Let's face it - Brian Roberts is no longer the answer at second base. He's always hurt and who knows what's left in his tank even if he weren't? Ryan Flaherty is not hitting, and although he will at some point - he's a big, strong, intelligent, talented kid - he still has never played above Double-A until last year. He's having problems hitting anything that is not a fastball, which epitomizes growing pains. And Alexi Casilla, if he is not run out of town by fans who disapprove of his efforts - or lack thereof - at running out ground balls, is not any answer, either. He's a bench player; a late-inning defensive replacement.
So what second baseman from the heavens can we obtain at a lowly, real-world cost that will solidify our weakest position?
How about Chase Utley?
My wife is a big Phillies fan, so we share the TV inning by inning when both games are on at the same time. Thus I get to see their team as well as my own, and Utley is starting to recover from last year's injury quite nicely.
And if you think that he is out of our league, so to speak, he's not. Consider: he is 34 years old and will be a free agent at the end of this year. Additionally, he's injury prone. And if the Phillies continue on their recent path of cleaning house and rebuilding - albeit not very well at either - they'll probably be thrilled to get rid of Chase for a halfway decent player or prospect. No organizational filler, but no Baseball America lovebird, either. And that's a fair price - no way Utley, as he now stands, will bring them the sun and the moon.
They will, of course, start off asking for Gausman or Bundy, and we will say no, and then they will want Jonathon Schoop, but we will say no and they will likely settle for someone less - let's say Mike Wright, or someone similar, to get the job done. Wright is a good prospect, but somebody has to go, and remember that Philadelphia Minor League Director Joe Jordan knows our talent and we have to pick someone at some point. Doesn't have to be Wright, but that's the ladder rung of talent, as I see it, at which we are looking.
Unless, of course, it is the Jake! No, not the stadium; the pitcher. Yes, I know; Arietta has four pitches and he can throw them all for strikes. And let us not forget that every team in baseball would love to have him. After all, we have been told that enough by everyone who inhabits the MASN broadcast booth. Would that it were true, but the results over and over again would deem to suggest otherwise. There must come a point at which Jake will simply have to become a superstar elsewhere.
As for Chase, he'd probably be thrilled to join a pennant race. Extend him through next season at a moderate price and I'd bet that he will be your classic change-of-scenery guy. And after him, Schoop will be ready.
Chase Utley could be a difference maker, and he can do it this season. As in right now. And the sooner we start, the more time we will have him. So we should hop right on this one. Wouldn't it be great to finally settle the second base issue at last? Of course, the same issues that could drive him out of Philly could haunt us as well, but I suspect it won't. Watching him this season has made me somewhat confident that he can handle a measly year and a half in fine health, spirits, and talent.
Yes? No? Maybe? Your thoughts?
-- Ben Caplan.