In the spirit of the season, a reader has urged me move on from Ryan Howard glancing away from strike three and onto some new business. I can think of no better subject than Jimmy Rollins, whose expiring contract will become one of the season's richest subplots.
Aside from watching the hometown nine march down Broad Street again, my individual hope for 2011 would be for Rollins and the Phillies to renew their vows once Rollins crosses the finish line of a 6-year, $46.5 million contract at the end of this season. But 2011 is everything, and at this stage, it's impossible to know which road he will take. Following a pair of down years, an All-Star reprisal seems just as probable as another .694 OPS dud. Motivated to finally receive market value as a free agent, he could catch his second wind. Or, he could decide that he's accomplished all that he set out to achieve (MVP, a title, a comfortable, secure life), and retire from the game altogether. After all, he's a natural in front of the cameras, and there's no doubt that television will be part of his next career. That's merely speculation, based on signs that Rollins, who was married last offseason, may not have had the same level of dedication we've seen in the past. Physically, he broke down almost immediately, lending fuel to rumors that the newlywed was out of shape in the spring.
Nevertheless, these things happen, and you move on. The same was said of Cole Hamels in 2009, and he responded with an incredibly focused effort in '10 that started even before pitchers and catchers reported to Clearwater.
There are dozens or reasons to be stoked about 2011. J-Roll should be right at the top of the list. He's a former MVP, a perennial gold glover and All-Star, a high-motor player and leader. This could be a new beginning, and the start of a renewed union in Philadelphia.