Thanks for the Memories: Phils Trade Jimmy Rollins to the LA Dodgers

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Jimmy Rollins surpassed Mike Schmidt on the Phillies all-time hits list  last June.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Jimmy Rollins surpassed Mike Schmidt on the Phillies all-time hits list last June. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—We all knew that Jimmy Rollins inevitable departure from the Phillies was coming back in June when he became the club’s all-time hits leader and he suggested that he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the Phillies were truly committed to rebuilding during the press conference.

The Phillies traded Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday night for minor league pitching prospects Zach Elfin and Tom Windle.

Rollins certainly left an indelible mark on the Phillies during his 15 years as a player and as a member of the community. He is among the team’s all-time leaders in hits, at-bats and doubles and as far as I’m concerned, Rollins is the best defensive shortstop in the team’s history and still one of the best in the National League.

But I think that Rollins’ greatest legacy to the Phillies is that he brought a swagger to the team that led eventually them to a World Series championship in 2008. That was something that I noticed about him even before 2007 when he said the Phillies were the team to beat.

When I first interviewed Rollins near the end of the 2004 season, he said it was his goal to see the Phillies become as a consistent a winner as the Atlanta Braves were during the 1990s.

Rollins was quite prophetic and he was one of the main reasons the Phillies owned the National League East from 2007-2011. During that time, the Phils won two National League pennants and a world championship.

At the start of the 2007 season, Rollins let it be known the Phillies and not the then defending division champion New York Mets. J-Roll got a lot of heat from the local and national media for making.

That season, Rollins put his money where his mouth was with an MVP season that helped lead the Phillies to the first of five straight division titles. Rollins batted .296, hit 30 home runs and drove in 94 runs. He set a major league record for plate appearances.

At just 5-foot-8, and 180 pounds, the switch-hitting Rollins had solid power from the leadoff position. He is one of six shortstops in baseball history to have 2,000 hits and four or more Gold Gloves. He is fourth on the major league career list in lead-off home runs with 46.

Last June, Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman, Mike Schmidt said the 36-year-old Rollins is a strong candidate to make it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“I think if Jimmy retired at the end of the (2014) season. I think he’d get serious consideration Hall-of-Fame consideration right now,” Schmidt said back in June.

Rollins will certainly have the opportunity to add to his numbers with the Dodgers, who also acquired Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

During his time in Philadelphia, Rollins was definitely a fan favorite, especially among young African-American fans, whose older relatives had bad memories of the Phillies treatment of Jackie Robinson when he broke the color-line and when Dick Allen was a member of the team.

“That’s definitely a great thing and I’ve said it a number of times, you look around you don’t see many Black faces in the ballpark from back in the Veterans Stadium days,” Rollins said back in 2011. “Now you’re starting to see quite a bit more and it’s a good thing to bring that relationship and it’s important to this ball club to bring people together.”

But in the business of baseball, the Phillies are in rebuilding mode and are looking to develop younger ball players. Rollins, like most players of his age and experience, wants another chance to play for a winner and add to his legacy and that’s why he waived his no-trade clause.

One thing is for certain filling in Rollins shoes at shortstop will be a monumental task.

Papelbon’s Blown Save and Fallout from Obscene Gesture Typifies Phillies Miserable Season

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun.

Jonathan Papelbon said he was adjusting his equipment and this was not an obscene gesture.

Jonathan Papelbon said he was adjusting his equipment and this was not an obscene gesture.

PHILADELPHIA—If you’re looking for signs that the Phillies miserable 2014 season can’t end soon enough, the bizarre ending to Sunday’s game certainly provided evidence of that.

For the eight innings, it looked like the Phillies were on their way to a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins. They came into the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead and closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound to put the game on ice. He had converted 14 straight save opportunities since July 24.

But the disaster struck Papelbon and the Phillies in the ninth inning as the Marlins scored four runs to steal away a 5-4 win over the Phils, who head on their final road trip of the season by losing a game they should have won.

It was typical of a year where the Phillies can’t seem to get things right on a regular basis and the way this game is just another example of why the Phils are at the bottom of the National League East standings.

Papelbon’s exit from the game after the Phillies surrendered the lead in the ninth inning became the theatre of the absurd.

Umpire Joe West and Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon engage in a heated argument after the Phils pitcher is ejected from the game.

Umpire Joe West and Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon engage in a heated argument after the Phils pitcher is ejected from the game.

As he was coming off the field, Papelbon was being booed loudly by the 30, 201 fans gathered at Citizen’s Bank Park. Before leaving the field, Papelbon grabbed his crouch, making what could be interpreted as an obscene gesture to the fans.

That prompted second-base umpire Joe West to eject Papelbon from the game.

“That’s what I saw and so did the plate umpire,” West said. “You can’t do things like that. The whole thing started because the fans booed him and he made an obscene gesture. He had no business doing that. He’s got be more professional than that.”

Papelbon said told reporters after the game he was adjusting his equipment and was not making an obscene gesture to the crowd.

“By no means was I directing anything at any fans,” Papelbon said. “I have a four-year and a five-year-old son and a daughter. I am not out here doing inappropriate things. Come on this is baseball. I think Joe (West) just took something to a whole new level that didn’t need to go there. It is unfortunate that he took it there because by no means did it mean to be like that.”

