Tag:Chase Utley
Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:16 pm
 

Wilson Valdez's bat says 'Chase who?'

By Matt Snyder

Games like this have to help set the minds at ease of Phillies' brass, the fans and Chase Utley himself. Wilson Valdez just had a monster game. He went 4-4 with two doubles, three runs and three RBI in an 11-0 beatdown of the Mets. Gaudy numbers for anyone, but for a man the Phillies were forced to start -- even having to beat out punchless Luis Castillo in late spring training to win the job -- it has to serve as a cherry on top.

His rate stats (like the .429 batting average and identical on-base percentage) are obviously skewed now, because an absurd game like that is bound to do so with only 22 plate appearances. Still, if the Phillies get any fraction of the production from Valdez as they've seen thus far, it's far more than they could have expected to see from the position offensively with Utley on the shelf. 

It's not just Valdez, either. The Phils have now scored 43 runs in six games -- one of which they only managed one -- and sit atop the NL East at 5-1. Team this with the news Utley may soon be running again, and things are looking up early for the NL favorites.

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Posted on: April 5, 2011 3:20 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 3:26 pm
 

Utley making progress from injury

By Evan Brunell

UtleyChase Utley's return from patellar tendinitis is completely unknown to anyone, but he could be ready to start jogging soon as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.

GM Ruben Amaro said it's possible Utley could start jogging within the next few days which would be a major leap forward.

If he starts running, that’s a big step," Amaro said. "He hasn’t even jogged. He’s done some underwater stuff. But we haven’t gotten him to run normal resistance. Once he does that, [his return] could happen fast. But it might take a while for him to get there."

Utley isn't standing around doing nothing despite his lack of jogging -- he's been taking batting practice and ground balls and is showing improvement across the board.

That said, don't expect a timetable to be established for Utley. First things first is actually being able to jog. Second will be full game-ready motion and then a rehab assignment. Still, the progress Utley has made so far has to be a positive given the doom-and-gloom possibilities that have been bandied about.

"I think we’re going to get him back. It’s just a matter of when," Amaro said. "We’re willing to be very patient with him. I want him for July-August-September, hopefully October.

"If we stay in this thing, hold our own offensively, it’s like making a trade, like getting a quality bat in the middle of the year. I don’t have a whole lot of flexibility to do much of anything else."

No kidding, as the Phillies' $173 million payroll ranks second in all of baseball behind (who else?) the Mets. Even the Red Sox are behind Philadelphia in the No. 3 spot with a $161 million payroll. The Phillies have spread themselves thin and need Utley to come back strong to have a good chance of postseason success.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 29, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Who will play their final game in 2011?

Chipper Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans

As we look forward to the 2011 season, we look at some of the players that might be entering their final season in big-league baseball. Few of these players are likely thinking about retirement now -- and some may not be thinking about calling it a career when the season ends.

Players can choose retirement and others will find retirement chooses them. Here's a look at some of the bigger names that could be entering their final season.

Carlos Beltran
Age: 34 on April 24
2010 stats: .255/.341/.427, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 3 SB
2011 role: Since playing 161 games in 2008, Beltran played 145 combined the last two seasons. 
Contract status: Final year of a seven-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: Low. Beltran still wants to play and still thinks he can. He's the type who will play until he's physically unable to continue. That's probably not as far away as he thinks, and he may not get to make his own decision to retire. Injuries have slowed him the last couple of years and it's tough to see him returning to his former heights. 

Lance BerkmanLance Berkman
Age: 35
2010 stats: .248/.368/.413, 14 HR, 58 RBI
2011 role: Not only will Berkman be a regular, but he's going to be the Cardinals' regular right fielder. He hasn't played a full season in the outfield since 2004. He played 49 games in the outfield in 2005, 44 in '06 and 31 in '07, but none in the past three seasons. He was limited to 17 games this spring and hit .189/.204/.264 with one homer.
Contract status: Signed a one-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: Iffy. He's one of those guys who will get another chance no matter how 2011 goes, but would his pride keep him from being just another guy or could he welcome a reduced role somewhere?

