Results tagged ‘ Jimmy Rollins ’
Jonathan Papelbon made a few comments about a lack of leadership this week and everybody outside the Phillies clubhouse wanted details.
What the heck is happening in Clearwater?
Truth be told, Papelbon’s comments barely made a ripple in camp because he essentially said what everybody already knew: they lost a lot of their leadership because of injuries. You lose Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay and that is going to hurt. You know what else hurt? All of the other injuries. That is why Jimmy Rollins said he agreed with Papelbon’s assessment. It is also why he said it’s nothing to take offense to.
But to give you a peek at reality, it was interesting (and a little surreal) to watch ESPN’s SportsCenter cover the story this morning. (Note: This isn’t about ESPN, just about perceptions of what’s happening from the outside.) Papelbon’s image flashed on screen and Phillies players quieted down to watch and listen. They heard Papelbon discuss his comments on camera, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel followed with his own thoughts on camera. It all seemed very serious, like there is a real controversy brewing here. Then ESPN showed a quote from Rollins, which was read by SportsCenter host Stan Verrett. The quote ended with, “The glue is back together. You can have a lead singer, but without a man playing the guitar and drums, it’s a different band.”
When Rollins made that comment to reporters yesterday it sounded perfectly fine, but with a certain amount of gravitas behind it, it sounded quite silly. And that is why every player in the clubhouse erupted in laughter when Verrett finished reading it. Rollins smiled and took a quick bow.
Controversy? Nope, not really. But it’s something fun to talk about, I suppose.
Jimmy Rollins is always an interesting guy to talk to and this afternoon proved no different. Just outside the Phillies clubhouse at Bright House Field, Rollins talked about the Phillies’ age, their chances to win and why hitting leadoff isn’t terribly important to him. (Note: In a separate conversation later, Manuel sounds like he absolutely plans to hit Rollins first, bristling at the mere suggestion he should hit him anywhere else. So if you’re hoping Ben Revere is in the top spot Opening Day, I wouldn’t hold your breath.)
Here is a taste of what Rollins told reporters. Check MLB.com later for more:
Q: Jimmy, you turned 34 this winter and you have a gray whisker, how does it feel to be crossing that threshold of baseball middle age?
A: I don’t gray much. But when I do, I make it Dos Equis.
Q: Last year you said if the Phillies were healthy the Nationals were a second-place team. Do you still believe that?
A: Yes, but it doesn’t matter. That was last year. And this year is different. Nothing has changed in our mentality or my mentality about how I feel about where this team should be or will be. The players we have, I like it. I was talking to Charlie, the bullpen is good. The lineup has an opportunity to be real deep. Play some good quality baseball on both sides, the mental side of the game, it’s going to be a fun team.
He got a little hardware today to prove it.
Rollins won his fourth National League Gold Glove Award. He previously won in 2007, ’08 and ’09 to rank third in franchise history with four Gold Gloves. Only Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt (10) and centerfielder Garry Maddox (eight) have won more.
Rollins’ career .983 fielding percentage ranks third in baseball history behind Troy Tulowitzki (.985) and Omar Vizquel (.984). His .978 fielding percentage this season led the league. He committed just 13 errors in 594 chances.
Good year, right?
“Good and average,” Rollins said by telephone tonight. “I felt I did a lot of things good. I scored 100 runs, which is something I wanted to do. I stole 30 bags. Those are just benchmarks I have to reach every year. Obviously, winning the Gold Glove is just an affirmation to the work I do every day at shortstop. But obviously I would like to hit .300 and score 150 runs. There’s always room (for improvement) … every athlete, no matter how good a season they have, there’s always room. When you have a season where you did good in some places and some places you could do better, it just leaves a lot more out there to continue to work for.”
Carlos Ruiz lost to Yadier Molina for the NL Gold Glove for catchers.
- The coaching staff changes, which included Ryne Sandberg‘s arrival as third base coach and as Manuel’s possible replacement.
- Amaro’s thoughts on the offseason.
- How in the world can the Phillies possibly survive another season with Jimmy Rollins?!?!?!?!?
There were about 5,900 words in the 42-minute transcript. Nearly 1,200 covered Rollins.
Who knew Rollins was 20 percent of this team’s problems?
Listen, I understand Rollins can be frustrating. He doesn’t always hustle, and there’s simply no excuse for it. He popped out in the infield 42 times this season to lead the big leagues. That is painful to watch. He also hit just .250 with a .316 on-base percentage, his lowest OBP since 2009 (.296).
But let’s put Rollins’ season into perspective, shall we?
Here is how he ranked among all shortstops in Major League Baseball:
- Third in WAR (5.0).
- Fourth out of 21 qualifying shortstops with a .429 slugging percentage.
- First in runs (102).
- Second in home runs (23).
- Second in doubles (33) and walks (68).
- Fourth in RBIs (68).
- Tied for fifth in triples (5).
- Sixth with a .746 OPS.
