Jul 1, 2010
In Dire Straits: Phillies Edition
Today, came the announcement that Chase Utley had thumb surgery and will probably not return for 8 weeks, which basically means September in baseball time. Utley's been known to have superhuman healing powers before (see hip surgery from a couple years ago: projected healing time of 8 months vs. actual healing time of 6 months), but the thumb is an stubborn, slow-healing appendage (I'm speaking from my own experience here).
From a pessimist's point of view, this is a possibly team-debilitating injury. Granted, Utley was not playing up to his previous high levels, but he was still the best hitting 2B in the NL (Cano surpassed him in the AL the year) and definitely the best fielding 2B (by many metrics). And in a normal situation, Polanco would cover at 2B. And there's the rub, this is not a normal situation; the injury demons have also accursed Placido Polanco.
He has been afflicted with a sore elbow since April 21, and as a result, has been subjected to extended rest since shorter periods of rest did not lead to healing. This now leaves two key positions on the diamond (2B and 3B) and in the lineup (2nd and 3rd) woefully undermanned.
Here are the potential replacements with some comments:
Gregg Dobbs: He can only play against right handed pitchers and even then he has become a below-average hitter. Combine that with a below average glove at 3B, and you have a non-viable replacement.
Wilson Valdez:31 year old utility man who has a good glove reputation (not sure if it's true or not). Definitely does not hit for power (though 2 HRs in 3 games belie that fact) nor average.
Juan Castro: Much older utility man with undeserved good glove reputation. Does not have enough range to be an above-average shortstop nor arm strength for a 3B. He has less than a .500 OPS this year...um, not good.
Brian Bocock: Minor league utility man who had a .470 OPS in AAA. I'm not sure how he will contribute.
As you can see not one of them can lay claim as being at least an average major league starter. I'm afraid that the Phillies have reached a turning point for the season with the aforementioned injuries ( and this does not include the losses of Ruiz, Happ, Durbin, Bastardo, Madson, long stretches without Rollins) unless someone on the team steps up large. Maybe we'll find out the inner workings of the mind of Dane Sardinha or maybe Jaime Moyer is the guru they were searching for.