Full Circle

October 18th, 2012 by Mike H. | Filed under Baseball, Phillies, Sports.

For many years, Phillies fans were blinded by hollow offensive numbers and award-winning defense. As the years went on, the same fans began to see a player driven by personal stats and ambivalence towards team success. A player who saw no need to be moved from his place in the lineup to better place his skill set elsewhere. Ultimately, fans wanted that player out-of-town and were happy just to get out from underneath the contract despite the poor return.

Then in the summer of 2006, the Phillies parted ways with Bobby Abreu. A player who had All Star quality talent with an All Me quality approach. In the nine seasons Abreu wore red pinstripes, he posted a .308/.416/.513 line with 163 hits, 38 doubles, 4 triples, 21 home runs, and 28 stolen bases (76% success rate) per season. Defensively, Abreu displayed similar traits to the fictional Cleveland Indian Third Baseman Roger Dorn. As you probably remember, neither one was willing to sacrifice their body to make a play.

The Phillies traded Abreu to the Yankees, with Cory Lidle, for Matt Smith, CJ Henry, Carlos Manosterios, and Jesus Sanchez. Smith turned into a LOOGY specialist but appeared in all of 12.2 innings pitched between 2006 and 2007 before needing Tommy John surgery and hasn’t been seen since. Henry couldn’t find a position on the field that justified his style of hitting, just a .199/.254/.331 line over a season and a half in Lakewood. Manosterios looked like a potentially solid middle reliever before the Phillies lost him to the Dodgers via Rule V draft. Sanchez was a catcher who hit like a pitcher, so the Phillies converted him to a pitcher and lost him to the Brewers after one successful season via the Rule V draft.

Six seasons later, the Phillies find themselves in a similar position with a me-first player who puts up similarly hollow numbers albeit with far better defense. While hollow may not be the most accurate way to describe Rollins’ offensive numbers, he definitely succeeds more when the count is in his favor. With any count that includes two strikes, Rollins has a career batting average close to .200. The funny thing is for as much as people get on him for swinging at the first pitch (and subsequently popping that pitch up), Rollins for his career is a .333/.335/.516 on the first pitch he sees.

That being said, there are times where J-Roll becomes J-Stroll and absolutely dogs it. While no one will question his defensive ability, which may or may not be declining, Rollins tends to assume the worst on potentially routine plays and has lacked hustle, to put it nicely. There have even been times where he has become his third moniker, J-Hole, questioning the fans’ loyalty. No one will forget Rollins’ comments about the fans after Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS versus the Cardinals or even the time he referred to us as “front-runners”.

While I was definitely one of the few who did not wish to see Rollins return, the Phillies went ahead and resigned him thru 2014, at the minimum. Rollins currently has two years and twenty-two million left on the guaranteed portion of his contract and has five-and-ten rights, that grant him the ability to block any trade. So there is a good chance that if Rollins were to be traded, the acquiring team will have to pick up that option for 2015 and the Phillies will either have to pay a portion of the contract or the Phillies will have to be willing to take a lesser quality return to free themselves Rollins’ antics.

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