I don’t know if Jimmy Rollins is going to stay in Philly. I kind of think he will because it’s a great match and I have a hard time envisioning a world in which he isn’t wearing red pinstripes. But I do know this much: if he leaves the Phillies, the team would be way worse off if they decided to make Wilson Valdez their everyday shortstop.
Not that you’d know it from reading this blog post from Bob Vertone at Philly.com today:
The Phils had a better record over the last two seasons when Valdez started at shortstop than when Rollins did. Even if you throw out the seven games Rollins started during the eight-game “hangover” this season, his win percentage (.622) is lower …
Because as we all know, the only thing that impacted any of those games was the presence of Wilson Valdez and the absence of Jimmy Rollins. Nothin’ else was going on. At all.
Beyond that, Vertone tries to make a case that the differences between Valdez and Rollins aren’t all that great. Which is quite a trick when you realize that Rollins has an OPS+ of 97 in over 7500 career plate appearances while Valdez has an OPS+ of 67 in just over 1000. And that Rollins is still a damn solid shortstop. And that Valdez is himself turns 34 next season.
Rollins may play someplace else in 2012. If he does, you can bet your bippy that the Phillies are going to look for a replacement for him who is better than Valdez. Or, if they don’t, they’ll know that they’ll have a big falloff at short that they’ll have to make up elsewhere.
Of course, as the pic reveals, Valdez is versatile. Maybe he can help out in the pen.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.