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Are the Phillies waiting in the weeds for Jose Reyes?

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

Recently, Philly.com gossip columnist Dan Gross reported that baseball free agent Jose Reyes was spotted in Philadelphia earlier this week. While it’s true that Reyes was probably in town visiting his daughter and multiple sources say Reyes is not a priority for the Phillies, would you be completely surprised if you saw him holding up one of their jerseys in the next few weeks?

After all, I was coming out of TRON: Legacy last year right around this same time when my phone blew up with text messages and voicemails informing me that the Phillies were the ‘mystery team’ who was after Cliff Lee. And several hours later, the Phillies’ brass (who keep secrets better than the Department of Homeland Security) confirmed the signing.

Now granted, Reyes coming to Philadelphia means a little more than just some big free agent’s arrival into town. This of course, would signal the end of Jimmy Rollins’ tenure in the City of Brotherly Love. So needless to say, there would be some mixed emotions for some surrounding this deal.Jimmy Rollins Photo: Getty

Say what you want about Rollins. He’s far from your typical leadoff hitter, he occasionally takes a swipe or two at the Philly fans, and has been known to voice his opinions that sometimes don’t coincide with the rest of the city. However, Rollins’ time spent in Philadelphia has been one of the most memorable ones for any athlete or any team in this city’s history.

With help from his mentor, Larry Bowa, Rollins gave Phillies baseball its swagger again. Do the Phillies have their successful run if Rollins doesn’t proclaim the Phils to be “The Team To Beat” in 2007? He won an MVP award that season, a World Series championship the next year, as well as five consecutive NL East crowns.

We haven’t even talked about his defense. Rollins has won three Gold Gloves, and with two outs in the ninth inning and the game on the line, there’s nobody else in baseball I would want that ball hit to than Rollins. If he resigns with the Phillies, he will most likely become the franchise’s all-time hits leader in the next few years and finish his career in a Phillies uniform (indeed an oddity in today’s game).

From Rollins’ standpoint, he has to look at the impressive pedigree he will be leaving behind in Philadelphia as well. And as former Phillie Doug Glanville pointed out in his ESPN column, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Now what I mentioned above is all well and good, but Rollins’ current contract demands of five years are viewed by many as unrealistic for a 33-year old shortstop who is injury prone with declining skills. With the Phillies clearly in a ‘win now’ mode, there could be (good or bad) consequences for the team not bringing him back. Who is currently available on the open market that can realistically fill the void so prospect Freddy Galvis gets more minor league seasoning? Alex Gonzalez? Rafael Furcal? Edgar Renteria?

The best option (besides resigning Rollins) is obviously Reyes, who is five years younger than Rollins and is coming off a ‘batting title.’   When was theJose Reyes last time a Phillie even sniffed a batting crown? Bobby Abreu (1999) and Pete Rose, who finished second in the league twice (‘79,’81) during his five years with the Phils.

Reyes’ talent has never been an issue. Like Rollins however, he too is often injured, and has been an enigma of sorts. His showboating is always on display, and you can’t help but look at those Mets teams of recent years and think of Reyes as a symbol of their futility.

Bottom Line: If you’re the Phillies, do you go with the younger Reyes, who at this stage is more of a dynamic player than Rollins in addition to being a better leadoff hitter? Or do you stay with the againg but proven winner and home grown commodity in Rollins? This is not a money issue here. The Phillies have shown over the last few seasons that they look out for their home grown players from a financial standpoint if they think they’re spending it in the right places. However, at the end of the day this is a business, and the team ultimately needs to look out for their best interests. Just ask Ryan Madson about that.

Something tells me that in the end the Phillies will reach a deal with Rollins (I’ll say 4 years-$48 million), but if I see a Jose Reyes press conference at Citizens Bank Park in the not-so-distant future, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin'!

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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