The Reds play their first intra-squad game today. We won't be having a game thread for that since I believe our only updates will come via Twitter and the beat writer blogs. We will be covering tomorrow's opening Cactus League game though, game thread and all.
Hal McCoy has his first piece up for Fox Sports Ohio, and already we've got something to talk about: Brandon Phillips. BP is always one for the good quote:
When it was mentioned that he is capable of another 30/30 season, he said quickly, "Quite honestly, I’m capable of 40/40. It just depends on where I’m hitting and the situations that go along with the game. It depends on the team, really."
For those that have forgotten, only 4 players in history have achieved the 40/40 season: Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano. We know at least 3 of those players have something special in common. Basically, it's not a group that you necessarily want to associate with.
However, I both admire and fear for Phillips' belief in himself. I think it's great that he aspires for greatness. You are never going to be anything special by planning on mediocrity. I think this is an admirable quality of BP, even if some might take it as cocky.
On the other hand, Phillips has a tendency to frequently, at least in appearance, try to hit home runs, even when it's not needed. I'm afraid that if he's legitimately got it in his head that he could go 40/40, we might see a lot of BP falling down at the plate as he swings out of his shoes.
For what it's worth, I think BP is just spit-firing here. I don't think he's really set a specific goal to hit 40 HR and steal 40 bases, but I'd be lying if I said my stomach didn't drop for a second when I first read it. BP is immensely talented, but I have always felt that his talents are better served as a line drive the other way type hitter. I'd like to see him talking about that rather than talking about home runs. He's the type of player that home runs should just happen for accidentally. You hit the ball hard enough, it'll go out of the park from time to time. Otherwise, just try to hit the ball hard and hope for the best.
Now before this turns into a BP bashing thread - seriously, I'm not upset at his desire, just wish he'd try to be more like Barry Larkin, not Eric Davis - I want to point out something else that McCoy talked to BP about. It appears Scott Rolen's influence on the clubhouse is greater than we imagined:
"Rolen has definitely taught me a lot about leadership," Phillips said. "How to approach the game. It has made me a better person because when he came here I started being a different player, more of a team player.
"He isn’t just a pro, pro is not the word," Phillips said. "When you watch the way he approaches a game he lets you know what type of ballplayer you are and what you should be doing.
"We have the same agent (Seth Levinson) and he always told me, ‘If you can sit down and talk to him and watch his approach he can make you a better player.’ And I think it really did."
Rolen appears to have brought a maturity to the team that hasn't been there in a decade. If Phillips can feed off of that and grow into a more complete teammate, then maybe Walt Jocketty should win Genius of the Decade.