Found March 22, 2012 on
Phillies' second baseman, Chase Utley, has been battling a knee injury this Spring. Right now, young prospect Freddy Galvis is expected to be the Phillies' second baseman on Opening Day. Todd Zolecki of MLB.comsays that Utley could be out “indefinitely,” but the team has no plans to look for a replacement outside the organization, or at least not yet.
The problem with the Phillies is that Utley is not the only one dealing with an injury. Ryan Howard, Placido Polanco and Michael Martinez are also battling injuries, and beingthat three of them form the core of the Phillies' offense one has to wonder if they really should consider acquiring another player that could provide some offense.
One team with a surplus of versatile infielders could be the Angels. They have Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspoas their utility infielders. Both of them have MLB experience and should hit better than Galvis potentially will, especially Callaspo. Although neither of them have the ability to reach Utley's offensive production, when he's healthy.
The problem for the Phillies is that they have to look for offense. They can't rely exclusively on what Hunter Pence, Shane Victorinoand Jimmy Rollins can provide while Polanco, Howard and Utley are out.
Zolecki could be right when he says that they're better off starting the season with Galvis at second base and if Utley takes too long to recover and/or Galvis fails to contribute, they could work on a trade closer to the July-31 trade deadline. But if they take too long to figure it out, the asking price for a backup infielder could go up. Not to mention that the NL East has grown more competitive and they will probably have to battle from day one if they want to repeat as NL East champions.
During the last two seasons, Utley has missed more 90 games due to injuries, 45 of those game due to a knee related injury, while Callaspo has only missed nine games.
Utley's last complete season was in 2009 when he hit .282/.397/.508 with 31 HR's and 93 RBI's in 571 AB's. Also, he managed to have a 7.7 FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average).
Callaspo in 2011 hit .288/.366/.375 with 6 HR's and 46 RBI's in 475 AB's. His FRAA for 2011 was 14.7. It is obvious that Utley is a better hitter than Callaspo, the problem is that while Callaspo has managed to stay healthy throughout a complete season, Utley hasn't.
This means that the AB's you can't give to Utley while he's injured you have to give them to a lesser player, probably someone below Callaspo's level. In my opinion, the Phillies should seriously look for another second baseman in case Utley can't stay healthy for a long period of time as the window to win for the Phillies is quickly closing.
Image by Shannon Lamond under the Creative Commons License.
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