Posts Tagged ‘Chase Utley’

2015 Player Review: Chase Utley

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, October 26, 2015 08:00 PM Comments: 29

PHOTO: Billy Hurst/AP

PHOTO: Billy Hurst/AP

There was a time when Chase Utley was the best baseball player in Philadelphia.

And there was a time when Chase Utley was the best second baseman in baseball.

There was a time, oh there was, when Chase Utley was arguably one of the best five players in the entire sport, and for a number of years, consecutively.

Those times, my friends, are long gone.

Like ankle inflammation, Utley’s last days in Philadelphia were at times painful, uncomfortable and annoying. We remembered the better player, the sweet-stroking hitter who could rip extra-base knocks with the flick of his wrist. The hustling lunatic who stretched singles into doubles, and who somehow scored from first base on balls hit in the infield. We remembered a ballplayer who swatted what seemed like a dozen home runs as the Phillies frantically tried to keep up with the Yankees in the 2009 World Series.

What we got, however, was a .217/.284/.333 triple-slash line, five home runs, a -0.5 WAR and an awkward situation at second base.

To say Utley started the season poorly would be a lie; he was atrocious, sitting at .180 with a .255 on-base percentage and just 10 extra-base hits on May 24. Despite this showing, manager Ryne Sandberg opted to stick with Utley at second base, making Cesar Hernandez and his slightly better .240/.356/.307 line sit on the bench. Utley finally forced Sandberg’s hand by hitting the disabled list with ankle inflammation on June 22.

This is where the story gets great: Utley told reporters his ankle had been bothering him all season. Sandberg, meanwhile, expressed shock that Utley – a lifetime .281 hitter who in 2014 had a solid bounce-back season – was hurt and needed to rest.

So Sandberg dealt with the news like any good manager. He slotted Hernandez in the batting order. Four days later, he quit.

When Utley returned on Aug. 7, he had a new manager – Pete Mackanin – who just like Sandberg, decided to start Utley over Hernandez at second base. This time, however, there was a purpose: Get Utley playing time to show off skills for teams interested to make a trade. Fans figured Utley’s days in Philadelphia were numbered, as did Utley, and thankfully he gave us a few nice parting memories: In his eight-game stint between DL and LA, Utley hit .484/.485/.742 with six extra-base hits. His final home run as a Phillie came Aug. 15 against Milwaukee, a trademark liner over the right field fence.

On Aug. 18 Utley played his final game as Phillie, going 2-for-5 in a loss to Toronto. The next day, rumors of a trade to the Dodgers circulated. As the rumors were confirmed – Utley plus cash to the Dodgers for Darnell Sweeney and John Richy, the Phils and Jays played at Citizens Bank Park. Utley was in uniform but never got into the game; he acknowledged the fans as the game ended.

And that was it.

Chase Utley didn’t do anything else in 2015 after that.

Nope. Nothing.

Grade: D-

Sure I could give Utley an F, and honestly, he deserves it because he played so poorly. However, that stretch before being traded bumps him just a smidge. He deserves that minus, because at least he could sense the moment. He always knew how to sense the moment.


Middle infield stable until Crawford arrives

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, September 16, 2015 09:00 AM Comments: 10

041312-freddy-galvis-400Something amazing happened this week.

That amazing happened in game three of the 2015 Eastern League Division Series between the Reading Fightin’ Phils and Binghamton Mets. That amazing was this play. Just watch it. Over and over again. That’s J.P. Crawford, your top prospect and potential future in Philadelphia.

But before “Jesus, Please!” Crawford comes leaping into our living rooms every summer weeknight, there’s the business of assessing the play of current major league infielders in Philadelphia.

Sorry for the letdown.

Here are the men who have patrolled second base and/or shortstop this season for the Phillies:

Freddy Galvis – 131 games SS
Cesar Hernandez – 75 games 2B, 9 games SS
Chase Utley – 62 games 2B
Andres Blanco – 4 games 2B, 5 games SS
Darnell Sweeney – 4 games 2B

Incredibly, that’s all. Galvis has played nearly every game at shortstop, while second base went from Utley to Hernandez to Utley and back to Hernandez. Blanco and Sweeney took a few snaps. Cut and dry.

