Phillies Notebook: It's go time for Rollins

Rollins
Rollins
Posted: August 20, 2013

JIMMY ROLLINS' cellphone buzzed early Friday afternoon.

It was a text from his longtime doubleplay partner, Chase Utley. The message: You might want to get in here soon.

Utley was letting Rollins know that Charlie Manuel was getting fired.

"All things come to an end," Rollins said later that night.

It was a pretty casual statement from Rollins, who might have to consider his own future before too long.

Rollins turns 35 this winter and is in the second year of a 3-year, $33 million contract that includes a vesting option for a fourth season. He also has a full no-trade clause, thanks to being in the big leagues for at least 10 years and at least 5 with his current team.

In summary: He might have to consider his future, but he's also pretty impossible to trade since he said last month he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause with several team records within reach.

The old, oft-repeated chorus, "We go as Jimmy goes," used to be oft-repeated because the top- of-the-lineup sparkplug made the offense run efficiently. But neither has gone for the last month and it resulted in Manuel's dismissal.

Although they rallied to beat the Dodgers yesterday, the Phillies are 6-21 since the All-Star break. It's the worst record in baseball since the break.

In that same time frame, Rollins is hitting .214 with a .252 OBP. Entering yesterday, Rollins' .569 OPS ranked 189th out of the 210 major leaguers with at least 80 plate appearances since the break.

As Rollins goes, so goes the Phillies.

Rollins' slump actually extends farther back than the break - he's hitting .219 with a .253 OBP since the end of June. He also has more errors (nine) than triples and home runs combined (seven) this season.

In his third day since taking over for Manuel, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg rested his struggling shortstop.

"I have good talks with Jimmy," Sandberg said. "He's a big piece of the puzzle. That will be my job from here on out, no doubt about it. That goes for everybody. Him in particular, he is a big piece. He's a good player. That's a challenge of mine. We'll stay after that."

The Phillies very likely can't trade Rollins in the offseason, since he holds the cards. And it's difficult to see them ushering him into an office this winter to talk about the possibility of decreased playing time with slick-fielding shortstop Freddy Galvis waiting in the wings.

But if he fails to show up on the field in the season's final 6 weeks, the front office might have to consider all of its options.

"Trades happen, managers, players get released it's all part of it," Rollins said of Manuel's firing. "You just learn how to deal with it."

Hamels flourishes

The Phillies entered yesterday 0-13 this season when Cole Hamels was on the mound and they scored three runs or less. They avoided adding another loss to that unseemly total.

Hamels held the Dodgers to two runs on seven hits in seven innings. He struck out eight without walking a batter.

He also threw 118 pitches, marking the first time this season he has thrown more than 115 in consecutive starts. Hamels' ability to pitch deep into the game despite a rising pitch count kept the ball out of an uncertain bullpen until the eighth inning.

"It's kind of what you expect and what I expect out of myself," Hamels said. "Give my team a chance, that's what I'm trying to do."

Hamels lowered his ERA to 3.61. He has allowed two runs or fewer in eight of his last nine starts.

Hamels has a 2.63 ERA since June 1. Take away his first two starts of the season and Hamels would have a 3.10 ERA in 2013.

Ruf and powerful

Last August, Darin Ruf became a minor league sensation when he hit 20 home runs in 31 games at Double A Reading. It eventually earned him a September callup to the big leagues.

This August, Ruf isn't at quite the same pace, but his power numbers are still respectable.

Ruf's solo home run yesterday was his sixth in 16 games this month. Only three major league players have hit more home runs in August: Alfonso Soriano (Yankees), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) and Justin Upton (Braves), all with seven.

Ruf's homer was also his eighth of the season, matching the season output of Delmon Young, the player the Phillies felt was better suited to start most of the season in rightfield. While Ruf has eight homers in 35 games this season, Young hit eight in 80 games.

Ruf also has the same amount of walks (14) in 119 fewer plate appearances than Young and is one run scored from matching his predecessor's output.

Ruf's .812 OPS since the All-Star break is second on the Phillies behind Utley's (.882) and 31st in the National League. Young had a .699 OPS this season.

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