Since the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies season is basically over, the team has decided to start turning its focus to next year. In addition to calling up many top minor league performers, the Phillies also are starting to experiment with their current core players in hopes of finding a solution to their lineup woes of this season. One major experiment might be moving All-Star Chase Utley from second base to third base for next season in hopes of having less wear and tear on Utley’s legs and also filling an obvious void for the Fightins.
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Utley fielded ground balls for an hour before a game earlier this week and, as usual, speculation for him being the next third baseman hit an all-time high in Philly sports media. At first glance, the idea seems far-fetched. Utley has never been considered a strong-armed infielder. In fact, his arm has often been considered the weakest part of his game. However, it would make some sense for the Phillies to try to convert him to third because it would allow Freddy Galvis to start at second base next season.
Galvis would be a huge upgrade defensively to Utley at second, and it isn’t outrageous to think that Utley may be a better fielder at the hot corner then some of the top free agents available. Having an infield of Ryan Howard, Galvis, Jimmy Rollins and Utley would help the Phillies maintain their defense/pitching first philosophy. They also would be able to keep both Utley’s and Galvis’ bats in the lineup, which could allow them to grow their younger player while still relying on their old veteran.
Chase was a shortstop way back in his UCLA days. One thing is certain, that some big changes need to happen this offseason. Utley has shown glimpses of his old self at points this season, but in all honesty, he may never be the player he once was. He is still undoubtedly the team’s third hitter and his leadership, which has a lead-by-example approach, is still his greatest asset. A move to third base may be exactly what Chase needs to make the most of his career, and he may help keep interest high for the Phillies even though their play on the field has been at a low.