Now let’s take out Utley, as we’re assessing for the future. We’re looking at average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, extra-base hits, walks, strikeouts, and defensive runs over or below average (RTOT).

Galvis – 529 PA; .268 AVG, .306 OBP, .360 SLG; 26 XBH, 25 BB, 95 K; -15 RTOT
Hernandez – 452 PA; .272 AVG, .339 OBP, .348 SLG; 25 XBH, 40 BB, 86 K; -7 RTOT
Blanco – 205 PA; .301 AVG, .369 OBP, .514 SLG; 26 XBH, 16 BB, 35 K; -13 RTOT
Sweeney – 59 PA; .200 AVG, .322 OBP, .460 SLG; 6 XBH, 9 BB, 18 K; -4 RTOT

Looking ahead, the possibility of Crawford starting 2016 with the Phillies remains lower than 50 percent. It’s more likely the Phils let him season a little more in Lehigh Valley before starting his clock mid-season, just as they’ve done with countless prospects.

Otherwise, nothing to see here. Chase d’Arnaud, a second baseman and 29-year-old veteran in 2016, lingers on the 40-man roster and is currently on the big club, but is nothing more than AAA filler if the Phils opt to offer him a contract for next year.

And Edgar Duran, a shortstop who will be 25 in 2016, has stalled in Lehigh Valley. In 2015 Duran hit just .163 with a .242 OBP during an injury-plagued year. He could head back to Reading in 2016 as Crawford goes to the Iron Pigs.

So what for 2016? Do the Phillies stick with a combination of Hernandez and Galvis up the middle, with Blanco on the bench and Sweeney taking on a super-utility role?

Let’s start at shortstop. Galvis, who turns 26 in November, will likely have accrued more than 1,100 plate appearances in his career after this season. In that time he hasn’t hit well (.243/.288/.361) and has shown significantly worse defensive skill than we were promised at his debut. 2015 was easily his worst defensive year, valued at about 15 runs below average. That’s part of a regression at shortstop that has only come with more time at the position.

In short, for short, Galvis has come up woefully short. But there’s no reason to ditch Galvis and pick up a free-agent shortstop. Bigger veteran acquisitions (Ian Desmond) are out of the question as Crawford emerges, and fliers on veteran utility infielders are useless when you already have affordable options in Galvis, Hernandez, Blanco and Sweeney. Long story short, stick with Galvis. There’s a small possibility Galvis has trade value in May or June; if so, that’s the time to unload him. Then it’s Crawford’s job for a while.

Hernandez, meanwhile, won’t be playing baseball again until spring training. It’s more than likely that he returns as the probable starting second baseman for the Phillies. In 708 plate appearances the 25-year-old has hit .269/.331/.333, but this year he hit pretty well, all told. He’s a better hitter than Galvis. Defensively? He’s possibly worse. Not since those 22 games patrolling center field for the 2013 Phillies has Hernandez posted positive ratings on defense. He basically can play one position (second base), and it’s not certain that he’s good enough offensively – jury still out – or defensively – hasn’t improved at all – alone to stick as an everyday player.

This is where it gets intriguing. A number of low- to mid-cost second basemen are set to be free agents in 2016, including Kelly Johnson, Howie Kendrick, Daniel Murphy, Chase Utley and Ben Zobrist. All of these players are better offensively than Hernandez, but all – aside from maybe Johnson and Utley – would command substantial salary in a two-year-minimum deal. And all are in their 30s.

It may not be wisest to splurge just yet on a veteran second baseman, unless Utley can be brought back on a peachy one-year contract. Otherwise the Phillies are probably better off staying with Hernandez for another season.

As for Blanco and Sweeney, both are under team control in 2016, with Blanco eligible for arbitration and Sweeney returning with a slight raise. Blanco has been remarkable in his stint with the Phillies, and it’s possible they could flip him for a low-level prospect sometime before next August. Sweeney, meanwhile, should stay in the majors and share second base duties with Hernandez while getting spot starts in the outfield.

