Results tagged ‘ Chase Utley ’

Utley Writes Back Mac

Chase Utley finally answered Mac’s letter from It’s Always Sunny.

I spoke to Rob McElhenney in 2010 about the love letter to Utley and more.

Phillies, Utley Reach Contract Agreement

Chase UtleyChase Utley barreled into Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro on a play at the plate in the seventh inning in tonight’s 5-2 loss to the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies fans will get to see more hustle and body-be-damned plays like that from Utley in coming seasons. A source told MLB.com the Phillies and Utley have agreed on a two-year contract extension. There are reports it is in the $25-$30 million range with vesting options for more years.

“I love Philadelphia,” said Utley, who declined to address the extension in specifics. “I’ve always envisioned playing here. I’ve never envisioned playing anywhere else. I hope that remains a possibility.”

“He’s pretty much the face of the franchise,” Cole Hamels said. “He does things right. He’s done things right since Day 1. He’s the typical Philly athlete and Philly ballplayer. He maxes out every day and you have to give him credit. That’s what’s fun to watch. Being a teammate, feeling confident knowing that I’m playing with one of the best second basemen in the game. I feel pretty comfortable and obviously pretty happy that he’s still going to be here.”

The Phillies and Utley have been discussing an extension for some time with Ruben Amaro Jr. saying frequently in the past month he wanted Utley to be a “Phillie for life.”

Utley said just before the All-Star break he saw pieces on the roster he believed could help the Phillies win in the future. Since then the Phillies have played poorly, completely falling out of postseason contention, but Utley said his feelings on the organization’s ability to win haven’t changed.

“Obviously right now we have a few guys that are banged up, that aren’t on the field, some of our main contributors,” Utley said. “But we have some solid pieces. Obviously, we all want to improve and I think everybody in this room can improve. So I like what I see. Obviously we have to play better baseball, though.”

Utley entered the night hitting .275 with 16 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .505 slugging percentage this season. His slugging is his best since a .509 mark in 2009. His .841 OPS is his best since a .905 mark in 2009.

If he had enough plate appearances to qualify his OPS would rank third among 18 big-league second basemen.

When Utley is healthy he remains one of the best second basemen in baseball, but his health has been a problem in recent years. He missed much of the previous two seasons because of chronically injured knees, although this season the Phillies have said Utley has not appeared on their daily injury report with knee issues.

Utley missed a month this season because of a strained oblique, but that was considered more of a freak injury than anything else.

“I’ve felt good all the way since I came back last year,” Utley said. “I feel like the program that have been doing has worked. I’ve been able to stay on the field for the most part and be fairly productive. I plan on continuing to do that.”

Quiet Deadline for Phillies?

Michael YoungThe Phillies have spoiled fans with plenty of action at the trade deadline in recent years, one way or another.

Let’s look back, shall we?

  • 2006: Traded Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier, David Bell and Sal Fasano and DFA’d Ryan Franklin in a fire sale.
  • 2007: Acquired Kyle Lohse and Tadahito Iguchi.
  • 2008: Acquired Joe Blanton.
  • 2009: Acquired Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco and signed Pedro Martinez.
  • 2010: Acquired Roy Oswalt.
  • 2011: Acquired Hunter Pence.
  • 2012: Traded Shane Victorino and Pence.

This might be the quietest deadline since 2005, when the Phillies got Ugueth Urbina in June. I say that because last night the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy from the White Sox, which means Lee isn’t going to Boston or anywhere else. So I believe at this point it’s Michael Young or nobody. The Phillies are not going to trade Lee just to trade him. Why do that? They don’t need to shed payroll, and they’ve already been burned once on a Lee deal. Teams aren’t beating down doors for Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz or Delmon Young either, so they probably aren’t going anywhere. Ruben Amaro Jr. has said Chase Utley isn’t leaving as they’ve discussed a contract extension, so that’s basically it. It’s Michael Young or nobody, unless something crazy happens in the next few hours.

The Clock Is Ticking …

Cliff LeeThe speculation and rumors are at a full boil.

Depending on the time of day, Cliff Lee either is not going to be traded because the Phillies’ asking price is way too high — we’ve heard everything from three to four legitimate prospects to first, second and third born children — to there is a good chance he will be traded. Here’s what I know: the Phillies are willing to trade Lee. They are listening to offers for Lee. But they still plan to try to win next season and beyond — thus the $48 million to Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and the expected contract extension with Chase Utley — so they’re not pressured to trade him. They’re not the Marlins or Pirates or another small-market team. They don’t have to shed payroll. Lee’s contract isn’t an issue (although it is an issue for other teams), and for all of those reasons I would say the chances the Phillies trade Lee are less likely than trading him.

