There have been a few stories and comments in the past few days suggesting a position change for Chase Utley to try to better accomodate what appear to be long-term knee issues. Generally, the suggestions have been a corner outfield position (with a few suggesting 1B which of course is not going to happen). I, for one, just don’t see the outfield as a viable solution for several reasons. First, Utley, as great a player as he is, has one of the worst arms of all second baseman- not David Eckstein bad, but bad nonetheless- and the arm has gotten worse over the years because he has trained to throw the short distance from second to first. To expect him to be able to throw the ball from the wall and even reach the cut-off man with any accuracy is quite a stretch. Maybe he could improve his arm strength a bit, but not enough to make him anything more than a really low-rated outfield arm. Second, Utley has good second baseman range, but not the range necessary to cover ground in the outfield. Is he as slow as Ibanez- no- but with bad knees and aging, he is getting there quickly- and constant running after balls certainly would just as bad if not worse on the knees than bending over to field maybe 4-5 ground balls a game. I think the Phillies instead need to seriously evaluate his knees and if they won’t get better with rest (and stay in good shape) they need to recommend knee surgery- after the season if he can put up with the pain, but now if not, and get him back in shape to be the great 2B he has always been.
Haven’t had a chance to write in a few days and now don’t know where to start given the numerous items of note from this past weekend. The best part was of course seeing the Phillies back out playing baseball- nothing better than the crack of the bat or a great play in the field to get one thinking of spring weather. However, it wasn’t all roses. I’m sure, like everyone, concern only heightened regarding Utley- given the numerous injuries over the last couple of years, and knowing how important good legs are to a major league player, any diagnosis involving knees and tendinitis is not good. From personal experience, tendinitis never seems to go away completely, and while it feels better after some rest it tends to keep coming back again. I know Utley has a high pain tolerance, but I’ve got to believe that the best-case scenario is he takes a week or two off, backs off on his workouts once he is back, and gets a cortisone shot to alleviate the pain. Phils don’t really have a viable option at 2b, so gotta hope Utley is back soon.
Now, I’m a big backer of Domonic Brown, and certainly too early to panic- but the beginnings of panic have set in- not so much because he struck out in all three at bats on Sunday, but because of the comments by Manuel about Brown not holding his hands up high- I thought holding them up high was the problem they were trying to correct from last year. Given my belief that Manuel is looking for a reason to start Francisco, and Francisco’s hot start, I’m starting to think we are looking at Brown being sent to Lehigh Valley to work with Sandberg for a couple months. I hope not, but…
Finally, not sure if Werth really said he hates the Phillies, or if he did, the real context of it. I know GM Rizzo, who was also quoted as saying that says the reporter (Boswell) got it wrong, so perhaps he did, but, unless Werth comes out and addresses that type of comment, I hope he hears about it in a Scott Rolen/J.D. Drew sort of way upon his first return to Philadelphia. Certainly his right to want to beat the Phillies (good luck with that Jayson) but to say he hates the Phillies- come on, grow up Jayson, and stop letting your bitterness that the Phillies and Red Sox didn’t jump at the ridiculous idea put out there by Boras that you were worth $126 million and you had to go play for the last place Nationals in a park where if they get 20,000 fans during the week they are lucky- and a good deal of those fans sit on their hands throughout the game- that stadium, except when Phillies fans show up to cheer, is abnormally quiet.