So, to recap, stick with Hernandez, Galvis, Blanco and Sweeney in 2016. Be flexible to move Galvis and Blanco sooner than later. Give Crawford a starting job by mid-season. And hope that Hernandez develops enough of a bat to stick tenuously at second base beyond 2016, but don’t count on it.


Utley thanks Philadelphia in heartfelt Daily News ad

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Mon, August 24, 2015 10:42 AM Comments: 8

Chase Utley made his appreciation for Philadelphia pretty clear in his farewell press conference following the news that he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“The hardest part is leaving the city of Philadelphia. They’ve been so good to me and so supportive of me over the years. I can’t thank them enough for it, but I’ll try,” Utley said.

Utley kept his promise, as the beloved second baseman took an ad out of Monday’s Philadelphia Daily News to further express his thanks to city and fan base that cheered him on for 13 years.

In the ad, Utley acknowledges the people who had an impact on him during his tenure as a Phillie, including former head coach Charlie Manuel, and former teammates Ryan Howard, Cole HamelsCarlos Ruiz, Pat Burrell, and Aaron Rowand.

Utley also mentions the Pennsylvania SPCA, which he and his wife have worked with for the last 10 years to help prevent the abuse and neglect of animals in Philadelphia.

The ad ends with the phrase, “WFC forever.” Of course, we all know what that means.


An ode to ‘The Man,’ Chase Utley

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, August 20, 2015 09:41 AM Comments: 12

PHOTO: AP/Kathy Willens

PHOTO: AP/Kathy Willens

As a smallish kid in Port Richmond, I grew up idolizing infielders. I loved what little of Mike Schmidt I remember, and soon I was intently following guys like Ozzie Smith and Dickie Thon. Then Mickey Morandini came aboard. I began playing second base, shortstop, and third base for the Port Richmond Leprechauns and Port Richmond Tigers, and proudly wore No. 12. I was a small white kid. Guys like Morandini were small and white. That made sense to me. I could be him one day. That could work.

My favorite player during those years, however, wasn’t a Phillie, but Cal Ripken Jr. of the Orioles. I adored Ripken. He could hit, hit for power, run, field his position, and of course, he played every single game without rest. I cheered and cried on Sept. 6, 1995, the night Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-game streak. Retrospectively it’s odd – we cheered and honored a man because he came to work every day. He battled through injuries, had some luck, and played well enough to never need to take off. So he never took off. That was worth hours of celebration, a historic moment with balloons and streamers, a 25-minute game stoppage.

Ripken retired in 2001. Luckily the Phillies had a player a lot like Ripken – except for the perfect health – in Scott Rolen, and naturally I had grown to admire him. For maybe a year Rolen was unquestionably my favorite baseball player. Then he was traded. So for another small moment Bobby Abreu became my favorite player because I loved his level, fluid swing.

And then came Chase Utley, called up from Scranton in 2003 to ride the pine while Placido Polanco manned second base. He socked his first major league hit – a grand slam – and toiled in Phillies purgatory until he was officially named starter in 2005 after Polanco was traded to Detroit. And for 10 seasons, Utley remained the starting second baseman of the Philadelphia Phillies, until he was traded Wednesday night to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Chase Utley is, unquestionably, my favorite baseball player ever.

I met him once, on St. Patrick’s Day 2009 in Clearwater. We attended the Moyer Foundation’s St. Patrick’s Day barbecue outside Bright House Networks Field. Coming off the 2008 world championship, this provided the opportunity to tell every Phillie near and far how much I loved him. Like Chris Farley to Paul McCartney, I sidled up to Geoff Jenkins. Continue reading An ode to ‘The Man,’ Chase Utley


End of an era: Utley traded to Dodgers

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, August 19, 2015 04:42 PM Comments: 35

UPDATE: Jim Salisbury reports that the Phillies will pick up $4 million of Utley’s contract.

Well, it’s the end of another era in Phillies baseball.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Phillies and Dodgers have agreed on a deal to send Chase Utley to Los Angeles for two unnamed minor leaguers and $2 million $4 million of the 36-year-old’s remaining $6 million. Nothing has been made official at the moment.