Now, please keep in mind these things can change by the hour, minute, text message or phone call. The Phillies thought they had no chance to acquire Hunter Pence before the 2011 trade deadline, but eventually got the deal done. The same could happen for Lee, but I think the Phillies aren’t as motivated to move Lee as they were to acquire Pence.

The most likely Phillies player to be traded is Michael Young for obvious reasons. He has value as a veteran corner infielder that can also DH and he isn’t expected back next season. But don’t expect much in return for a two-month rental.

The rest? Utley is not going to be traded. (See above.) Jonathan Papelbon‘s trade value isn’t terribly high at the moment and not because of his strong comments Sunday to MLB.com. It’s because of his performance and contract. His velocity has dipped and his five blown saves are tied for third in baseball. Carlos Ruiz could be moved, but don’t expect much in return. His .581 OPS would be the worst among big-league catchers, if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Trading Jimmy Rollins is moot. He said Sunday he would not waive his trade rights. I suppose the Phillies could move Delmon Young, but they would get less for him than they would get for Michael Young. CSNPhilly.com reported the only three players the Phillies will not trade are Utley, Cole Hamels and Domonic Brown. No surprises there. The Phillies expect Hamels to bounce back and a team starved for young talent would be crazy to trade Brown at this point.

Utley, Amaro Quiet on Extension Talks

Utley's DefenseRuben Amaro Jr. barely broke stride at Busch Stadium this afternoon, when a reporter asked if he had a moment to talk.

“I can’t,” he said. “I’m busy today.”

He spoke later, but Amaro is probably busy with plenty of things, considering the Trade Deadline is next Wednesday and the Phillies entered tonight’s series finale against the Cardinals with a four-game losing streak. But CSNPhilly.com also reported Amaro has been talking with Chase Utley about a contract extension, which seems more likely to happen than not at this point.

“Come on, you know me,” said Utley, when asked about any negotiations.

“We don’t talk about those things,” Amaro echoed later.

But asked if he expects Utley to be in a Phillies uniform beyond Wednesday’s Trade Deadline, Amaro said, “Oh, I think so.”

Utley spoke with MLB.com about his future with the Phillies just before the All-Star break. He said then he would open to negotiations during the season.

“I think we have a good relationship,” he said. “We understand each other. Whatever is best is best, if that makes sense.”

(more…)

Can Phillies Make A Run? Can They Keep Utley and Doc?

Chase Utley, Roy HalladayThe Phillies are 48-48 at the All-Star break, 6 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East and 5 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card.

They finished the half on a 9-4 run, although if you watched their just completed three-game series against the White Sox, you know this team is far from perfect.

“I think we made a statement that if we are going to be a contender and we’re going to win our division or a wild card, we still need some help,” Charlie Manuel said.

But this should be a fascinating second half for numerous reasons. First, the Phillies have a .610 winning percentage post-break with Manuel at the helm. That is the second-best record in baseball from 2005-12. They had a .587 winning percentage after the break last season, even after trading Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton. If the Phillies play the same this year they would finish 86-76. The Reds are on pace to win 90 games, so the Phillies need to pick up the pace in the second half.

But the Phillies play the Marlins, Mets, Padres and Cubs 25 more times, or 38.9 percent of their remaining games. Those teams have four of the five-worst records in the league. They also play the Braves and Nationals 22 more times, or 33.3 percent of their remaining games. So 47 of their remaining 66 games (71.2 percent) are against four of the worst teams in the league and the two teams they’re chasing to win the division. Since the Braves started 12-1, they are just 42-40. The Phillies are 42-40 in that same stretch, while the Nationals are 40-41.

The Phillies can’t say they won’t have a chance.

Second, what will the next couple weeks hold? Will the Phillies find a centerfielder to replace Ben Revere? Will they get some desperately needed bullpen help? I know everybody is saying the Phillies are buyers today, but if they stumble coming out of the break that could change quickly. The Phillies have a three-game series this weekend against the Mets at Citi Field, but then travel to St. Louis and Detroit. That isn’t an easy road trip, so the Phillies will need to play well.

Third, there will be plenty of evaluating going on in the second half. The Phillies will evaluate if they should buy or sell, and if they buy how much do they want to buy? But they also will be looking at their players on the field, deciding how they want to improve in 2014 and beyond. But players will be evaluating them, too. Chase Utley and Roy Halladay are free agents following the season. Ruben Amaro Jr. already has said he wants Utley to be a “Phillie for life.” If Halladay returns later this season and pitches well, you have to think the Phillies will try to bring him back. People always ask me about leaders in the Phillies clubhouse. Utley and Halladay are the two best. If they’re performing well you don’t want to lose them.

