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Jimmy Rollins controversy exactly what Phillies don't need

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As if this potentially disastrous Phillies season needed any more drama.

 

Before an official pitch has even been thrown this season, the Phillies have been involved in a controversy with the NCAA in regards to one of their draft picks using an agent, one of their top starters (Cole Hamels) battling bicep tendinitis, a $12 million dollar anomaly from Cuba (Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez) who has failed to make any semblance of a good impression in spring training, and an anemic offense that is in no way shape or form convincing, despite the fact that it’s just spring training.

Jimmy Rollins photo: Getty Images

 

Then there’s the Jimmy Rollins-Ryne Sandberg saga, which just got a little more interesting Tuesday morning. That’s it was revealed in an ESPN story that some in the Phillies organization would like to see Rollins traded so they can start a new era at the shortstop position. This comes right on the heels of Sandberg and Rollins going back in forth in the media last week in regards to some comments Rollins made that showed a basic indifference in terms of how the Phillies were playing this spring. Coincidence?

 

It’s no secret that the Phillies have dangled Rollins as trade bait over the last several seasons, but if the Phillies brass has an issue with Rollins, they at least owe it to Rollins to flat out tell him what it is instead of having a report leaked by Buster Olney.

 

As far as Phillies’ management is concerned, they are the ones who gave Rollins a 3-year, $33 million contract with a vesting option for a fourth year. Keep in mind this deal was finally consummated because, simply put, the market lessened for a player with declining skills like Rollins. So in other words, the Phillies are stuck with him. With most professional athletes, you have to take the good with the bad. Rollins is a top 10 all-time Phillie. He holds many offensive Phillies records too numerous to mention. When you add the four Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger award, MVP,  World Series championship and All-Star appearances, there’s not much Rollins hasn’t done at his position. So much that Rollins’ chances at the Hall of Fame are not completely out of the question.

 

As far as Rollins’ lesser points, we’ve been here before. Failure to run out ground balls (which personally drives me nuts), hundreds of pop ups that should be line drives, and an attitude that doesn’t always necessarily portray him in he best light. He’s lost some range at shortstop, but he can still more than hold his own defensively. hasn’t even come close to putting up those kinds of numbers for years and his walk doesn’t back up the talk. You can look the other way when you’re producing, but Rollins had his worst statistically offensive season of his career in 2013. He has refused to accept a trade to another team unless he passes several more Phillies offensive records, including Mike Schmidt’s all-time team hit record (which he’s 60 hits away from) or if the Phillies turn into a complete hopeless case over the next several months. Is this selfish? Probably, but Rollins has spent 15 seasons with this franchise. If it’s a record he does break, he will have earned it. With the exception of Schmidt, no other Phillie in history has spent more consecutive seasons in a Phillies uniform. If you’re keeping score at home, the Phillies have been around since 1883.

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When Sandberg took over for Charlie Manuel last summer, one of the first things he did was reach out to Rollins and express his desire for him to take more pitches and hit more line drives. It seemed Rollins got that message, but after last week’s circus, it seems that this relationship is going to be a lot rockier than anticipated. Was Sandberg trying to light a fire under Rollins? Should he have called him in his office and told him he wasn’t happy with how he was going about his business? Should we even be talking about this with Rollins being an established veteran?

 

Probably not, but the bottom line is this: you’re not going to change Jimmy Rollins at this stage of his career. While the relationship between Rollins and the Phillies won’t exactly remind you of Derek Jeter’s relationship with the Yankees, one would seriously hope that this isn’t a thinly veiled shot by Phillies management in an attempt to get him to waive his no trade clause. Rollins has apparently spent more time taking infield practice since last week’s incident and was even giving helpful tips to Phillies prospect Maikel Franco, but just when it seemed this soap opera was over, the ESPN report suddenly surfaces. Rollins can make you scratch your head at times, but he is far from the main problem with this aging Phillies team. It’s not his fault Ryan Howard has barely played the last two seasons, it’s not his fault Gonzalez has laid an egg this spring, and it’s not his fault Cole Hamels isn’t healthy.

 

At this stage, there needs to be give and take with both parties. Regardless of whether he is traded or not, Rollins days with the Philadelphia Phillies are winding down. Whether you like or dislike him, there were some great times and a lifetime of sports memories and his shoes will be very tough ones to fill. Jimmy Rollins leaving Philadelphia on a sour note would only be another example of yet another Philadelphia athlete leaving the city on less than spectacular terms.

 

Haven’t we had enough of those already?


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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