Utley will be reunited with former double play-partner Jimmy Rollins. The pair will try to win their second World Series championship.

The extent of Utley’s playing time in L.A. is unknown. Second baseman Howie Kendrick is currently on the disabled list, but is expected to return soon. 23-year-old Enrique Hernandez has played well in Kendricks’ absence. First base is another position Utley could play, but Adrian Gonzalez is having an MVP-caliber season.

Utley is the most beloved Phillie from the 2008 World Series club. His hustle and gritty style of play quickly made him a fan favorite among the Phillie faithful. He will go down as the best second baseman in Phillies history, and the best position player since Mike Schmidt.

In 5,748 at-bats with the Phillies, Utley batted .282 with 233 home runs and 916 RBIs. He ranks second all-time in Phillies history with a 9.0 WAR.


Report: Phillies-Dodgers “moving closer” to Utley deal

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, August 19, 2015 03:29 PM Comments: 3

*UPDATE: According to CBSSports’ Jon Heyman, the Phillies and Dodgers have agreed on a deal to send Utley to Los Angeles for two minor leaguers and $2 million of Utley’s remaining $6 million. Nothing has been made official as of yet, however.

According to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, the Phillies and Dodgers are getting “closer” to a Chase Utley trade.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Angels and Dodgers would be the likely landing spots for the 36-year-old, but it appears that the Dodgers have separated themselves in negotiations. If Utley does go to the Dodgers, he will be reunited with former teammate Jimmy Rollins.

CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury has also reported that a source close to Utley has said that if a deal doesn’t materialize today, then Utley will stay in Philadelphia.

It’s beginning to look like last night’s two-hit performance could have been Utley’s final game in a Phillies uniform.


Report: Utley trade could happen today

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, August 19, 2015 02:48 PM Comments: 0

utleyOn Tuesday, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was on record saying that it’s “very likely” that Chase Utley would remain in Philadelphia for the remainder of the 2015 season. He later elaborated on those comments when speaking to reporters before last night’s game.

“I don’t think that Chase has that desire to leave, frankly,” Amaro said. “And the Phillies don’t have the desire to move him out of here. We’re going to be open-minded about all of the opportunities that present themselves over the next couple weeks.”

Not even 24 hours after those comments where made, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is reporting that a possible Utley trade could happen as soon as today.

Other reporters have chimed in on the situation as well, including ESPN’s Buster Olney, who thinks Utley is favoring two southern California clubs.

Utley has been on fire since coming off the disabled list. He has 15 hits in 31 at-bats (.484) in eight games and is coming off his fifth multi-hit game over that stretch after recording two hits last night against the Toronto Blue Jays.


Why Keeping Chase Utley Is A Good Thing

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, August 19, 2015 08:51 AM Comments: 6


The Man™


Yesterday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Sports Radio WIP that Chase Utley will likely spend the rest of the season on the Phillies. He would later clarify to reporters before yesterday’s game that “I don’t think that Chase has that desire to leave, frankly,” and “the Phillies don’t have the desire to move him out of here.”

It sure sounds like Utley is adamant on staying in Philadelphia. And that’s fine with me. He’s one of the best players to ever wear a Phillies uniform, and arguably the best position player we’ve seen since Mike Schmidt. In over 1500 games since 2003, he’s had over 6600 plate appearances, and hit .282/.366/.481. His OPS+ is 122, and his wRC+ is 124. He’s accumulated 60+ WAR, which is second all time in franchise history.

So why do these things matter when he’s hitting just .217/.284/.333 in 2015? Normally, trading an aging vet would be a smart move for a team in the middle of a rebuild. The Phillies have already done that with Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, and Jonathan Papelbon, among others. The return wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was better than getting nothing for guys who weren’t going to be a part of the future here.

