“Fifth year option. My option.”
If Jimmy Rollins truly is hellbent on getting a five-year guarantee during his free-agent whirlwind tour come December, then the Phillies clubhouse leader won’t be back. That’s ancient news in this Internet age.
Should the guy who changed the culture in the Phillies organization truly exit, what do the Phillies do? How do they fill the void in the lineup? Short of oft-injured and sure to be overpaid Jose Reyes — and the Phillies can only have so many $20-plus million a year guys — there are no great options at shortstop. Good options exist, but not great ones. Maybe you can get a one or two-year stopgap to assess Freddy Galvis a bit more.
Maybe Marco Scutaro or Rafael Furcal come here. Even if they do, they are older and on the decline. Scutaro can still hit close to .300 and his approach may be what the Phillies want. Furcal isn’t an effective everyday guy anymore at the plate. His best years recently have come when he’s played 80-90 games. In 2010, he hit .300 in 97 games. Maybe a combination of him and Michael Martinez fills the void.
If the Phillies do indeed move on from Rollins, the void needs to be filled elsewhere — at third base. His name is Aramis Ramirez.
We’re not ready to write off Placido Polanco just yet. The double sports hernia affected him at the plate. The guy doesn’t go from a .300 hitter to an automatic out overnight. Still, he’s never been a power guy and the Phillies need one.
Ramirez is a potential free agent as he and the Cubs hold a mutual $16-million option for 2012. Whether or not Ramirez wants to search for another pay day or new team President Theo Epstein picks up the option is something to keep an eye on.
The Cubs third baseman is coming off of a .306 and 26 home run season. He’d be the ideal five-hole hitter behind Ryan Howard. Except for 2010, the guy has hit .289 or higher ever year since 2003. Except for 2009, he’s launched at least 25 homers a year ever season since 2002.
Put Ramirez in this lineup with Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, and he likely at least equals those numbers.
Granted, Ramirz is 33 and a three-year deal puts the team in the same situation they are right now with Polanco. Still, the window to win is now. And, with the hopeful emergence of Galvis, the continued hope that Dom Brown “gets it” and the play of Vance Worley and the Phillies young gun bullpen, you hope you can afford a guy like Ramirez on the books in 2014.
Imagine a lineup of:
Of course, the obvious question is what do you do with Polanco and his $6.5 million salary next year. You could use him as a supersub and the best PH in the NL. He also could be the answer to give the aging infield needed rest. Oh, and Utley can play first and Polly can man second until Howard is recovered.
Replacing Rollins won’t be easy, but upgrading another position in his absence might soften the blow.