Tag:Brandon Phillips
Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 1:09 pm
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Pepper: @DatDudeBP leads MLB tweeters

By C. Trent Rosecrans



BASEBALL TODAY:
CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to talk about Derek Jeter, but also notes these games against the Yankees are not just big for Jeter's chase of 3,000 but also vital for the Rays. There's also the Braves-Phillies series, but Danny points out why that may not be as big of a series.

TWITTER 140: Our own @JamesonFleming put together the sports world's top 140 Twitter users and the Cincinnati Reds' Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP) comes in as baseball's best Twitter user.

Phillips didn't start using Twitter until this offseason, but has embraced the technology, holding contests for fans and also taking suggestions on restaurants and off-day activities. Earlier this season, a teen asked Phillips to come to his baseball game on a day the Reds were off, and Phillips stopped by. He also sent a pair fans to spring training and then another pair to San Francisco for the Reds' games at AT&T Park.

He has even won over some Cardinals fans, an amazing feat considering Cardinal nation's distaste for the Reds second baseman, who last year used not-so-nice words to describe Tony La Russa's club.

Florida's Logan Morrison (@LoMoMarlins) is fourth on the list and the second baseball player. Brewers closer John Axford (@JohnAxford) is the third MLB player in the Top 10.

LAST ONE THE TOUGHEST: George Brett told the Associated Press he thought the last hit would be the toughest for Derek Jeter in his quest for 3,000. Of course, Brett reached the mark with a four-hit game. Brett also said he wasn't sure how many more players would reach the milestone.

"Is that desire still going to be there when they're worth $250 million when they're 37 years old?" Brett said.

GOTTA BE THE SHOES: Jeter will be wearing special shoes for his 3,000th hit, and you can get a matching pair. Yahoo!'s Big League Stew has all the details on the details of the shoes.

JETER'S BALLS: One more Jeter entry -- a look at the special baseballs that MLB will use to try to track Jeter's 3,000th hit. [BizofBaseball.com]

CARDS LOCK UP GARCIA?: There are reports from the radio station partially owned by the Cardinals that say the team has reached a four-year deal with two option years with left-hander Jaime Garcia. The deal would cover all three arbitration years and one year of free agency for the 25-year-old Garcia. He's 8-3 this season with a 3.23 ERA and is 22-12 with a  3.07 ERA in his career. [MLB.com]

HARPER STILL TOPS: Baseball America released its Midseason Top 50 Prospects List, and the Nationals' Bryce Harper leads the list, followed by Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Rays' lefty Matt Moore.

ALL-STAR SWITCH: Royals right-hander Aaron Crow may have made the All-Star team as a reliever, but Kansas City manager Ned Yost sees the team's former first-rounder as a starter down the line, as soon as next spring. [MLB.com]

DOCTOR MAY NAME NAMES: Canadian Dr. Anthony Galea has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States to treat athletes, and he may be pressed to give the names of athletes he treated and gave illegal drugs. Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran of the Mets are among the players who have been treated by Galea in the past. [New York Times]

BORAS SPEAKS AT SABR: Super-agent Scott Boras talked of his love of baseball at the Society for American Baseball Research's annual conference on Thursday. Boras talked about his first superstar -- a cow on his family's farm. [Orange County Register]

SCHILLING TALKS PEDS: Former All-Star Curt Schilling went on a Philadelphia radio station Wednesday and said that no "team in the last 20 years that's won clean." Schilling said he thinks the recent decline in offensive numbers are because of MLB's testing policies. [SportsRadioInterviews.com]

NO TAPE MEASURE NEEDED: Ever wonder how they calculate home-run distances so quickly? There's a chart, of course, but how is that chart made? Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has that story.

