How much is too much?

Dec 08

Will Jimmy Rollins still be running out of here as a member of the Phillies ... or coming back as a hated member of another team?

Let me preface this post by noting that I am happy that Albert Pujols is out of the National League. But that comes from me as a Phillies fan, not me as a baseball fan.

As a Phillies fan — or as a baseball cynic at times — I would have laughed if players like Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter had left the Yankees over the past few years.

But then there’s the baseball fan in me, which always wins out.

See, this morning, Albert Pujols signed to play with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, leaving behind the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s no secret that I don’t like the Cardinals. I never have.

But the reality is, Albert Pujols has been the face of that franchise. For his 11-year MLB career, it’s the only team he’s ever known. He’s hit 445 homer for that franchise. He’s been a cornerstone. And he’s been one of the best of this generation.

This year was his first true test of the free agent waters.

Over his 11 years with St. Louis, he’s made $104,040,436 (according to Pujols was lured by many teams this off-season. The Miami (formerly Florida) Marlins and their hideous new uniforms offered a deal that reportedly could have been worth upwards of $300M over 10 years. The Cardinals were somewhere north of $200M, with a deal ranging from 9-10 years, depending where you read. Apparently the rival Cubs were also sniffing around.

Then came the Angels.

They floated around before spreading their wings and winning the battle with an offer of 10 years and somewhere around $250 or $260 million.

Pujols is going to be 32 years old when the season starts. He’s one of the greatest of this generation. He can hit, he can field and he does a lot of things. And it’s not like he’s not made money.

Even more — he’s a virtual God in St. Louis. So much so, that there’s a statue of him!

Now, he’s gone. He’s flying to a new league. A new team. And leaving behind what could have been one heck of a stories career with one franchise. Unfortunately, that’s the sports business. Take more and move on.

Hunter Pence, who I had the chance to cover in Oneonta when he played the Tigers when he was with the Astros farm club, posted on Twitter this afternoon:

If I’ve already made more than $100M in my career. And, the difference of $60M is the difference between $200M and $260M? AND if I choose the statue and team I’ve known for my entire career?

I choose loyalty.

But I’m also not Albert Pujols. One reason this is good for him is so when he gets to the back end of this contract, he can DH in the American League. It might keep him fresher and good for longer.

But loyalty speaks a ton in my mind. To know I could look at my career and see but one team on that list — I would be more than willing to keep the statue and leave the $60M on the table.

After all, that would still mean I’ve made more than $300M in my career.

How much is too much?

That brings me to the point of this post. Jimmy Rollins.

Rollins, as many of you know, is the long-time shortstop for the Phillies. His face has been the centerpiece of this franchise for many years. Drafted in 1996 by the Phils, his entire 12-year MLB career has been spent manning shortstop for the Phils. He won the MVP in 2007 and help the Phillies win their second World Series in franchise history in 2008.

And through it all, he’s been a Phillie.

His last contract was extremely team-friendly. He showed some loyalty. And he wants it in return now that he’s a free agent at age 33 (which he just turned).

To be fair, the past few years he hasn’t been Jimmy of old. He’s had some injuries. His numbers aren’t where they used to be. But he’s still one of the top defensive shortstops in the game and when he’s on, the team goes as he goes. He is a Philadelphia Phillie.

Rollins wants a 5-year deal. Even I realize that a deal like that might be hard to stomach. Not getting it doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t still be here in five years. But, it locks them into a high-range of pay for that time period. The Phillies seem to want to offer him three years at a pretty decent pay raise.

According to Baseball-Reference, Rollins has made $53,780,000 during his career. No matter what, for the next 3-4 years, he’ll be looking at a good chunk of change. Probably upward of $11-14M per year, if the contract works well enough.

But he wants five years.

That has made it difficult for the Phillies to get him signed quickly. Although the front office brass has said over and over that signing Rollins is a priority, it’s been slow going.

This week at the winter meetings, several things came out. The Brewers were in on him. It sounded like a two-team race. Then it was reported Rollins and the Phillies had agreed to terms of a contract.

But hold that thought…

No terms were agreed to, but it was getting close. Or, maybe not.

This morning on Twitter, Shane Victorino sent out a congrats to Pujols and offered something else:

Soon after, Rollins replied:

Rollins and Pujols share the same agent, so it makes sense that Rollins was kind of waiting while the agent worked on Pujols, who is, by far, the catch of the off-season.

But now that Pujols is signed…

See, the Cardinals have some money they can spend. And they need a shortstop. Does Jimmy Rollins go? Do the Cardinals offer him what he seeks? Earlier in the off-season, some reports showed Cardinals people saying there isn’t a match there.

And, in the end, what does Rollins want?

I know, personally, if he shows up in another uniform next year, it will make me ill. It’s my hope that somehow, the Phillies and Rollins come to an agreement and find middle ground to agree upon. The reality is, Rollins means more to this franchise than he could to another — and vice versa. Rollins is the Jeter of Philly. The Yanks and Jeter finally found a way to get it done last year.

Hopefully the same can be done here.

Because in this day and age, it really is refreshing to see someone stay with a team for their career. In this economy, too, it’s hard for us common Joes to realize fighting over a few extra million. With so many people unemployed in this economy, it’s even harder to cheer for someone who makes a ton of money if they can’t show loyalty as well.

Truthfully, in the end, how much money really is too much?

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