I know some folks might not want to hear it, but Rollins was one of the better shortstops in baseball this season, both offensively and defensively. Now, one can make the argument the Phillies would be better served with somebody else hitting leadoff, considering Rollins’ low on-base percentage. (Playing devil’s advocate, Rollins’ superior base running allows him to take advantage of the times he is on base, which might explain his 102 runs scored.) But just because the Phillies don’t have another option at leadoff doesn’t mean Rollins should be pinned as the crux of this team’s offensive problems. He isn’t. But that is how it is portrayed.
“Two months ago, I heard somebody talk about (Michael) Bourn from Atlanta and you know how good he’d be in the leadoff hole, but Jimmy Rollins has more production than Bourn has and things like that,” Manuel said. “What I’m getting at is who
out there in the Major Leagues does any better than Jimmy in the leadoff hole? If you find that guy, mention him to me.”
This team has bigger fish to fry than Rollins. There is Chase Utley‘s health. There is Ryan Howard‘s health. There is the entire outfield (Amaro said yesterday nobody is guaranteed a spot in next season’s outfield). There is third base.
Shortstop is one of the only solid spots in the lineup.
Rollins isn’t a perfect hitter when compared to every other hitter at every other position in baseball. But compare him to other shotstops in baseball and he’s still producing. So focus the ire and frustration elsewhere.
The Phillies entered this weekend’s series against the Astros as the hottest team in baseball, but lost three of four to the worst team in baseball. They’re back under .500 and four behind the Cardinals in the National League Wild Card race with 15 games to play. I’m not going to say it’s impossible to make the postseason, but …
- Even if the Cardinals finish just 7-8 they will be 84-78.
- The Phillies would need to finish 11-4 just to tie. That means they would have to win two of three in four of their remaining five series, and sweep the fifth.
- And that only works if the Cardinals stumble and the Dodgers, Brewers or Pirates (unlikely) don’t outplay them.
The Cardinals play their next nine games against the Astros and Cubs, while the Phillies have nine of their final 12 games against the Braves and Nationals. And again, don’t forget the Dodgers, Brewers and Pirates are between the Cardinals and Phillies in the standings.
Maybe a bad weekend against the Astros shouldn’t have been a huge surprise. The Phillies had been on a great run, but we saw many of the holes this team had showed the first four months of the season:
- An inconsistent offense. The Phillies were 5-for-31 (.161) with runners in scoring position in their three losses against the Astros. Three of the top four hitters in their lineup are hitting no better than .254: Chase Utley (.254), Jimmy Rollins (.252) and Ryan Howard (.229). The Phillies have some offensive holes to fill in the offseason, but I’m sure they’ll be expecting Rollins, Utley and Howard to sit atop their lineup in 2013. That is not entirely comforting. The Phillies can talk about injuries and bounce back seasons for Utley and Howard, but it is far from a lock they will completely rebound. The numbers for those three players have been in decline the last few years anyway. Howard’s OPS has dropped every year since his MVP year in 2006, except 2009. Utley’s OPS this season (.815) is up from last year, but it’s still his second lowest since he became an everyday player in 2005. Rollins’ OPS (.740) is up four points from last season, but overall he hasn’t approached his numbers from 2004-07. Now, taking these players individually it doesn’t look that bad. Rollins ranks 7th out of 21 qualifying shortstops in baseball in OPS. Utley would rank third among qualifying second baseman. Howard has 46 RBIs in 61 games. That is 122 RBIs over a 162-game season, although his .715 OPS would rank 16th out of 21 first basemen. But the Phillies are averaging just 4.11 runs per game since Howard rejoined the team July 6, which ranks 12th in the National League. Just because those three compare favorably with other players at their positions doesn’t mean this offense is in great shape. That’s because they don’t have a player to truly anchor the middle of the lineup, like Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, etc. Carlos Ruiz has a .949 OPS this season, but it would be dangerous to expect him to replicate those numbers next season and beyond. Plus, he has never had more than 410 at-bats in a season. If Utley had enough plate appearances to qualify, he’d have the second-best OPS on the team behind Ruiz, but it would rank just 64th out of 202 big-league players. It’s tough to score consistently when the three highest paid hitters in the lineup aren’t hitting .260.
- A leaky bullpen. Phillies relievers had a 5.25 ERA against the Astros, allowing 12 hits, 10 runs (seven earned runs), seven walks and one hit batter in 12 innings. The Phillies struck out 13 batters in those innings, showing they have good “stuff,” but they still don’t have the consistency they need to be relied upon.
- Starters. Roy Halladay is 4-0 in his last six starts, but also has a 4.70 ERA. That’s just not the quality one expects from Halladay. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said weeks ago it would take Halladay a long time to lose the bad habits he picked up while pitching with a strained right back muscle earlier this season. But considering the mileage on Halladay’s arm and his age, it is not unfair to wonder what kind of pitcher the Phillies will be getting next season. I would never bet against Halladay, but it also is tough to just say, “He’ll absolutely be the old Doc next year.”
