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Jimmy Rollins Signs With the Phillies

The wait is over.

Jimmy Rollins is back with the Phillies after signing a three-year $33 million contract, with a vesting option for a fourth year at $11 million that insiders say is very reachable.  In essence, it’s a four-year deal for the man that is the face of the franchise.

See what happens when you let the market establish itself sometimes, Ruben?

Hey, given that Rollins really had no suitors left, and that all the viable back-up options for the Phillies had been exhausted, this deal seems like a no-brainer for both sides.  Amaro didn’t have to go to five years for J-Roll (even Rollins said that his desire for a five-year deal was pie in the sky) and instead got Jimmy at a fair price.

Both guys did well here.

And with Rollins’ signing, the Phils are likely done tinkering with this team.  The 2012 roster is probably set.

The big question is, are the Phillies any better today than they were when the 2011 season ended?

It’s important to remember that this is a team that won 102 games.  So much of the playoffs is about luck.  Anyone who watched the Cardinals’ path to the championship can clearly see they were a team destined to win it all by the baseball angels.  The same thing happened in 2010 to the San Francisco Giants.  Sometimes, in a short series, the better team doesn’t win.

So there wasn’t a whole lot the Phillies could do to get better this offseason.  They were already pretty darn good.  The injury to Ryan Howard certainly hurts their offensive production early in the year.  And I stipulate that even when he comes back, I don’t think Howard is going to have the same kind of power he had last year, and even last year his power was way down.  Who knows what to expect from Chase Utley anymore?  I think he’s a prime candidate for a huge bounce-back year, but his creaky body is a wild card.  A full season of Hunter Pence will be welcome, as will a full season without Raul Ibanez.  The bench looks stronger, and if Dontrelle Willis and Jonathan Papelbon pan out, the bullpen could be scary good, especially with all the strong young arms the Phils can turn to if things get rough on the big league club.  The Phillies will have lost Roy Oswalt, but really, Oswalt’s name was a whole lot better than his production last year.  With the exception of the first month and a half of the season, before he threw his back out, Oswalt pitched like a #4 pitcher, not one of the Phour Aces.

So, even if the Phils lose six to seven more games than they did last year, they’ll still have 95 wins, which is almost guarantees a playoff spot.

I will admit, I was intrigued with the idea of moving on from the Rollins era.  I thought adding a decent one or two-year stopgap player, like Rafael Furcal or Alex Gonzalez, would have made some sense, and signing Aramis Ramirez or Michael Cuddyer would have given the lineup a different look.  The lineup certainly appeared stale at times last year, and a lot of the time it was because the leadoff hitter and the number two hitter (Polanco) weren’t getting on base.  Far too many times last year, the Phillies offense made things way too easy on the opposition.  The NLDS series against the Cardinals was a prime example of that.

But at this point in the offseason, with all the back-up options off the table, re-signing Rollins was the best move to make.  Amaro did a great job waiting Rollins out (even if many of us were starting to get impatient) and getting his star shortstop to sign a deal that was both team-friendly, and player-friendly.

Jimmy has his flaws.  He makes a lot of outs, has a low on-base percentage for a lead-off hitter, and his defensive range is slipping a bit.  He sometimes takes undisciplined at bats and, last year’s NLDS aside and his clutch game-winning double against the Dodgers in 2009 has never been a terrific postseason hitter.

But for now, signing Rollins for what is essentially a four-year deal worth $11 million a year is a good move by the Phillies.  They’ll be out from under Rollins’ contract before he gets too old, and aren’t killing themselves financially either.  Does this leave enough money for the Phils to sign Cole Hamels to a long-term deal?  We should know that soon, as that is most likely up next on Mr. Amaro’s agenda.

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