Jimmy Rollins has been the confident voice of the Philadelphia Phillies during their reign as the beasts of the National League East for the past four (five after 2011) seasons. It has been well-documented that Rollins is in the last year of his contract, and there is much debate about whether or not he should be retained.
One side of the spectrum feels that Rollins should be kept for many reasons. Rollins is still as good a defensive shortstop as there is in the National League, and the upcoming free agent class leaves much to be desired at the position. Also, the Phillies have very little depth in the minor league ranks at shortstop besides Freddy Galvis, and his hitting (or lack thereof) is clearly not major league caliber at this point.
The other side of the re-sign Rollins debate feel that Rollins is clearly a declining player at this point, and his contract demands are not reasonable for a team that needs to re-sign Ryan Madson and give Cole Hamels the payday he deserves.
Whatever side of the debate you are on, something that was an issue in the past is becoming visible again this season—Rollins' lack of hustle. Rollins was benched by Charlie Manuel on June 5, 2008 for failing to run out a grounder and has not been benched since, so you may be asking, why is this even a discussion?
Phillies fans that watch every game have clearly seen many instances this season when Rollins fails to run full-speed whether he hits a ground ball or a pop fly. Is Rollins "loafing" because he was told by Manuel or Ruben Amaro to do so?
Is J-Roll's lack-of-hustle a concern?
Keep in mind that Rollins missed 74 games in 2010 due to injuries, and subsequently posted career lows in almost every offensive category. Philadelphia is not a town that tolerates a player that does not hustle.
Chase Utley is already one of the most beloved players in Phillies history because of his full-speed ahead attitude towards the game. Michael Jack Schmidt was the greatest third baseman in MLB history and best player in franchise history, and he never fully clicked with the city of Philadelphia because of the way he played the game.
Local talk radio stations like 610 WIP and 97.5 the Fanatic have been ablaze this season with callers complaining of Rollins' lack of hustle. Could Rollins be running (or not running, in this case) out of town?
We saw Domonic Brown not run out a ground-ball this season and be reprimanded by Manuel after the game. Players not hustling can become contagious (see the New York Mets) but the Phillies are lucky to have players like Utley, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and even Hunter Pence, who are known for their legendary work-ethics.
Rollins has already stated this season that there will be no hometown discount for the Phillies. I guess that only applies for top-notch players (see Lee, Halladay) coming to Philadelphia, huh Jimmy?
Unless the Phillies win the World Series this season, there is no denying that Amaro will face criticism from Phillies fans, no matter what he decides to do with Rollins. There's also no denying that the lack of hustle that Rollins has displayed this season has no place in Philadelphia.
Is Rollins the new "Charlie Won't-Hustle?"