Results tagged ‘ Jimmy Rollins ’
“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.
Rollins is scheduled to play his 1,731st game at shortstop for the Phillies tonight at Marlins Park, which will pass Larry Bowa (1,730) for the franchise record. Rollins has played 1,748 games for the Phillies overall, which is third-most in franchise history. Only Mike Schmidt (2,404) and Richie Ashburn (1,794) have played more.
“It’s something that wasn’t on my radar,” Rollins said before the game against the Marlins. “Most games played by a shortstop? Obviously they keep stats for everything, but that definitely wasn’t one I paid attention to. When I’m done (playing baseball) I’ll probably think about it.”
Rollins and Bowa have maintained a close relationship over the years. Bowa managed Rollins from 2000-03 and they have remained in contact since, exchanging text messages during the season and even in the offseason. Both men share a bond as Phillies legends that played the same position. They also know how to talk a little trash. A favorite is the time in 2004 when Rollins noticed Bowa strutting through the clubhouse and Rollins told Bowa he should drag his back foot a little more.
“Pimp that walk,” Rollins said.
“Why don’t you drag that back foot across home plate every once in a while?” Bowa countered.
For a long time Bowa said Rollins had a ways to go before he could be considered the greatest shortstop in Phillies history.
Bowa came around a few years ago.
“I wasn’t a great player. I was a good player,” Bowa said in 2008. “Jimmy is a great player. Yeah, I think he’s a great player.”
Asked what motivates him these days, Rollins said, “I want to work.”
He said he still would like to be remembered as one of the best shortstops to play the game, but he needs to pile up more numbers to enter that conversation. Rollins needs 22 hits to reach 2,000 for his career. He needs 213 hits to catch Bowa, which Rollins said has been a goal.
Rollins should accomplish both those feats, but what comes after that? How about 3,000 hits? It is not impossible, although it is a long shot. Rollins is on pace for 157 hits this season. He has averaged 157.8 hits per season the previous three seasons in which he has had 600 or more plate appearances, while also figuring in this season’s current pace.
If Rollins stays healthy, stays on the field and maintains that 157-hit pace he could reach 3,000 hits in 2019 when he is 40.
“Is it possible? Yeah,” Rollins said. “If I play every day and bang out. It depends how long you play. If you’re around long enough anything is possible.”
Is it motivation for him?
“Two thousand is right now,” he said. “Let me get there first.”
How did you take the news?
Like you take anything. It’s nothing new. I’ve been through it before unfortunately.
But this year has been unexpected?
The results this year? The record?
Usually you’re bringing guys in?
At the end of the year Shane was going to be a free agent anyway, you know? We knew that his time here was over or they were going to work out something in the offseason. The season was going to dictate the length of his time here. Even if we were winning it wasn’t a guarantee he was going to be here. The writing was already on the wall that his tenure here may have been over.
I don’t think it will be, though.
If the Phillies are willing to offer Hamels six years, which they are, then they are likely willing to offer him the money he wants (or at least get very close to it). And if the Phillies make that effort and Hamels still says no, well, then he made their decision to trade him easy. If he says yes, then they have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Hamels together through next season, and that’s not a bad thing.
A few thoughts on this:
- If Hamels signs, what’s the plan? The Phillies could have more than $150 million committed to just 11 players for 2013: Lee ($25 million), Halladay ($20 million), Ryan Howard ($20 million), Chase Utley ($15 million), Jonathan Papelbon ($13 million), Jimmy Rollins ($11 million), Carlos Ruiz ($5 million), Kyle Kendrick ($4.5 million) and Laynce Nix ($1.35 million) are already signed. I’m not sure how Hamels’ deal will be structured, but let’s go with a projected AAV (average annual value) of $24 million per season. Hunter Pence, who is salary arbitration eligible for the final time, could earn around $14 million. That’s a ton of money for just 11 players. The luxury tax threshhold next season is $178 million. If the Phillies are willing to go well over the luxury tax (i.e. more than just a couple million or so) there’s no problem. But if they’re not then they have about $28 million to spend on the rest of the roster. Did we mention the holes on the roster next season could include center field, third base, left field (unless Domonic Brown becomes the guy) and a couple reliable bullpen pieces? Try adequately filling those holes (and completing the rest of the roster) for about $28 million.
- That’s why you’re hearing names like Lee, Rollins and Pence mentioned in trade speculation. It’s the only thing that makes sense: the Phillies are considering clearing salary. But I’m not sure how moving any of those players makes them better next season, unless they would get a ridiculous score of prospects in return. Can’t you see a situation next July — assuming the Phillies are contenders — where they are looking to fill a hole they created by trading Lee, Rollins or Pence? I can. They’ve already done it. They traded Lee in Dec. 2009 and found themselves needing a starting pitcher in July 2010, thus shipping prospects to Houston for Roy Oswalt. Would they let history repeat itself?
