By FRANK WARD
Two all-star caliber shortstops facing contract years. Two guys who are known as the catalysts of their respective teams. One is a former MVP and a WFC. The other has played for a team that has choked and fallen to injuries.
Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes find themselves in similar situations in that both are in the last year of their contracts. Rollins would likely love to remain a Phillie and sign an extension today. However, after two sub par seasons and an injury-plagued 2010, the Phillies need to see the face of the franchise show he still has “it.”
Reyes, on the other hand, wants to wait until after the season to discuss his contract. He is entering the prime of his career at the age of 27 and wants to get as much money as possible and win a championship.
Could Reyes be brought in to succeed JRoll if the Phillies longest-tenured player fails to re-establish himself as an offensive weapon? It may not be as far fetched as it seems.
First, Ruben Amaro follows the principles put into place by Pat Gillick in that they look to make one major move each year, even after championships. The philosophy is based on keeping the team hungry. So far, it’s worked.
In 2009, Raul Ibanez was brought in for Pat Burrell. Last year it was Roy Halladay for Cliff Lee and Placido Polanco for Pedro Feliz. This year, it was the return of Lee. The track record is there.
As for JRoll and Reyes, a switch would continue the philosophy. If JRoll has a productive, healthy year offensively and sparks the Phillies back toward the top of the NL, he is likely brought back to keep him, Howard and Utley together.
If he doesn’t, Reyes is a viable option. He has higher career averages in BA (.286 – .272), OBP (.335 – .328) and SB (41 – 34). He is a spark on offense and solid in the field. JRoll is the better fielder, however, with a .983 fielding percentage to Reyes’ .974. Rollins also has just 10 more errors in 600 more games than Reyes.
All things being equal, JRoll is the guy you want back. But, if he can’t bounce back from two down years and it becomes apaprant his better days are behind him, Reyes could make sense as a guy to bring in.