Amaro in a Tough Position with Rollins
While Ruben Amaro Jr is tinkering with the Phillies on-field product, its the off-the-field imagine he has to be aware of.
You see, Amaro is in a real tough spot.
One of the most popular, yet tough-to-figure out stars of his team and a key reason why the Phillies have become - well the Phillies still isn't signed. Not only is Jimmy Rollins not signed, there doesn't seem to be much urgency to even open conversation with the only shortstop they have known since 2001.
It looks like this one has the makings of a knock'em out, drag'em fight. There is some interest on the market for Rollins with his home-town team the Giants looming along with the Brewers, Cardinals and Braves.
So far, the Phillies have added three veteran pieces; Jim Thome, Jonathan Papelbon and bringing back Brian Schneider. With those three moves, it doesn't appear that the Phillies care about getting younger and the mine-set always has been to "go-for-it".
If that is your mind set, how can they afford both on and off-the-field to not bring back Rollins? The shortstop market is very thin, there isn't one capable replacement for Rollins other then breaking the bank for Jose Reyes, and we are all pretty sure that's not happening.
The problem is, fans aren't real sure if they want to bring back Rollins for the terms he is asking for and that's where Amaro is in a tough position. Last off-season, while fans wanted to bring Jason Werth back, they understood that the Nationals deal was just to much to counter-offer.
This time around is somewhat different.
Rollins is a home-grown, face of the franchise player who will not easily be replaced. Finding a right-fielder is an easier task then finding not only a shortstop, but a gold-glove defender and spark plug to your line-up. Yes, the Phillies missed Werth in their line-up, but no player during the Phillies recent string of success meant more to the team then Rollins.
While the 2007 NL MVP isn't getting any younger, he will be 33 at the start of next season, he is the one guy that when he goes, so do the Phillies. But how much longer will that be the case and can the Phillies afford to make a mistake when it comes to the length of his contract.
If Rollins holds out hope that he will get the five-year deal he covets, then that deal probably won't be coming from the Phillies. How about a four-year deal, do Phillies fans fell comfortable with that? I sure don't. Will Jimmy give in and take a three-year deal that would have him ending his tenure with the Phillies at 37 years old in a league where young men are taking over.
If Jimmy walks then what? Do Nick Punto, Ramon Santiago, John McDonald, Alex Gonzalez, Jack Wilson or any of the other free agent shortstops excite you?
Amarao is really in a no-win situation.
If he brings Rollins back, its going to be a deal that the fans probably don't like and if he lets Rollins walk, then he is going to be stuck with a revolving door at one of the most important positions on-the-field - shortstop.
And what about in the clubhouse, Rollins is one of the most popular guys around and one of the few Phillies who is willing to say something that people will listen to. In a clubhouse with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, your not exactly getting the quote of the year. But Rollins adds personality and swagger to the Phillies he add credence, he is a MVP, an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner and a World Series Champ - will the guy the replace him with be able to say that?
Down on the farm is Freddy Galvis, a light-hitting, slick fielding shortstop who is still about a year-or-two away depending on what scout you talk to. At just 22 years old, can the Phillies real afford to be wrong about this kid and have him take over for Rollins when the team is so close to getting back to and winning a World Series.
In five minor league seasons, Galvis is hitting .246 with an on-base percentage of just .292. He is a guy who rarely walks but showed in his brief stint at AAA Lehigh Valley that he can be a streaky hitter; sound familiar?
Rollins broke into the league as a full-time shortstop as a 22 year old, the same age as Galvis, but the team was horrible and Rollins was able to mature and get on-the-job training. This edition of the Phillies wants to win another World Series and they want to do it in 2012. Can they really afford to place that on the shoulders of Galvis? Can they really afford to pay Rollins what he wants? Can they really afford not to?
All of those questions put Ruben Amaro Jr in a real tough position.
(Mike Gill is the host of the Sports Bash with Mike Gill from 3-7pm weekdays on 97.3 ESPN and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)