Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Mike's Baseball Rants


10  09  07 
06  05  04  03 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
Links to MBBR
J-Rolled?: Rollins' Extension and the Rolen Syndrome
2005-06-14 11:44
by Mike Carminati
The Great Jack Lemmon: What makes you think they're looking for a scapegoat?
Wilford Brimley: Tradition.
—From "The China Syndrome", referring to the Phils' management style

Brian: What is happening?
Matt: I'll tell you what's happenning. The Pepsi Syndrome.
[shows title: "The Pepsi Syndrome" ]
Brian: Pepsi Syndrome? I've never heard of it.
Matt: Only a handful of people know what the Pepsi Syndrome means. Maybe soon, everyone will know it.
Carl: But, what is it?
Matt: Well, the Pepsi Syndrome. If someone spills a Pepsi on the control panel of a nuclear power reactor, the panel can short-circuit, and the whole core may melt down.
Brian: But, you spilled a Coke.
Matt: It doesn't matter. Any cola does it.
Carl: Any cola? What about RC Cola?
Matt: Yeah, RC does it.
Brian: Canada Dry?
Matt: Sure.
Carl: 7-up?
Matt: It's harmless. It's an un-cola. [smacks his hands to his forehead ] Oh, wow! I could have had a V8!
—SNL's The Pepsi Syndrome

Yesterday, after winding up perhaps the most successful homestand in club history, the Phils signed 26-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins, whose contract was up at the end of 2006, to a contract extension that guarantees him $40 M over the next four years.

It breaks down thusly:

Signing bonus: $5 M

2006: $4 M

2007: $7 M

2008: $7 M

2009: $7.5 M

2010: $7.5 M

2011: $8.5 M club option or $2 buyout

That means the contract will either be for $40 M over four years or $46.5 M over five years (though the Phils reported $47.5 M, but what's another million more or less among friends).

Quoth Phils' GM Ed "Thanks Guys For Saving My Job" Wade:

"We signed a very special kid (in 1996). Words to describe Jimmy during his career in Philadelphia: class, energy, catalyst, a red-light player (the guy you want up in a big spot). Jimmy's prepared to go out and shine in the spotlight as someone who will lead us for a long time."

As for the newly shorn Rollins himself, "I wanted to stay here in Philly. I could have gone out there and possibly gotten more money. But … my heart was here in Philly."

OK, after you pick yourself up off the floor from the peals of laughter—who exactly would have given him more?—, I have to tell you that you're not alone. My sitemate, Derek Smart sent the Powdered Toast Men an email in which he asked the musical question:

Do you guys think the market is really that out of whack? I guess with what Orlando Cabrera got it probably is, but I can't help but wonder about this sort of deal. It just seems like financial suicide, even if the team is willing to carry a big payroll.

It's not that Rollins can't be that good, but he posted his first above average OPS+ last year, and while he's young enough that it could be the beginning of a trend, there's certainly nothing in what he's done this season to make one think it is.

My reaction was:

1) For some reason Rollins is seen as a marquee player in Philly. Even though he was roundly booed in 2003 and at the beginning of 2004, he is as the hometown soul of the team. Sure, Abreu and Thome are bigger names but they were not homegrown. Rollins is sort of a poor man's Jeter in that sense.

2) The standards are so low, especially at short, in Philly that Bowa is still seen as a great player. Steve Jeltz was the starting shortstop for a number of years and made Mario Mendoza look like Cal Ripken. Rollins is seen as a superstar shortstop locally. People in Philly just aren't that bright. They even forgot that they booed him roundly last year.

3) The management in Philly is completely out of its mind. Ed Wade's sole goal is keep his crummy job. There's a bit of excitement with the 12-1 homestand and being 1.5 out of first. The Phils are trying to stem the flow of fans to the Eagles' training camp in their second year in a new stadium. This is probably seen as a PR move. And besides, with the heaps of cash thrown to Thome, Bell, Lieberthal, Burrell, et al, this is a drop in the bucket.

