It’s hard to imagine No. 11 not manning shortstop in the future. After all, he’s been with the Philadelphia Phillies organization for 15 years. Jimmy Rollins doesn’t see it that way – he wants to get paid because he sees baseball as a business.
Jon Heyman of SI.com wrote today that Rollins will be looking for a five-year commitment from a team this offseason following what he hopes will be another championship run with the Phils. He’s not in the business of giving the Phillies a hometown discount, realizing this could be his final chance to cash in. Plus, J-Roll gave a pseudo-discount before he signed his contract in 2006. Perhaps Rollins feels like the forgotten man.
Chase Utley promptly signed an $85 million deal just after Rollins inked his. Since then, the Phillies have invested over $100 million in Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee. Hell, Joe Blanton is making the same amount per season as Rollins.
It’s apparent Jimmy understands the constraints within the organization. Ruben Amaro can only spend so much money, and while they do have some breathing room this offseason with a couple of expiring deals, they’ll have a tough choice to make.
Ryan Madson is another free agent-to-be who will be highly sought after this winter. It’s likely the Phillies will have to make a choice between the two; and don’t forget that Cole Hamels is due a nice raise in arbitration and the Phillies MUST lock him into a long-term deal. Lefties like Hamels don’t grow on trees. Closers do, and that’s unfortunate for Madson.
But top-tiered shortstops are also impossible to find these days. Rollins fits that mold. His offense has been lacking in recent years, although his defense doesn’t really seem to have faded much. He still has that strong arm, even if he isn’t getting to as many balls using his lateral quickness.
Below Rollins in the pecking order is Freddy Galvis, who is not quite ready for the bright lights of Philly just yet. Galvis is showing plenty of promise, evident by his rise through Double-A this year to Triple-A. Everyone is well aware that Galvis is no Rollins. With the glove, maybe.
Offensively, even though Rollins has seen his OPS dip from .875 in 2008 to .733 this year, he’s still an asset at the top of the order because of his speed. And not to sound ill-informed or like an ass, but Jimmy has “it” (don’t crush me for that stat-heads). It’s that combination of experience, enthusiasm, and leadership. Do the Phillies want to lose out on that?
If the starting point is four or five years, then they may have to. It’s hard to see the Phillies going more than three years for a guy who has logged a lot of miles at his position. Yes, he’s still very much at the top of his position defensively – over the past three seasons, only six other shortstops rank higher in UZR than J-Roll. But can the Phillies make a long-term investment to another aging superstar? At some point, they have to go younger.
While Rollins is still a Phillie, enjoy the defense, the spark, the speed, while it’s still there. Enjoy Rollins doing his thing in the field and at the plate, even it does exhaust you as a fan at time. Enjoy Rollins smile and him pushing his teammates to another ring. Because it may not last much longer.