02/23/10 5:26 PM EST
Rollins: '10 Phils may be better than '09
Shortstop discusses several topics, including his future
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
He had such a good run, too.
Rollins predicted the Phillies would be the team to beat in the National League East in 2007, and they were. He said they would win 100 games in '08, and they did, including postseason victories. He announced before '09 that the Phils would meet the Yankees in the World Series, and they met. He later predicted the Phils would beat the Yanks in five games and ... well, 3-1 still is a record Nostradamus would love to have.
Rollins and the Phillies held their first full-squad workout Tuesday at the Carpenter Complex. Philadelphia is trying to become the first National League team to play in three consecutive World Series since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals and just the fifth NL team in history to accomplish the feat.
But Rollins made no bold claims Tuesday.
"At this point, you do it just for fun -- just for laughs," he said. "Everybody knows what needs to be done. Everybody knows what's expected. And then more importantly, everybody believes. Every year, you come into Spring Training and of course we're supposed to win. We're supposed to. We're a Major League ballclub. They pay us to go out and win games. We're supposed to.
"But believing in it, watching it happen is completely different. And now that we have that, it no longer needs to be said. When players come over here, they know the short, brief history of that episode and they know what's expected of them. You come in because we think you can help us out in that department."
So Rollins has packed up the crystal ball?
"The magic eight ball?" he said. "Shoot, I don't know where that thing is."
Motivational predictions do seem unnecessary at this point. The Phillies are widely considered the best team in the NL. They don't need a psychological push to get over the top. They just want to get back to the World Series and win it.
Some think the Phils are improved on paper.
"We were a pretty good team," Rollins said of the 2009 team. "We didn't play good for six games, but we were a pretty good team. You pick up a guy like Roy Halladay, it's tough to say you're not better automatically. I would say it's pretty close. I couldn't say we're much better, but when you get a guy like Roy Halladay, it seems like at least another five wins on his own."
Rollins said he first heard Philadelphia got Halladay in a text message from Jayson Werth.
"He was like, 'What's going on?'" Rollins said about Werth's text. "But I could hear the panic in his voice. I'm like, 'What happened? Roy? We didn't get him? Damn. He went somewhere else?' He was like, 'No, we got him. But we traded away Cliff.' I was like, 'Oh. You mean we only get to keep one?' He's like, 'Yeah.' That's really not a bad trade-off. We're going to miss Cliff's hitting, especially those two-out doubles. But in all seriousness, you lost a great pitcher in Cliff Lee. There's no doubt about that. But we picked up an even better one. There's nothing to not to be happy about."
|"When I get older, they might boot me out or some young dude might come run me off the block or something. That happens. At that point, I'll make a decision. I've always said to myself -- and this is in the future, of course -- when I no longer play every day, there's really no reason for me to be playing."|
|-- Jimmy Rollins|
Mets left-hander Johan Santana said recently that he is the best pitcher in the NL East. Halladay did not take the bait and said last week that well done is better than well said. But Rollins threw a vote Halladay's way anyway.
"Overall Roy is better, as far as pitching is concerned," Rollins said. "Now you bring in the hitting side of things, and Santana gets the nod. There's no doubt about that. Roy can't hit. There's no secret there. I texted Roy prior to getting down there, and I told him that he has my vote for National League Rookie of the Year already."
Rollins won NL MVP honors in 2007, but his past two seasons haven't stacked up. He hit .296 with 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 homers, 94 RBIs, 41 stolen bases and 139 runs scored in '07. An injured ankle slowed Rollins in '08, when he hit .277 with 38 doubles, nine triples, 11 homers, 59 RBIs, 47 stolen bases and 76 runs scored. He hit .250 with 43 doubles, five triples, 21 homers, 72 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and 100 runs scored in '09, overcoming a terrible first half in which he hit just .205 through July 1. Rollins hit .288 with a .510 slugging percentage the rest of the way.
"I didn't think about it during the season," Rollins said about last season's first-half struggles. "Each day was the same. I never really got to a point of, how did it get here? I keep moving forward. You look back behind you, you find yourself going that way."
Looking forward, Rollins has some things he wants to accomplish:
Steal 50 bases.
Score 150 runs.
Get 200 hits.
If Rollins does those things, it bodes well for the Phils' offense and his place in club history. Rollins already must be considered the greatest shortstop in club history. Larry Bowa acknowledged that fact a couple years ago. Bowa said he was a good player, while Rollins is a great player.
Rollins has at least two more years in Philadelphia after it picked up his 2011 club option this offseason.
"[General manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] just called me," Rollins said. "He just said, 'Hey, I want to let you know tomorrow we're going to announce that we're picking up your option.' Oh, OK. That's cool. And about 15 minutes later, I really started thinking about it like, 'OK, yeah, that's real cool.' He said, 'Just go out there, relax and play. We want you to be here. We'll go ahead and take that pressure off.' I never even thought about it. I've only been in this organization, and it never really dawned upon me to leave."
But that time might come in the future. Rollins is 31 and he will be eligible for free agency following the 2011 season.
He isn't too worried about that yet.
"When I get older, they might boot me out or some young dude might come run me off the block or something," he said. "That happens. At that point, I'll make a decision. I've always said to myself -- and this is in the future, of course -- when I no longer play every day, there's really no reason for me to be playing.
"I'm not going to be a guy to come off the bench and contribute. I'm not going to all of a sudden get three or four steps back behind because I'm not playing every day. Whenever I get run off, if I could go somewhere else and play, I'll play. But I'll go fishing or golfing or something. But some guys just look good in certain colors. And red kind of comes good off my skin."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.