After losing Rolen, the Phils policy has been to sign up every homegrown starting player for big bucks and a number of years. Call it the Rolen Syndrome. I saw team prez and Penn grad Dave Montgomery on a local sports talk show last year (Comcast Sports Net's Daily News Live) explaining the team's woes. When he was asked about the big contract to Burrell, he blamed the sportswriters (who were the hosts) for the bad PR during the Rolen fiasco and said basically he had to do it as a sop to the locals and the press. Now, that's great team management! [And of course it overlooks the fact that Bill "Jabba" Conlin led the villagers in their wild pursuit of "Clubhouse Cancer" Rolen's head.]

4) Oh, one last thing: the Phillies coffers are stuffed. They went a good decade or two without paying big bucks to anyone while the troglodytic locals continued to fork over the mullah for tickets. They also made out like bandits in luxury taxes for years. Cleveland basically paid the Phils to take Jim Thome off their hands. This is a big market that had a team that ran itself as a small-market club for many years.

The Inquirer/Daily news ran a short history of Phillies shortstops (amended from data):

1970-81: Larry Bowa

1982-84: Ivan DeJesus

1985-88: Steve Jeltz

1989-91: Dickie Thon

1992: Juan Bell

1993-97: Kevin Stocker

1998: Desi Relaford

1999: Alex Arias

2000: Desi Relaford

2001-05: Jimmy Rollins

Wow, that's some lineage! Rollins looks tremendous after seeing other homegrown products like Relaford, Stocker, and Jeltz flop. (Actually Relaford came out of the Mariners organization but got his first shot at the majors with the Phils.) Looking around the Phils organization, they may not even be able to produce another Jeltz for the foreseeable future.

Maybe I'm too tough on J-Roll. He is getting a chunk of change but look at the Renetria and Cabrera deals this past offseason. So how does he compare to the other shortstops in baseball?

Rollins though a sub-par leadoff hitter—even Larry Bowa recognized this—is a very good defensive shortstop who had a great offensive season at age 25, a typical breakout year, last year. He has taken some steps backwards this season, but that may just be a momentary misstep—he did start slowly last year as well.

Here is a rundown of his production as the Phils' starting shortstop:

NameYrAgeWin SharesG salary
Jimmy Rollins20042526154 $ 2,425,000
Jimmy Rollins20032419154 $ 450,000
Jimmy Rollins20022316152 $ 355,000
Jimmy Rollins20012221157 $ 200,000
Average20.5154 $ 857,500

There are only a handful of starting shortstops that averaged better than 20 WS per season since 2000. Here they are along with Renteria and Cabrera with their averages as a starting shortstop, 2000-2004:

Name Avg WS G salary
Alex Rodriguez 35.0 157.3 $ 17,590,625
Miguel Tejada 27.0 161.6 $ 3,213,000
Nomar Garciaparra 27.0 151.9 $ 6,728,250
Mike Young 25.0 158.0 $ 450,000
Derek Jeter 23.8 145.2 $ 14,280,000
Khalil Greene 21.0 136.0 $ 300,500
Rafael Furcal 20.8 136.5 $ 1,626,250
Rich Aurilia 20.0 135.8 $ 4,075,000
Edgar Renteria 19.2 148.0 $ 5,300,000
Orlando Cabrera 17.3 150.3 $ 1,576,250
Average 23.6 148.0 $ 5,513,988

Rollins' new contract is not out of line with the average paid to these shortstops. He is just 26, so if he matures the deal may seem like a relative bargain. Of course, if his career plateaus or flatlines, it'll make Gregg Jefferies contract look good.

The problem with the contract is in the context of the other mega-contracts with which the Phils are currently burdened. If Rollins can continue his one-year on-base percentage renaissance from last year (.348 after .323 in 2001, .306 in 2002, and .320 in 2003), then his speed (30 steals last year) is enough to sustain him as a leadoff hitter. If he can continue to build on 2004, then even though the investment is rather large, it should pay dividends.

