I have so many things to say I’m not sure where to start. So let me start by showing my gratitude for what you have done for this team and this city, and in particular, me. I am in my mid 20s these days and I have been an avid follower of this team long before you left Oakland to come play in that concrete donut they called Veteran’s Stadium. Obviously, the team was lingering between terrible and mediocre when you arrived on the scene, but it was great to see young talent on the field (you and Scott Rolen). I remember your rookie season and thinking to myself this has to be a rookie of the year campaign, but you had the misfortune of being a rookie the same year as Albert Pujols (funny you actually came in 3rd that year behind teammate Roy Oswalt). In the National League, I don’t know if there has been a more important player for their team other than Pujols during the past 11 years.
For the first half of your career, it was all about changing the culture of the team. This did not just mean the record of the ballclub, which for the most part hovered around .500 in the first half of the 2000s. It was about believing that you could win. It was about hating to lose. It was about coming to the ballpark everyday with a smile on your face because you knew your team was headed in the right direction. I remember vividly a late September game in 2005 I attended against the Mets. Man, remember when the Mets were a decent team? You were somewhere around 30 games into that hitting streak. The Phils had been eliminated from competition but everybody was there to see you get a hit. I could be wrong, but I believe it was the 8th inning when you came through that night. It was pandemonium when that ball got through the infield. It was just a cool thing to be a part of and I thank you for that. I remember the next spring I was sitting in a computer lab class in college on opening day, and once again I might be wrong, but I believe you hit a triple late in the game to extend the hitting streak. I freaked out and jumped out of my seat celebrating your accomplishment while following the action on gamecast. It was quite the scene; nobody knew what I was doing.
Of course, I remember when you came into the 2007 season declaring “We are the team to beat this year.” What a statement Jimmy! It was clear you were ready to take this team to another level. Not only did you talk the talk that season, but goddamnit if you didn’t walk the walk too. I get nostalgic just thinking about that season. It was the year we finally broke through, and you were the number one cause for that. Those numbers you put up that year speak for themselves, but to come through the way you did after making such a brash statement just amazes me. The Phillies literally were, and have been since, the team to beat.
In 2008, well you know what happened in 2008. You, Cole, Chase, Ryan, Pat(!), Jayson, Shane, Joe, Jamie, Chooch, Brad, and the rest of that team will hold a special place in the minds and hearts of every Philadelphia Phillies fan for as long as we live. That was a magical ride that season, and it changed the mindset of Phillies fans all over the area. In 2009, the Phils were back and ready for more. When you got this hit, it may have been the most I have ever freaked out about a sporting event in my life. Are you serious Jimmy? Down a run with 2 outs in the 9th and you smoke a 99 mph fastball into the gap for a game winning 2 run triple to go up 3-1 in the NLCS?!? God, I hope you think about that hit every day. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
Sadly, you guys fell short to the Yankees shortly after that hit, but it was still a fun season. I’m sure 2010 was pretty rough for you with all the injuries and of course falling short again in the postseason was tough. I was very happy to see you healthy and for all intents and purposes, back to your old self again this year. I’m sure you were pretty happy about it too, because with the decent season you put together this past year it means you are due to get paid. And that is what brings me to the point of this letter Jimmy.
I looked it up. You have made $53,780,000 as a professional ballplayer. I have to assume that number is closer to 70 million when you account for endorsements/incentives/promotional appearances. You make more money in a year than the majority of people will make in a lifetime, and you play a game every day (for 6 months). I’m pleading with you to not make your decision on who you sign with about money this year. I know there is not a lot of talent at shortstop these days, so you should be due to make a boatload of money from some team that is willing to give it to you. You have earned it. I’m sure you want a 5 year deal because that will bring you the most money and most security. If the Giants come in with a Godfather offer of 5 years 50 million (I’m just throwing numbers around here), would it be worth it to take it if the Phillies are offering 3-4 years for 8 million a season? I just don’t see how it could be. You have built a relationship with this fan base. You have built a championship team with the help of your teammates, manager, and front office. You have built a legacy in this city that is borderline Hall-of-Fame. Is one extra year and a few extra million worth giving up on all the goodwill you have stockpiled in this town? You have been here over ten years, you know how this town works. If you bolt for more money and spite the Phillies, it will be hard for these people to forgive and forget.
I cannot pretend to know the inner-workings of Ruben Amaro’s head, but I have to believe he is going to offer you something fair. In my opinion Jimmy, you need to jump at it. The main reason is not the money, or the town, don't get me wrong, those are strong reasons and part of my argument, but the main reason is simple. Winning. Where are you going to go that is going to give you a better chance of winning than right here in this city? One World Series is not enough for this nucleus Jimmy, and you know that. Look at the talent on this team. How can you walk away from that just for more money, when you should have more than enough sitting in your bank account? It is a bold statement, but you are the Derek Jeter of the National League. If you win another World Series or two with the Phillies, that comparison will start to creep up more and more. He stayed, why shouldn’t you? So Jimmy, when you make your decision this off-season, please weigh all your options carefully. Think about what staying would mean, and what leaving would mean. If you get a fair contract offer from the Phillies, you need to sign it.