Philadelphia Phillies Cannot Afford To Overpay for Jayson Werth

November 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have exclusive negotiating rights with impending free agent Jayson Werth until midnight of Saturday, Nov. 6. After that time, any of the other 29 clubs are free to negotiate contract terms with the coveted middle-of-the-lineup righty and utility outfielder.

The feeling in Philadelphia right now is that one of those other 29 clubs (namely the New York Yankees) will take full advantage, and Werth’s run as a Phillie will end.

And for me, that would be just fine as long as the Phillies make Werth a fair offer first. But the big question is, of course, what constitutes a fair offer?

Well, my idea of fair and Werth’s idea of fair isn’t going to match up. He doesn’t deserve what Jason Bay or Matt Holliday got but, then again, neither did they.

Werth, overall, had an average season at the plate and, if we’re being honest, that’s where most of the money is earned.

There’s no denying Werth’s talents as an outfielder. He’s got a great arm, is very good at reading the ball, and is very rarely caught messing up.

But at the plate, he lacks the ability to come up big in crunch time (as evidenced by his dreadful average with runners in scoring position) and because of that flaw, he does not separate himself from a guy like Holliday.

But with all that said, he is a powerful righty and letting him walk creates an obvious void in the Phillies’ lineup.

The team could fill this void with a power guy to platoon with either Raul Ibanez in left or Dominic Brown in right (such as Andruw Jones, Pat Burrell or Jeff Francoeur), but simply holding on to Werth would be much easier.

However, the $15 million per season he’s looking for is simply too much. He wasn’t good enough in 2010 to warrant that type of contract, and it’s a deal the Phillies would regret in short order.

A guy making that type of money needs to be someone who’s driving in runs on a consistent basis and not just hitting solo home runs.

Sure, those runs count as much as an RBI single, but more often than not Werth is striking out or popping out with guys on second and/or third than he is cracking a long ball with no one on.

For me, if I’m a decision-maker on the team, I’m more comfortable between $11 million and $13 million per season, but there’s no way Werth and his agent, Scott Boras, accept that type of deal.

Werth was seeing dollar signs on his own, but with baseball’s version of Drew Rosenhaus in his corner, he’s feeling like Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle on the open market and wants to hear a number that’s going to make his eyes pop out, not a realistic number that he deserves.

Which, of course, almost assures he’s going to end up overpaid in New York.

I think, for the most part, Philly is ready to see what Brown can do in right field and would not be at all disappointed to hear the Phils offered Werth a five-year, $65 million deal and he turned it down to play for the Yankees, Red Sox or another team with too much money.

That money could then go to shoring up the bullpen, maybe finding a fifth starter, getting a veteran fourth outfielder, and having some extra money in their back pocket for when Jimmy Rollins becomes a free agent after the 2011 season.

But if the Phillies fold and open up the checkbook for Werth, it won’t be long before they and the entire city are wondering why a very good player is getting paid like a superstar.

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Philadelphia Phillies in Perfect Spot for Incredible NLCS Comeback

October 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Believe it or not, the Phillies could actually have the upper hand in their latest quest to be crowned champions of the National League.

After falling behind to the San Francisco Giants three games to one, the Phillies pulled out a very close win in Game 5 by a score of 4-2. But even though they got the win, it wasn’t pretty. Roy Halladay was off his game, the Phillies’ offense continued to look incompetent, and the Giants’ home crowd was at a roar for most of the game.

But thanks to some great pitching out of the bullpen by Jose Contreras, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge (who closed out the game), the Phillies are down one game to the Giants and must win the remaining two games if they want to make it to their third straight World Series.

So how, exactly, does that give them the upper hand?

For starters, they still have the remaining two of the Big Three. Halladay, even though he wasn’t his usual dominant self, did enough to get the job done. Now, the Phillies will turn to Roy Oswalt in Game 6 and, hopefully, Cole Hamels for Game 7.

Of course, none of that matters if the offense continues its funk. The numbers have been tossed around enough and, quite honestly, are difficult to repeat. But anyone who has paid attention knows how awful the bats have been not only in this series, but throughout the postseason.

Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez have been especially disappointing as of late. They are counted on to be run-producers, and so far they haven’t played their roles.

But at least Ibanez and Howard (for the most part) haven’t been liabilities in the field. Utley, on the other hand, has been messing up every time the ball heads his direction.

Most recently, in Game 5, Utley could have ended the first inning on a very easy double-play ball, but he didn’t scoop the ball into his glove before attempting to make a tag and allowed a run to cross because of it.

Had the Phils dropped this game by one run, the mostly-popular Utley likely would have needed extra security to go anywhere in Philadelphia.

But, fortunately for him, the offense was able to muster one big inning and an insurance home run by Jayson Werth in the top of the ninth.

Alright, enough of the digression into a rant about the offense. We’re talking about why the Phillies could be in good position to pull the comeback. We’ve already discussed the starters they have lined up, so what else could be in their favor?

They’re coming home. The final two games—both of which are must-win for the Phils—will be played at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Hopefully being at home will make the offense more comfortable and the entire team can feed off the crowd as they always seem to do. The fact that CBP is a hitter’s park also doesn’t hurt a team that relies mostly on the long ball to put runs on the board.

Having to win the final two games to cap an incredible comeback is certainly not an ideal situation, but if it’s a situation a team finds themselves in, they would definitely want to have two aces lined up to pitch at home.

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Philadelphia Phillies Might Have Already Sealed Their Own Fate

October 19, 2010 by  
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I don’t think I’m going to surprise or shock anyone when I say the Phillies’ offensive production has been pathetic during the postseason. It’s pretty clear to anyone paying attention.

But just to rub salt in the wound with stats, chew on the fact that the Phils have hit only .194 three games into the NLCS and have just seven hits overall, including only one extra-base hit, in 44 at-bats with runners in scoring position during the postseason.

The lone extra-base hit was Jimmy Rollins’ three-run double after an ill-advised decision by San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy to walk the bases loaded in Game 2.

So other than the opportunity that was basically bottle-fed to them, the Phillies’ offense has come up short much more often than not.

The slow start has caused them to fall into a 2-1 deficit to the Giants after getting shut out Tuesday night.

Must Read: Top Postseason Moments in Phillies History


Cole Hamels started the game and gave up three runs, but two of those runs were a direct result of Chase Utley’s inability to play the ball and, overall, pitched well enough for the team to win.

At the end of the day, it rests squarely on the eight other guys to make some plays moving forward in this series.

But, if history tells us anything, it could already be too late.

From 1986-2009, one team in the NLCS has had a 2-1 advantage 19 times with exceptions coming in 1994, ’95, ’98, ’99, and 2007.

In those 19 series, the team falling behind has only one four times. One of those teams was actually the 1993 Phillies who went on to win the series 4-2.

Then there was the World Series and Joe Carter and #*%(!.

Deep breath. And we’re back.

History tells us the Phils have about a 21 percent chance of coming back in this series. But if they can’t even get their team batting average that high, 21 percent might be a bit generous.

Manager Charlie Manuel is showing faith in his offense by sticking with Joe Blanton for Game 4 rather than going with Roy Halladay on short rest, but that could prove costly. It’s hard to imagine the Phils bats get moving this late, but they’ve done crazier things.

This team has kept things very interesting all year long, so nothing they do in the rest of this series would surprise me in the least.

We can all just hope they do what they do best, which is make an entire city hold its breath and come to the edge of giving up hope, only to watch the Phils kick things into gear and start rolling.

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Philadelphia Phillies Respond in NLCS Game 2 With an Impressive 6-1 Win

October 17, 2010 by  
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It was easy to start panicking a little bit after the Phillies dropped Game 1 of the NLCS to the Giants on Saturday night. The offense didn’t seem to ever find their way into the ballpark, and the pitching wasn’t an incredible spectacle—an odd sight over the past couple of months in Philly.

But Roy Oswalt wasn’t worried. He got hit around a little bit in Game 2 of the NLDS and was looking for redemption. He also knew the team could not afford to fall to 0-2 to the Giants if they wanted to get to their third straight World Series.

He wasn’t about to allow that to happen.

