Phillies Stay or Go: Jimmy Rollins

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Phillies Stay or Go: Jimmy Rollins

The Phillies' first losing season since 2002 is sure to bring wholesale changes in the offseason. But who should stay and who should go? Over the next two weeks, we're asking that very question and putting players under the microscope.

Tuesday, we examined Ethan Martin (see story), and today we take a look at the Phils' veteran shortstop.

Jimmy Rollins
Position: Shortstop
Status: One year remaining on a three-year, $33 million deal with a vesting option worth $11 million for 2015.

Signature game of 2013
The old harbinger for Rollins and the Phillies was always runs. When Rollins scored, the Phillies usually won. That held up (for the most part) in 2013 when the Phillies went 8-3 in games in which Rollins scored two runs and 35-19 in games that he scored at least one run.

Memorably, Rollins belted career homer No. 199 on Sept. 11 at the Bank against the Padres to tie the game up in sixth. One more homer and Rollins becomes the first shortstop in major-league history to hit 200 homers, steal 400 bases and collect 2,000 hits. The only players to accomplish this feat are Paul Molitor, Johnny Damon, Craig Biggio, Marquis Grissom, Roberto Alomar, Barry Bonds, Joe Morgan and Rickey Henderson.

In 2013, Rollins also set the franchise record for doubles and will set club records in 2014 with 263 more at-bats and 60 more hits.

Season as a whole
Though Rollins appeared in 160 games for just the second time of his career in 2013, Rollins had a career-low year in homers, RBIs, triples, slugging and OPS to go with a .318 on-base percentage.

The only difference between 2013 and 2012 was Rollins’ home run and RBI numbers. With his 35th birthday approaching, Rollins’ bat seems to have slowed a bit. However, Rollins finished the season strong, batting .292 with five stolen bases in September.

Can Rollins carry his strong September into 2014? The Phillies sure hope so. In the meantime, look for Rollins to show up for spring training lighter and in better shape. As he gets older, improved fitness will make all the difference.

Stay or go
Rollins’ option vests for 2015 with 434 more plate appearances in 2014. Considering that Rollins averages 680-plus plate appearances in his 13 full big-league seasons, the Phillies will have the veteran shortstop for two more seasons. Owed as much as $22 million over those two years, Rollins might be difficult to trade. Throw in the fact that as a 10-and-5 man Rollins can veto any deal he wants, trading him is nearly impossible.

So whether you like it or not, Rollins very likely will be the Phillies’ shortstop for the next two seasons.

What they're saying ...
"There are a bunch of new pieces. We haven't had that around here for a long time. I'm excited about them. They're good, young players -- big-eyed. A lot of hopes and wishes, it's our part to make sure they come true. It's fun seeing the energy and excitement every single day. The world is still theirs and it's at hand. They can change it. I was that guy. Now it's up to me, Chase [Utley] and Ryan [Howard] to make sure they do change it."

-- Jimmy Rollins, September, 2013

“I've noticed a lot more walks. I've noticed that he is using the whole diamond and getting hits up the middle and to the opposite field. And I see his on-base percentage and his batting average going up. I see a different mind-set as far as hitting line drives and using the whole field, and he is having success with that.

“He's a very good base runner and he's very good at going first to third and he's good at scoring runs when he gets on base. He has good base-running skills and it's fun to watch."

-- Ryne Sandberg on Rollins’ play in September of 2013

“I mentioned to him about hitting at the top of the order and scoring runs and applying his base-running skills and how that's one of his biggest assets for the team going forward. With that has come line drives and doubles. It's not about not swinging for power because he still has the natural doubles power and when he did hit a home run [on Sept. 11] I thought that was the result of having good at-bats leading up to that. That's the full package -- hit for average, get on base, have a chance to score runs and I think doubles are power numbers. He's had a lot of doubles the last month. That's good, too.”

-- Sandberg, September, 2013

Pete Mackanin: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was 'a helluva pitcher'

Pete Mackanin: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was 'a helluva pitcher'

NEW YORK — The clubhouse mood following the Phillies17-0 loss to the Mets Sunday was somber, in part because of the disastrous game that had just wrapped up, but also because of the tragic news of Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

“It was rough. People are devastated. I didn’t even know him and I was crushed,” Phillies starter Jake Thompson said. “I can only imagine how that clubhouse feels. That’s something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, to deal with something of that magnitude.”

