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What to do with Jimmy Rollins

Could this be Jimmy Rollins' last year in Philadelphia?

The stretches of ineptitude for the Phillies offense this season has been well-documented. A lot of that has to do with the injuries to Chase Utley and Placido Polanco, failing to hit with runners in scoring position, and Raul Ibanez getting old fast. And though it was clear Jimmy Rollins wasn't hitting, since the season, his horrible season has flown generally under the radar. He's got one year left on his deal, and later in the article I'll look at some options for how to move forward once is contract runs out. First, let's look at some key stats since his 2007 MVP season. The first table is your traditional stats and in the second we have some advanced figures.

Season - Games
Hits
HR
BB
SO
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
2007 - 162
212
30
49
85
.296
.344
.531
.875
2008 - 137
154
11
58
55
.277
.349
.437
.786
2009 - 155
168
21
44
70
.250
.296
.423
.719
2010 - 88
85
8
40
32
.243
.320
.374
.694

 

Season - Games
wOBA
wRC SecA ISO BABIP
LD%
oWAR Dollars
2007 - 162
.378
127.2
.352
.235
.300
19.9
5.0
$25.8
2008 - 137
.357
90.1
.344
.160
.290
24.0
3.2
$24.1
2009 - 155
.316
79.0
.272
.173
.251
19.2
1.5
$12.1
2010 - 88
.317
44.1
.291
.131
.246
16.8
1.1
$9.1

 

Fangraphs

As you can see, his offense has slipped significantly as his BABIP has dropped way below the mean. Part of this dip in BABIP is because he's hitting less hard line drives and popping up more. Defensively, he's still earning more than his actual contract dictates, but as of last year, he's back on par with what they're paying him. Not nearly the kind of on-base production you're looking for from the top of the order.

Jimmy had 56 at-bats from the non-leadoff spots in the lineup, his most since the beginning of the decade. Charlie Manuel has gone on the record countless times saying Jimmy is "his guy" and the top of the lineup is his home. But he went to Rollins in the 3-hole to split up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard when Jayson Werth "wasn't hitting with runners in scoring position" and got a triple slash of .276/.345/.466 out of Shane Victorino from the top spot. The past two years, there's no denying that Victorino is a better option to bat first.

Though I don't put much stock in hitting with runners in scoring position or RBI's, Rollins has been much better with guys on base the past two years. He should be moved down in the lineup, allowing Shane/Placido to fill the top two holes. Bill James has him batting .266 with a .336 wOBA, which would be his best in three years.

He'll get better pitches to hit if there are guys on-base, and won't be counted on to walk as much, which he refuses to do anyway. His approach was always suited for lower spots in the order, swinging early in the count and taking risks at the plate. The fact that he is fast (though he's slowing) doesn't make him a bad fit for the 7-hole. Speed helps everywhere and that's where his skills work the best for this team.

It seems that Charlie is coming along to that idea, although a hot start from Rollins could change all that quickly.

Contractually, Jimmy is in the final year of a 5 year, $40 million deal that he signed back in June of 2005. According to Cot's, he's being paid $8.5 million this season since the club picked up his option, tied in salary with Joe Blanton for 9th on the team. Depending on how he performs in 2011, it could be worth it to offer him a 1-year deal in the 8-9 million range, but it's unlikely he'd accept. Since a multi-year deal is (or should be) out of the question, this is likely the last year we'll see Jimmy Rollins in a Phillies uniform.

So who could replace him in 2012 and beyond? Behind him is Wilson Valdez, who at age 32, is still pre-arbitration eligible. Valdez was passable in injury time last season but is not a long-term option at the position.

By trading Jason Donald and Jonathan Villar in recent years, the best farm option at shortstop is all-glove, no-bat Freddy Galvis. He of the .586 OPS last season at Reading, Galvis is a favorite of Phillies scouts because of his MLB-ready fielding tools. The front office tested him by giving him a full season at Double-A at age 20, and he'll most definitely be there again this season. He has a ways to go before he can swing a Major League bat. A lack of speed and a poor eye at the plate doesn't help his case either.

Harold Garcia is a Venezuelan second baseman who was just added to the 40-man roster. He split 2010 between Clearwater and Reading, and should begin 2011 in Double-A next to Galvis. But if the Phils are as high on him as they appear to be, they could bump him up to Lehigh Valley and play him there as the everyday shortstop. Second is his natural position, but he's played a good chunk of games at third during his years in the system. His arm probably isn't strong enough for short right now, but he's sure-handed enough to be able to move all around the infield. His blend of power (.441 SLG) and speed (29 SBs) between the two levels gives him a shot to replace Jimmy when his contract expires.

Cesar Hernandez, a 2B/SS prospect who played all of 2010 in Single-A Williamsport, was recently added to the 40-man roster because of his prowess on the basepaths. He stole 32 bases last season while only being caught 6 times, good for an 84% rate. He's a little further away, but he's arguably got more potential than Garcia and Galvis.

Unfortunately there's not a shortstop version of Domonic Brown waiting in the wings to succeed Jimmy on the team. There's other avenues through which the Phillies can explore finding a shortstop to be that guy, but it seems like, for this season, Ruben is content to go with Rollins and Valdez at the position.

Next offseason, they'll go through the painful process of finding a replacement for Jimmy Rollins on the field. It's impossible that they'll find a way to duplicate his effect in the clubhouse and that'll be harder for Phillies fans to stomach than it was when Burrell left.

Jimmy will tell you he's not looking past winning a World Series this year, but the possibility that this is his last year in red pinstripes is a very real one.