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Jimmy Rollins finally resigns with Phillies, and it’s a good move for both sides

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

For the most part, it was only a matter of time, but Jimmy Rollins  is now officially back in a Phillies uniform.
 
The 33-year old shortstop signed a three-year worth (what else?) $33 million to return to the only major league team he’s ever played for on Saturday afternoon. There is also a vesting option for a fourth year worth a reported $11 million.

Rollins was originally demanding five years, but when the Brewers signed Alex Gonzalez and the Cardinals resigned Rafael Furcal, possible suitors for Rollins dwindled, and there didn’t appear to be much interest expressed from the 29 other teams in Major League Baseball.

How close Rollins actually was to signing with another team in unknown, but let’s face it: The Philadelphia Phillies  and Rollins are a natural fit for each other. Sure, he drives you absolutely crazy when he swings for the fences and he’s far from your prototypical leadoff hitter, but just look at how the Eagles handled Brian Dawkins’ departure back in 2009. I wasn’t in the negotiating room, but I find it hard to believe there was nothing that could have been done to try and keep Dawkins in this town.

This is one of several reasons why Rollins deserves to spend his entire career in Phillies pinstripes. As Philadelphia’s longest tenured athlete, he has an MVP award, three gold gloves (and truthfully, he should have more), and most importantly, A World Championship. This is something that Dawkins doesn’t even have. His mindset and overall attitude has helped transform the Phillies from perennial bottom feeders to contenders for the World Series every year. Why does Jimmy Rollins always seem to be in Charlie Manuel’s crosshairs?  Photo: www.reclinergm.com

Don’t believe me? Ever since Rollins has been in the Phillies’ starting lineup (not including his September 2000 callup) the team has only one losing season in the last 11 years (and it was an 80-81 campaign in 2002). His legacy speaks for itself, and in just a few years (health permitting), Rollins will become the Phillies’ all-time leader in hits, surpassing some guy named Schmidt.

Now I know what you’re thinking. That’s all well and good, but what will Rollins do moving forward that will help this present Phillies team? Don’t get me wrong, if the Phillies thought Rollins had nothing left in the tank, they wouldn’t have resigned him. It’s a smart deal for both sides. Everyone knew Rollins would not get a five-year deal. Three years is doable, and chances are if he can manage to stay healthy (something he has failed to do the last two seasons), he will perform at an above average level during the length of the contract. Besides Jose Reyes, there wasn’t a better shortstop out there on the market. Moreover, prospect Freddy Galvis is still a few years away. And most importantly, Rollins, unlike Reyes, is a proven winner.

Bottom Line: With the uncertainty surrounding the productivity of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard  in 2012, Rollins’ veteran presence in the Phillies lineup is even more important. The one caveat through, is Rollins’ continual insistence on hitting leadoff in the batting order. Part of the reason the Phillies lost in the NLDS  was their failure to generate runs. While Rollins had a decent series, the Phils haven’t had a true leadoff hitter since Lenny Dykstra (with all due respect to Doug Glanville), and at this stage of his career he is probably better suited to hit sixth.

I’m sure there will be more to come in the next few days regarding Rollins’ new deal. And barring some major blockbuster trade on behalf of Ruben Amaro, it looks like the Phillies are almost finished finalizing their roster for spring training 2012.

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin'

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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