Mark Buehrle
Age: 32
2010 stats: 13-13, 4.28 ERA, 99 K, 210 1/3 IP
2011 role: For the ninth consecutive year, Buehrle will start for the White Sox on opening day. He's expected to anchor the rotation and help lead Chicago into the playoffs.
Contract status: Final year of a four-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: 50/50. Buehrle seems to have plenty left in the tank, but has talked openly -- and often -- about retiring after this season. He's also mentioned wanting to be closer to home and may compromise by signing with the Cardinals.

Johnny Damon
Age: 37
2010 stats: .271/.355/.401, 8 HR, 51 RBI, 11 SB
2011 role: He'll be the team's everyday left fielder, replacing Carl Crawford. That'll be a definite step down offensively and defensively, but he could  still help the Rays score some runs.
Contract status: Signed a one-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: Low. Damon has 2,571 hits and would likely need two more years past this season to get to 3,000. The desire is there, but will anyone take him? His chances hinge on how he performs this season.

Vladimir Guerrero
Age: 36
2010 stats: .300/.345/.496, 29 HR, 115 RBI
2011 role: Guerrero will be the Orioles' everyday designated hitter.
Contract status: Signed a one-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: Low. Guerrero certainly looked old and his bat looked slow last fall, but he was a big reason the Rangers were in the playoffs. His spring numbers have done nothing to dismiss the notion that he can still compete. He hit .365/.358/.635 with five homers for his new team. Guerrero was the one aging designated hitter that received a contract close to his last one.  

Derrek Lee
Age: 35
2010 stats: .260/.347/.428, 19 HR, 80 RBI
2011 role: He's expected to be the Orioles' first baseman, but injury concerns may throw a wrench in those plans.
Contract status: Signed a one-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: 50/50. Lee didn't play in an exhibition game until March 19 because of his wrist. Then he fouled a ball off his foot in his first game back, which limited his play. He managed to get in just eight games this spring. If healthy, Lee can still play. But if he's not, he may just decide it's not worth it and return home to California to be with his family. 

Chipper Jones
Age: 39 on April 24
2010 stats: .265/.381/.426, 10 HR, 46 RBI
2011 role: Braves' everyday third baseman. He had a great spring, hitting .407/.453/.746 with four home runs in 20 games, a good sign for his comeback from knee surgery.
Contract status: Signed through the 2012 season, with a club option for 2013.
Probability he hangs 'em up: High. Jones talked about retiring last season, but came back when he couldn't finish under his own terms. 

Hideki MatsuiHideki Matsui
Age: 36
2010 stats: .274/.361/.459, 21 HR, 84 RBI
2011 role: A's everyday DH. The A's will be happy if Matsui can replicate his 2010 numbers with the Angels, but he's hitting in a worse park with fewer offensive weapons around him. Matsui had a rough spring -- .125/.246/.179 with one homer through Monday -- and if that continues through the season, it could by sayonara.
Contract status: Signed a one-year deal. Probability he hangs 'em up: Good. Matsui's been playing professionally since 1993 when he debuted at age 19 with the Yomiuri Giants. Matsui is now limited to DH and the market wasn't too hot for him this offseason, so a down year could mean there may be nowhere to go but home.

Roy Oswalt
Age: 33
2010 stats: 13-13, 2.76 ERA, 193 K, 211 2/3 IP
2011 role: Oswalt will take the ball every fifth day in what could be the best rotation since the advent of the five-man rotation -- or at least since the Braves of the early-to-mid 90s. Oswalt seemed energized by his trade out of Houston to Philadelphia before last year's deadline, going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in the regular season with the Phillies. He also pitched well in two starts and a relief appearance in the NLDS against the Giants.
Contract status: Final year of a five-year deal, but the Phillies have a $16 million option with a $2 million buyout.
Probability he hangs 'em up: Low. Oswalt's talked about retirement, but he's still very much a good pitcher and seems to have several good years ahead of him and a lot of money to be made.

