As the old saying goes, they don't make 'em like they used to.
For Yankees fans, they know this very well with their shortstop and captain Derek Jeter.
Simply put, he just is not the same player that he was 10 years ago. Neither is Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins.
That being said, the Yankees gave Jeter a three-year, $51 million extension this offseason with a player option included for 2014. After long weeks of negotiations, the deal was done, keeping Jeter in Yankee pinstripes.
It's not like anybody envisioned Jeter in any other uniform besides the Yankees'. What many likely did not envision was the outlandish contract that the Yankees gave to him.
Now, the Yankees find Jeter hitting .271, with a .322 on-base percentage and measly .338 slugging percentage. After last year's .370 slugging percentage, not many would have expected much power out of Jeter. They also didn't expect this decline.
Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, Rollins is answering critics' questions. Much like Jeter, many questioned this offseason what Rollins had left in the tank and where the Phillies might go without him.
Right now, Rollins is making it hard for the Phillies to envision a 2012 starting lineup without him. He has posted a .283/.370/.372 start to the season and has batted third for a majority of the campaign.
Now back in his customary lead-off spot, Rollins has produced there as well.
What may be most surprising about Rollins' resurgence is his increased walk rate of 12.1 percent. Last year, Rolllins posted a very respectable 10.6 percent walk rate. Rollins has never been one known for his ability to take pitches, but he is doing just that right now.
Rollins has had his power years; he hit 25 home runs in 2006, had 30 in his MVP season in 2007 and 21 in 2009. In this presently constituted Philadelphia lineup, the Phillies don't need Rollins to hit home runs.
They need him to get on base, and he is doing just that. Not many people would expect Rollins to keep up a .370 OBP for the entire season, but anything from the .350-.360 range would be a drastic improvement for a player who has a career OBP of .329.
Even when Rollins hit 21 home runs in 2009, his OBP was just .296. It might have been the most frustrating season of his career, with manager Charlie Manuel moving him up and down the Phillies' lineup.
Now Rollins looks to settle back into the lead-off spot after batting third in a modified Phillies order for the first month of the season. With Chase Utley's return on the horizon, the Phillies would expect their first three hitters of Rollins, Placido Polanco and Utley to produce big offensive numbers.
It brings up an interesting question. Where will Rollins play in 2012?
He makes $8.5 million this season, the final year of his contract which went into effect prior to the 2006 season. The Phillies were able to work out a relatively friendly five-year, $40 million with Rollins prior to the 2006 season, with the club option for 2011 included.
It was no surprise that the Phillies picked up Rollins' club option well before the 2010 season, a year in advance. At the time, it appeared to be a move that showed the Phillies' loyalty to their long-time shortstop.
Naturally, it would be a surprise for the Phillies to let Rollins go. Quite frankly, there are not many shortstops out there capable of posting a .750 OPS that also play Gold Glove defense. Unsurprisingly, Rollins is off to a good defensive start in 2011, though early numbers say Jeter has actually performed well defensively also.
Rollins is as much a Philadelphia institution as the Liberty Bell or cheesesteaks. Corny analogies aside, the Phillies need Rollins and Rollins needs the Phillies.
Since he broke into the league for a short stint at the end of the 2000 season, he hasn't left. He has set numerous Phillies records, been to three All-Star Games, won three Gold Gloves and oh yeah, won an MVP in 2007.
There is little doubt that Rollins' agent, Dan Lozano, will at least mention Jeter's deal in any negotiations. However, it is doubtful that Rollins will get anything near Jeter's deal, nor should he.
To be frank, Jeter should not have been given Jeter's deal.
There is time for the Phillies to work out a contract with Rollins, but it's hard to imagine any other shortstop patrolling the position for Philadelphia. The less-than-stellar free agent class this offseason includes J.J. Hardy, Yuniesky Betancourt, Rafael Furcal, Jack Wilson and Marco Scutaro.
Sure, feel free to throw Jose Reyes' name in there, but don't expect the Phillies to be interested in the Met.
A three-year deal in the $30-33 million range for Rollins would not be surprising, and would seem to fit both sides pretty well. Rollins will be 33 in November, and his best days, much like Jeter's, are behind him.
Don't expect him to get the type of contract that Jeter did, though. And don't expect Rollins to ask for it, either. He's going to be realistic.
A team that wears pinstripes already made a mistake with their shortstop. Now the Phillies have their turn to get a deal done with theirs.
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