For the Phillies and Chase, The End of the Road is Near


metssuck-o

There’s a fairly solid argument that Chase Utley is the greatest second baseman in Phillies’ history. He won a title here, made many All-Star Games here, and was a leader of a great team. There was a solid five year stretch where he either was or arguably was the best second baseman in baseball. He hit for high average, he hit for power, he manned his position well, he was the best base-runner on the team, and he was the complete professional- hustling better than anyone in the game. He had some great moments for the Phillies, moments that the fan base clearly appreciates.

Today is June 17th, and Chase Utley is hitting .183. He has an OPS of .550. He has 4 homers, of which he hit two in one night. His defense has slipped substantially. Utley is 36 years old, and is in the final year of his two year extension. He has 232 plate appearances, putting him 268 away from kicking in his option for 2016, the first of three possible options, at a price of $15 million. This is reality, at this stage.

Chase Utley might play a little better than he has, one would certainly have to think so. Would he ever play like the old Chase Utley again? No, I doubt that. While I suppose letting Chase come back for one more season when they don’t expect to win isn’t the worst thing in the world, it is not something the Phillies should do. Allowing Utley to continue to play at the level he is, and kick-in his option, would simply be malpractice. Utley is running out of time to turn it around.

Should the Phillies bench him? Should they designate him for assignment? Have they reached the point of having to make that call yet? I’m not 100% certain either way, though if it were me, Cesar Hernandez would start getting a few starts a week now. The reality though is that the Phillies should not have a .183 hitter back at $15 million. Utley is currently just not competitive with major leaguers. We are probably at a point that he should not hit three ever again, and where he is just weeks, at most, from losing his full-time job. Beyond that, if you still can’t turn him around, it is time to consider DFA’ing the legend. The only outcome that should not be considered is doing nothing.

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