From this AM’s Enquirer:

Brandon Phillips came come up as a shortstop, and he is willing to move back there.

But if it’s Reds manager Dusty Baker’s call, it’s not happening.

“No,” Baker said before Friday night’s 5-2 loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

“Not that he’s the caliber of Joe Morgan,” Baker said, “but that’d be like moving an All-Star second baseman to shortstop. You try to develop a shortstop and leave that strong position alone.”

Baker thinks the added workload of making the switch would hurt Phillips offensively.

“That shortstop is a lot of work,” Baker said. “You probably work as hard at shortstop … probably only the catcher is involved in more plays – cutoffs and relays. That’s why I admire the offensive players like Cal Ripken Jr. That’s double duty. To me, that’s like Willie Mays playing an excellent center field and batting third. You carry most of the offensive weight and most of the defensive weight.

“If (Phillips) played short, how much would that affect his offense? Most of the time, you move a guy off of short. Very rarely do you move someone to shortstop.”

Let’s hope that it isn’t Dusty’s call.

38 Responses

  1. Veteran Leader

    Pssst Dusty, I know hitting well AND playing shortstop is some sort of rare magical combination in your world, but try being a shortstop AND a veteran leader. Phew that’s tough work, let me tell you.

  2. Kevin Mitchell is Batman

    Ahhh, C’MON DUSTY! He complains about how much playing out of position will hurt his offense…

    Well how about how much BATTING HIM OUT OF POSITION has hurt his offense? 2.5 years ago when he was pounding the ball better than he is now, he sure as hell wasn’t FALLING OVER when he swings, but since this D-bag of a manager insists on batting him cleanup, he’s regressed into an all-or-nothing type of swinger.

    Get a life Dusty. And please, get a new job. Ridiculous.

  3. Travis G.

    He won’t move a proven quality defender (who came up through the minors playing the position) to SS, but he’ll play lesser fielders (and hitters) such as Jeff Keppinger, Drew Sutton and Jerry Hairston Jr. there without a second thought?

    We need a new manager, and Dusty needs a new line of work.

  4. Matt Steele

    I don’t really care one way or another if Phillips moves to SS. I don’t know if it’d be a good thing or a bad thing. But I don’t really like Dusty’s reasoning here, I think if Phillips played some SS over the winter and in Spring Training, his offense would be just fine. He is right though about moving people off of short, quite a few people when they got older had to move off short… that was mostly due to defense though

  5. GRF

    I am not sure it will be easy to move Phillips to short. He has not played there in a long time, he is getting older and usually you switch to an easier position, not a harder one. It might not work.

    But given the decisions they have made, what better options do they have? It is one thing to say I do not want to do it, but do you have another, better option? I do not see one in the system or in free agency next year. Try it in the spring and see what happens.

    Dusty’s total refusal to be flexible about anything really is frustrating.

  6. Dan

    This is just stubbornness, like so many other things in the Dusty era.

    I don’t know if Phillips will or won’t make a good SS. I don’t know if it would affect his offense. I don’t know!

    But guess what — DUSTY DOESN’T KNOW EITHER!! This is what ticks me off so much! He’s decided, based on zero actual information about the actual player in question.

    The point is, why don’t we TRY it (and other stuff like this that we are wondering about) for the last 6 weeks and see what happens.

    Maybe Dusty will turn out to be totally right about this, in which case, we can go into the offseason knowing that Phillips is our 2B and we need a SS. But at least we wouldn’t go into the offseason wondering and debating it.

    Just freakin TRY some things! Answer some questions! Don’t pretend you already know the answer b/c you played the game with Hank Aaron.

    I am really really tired of Dusty’s closed-minded, uber-stubborn, I-know-better-than-you act.

  7. Plowboy

    I can’t get over the fact that they won’t even give it a TRY. What the hell are they afraid of? If it doesn’t freaking work, well then JUST MOVE HIM BACK TO 2B!

