Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jimmy Rollins: Dodgers shortstop

With Hanley Ramirez gone, the Dodgers had a big hole to fill at shortstop.  Sure, they have in-house replacements like Alex Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena, and Justin Turner.  Then there's the 20-year-old top prospect Corey Seager, who is indeed the future, but not necessarily the current.

What did the Dodgers decide to do?  Trade for a three-time All-Star, MVP, and World Series champion.

That man is Jimmy Rollins, who has been acquired from the Phillies.  He's entering the final year of his contract paying him $11 million, which is practically chump change to the rich Dodgers.  What is not yet known is whom the Dodgers gave in return, but stay tuned for that.

Right away, a few things come to mind when seeing this trade.  There's no disputing that the Rollins of 2007 is not walking through that door, as that guy hit .296 with 30 homers, 94 RBIs, and 41 stolen bases on his way to an MVP, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove awards.  Not a bad season, to say the least.

This version of Rollins is past his prime, no doubt.  But even with that, I think there's plenty of things to like about this deal.  Last season he hit .243 with 17 homers, 55 RBIs, and 28 steals in 126 games.  Hanley hit .283 with 13 homers, 71 RBIs, and 14 steals in 128 games.  Those are surprisingly even numbers, with Rollins getting the edge in the speed department.  That will come in handy for a team that doesn't rely on the long ball to score the majority of their runs.

The other major difference is on defense.  Simply put, Rollins is good, and Hanley is not.  Last season Rollins had a .988 fielding %, seven errors, and a 1.1 Defensive WAR.  Hanley had a .961/16/-0.6 line.  It's not hard to figure out that Rollins is clearly the better choice at short.

When this deal went down, one of the first things the baseball reporters were saying is that Rollins still has something left in the tank, and is still a very good defensive player to boot.  He brings instant credibility to a team that is on the verge of taking the next step, and getting a second ring while leading a new team has to mean a lot to him.

Of course, if Rollins starts off the year slowly and isn't getting any big hits, then I'm sure plenty of fans won't be afraid to express their displeasure at not re-signing Hanley.  I can understand that.  But everyone needs to remember that Hanley made a very smart decision for his career as well, as going to the American League and getting his big money contract is exactly what he wanted to happen.  Good for him.

In the meantime, let's enjoy the top shortstop in Phillies' history coming to the Dodgers for a year (or more, who knows), while Seager continues his climb to the Majors.

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