Is Jimmy Rollins Almost a Derek Jeter Situation for the Phillies?

Is Jimmy Rollins Almost a Derek Jeter Situation for the Phillies?

Derek Jeter could never be confused with Jimmy Rollins. Jeter is an internationally-recognized star and first ballot Hall of Famer. He has over 3,000 hits, is an 11-time All Star, and a five-time World Champion. I don't like the guy -- at all -- but ordinarily I would never even think to use J-Roll's name in the same sentence.

Except this time last year, Jeter was embroiled in bitter contract negotiations with the New York Yankees. He had spent 16 seasons in the Bronx, defined his legacy wearing those pinstripes, and did his part to re-establish the franchise as a Major League powerhouse. Yet despite everything he accomplished, everything he meant to the organization, there was a very real possibility he could have wound up finishing out his career someplace else.

It's from there we can begin to draw some parallels.

Rollins played for the Phillies before it was cool. He toiled away on losing ball clubs, risked his livelihood on the unforgiving Vet turf. When the time finally came to talk extension, Jimmy signed on for five more years during the '05 season, committing the prime of his career to Philadelphia without so much as testing the market.

And he became a nice little ballplayer, too. Maybe he's not on Jeter's level, but Rollins has been the catalyst for this offense for the last decade. He's a three-time All Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, the National League MVP in 2007, and part of the 2008 team that delivered this city it's first World Championship in 25 years. Some would argue they would not have won it all were it not for his swagger... that he's the heart and soul of that clubhouse.

Wouldn't it be weird, almost wrong, seeing Jimmy Rollins under another hat?

Has he perhaps earned the opportunity to retire with the Phillies?

For the purpose of full disclosure, I thought the business with Jeter was bull when it was going down. Loyalty in professional sports, while a concept I fully appreciate and endorse, is just that: a concept. It's a romantic ideal that simply doesn't mesh with the reality that executives have to make cold, hard decisions with the resources that are available to them in order to put the best possible product on the field.

With that in mind, I am not advocating some type of sign-Jimmy-at-all-costs strategy. The number of years has to make sense, the trade-off probably being they would have to overpay a little.

I would be okay with that.

Obviously he's going to decline. In fact, it's started already. He seems prone to injury. His power numbers have dipped, his speed has diminished, and he's not even hitting for as high an average as we've become accustomed -- which wasn't always that high in the first place.

Yet there are some advantages to retaining a Rollins. His defense is as good as ever, and there is no reason to think he couldn't play a better shortstop than anybody who might replace him. Speaking of replacement, we still have no idea where that will come from. Clear-cut options are limited: spend a butt-load more money on Jose Reyes, or promote the untested Freddy Galvez. If another solution pops up, besides bringing in some stopgap, I'm all ears, but that's all we've got so far. At the very least, Rollins is serviceable.

And here's a factor the front office needs to consider: Jimmy's name alone might be worth a contract. Shirts with "Rollins 11" will continue to sell, maybe even more so as fans become increasingly appreciative of his service, as will jerseys, collectibles, and all of his other personalized merchandise. He's a popular player -- as he should be after 12 seasons -- and as much as some fans would like to see the team upgrade, I don't get the sense there is a huge contingent trying to run the guy out of town either.

To be perfectly honest, I can't even entirely sell myself on the positives of Jimmy Rollins staying in Philadelphia, or the very idea of re-signing a player whose best days are behind him. I only know it feels wrong he might leave. This incredible run, it all started with him, all started with his famous remark, "This is the team to beat."

Maybe the Phillies should be the team to beat if another town wants to acquire Jimmy Rollins. Then again, maybe Jimmy Rollins doesn't mean quite that much to Philadelphia.