    What’s so frustrating about this to me is that if they WOULD attempt this experiment, it needs to be done NOW, NOT in the spring! If they wait until spring, the point would probably be moot because they’ll have already picked up someone over the winter to play the position, of course making the BP experiment pointless.

    Even the REDS wouldn’t go into spring training without a proven shortstop of some sort…….but then again this IS the Reds we’re talking about.

    Besides, Janish already fits that bill defensively, but for some reason it seems that the Reds (ie. especially Dunce-ty) don’t truly value him.

    Can’t they be a LITTLE bit forward thinking? We’re talking a potentially last place team here.

  8. Plowboy

    HAHA! Well said, Dan! You beat me to my own point. 🙂

  9. Dan

    We’re definitely on the same page, Plowboy. 😉

    Just some basic open-mindedness is all I’m asking for here. Just try it. Don’t pretend you already know the answer.

  10. Travis G.

    I would actually be fine using Janish as a full-time SS until he hits arbitration. He hits just as bad as Gonzalez did, but he’s marvelous on defense.

  11. Plowboy

    Travis G, I would totally agree with that, 100% in fact, BUT ONLY IF the Reds actually tried the BP experiment at SS, and he couldn’t pull it off.

    If BP can’t do it, I’ll take Janish as long as we can ride his superior defense.

    Uh, with one caveat, Baker: he has to hit 8th.

  12. The Mad Hatter

    In Dusty’s world it is player first, team second.

  13. Dan

    But what is anti-player about trying out a new position at the end of a lost season?

  14. brublejr

    I agree with all you guys (Dan, Plowboy, Hatter)…I would like to see them try it, then if it doesn’t work then get someone else.

    Everyday is so frustrating following this team and organization as a whole.

  15. brublejr

    @ Dan (#14)…Dusty won’t move him on the chance he wins another gold glove at second…

  16. Plowboy

    Plus, if BP worked out at SS, they could potentially ONLY have to concentrate on finding a big-time left field bat as the only real gaping hole in the lineup this offseason.

    Of course, that is if Stubbs works out in CF with Dickerson there to back him up.

    Oh. Forgot. There’s that Taveras guy that Dusty’s in love with. He’ll solve any CF problem!

  17. Plowboy

    So let’s pretend Baker WOULD try BP at SS for the rest of the year.

    Who should play 2B?

    I’m assuming most will say Frazier should get the chance over Sutton?

  18. Vandermint

    I know Ripken had some great years and power numbers…but am I the only one annoyed that he cited Ripken as an example of an offensive shortstop instead of, or at least not also mentioning, Barry Larkin? You’re the Reds manager Dusty–try to remember it.

  19. John

    Maybe Dusty is saving the spot for Neifi?

  20. Phill

    I’ve never really understood the hype of moving Phillips to shortstop. If it’s because we have a bunch of quality 2b prospects wouldn’t it just be easier to trade blocked prospects for a shortstop?

  21. Chris

    I’ve never really understood the hype of moving Phillips to shortstop. If it’s because we have a bunch of quality 2b prospects wouldn’t it just be easier to trade blocked prospects for a shortstop?

    It’s pretty simple: Fewer guys can both hit at a major league level AND play legitimate SS, than can hit and play 2b.

    This is true BOTH for the Reds and other teams. Everybody has Loretta/Keppinger/Grudzielanek types who can play 2b but not SS. Those teams either have one shortstop, or are looking for one. So they won’t trade us a SS for Drew Sutton.

    That’s why the BP experiment makes so much sense – it “creates” a new shortstop, whom the Reds already have under contract.

    Baker is talking like a guy who gives no consideration to how decisions relate to each other. “BP’s a good shortstop, why switch him? Gonzalez is my shortstop, so he plays and bats #2.”

  22. Chris

    “You try to develop a shortstop and leave that strong position alone.”

    “And if you fail, you just blame it on injuries.”

  23. Greg Dafler

    They should have tried it in 2006.
    And 2007
    And 2008
    And 2009

    Travis hit it right on the head in #3. His reasoning makes no sense at all when he’s taken folks who have never played SS and moved them there as starters the past couple of years.

