Monday, April 7, 2014

On this date in Reds history: Club pulls off coup in trading for Brandon Phillips

On April 7, 2006, the Reds made an exchange with the Indians that brought second basemen Brandon Phillips to Cincinnati for a player to be named later. In June, the Reds sent pitcher Jeff Stevens to Cleveland to complete the trade.

The trade didn't seem like much at the time. But as time passed it would go down as one of the biggest coups in the history of the franchise. Stevens never threw a pitch at the major league level for Cleveland and was eventually traded to the Cubs in 2008. He never amounted to much in the Windy City either.

Meanwhile, after experiencing four tumultuous seasons in Cleveland, Phillips immediately flourished with his new organization, batting .276/.324/.427 with 17 home runs, 75 RBI, and 25 stolen bases in that fateful 2006 campaign. In 2007, Phillips would record arguably the best individual season of his career, slashing .288/.331/.485 and recording the ultra-rare 30 home run/30 stolen base season by a middle infielder.

Due to his bubbly personality and willingness to interact with fans, Phillips quickly became one of the most recognizable and beloved figures in the Queen City. Even when the Reds weren't fielding winning teams, fans still made their way to Great American Ball Park to watch Phillips play. That was until 2010 came along when Phillips and gang finally delivered Cincinnati its first taste of playoff baseball since 1995.

Now, at age 33, Phillips is currently playing in his ninth season with the Reds. For the most part, it's been a career highlighted with plenty of great memories and moments on the field. However, the last few years have been marred a bit by controversy, primarily because of Phillips' tendency to say the wrong things in the media. Despite the low points, Phillips remain a fixture in Cincinnati's lineup and his current contract, which runs through 2017, suggests he will continue to be a mainstay around the city as well.

Although Phillips has faced some heat for off-the-field comments and a perceived decline in production, the Georgia native has been a steal since the Reds acquired him. Phillips has helped guide the club to the postseason in three of the last four years and provided much-needed excitement during the mid-to-late 2000s that was otherwise hard to find for Reds baseball. For his efforts, he's also racked up four Gold Glove Awards, one Silver Slugger Award, and three trips to the All-Star game.

Will he live up to expectations with the remaining $52 million and four years left on his contract? Time will tell, of course. But time has already revealed that the Reds definitely pulled off a major coup when then-general manager Wayne Krivsky took a chance on Phillips in April 2006.

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