Oswalt carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and wound up allowing only three hits and one run over eight innings. The one hit was, of course, a Cody Ross solo home run.

I’m not exactly sure what this guy knows that no one else does, but he now has three home runs over two games against two of the best pitchers the league has to offer.

Fortunately for the Phils, he wasn’t sharing his inside knowledge with the rest of the team.

But Oswalt’s impressive night didn’t stay on the mound. He also was able to score a run after hitting a single to get on base and then running through Sam Perlozzo’s stop sign at third after a Placido Polanco base hit.

“I didn’t see [the stop sign] until I got halfway down the line,” Oswalt said after the game. “As soon as Polanco hit it, I read it pretty well off the bat and I thought I was scoring straight out. So I had the intention of scoring when I took off, and I wasn’t even looking for a stop sign, so I was halfway down the line and I was hoping I’d get in there from there.”

Two batters later, Jayson Werth came up to the plate with runners at second and third and two outs. We all know how poor Werth has been with runners in scoring position, but the Giants thought it would be a good idea to walk him and force Jimmy Rollins to bat from his left side.

At this point I’m wondering exactly why they think Rollins at the plate with the bases loaded is better than Werth at the plate with two runners in scoring position, but what do I know?

After a three-run double by Rollins, I’m thinking I could be the Giants’ manager.

Ryan Madson would take over for Oswalt in the ninth inning and close the game out, making the 6-1 lead stick and drawing the Phils even with the Giants at 1-1.

Cole Hamels will start Game 3 against Matt Cain, and if he can duplicate Oswalt’s performance from Sunday night, the Phillies should be on their way to a 2-1 advantage and a clear path to the World Series.

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NLCS 2010: Cody Ross, San Francisco Giants Dampen the Mood in Philadelphia

October 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Not once, but twice.

Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the number of no-hitters Roy Halladay threw in back-to-back playoff postseason appearances. Instead, I’m talking about the number of home runs Cody Ross had in back-to-back plate appearances against the aforementioned Halladay.

Ross has his name in the record books, and now the Phillies must regroup, look ahead to Roy II and his start on Sunday night and find a way to prevent themselves from falling to 0-2.

But in order to do so, they’ll have to look back and figure out what went wrong in Game 1. The maddening part is it’s not a long list and it’s the same issues the Phils have had all year long.

If the pitching can’t get the job done, the odds are against the bats picking up the slack.

For whatever reason, the offense has simply not been there. Overall the numbers aren’t bad for the year, but even in baseball there’s a lot to look at past the stats.

The clutch hits don’t seem to be there as often anymore. The support for their pitcher when he has an off day hasn’t been as prevalent. The big-name bats just simply are not pulling their weight and instead they’re relying on Carlos Ruiz to produce for them out of the eight hole.

Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Jimmy Rollins were a combined 2-19 with 9 strikeouts and only one run scored. Jayson Werth—who probably slumped harder than anyone on the team in the regular season—was the only other guy to show up.

Werth, along with Ruiz, hit a home run. Both players accounted for all three RBIs on the team.

Someone needs to pull aside Victorino and Rollins and inform them that their game should be small-ball. They need to get on base and work from there. They are the fast guys who can score from first or steal a couple bases and walk home from second. Instead they’re constantly trying to smack the ball out of the park and it results in nothing but strikeouts most of the time.

I recall closer to the beginning of the season when Rollins first hurt himself and the cameras caught him talking to Juan Castro before he went to the plate. Rollins pointed at the scoreboard and said something to the effect of “See that zero in the home run column? You have to change that. Just go for the fences.”

I almost went through the roof.

Clearly Rollins’ mentality all year has been to swing for the fences. He’s not focused on hitting the ball in the gaps and running the bases. He wants to take the stroll with the fireworks in the background and doesn’t seem to understand anymore that he’s not that guy. Never has been.

It becomes quite evident his priorities are messed up when he’s trying to convince Juan-freaking-Castro that he just needs to swing for the fences because not having a home run is a travesty.

Even the guys who are known for their ability to hit home runs quite often—Ibanez, Utley and Howard—are trying for the long-ball too often. If they would just head to the plate thinking they’re going to take whatever the pitcher gives them (especially against a guy like Tim Lincecum) they would be much better off as individuals and for the team.

