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Jimmy Rollins

Is there any GM who loves shelling out long-term deals more than Ed Wade?

I just heard that the Phillies signed "J-Ro" to a 5-year extension worth $40 million.

When you sign a player to a five-year deal, you're essentially saying to them, "we're counting on you to stay here and play well for the next 5 years of your career. We don't think that we can get someone better, and we don't want to waste resources trying."

Wade has given out the following long-term (or somewhat ill-advised) deals in the last few years:

Bobby Abreu - 5 yrs, $62 million
Pat Burrell - 6 yrs, $50 million
Jim Thome - 6 yrs, $85 million
Mike Lieberthal - 3 yrs, $22.5 million
David Bell - 4 yrs, $17 million

I bring up a guy like Bell because I think that by signing David Bell for 4 years, you're crippling one spot where you can upgrade if the time comes / the right player is available. That's a starter's contract and you could get comparable guys on a year-to-year basis without being locked into mediocrity. Abreu's contract makes more sense; you're fine with being locked into years of Bobby Abreu.

Frequently, a contract like this is given out unintelligently. I'm not sure if this one fits that bill.

After years of being relatively disappointing in the face of a lot of hype, Rollins put it together in 2004 with his best season.

  1. .274/.323/.419, 46 SB, 85.1% SR
  2. .245/.306/.380, 31 SB, 70.4% SR
  3. .263/.320/.387, 20 SB, 62.5% SR
  4. .289/.348/.455, 30 SB, 76.9% SR
2004 was easily his best season, mainly due to the surge of XBHs.

This year, he hasn't been as good in any aspect of the game, except maybe in SB.

2005: .263/.305/.383

If Rollins' norm is closer to his 2004 than the years that preceded it, his price isn't a bad one. He will certainly be a top-3 shortstop in the NL in that case, and, last year, he was the NL's best shortstop. For this, we can cite the oft-cited VORP:

  1. Jimmy Rollins - 50.9
  2. Jack Wilson - 50.6
  3. Rafael Furcal - 38.0
  4. Khalil Greene - 37.6
  5. Cesar Izturis - 29.7
  6. Edgar Renteria - 27.3
  7. Barry Larkin - 26.5
  8. Kazuo Matsui - 23.7
  9. Deivi Cruz - 17.9
  10. Royce Clayton - 17.3
For a shortstop who is a competent leadoff hitter and who puts up those numbers, he is certainly close to the value he signed for.

The only question, of course, is about his norm, especially in lieu of his poor start this year.

If last year turns out to be a major abberation for J-Ro and any improvements are lost, this will be a disastrous signing. It's the inherent risk of the 5-year deal.

I would have only given him 3 or 4 years, if it were possible, but you can't fault Wade on this signing all that much. The real problem for me is how this perfectly shows one of the negatives of Ed Wade's administration - the bias towards locking players up instead of flexibility. It's similar to the way that every season, he deals for a reliever as his in-season upgrade move. It never seems to be enough to propel the club to the playoffs... shouldn't that teach something?