Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Rollins experiment isn't really working

Of the many offseason moves made by the Dodgers, one of the biggest ones was plucking Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies after spending 15 years there.  Hanley Ramirez wasn't offered a contract extension, and Corey Seager wasn't quite ready yet to assume full-time shortstop duties with the big club.

The thinking was that Rollins could set the table at the top of the order with some power, provide a good glove at short, and give his veteran leadership in a clubhouse that wasn't exactly harmonious last season.

The results thus far?  EH... just OK.

That's my nice way of saying that Rollins hasn't exactly set the Dodgers on fire.  At 36, he looks more like the guy on his last legs of life, rather than getting a career resurgence across the country in LA.

In the field, he's had pretty good results in comparison with the rest of the shortstops in the National League.  Right now he has a 0.3 Defensive WAR, which ranks him fifth.  His fielding %, however, is .951, putting him in the lower half at 12th.  The one thing he definitely does have going for him is that he's a clear upgrade from Hanley, who was probably the worst defensive shortstop in all of baseball last year.

At the plate, it's been a completely different story.  He enters Sunday's game against the Rockies, the team's 30th, hitting .167 with a .248 OBP, four doubles, one triple, three homers, and 11 RBIs.  He's also struck out 24 times, and been 3-6 in stolen base attempts.  Simply put, those numbers are pretty awful for hitting in the upper half of the lineup.

Yet, there's his name constantly being written in the #2 hole, and that was only because Don Mattingly finally yanked him from the leadoff spot for a much more exciting Joc Pederson.  Young Joc has responded with six home runs and a .366 OBP.  Rollins in the #2 hole?  A .103 AVG, .122 OBP, and two homers.  Those are some really pathetic numbers.

That leads us to this simple question - What should the Dodgers do now?  It seems like a simple answer, but because of how much the Dodgers talked him up in the offseason, it's not quite as easy as it looks.

The simple way would be to move him lower in the order at the very least.  There is no reason at all he should be hitting in the top half.  He's absolutely stunk it up by striking out way too much, and not getting on base nearly enough.  Hopefully Yasiel Puig comes back soon and can take that spot, but that shouldn't matter.  Rollins needs to be dropped.

In the field, there's no clear cut replacement.  Justin Turner could get some time there, but he's better off at other positions.  Darwin Barney is in Triple-A, and Kike Hernandez is only a temporary replacement until guys like Puig get healthy again.

If you're a big follower of the Dodgers, you know that someone else is lurking in the Minor Leagues.  That someone is Seager, who was just promoted to Triple-A after tearing up Double-A ball.  In 20 games at Tulsa, he hit .375 with five homers and 15 RBIs.  Oklahoma City has proven to be a little tougher so far, as he's 7-for-30 (.233) with no homers and four RBIs in eight games.  It's a very small sample size, so you know he'll get adjusted soon.

And if Seager does get adjusted, then like Pederson last September, I have to wonder how much longer the Dodgers will let the #5 ranked prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America linger in Triple-A.  Say Rollins continues to do... well, a big pile of nothing.  And say Seager gets his power stroke going.  I can definitely see the future getting in some action with the big club before this season is all said and done.

The bottom line is that, as great a career as Rollins had in Philadelphia, it's time for him to start putting up the numbers in LA.  If he doesn't, then no matter how much "veteran leadership" he brings to the clubhouse, the Dodgers have to look to Plan B.

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