Two in one: Rollins and Reyes look to proove the tank isn’t empty

For half a decade now, Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes have been staples in their respective cities.

Both have tremendous pop in their bats, both can play Gold Glove defense and both can change a game with one swing.

Both have also been fan favorites since they broke the every-day line up. And with the All-star short stops in the final years of their contracts, one can only ask if they will be re-signed by their current team.

The Phillies Jimmy Rollins is off to a strong start this season, batting .500 (6-for-12). (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Injuries bothered the two short stops the past two seasons. Reyes played in only 169 games in 2009 and 2010 combined after tendinitis in his right calf ended his 2009 campaign very early. Rollins missed almost half of last year with a strained left calf that put him in the DL three times.

Rollins is aging and on the downside of the mountain he climbed during his 12-year career in Philadelphia. His career peaked four years ago when he won the National League MVP in 2007 with a sick combination of power, speed and swagger. He boldly proclaimed the Phillies, who haven’t made the playoffs in 14 years, were the “Team to Beat” and put the other 24 players on his shoulders to make it happen.

What Reyes did in New York was slightly different. He, along with David Wright, brought life back to the New York fan base with the aging of legendary catcher Mike Piazza and topple after their 2000 World Series loss to the Yankees. His play along with the bringing in of aging stars made the Mets a scary team and NL East champion, snapping the Braves 14-year streak.

Rollins is in the last year of his six-year, $46.5 million contract while Reyes is in the last of his five-year, 33.75 million deal.

The Mets Jose Reyes is still a dangerous weapon on the base paths. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Rollins is embracing his new role as the #3 hitter for the Phillies with Chase Utley on the DL, hitting .500 (6-for-12) with a stolen base and .571 OBP. Reyes, who doesn’t heat up until June, is batting .200 (3-for-15) with a double in the lead-off spot.

If the free-swinging Rollins can find a way to produce on a daily basis, the Phillies could find value in him as a #3 or possible #5/6 hitter. He isn’t someone who can really protect Ryan Howard but he can certainly get on base and move around so Howard can drive him in.

If Reyes continues to be a slow starter and see his numbers decline, the Mets will have to look for a new top-of-the-order guy to replace Reyes and let him drop in the order where he can be more liberated at the plate and on the base paths.

So what are these guys worth to each team in the following years? The short stop position has become a revolving door position for a majority of the teams (see Boston post-Nomar Garciaparra). So are the two short stops worth getting paid the same they have been the past 5-6 years?

Rollins is making $8.5 million on his option this season, the highest total of the contract he signed in 2006. Reyes is making $11 million this season, also an option, and this is the highest total of his contract as well.

Rollins can certainly make the same amount of money in a future contract, maybe a little more. Maybe a two-year, $18 million deal with an option for a third season. Reyes can either sign a long deal if he bounces back this year with the Mets or another club seeing as he’ll finish the season at 28. A good season could earn him a raise but I doubt he’ll make anything less than the $6+ million he earned on average after 2007.

Fans hope they can hold onto their short stop while seeing the other one leave the division, and rightfully so. Rollins is a career .269 hitter with 23 homers and 89 RBIs in 171 games against New York. Reyes is a scorching .296/16/50 with a strong .839 OPS against the Phils in his career as a lead-off guy.

2011 is an important year for Rollins and Reyes. Both hit up the gas station this off season. It’s time to see how they hold up with the hard miles ahead.

The Mets and Phillies start a three-game series tonight. Rollins and Reyes will continue their half-a-decade-long rivalry on the field.

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