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From news of the day to news of the weird, John Fay provides a glimpse of what it’s like to cover the Cincinnati Reds

John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Talking with Phillips II

When you promise a guy a fortune -- as the Reds have with Brandon Phillips -- it helps if he says this:

“I wanted a contract that would keep with the Reds for a long time,” he said. “This is the one team I want to play for. I don’t want to be with nobody else.

"The Reds gave me a second chance,” he said. “They opened up the door for me. The fans welcomed me with open arms. I want to make sure I give back to them. I want to do community service. I want to give back to the community. I’m going to do many things in the city. I’m going to go to certain places and try to find me a field. I want people to know who I am. I want to bring more people to the stadium. I want to be how Barry Larkin was."

Phillips was willing to take less money to stay.

"My agent told me that. I wasn't really worried about that. I just wanted to Reds to sign me to a long-term deal. I said that from Day 1. I wanted to be with the Reds. I'm not going to say money wasn't a thing. But I just wanted it to be fair, fair to me, fair to my family."


40 Comments:

at 5:34 PM Blogger Will T. said...

I'm happy with this move! Phillips is an important part of this team and will be for years to come!

 
at 5:42 PM Blogger Moskau?!? said...

Excellent move by the Reds, and I'm thrilled that they got it done before arbitration. BP seems to be an excellent choice for the captains "C".

Also, the Frick award winner will be announced this Tuesday. Let's hope the final vote will mirror the san's vote, and the Joe will finally get in...!

 
at 6:03 PM Anonymous BigRedOne said...

Good move for the Reds. Brandon Phillips is such a breath of fresh air. I love the guy.

 
at 6:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

In an age where money is everything its nice to see that the Reds have locked down a guy like Franchise Phillips, due to this signing my season tickets will be purchased tomorrow

 
at 6:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

john you are closer to the situation than any of these nat'l writers, do you have any updates on the blanton talks??

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/jon_heyman/02/15/heyman.offgrades/1.html
Reds may lead for Blanton

The Reds appear to be the favorite right now to land righty starter Joe Blanton from the A's. Reds GM Wayne Krivsky has been trying hard to land a third solid rotation member and has some very good pieces with which to tempt the A's. The Dodgers have never shown any sort of willingness to deal prospects, and while the Yankees have checked in, they have also become reticent to trade their bona fide prospects. The Red Sox must be serious about their own youth movement, because apparently they have shown surprisingly little interest in Blanton so far.

Oakland GM Billy Beane isn't afraid to make a trade, and he's very reasonable in his requests. He didn't waste his breath insisting Justin Upton or his ilk from the D-backs in the Dan Haren deal, and he won't insist on outfielder Jay Bruce, perhaps baseball's best positional prospect, from Cincinnati. Even so, the Reds have the type of talent to do a deal. Pitchers Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Matt Maloney and Edinson Volquez should give them and the A's something to discuss.

 
at 6:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brandon Phillips is a winner, a hustler and the best of what the REDS are and can be. His signing at the beginning of spring training brings cachet to our goal of being winners - one piece to be sure, but an important one!

Cliff Cole
Roseville, CA

 
at 6:32 PM Anonymous Jack in Blue Ash said...

we meet him at the Cadillac Ranch..super guy..great signing

Chad Johnson take note on how to conduct yourself and be loved in this town

John rumor has it someone was saying you look pudgy in those jeans..my girlfriend says you are very handsome

 
at 6:40 PM Blogger Ben said...

Thank GOODNESS. Real talent. Real class. Whether we acknowledge it or not, I think this whole city just breathed a huge sigh of relief.

 
at 6:57 PM Anonymous Sidd Finch said...

Dear Cincinnati,

Say hello to the Anti-Chad.

 
at 6:59 PM Anonymous MONEY MIKE said...

This is good to hear. I was talking to Krivsky at the winter caravan and phillips was right the beside him. I said, "Mr. Krivsky, I like what you have done for the most part, but I would like you even more if you made the man next to you a red for life." I know he didnt sign phillips because of that, but I like to tell myself I played a part. This is a good day for the city of cincinnati.

 
at 7:04 PM Blogger Chris at Redleg Nation said...

I want to be how Barry Larkin was.

Oh goodness no.

 
at 7:39 PM Blogger John Fay said...