But right now, the only guys doing that are Ruiz, Werth and Wilson Valdez. No offense intended to any of those three players, but they’re not the guys who are going to decide who wins and loses a World Series. Or, more to the point, who gets to play in the World Series.

If this team is going to make history they’re going to need better decision-making from their superstars and get them back into the mentality that they’re going to play as a team and for the team rather than seeing themselves on SportsCenter.

Notice, by the way, I haven’t said anything about Placido Polanco. He’s really just a guy at this point and is playing as such. Not too much can be expected of him—especially when the guys around him can’t even make contact.

This team going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and leaving seven on base is just not acceptable. There is far too much talent at every spot in the lineup for that.

They made it through the regular season and the NLDS with an underachieving offense, but the Giants’ pitching staff is too good to allow them to just waltz their way into the World Series. They will have to earn it this year perhaps more than any other year, and can’t rely on Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels to do it for them.

Yes, Halladay could have been better, but he’s only human. These guys should be able to bail him out at least once since he’s done it countless times already—including the night of his no-no.

And I leave you with this thought: what if Oswalt is as shaky Sunday night as he was for Game 2 against the Cincinnati Reds?

Oh boy.

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NLDS 2010: Phillies Sweep Reds, Advance to Third Straight NLCS

October 11, 2010 by  
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I would have never believed that as a Philadelphia Phillies fan a sweep in the NLDS would feel about the same as a win in mid-June.

There’s certainly excitement over the series win, but this is an expected step back to the World Series at this point. The Cincinnati Reds are a good team, but there was never any real anxiety that the series would turn out any other way.

The Phillies top three starting pitchers couldn’t allow it. Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels were absolutely lights out, and even though Roy Oswalt looked very uncomfortable at times during his Game 2 start, he pitched well enough for the Phils to roll and get an early start preparing for whomever they might face in the NLCS.

At this point, it looks like a rematch of NL East foes isn’t going to happen and the Phils will face off against a team that has the same type of feel in the San Francisco Giants.

Both teams rely on great pitching and have been able to count on their offenses to do just enough this season to allow them to win games.

But for as great as the Giants pitchers can be, they just don’t match up with the Phillies’ staff.

Even if we call Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum a wash, I don’t think many people would argue that Matt Cain is better than Oswalt or that Barry Zito or Jonathan Sanchez are better than Hamels at this point.

Hamels has been a bit erratic throughout his career, but he’s been spectacular this season and is coming off a complete game shut-out to send the Phils into the next stage of the playoffs.

And if the Atlanta Braves happen to steal the series from the Giants, we’ve seen what the Phils can do to Bobby Cox and his squad. The Phillies’ offense has to be a cause for concern at this point, and Charlie Manuel must make sure they aren’t becoming complacent, but they can stand with either the Braves or the Giants.

Anything other than a World Series appearance will be a disappointment. In fact, just appearing in the World Series for a third consecutive season likely won’t be enough for the fans of Philadelphia. The talk is of a Phillies dynasty, and it’s what everyone wants to see.

If Oswalt can pick up his play another notch, there isn’t anything other than themselves standing in the way of that dream becoming reality.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay Pitches No-Hitter in Game 1 of NLDS

October 6, 2010 by  
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Roy Halladay, the Philadelphia Phillies’ prized offseason pick-up via trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, got his first postseason start Wednesday evening in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds.

Halladay became just the second pitcher in MLB postseason history to pitch a no-hitter.

So much for playoff inexperience and nerves getting the best of him, huh?

Even with NL MVP Joey Votto coming to the plate three times, Halladay did not allow a single Reds hit, and didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth inning with two outs. The runner was Jay Bruce, who walked on six pitches.

It was the only thing that came between Halladay and his second perfect game of the season.

And if the no-hitter wasn’t enough, Halladay accounted for one of the Phillies’ four runs when he hit an RBI single in the second inning, putting the Phillies up 2-0 and sticking the nail halfway into Edinson Volquez’s playoff coffin.