Taking in return, Ryan White moves on but will always remember Flyers

Taking in return, Ryan White moves on but will always remember Flyers

Ryan White was whisking by to the visiting locker room when he had to stop.
With huge delight, the long-haired forward hugged a Flyers employee in bright orange athletic gear standing outside the laundry room. 
The two exchanged hellos and good wishes before White’s path was impeded again.
None of this was a nuisance. This is what he loved.
“That’s probably the biggest thing I miss here in Philly is the people around the rink are great,” White said late Thursday night inside the Wells Fargo Center. “The guys from the locker room attendants to the security guys to people taking care of my girlfriend and stuff like that. It’s a special place to play and I always felt like I was welcomed here.”
White had just scored his first goal of the 2016-17 season. All offseason, he hoped and planned for the occasion to be in a Flyers sweater. He talked about his endearment for the organization trumping the worth of money elsewhere.
But on Thursday night, he was wearing an Arizona Coyote uniform and, what he called, “putting the final nail in the coffin” of a 5-4 loss for the Flyers.
“It feels good scoring here,” he said.
Not at all how he pictured it.
Playing fourth-line minutes (8:09), White somehow snuck a shot past Steve Mason from a nasty side angle with 4:19 remaining in regulation, making it 5-3 and virtually snuffing another Flyers comeback bid.
“Any time you’re coming back playing your old club, you want to make sure you get a win. … I loved playing as a Flyer, it was a lot of fun playing here,” White said. “Guys over there are a great group of guys, good coaching staff, good people in the organization. It’s just a special place to play.”
It’s where White wanted to be but he holds no ill will towards general manager Ron Hextall and the Flyers. Hextall liked and expressed interest in re-signing White, a role-playing fourth-liner, but went out and inked free-agent right winger Dale Weise (four-year, $9.4 million deal), more of a third-line player with similar attributes.
That signaled White’s end with the Flyers after two seasons.
“I think I’d be crazy if I didn’t want to come back here, it just didn’t work out,” White said. “I’m just happy I’ve gotten a chance to play in Phoenix and it’s been pretty good so far.”
White on Wednesday night caught up with former Flyers teammates Radko Gudas and Michal Neuvirth. While with the Flyers, he lived in the same building as the two. They all had dinner and White got to visit Gudas’ baby daughter.
On the ice, White, gritty and physical-minded, made his presence felt. He was penalized in the second period for charging Nick Cousins. He was also called for a delay of game penalty in the final two minutes for closing his hand on the puck. The Flyers scored on the power play, ironically turning White’s goal into the gamer-winner.
“He told me he just wanted the winning goal,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said with a laugh. “So that’s all that counts.”
White enjoyed the rough-and-tough nature against his old friends. 
“All those guys play hard, they know how the game goes,” he said. “I had a little conversation with Gudy last night at dinner and he said, ‘You’re going to be running around out there.’ I figured it would be no other way. You’ve got to expect that coming from those guys, they’re a hard group over there.
“Those guys know how I play and they all play the same way, too, so it was fun.”
He also appreciated seeing the Flyers Heritage Night pregame ceremony honoring the organization’s legends, led by late founder Ed Snider. White kept tabs on the Flyers’ home opener last week when a banner commemorating Snider was raised to the rafters.
“I even heard about the first game coming back, it was pretty emotional in here,” he said. “It was a pretty special time playing here with Mr. Snider around. I think he’ll obviously be forever missed and like I said, it was just special to be a part of it.”
White wasn’t sure what to expect in his return. In the end, he wasn’t surprised.
“It’s funny, I thought maybe coming back here, it would be a little bit different,” White said. “But they’re a pretty welcoming group and it’s nice to be here.”
Even if it’s just for one game.

Rod Brind'Amour relishes night with Eric Lindros, Flyers alumni

Rod Brind'Amour relishes night with Eric Lindros, Flyers alumni

When he was introduced at center ice Thursday night, Rod Brind’Amour, who epitomizes what it meant to be a Flyer perhaps like no other player in franchise history, acknowledged the crowd.
And then the current Carolina assistant coach walked over to former teammate Eric Lindros and hugged him.
There were indeed some awkward moments for the two back in the 1990s, but they remain Flyers forever and this was Heritage Night for the organization’s Hall of Famers in celebration of their 50th Anniversary.
“You know I haven’t seen him in forever, and it was just fun and when we got out there we just said, ‘nice to be back on the ice again’, it’s been a long time and I haven’t seen him,” Brind’Amour explained of the gesture toward Lindros. 
“I saw Johnny [LeClair] last year but it was just nice to catch up with these guys and relive some stories, we had a lot of great times so it was nice to see him.”
How ironic that Brind’Amour would get traded to Carolina for a larger centerman in Keith Primeau and eventually after the pain of separation from the Flyers womb had healed, he won a Cup with the Hurricanes.
Ask Roddy and he’ll tell you that Cup should have been won in Philly. He began the season as a member of the 1999-00 team that blew a 3-1 lead to the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals, but was traded at the mid-point.
To this very day, it ranks all-time as the most controversial trade the Flyers ever made. As if the very soul of the organization had been purged.
“Well I mean that’s the way it goes, right?” Brind’Amour said. “We had a great team. We had a great team back then, but trades happen and they were trying to make the team better. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, but had we stayed together who knows what could have happened.
“I’m just fortunate that I got that Cup because obviously, that is what I played for my whole life. Would it have been great to have it here? Yes, I mean that would have been something special, but that’s life. It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to.
“It was just unfortunate we didn’t win because we were one of the best teams in the league there for a long time and things just didn’t work out. It’s hard to win a Stanley Cup, let me tell you.”
He admitted there’s an orange ‘n black spot in his heart that will forever belong to the Flyers. That’s why he interrupted his own season in Carolina to return here for one night of memories.
He also said how much it meant to him last spring when club chairman Ed Snider reached out to him shortly before his death.
“I got a great phone call before Mr. Snider passed and him telling me what he thought I meant to this team,” Brind’Amour said. 
“It meant a lot. So I really feel connected to the Flyers' organization again and I’ll take any chance I can to get back here and be a part of it.
“It has meant a lot to me to be back here and be in the fold. I love the alumni … so, any chance to get to reconnect with these guys means the world to me.”
Which is pretty much how Flyers fans felt about him, too.