Brandon Phillips: Should the Cincinnati Reds Shop Their Star Second Baseman?

Illya Harrell@illya_1971Analyst IIApril 13, 2010

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 07:  Brandon Phillips #4 of the Cincinnati Reds runs the bases against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 7, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Reds 4-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In no way is this a knock against Brandon Phillips. He's the best all-around player on the Reds' roster.

People fortunate enough to watch him regularly know he should be shipped the Gold Glove Award before each of the next 11 seasons.

Phillips easily deserves more than the one he has received, but playing in a small market will do that.

He's got pop. He's got speed. He's got a million-dollar smile, and Cincinnati loves him.

Simply put, he is one of the best second basemen in the majors.

In his fifth year with the Reds the only criticism ever heard is that he doesn't always bust tail down the line. Reds' skipper Dusty Baker has had a couple of chats concerning that lack of hustle.

Seems like Phillips just needs to be reminded every now and then.

So why even think about trading a guy locked into a fairly reasonable contract? The morale of both the team and the city would no doubt take a severe beating in a year when many think the Reds should contend for a playoff berth.

Nonetheless, here's a case for the Phillips trade:

• The Reds could dump a non-producing former star with a huge contract along with Phillips to a team that spends like Marge Simpson at a slot machine (e.g., Boston or the Yanks).

• There is no lack of depth down on the farm.

• Phillips' contract explodes next season, from $6.75 million to $11 million.

• For a guy with Phillips' speed, he does not get on base enough, and he strikes out way too much.

First off, scratch the Yanks from the list, as they already have Robinson Cano at second and some guy named Derek Jeter at short.

That brings us to the BoSox. Sure they have Dustin Pedroia filling the No. 4 spot on the scorecard, but Phillips is a natural shortstop, and the Red Sox made one of the dumbest free-agent signings of the offseason when they inked Marco Scutaro to a deal. Give Boston two months and their fans will be clamoring for a new shortstop.

Enter Brandon Phillips and Aaron Harang. Yes, his last start was nice. But seriously, Reds fans, don't get used to it.

If the Reds deal in two months, they would get rid of $8.4 million in Harang, and save about $15 million due Phillips this and next season.

As a salary-dump trade, just pillage the Sox system for kids to join the Reds' already-strong youth choir.

Speaking of the youth choir, Todd Frazier is more than capable of playing an adequate second base.

It would have been nice to see him get more than 28 at-bats during the spring. Frazier, the 24-year-old who has played every position besides Cracker Jack salesman, is a career .296 minor league batter—.302 at Triple-A Louisville last season.

Plus, he isn't a Phillips-like free swinger. Throughout Phillips' major league career he has struck out 461 times versus only 172 walks. To his credit, over the last three seasons his strikeout totals have declined (109, 93, 75).

His walks have remained stagnant.

The question boils down: Will Brandon Phillips be worth $11 million next season? If not, what's to keep the Reds from dealing him and Harang this season?

Don't worry, Reds' fans, this is less likely than all of those dead fellows from Field of Dreams showing up in your living room to watch tonight's ball game.