Volquez gave up two more runs and survived only 1.2 innings as the Phillies offense did just enough to earn a 4-0 win and put the Phils up 1-0 in the five-game series.

Shane Victorino (2 RBIs) and Chase Utley (1 RBI) both contributed to the final score, as well.

Getting Game 1 is always the most important part of a playoff series, but the Phillies bats are going to have to be better if they’re going to realize their dream of making their third straight World Series and winning their second World Series in only three years.

Doc can’t pitch every game—even though there’s not much of a drop-off to Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamelsso the offense will not be able to get by on only four runs for the entire series.

But, for now, Phillies fans were able to witness history and watch their team take one small step toward their ultimate goal.

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Philadelphia Phillies Should Shelf Jimmy Rollins Until the Playoffs

September 18, 2010 by  
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At this point, Jimmy Rollins has missed eight straight games after tweaking his hamstring about a week and a half ago. Overall, Rollins has only played in 82 games this season, is on injury number four, and is only hitting .245.

All of that, combined with the way Shane Victorino has responded as the lead-off hitter and the way Wilson Valdez has been playing the field, makes me think the Phils should just sit Rollins down until the playoffs.

That allows them to keep the lineup the way it is so they don’t risk messing up the rhythm these guys have established, and it helps Rollins get ready for when the team will really need him.

As of now, they’re doing just fine holding off the Braves and have themselves in position to win the NL East.

With the expanded roster, they can probably even afford to sit him down without having to put him on the DL, making him available to pinch-hit or pinch-run if he’s truly needed.

There’s always the risk he could re-tweak his hammy doing that, but the option is available to the team should they feel obligated to use it.

But even that might not be necessary with Ross Gload, Ben Francisco, Brian Schneider, and (soon) Dominic Brown available to hit off the bench.

So put Rollins on the bench and let him get to 100 percent. He hasn’t been great during the regular season, but as we’ve seen over the past couple of seasons there might not be a more clutch guy in the postseason than Rollins.

And if the Phils are able to head into the second season with him at full strength and a guy like Wilson Valdez in the dugout just in case, Charlie Manuel’s team could be the deepest and most talented squad in the tournament regardless of league.

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Philadelphia Phillies: The Five Most Important Under-the-Radar Players

September 11, 2010 by  
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Having a lot of superstars is great for obvious reasons. But the thing that makes a team great is having guys on the roster who can step in for those superstars when needed and make the plays that need to be made, or just play in a supporting role and do all the little things.

Fortunately for the Phillies, they have a lot of both types of guys. The superstars (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Jimmy Rollins) aren’t hard to pick out. But what makes this 2010 team so dangerous is just how stacked the roster is with great supporting players.

The superstars get a team in position to win, but it’s the role players who ultimately do the things necessary to win.

So heading into one hell of a playoff push, let’s take a look at the five guys who everyone should keep an eye on as potential difference-makers.

Wilson Valdez

Early in the season, Valdez was forced to split time with Juan Castro at shortstop while Rollins recovered from an injury. It became abundantly clear very quickly, however, that Valdez was the superior player in nearly every aspect.

He’s never going to be a .300 hitter, but he’s come through with some clutch hits and has been fantastic in the field. In fact, Valdez has only been charged with one error this season and has turned 19 double plays from third base, shortstop, and second base.

He likely won’t see a whole lot of time in the playoffs, but he will be a huge part of the push to stay in first place and will be a great guy to have coming off the bench.

Ross Gload

If you would have told me Gload would be batting .281 with six home runs, 29 RBI, 14 runs and only 10 strikeouts as the Phillies’ primary left-handed pinch hitter, I would have laughed in your face. But, here we are.

Gload has made Greg Dobbs all but worthless and is a guy the Phillies really like. He’s going to continue to be the go-to guy off the bench and will be highly counted upon all throughout the push and into the playoffs.

A big situation doesn’t seem to rattle him, so he should be fine when the lights are on. I wouldn’t have thought it to be the case when they signed him, but there’s a bit of confidence in everyone watching that when Gload hits the plate, he’s going to come through.