CRADLE OF MANAGERS: The Kansas City A's didn't produce a lot of wins, but they did produce their fair share of managers. Tommy Lasorda, Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog, Joe Morgan (not the Hall of Famer, but the former Red Sox manager), Dick Williams, Hank Bauer, Dick Howser and Tony La Russa all played for the A's in KC. Two of the game's more successful coaches, Dave Duncan and Charlie Lau, also played for the A's during their stint in Kansas City. [Joe Posnanski]

SLUGGER EMPATHY: Twins designated hitter Jim Thome said it wasn't his place to comment on Adam Dunn's struggles, but said he did empathize with the struggling Chicago DH. "As a guy who swings and misses and has struck out a ton, it's hard," Thome told the Chicago Tribune. "When you can have success and are blessed to play a long time and [then go through] those periods, it's tough."

NO STARS FOR ALL-STARS: Major League Baseball has added stars to the uniforms of All-Stars, but apparently the designations are purely optional, as the Cardinals' three All-Stars declined to take part to keep their uniforms uniform. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

STARLING UNDECIDED: The Royals took a gamble when they picked prep outfielder Bubba Starling with the fifth overall pick in last month's draft, as Starling is also a top-flight quarterback committed to Nebraska. Starling told the Kansas City Star he hasn't decided whether he's going to play football for Nebraska or sign with the Royals for millions of dollars. Starling said he's going to Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday and will work out with the team, but won't enroll in classes for the summer.

SAVES RECORD: You need more evidence they keep stats for everything? Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has set the record for most first-half saves by a rookie. Kimbrel's 27th save Thursday broke the record of 26 set by Boston's Jonathan Papelbon in 2006. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

LAWRIE PROGRESSING: Just before he was scheduled to be called up in May, Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie suffered a broken hand after being hit by a pitch. Lawrie began hitting off a tee earlier this week, and he's improving. The team doesn't expect him to be able to play in games until August. [MLB.com]

ROYAL SHAME: The Royals have once again taken the cheap route in their tribute to the Nergro Leagues, ditching the vintage uniforms. While there are many good signs for the Royals' future, this is a reminder that David Glass is still the owner. [Kansas City Star]

MYTHBUSTER: Scientists are using a lab at Washington State to measure some baseball physics. Among the findings, corked bats don't work, humidors do, and the balls from 2004 performed the same as a ball from the late 70s. [Popular Mechanics]

REMEMBERING BUDDIN: Former Red Sox shortstop Dan Buddin died last week. He's remembered mostly for not being very good -- he averaged 30 errors a year and didn't hit very well, either. A really good remembrance by FanGraphs.com's Alex Remington on the man Boston booed.

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 7:18 pm
 

On Deck: Pujols back, not in lineup



By C. Trent Rosecrans


SUPERMAN'S BACK: Albert Pujols is back after missing a little more than two weeks with a broken bone in his wrist. He's not starting tonight, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him pinch-hit at some point. Pujols is 4 for 10 with two homers in his career against Reds starter Edinson Volquez. Reds left-fielder Jonny Gomes is 4 for 8 with two doubles in his career against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia. However, the Reds' two-through-five hitters (Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce) have combined to hit just .179 (7 for 39) against the Cardinals left-hander. Reds at Cardinals, 7:09 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Ryan BraunBRAUN, TOO: Brewers left-fielder Ryan Braun is back after missing two games with a strained left calf will miss his third game and will not be available to play at all Tuesday. Braun has a 22-game hitting streak that will resume when he does. It's too bad for the Brewers that Braun isn't playing tonight, as he is hitting .366/.418/.573 with three homers during the streak. Braun is 7 for 19 with two homers in his career against Diamondbacks starter Zach Duke. Duke is 4-7 with a 6.14 ERA in seven starts at Miller Park and the Brewers haven't lost back-to-back games at home this season. Diamondbacks at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Justin VerlanderDan HarenBEST MATCHUP: Justin Verlander may be the game's best pitcher right now and will look to prove it by becoming the first 12-game winner in baseball (although the Yankees' CC Sabathia will have a chance earlier in the night). Verlander is 11-3 with a 2.32 ERA and was 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA in June. He faces off against Dan Haren, who has four wins in his last six outings after suffering a seven-start winless streak. Haren was dominating in his last start, allowing just two hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Nationals, and is 8-5 with a 2.85 ERA this season. He's even better at home where he has just a 3-3 record, but a 2.12 ERA and opponents are batting .090 points lower against him at Angel Stadium than on the road. Tigers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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Posted on: July 4, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Picking the game's best defensive players

Alcides Escobar

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The All-Star Game is supposed to showcase the game's best players, but when it comes to position players, we all know offense trumps all. The players with the best offensive numbers are headed to Phoenix next week.

