Why Philadelphia Phillies Must Re-Sign Jimmy Rollins

Susan Cohen-DicklerCorrespondent IIJune 20, 2011

SEATTLE - JUNE 17:  Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after striking out to end the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 17, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies without Jimmy Rollins at his familiar shortstop position would be like a car without a spark plug, like Batman without Robin, like peanut butter without jelly.

Why then are so many fans and so-called sports experts calling for an end to the Jimmy Rollins era in Philadelphia?

You got me.

"As Jimmy Rollins goes, the Phillies go."

Most have heard and even repeated this familiar mantra. Ryan Howard may be the team's power source, Chase Utley might demonstrate their blue collar work ethic, but it is clearly Jimmy Rollins who is the heart and soul of this Philadelphia Phillies team.

It is Rollins who is the team's catalyst, Rollins who is their vocal leader, and Rollins who got it all started with his "team to beat" prediction in 2007. At the time, there were many, including his own teammates, who were not so happy with his bravado. It was the Phillies' arch rival, the New York Mets, who were heavily favored to win the Eastern Division that year and Jimmy had put his team on the spot.

But the 5'8" shortstop stood tall and walked the walk, leading his team to their first Division Title since 1993. To top it off he was named the NL's MVP. While some might call him cocky, the charismatic shortstop sees it differently.

"When you put yourself out there, you put yourself at risk," Rollins told New York Times journalist William C. Rhoden. "But it's a great place to be. You can build a legacy off something like that."   

And build one he did.  

Not yet done with predictions, Rollins returned to his crystal ball and in 2008 boldly stated that his team would have 100 wins. And so it came to pass. In fact, that Phillies team kept on winning until Rollins and his Phillies had brought a World Series parade to champion-starved Philadelphia.  

It was their first title in 28 years, proving once again: "As Jimmy Rollins goes, the Phillies go."

There are those who point to Rollins' declining numbers and increasing injuries as reasons to put an end to his time in Philadelphia. But his recent performance might suggest that a healthy Rollins still has much to offer.

This year, when Rollins scores a run the Phillies are 23-10. For his career his team is 534-235, a .694 winning percentage when Jimmy crosses the plate.

As for fielding, arguably the most important skill for any shortstop, Rollins has the third highest fielding percentage in history and the second highest for active shortstops. So yes, he can still "pick it."  

The Phillies do need to develop a young shortstop. They need a player-in-training for that inevitable day when Rollins does call it a career. But the prevalent talk of acquiring the Mets' Jose Reyes, as many are suggesting, is nothing short of blasphemous.

Rollins's worth to this Phillies team goes way beyond the numbers. On a team of quiet superstars, Rollins is the unquestioned vocal leader. Rollins sets the table both on and off the field. To see his infectious smile on the field and in the dugout is to know that all is right in the land of the Phillies. 

In an era when few athletes spend their entire careers with the same team, an age where free agency has become the rule not the exception, it would be refreshing to see a guy finish where he started.  

"As Jimmy Rollins goes, the Phillies go."

If I have my way, J-Roll will stay in the red pinstripes and retire a Philadelphia Phillie.

Hey Jimmy, why don't you make that your next prediction?