“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Calling Out Jimmy Rollins!!

In Philadelphia Phillies on July 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

It is very rare that you will ever hear the Philly Pressbox criticize a player, but we’ve seen all that we can stand, and somebody needs to be held accountable. Who would’ve ever thought that sitting here on the morning of the 4th of July that the Phillies would be sporting a 36-46 record and be 12 games behind the Washington Nationals in the Eastern Division? As Spring Training approached we knew we would not have Ryan Howard until July, but tried to make up for that with the signings of Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome. Wigginton obviously isn’t Howard; he’s hitting .246 with 8 HR’s and 33 RBI’s. The Thome experiment “busted out” and he’s gone. We didn’t know in March that we wouldn’t have Chase Utley for the first half of the season. For some reason management didn’t know he was injured, Utley didn’t tell them, or the fans were kept in the dark, maybe all three. Without Utley and Howard out the lineup became a crap shoot with each night looking more like a science project. We did find a young 2nd baseman in Freddy Galvis who could field the position, but isn’t ready to hit big league pitching. Add his serious back injury and drug suspension and Galvis future is in question. We gave the leftfield position to John Mayberry after a decent finish to last season, only to find out that he can’t handle the job. Mayberry is currently hitting .226 with 6 HR’s and 23 RBI’s.  What about Shane Victorino? Victorino has been a solid player for the Phillies the last 7+ seasons, hitting close to .280 and bringing excitement to the ballpark every night. We’re not seeing that this season! Shane is at the top of the list in fundamental errors this season. How many times can you miss the cutoff man? Hunter Pence has also been a mystery in the outfield. Quite honestly, he’s been brutal with the glove, but made up for some of it with his arm. The injuries put Pence in the tough position of hitting clean up, with no protection in front of or behind him. Overall, Pence has put up decent numbers, .286, 16, 48, which should improve in the second half with some help in the lineup.

That brings us to Jimmy Rollins. JRoll seems to be getting a free pass and we’re not sure why. No one expected Rollins to ever match his MVP season of 2007; however, he has declined in nearly every category every year since 2007. Even at that we were willing to give him a pass based on one thing, LEADERSHIP. Jimmy was, as they say, “the straw that stirred the drink”. He brought “swagger” to the ballclub. His brash statements about the ballclub and the other teams in the division, created a cockiness that seemed to spread throughout the ballclub and the fan base. There’s nothing like calling out the Mets! Where is that Jimmy Rollins this season? Maybe JRoll thinks the Phillies aren’t that good. If you’re not bringing something different to the party then you need a leadoff hitting shortstop to produce more that a .256 batting average, 5th among the starters, and a .310 on base percentage, OBP, 7th on the team, ahead of only Mayberry and Galvis. Those are not the numbers of a leadoff hitter. Add to that the number of pop outs and fly outs and it spells trouble for the lineup.  If JRoll and the Phillies are going to be successful he has to hit the ball on the ground or hit line drives and use his legs. If he can’t, or won’t do that, he needs to go to the bottom of the lineup. With that said, the Phillies will be paying Rollins $11m a year for 2012, 2013, 2014 and an option year of 2015.

Let’s get back to Rollins “swagger”. It’s easy to have “swagger” when you’re on top, as the Phillies have been as the NL East champions the last 5 seasons. It’s much more difficult to step out on the edge when your team may not be as good as it used to be. Rollins actions on the field look like he’s representing a bad ballclub. He’s still very good defensively, however, his approach at the plate and the look on his face tells a different story. Pop out after fly out result in a non-hustling leadoff hitter that barely makes it to 1st base before the ball is caught. The electrifying, contagious smile of a guy loving what he’s doing is gone. You don’t even see the constant TV shots of Rollins endlessly talking to Charlie Manual in the dugout as he has for years.

If passing out blame for this first half of the season, there’s plenty to go around. You can blame injuries, you can blame the Chad Qualls set up man disaster, you can blame a middle bullpen full of guys that aren’t ready for the big leagues yet, or you can take responsibility and play with the hand you’re dealt. JRoll received a lot of credit, as the leader, when things went good for all of these years so he needs to be held accountable when they’re not.

The Philly Pressbox is calling out Jimmy Rollins to step up his game and be the $11m, leader, “the straw that stirs the drink” that he’s capable of being!! There’s still time but it needs to start TODAY!

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