Defense gets its due after the season with the Gold Gloves, but too often those are rooted in offensive numbers, as well. So, while everyone is focused on batting average, home run totals and OPS, I prefer to look at the guys getting it done on D.

Of course, one of the reasons we focus on offense is it's just easier to look at and interpret those numbers. The quantification of baseball defense is still one of the great last frontiers of statistical analysis -- there are attempts at advanced numbers measuring defense and even some very good, useful ones. But even with UZR/150, plus/minus, runs saved and range factor, it's tough to fully appreciate defense without watching a player day-in and day-out.

Even the best metrics can't tell the whole story, but they do have a start. One of the best stats for defense, UZR -- or Ultimate Zone Rating -- doesn't exactly tell  the whole story even after an entire season's worth of data. At this point, UZR gives just a snapshot. That's why I'll use UZR/150 -- UZR rate per 150 games. I also looked at John Dewan's plus/minus system and runs saved stats.

We here at Eye On Baseball watch a lot of baseball, but it's still tough to get a real good handle on all the defensive players in baseball, so I'll use my observations plus statistics, both advanced and traditional in picking the game's best fielders.

Matt WietersC: Catcher is one of the toughest positions to judge -- or at least quantify -- because it's so much different than all the other positions on the field. Catcher is easily the most demanding defensive position on the field. The likes of Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz are known as the gold standard for catcher's defense, but I'm going with a young player who has showed incredible improvement and proven to be one of the best in the game, and that's Baltimore's Matt Wieters.

Check out this play from April, it's one that's stuck with me all year, as Wieters blocks the plate from Derek Jeter.

Adrian Gonzalez1B: Defense is often taken for granted at first base because it's assumed it's not an important position and just a place to stick a slugger. Well, Boston's Adrian Gonzalez is a slugger, but he's also one of the game's best all-around players. A good first baseman -- and Gonzalez is certainly that -- makes the entire defense better. He leads the way in UZR/150 at 11.6 and has just two errors this season. 

Brandon Phillips2B: This one is tough for me, because I believe in the numbers, but I also believe in my eyes. Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist is beloved by the advanced metrics, logging a 20.4 UZR/150 and a +11 plus/minus, easily the best at second base in both categories. However, it's tough to go against the Reds' Brandon Phillips, who I've seen most days for the last four years. Phillips not only makes the spectacular plays, but he also makes the routine ones. The two-time Gold Glove winner has just two errors to Zobrist's five. Dustin Pedroia is also in the conversation, with a +4 plus/minus and an 18.5 UZR/150, but my eyes tell me it's tough to play much better at second base than Phillips. In this one, I'm going with my gut (it's bigger than my brain anyway) and picking Phillips.

Alcides EscobarSS: It's tough to imagine the difference the Royals see in defense at shortstop this season, going from one of the game's worst defenders in Yuniesky Betancourt to Alcides Escobar, who has been exceptional at short (the opposite could be said about the Brewers). Escobar has seven errors -- just two fewer than Betancourt, but his range is outstanding. He leads all shortstop with 285 assists and second with 58 double plays. As for the advanced metrics, he and Troy Tulowitzki both grade out with a 14.2 UZR/150 and Escobar edges the Rockies' shortstop in Dewan's plus/minus, +17 to +13. Tulowitzki is by far a better all-around player, but Escobar gets the nod here by the slightest of margins.

Alex Rodriguez3B: Alex Rodriguez may be the most scrutinized player of all time, so it's easy to forget just how great of a player he's been throughout his career. Unlike many, his offensive numbers seem to overshadow his defensive prowess. It seems like this season he's been completely healthy for the first time in years and it's showing up in his play at third base. Rodriguez's 21.2 UZR/150 is the best in the game at third base and he has seven fewer errors than the next guy on the list, Adrian Beltre of the Rangers.

