Originally posted on PRO Rumors  |  Last updated 4/18/12
Let’s face it, Chase Utley is a hell of a player, but his health problems should definitely be a concern for the Phillies. According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, there’s no timetable for Utley’s return even though “his strength seems to be improving,” according to GM, Ruben Amaro Jr and that “he’s moving forward.” Right now, the Phillies are replacing Utley with Freddy Galvis, an outstanding defender, but not an offensive threat. In 10 games so far this season Galvis is hitting just .226/.250/.419 with 1 HR, 5 RBI’s and a 82 OPS+. Although the season is just beginning and its just Galvis’ first year in the Majors, his Minor League offensive numbers aren’t impressive either. In five years in the minors, Galvis hit .246/.292/.321 with 18 HR’s, 160 RBI’s and a .613 OPS. I know that second base is a defense first position, but for a team that is ranked 14 out of 16 in runs scored and OPS and 12th in OBP and SLG, they don’t have the luxury of having a premium defender at second base that can’t contribute offensively, or at least somewhere near Utley’s standards. Finding somebody who can replace Utley defensively and offensively, when he’s healthy, would be really hard to do, but they could find a player with better offense than Galvis to platoon with him at second base. Or maybe find a corner outfielder who can hit like Utley and keep Galvis as their everyday second baseman. The Phillies recently signed Mike Fontenot, who hit .227/.304/.377 with 4 HR’s, 21 RBI’s and a 92 OPS+ in 220 AB’s for the Giants last season, but that won’t be much of an improvement to what they already have with Galvis, offensively or defensively. Last season Utley played in 103 games, his lowest mark since 2004 when he played 94 games. Lets assume that he can play somewhere around 90 games (56% of the playing time) this season, because right now there’s not even an indication that he’ll play in an extended Spring Training games. And also that he can put up similar numbers to the ones he put up in 2011 (.259/.344/.425 with 10 HR’s, 38 RBI’s and a 108 OPS+). That means that Galvis would be his replacement for 72 games (44% of the playing time). If he continues to put up similar numbers in those 62 games his hitting line would look like this: .226/.250/.419 with 7 HR’s, 36 RBI’s and a 82 OPS+ in 72 games. At the end of the season, the production obtained from second base would look like this .244/.303/.422 with 17 HR’s, 74 RBI’s and a 97 OPS+. Now, for a team in need of offense these aren’t solid numbers, and although the 17 HR’s, .422 SLG and 97 OPS+ would be good for a second baseman, the .303 OBP isn’t. For every game that Galvis plays above 72 games those numbers will probably be affected negatively. I know that Ryan Howard will eventually join the team and that should balance their offense, but they should definitely look for an impact bat in case Utley’s knee problems strike again and he’s forced to miss more than half of the season. The ideal choice would be to find a corner outfielder with some power instead of a second baseman. That way they could platoon this player with Juan Pierre and John Mayberry Jr, but if Utley can’t shake off this knee injury the Phillies would have to look for a permanent solution at second base. Image by Shannon Lamond under the Creative Commons License.
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