A lot of you have asked: I have heard nothing new on blanton. My sense is reds want to see their young guys throw before making a call.

 
at 7:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Redlegs continue to make one good move after another.

 
at 7:59 PM Blogger David Hartman said...

"I want to be how Barry Larkin was.

Oh goodness no."

Amen to that, brother.

 
at 8:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Behind the Insider wall:

As for Joe Blanton, the A's talks with the Dodgers about acquiring the right-hander are very quiet. The Reds also seem unlikely to make a trade for Blanton. Thus, unless someone is willing to come in hard now with an offer, A's general manger Billy Beane seems willing to wait and see what the market looks like for Blanton in June or July.

 
at 8:16 PM Blogger Aaron said...

I was pretty much out of the local loop during Larkin's latter years... why the "goodness no" comment? What am I missing? I know he seemed to get injured a lot, but is there something else besides that? Thanks.

 
at 8:50 PM Anonymous Jerry said...

A good signing. It will be interesting to see where Dusty puts BP in the batting order. Can't wait to listen to some spring games!

 
at 9:25 PM Anonymous redfuture said...

Glad to see BP in the long term stable. He definitely is a classy individual. I went to ST last year and got in line with the kids before the game and got him to autograph my glove. He was one of the few doing it and did it the longest and then again at the next game. Other players in the same stretching group generally kept their backs turned to the fans. If there is any hard feelings towards him from some players it probably stems from feeling they're made to 'look bad' in comparison to the hustling, outgoing fan/media friendly attitude displayed by the future gold glove 2nd baseman.

 
at 9:29 PM Anonymous Deaner said...

What a classy guy. It's great to have a guy like Phillips in Cincinnati long-term.

 
at 11:19 PM Blogger Chris at Redleg Nation said...

Barry Larkin was a clubhouse politician who manipulated Carl Lindner and Reds fans into making moves that were good for Barry Larkin, but very bad for the franchise as a whole. All the while, he sold (and cashed in on) a bogus "home town hero" persona, while living in his gated community in Orlando.

I don't begrudge any player from feathering his next or doing what is best for himself. I only resent the hypocrisy of pretending they're doing something different.

(That said, Larkin was a hell of a player, and deserves to be in the HOF.)

 
at 12:52 AM Blogger Rob said...

Wow. $11 million in 2011 is quite a hefty chunk of change.

 
at 1:54 AM Blogger Andrew said...

Great to see this signing. Hopefully he can build on what he accomplished last year and this time come out with a Gold Glove! On Blanton I agree with what John is saying the Reds are thinking...I would like to see some of the young arms we have this spring first before a deal is made. As a Reds fan its hard to see some young talent go.

 
at 8:32 AM Blogger weshouldhavehiredLarussa said...

Its a great idea to lock up Phillips for the long haul. However the last time I checked he can't pitch and the Reds need pitchers. The club must obtain a proven starter to contend for the division title and playoffs. Tony Larussa would sure look good in a Reds' uniform.

 
at 9:12 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're gonna come on here and rip Larkin for stuff you most likely have no idea about, maybe at least throw in a mention of all the stuff he did in the community while he was here eh? I think that's what BP was getting at.

Were you privy to Larkin's contract negotiations or something? How would you have any idea what went on in the clubhouse or between Larkin/Lindner? Please give us some more details since you're in the know. Or are you just still bitter that he got over on the Reds with that last contract?

 
at 9:51 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, LaRussa couldn't pitch, either.
Rob in GA

 
at 10:01 AM Blogger David Hartman said...

Oh, Anonymous is dead on for ripping Larkin, and one doesn't have to be an insider to know why. All one has to do is read the papers.

In the twilight of his career, more than one manager asked Larkin to make a defensive position change to help the team. Every time, Larkin refused because in his mind (Larkin's) he was the best shortstop we had.

Position changes are often necessary as a player gets older to keep their bat in the lineup. You might remember Johnny Bench, a true local hero, who was one of the best offensive and defensive catchers to ever play the game. When the ability to catch consistently left him before his bat did, he made a positions switch to help his team. In another market, another Hall of Famer, some guy named Ripken, did the same thing.