But Utley’s situation is unique. He wants to be here. We are so used to players wanting to leave a bad team to chase a ring (Papelbon), or money (looking at you, Jayson Werth), which is why so many are perplexed by Utley’s desire to stay. But him wanting to be here is why holding on to him is a good thing. Not only for Utley himself, but for the Phillies, for Ruben Amaro Jr., and for the fans. It’s a win-win-win-win. It will look good for RAJ because it shows a willingness to cater to players. It might make Philadelphia more desirable for free agents. It’ll be good for the fans because they will get to see one of their favorites a little bit longer. He’s going to be in the Phillies Hall of Fame one day, and maybe likely the Baseball Hall of Fame as well. If he wants to stay, he should stay. No LOOGY (lefty, one out guy) or whatever they would’ve gotten for him would be worth it. There is no realistic return that would justify a trade.

Now we can just sit back, relax, and not have to worry about seeing Utley in another uniform this year. I mean, Imagine him playing for the Giants–that would be a nearly unbearable sting. It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. So rest easy Phils fans, The Man™ is staying in Philadelphia. For now.


Amaro: “Very likely” Utley stays in Philadelphia

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Tue, August 18, 2015 12:14 PM Comments: 7

PHOTO: AP/Kathy Willens

PHOTO: AP/Kathy Willens

Will Chase Utley stay, or will he go? That’s the question with the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline just 13 days away.

While there are many who believe that Utley is destined to land on a contending team’s roster, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. believes that it is “very likely” that the 36-year-old will remain in Philadelphia for at least the remainder of the 2015 season.

“It is very likely [Utley] will be here in Philadelphia through the end of the year and then we’ll see what happens after that,” Amaro said in an interview with WIP Tuesday morning.

Amaro had previously expressed a similar notion in an interview with WIP last week, where he said that he thought the All-Star second baseman would be on the club at the end of the season.

Utley has been the target of several contending teams looking to add a veteran bat for the final stretch of the season and the playoffs. Of the teams interested, the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, and the San Francisco Giants were considered the favorites to land the second baseman.

However, Utley still holds 10-and-5 rights, which allows him to veto any potential trade, and he may not be willing to leave the team that drafted him.

The veteran has looked great since returning from the disabled list, recording 13 hits in 26 at-bats with six extra-base hits and five RBIs.


Report: Utley favoring Angels and Cubs

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Fri, August 14, 2015 06:19 PM Comments: 2

utleyChase Utley’s future is completely in his hands.

After it was reported that “several” teams have made an offer for the 36-year-old last night, it appeared that Utley had numerous options in regards to where he wanted to write the final chapters of his Major League career.

Of the teams interested, the Giants, Angels, Yankees, Cubs, and Astros were considered the favorites to land the second baseman before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline.

Now, however, USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale has reported that of the “several” teams, Utley will likely decide between two—the Los Angeles Angels and the Chicago Cubs.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Utley will only accept a trade to a team if he’s guaranteed a certain degree of playing time.

Both the Angels and Cubs could provide Utley with the playing time he desires. The Cubs have moved rookie Addison Russell to shortstop and have been experimenting with outfielder Chris Coghlan at second to clear space for Kyle Schwarber’s bat in left field. Former shortstop Starlin Castro is expected to see time at second base this weekend against the White Sox’s left-handed starters. In short, the Cubs don’t have a reliable option at second, which would give them more incentive to sign Utley.

The Angels are an interesting option because current second baseman Johnny Giavotella has been serviceable at the plate for them all season long, posting a slash line of .271/.320/.359 with three home runs and 40 RBIs. He’s been hot as of late, batting .320 in 50 at-bats this month. Would the Angels want to take a chance on Utley’s bat instead of sticking with Giavotella? Utley’s bat has shown life since his return from the DL, collecting seven hits in 17 at-bats with three doubles, but his struggles earlier this season are hard to ignore.

The Angles also don’t have a ton of “roster flexibility,” with the club wanting to hold onto certain underperforming players such as former Phillie Shane Victorino and Taylor Featherston. First base or DH are other options if the Angels want to keep Utley’s bat in the lineup.

Utley will be in the lineup batting leadoff for the Phillies tonight in Milwaukee. With all the buzz surrounding the beloved veteran, any game could be his last in a Phillies uniform.

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