Picture taken by myself on Aug. 23 at the Phillies/Dodgers game in Philadephia. Jimmy Rollins is the batter who appears to be pulling away from someone trying to take his candy bar, and Russell Martin is the catcher who appears to be gently rubbing Rollins' "area."
Last year, Jimmy Rollins became a Philadelphia icon. Everybody in the city already loved the way J-Roll played, but they didn't think of him as elite.
First, it was his statement that the Phillies were the team to beat that year. Then it was his National League Most Valuable Player award. Those two things made him elite in a Phillies fan's mind.
But this year everything changed.
This year, Rollins got off to a decent start but went down with an early injury. When he came back, his average was in the .300s for a few days. Then things went down hill.
Rollins stopped hitting, stopped producing runs, and stopped getting on base. In fact, he has the lowest on-base percentage for leading an inning off in the entire league (Ryan Howard is second lowest, of course). He was (and still is) having a putrid year by his standard.
Then he was benched for not hustling, and then he was benched again, this time for being tardy one too many times (great job Charlie Manuel, by the way).
And, of course, some fans started to boo him. Did he deserve it? Probably.
Then what does he do?
He calls the Philadelphia fans "front-runners." (Oh, and Ryan Howard sat right next to him nodding the whole time...)
So now he really gets booed. If he didn't like the boos before, he was going to despise them this time.
(Luckily, I was there for his first game back in Philadelphia after the statements to hear the words of wisdom for J-Roll.)
"Booooooooooo!!!!!!" quickly became the word of the night.
Rollins' performance didn't help him much: He grounded into double plays and flied out for the next few days, with the boos becoming harsher. He started being treated like an away player, learning things about his mother he had never known before.
Ever since that week, he's never been the same.
In his last 10 games, Rollins is batting .415 with 10 runs batted in, five runs, seven stolen bases, and six bases on balls. He has also moved his average from .255 to .272.
On Aug. 26, he hit his first home run since July 31.
And in the last 30 days (which does include his "front-runner" statements and slump right after it), he is batting .298.
So is Jimmy Rollins on fire? Coincidentally, yes.
Now that I've explained the entire situation, let's move on to my point.
What should the Phillies do with Jimmy Rollins?
Do they trade him?
Well, they don't really have any other shortstop they can bring up if they trade Rollins, and Eric Bruntlett is not an everyday player, so you would need to find a replacement somehow if you traded him.
Or do you keep him?
Well, he's 29-years old (did you know Chase Utley is 29 as well? My oh my, time is running out for Chase, he needs to get to that next level quick), and the best of his career appears to be behind him. So he would end up being one of those guys who fade and you get nothing for him down the road.
What could he be traded for?
I would think he would be traded for minor leaguers and one major-league player. That major-league player would be someone who starts 50 percent of the time, but sits the bench 50 percent as well, and he would need to be a shortstop.
And one of the prospects would be a top-15 prospect overall, and the other would be an average prospect.
This way, you get something your organization really needs (some high prospects) and you have the ability to now sign Pat Burrell no matter what (and they need to do that, no matter what anyway, we don't want to lose another outfielder).
That way you still have Chase Utley, Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, and Ryan Howard (I would trade Howard, if you couldn't find a trade for Rollins, and get something out of Howard before he becomes Adam Dunn).
What do I think will happen? I think Phillies will sit down with Rollins and ask him what he wants to do. I think Rollins will say he doesn't want to be in Philadelphia, and the Phillies will meet his requests. So, I say Rollins will not be with the Phillies in 2009.
It will be a peaceful departure, and J-Roll will be welcomed by everyone the next time he plays a game in Philadelphia.
Agree or disagree? What's your opinion?