Jimmy Rollins may be the best option
by Scott Butler 12/7/11

Ahhh, what to do with Jimmy Rollins? If you decide to let Rollins go, you are replacing the face of your organization, your leadoff hitter, your former MVP, your team “captain," your quarterback on defense, and the one player who was here when we stunk and when we won it all. Of course J-Roll’s absence in 2012 won’t have the same impact as if it had taken place in 2009, but removing your shortstop and franchise player is no small decision.

Here is the Phillies shortstop conundrum:

Their shortstop of the future is Freddy Galvis, but offensively he is probably a year away from being ready for the majors. With few quality position players waiting in the minors, Galvis represents the Phillies best option to go younger and cheaper.

But J-Roll wants three to five years. We’ve already seen a noticeable offensive decline by Jimmy, and who knows how good he will be when he is 35 in the last year of his contract. Jimmy was the unquestioned leader in the clubhouse in his prime years and when Jimmy talked the talk, he walked the walk. But his approach had a lot to be desired, he was stubborn to make any changes, and routinely didn’t hustle to first. That was fine and dandy when he still produced, but when that production wanes, Jimmy could become a hindrance in the locker room very quickly.

The obvious solution is to find a solid, veteran shortstop for one year before handing the reigns to Galvis in 2013. Unfortunately, I pointed out recently that the Phillies won’t find much in the free agent market. Unless the Phillies are happy with Jerry Hairston at shortstop, they need to find their answer through a trade.

So who could the Phillies get through a trade at shortstop?

You might be surprised at how few quality shortstops exist. There isn’t much outside of the superstar shortstops like Reyes and Tulowitzki (and let me break it to you, they aren’t going anywhere after signing their huge contracts). Hanley Ramirez may be an option for some team now that Reyes stole his position at short, but the Phillies don’t have the pieces to trade for him. And you can forget about Derek Jeter. Even if the Yankees would consider moving Jeter, his contract is way too big for what he offers and he is signed through at least 2013.

Some of the remaining names are nothing more than recognizable: Jason Bartlett, JJ Hardy, Ian Desmond, Jamey Carroll, and Emilio Bonifacio. These players are either defensive liabilities, bad hitters, or just overall a downgrade compared to Rollins.

That's why it was exciting to hear the name of Aramis Ramirez being thrown around. If the Phillies insert Ramirez at third in place of Polanco, it more than replaces Jimmy's offense and allows the Phillies to either acquire a veteran glove for a year or take their chances on Galvis at third. I'm hearing even as I write this that the Phils are close to a deal with Rollins, so that might be a fleeting dream.

Let's put it this way: Jimmy Rollins is the best shortstop available. Period. Unless Ruben Amaro has something up his sleeve, the Phillies are stuck with Rollins.

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