Bowden allowed Larkin, and even Junior to a degree, to become larger than the manager, and any time the animals run the zoo, you've got problems. So when Larkin and Junior decided they no longer liked Jack McKeon a year after McKeon took them to the brink of a postseason, McKeon was gone and Buffoone was in.

I cut Larkin a lot of slack, but giving the car to the clubhouse guy in front of the press was the last straw with me. Claimed the guy was a great friend for many years, then used him as a pawn to get the kind of publicity that would guilt the Reds into throwing more money him, despite the fact he'd shown for years he was no longer a team player.

You want to do something nice for a good friend, great. Do it in private. The friend will appreciate the gesture just as much. But even that wasn't about Rick Stowe or Bernie Stowe or whoever it was, it was about Barry Larkin. He and Bowden can keep each other in Washington, for all I care.

 
at 12:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys who are on here ripping Barry are ignorant. Barry Larkin is one of the greatest atheletes and people to come through this city. Unlike other superstars, Pete Rose, Bob Huggins, Corey Dillon, Carl Pickens, Chad Johnson, etc...Larkin never embarrased the city of Cincinnati and I challenge you to find one person that has anything negative to say about him as a player or a man. His teamates loved him and his fans loved him.
I believe that comment by Phillips is one of the most encouraging things we could have heard him say!

 
at 3:25 PM Blogger David Hartman said...

Nobody said Larkin wasn't a great athlete. Whether or not he embarassed the city depends on how you define it. Some might find his refusal to switch positions despite the fact that his range was becoming more and more limited was embarassing, as ball after ball he used to get through squibbed through to the outfield.

I just wish one of the managers would have had some guts (and the authority from Bowden) to have a conversation with Larkin that went something like this: "Barry, we're paying you $9 million a year. You work for me, I don't work for you. So if you'd rather not play third or second in Cincinnati, then maybe you'd like to trot out to shortstop at say, Chattanooga.

"Otherwise, if you're taking $9 million of this club's money to spend a month on the DL every year, if I ask you to strap on a chest protector and a face mask, what's the correct answer going to be?"

It's sad. He could have been a legend who ranked up there with Bench and Morgan and Perez and Rose and some of the other icons. But pride and stubbornness got in the way.

And I'm sure all of those teammates who were better defensive shortstops who didn't get to play so Barry could have his way just adored the man.

 
at 5:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the younger generation (those younger than 35, Larkin is just as much of a legend as Bench, Morgan, and Perez, and he is more of a legend than Rose, as Larkin never disgraced his team, his city, and the game of baseball. With regards to the guys who played behind Larkin in his latter years, I challenge you to name 1 SS in the Reds organization that was a better all-around player than Barry, even in his final years with the club. I don't know what your beef with Larkin is, but thankfully, you are in the extreme minority.

 
at 6:45 PM Blogger David Hartman said...

Better all-around isn't the question. Larkin could have kept his bat in the lineup at second or third, and given way to a kid who was, at that stage in Larkin's career, HEAD AND SHOULDERS above Barry defensively at short: Pokey Reese.

Hey, I got no problem with people liking the guy so long as I don't have to. And I find all this Hall of Fame talk really amusing.

Here's a guy who one time in his career hit more than 20 home runs in a season, NEVER drove in 90 runs in a season, NEVER had 200 hits in a season...

When he was a defensive standout early in his career, he was second fiddle to Ozzie Smith. When Smith retired, shortstop became a hitting position, and Larkin's bat couldn't measure up to the A-Rods, Ripkens, Jeters and Tejadas of the world. So he didn't dominate at his position for any stretch at all. Cold, but true. Given that, I just don't get the HOF stuff. Veterans Committee, maybe.

And let's be honest. A quick check of the stats shows that Larkin's career as a productive player essentially ended in 1999, not 2004. Only once after '99 did he play anything that remotely resembled a full season, and that year, when he managed 145 games, he hit a whopping .245.

Take away the 480 or so hits he amassed in his last 5 years as a hanger-on, and he doesn't even have 2,000 hits to hang a hall argument on.

But I'm sure he smiled a lot, shook a lot of hands and signed a lot of autographs during that time when he wasn't stabbing managers in the back.

 
at 10:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take away the 480 hits or so he amassed in his last 5 years??? Wait a second...did those hits not count? That's like saying take away some wins from Eddie Suttons record because he didn't win anything his last several years as head coach...are you serious???
With regards to Larkin's HOF credentials, over 2,300 hits..nearly 200 HRs..nearly 1,000 RBIs...12 time all star..1995 national league MVP..career .295 batting average..nearly 400 stolen bases..3 gold gloves...9 silver slugger awards..

