“J-Roll” was the flashy shortstop, the effervescent and outgoing team leader. Chase was “The Man,” the more quiet and intense of the two players who made up the greatest keystone combo in franchise history.
Together they helped propel the Phillies to five consecutive NL East Division crowns from 2007-11, back-to-back National League pennants in 2008 and 2009, and most especially to the 2008 World Series championship.
While in red pinstripes they combined for 3,929 hits, 449 home runs, 1,864 RBI, 2,367 runs scored, and 595 stolen bases.
Rollins was a 3x NL All-Star, 4x Gold Glove Award winner, and the 2007 National League Most Valuable Player. Utley was a 6x NL All-Star, 4x Silver Slugger Award winner, and received NL MVP Award votes on three occasions.
But those glory days are now passed. In December 2014, Rollins was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The following August, Utley was dealt there as well.
Together they had a final go-around in Hollywood, helping the Dodgers – whom they had helped defeat in the NLCS in both 2008 and 2009 – reach the 2015 postseason.
But by the time that postseason rolled around, each was hanging on by a thread. When it was over in a five-game defeat to the New York Mets in the NLDS, Rollins was a free agent.
Signing with the Chicago White Sox for 2016, Rollins began the season as the starting shortstop on the south side of Chicago for a team that had playoff aspirations. Those never materialized, and as both he and the club disappointed, Rollins was released in mid-June.
Utley played on out west, and had somewhat of a bounce-back campaign. He hit .252 with 14 homers, 52 RBI, and 79 runs scored. Far below his All-Star prime, but still solidly contributing.
Perhaps more importantly for Los Angeles, Utley was also credited with helping accelerate the development of his rookie double play partner, Corey Seager.
Rollins never caught on with another team, staying home with his family over the second half of the season. Now Utley joins him as a free agent. So what’s next for these two once-heralded and popular Phillies players?
Rollins took a gig covering the MLB playoffs for TBS last month. Following his release it was reported that he wanted to play again, but he seemed to enjoy the time with his family this summer.
It’s hard to predict what is next for the two players. A best guess is that Rollins stays retired, possibly catching on with a more regular broadcasting gig. Utley probably returns next year, and if so, definitely with a California team to remain close to home.
One thing that is easy to predict is that whenever their official retirements happen, each will then quickly find themselves enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame. Expect that to happen inside the next 3-4 years.
J-Roll and The Man. Jimmy and Chase. For more than a decade they were popular heroes in the City of Brotherly Love. Generations of fans will always remember them and wish them well.
Now we look forward to those future Wall of Fame honors and other team reunions so that we can let them know just how much they meant, and still do mean, to Phillies fans everywhere.