Should The Orioles Pursue Chase Utley?
This question was a no-brainer for me just a mere 24 hours ago. Go get him, Dandy Dan Duquette.
But after doing research and looking at what it would take to acquire this 34 yr-old (35 in Dec) second baseman, my feet are as cold as a woman getting ready to marry Tiger Woods. On one hand, adding Utley’s perfectly suited left-handed power stroke at Camden Yards during the heat of summer would only enhance this already potent offense. Additionally, his solid play in the field would solidify an already top flight defense (best fielding % since Manny Machacho was called up last August). I also think his personality and team first mentality would fit quite nicely in the Orioles tight-knit clubhouse. So why the sudden trepidation?
For starters, like the elephant in the room who I’ve failed to bring up so far, Brian Roberts, Utley hasn’t exactly been a pillar of health of late. He hasn’t played more than 150 games in a season since 2009 (156). That is also the last season he has hit more than 20 hr’s and his batting average has dipped as well. Like the above mentioned elephant, Utley’s name has been mentioned as a possible steroid user, though he has never tested positive. And to be completely fair, most players who start to break down from an injury standpoint later in their careers are often accused of “juicing”. It’s not fair, but if you want to blame anyone, blame the Sosas’, Bonds’, and McGwires’ who provided the blueprint for the accusations.
Back to Roberts for a minute. I’m a huge fan of this guy, on and off the field. Juice or no juice or a couple of “greenies” here and there doesn’t provide me enough evidence to say why he is injured all the time. You can make your own assumptions on that one. But whatever it is, my trust that he is going to play 100 games this season or ever again for that matter is as low as Obama’s economy approval rating. Ryan Flaherty is just that, Ryan Flaherty. Alexis Casilla can run, but when you can’t get on it’s tough to use your legs. Top infield prospect, Jonathan Schoop, is currently playing SS for Norfolk and isn’t exactly setting AAA on fire with his pedestrian .257 batting average with 1 hr and 11 RBI’s. I feel he is the future solution at 2nd base, but this team is ready to win right now.
Of course the next question is what would it take to acquire Utley, if the Phillies would even move him the in the first place. Well for starters, they would want a top flight infield prospect to replace Utley (See Schoop). And if they lose Cliff Lee this off-season (FA) as anticipated, then a mid/high grade pitching prospect would also probably have to be in the discussions. No, Dylan Bundy nor Kevin Gausman can even be brought up in these talks. But guys like Zach Britton, my boy Jake Arrieta or even high ceiling pitching prospects like Eduardo Rodriguez or Mike Wright could spawn some interest from the Phillies. That’s especially true if they punt the season realizing that the Braves and Nats will be fighting for the NL East title with the other one getting a Wild Card spot.
Again, my feet are freezing just thinking about giving up a 20-year old potential 10+ year starting 2nd basemen like Schoop for the possibility of getting a 2008 Chase Utley for a rental. I get it. But what excites me is the fact we are discussing the Orioles as potential buyers to add to an already contending ball club in the first place. That’s because the AL East is as wide open as Grand Canyon and the Orioles just might need a couple additions to rise to the top and give all the Orange Koolaid drinkers another taste of playoff baseball…