Five Years ago Today: Brandon Phillips becomes a Cincinnati Red

Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors, we’re reminded that today is a pretty special anniversary; especially if you’re a fan of the Cincinnati Reds and you have enjoyed the recent revival of sorts over the past year or so.

Let me add a backdrop on what Brandon Phillips was looked at as a Cleveland Indian. When the Indians first acquired Phillips from the Montreal Expos (along with Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore) for Bartolo Colon; I was at then Jacobs Field with my uncle who is a huge Indians fan. We ran into an employee of the Indians front office whom my uncle was acquaintances with and he asked the guy to describe Phillips to me. I’ll never forget his exact words. He told me that “Brandon Phillips is Derek Jeter II”.

That was a pretty damn good player even in my young mind. That was probably 2003 or 2004; and by 2005 it was clear that things were not going to work out with Phillips and the Indians. You heard things like he had attitude problems or he had all the talent in the world but he was a ‘bad seed’. The Indians instead elected to build around another guy named Milton Bradley.

Five years ago today, Brandon Phillips was sent to the Reds in exchange for a player to be named later. That guy turned out to be a player named Jeff Stevens. Phillips was immediately inserted into the Reds starting lineup and he started to show the qualities of being an catalyst at the top of a high powered lineup that already included Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr.

MLB Trade Rumors sums up well what the Reds received:

In the five seasons since the trade, Phillips has hit .275/.326/.447, averaging 21 homers, 24 steals and 151 games per season, enough for 16.8 wins above replacement (42nd among MLB position players for that period). He has won two Gold Gloves (deservingly, according to UZR) and has a 30-30 season and two other 20-20 seasons to his name.

I remember one of the first weekends that Phillips was a Red, he scored on a play at the plate that was absolutely unbelievable. I don’t remember the exact play–but it showed incredible athleticism and hustle–and he scored in a cloud of dust. Right then was when I knew the Reds had acquired a pretty good ballplayer and that something special might be on their hands.

In looking at the numbers, Phillips has been the most consistent cog in the past half decade here in Cincinnati. He outlasted Dunn, Griffey, and the general manager that acquired him. Five years ago today, the Reds brought on board a piece that will definitely be looked back on as a turning point in the resurrection of the Cincinnati Reds.