“Sure,” I said, “but it would take a miracle.”
I said that because the Cardinals had an eight-game lead over the Phillies, who only had 25 games to play. To put that into perspective, the Cardinals were on pace to finish 87-75, which meant the Phillies needed to finish 21-4 (.840) to tie, while the Cardinals needed to finish just 13-12. In other words, even if the Phillies finished a ridiculous 21-4, it would not matter if the Cardinals got on a little bit of a winning streak.
But then the past week happened.
- Thursday: 8 games back
- Friday: 7 1/2
- Saturday: 6 1/2
- Sunday: 6
- Monday: 5
- Tuesday: 4
- Wednesday: 3
Now the Phillies are three behind with 19 to play. This weekend sets up nicely for the Phillies, too. I know everybody is going to say, well, they should sweep the Astros because the Astros stink. But allowing for the fact crazy things happen in baseball, let’s say they take 3 of 4. I think Phillies fans should be pulling for the Cardinals and Dodgers to split their four-game series this weekend at Dodger Stadium. And if that doesn’t happen you want the Dodgers to take 3 of 4. You definitely don’t want the Cardinals having a good weekend with their next nine games coming against the Astros and Cubs.
If the Phillies take 3 of 4 from the Astros and the Dodgers and Cardinals split, the Phillies would open Monday’s series in New York just two back with 15 to play. If the Dodgers take 3 of 4, the Phillies would be chasing the Dodgers, but still down 2 with 15 to play.
Jimmy Rollins got hammered late last month for not hustling on a pop up, but he has been on a tear since. Coincidence or not, he is hitting .314 (16-for-51) with two doubles, four home runs, nine RBIs and a .934 OPS since Charlie Manuel benched him in that Aug. 30 game against the Mets. His 19 homers lead the team. It looks like he will be the first Phillies shortstop to ever lead a team in home runs in a single season.
They emerged seven minutes later with smiles on their faces. They appeared to have reached an understanding for the second time in as many weeks about one of Manuel’s two team rules: hustle. Manuel benched Rollins in yesterday’s 3-2 victory over the Mets at Citizens Bank Park because he did not hustle to first base after popping up a ball in the infield in the sixth inning.
“He walked in there and manned up,” Manuel said. “He said he was wrong and apologized to me. “
“You break the rules, that was the punishment,” Rollins said. “Plan and simple. It’s really that simple.”
It should be, but the incident came exactly two weeks after Manuel called Rollins into his office after not hustling during a game in Miami.
So the question is why does this keep happening?
Why can’t Rollins just hustle?
He had committed similar sins long before they signed him to a three-year, $33 million contract in December.
He has been pulled from games before for not hustling. He has been scratched from the lineup for being late to the ballpark. Charlie Manuel spoke with Rollins in Milwaukee on Aug. 16 after Rollins strolled to first base in the sixth inning and did not appear to try to break up a double play in the eighth inning in an Aug. 15 game in Miami.
Manuel said that afternoon in Milwaukee, “He should be running hard from now on. We’ll see.”
But exactly two weeks later Manuel pulled Rollins from today’s 3-2 victory over the New York Mets when Rollins did not hustle to first base on an infield popup in the sixth inning. Rollins immediately dropped his head upon contact and lightly jogged to first. Only when Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese dropped the ball did Rollins pick up his pace.
He speaks frequently with Ruben Amaro Jr. about the future of the Phillies. Looking into the near future, Utley is smart enough to know they need an everyday third baseman next season. The Phillies will not pick up Placido Polanco’s $5.5 million club option, Kevin Frandsen is not viewed as an everyday player, Jimmy Rollins is not moving from shortstop, Carlos Ruiz is going to remain behind the plate and the free-agent market is less than desirable, unless Kevin Youkilis, Scott Rolen or Brandon Inge get folks excited.
So that is why Utley asked Amaro a very interesting question Monday.
“Can I play third base?” he said.
“Can you?” Amaro replied.
“I don’t know, can I?” he said.
The experiment began early this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park with Utley taking ground balls at third base. Nobody was supposed to see it, but 94 WIP had been broadcasting its afternoon show at the time, saw Utley, broadcast it and tweeted it. And so Utley stood on the field for a couple minutes before tonight’s game against the New York Mets and reluctantly discussed it.
“Sure,” he said in front of his locker today at Miller Park.
But Charlie Manuel pulled Rollins into his office several hours before their game against the Brewers to discuss two plays in yesterday’s 9-2 loss to the Marlins at Marlins Park: plays noticed in the dugout and back home in Philadelphia. The first play came in the sixth inning on a ground out. The second play came in the eighth inning when it appeared Rollins did not try to break up a double play.
“We have two rules,” Manuel said. “Hustle and be on time. We’ll see. That’s all I have to say. That’s between Jimmy and me. I don’t want it blown up real big. What I tell him is between him and I.
“He should be running hard from now on. We’ll see.”
Rollins explained both plays.