Brett GardnerLF: This may be the easiest of all the positional picks, as Brett Gardner has played a nearly flawless left field for the Yankees this season. Gardner combines great speed with good fundamentals to become one of the best defensive players in the game. Gardner dominated the advanced stats, scoring +19 in the Dewan plus/minus system and has a 38.1 UZR/150. He has one error and four assists, as his reputation keeps runners close. Sam Fuld may make more highlights, but Gardner makes more plays.

Shane VictorinoCF: Shane Victorino has played a flawless center field this season, at least according to the official scorers around baseball. Victorino doesn't have an error this season and also has the best UZR/150 of any center fielder in the game at 24.3. Dewan's plus/minus prefers Minnesota's Denard Span, but I'm sticking with the Flying Hawaiian.

Torii HunterRF: Torii Hunter is one of the game's all-time best defensive players, but moved to a new position last season with the emergence of Peter Bourjos in center field. Hunter's gone from one of the game's great defensive center fielders to maybe its best right fielder. Hunter has a +16 in Dewan's plus/minus, while UZR/150 likes him less than Shin-Soo Choo or J.D. Drew. Add in the error-less performance this season, gets the nod. We've seen so many of his great catchers over the years, but he's been able to show off his arm in right this season, picking up eight assists so far this season.

Mark BuehrleP: White Sox starter Mark Buehrle has won the last two American League Gold Gloves as a pitcher and certainly deserves those honors. His 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame belies a very good athlete, who covers a lot of ground in front of his mound. The left-hander then makes strong, accurate throws, just as you'd expect from a pitcher.



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Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 3:39 pm
 

National League pitchers and reserves

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols may be back before the All-Star Game, the Cardinals said on Saturday, but he won't be on the All-Star team. Here's the rest of the National League team:

National League

Pitchers

Jonny Venters, Braves (players' pick)

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (players' pick)

Cole Hamels, Phillies (players' pick)

Jair Jurrjens, Braves (players' pick)

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (players' pick)

Heath Bell, Padres (manager's pick)

Matt Cain, Giants (manager's pick)

Roy Halladay, Phillies (players' pick)

Tim Lincecum, Giants (manager's pick)

Brian Wilson, Giants (players' pick)

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (manager's pick)

Cliff Lee, Phillies (player's pick)

Tyler Clippard, Nationals (manager's pick)

Reserves

OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (manager's pick)

3B Chipper Jones, Braves (players' pick)

SS Starlin Castro, Cubs (manager's pick)

2B Brandon Phillips, Reds (players' pick)

OF Jay Bruce, Reds (players' pick)

1B Joey Votto, Reds (players' pick)

SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (players' pick)

1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins (manager's pick)

OF Hunter Pence, Astros (players' pick)

OF Carlos Beltran, Mets (manager's pick)

OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals (players' pick)

C Yadier Molina, Cardinals (players' pick)

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Posted on: June 28, 2011 1:16 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Ramirez blasts two homers

Ramirez

By Evan Brunell


UpAramis Ramirez, Cubs -- Ramirez blasted two home runs, with Carlos Pena joining in on the fun too. But Ramirez gets the props here for a 3-for-4 showing, scoring three runs and driving in three while adding a double as the Cubs raked Jhoulys Chacin over the coals. Ramirez hasn't been the same the last couple of seasons but is still a quality hitter who was in sore need of a power display such as this, as his slugging percentage prior to the game was at .417. It's up to .446 now.

Brandon Phillips, Reds -- Phillips hadn't been performing up to expectations on offense this season but has turned things around since with his 4-for-5 evening pushing his batting average to .299 after collecting hits in half of his last 32 at-bats. Despite boasting the best run differential in the NL Central, the Reds have scuffled lately. Phillips' hot streak has allowed the Reds to more or less keep pace and are now a half-game behind the Cardinals for first place. The Brewers lead by three games over St. Louis.

