fill in at second base.

Skip Schumaker was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list prior to last night’s game. The 34-year-old utility man displayed symptoms after slammed into the right field wall while trying to catch Luis Valbuena’s two-run triple in the 12th inning of Thursday’s game.

With Joey Votto also sidelined, the Reds are going to have to be creative with the right side of their infield. Last night, they used Ramon Santiago to fill in at second base while Jay Bruce made another start at first base.

After joining the Reds on a two-year, $5 million contract over the winter, Schumaker is batting .240/.287/.315 with one home run and 14 RBI over 47 games this season.

Brandon Phillips needs surgery for a torn thumb ligament

Brandon Phillips

UPDATE: Rosenthal now says Phillips has a torn thumb ligament that will require surgery, which means he’s likely looking at the same 8-12 week recovery timetable as Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.


Cincinnati’s injury woes keep getting worse, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips will be “out a while” with a ligament issue and possible tear in his left thumb.

Phillips suffered the injury yesterday while trying to field an Anthony Rizzo ground ball at second base and walked off the field with a Reds trainer holding his hand to stabilize it.

Phillips has played an average of 150 games per season since 2006 and has missed just five games this year, but at age 33 his OPS has fallen to .701 for his lowest mark since joining the Reds and he’s swiped just one base all year.

Cincinnati is already without former MVP Joey Votto, who re-injured his quadriceps muscle to put him back on the disabled list.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Diamondbacks 4, Marlins 3: Tied 1-1 into the tenth and the Marlins put up two in the top of the inning. The Dbacks rallied, though, with Paul Goldschmidt hitting a walkoff two-run double.

Angels 8, Blue Jays 7: Albert Pujols hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh. The Angels’ pen did a nice job of picking up C.J. Wilson who gave up six runs (some unearned) and couldn’t make it out of the fourth.

Tigers 4, Dodgers 1: No Miguel Cabrera, no Victor Martinez, no problem. Max Scherzer stymied the Dodgers. Some sweet defense helped too, as the Dodgers’ first inning threat was put down by Eugenio Suarez caught Yasiel Puig napping and third and nailed him with a snap throw and Rajai Davis made a sliding catch in left.

Mets 4, Braves 1: Dillion Gee gave up one run over seven innings in his first start in two months. The Braves have now lost four straight following a nine-game winning streak to fall out of first place.

Rockies 6, Padres 3: Two homers for Tulo. Five homers overall for Colorado. The Padres seeing that kind of offensive outburst had to be like a caveman being transported to the 21st century in a time machine and seeing modern technology.

Twins 8, Mariners 1: The Twins scored eight runs by the time the fourth inning was over. According to the game story, the Twins players wanted to keep scoring: “We had guys screaming in the dugout, `It’s not illegal to score 10 runs!’ manager Ron Gardenhire said.” It’s a shame no one told them about the Restoring Pitching Act of 2013, which was passed in a bipartisan fashion. You’ll note that no one violated that law last night.

Astros 8, Rangers 4: The Astros sweep the Rangers and have moved past them into fourth place in the AL West, at least by percentage points. Robbie Grossman and George Springer homered for the Astros.

Giants 5, Athletics 2: San Francisco finally takes one from Oakland as the series moves to the west side of the bay. Jason Hammel takes the loss in his A’s debut.

Royals 5, Rays 4: Sal Perez brought K.C. back with a three-run homer in the ninth. The Royals now have a four game series against Detroit at home to take them into the break. They’re four and a half back of the Tigers. Pretty big stuff here.

Phillies 4 ,Brewers 1: Not a great time for the Brewers to drop three in a row to the lowly Phillies. Their lead in the Central is now down to two over the Cardinals and two and a half over the surging Reds.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 2: No walkoff win this time, but still a win. Bad news, though, as Yadier Molina sprained his right thumb and had to have an MRI after the game. The results should be known this morning. They really can’t afford to lose him.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Red Sox 5, White Sox 4: Sox win. Boston was down 4-0 in the eighth when Chris Sale got chased, but then rallied for five runs over the final two innings. One of Sale’s runners scored and then the White Sox pen couldn’t lock it down in the ninth. Daniel Nave and Brock Holt had the big hits in the ninth.

Nationals 6, Orioles 2: Doug Fister allowed two runs over seven innings and Washington hit three solo homers.

Reds 4, Cubs 1: A win, but a costly one for Cincy as they lose Billy Hamilton to a tweaked hamstring and as they watched Brandon Phillips roll over his left hand while attempting to make a play on an Anthony Rizzo grounder in the top of the eighth. Not great as the Pirates loom this weekend.

Yankees 5, Indians 4: Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out homer in the 14th inning caps a long, otherwise bad day for the Yankees. I mean, Masahiro Tanaka is apparently dead (source: rumors) and Carlos Beltran broke his nose during batting practice. Losing this game wouldn’t have been the worst thing that happened all day, but still.