- I don’t trade Pence, unless I’m totally blown away with an offer. Why? Forget for a second his slow start with runners in scoring position. He’s still on pace for 29 home runs and 98 RBIs. If you trade Pence, who is going to be your right-handed power bat? Chooch? Carlos Ruiz is having a fantastic season, but he’s a 33-year-old catcher and he’s never hit like this before. It would be a tremendous leap of faith to enter 2013 believing he can do this again, and be the team’s primary power bat from the right side. The Phillies lost Jayson Werth following the 2010 season and bet on Ben Francisco. Francisco wasn’t up to the task, so the Phillies sent a bunch of prospects to Houston for Pence. Would they let history repeat itself?
- If the Phillies trade Rollins it means they are going with Freddy Galvis at shortstop. OK, he’s brilliant defensively and he’s cheap. But they better have a good backup plan for Utley. They can’t enter 2013 saying, “We like our infield because we’ll finally have Utley and Howard healthy the entire year,” after Utley missed the first couple months each of the previous two seasons. If they don’t have a good backup plan they could be going with Galvis and Michael Martinez (or a Mike Fontenot comparable). And that just won’t work. Plus, consider for a second Rollins’ .729 OPS is seventh among 23 qualifying shortstops in baseball. Yes, he leads the big leagues in infield pop ups, but consider the alternatives.
- The Phillies are 41-53 and 11 games behind the NL Wild Card leaders with eight teams ahead of them in the standings. Even if they sign Hamels to an extension, does it make any sense not to sell? I don’t think so, unless they go 7-1 or 8-0 before the deadline. Get what you can for what else you’ve got (other players still available to trade include Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, etc.). You won’t get the haul you’ll get for Hamels, but you could get something that might help next season.
Before the Phillies opened the second half of their season Friday in Colorado, what would you have said they needed to play in 15 games before the trade deadline to keep Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and others?
I thought for a while they would need to finish 10-5, but the more I think about it the more I think it has to be better than that.
If they finish a very good 10-5 they’ll still be eight games under .500 entering the trade deadline. Is that good enough for Ruben Amaro Jr.? Should it be? If you’re looking at things with a cold and calculated eye it shouldn’t be. Entering tonight’s game at Dodger Stadium, the Phillies are 10 games out of the NL Wild Card with eight teams ahead of them in the standings. The Pirates, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot, are on pace to win 89 games. The Phillies need to finish 49-22 (.690) to win 89.
So say it’s July 30 or 31 and the Phillies are 10-5 since the break. They’re looking better. Roy Halladay has stabilized the rotation, taking pressure off the bullpen. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard look closer to form. They’re playing good, solid baseball. You start to think, “Boy, maybe these guys can get on a run.” But then you look at the standings and see the Phillies are 47-55, still way behind the Nationals in the NL East and something like seven or eight games behind the Wild Card leaders with seven teams ahead of them in the standings.
Then a team like the Rangers call.
Hey, Ruben. Listen, we thought about it and we’ll give you that package you want for Hamels. We’re just too close to winning the World Series not to go for it. What do you say?
What do you say? Do you say no on a long shot to win a Wild Card spot, which only guarantees one playoff game? Do you pass up on an opportunity to get younger and fill a few holes, like finding a power-hitting third baseman you sorely need?
These were the things running through my mind as I headed to the visitor’s clubhouse following last night’s 3-2 victory over the Dodgers. The victory gave the Phillies a three-game winning streak, their first winning streak of three or more games since May 23-26. It also was the first time since May 13 they won a game when scoring three or fewer runs.
Does 12-3 convince Amaro to stand pat? They’d still be four games under .500, and they still would need to play 40-20 (.667) the rest of the way to finish with 89 wins. But it’s a more difficult decision at that point. Fans will start getting excited again. They’ll start believing. But don’t you have to push through and make the trade anyway? If it’s the package you want I think you probably do. But it must be the package you want. No settling. You can’t get Vicente Padilla, Travis Lee, Omar Daal and Nelson Figueroa, like they got for Curt Schilling in 2000. They can’t get Placido Polanco, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin, like they got for Scott Rolen in 2002. They have to get the guys they want.
Tough call, isn’t it?
So what would it take for you not to sell?
Tell me what it takes to let you go …
When asked yesterday about the possibility Cole Hamels is traded before the end of the month, Jonathan Papelbon told reporters, “I don’t necessarily know if our clubhouse would take that too well.”
That echoes a similar comment Jimmy Rollins made in a telephone interview Sunday evening.
“If guys are going to get traded, it has nothing to do with contracts,” Rollins said. “That means that was their plan from the beginning. You just don’t trade a guy right now, especially a guy like Cole Hamels, for example, just because the team is losing. You don’t do that. If you’re going to let them go to free agency and hope to sign them after the season, then that’s what you’re going to do. You’re not going to all of a sudden start jumping to trade guys. That doesn’t make any sense.
“I know that’s what a lot of times people want to see happen: ‘Well, we need to start rebuilding the team.’ No, you don’t. You don’t hit the panic button. You let it play out. And with some guys, you have to take a chance.”
I’m guessing almost everybody in the clubhouse would feel the same way. It just adds another challenge to the front office: selling the trade to the team as a good thing, if they make it.