The number-three hitter in most lineups is considered the most productive, skilled hitter on the team. Over the past decade, this spot on the Philadelphia Phillies was taken by Chase Utley. It won’t be this year. As you know, Utley is unable to start this season … again. This leaves a huge void in the Phillies lineup … again. Which leaves many of us fans asking, “Is this going to keep happening at the start of every season?”
I know this might sound a little bit off the wall, but I have an idea on how to prolong Utley’s career, and, in turn, keep his bat in the lineup. Let’s be honest, Chase is an above-average second baseman at best. His hustle makes up for his lack of defensive skill, and his arm is something Scotty Smalls would laugh at. The reason he is important to the Phillies is clearly his bat. He sets the table for Ryan Howard (also out at the start of this year) and also provides pop to an offense that can get rather stagnant at times.
In order to keep him in the lineup, I propose moving him from second base to left field for the start of 2013. Alright, calm down everyone! I know this is a stretch, but I do not see his knees holding up at a middle-infield position for the remainder of his contract. The simple move would be to make him a first baseman, but, obviously, we can’t do that with the Big Piece signed for even longer than Utley. We also can’t move him to third base or right field, which are positions that need strong-armed players, which clearly Chase is not. I figure if Johnny Damon could play left field with his lollipop arm, why can’t Chase?
The main purpose behind my thinking is he’s not dealing with just one bad knee, Chaser has two of them. He could have reconstructive surgery, but that is a huge procedure that, in most cases, leaves the player a step behind where he was and makes him miss even more time. At age 33, does he really want to do that?
The grind of playing the middle-infield positions in the major leagues is unreal. Add in that games are played nightly, and the constant movements on nearly every pitch by the second baseman and shortstop, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Now, I am not sure that Utley would be fine with making a move to the outfield and becoming a modern-day Robin Yount, but it may be his best chance at continuing his storied career with the Phillies. He is already considered the Phillies best second baseman ever, so in my opinion, he should make a drastic move like this soon so he can become one of the greatest Phillies ever. Utley is a well known “team player.” In this case, he should do what is best for the team, and what is best for him, and make this move. Get back to being penciled in to the number-three spot in the lineup and help get this team to another World Series … before it is too late.