Having played baseball myself, I can see it where he might have been adjusting his protective cup. However, I think he should have waited until he got in the dugout. Quite frankly, I think he did it on purpose out of the emotion of blowing a save and getting booed by the crowd.

Things became even more intense when Papelbon and West got into heated argument after Papelbon was ejected. West grabbed Papelbon’s jersey and tossed him out of the way before first base umpire Marty Foster broke the two up.

“Joe had no right to grab me by any means so I will file a complaint for that for sure,” Papelbon said.
West said the altercation between he and Papelbon started when he came to the Phillies dugout to toss him out of the game.

“I told him ‘you’ve got to go,’ “ West said. “And then he charged out of the dugout and his bumped into my hat and I grabbed him and I said, ‘Get off of me.’”

Throughout this season, the Phillies have had games where one aspect of their game was going strong while others have broken down to cause them to lose.

On Sunday, the Phillies scored enough runs to win the game. They took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI single by third baseman Maikel Franco. Miami tied the game in the fourth on a solo homer by second baseman Kiki Hernandez.

The Phils took the lead in the fourth inning when left fielder Domonic Brown hit into a double play with the bases loaded to drive in one run. Catcher Carlos Ruiz had an RBI single in the same inning to give his team a 3-1 lead.

The Phillies got an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when centerfielder Ben Revere scored on a fielder’s choice by second baseman Chase Utley.

Meanwhile, Phillies starting pitcher David Buchanan had a solid outing, allowing just one run on five hits in six and a third innings. He had strike outs and one walk. He threw 89 pitches.

The Phillies set up men in the bullpen—Antonio Bastardo and Justin De Fratus did their part in stopping the Marlins offense and held them no runs and no hits.

But just when it looked like the Phillies were clicking on all cylinders in this game, they shot themselves in the foot again with a bad outing by a closer who had problems leaving the ball across the middle of the plate.

It’s been that kind of a year.

Phillies are Quietly Making a Late-Season Charge for the Playoffs

John Mayberry Jr. is helping the Phillies make a late season push for the postseason. The Phillies have won eight of their last 10 and are two games below .500.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Don’t look now but the Phillies actually have a shot at one of the two wildcard berths despite all the reports of their imminent death and demise.  The Phils are six games behind the St. Louis Cardinals with 22 games left.

Since the All-Star break, the Phillies are 32-21. They are 24-14 since the July 31st trade deadline when the team traded Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants (more on that in a moment).   Phils manager Charlie Manuel said he never thought his team was out of it.

“I’ve always thought that, it’s just a matter of us winning games and good things happen for us and other teams playing each other and beating up each other,” Manuel said after the Phillies 7-4 win over the Colorado Rockies Sunday night.

Granted, they would have to climb over three teams and get above the .500 mark to even come close. The good thing is that the Phillies schedule down the stretch will include some awful teams along with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.

“If you’re winning, you’re going to gain some ground on somebody,” Manuel said. “Those wildcards definitely make a difference when you think about it. It’s very important for us to get over .500. We get a couple of games over .500 and you’ll see that our chances will get better because some of those teams will filter back down to that mark.”

But even if the Phillies don’t get to the playoff promised land, the most important thing for them will be playing well down the stretch.  In a season where injuries basically destroyed the first half of the season, finishing above .500 and making a charge down the stretch would be more than a moral victory.

“I’m definitely encouraged about that because that means that we’re staying with them and we still want to play and a lot of teams pack it in, but at the same time, I know a lot of our guys and they’re not going to pack it in because that’s who they are,” Manuel said  “Just keep winning and see how many we can win and keep going.”

Here’s something to think about. Back in 2006 when the Phillies traded Bobby Abreu and the late Corey Lidle to the New York Yankees at the trade deadline, former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said after that trade that it would be “a stretch that we’re going to be there in 2007.”   The Phillies made a late charge and almost made the playoffs and in 2007 they won the first of their five straight NL East titles.

Since the trade of Pence and Victorino, the Phillies are making that charge after many fans and media people thought the Phillies were writing off the 2012 season.

The Phillies sweep of a double-header from the Colorado Rockies moves them to just two games under .500 and gave them a three-game sweep of the weekend series. They have won eight of their last 10 games.

“I think we started to get some breaks that we didn’t get in the first 80 or 90 games,” said Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.  “Our pitching has kept us in ball games and I think anytime our pitching can keep us in ball games, we have a chance. Just having a chance to win in September goes a long way.”

The next three series on the Phillies schedule are the last-place Florida Marlins and the Houston Astros, the last place team in the National League Central and the New York Mets who are next to last in the NL East.

If anything, the Phillies should at the very least move above the .500 mark against teams that quite frankly aren’t very good.  If somehow they inch closer in the wildcard race, the last two series of the season against the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals might actually mean something.

“If you stay around .500 you always have a chance, it’s a little bit later than I said around August,” said outfielder Juan Pierre. “Some teams if they lose, you can find yourself right back in it, but still it’s a long way to go and we’re still a long way out of it. But if you continue to play good baseball, you never know you give yourself a chance that’s for sure.”