Jimmy Rollins is gone. We all know that at this point. He has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In exchange the Phillies got something, both in terms of actual, living human beings who play baseball and roster flexibility. What they lost is obvious. They lost Jimmy Rollins. WE lost Jimmy Rollins.
But you know all this. You've surely read countless articles at this point detailing what Rollins meant to the Phillies and fans. If you haven't had a chance to read any of those retrospective pieces yet, stop right here, click the Good Phight logo in the top left-hand corner of this page, and read some of the things some of us have written. Take time to mourn and remember good times, because what follows, at least immediately, will not likely be something you will want to remember.
For the first time since Desi Relaford pulled off the feat in 2000, someone not named Jimmy Rollins will be the everyday starter at shortstop for the Phillies. Despite the fact that a younger Eric attempted to model his Little League fielding after Desmond, Relaford was bad, relative to major league baseball players, slashing .234/.315/.328 (at the height of the "steroid era") posting a grand total of - (negative) 1.8 bWAR over his 5 years with the Phillies.
I mention Relaford and his unwhelming (it goes further than underwhelm) batting line as an anchoring device. After enjoying 15 seasons of Jimmy Rollins, it's going to be difficult to adjust our expectations for the shortstop position. If all goes according to plan, we will be able to ditch these low-expectations before long, as the Phillies' top prospect, J.P. Crawford, is expected to arrive in the majors in 2016 or 2017. Until then, we have just about 2 seasons of shortstopping to account for. Who might some options be?
Sports talk radio callers everywhere rejoice! Rollins' departure opens up room for super prospect/messiah Freddy Galvis. Despite a lack of consensus on the pronunciation of his last name (Gal-VEES or GAL-viss), everyone knows that he has been better than Rollins for the better part of 2 years. It's about damn time he gets a chance to show us nerds on the internet his stuff.
No one really questions Galvis' ability to field the position. The only debate on his defense is whether it is more appropriate to project it as "great" or merely "very good." The concerns for Galvis are, and have always been, his ability to hit. He possesses a .218/.259/.362 line in 550 MLB plate appearances, which isn't all that surprising based on his career .246/.291/.334 line in the minors.
Sure, he's only 25, and could figure to improve a bit with the bat, but the track record and scouting reports certainly don't justify counting on that. In all likelihood, Galvis is a replacement level or, at best, below-average shortstop at the professional level.
Hernández is hardly a likely replacement for Rollins, as a) Galvis is on the roster and b) Cesar has only 21 defensive innings at shortstop in the majors and only 11% of his minor league games there. Because of his combination of less ability and lack of experience at the position relative to Galvis, it's unlikely Hernández' marginally better bat (.264/.318/.306 in 256 PA) will make him the preferable internal option.
Like Galvis, César is entering his age-25 season, so it's entirely possible that he (or Galvis) takes a leap forward with the bat and looks the part of an average-ish starting shortstop. Most likely, though, if the Phillies fill the shortstop position with a player currently on the roster, they'll be starting someone better cast as a utility player. Such is life for a rebuilding team.
If the Phillies are feeling saucy or look at a lineup featuring Freddy Galvis and react with the terror of Kurtz at his death, they might decide to pursue Jed Lowrie. Lowrie is allegedly at the Winter Meetings and swiping right on a lot of teams. There's no sense in the Phillies getting into a potential bidding war with other teams over a 30-year-old shortstop. If they do and can sign him to a modest deal, they can expect league-average production and may find themselves with an asset of sorts at the trade deadline.
Asdrubal has my favorite first name in baseball. "-drubal" seems like it should be a synonym for "spittle," which is why I like the name Asdrubal. It takes a lot of moxie to live life with a name that, in a better world than our own, would be a synonym for a cause of the 1918 Flu Epidemic. Regarding Asspittle's (now, that sounds profane) baseball ability, suffice it to say he's not great, Bob.
Since playing at a fringe All-Star level in Cleveland in 2011 and 2012, Ass-spittle has been perfectly average both defensively and offensively. Like Lowrie, Ass-spittle should attract interest from teams who care about winning in 2015 and 2016, so he probably doesn't make sense for the Phillies.
If the Phillies are going to look outside the organization to replace Rollins, Drew would make a lot of sense. He was a free agent last offseason as well, and didn't sign until May, so it's unlikely other teams are going to be beating down the door to acquire Drew's services. He's always had a reputation as a solid, albeit unspectacular defensive shortstop, but his bat has not been there in recent years, likely the result of injuries.
Drew would not factor into any long-term plans for the Phillies, but could be an interesting bounce-back candidate who could be flipped for something not without value at the trade deadline if he proves he can stay healthy and the bat comes back a bit.
Before the Diamondbacks broke his heart by signing Yasmani Tomas, our own John Stolnis wondered whether the Phillies should have any interest in the 27 year-old Korean shortstop. There seem to be legitimate questions about how his power might translate to the majors and whether he will be able to stick at shortstop. Unless the Phillies can confidently answer these with "it will" and "yes," they should pass.
Good shortstops are hard to find around baseball, which is why we've consistently argued in these pages that Rollins possessed immense value. That none of the options the Phillies have for shortstop next year inspires excitement should serve as a reminder of how important Rollins was to the success of the team over the past decade or so.
Unless the Phillies are gung ho on Jung-Ho (h/t Michael Baumann) or can get Stephen Drew for super cheap as a bounce-back candidate to trade at the deadline, they should probably just roll with Freddy Galvis. If you don't miss Jimmy Rollins now, you will by mid-April.