Every week, the writers of That Ball’s Outta Here debate the key issues facing the Phillies. Joining me this week are Spencer Bingol and Michael Lecke. This week, we discuss the ongoing Jimmy Rollins saga.
Was Ryne Sandberg right to bench Jimmy Rollins for three days?
I feel relatively alone as being somewhere in the middle of this issue. Sports radio blow-hards treat this hustle issue as a fireable offense, and fans online are willing to absolve Rollins of everything. (Guess which group grew up with him as an idol, and which as the punk new kid?)
Anyway, the team handled it fine. It’s an internal matter, where Rollins said “Who cares?” last Monday to Philadelphia Daily News, regarding the lack of offensive production in Spring Training. That’s obviously an unacceptable attitude for the team leader to have – especially in Spring with a bunch of young guys around. So, yes, benching him for that is appropriate.
Beyond that, as fans we also don’t know the circumstances of the clubhouse - Rollins’ attitude behind closed doors is as or more important than anything he’s said in public. Those close to the situation have all the information, and we don’t. I try to avoid passing much judgement on those kinds of things.
Watching this go down as a fan was a bit like watching your parents fight. You take both sides and none; you just want them to stop fighting.
But when apples come to oranges, I think Ryne wishes he handled this differently. He said as much, which was a relief to hear because not talking to Jimmy for three days and sending a message through the press doesn’t sound like sound leadership. I do believe Ryne is a good leader and I think he’ll grow from this. I understand fully why Jimmy’s flippant quotes about not caring rankled him, but it clearly affected Ryne a bit too much.
Jimmy alluded to getting used to new style of leadership and I think they will adapt to each other as time goes on, but you just know in your bones that this will flare up again and again all season long. They are a bit like oil and water, not just in temperament, but in circumstance. This is Ryno’s first spring training and he cares more about this than life itself. He’s driven like a serial killer, savagely focused and detail oriented and, for now, a bit too touchy. Jimmy has been here forever, through all the ups and downs, and is solely thinking of getting himself ready for game one. But he isn’t thinking enough about the team.
Obviously this spring matters to Ryne; he’s setting the tone for his first season. It matters to guys on the bubble, particularly guys who may never get another shot like this again. For them this is just short of a life and death, not just spring training. But not for Jimmy. And should it be? Nope. But he should be thinking more about the team for sure and setting the tone Ryne wants to set. Respect the game. Respect your teammates. Do you think Cody Asche is comfortable with Maikel Franco breathing down his neck and a sub-.200 batting average? Nope. He’s not saying “who cares?” and Jimmy should feel that a bit more. 2014 isn’t business as usual for the Phillies even if it is for Jimmy.
I sure hope their tête-à-tête brought them closer together. The Phillies need these two pulling on the same rope. I think Ryno should call off the dogs a bit, especially in public. I also think Jimmy needs to display better leadership, too. Become a bit more Ryn-ocerous, so to speak: kick up smoke and grunt like he’s ready to charge on Ryne’s command. Ryn-ocerous? Nah, it’ll never stick. Jimmy’s more of a peacock, anyway.
I think Sandberg was well within his rights to be upset with Rollins. One of the reasons he was hired was because management wanted to shake the team out of its complacency. So if he saw one of the team leaders carrying himself with a lackadaisical attitude, then it’s understandable that he wanted to send a message.
But there are much better ways to send a message, especially when it seems that Rollins was as in the dark about the benching as anyone. Wouldn’t a brief sit down meeting with Rollins have gotten the point across just as well?
Do you think that the move was partially done so that if the Phillies wanted to trade Rollins at midseason, he’d be more willing to waive his no-trade clause?
Phillies management have shown themselves to be an exceedingly sentimental group, right or wrong, when it comes to the players and staff in their clubhouse. GM Ruben Amaro cried when Charlie Manuel got fired, for Pete’s sake. This makes me very disinclined to believe they’re actively trying to cheat Rollins out of his vesting option by benching him during the season.
However, it’s been clear that the team wants to trade him, and that he’s very much against it (he HAS to break records, guys). So while they might not be pressuring him to waive his clause, if he does something stupid like what he said last Monday, then they aren’t going to STOP Sandberg from benching him, exactly.
Ultimately, attempting to bench him would be counterproductive. In order for him to waive his no-trade, you need two things. First, the team needs to be awful (probable “check”). Second, give him playing time so that he breaks the Phillies’ all-time hits record (60 away) before the trade deadline. NOT playing him doesn’t break any records, save for swiftest kick in the ass by the player’s union. It would only make him more indignant.
Absolutely not. I don’t think anyone had any thought in that direction at all and if they did then shame on them.
I didn’t think so before, but after Buster Olney’s article, I’m not as convinced. Ultimately, I think Sandberg did this independently of any urging from management. But I think the benching had management’s blessing, and if it had the side effect of Rollins wanting to leave, all the better.
What do you think? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.
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