Trent Oeltjen, Dodgers -- The 28-year-old Oeltjen, all due respect to him, is nothing more than an average backup outfielder. But Monday he was so much more, ripping four hits in four trips to the plate and making a case to get some more playing time. The Dodgers, who have struggled to find someone to fill left field with any measure of aplomb, will be all too happy to oblige. Despite hitting .350/.440/.650 in 20 at-bats, Oeltjen's career line only increased to .229/.286/.404 in 109 career at-bats.



DownNick Blackburn, Twins -- Blackburn, just like most other Twins pitchers, got raked over the coals Monday, dropping Minnesota's sixth straight game. The right-hander coughed up eight runs, seven earned, in a game the Dodgers would eventually go on to win 15-0. Blackburn got through 4 1/3 innings before he was yanked having given up 13 hits, walking and whiffing one apiece. Of the five Twins pitchers, only one -- Matt Capps -- was unscored upon, while the rest gave up at least two.

Michael Brantley, Indians -- The Indians haven't gotten much for their CC Sabathia trade. Matt La Porta only just claimed the full-time position at first base, but he's sidelined with injury currently and isn't quite a centerpiece. Brantley, meanwhile, hasn't delivered on his leadoff potential, striking out three times in five hitless at-bats against the Diamondbacks to drop his overall line to .272/.335/.392. For a punchless outfielder to start, he has to register a high OBP, which the 24-year-old certainly is not doing. Cleveland absolutely needs to continue playing Brantley, but he doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Sean Burnett, Nationals -- Burnett couldn't give Davey Johnson a win -- or even a tie -- in his return to managing. The Nationals knotted the game at 3-all in the top of the ninth on a Danny Espinosa home run, but Maicer Izturis singled in a run in the bottom 10th to end the game. Burnett, who opened the year as closer and has been demoted to middle relief since, opened the frame by inducing an out, but quickly gave up a single and ground-rule double. Johnson ordered an intentional walk of light-hitting Bobby Wilson to set up a force at every base, but Izturis rendered that moot with a grounder that barely eluded Espinosa at second.

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Posted on: June 27, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Weeks takes over lead at 2B in All-Star voting

Rickie Weeks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Brewers are closing strong, not only on the field but also in All-Star voting, as Rickie Weeks has taken over the lead from the Reds' Brandon Phillips at second base and Prince Fielder has overtaken Cincinnati's Joey Votto for second at first base, both behind the injured Albert Pujols.

Pujols is unlikely to be healthy for the July 12 game in Phoenix, so the starting nod will go to the second-place finisher. Fielder has 2,903,584 votes with Votto just behind at 2,832,857.

Voting is now online only and goes through Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Weeks leads Phillips by 78,397 votes.

The rest of the leaders remain unchanged -- Philadelphia's Placido Polanco at third base, Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, Atlanta's Brian McCann at catcher and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, as well as Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals in the outfield.

Of those, the closest races are at shortstop and in the last outfield spot. The Mets' Jose Reyes is still 245,000 votes behind Tulowitzki and the Dodgers' Matt Kemp 192,038 behind Holliday.

The full teams will be announced Sunday.

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Votto, Fielder to battle for NL starter at 1B



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Although St. Louis' Albert Pujols still leads the voting at first base for the All-Star Game, the race for first base will likely come down to two other National League Central first basemen, Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

Even if Pujols hangs onto his lead over Votto and Fielder, he went on the disabled list on Monday with a forearm fracture and is unlikely to be available for the July 12 All-Star Game at Phoenix's Chase Field. However, All-Star rules stipulate if a voted starter in unavailable, the honor goes to the second-place finisher at the position.

In the next-to-last National League balloting update before the July 3 announcement of roster, Pujols is second in total votes for NL players behind Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. Braun leads the voting with 3,034,057 votes while Pujols has 2,806,864 votes.

Joey Votto is second in balloting among first basemen, narrowly edging the Brewers' Prince Fielder 2,270,211 to 2,066,327. Both Votto and Fielder certainly have convincing arguments. Votto, the reigning NL MVP, leads the NL in on-base percentage (.449) and is third in batting average (.327), while Fielder is second in the league in OPS (1.031), is tied for the league lead with 20 home runs and leads the league with 61 home runs.