  24. Plowboy

    I agree completely Greg, they should’ve tried this a few years back instead of signing Gonzalez.

    Hindsight’s 20/20 sure, but there have been people on here saying this about BP to SS for the last 3 years, I know.

    And, of course, now that BP IS getting older, it might be too late for him to make the successful transition.

    Gee, guess we’ll never know now. :-((

  25. doug

    I am with Baker on this, but likely for a very different reason. For starters, I don’t mess with a good thing. Phillips at 2nd is a very good thing. Secondly of course is the ego that Phillips has. How does he react if you move him over there and he can’t cut it and gets moved back to 2B but he thinks he did fine at SS? Does he cause problems because he feels he ‘got screwed’? Too much to worry about for me. I will stick with having an above average second baseman and look elsewhere for my shortstop.

  26. Matt WI

    Regarless of what happens with Phillips, Dusty’s answer is every reason he should be fired. I’d just present him with the transcript of this interview and tell him: “You practically fired yourself here Dusty.” Hell, maybe that what he’s trying to do.

  27. Matt WI

    I don’t know Doug, if Phillips is actually open to the move away from his gold glove position in the first place (as appears to be the case), perhaps the ego card isn’t so worrisome. I’ll take a guy that’s willing to move and beleives he can be good at it. I guess it’s a question of whether Phillips is open to the move because his ego says “I can win a gold glove at two positions” or he’s willing to move simply because it’s a benefit for the team. I’d worry a lot more if they had convince and cajole him to move.

  28. Dan

    Hey Doug, how far away do you think Zach Cozart is, realistically? Do you still like him as a true SS who will hit a little?

  29. Steve

    Dan (#7) states my view exactly.

    I’ll add one thought. It is exactly BECAUSE it is so difficult to find a shortstop than can field and hit that we are unlikely to find one on the free agent market. Baker’s own examples of ARod, Ripken, Jeter prove that it can be done.

    Maybe BP is one of those people, maybe not. Just think what a bonus to the TEAM it would be if he is!

    It has been great to watch Paul Janish at SS the past week or so, and there are signs that he is coming around at the plate – lots of line drives.

    I’m not saying this would be a sufficiently strong offensive lineup, but imagine how good DEFENSIVELY this would be in 2010:

    Votto 1B
    Phillips 2B
    Janish SS
    Rolen 3B
    Dickerson LF
    Stubbs CF
    Bruce RF
    Hanigan C

    Wow, I mean, wow. That’s got to be the best defensive team in MLB.

  30. doktor

    Texas had same issue 2004, needing a SS , and Michael Young moved from 2B to SS after the trade of A-Rod. So its not completely unheard of.

  31. Kyle

    #31: I’ve been thinking about that too. It would be nice to do at least one thing well. Although I don’t know about Janish at SS or giving Stubbs or Dickerson full-time LF/CF jobs. An outfield of Nix, Dickerson, and Stubbs to fill in CF and LF would be a bit better and still good defensively. Still a poor offense and I’d believe a lot more in the team if Volquez would be here and we were sure about Cueto.

  32. doug

    Matt,
    Of course he is open to it, but the question is how will he feel if he gets moved back to 2nd because he couldn’t cut it at SS.

    Dan,
    I think Cozart could be in the majors at the start of next year and perform better than anything we saw at SS this year. Ideally though I think a safer projection would be in July of 2010 after he gets 200-300 at bats in AAA. Defensively he is ready right now and his plate approach has been solid all year, so I don’t think he is a guy who will struggle much at the next level.

  33. Tom Diesman

    The only reason I’m surprised by Dusty’s response is because I thought his reason for not moving Phillips to SS would be that Brandon has too much power to bat 2nd in the lineup.

  34. Travis G.

    I don’t like Dickerson as the starting LF. Not nearly enough offense, and he’s not quite as good defensively at the corner spots.