Steve Phillips still doesn’t get it

The proof is in the pickups
Review of MLB 07: The Show for PS2

There’s a reason why the Mets fired Steve Phillips. It’s the same reason why he hasn’t been offered a position since, and why he always comes off on ESPN as knowing nothing: he hasn’t a clue how to construct a roster.

I don’t think I’m no to anything groundbreaking here, but I felt it an appropriate lead-in to his recent article on about Josh Hamilton. In it, he opines that the Reds are sending the wrong message by drafting Hamilton in the Rule V draft, thereby either giving him a major league roster spot or returning him to Tampa Bay. His reasoning:

The decision to acquire Hamilton and give him a chance to be a major league player without doing anything to earn it over the past four seasons makes a statement to current Reds major leaguers and especially to the organization’s minor league players. This one decision contradicts everything the organization claims is important…It sends the wrong message to all of the hardworking, dedicated young men who are paying the price to get to the major leagues.

I know their situations aren’t quite similar, but did the Blue Jays send the wrong message to its minor leaguers when it placed John Olerud directly in the majors following the 1989 draft? You could argue, I suppose, that they did, but then I must ask: did it really matter? They won the AL East in ’89 and ’91, and finished two games behind the Red Sox in ’90…and that’s before they rattled off two straight World Series victories.

In making this statement, Phillips once again makes no confusion over why MLB teams continually pass him over for GM openings. I’m not saying that he would be necessarily wrong for passing on Hamilton. But to criticize another team for taking that risk is unwarranted.

Finding viable major league players is no simple task. By selecting Josh Hamilton in the Rule IV draft, the Reds were attempting to fill a valuable roster spot with a potentially underpriced player. If it doesn’t work out, they’re out a net $25,000. If it does work, they have a cheap player (he’ll make around $400,000 for the next three years) under their control for six full seasons.

That, my friends, is more valuable than any message Steve Phillips thinks is being sent to the club’s minor leaguers. In truth, his entire view of the messsage being sent may be flawed:

Their [the ballplayers] take will be that if you have talent, it doesn’t really matter what you do or how you behave — there is a place for you at the top.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the message. Yes, Hamilton is insanely talented, but that alone won’t keep him on the Reds roster. If he was to hit .180 through March, I’m sure the Devil Rays would be welcoming him back to its system. Such is the nature of Rule V picks.

Phillips’s article cleary illustrates why he serves no purpose in the baseball analysis community. We’re talking about players and production, and he’s talking about hypothetical messages.

Photo courtsey Al Behrman/AP

The proof is in the pickups
Review of MLB 07: The Show for PS2
  • Dave

    I don’t even see why it would send the wrong message. Hamilton lost years to his problems and now seems to have got his act together. I think he is an example that talent alone is not enough. Olerud is a perfect example because he had the talent, the maturity and the discipline needed to immediately succeed. To play at the MLB level, talent is not enough, but neither is hard work. And to show your minor league guys how even a guy who at one point was called “the Natural” could fail so easy sends the right message. It is not as if the pulled him off the waiver wire, signed him to a long term contract and guaranteed him a spot on the team.

  • Jeteupthemiddle

    Hamilton was selected by the Reds in the Rule 5 draft, not the Rule IV…which is the actual draft in June.

    But otherwise, yes, Steve Phillips is still an idiot.

    Going by wikipedia, in 1999, the Mets selected a Rule 5 player (Jim Mann) and he GASP made the Mets roster (he did suck though, but that isn’t the point). In 2000, the Mets selected Julio Santana in the Rule 5 draft (though he was returned). In 2003, Phillips selected Frank Brooks in the Rule 5 draft and traded him to the A’s.

    I think mostly Phillips is turned off by Hamilton’s extracurricular activities–otherwise why should the Rule 5 draft exist.

  • Mike A.

    Phillips is right, sending a message that learning from your mistakes, overcoming some major adversity, and rededicating yourself to your family and friends is absolutely the wrong thing to do. How would the baseball universe survive without him.

  • Joseph P.

    Thanks for the catch on the Rule V gaffe.

  • ShawnT

    Philips belongs no where near the baseball analasys world and as a matter a fact he belongs nowhere near anything that has to do with pro ball ESPN should fire him and bring back Harold Reynolds
    and Hamilton is still youing and can end up being the next ryan howard