The second base spot has a similar split between a Red and a Brewer, with Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips leading Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks 2,286,378 to 2,094,502 with Weeks closing in.

Philadelphia's Placido Polanco leads Atlanta's Chipper Jones by more than a million votes at third base, while Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki has a respectable lead over the Mets' Jose Reyes at shortstop. The Braves' Brian McCann leads the Cardinals' Yadier Molina by nearly half-a-million votes. The outfield's top three are Braun and the Cardinals' duo of Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. The Dodgers' Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, along with the Reds' Jay Bruce, are the next three in line.

Complete balloting is up at MLB.com.

The American League update will be released tomorrow.

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Posted on: June 18, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2011 7:57 pm
 

Reds, Phillips haven't discussed extension

Brandon Phillips

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Reds are expected to pick up Brandon Phillips' $12 million option for next season, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.

The team hasn't spoken to Phillips about an extension, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said, but didn't rule it out.

"He's got an option," Jocketty told Fay. "That's what options are for. We might try to get something done later."

Earlier this week, Phillips told Amy K. Nelson of ESPN that it would be "hard to keep me here," when asked about his future in Cincinnati. He added, "I'm not trying to break the bank. I'm just trying to be fair. I don't want Jayson Werth money or CC Sabathia money."

That's a little different than what Phillips has repeatedly told the Cincinnati media for the last couple of years. When speaking to Cincinnati people, he's always said he wants to stay in Cincinnati and follow in the footsteps of his boyhood idol, former Reds great Barry Larkin.

He reiterated his desire to finish his career as a Red when speaking to Fay on Saturday.

"I told the Reds and the whole world this is where I want to be," Phillips said. "If it doesn't happen, I'm going to be very, very disappointed. I feel like I've made this a second home. I bought a house here. This is where I want to be, man. The fans just took me in. I feel like I need to stay here and give back.

"Hopefully, it happens. If it doesn't happen this year, I feel in my head and my heart, it's not going to happen."

Phillips has not only made himself a fan favorite through his use of Twitter, but has also donated enough money to help rebuild a local youth baseball field through the Reds Community Fund. He's backed his talk up with actions off the field, to be sure.

Atlanta signed second baseman Dan Uggla to a five-year, $62 million deal this past offseason. Uggla has more power than Phillips, but Phillips is a better all-around player. Philips won his second Gold Glove last season and has been even better defensively this year. His batting average and on-base percentage are about the same as they were a year ago -- and better than his career averages -- but his slugging percentage has taken a dip, as he's hitting .280/.338/.387 this season with five home runs. He hit 30 homers in 2007 and his home run numbers have dropped each season since. 

Phillips will be 30 later this month, so any extension will take that into consideration.

Last year the Reds showed they are willing to pick up a questionable high-priced option when they picked up Bronson Arroyo's $11.5 million option before spinning that into a three-year, $35 million extension.

Phillips will probably be looking for something similar, although he's possibly worth more.

Uggla's contract will be one comparison, but the Reds could point to Rickie Weeks, who signed a four-year, $38.5 million extension heading into this season. Weeks has outperformed Phillips at the plate this season (although, Phillips is much, much better defensively). Phillips has also been much more durable than Weeks, who has played more than 130 games just once in his career, while Phillips has played at least 140 games in every season since coming to the Reds in 2006.

Phillips has the second-highest salary in the game for a second baseman, trailing only Chase Utley.

The Reds' payroll is at $80 million this season -- but they have Francisco Cordero's $12.125 million coming off the books after this season. The team also has raises coming to Arroyo, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Jay Bruce. Votto's signed through 2013, his last season before he's eligible for free agency. He gets a $4 million raise for 2012 and $7.5 million raise to $19 million in 2013. Bruce also has an increased salary for each of the next five seasons.

Reds owner Bob Castellini has said he could afford to keep the core of his team only if the team's attendance picked up after their National League Central run of a season ago. So far this season, the Reds are averaging 24,230 fans a game at Great American Ball Park, which is actually down from last season's average of 25,438. The average should increase as school lets out for the summer, but if there's a big enough increase in attendance for Castellini to keep his word is still to be seen.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com