I am by no means a Jimmy Rollins hater, or someone that just throws around accusations of players looking disinterested, but Jimmy Rollins played in 2013, like he had lost his motivation to be a great shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies. Was that the biggest reason for the Phillies only winning 73 games? No, but when your longest tenured player, who just so happens to be a former MVP, looks content with having a down season, it certainly doesn’t help boost team morale. Manager Ryne Sandberg appears to feel that same way.
After Freddy Galvis started for Rollins for a third straight day yesterday, Sandberg didn’t mense words when asked about what has landed Rollins in his doghouse, and made Freddy Galvis a perfect option b.
Sandberg sounded frustrated with Rollins. Specifically, after he praised Freddy Galvis for his “energy” and his “positive influence on everyone around him,” he offered a “no comment” when asked if Rollins provides such things.
Rollins has kept surprisingly quiet through the three day benching, but this morning a herd of reporters (including Todd Zolecki of MLB.com) made their way to Rollins. Much like Sandberg, he didn’t sugercoat things.
Rollins said he had no problem with Sandberg and that he’s the manager, so “he gets to have the last say.” But he also made it clear that he disagreed with Sandberg, saying ”everyone is allowed to have their opinion. That doesn’t make it right.”
Craig Calcaterra of NBC’s Hardball Talk, speculated today on whether Sandberg is simply ‘trying to hard’ in his first Spring Training as manager. Contrary to that, this seems to be a Phillies team that needs a kick in the ass–specifically Rollins.
One thing that you can be certain on, is that Freddy Galvis isn’t going to end up being the Phillies starting shortstop in 2014. Rollins is owed $11 million this season, and only needs 434 plate appearances in 2014 (a feat he has reached 12 of the last 13 seasons) for his $11 million option for 2015 to vest. Hypothetically, the Phillies could try to prevent Rollins from getting 434 plate appearances, but that would mean him having 15-20 games off, which isn’t realistic if the team wants to compete in 2014, like they continuously say. (It would also be a great distraction to the team.) Plus, even if that option doesn’t vest, Rollins has a mutual option with the Phillies for 2015. The Phillies would almost certainly decline their $8 million half of that, but Rollins could very well exercise his $5 million option, to chase more team records.
So while 2014 is technically a contract season for Rollins, it feels like the Phillies are under more pressure to get Rollins to produce, than Rollins is. In all likelyhood Rollins will be in red pinstripes for two more seasons, and the Phillies can’t have him give a 2013-esque output (.252, six homeruns, 39 RBI’s) for the next two seasons, at what could be a $22 million price.