It’s hard to imagine Rollins elsewhere

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

With all the new superstars that have joined the Phillies organization over the last few seasons, there was always one that the fan base really identified with.

That player was Jimmy Rollins.

Since bursting onto the big-league scene back in 2000, Rollins has become a fan-favorite. From his MVP season in 2007 to winning the World Series in 2008, Rollins has enjoyed a very successful career in Philadelphia.

But it all could be over this offseason.

As everyone is well aware, Rollins is a free-agent and could test the open market if he chooses. He has made it clear that the Phillies are his first choice and he would return for a fair deal.

I believe that the Phillies must sign Jimmy.

As my good friend John Russo (@Roose_TTB) tweeted a few days ago, Rollins is one of two individuals that you identify with the Phillies organization. The second would be late-broadcaster Harry Kalas.

He is the heart and soul of the franchise. While he is not the Jimmy Rollins of five years ago, he is still one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve said over the last few years “J-Roll has still got it.”

He can still turn double plays with the best of them.

He can still give you a .270 average and 15 homers and about 70 RBIs. That is solid production that you won’t find on the open market.

The options aren’t eye-popping aside from Jose Reyes. Clint Barmes, Rafael Furcal, and Marco Scutaro headline the shortstop class of 2012. I just don’t see the Phillies wanting a guy like Reyes but I don’t see them settling for a journeyman either. Rollins has to be the guy.

The speed is not what it once was but Jimmy can still swipe a bag. He stole 30 bases this year.

This is quite different than the Jayson Werth saga of last offseason. I don’t see Rollins being easily replaced. Gold Glove shortstops aren’t a dime-a-dozen.

We’re talking about the best shortstop in the history of the franchise.

Rollins wants to sign a five-year deal but I could see him settling for the type of three-year pact that Derek Jeter got this past offseason. Their production is very similar but I think Rollins is a far better player at this stage of his career.

I’m just hoping that Jimmy doesn’t get the urge to want to go home and sign with a California team. If it doesn’t work out here, I could see the Giants making a substantial run at the shortstop. Jimmy Rollins in new colors  seems wrong. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to that.

This guy has given everything he has to this city and still has more to give. I want Rollins to retire as a Phillie.

I’ve considered it an honor to watch his entire 12-year career and I’d love to see it concluded in red pinstripes.

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