But let's not let the facts get in the way of a good argument...

 
at 12:17 AM Blogger David Hartman said...

You pretty well laid it out there. Of course, he wouldn't be the only guy with 2,300 hits not in the Hall, wouldn't be the only one with 1,000 RBI not in the Hall, wouldn't be the only guy with 200 dingers not in the Hall, wouldn't be the only guy to win an MVP not in the Hall...well, you get the picture.

If you listen to most Hall voters, they will tell you that they look for guys who were dominant at their positions for a significant length of time. And that's where Barry has problems. He was very good, but never the best defensively, if you want to judge him in the "shortstop as defensive importance" era, and he doesn't come close in the "shortstop as offensive importance" era.

400 steals. Sounds impressive. Until you consider he played, what, 18 years? So he averaged maybe 24 a year. Had a couple of years among the league leaders, but not many.

Defensively, he was only as good, but not better, than the guy he essentially replaced, Concepcion. And Davey's not anywhere near the Hall. Larkin's career fielding percentage is slightly higher, but then again Barry did it all at short, unlike Concepcion, who was willing to move and play some third, some second, some first late in his career.

And when Ozzie came into his own, there was simply no comparison at all.

He was a good player, and I suppose the Reds are lucky in some ways he never left for greener pastures via free agency. Although looking back on his last five years, it might have been better for the Reds if he had.

But a Hall of Famer? Nah.

 
at 12:58 AM Blogger David Hartman said...

More on your boy Larkin, just for fun:

Here are his career averages in some key areas: 130 hits, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 24.5 doubles, 73 runs, 21 stolen bases. Any of that scream Hall of Fame to you?

But let's be fair. Let's take out the five seasons he played the fewest games, and re-average the numbers. We get this: 155 hits, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 29 doubles, 88 runs, 26.5 stolen bases. Still clamoring for the Hall?

He wasn't an elite base stealer. Only once (96-97) did he steal at least 30 in consecutive seasons. Only once (98-99) did he drive in at least 70 runs in consecutive seasons. Other than his abberation year when he hit 33 HRs, his next highest total was 20 (one time) and then (17) one time. Only three times in 18 seasons with more than 15 home runs.

In all the areas Ozzie doesn't beat him, Cal Ripken just kills him. Cal played a few games in his career and put up HOF numbers. While Cal was setting the consecutive games streak, Larkin was missing 65 games, 39 games, 22 games, 62 games, 52 games, 89 games, 60 games, 117 games...you get the idea.

All told, in the years since Larkin took over full-time for Concepcion, he MISSED more than 700 games. That's four full seasons, if you're scoring at home.

Voters aren't going to be sympathetic and try to project what he MIGHT have done with those extra 700 games. They're gonna look at what he DID when he was actually on the field.

Good work, but not HOF work.

 
at 11:02 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You keep comparing Larkin to Cal Ripken and Ozzie Smith..may I point out that they are hall of famers? Barry ushered in the era of the offensive shortstop. Prior to Larkin, there were not many shortstops hitting nearly .300 every year. You talk proficiently about the time Larkin missed due to injuries...don't you think the Hall voters may take into account that he put up the career numbers that he did, even though he was riddled with injuries through the years? Comparing Larkin to Davey, and saying Larkin will miss the hall just like Davey is not accurate. Anyone you ask, (morgan, brennaman, bench) will tell you that the main reason Davey is not in the hall is due to his inability to communicate with the sports writers who vote, since his English was always so poor. If Barry played in this era, with the likes of offensive superstars like Jeter and A-Rod, I would agree, Barry's numbers would not stack up. However, when you consider the era in which he played, it is hard to refute that he is worthy. I can understand if you don't like Barry, but you really can't deny his HOF credentials.

 
at 1:13 PM Blogger David Hartman said...

I appreciate your Red colored glasses. Really, I do.

But I'm not COMPARING Larkin to Smith and Ripken. I'm CONTRASTING him to them, because frankly, there is no comparison.

