Tommy Pham has never been the type of player to hold his tongue. So when reporters asked the Cincinnati Reds outfielder what his goals were for the upcoming 2022 season, Pham had no issue saying exactly what was on his mind.
“I’m playing to get some numbers, I don’t care about anything else,” the outspoken Pham told reporters. “I got to look out for me. At the end of the day baseball is going to move on without me. I got to get mine right now.”
A few years ago, this statement would have sounded absurd coming from Tommy.
Fresh off three consecutive 20-homer seasons, Pham was traded to San Diego and considered a key part of their young exciting ball club.
Unfortunately for Pham, when the games started to matter in San Diego, he struggled. Combine his below average play–he hit .229 with 15 homers and 49 RBI–with an unfortunate stabbing incident, and his once bright career seems to be quickly declining.
But don’t tell that to Tommy.
“It’s easy to say my best days are behind me.” Pham said. “But from an athletic standpoint, physically I can still run and I still have my athleticism there when we tested it this offseason. So I’m still expecting big things from myself within this game. So this is a big year for me to prove it to myself as well.”
When he joined the Cincinnati Reds this season, the nine-year veteran expected to prove everyone wrong, and his me-first approach didn’t sound like such a bad idea if his production helped the Reds win some games. A solid season would probably score him a nice bag. However, a 1 for 26 start at the plate and a minuscule .038 batting average isn’t exactly what Pham had in mind.
“Yeah, I’m frustrated, man,” Pham said. “Frustrated. I just have to swing at strikes, put better swings on the ball and I’ll be all right.”
If Pham is going to be rewarded for a bounce back season, chances are it won’t be in Cincinnati. While the Reds are one of the staple franchises in MLB history, Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff series since 1995 and have only five winning seasons since Bob Castellini’s ownership group purchased the team in 2006.
Fresh off the start of another rebuild, big money investments aren’t high on the Red’s to-do list. Fans who’ve voiced their displeasure with the ownership group were enraged even more by the comments of Team President Phil Castellini before the home opener.
“Well, where are you going to go? Let’s start there,” a defiant Phil Castellini told Cincinnati radio.“Let’s start there… If you want to look at what would you do with this team to have it be more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system that this game exists? It would be to pick it up and move it somewhere else.”
Castellini tried to walk back these comments, but for many the damage has already been done.
Now many will ask why does this matter if Pham is more concerned with his financial future than winning a World Series? Simply put, if Tommy expects to receive one last payday, he’ll probably have to set his sights beyond Cincy.
I find it hard to believe that an ownership group who has publicly complained about the current economic system in baseball–aka paying players their market value–would be willing to give a player headed into his 10th season a big contract.
Fortunately for Pham, he’s not looking for somewhere to spend the twilight of his career being praised before riding off into the sunset. He just wants to get paid.