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Jimmy Rollins staying with the Phillies: the Pros and Cons

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

It was a little surreal that Jimmy Rollins may have answered questions as a Phillie at Citizens Bank Park for the very last time Tuesday afternoon. With his impending free agency, Philadelphia’s longest tenured athlete and a symbol of Phillies baseball for the last decade, faces the possibility of leaving the only team he’s ever played for.

While Rollins seemed pretty optimistic  at the press conference (and surprisingly more humbled than his "no hometown discount" declaration the other week) that he could work out a deal with the team, some of his demands might be too much for the Phillies, who are more likely to offer Rollins a three year deal as opposed to the five-year-deal that he is looking for.

Here are some factors to consider in regards to keeping Rollins, or letting him walk.

PROS

-Rollins has been a Phillie since he was drafted in 1996. He was a building block of a Phillies team who celebrated success matched by only one other era of Phillies history. Much of that has to do with Rollins changing the culture of this team from a franchise long known for its losing ways into a perennial contender. What he lacks in size, he clearly compensates with attitude and swagger. While Rollins might get his feathers ruffled every now and then and take it easy on a play or two, you never have to worry about him being in the paper for the wrong reasons, and his positive leadership extends off the field and into the clubhouse. Those are sometimes intangibles you can’t replace.Jimmy Rollins shows off his 2008 World Series ring. Photo: www.sportressofblogitude.com

-As frustrating as his offensive game can be at times, Rollins is still among the game’s best shortstops. He may have lost half a step in the field, but if the game is on the line and you need one of your infielders to make an important defensive play, I would take him over anybody in baseball (that was not a typo).   

-Is 21-year-old Freddy Galvis ready to make the jump to the majors? According to Ryne Sandberg, the Phillies shouldn’t promote Galvis just yet. Also take into consideration that the free agent crop of shortstops this off-season leaves a lot to be desired. Jose Reyes most likely won’t fit  into the Philles’ financial plans, and Alex Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada, Edgar Renteria, and Rafael Furcal can’t hold a candle to Rollins. So much for a stop-gap.

CONS

-A 3-year deal worth $36 million dollars is probably fair market value for Rollins. He will be 33 when he sings a new contract.  However, Rollins is pretty adamant about signing a five-year deal, even claiming he would  “have a good six years left to perform at a high level and maybe even more.”  

Um, really? Since Rollins’ MVP season of 2007, he has been on a decline. For a player who relies heavily on his speed, Rollins has visited the disabled list three times the last two seasons with a myriad of leg injuries. He did swipe 30 bases this year, but a groin injury late in the season raised further speculation about whether he can stay healthy. These nagging injuries won’t get any better over the next few years. Is it worth overpaying Rollins if you aren’t sure of the production you’re going to get from him?  

-GM Ruben Amaro Jr made it abundantly clear  at his press conference that the team needs to change their approach to hitting, something that Rollins, time and time again, has flat-out refused to do. Hell, Mike Schmidt even called him out on it. As much as the Phillies would want Rollins back, do they want to go through another three years of not having a legitimate leadoff hitter who can’t help manufacture runs? This is something the Phillies are desperately CRYING out for. Truth be told, it’s the main reason why there aren’t two or three more World Championship banners hanging in Ashburn Alley as opposed to just the one from 2008.

Bottom Line: Out of all the Phillies players who have left the team during this era, Rollins’ departure would most likely have the greatest impact. The team would officially part ways with the best shortstop to ever play for the franchise. Filling his shoes would not be easy, but the Phillies have to do what’s best for the organization.

Only thing is, if the Phillies don’t overpay for Rollins, chances are somebody else will.

 

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin'

You might want to also check out these articles:

Phillies' "Dream Season" a sham: Cardinals advance to play Brewers in NLCS

Will Ryan Howard’s career ever recover after his achilles injury and post season failures?

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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