However, if Rollins' 2004 was just a one-year aberration, the Phils can't afford to throw more money at a slightly-better-than-average major-leaguer who can't bat above seventh in the order.

Consider that his OBP so far this year is a career-low .305 and his walk total projects to just 41, also a career-low (disregarding his 14 games in 2000). Actually, among leadoff hitters with at least 100 plate appearances this year, Rollins has the fifth-worst on-base percentage:

Rafael FurcalAtl24130234.220.278.332.610
Jose ReyesNYM27034185.267.288.400.688
Darin ErstadLAA1381811.254.295.370.664
Alfonso SorianoTex981640.276.301.480.781
Jimmy RollinsPhi26240133.260.302.382.684
Angel BerroaKC1242211.266.305.395.701
Juan PierreFla21633106.255.308.329.636
Willy TaverasHou1411872.298.322.383.705
Clint BarmesCol1362111.287.322.449.770
Carl CrawfordTB22433163.286.322.455.778

He also has the fourth worst OPS among leadoff men:

Rafael FurcalAtl24130234.220.278.332.610
Juan PierreFla21633106.255.308.329.636
Darin ErstadLAA1381811.254.295.370.664
Jimmy RollinsPhi26240133.260.302.382.684
Jose ReyesNYM27034185.267.288.400.688
Scott PodsednikCWS20234299.287.362.327.689
David DeJesusKC1221514.262.323.377.700
Angel BerroaKC1242211.266.305.395.701
Willy TaverasHou1411872.298.322.383.705

Well, what if Rollins turns his season around like last year? Remember he started slowly in 2004 and wound up having his best season to date? Here's are the splits by month and season half:

Pre All-Star34455932043303138144.270.332.378.710
Post All-Star313649723811432635165.310.365.540.905

One other interesting split from his 2004 season should be examined, his home/road splits:


Rollins' road numbers are eerily close to his career averages, 269/.323/.408/.731.

Here's what I think happened last year. Rollins was in a new stadium and was able to take advantage of that situation by upping his power numbers (triples, HRs, and Slug) at home. Oddly, his walk/OBP numbers also improved at home. He became more patient and more powerful at the same time. Actually, I would say that the former cause the latter.

However, as his number continued to improve in the second half, his walks started to drop slightly as his slugging numbers went through the roof. This year he has continued to be less patient, remarkably so, his numbers dropped all around. He's still doing better at home:


His power on the road has dried up completely. It looks like he unlearned that patience leads to power, the lesson that turned his season around last year.

One more split is so appalling I have no way to explain it, his lefty/righty splits:

vs. Left2005821021043221.268.294.317.611
vs. Right200518430735151325112.261.310.413.723
vs. Left200416532111526151277.303.365.473.838
vs. Right20044928732119474261232.285.342.449.791

If anything, he's making too much contact against lefties this year(just 2 Ks and 3 BB in 82 ABs). Whatever is causing this, unless he turns it around soon, it will look more and more like 2004 was just an aberration. Maybe right now isn't the best time to be throwing hefty new contracts at the guy.

2005-06-14 13:40:39
1.   FirstMohican
Did the Phils sign a horrible deal, or did the Dodgers sign a great deal?

"Izturis receives a $300,000 signing bonus and will earn $2.05 million this year, $3.1 million in 2006, and $4.15 million in 2007."

2005-06-14 14:10:56
2.   adg
Who is Rollins' agent anyways? Might that have made an impact in negotiations?
2005-06-14 20:26:21
3.   Mike Carminati

To quote Bobby Brady, "Sounds great, Greg." The only problem is the Izturis part. I guess it is a smaller contract to swallow though.


Are you intimating that the Phils brass can be easily bowled over by a forceful agent? Shocking!

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.