Manny Ramirez
Age: 39 on May 30
2010 stats: .298/.409/.460, 9 HR, 42 RBI
2011 role: Ramirez will be the team's everyday DH. Ramirez and Damon are being counted on to help make up for the loss of Crawford and Carlos Pena
Contract status: Signed a one-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: 50/50. Ramirez seems like he'll keep taking his show on the road until nobody wants him anymore. The fact that he's getting just $2 million this season tells you he wasn't wanted by many. His act has worn thin, but if he bounces back and hits like he can, someone will want him.

Mariano Rivera
Age: 41
2010 stats: 3-3, 1.80 ERA, 33 saves
2011 role: Rivera is expected to still be the best reliever in baseball history.
Contract status: First year of a two-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: Low. He's 41, and that seems old. But tell that to any of the batters who face him. If he had signed a one-year deal this offseason, I could see him retiring after this season, but the two-year deal makes sense for both him and the team. He's 41 saves shy of 600 and 43 from overtaking Trevor Hoffman as the all-time leader.

Jim ThomeJim Thome
Age: 40
2010 stats: .283/.412/.627, 25 HR, 59 RBI
2011 role: A platoon/reserve DH for the Twins with Jason Kubel. Thome had the same type of role at the beginning of 2010 and became more of a regular after Justin Morneau's concussion. Thome is still dangerous against right-handed pitchers, but struggles against lefties.
Contract status: Signed a one-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: Good. By the end of the season, Thome will be 41 and will likely hit all the milestones -- he has 589 homers -- he can before the end of his career.

Chase Utley
Age: 32
2010 stats: .275/.387/.445, 16 HR, 65 RBI
2011 role: Ideally he'd be playing second base every day for the Phillies, but who knows when he'll be ready?
Contract status: Signed through 2013.
Probability he hangs 'em up: Low. But injuries haven't been kind to Utley. He doesn't want to retire anytime soon, but it may not end up being his decision.

Omar Vizquel
Age: 44 on April 24
2010 stats: .276/.341/.331, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 11 SB
2011 role: He will once again be a utility infielder for the White Sox. He received more playing time than expected last season due to others' injuries, playing in 108 games for Chicago.
Contract status: Signed a one-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: High. Although, with another year he has an outside shot at 3,000 hits. He enters 2011 with 2,799 hits, but it has taken him three seasons to get his last 201 hits. It seems difficult to believe he could play until he's 46 and keep that level of production. However, if he did get to the magic 3,000, it would cement his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Tim WakefieldTim Wakefield
Age: 44
2010 stats: 4-10, 5.34 ERA, 84 K, 140 IP
2011 role: Long reliever/emergency starter. It's the same role Wakefield was asked to play last season when he bristled at being taken out of the rotation. A knuckleballer is a tough pitcher to manage out of the 'pen, there's too much uncertainty in the pitch to use him as a late-inning reliever, but he doesn't fit into the rotation anymore and the team can still use him.
Contract status: Final year of a two-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: High. Wakefield will be 45 at the end of the season and his role as a reliever isn't well-suited for the knuckleballer.

Kerry Wood
Age: 33
2010 stats: 3-4, 3.13 ERA, 8 saves
2011 role: Wood will be the main set-up man to closer Carlos Marmol. He thrived as a set-up man with the Yankees last season. 
Contract status: Signed a one-year deal.
Probability he hangs 'em up: 50/50. Wood still has plenty in the tank, especially if he doesn't have to be a closer anymore. He's seemed to embrace the elder statesman role with the Cubs and could still be an effective reliever for several years. He's considered retirement in the past and has already been told he has a job with the Cubs whenever he does hang them up.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 9:05 pm
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Posted on: March 28, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 3:59 pm
 

No timetable for Utley, but no 60-day DL

By Matt Snyder

The good news is that the Phillies won't be putting Chase Utley on the 60-day disabled list, as general manager Ruben Amaro told reporters Monday. This means there's a chance Utley will be back sometime in May.