Here. Just try this, and get back to me after you do. Go to MLB.com and look at Barry's career stats. Then, while browsing historical players, check the career stats for Detroit's Alan Trammell. See how remarkably similar they are.

Larkin was beloved in a baseball tradition-rich city where he played his entire career. Trammell was equally adored in an equally tradition-rich city where he played his entire career.

Now, do a Google search, and find that the highest percentage of Hall of Fame votes Trammell has ever gotten in a year is 18 percent.

18 percent.

That means three times as many HOF voters, who can vote for as many guys as they want on any ballot, will have to change their opinions on Trammell for him to have a shot. Not likely to happen.

Yeah, Bill James rated Larkin the 10th best shortstop yada yada yada. He ranked Trammell ninth, if I recall.

Still thinking Larkin is Hall of Fame material?

 
at 5:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

alan trammell had a career batting average of .285 compared to Larkins .295. Trammell had 236 stolen bases compared to nearly 400 for Barry, Trammell had 6 All star appearances compared to Larkin's 12 (and remember that for 10 years Larkins career overlapped Ozzie). Trammel and Larkin both had 3 GG’s, but Barry also had 9 silver slugger awards. Larkin's 198 career home runs would place him 3rd among Hall of Fame Shortstops; behind only Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken. It should be noted that Larkin’s total of 12 All Star appearances is bested by only 19 other players, and all of those eligible are in the hall. Barry Bonds is still active, but is a sure hall of famer if not for the steriods scandal, and Pete Rose is ineligible. 14 players are tied with Larkin with 12 All Star appearances, and all of them that are eligible are in the Hall of Fame. The others are all very likely Hall of Famers.
Your argument, frankly, is not shared by many.

 
at 6:04 PM Blogger David Hartman said...

You're right. My argument isn't shared by many....inside Cincinnati. Outside Cincinnati, however, where most of the hall of fame voters live, my argument is shared by the majority.

Yeah. Larkin was overshadowed by Ozzie. Not sure what the point is there in reference to All-Star game appearances, but if you're going to make the point, then Trammell was overshadowed in ASG appearances by Ripken and Robin Yount.

The notion that Larkin "ushered in the era of shortstop as an offensive position" just doesn't work. By the time Larkin had his first .300 season, Trammell already had four in the books. Ripken already had two in the books. And in the power department, by the time Larkin took over for Davey, Ripken already had 6 consecutive seasons of 25+ home runs.

Larkin "ushered in" nothing. He was consistently the second best shortstop in the N.L., but perhaps as low as 5th in both leagues.

Keep clinging to whatever Marty and Joe told you and Hal has written. In the final analysis, when you look at Trammell's numbers and see 18 percent, you don't look at Larkin's and see 70 percent. If you do, you need glasses.

 
at 6:29 PM Blogger John Fay said...

I don't think Larkin wil make the Hall, although I'll probably vote for him. Here's my reason: If you're playing 7-game series, who would you want at SS Ozzie or Larkin? Same argument applies to Concepcion.

 
at 6:59 PM Blogger David Hartman said...

Well John, I guess that depends: are we assuming Larkin will actually be healthy enough to play? :)

I really don't hate the guy. I'm not happy with the last five years of his career in Cincy, but I don't think he was worthless.

But the more writers you read, the more they tell you they look for guys who dominated at their position for a significant length of time. Other than Larkin's MVP year when his numbers were a statistical fluke, I'm not sure there's a single season you could argue that Larkin was the best shortstop in the game, much less a string of seasons you could make that argument for.

Thanks for letting the spirited debate continue as long as it has. I don't you don't have to approve the posts.

 
at 1:17 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we accept your argument that Larkin was at best the second best shortstop in the league...wouldn't you say that the second best shortstop in the National league over a 20 year period would be worthy of the Hall?
With regards to you comment that outside of Cincinnati Larkin is not regarded as a hall of famer...I would respectfully disagree...simply do a google search "is Barry Larkin a hall of famer"...what you will find is that the vast majority say yes...the only debate is how long it will take..i.e. first ballot or not. I know it means absolutely nothing coming from an anonymous poster on an Enquirer blog, but mark my words, Barry Larkin will be in the hall of fame.
Dave, I have enjoyed this civil debate, and I think we can both agree on this...
GO REDS!!!

 
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