Kyle Kendrick

Kendrick likely won’t find himself in the rotation come playoff time. He’ll be relegated to the bullpen in favor of Joe Blanton, who will keep the fourth spot. And while I believe Kendrick is the more talented pitcher, it’s definitely the right move.

Blanton, even with his maddening tendency to give up first-inning runs and put the offense in a hole immediately, is the more consistent of the two.

He’s not going to come out and blank anyone for seven innings, but he’s also not going to allow 11 runs in the first four innings.

Kendrick has the ability to do the first, but is just erratic enough to do the latter. And in the playoffs, that’s just something the team cannot afford.

But out of the bullpen as a long reliever, I believe Kendrick can be a real difference-maker. His problems seem to come about when he really starts pressing.

He feels like if he doesn’t strike out the side to start the game he’s not doing his job. He’ll begin to calm down later in the game, but by then, it’s sometimes too late.

As a reliever, he might be able to relax, knowing exactly what sort of situation he’s going into and being given a specifically tailored assignment. And when Kendrick is relaxed and just going out and slinging it, he turns into a dangerous pitcher.

Carlos Ruiz

All right, so maybe he’s not exactly in the same mold as the other guys, but he’s not exactly a superstar either and will definitely play a huge role for the Phils over the next two months or so.

Ruiz isn’t getting a lot of the attention because of the way Howard has gone off as of late, but Ruiz has been nearly spotless for a long time now. He’s coming up with the clutch knocks when they need them and has been a life-saver behind the plate.

Chooch is quietly hitting .296 at this point in the season, and if he can carry that over into the playoffs it’s going to make the Phillies’ lineup a real forced to be reckoned with from top to bottom.

Brad Lidge

Closers are like kickers in the NFL: no one really knows their name unless they do something great or really mess something up. In Philadelphia, Lidge’s name is known for a little bit of both.

But for all the talk, Lidge has actually been pretty good this season. He has blown five saves, but three of those came in one bad stretch from late June to early July. And, if I’m not mistaken, it later came out that Lidge was already having elbow problems then.

Since then, Lidge has blown only two saves and has a respectable 3.38 ERA and a 1-1 record. He is not ever going to be the same guy we saw in 2008, but he is a guy the Phillies can count on to come through when they really need him.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Jimmy Rollins’ Injuries Likely Related to Lax Training

September 9, 2010 by  
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Jimmy Rollins is either the most unlucky guy on the planet, or he doesn’t do nearly enough work during the offseason and throughout the regular season. Muscle pulls can, of course, be freak things, but three times in one year leads me to believe he simply doesn’t train hard enough.

When the muscle is worked properly, it gets stronger—obviously. You don’t need a medical degree to understand how that might work. It also doesn’t take a genius to understand that not only does training make it stronger, but it makes the muscle more resilient.

More resilient means fewer tweaks, strains, pulls and a much lower chance of a tear. So the fact that Rollins has now tweaked/strained/pulled a muscle in his leg three times in one season can most likely be traced back to laziness in the weight room.

No one is that unlucky. There has to be an explanation for it.

Jimmy has a reputation as a hard worker and a tough player which has led to a lot of games played and few missed. So the fact that he’s now been injured three times in 2010 would lead me to believe his training has dipped.

The fact that “dehydration” was listed as a cause of the injury doesn’t help. Is there anything easier to avoid? Just drink some water. He’s sitting on the bench for how long while the Phillies are batting and there’s no possible way he’s just too busy to have a cup of water.

If he’s truly being that lazy this season, he could probably have someone get it and bring it to him on the bench, so there’s no excuse for that to ever be an issue.

Basketball players, soccer players and maybe even hockey players might be able to use that as an excuse because they’re constantly going and truly might not have time to get enough water, but baseball players should never have that kind of trouble.

The bottom line is that Rollins has to step up and start doing the things expected of him. That means getting in the weight room, drinking some water and doing whatever else he must do in order to stay on the field and actually help his team, because right now Wilson Valdez is just a more reliable option at shortstop.

Yeah, Wilson Valdez. How about that?

Or, maybe my assumption is all wrong, and all Jimmy needs is a rabbit’s foot, a horseshoe and a four-leaf clover.

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