Both teams paused for a moment of silence before Sunday’s game and the Mets taped a jersey bearing Fernandez’s name and number onto their dugout wall.

“This morning, that was quite a surprise,” manager Pete Mackanin said of the atmosphere of the day. “I don’t think it affected the players once the game started. It was such bad news this morning that everybody was kind of melancholy.”

Fernandez had built a strong track record against the Phillies in his young career, amassing a 2.88 ERA in six starts.

“It’s kind of cliché to say but you look at the start of his career and he could have been a Hall of Famer,” Thompson said.

Asked how he would remember facing Fernandez, Mackanin was succinct.

“He was a helluva pitcher,” he said.

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Phillies suffer worst shutout loss in modern era to Mets

Phillies suffer worst shutout loss in modern era to Mets

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Jake Thompson faced the issues that a 22-year old starter in his 10th career appearance usually does Sunday against the Mets.
 
Thompson struggled with his command at times, walking the bases loaded in the fourth inning before escaping his self-induced jam with a flyout. He hit a batter and surrendered a home run to Curtis Granderson on a pitch that caught too much of the plate.
 
The righty departed after four innings in what manager Pete Mackanin declared postgame to be Thompson’s last start of the season.
 
But perhaps neither he nor the rest of the Phillies expected the extent to which his struggles would ripple through the bullpen. The Phillies’ relievers surrendered 14 runs, hit three batters and gave up a grand slam in a 17-0 loss, the franchise's worst shutout defeat in the modern era (see Instant Replay).
 
“Obviously the bullpen has scuffled for a while now,” Mackanin said. “That shows you how much the game is about pitching. It keeps you in games, gives you an opportunity to win like it did the first couple of months of the season for us. Now, the last month, it’s not keeping us in games or it’s losing games.”
 
The Phillies’ relievers were charged with 28 runs over the course of their four-game swing in New York. Their collective 4.69 ERA is the fourth-worst in the National League.
 
Sunday, Phil Klein — who hadn’t pitched since he was recalled from Lehigh Valley on Sept. 10 — and little-used Colton Murray and Patrick Schuster — who had combined for three appearances in the past two weeks — took the brunt of the damage.
 
Klein walked two batters, surrendered two singles and hit Mets catcher Rene Rivera in the left hand to force in a run. He left the bases loaded for Murray, who allowed an inherited runner to score on a wild pitch. Murray was pulled in the seventh having gotten into a bases-loaded jam of his own. His replacement, Frank Herrmann, allowed all three runs to score on a walk and a grand slam by Asdrubal Cabrera.
 
Schuster was assigned five runs in the eighth after he was tagged for three hits, walked a batter and hit Gavin Cecchini.
 
Which pitchers — if any — out of the Phillies’ cadre of middle relivers will return next year is an open question and Mackanin made it clear that he will use the remaining six games in the season to evaluate his team’s arms.
 
“It’s another audition.” Mackanin said. “We want to see who might fit in.”
 
Thompson can clearly stake a claim to his role in the Phillies’ rebuilding effort. Despite the hiccup in his final outing, he has come a long way in just two months from being the pitcher that surrendered six runs to the light-hitting Padres in his Aug. 6 debut.

His changeup — a pitch that hitters had connected on for six home runs this year, according to data from Fangraphs — was particularly lively Sunday. Cabrera chased it out of the zone in the first inning for Thompson’s only strikeout.
 
“I think the changeup’s probably been my best pitch up here,” Thompson said. “I’ve given up a lot of homers on it, too. That just shows whenever you don’t execute it, it’s a tough pitch to throw in the zone. As far as the swing-and-misses that I was getting with it, it’s kind of night and day.
 
“At this point last year I pretty much had no changeup, so that’s a big thing for me.”
 
Only 23 on Opening Day next year, Thompson has plenty of room to improve.
 
The Phillies’ bullpen does, too.

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