Of course, Utley wouldn't put any timeline on when he should be returning to the field for the Phillies. He's battling patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee. And I found this quote particularly troubling:

"That would be the goal, yes."

The question was if he could make it back before the All-Star break. (MLB.com )

The All-Star break is the second week in July, otherwise known as 3 1/2 months into the season.

Now, Utley could easily get back on the field before then, but he didn't seem to react to that question like it was a foregone conclusion. If it's not a foregone conclusion he's on the field by July, well, that's a problem. He's obviously a long way away from joining the Phillies and there's no guarantee he's the Chase of old if and when he does.

Looks like there's going to be a lot of pressure on those starting pitchers.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 25, 2011 10:21 am
Edited on: March 25, 2011 10:23 am
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Posted on: March 24, 2011 10:46 pm
 

Utley likely to start on DL, Polanco progressing

By Matt Snyder

The Chase Utley injury watch will be extended into the regular season, maybe even far into it. Thursday, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro confirmed that the star second baseman is likely to begin the season on the disabled list.

"I would think so," Amaro said on the likelihood. "I haven't seen him on the field yet, and we're a week away." (Philly.com )

Utley is battling tendinitis and bone inflammation in his right knee and hasn't been able to play all spring. Little progress has been made and phillynews.com speculates that Utley will be sidelined "much longer" than April 6 -- the earliest a player could come off the DL when using the March 22 backdate.

The biggest issue for Utley is defensively. He has been taking cuts, but the pain is most severe when making sharp movements -- such as the ones you need to make on defense or the basepaths.

If the Phillies are looking for good news, however, there is some. Placido Polanco, who has been out since hyperextending his elbow March 15, will return to the lineup Friday. He's progressed enough to be on track to open the season in the starting lineup, assuming no setbacks.

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: March 22, 2011 1:29 pm
 

Phillies may chase Michael Young

YoungBy Evan Brunell

The Phillies may be prepared to go after Michael Young (pictured) hard with the looming possibility that Chase Utley could miss the entire season with patellar tendinitis, which also threatens his career. 

The report out of the New York Daily News makes note that the Phillies' payroll is virtually maxed out as it has cracked the $160 million barrier. However, Texas is reportedly open to eating half of Young's deal, which will pay him $48 million over the next three seasons. In addition, the Rangers could accept Joe Blanton back from the Phillies -- on the ledger for $17 million over the next two years. However, it is difficult to fathom the Rangers being willing to chew up $28 million in Young's salary over the next three years, plus add Blanton's deal on top. In addition, Texas is seeking a strong prospect in return for Young, and the Phillies may not be willing to offer up yet another prospect in a farm system that has been razed by the Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay trades.

Even if Utley is able to return to the roster this season, the club could just make Young a roving backup infielder. However, he could easily continue to start if Jimmy Rollins or Placido Polanco struggle. In addition, the two are free agents after the year, which would open up a starting spot for Young.

It's obvious, despite the team's denials to the contrary, that Philadelphia is extremely concerned about the state of Utley's knee and are rushing to contingency plans. Luis Castillo was signed to a contract Monday after being released from the Mets, but he is only a temporary stopgap unless he suddenly returns to the .300-average days of old, and even then he provides limited value.

Related

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, there just aren't any cheap, good options to supplant Utley at second base. The team may actually have better luck shifting Polanco to second, his primary position, and chasing a third baseman to fill the gap. The White Sox are known to have made Mark Teahen available, and he would be a nice fit in Philadelphia if the dollars make sense. Teahen could play third and is even capable of playing right field, another position in flux for the squad. 

That's pure conjecture, but as heavy expectations are heaped upon the Phillies, the front office has to find a way to withstand the loss of Utley and ex-right fielder Jayson Werth on offense. After all, for all the good pitching a team can have, you can't win without scoring runs.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com