The Phillies have won and finished their precarious road trip against the Braves and Cardinals. Record-wise, they haven't played better this year, and despite their two losses coming at the end of the trip, they return to Philadelphia with sky-high confidence.
Meanwhile, the All-Star break looms, as does baseball's July 31 trade deadline. The Phillies once again aren't completely positive of what they are in terms of contention - despite outside opinions flowing freely on that topic - and therefore their identity at the season's midpoint remains ambiguous.
Whether they are buyers or sellers, though, doesn't matter to Jimmy Rollins. Over the weekend, he doubled down on his interest to stay in Philadelphia to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
"Even if somewhere else was the perfect spot, this is what I know. You weigh that against the instant gratification of winning right now. You leave, and there’s no guarantee you’re going to win anyways. You pack up to leave for a different organization, a different city, and it feels temporary. I can tell you that I have never honestly thought about waiving my no-trade clause.”
What should the Phillies do as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches?
Rollins announced prior to becoming the Phillies' all-time hit leader that he wanted to stay with the team to reach the milestones for which he was on track. It was viewed as selfish, as if Rollins was robbing the team of some better shortstop by choosing to stay and break a few records. After achieving his 2,235th hit, he said he would "of course" be open to a trade if the Phillies made rebuilding their plan. This was also viewed as selfish because some people just really want Jimmy Rollins to be selfish, I guess.
Offering some revealing insight into a player wearing his shoes, Rollins provided an argument against seeking a championship in his twilight years in favor of company loyalty, in an age when so many have rightfully felt the opposite. In many cases, especially around here, that would be applauded. But presumably with Rollins, who, for a franchise leader in hits, a former NL MVP, and a World Series champion, has always received an astounding amount of flak, it will result in as many complaints as toasts.
Rollins is slashing an unassuming .244/.330/.387, despite being at the end of a 15-game hit streak, during which he maintained only one hit per game. His walk rate is higher than any season total of his career (11.6 percent) and his WAR (1.4) is already approaching his total for last season (1.6) with over half the year left. His defense has been stellar. With his protected veteran status, he can decide if and when he goes.
Of course, should an eye-bulging deal come along, and Rollins refuses to agree to it, then his loyalty would be more detrimental than honorable. But he has literally said he wouldn't do that.
Right now, what they do have is a strong, veteran shortstop - who has maintained some of the steps from his prime while inarguably losing a few - who is ready to stay where he is until requested to do otherwise. SELFISH SELFISH SELFISH.
When telling reporters he wouldn't stand in the way of a trade if the Phillies blew their team up, Rollins mentioned something else: "We can make it difficult for (Ruben Amaro)." If nothing else, this last road trip did a lot to make the Phillies, and by proxy their near future, less obvious. Should the time come, a team making a push could benefit from a skilled, congenial, playoff-hardened shortstop; and mathematically, that team could still be the Phillies.