When it comes to Jimmy Rollins, the Philadelphia Phillies are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and there really is no reason to expect that it will be any better any time soon.
Since 2009, Rollins has been merely a shell of the player he was back in his glory days. His fire seems to have quelled, his predictions have quieted and his spirit just isn’t there. Rollins still wants to play, but at this point in his career, he is focused more on the individual goals and not the team aspect of the game. He doesn’t hustle the way he used to and seems to have accepted what the Phillies have become more than the rest of his teammates.
While this shouldn’t be a problem for the Phillies, it is.
In any other season, they could have traded or released Rollins, but 2013 is just the second of his guaranteed three-year deal. And his vesting option for another year kicks in after 1,100 plate appearances in 2013 and 2014 combined or 600 plate appearances in 2014. Considering that Rollins has still managed 537 plate appearances in a down year, he does seem on pace to vest that extra year.
For the Phillies, this means two more years of lackluster play, disappointing results and more pop-ups than you would think possible.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Rollins still has a pretty solid glove in the infield and doesn’t appear to have lost a step … that is when he wants to run. He has 26 doubles in 2013, which is actually not too bad. The problem is that Rollins has abandoned what he did best, and has tried to be a home run hitter with varying degrees of success. The Phillies don’t need him to be this, and he hasn’t had much success with it in recent years anyway.
Ryne Sandberg seems convinced he can help Rollins return to his best form; but if he can’t, the Phillies are stuck in a no-win situation.
There is no shortage of infielders that the team could promote, but why do so if the young players would only get minimal at-bats as Rollins plays everyday? It isn’t going to happen. And it isn’t as if the Phillies can trade Rollins, as he has a no trade clause and has indicated that he has no plans in going anywhere.
So when it comes down to it, the best the Phillies can hope for is that Sandberg is as good a hitting coach and motivator as he was a player. Because if he is, having Rollins on this team is an asset and not a burden. In the past, the team used to go as Rollins goes, so Phillies fans can only hope and pray that the aging superstar can start going once again.
Because when he is on, the Phillies really are a much better team.