Blog Entry

Utley's injury leaves door open in the East

Posted on: July 1, 2010 5:12 pm
 
The day Jimmy Rollins got hurt, the Phillies took it in stride.

"It's unfortunate, but the show goes on," Jayson Werth said. "We'll be fine."

The Phillies may well say the same things today, in the wake of the news that Chase Utley needs surgery on his right thumb, surgery that is expected to cost him the next six weeks or so.

There's a chance they will be fine. There's also a very real chance that this is one injury too many, and that the Phillies' two-year reign as National League champs is coming to an end.

There's a chance that this is the year it wasn't meant to be.

A few thoughts on what Utley's extended absence will mean:

1. At the very least, the door in the National League East is now wide open.

It's open for the Braves, who just got Jair Jurrjens back in their rotation and are looking more and more capable of giving Bobby Cox the send-off he deserves. It's open for the Mets, especially if they have the prospects and the willingness to part with them to get a Cliff Lee deal done.

It might even have been open for the Marlins, if they hadn't turned the last week into such a circus.

2. Despite all the injuries they've had so far, and there have been tons (Jimmy Rollins, J.A. Happ, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco, Carlos Ruiz), the Phillies actually have a better record after 76 games (41-35) than they did in 2009, and they're only one game behind their 2008 pace.

But a closer look at that 2010 record shows that Rollins and Utley have been in the lineup together just 16 times in 76 games (and Rollins left one of those games before he even got on the field). The Phillies are 12-4 in those 16 games, which means they're 29-31 without their regular middle infield (30-31 if you include the home opener, when Rollins was in the lineup but couldn't play).

3. Yes, the Phillies could trade for an infielder. They were looking at infielders this week, even before they knew for sure about Utley. As others have pointed out, they have the flexibility of getting a second baseman or a third baseman, because once Polanco returns from the disabled list he could play either position.

They could also trade for a starting pitcher.

But no infielder they get will give them anything close to what Utley does, and it may be that no starting pitcher they could get would make enough of a difference. It won't be a surprise if they make a move, but they could also decide this is a year to hold onto their best prospects.

4. If anything, all these injuries have helped justify general manager Ruben Amaro's decision to trade Cliff Lee last winter. Amaro was trying to extend the Phillies' window for winning beyond this year, and he said this spring that he would have considered it reckless to put all his eggs in one basket. Even if the Phillies had kept Lee, it's possible that the injuries would have kept them from winning this year.

As it is, even if the Phillies don't win this year, they still could go into next season as the favorite to win their division.

5. As a Phillies person admitted today, nobody is going to feel sorry for them. The Phillies have done tons of things right over the last few years, but their back-to-back World Series were also built on remarkable health.

Last year, six of the eight regular position players played 155 or more games -- and the other two played 107 and 134.

Rollins has already missed 56 games this year. By the time he returns, Utley will have missed at least 40 or so.
Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: February 20, 2012 12:04 pm
 

Utley's injury leaves door open in the East




Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 14, 2012 11:35 pm
 

Utley's injury leaves door open in the East




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Utley's injury leaves door open in the East

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Utley's injury leaves door open in the East




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Posted on: December 5, 2011 6:40 pm
 

Utley's injury leaves door open in the East




Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:58 pm
 

Utley's injury leaves door open in the East




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Utley's injury leaves door open in the East

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Posted on: October 22, 2011 10:54 am
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Utley's injury leaves door open in the East

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Utley's injury leaves door open in the East

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