Jimmy Rollins was on Dan Patrick’s radio show yesterday. He’s always a great interview. Very thoughtful. Despite the reputation he (unfairly) got early in his career, he’s pretty self-deprecating too. And, based on his comments when asked about why the Phillies traded Cliff Lee, very candid:
That, I have no idea. I’m sure we could afford him. We turned
nearly 4 million people through the turnstiles last year. I don’t know.
You should have (Phillies GM) Ruben (Amaro) on here . . . When the trade
happened, I actually got a text from Jayson Werth and he was like, ‘What
are we doing?’ And I was like, ‘Didn’t we get Halladay?’ And he was
like, ‘Yeah, but we traded Lee.’ And my mouth dropped like, ‘That wasn’t
part of the deal.’ I really don’t know. I thought we had enough to keep
him. I thought we could have done enough to keep him, but I guess that’s
just a move the Yankees do.
You can listen to the interview here (the Lee stuff starts at about the five minute mark). I don’t take his tone as one of complaint or second guessing, really. He defers to Ruben Amaro for the whys of it all. But you can tell that keeping Cliff Lee was his preference. Of course, it’s not like Rollins has any special insight as to whether trading him was the right move. Veterans will always, always, always prefer to keep their fellow veterans on a team over making trades that will help replenish the system with prospects.
My takeaway from this is not that Rollins is right that the Phillies should have kept Lee, necessarily, but that he seems genuinely blindsided by the deal. Makes me wonder how much the team communicates overall strategy with the players. Sure, it’s OK to be surprised the day it happens and texts start flying. But to remain surprised even a couple of months later is something else entirely.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.