When Mike Schmidt retired on May 29, 1989, these were his words:
“Over the years, I’ve set high standards for myself as a player, and I always said that when I couldn’t live up to those standards I would retire. I no longer have the skills needed to make adjustments at the plate to hit or to make some plays in the field and run the bases. I feel like I could ask the Phillies to keep me on to add to my statistics, but my love for the game won’t let me do that.”
Mike Schmidt is a Hall of Famer and a well-deserved Hall of Famer, at that. If he can retire in the middle of the season after a terrible, non-performing start, why can’t others? Manny Ramirez retired last season, but that was mainly due to his Performance-Enhancing Drug suspension. It is time for Scott Rolen to walk away.
Rolen has been a tremendous player, having won the Rookie of the Year in 1997, eight Gold Gloves, and making seven All-Star appearances. However, he hasn’t been worth a roster spot since the beginning of the 2011 season, hitting just .220/.258/.365 with 27 doubles, two triples, eight home runs, 52 RBI, and a 69:19 K:BB in 381 at bats. He has been on the disabled list for 132 games due to injuries since April 21 of 2011.
The fall began in 2005 when Rolen first dealt with left shoulder issues, which he missed 101 games due to. Rolen was 30-years-old that season, and now, seven years later, he has been on the disabled list or missed games due to the same shoulder nine different times, a total of 253 games.
Prior to 2005, Rolen was Hall of Fame worthy, .280/.374/.518 with 296 doubles, 28 triples, 226 home runs, 831 RBI, and 91 stolen bases over parts of nine seasons, including his 130 at bat 1996 cup of coffee.
It is another sad example of a “what-might-have-been” scenario. I like to think of Mickey Mantle’s numbers without his knee issues, Grady Sizemore’s numbers without nearly three-and-a-half years of injuries at the age of 29, or Tony Conigliaro before taking a pitch to the eye. Unfortunately for a contending team like the Cincinnati Reds, they can’t afford to give at-bats to a player who is a shell of his former self.
Scott Rolen is not the player that Todd Frazier is, whether he possesses tremendous leadership qualities and is a loveable, Dusty Baker-kind-of-veteran. In fact, take a look at this:
Player A: .282/.354/.472, 15 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 10 SB, 53:27 K:BB in 248 AB
Player B: .278/.345/.556, 13 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 1 SB, 52:18 K:BB in 180 AB
Player A is Bryce Harper and Player B is Todd Frazier, so who is your Rookie of the Year in the National League? While Harper is an All-Star and is just 19-years-old, Frazier has been just as productive, if not more so, in 60+ fewer at-bats. Frazier is 26 and toiled in the minors as a former college pick before getting a shot this season. They aren’t anywhere near the same player, but neither is Scott Rolen compared to what he was and what Frazier is now.
Rolen needs to look at what Mike Schmidt said when he retired over 13 years ago. To take a step back and humbly admit that you “no longer have the skills needed to make adjustments at the plate to hit or to make some plays in the field and run the bases.” Everyone sees it and it is time for Rolen to look in the mirror and see that it is, indeed, time to step away for good. His leadership qualities may have more value to a franchise when he isn’t on a 25-man roster, anyway.