Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jimmy Rollins, Comedian

I've got a funny story to tell you.  No, really.  It'll crack you up.  It's about Phillies' shortstop Jimmy Rollins.  Giggling yet?  Okay, here goes.

Jimmy Rollins wants a five-year contract.

I'll give you a few moments to collect yourself.

It's true.  The former National League MVP (accent on "former") and soon-to-be free agent is seeking a five-year deal to remain with the Phillies or with whoever doesn't mind giving their money away.

 Jimmy Rollins' decision to ask for a five-year deal is certainly a head-scratcher.

Let's review this together.  This isn't the 2007 Jimmy Rollins we're taking for a spin here.  You remember that model, don't you?  Rollins was 28 years old and entering his prime when he proclaimed the Phillies as the team to beat in the National League East and then went out and delivered an MVP season.  That was four years ago.

Now Rollins is about to turn 33.  He is coming off a season in which he was placed on the disabled list for the fourth time in four seasons.  He has also continued his decline as the Phillies' leadoff hitter and spark plug.  After his magical 2007 season in which he hit .296 with 38 doubles, a league-leading 20 triples, 30 HR, 94 RBI, 41 SB and 139 runs scored (also pacing the NL in that category), his numbers have suffered.

Since 2008, Rollins has missed a total of 126 games for the Phillies.  His batting average over the past four seasons has been an unimpressive .261 and his on-base percentage (.325) has not been what a team should expect from its leadoff hitter.  Furthermore, Rollins' unexpected power surge in 2007 has proven to be a fluke, as the shortstop has averaged only 14 HR per season since his MVP season.

Speaking of flukes, do you remember those 20 triples he hit in 2007?  (You should.  I only mentioned it two paragraphs ago.)  In the four years since the 2007 campaign, Rollins has managed to hit only 19 triples.  That's one less triple in a quartet of seasons than he managed to hit in one playing-over-his-head season.

So we have a player who's clearly on the downside of his career, knows all the employees at the DL Hotel by first name, and this player is asking to be rewarded with a five-year contract?  Is he being serious or does he think we're as dumb as Turd Ferguson?

Turd Ferguson doesn't think Jimmy Rollins is being funny with his contract demands, and Turd Ferguson knows a thing or two about what's funny.

Let's talk about some of Jimmy Rollins' teammates, shall we?  First, there's Cliff Lee.  In 2010, he helped lead the Texas Rangers to their first World Series appearance in franchise history, a year after he pitched in the Fall Classic for the Phillies.  From 2008 to 2010, Lee went 48-25 with a 2.98 ERA and picked up valuable postseason experience.  For his efforts, the Phillies signed the 32-year-old Lee to a $120 million contract.  How long was this contract for?  Five years.

Now, let's discuss Rollins' infield mate, Ryan Howard.  The Phillies' behemoth has been one of the most feared power hitters in all of baseball since making his major league debut in 2004.  Since 2006, Howard has averaged 44 HR and 133 RBI per season, along with a .274 batting average and .369 on-base percentage.  In April 2010, the Phillies gave the then-30-year-old Howard a $125 million contract extension that would begin in 2012.  What was the length of Howard's deal?  Five years.

Finally, let's look at a certain Harry Leroy Halladay.  The Phillies traded for Halladay prior to the 2010 season and gave him a $60 million contract extension that began this season.  At the time of the trade and subsequent extension, Halladay was 32 years old.  Since then, Halladay has given the Phillies a regular season perfect game, a postseason no-hitter, a 40-16 won-loss record and a stellar 2.40 ERA.  So how long was that extension the Phillies gave him?  Three years.

So Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, two of the best pitchers in the National League who have no health issues and are showing no signs of slowing down, get five years and three years, respectively.  Ryan Howard, the top slugger in the league who had no injury history prior to signing his deal, also gets five years.  None of the three players was older than 32 years old at the time they signed their deals with the Phillies.

Jimmy Rollins is currently older than all three players mentioned above at the time they put their John Hancocks on their contracts.  He also has an injury history and has seen a sharp decline in his numbers, something Lee, Halladay and Howard could not say when they signed on the dotted line.

There is no way Rollins will get a five-year contract from anyone, including the only team he has suited up for.  If the Phillies gave five years to the healthy, productive and younger Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard and only three years to one of the best pitchers of our generation in Roy Halladay, why should they give the brittle Rollins what he's asking for?

Jose Reyes might not get more than five years and that's the 28-year-old reigning National League batting champion we're talking about.  Rollins should consider himself lucky if he gets a Jeter-esque three-year deal. 

Simply stated, Wile E. Coyote, Genius has a better chance to get a five-year deal than Jimmy Rollins, Comedian.  At least with Wile E., you know he'll come back from an injury quickly to do what he does best.

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