The Philadephia Phillies were 100 percent serious when saying they wanted to make Chase Utley a “Phillie for Life.” Utley and the Phillies have agreed on a two-year contract extension, and many Philadelphia fans got exactly what they wished for.
It was just a matter of time until this deal got done. Utley seemed to want to stay in Philadelphia, where he is involved heavily in the local community. The Phillies wanted to keep Utley (a fan favorite) as a veteran presence and for his overall production this season. Utley has been one of the few bright spots for the struggling Phillies. His batting average has consistently been around the .280 mark ,and he has not showed any ill effects from knee problems that have hindered him over the last two seasons.
Utley is and always will be a fan favorite in Philadelphia. He plays the style of baseball that a blue-collar city like Philly appreciates. He is viewed as a modern-day Pete Rose by local fans since his often reckless play can lead fans to worry about injuries to him more often than not. However, Utley always has a place in the hearts of Philly fans. He has been the poster child during the golden years for the franchise. He was basically the “Shaft” of Philly baseball — men wanted to be him and ladies wanted to be with him.
A key factor of this deal is Utley is still producing. When healthy, he still rates as a top-five player at his position. He is still capable of being the number-three hitter in a lineup that needs leaders to step up currently. This small investment in him may pay more dividends overall vs. the long-term deals the Phils made with Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels.
Some fans are concerned the Phillies are investing in another athlete past his prime, but Chase seems to be in better shape overall than he has been in years. There’s no question that Chase Utley’s better days are behind him, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable.
Ultimately, the Phillies made an investment into the future by investing in the past. Utley’s familiar face will undoubtly help sell tickets and keep the memories of the World Series championship era alive, for now. The Phillies World Series win in 2008 is now five years old, and the team looks like it may miss the postseason again this year. The more things change, the more they stay the same in Philadelphia, but the decision to keep Utley is, in my mind, the decision that had to be made.