But Utley and Halladay also will have to decide if it’s best for them to stay. If they think the Phillies are moving in the wrong direction they might want to try to get a World Series ring elsewhere.

Utley talked about his future in Philadelphia. Read that story here.

Halladay also talked about his future in Philadelphia. Read that story here.

Amaro Talks Howard’s Surgery, Buying at Deadline, Etc.

Amaro Talks Werth, Getting Old and MoreRuben Amaro Jr. seemed to have a pretty easy decision to make a little more than a week ago.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

But the Phillies entered tonight’s game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park winners of six of their last eight games and playing in a division that is arguably the weakest in baseball. So he seemed buoyed by the news Ryan Howard had successful surgery earlier in the day.

Howard had a debridement of the left medial meniscus. His timetable to return is six to eight weeks.

“After (Phillies physician Michael) Ciccotti went in there and went in with the scope, it was a little better picture then we thought,” Amaro said. “I think the player is feeling better about it, we’re feeling better about it. As news goes, this is as good as we can get.”

Amaro said it probably changes the season’s outlook “because we’ll have him back. There’s a reasonable chance we’ll have him back at some point. We still have a lot of question marks about where we’re going to go in the next couple of weeks. Right now, the team is making decisions a little harder on me which is fine and which is good. I’d rather be in this situation than thinking about 2014 right now.”

Amaro met with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, the Phillies coaching staff and others in the organization Tuesday, although he declined to call it an organizational meeting.

Regardless of what one calls it, the organization’s decision makers met to discuss the team leading to the July 31 Trade Deadline.

“There were no real revelations,” Amaro said. “We are playing better baseball and putting ourselves in a position to be buyers. But there was nothing new out of it.”

So they are leaning toward buying at this point?

“Yeah, I think we’ll try to do that,” he said.

(more…)

Amaro: Next 10 Days Are Big

Ruben Amaro, Jr.Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. just spoke to reporters in the Phillies’ dugout. He got asked about the importance of this team’s upcoming 10-game homestand, including seven games against the Braves and Nationals. Here are a few highlights of that interview. Check phillies.com later for more.

Q: How do you view the importance of this series?
A: This homestand more than anything else is probably the bigger questions. Very important. We’ve got to play well to stay in contention, clearly. I think we’ll know a lot more about this team after this homestand.

Q: If you don’t have a good homestand could the makeup of the team be different shortly thereafter?
A: It could be. It could be. I hope we’re adding to this club than subtracting. That’s the goal, but as I always say and I’ve been saying the same thing, the players will dictate it.

Q: Safe to say you have to have a winning record on this homestand? Does 5-5 cut it?
A: We’ll have to see. Probably, but we’ll have to see. But that depends how we get to 5-5, you know?

Q: Overstatement to say this homestand is make or break?
A: I don’t know. I don’t like to speak in absolutes all that much, but it’s an important one no question about it.

Q: Frustrating to see this team struggle?
A: Yeah, they’ve been a little enigmatic. I think this team has been a little bit of an enigma. We’ll see. We’ll find out more after this homestand, I think. These next 10 days are big.

Q: Do you view anybody on this team as an untouchable?
A: Some guys are a lot less touchable than others. But we’ll keep our eyes open, our ears open.

Q: How tough would it be to trade Chase Utley, considering his influence in this clubhouse?
A: Really tough. Really tough. Again, I see him as a Phillie for life. I’m not the most stubborn human being on the planet.

Last Month for the Final Five?

Phillies Player of the '00s: RollinsChase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Carlos Ruiz are the only remaining players from the 2008 World Series championship roster, and this could be their final month together.

Click here to read what some of them said about it.

The Phillies are reluctant to trade Utley. I’m sure they would love him back next year. But you have to wonder if Utley, who will become a free agent after the season, will want to come back? Consider for a second if the Phillies trade Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon or both. Say they trade Ruiz, etc. Will Utley believe this team can win in the near future? That is something the Phillies will have to consider as they approach the trade deadline. On the other hand, the Phillies are much more willing to trade Rollins. (You have to wonder how his comments Sunday that he wasn’t disappointed at all with their 1-3 series against the Dodgers played in the clubhouse and front office.) But Rollins isn’t nearly as easy to trade as Utley. Utley is a free agent after the season. He still is very productive offensively, when healthy. Rollins’ productive has dropped this season, and he has $22 million remaining on his deal, if his 2015 option automatically vests based on plate appearances.

If either is traded, however, it will signal a clear and significant change within the organization and a considerable culture shift within the clubhouse.

Utley Begins Rehab Assignment Tonight

Chase UtleyThe Phillies announced this morning Chase Utley will begin a rehab assignment tonight with Double-A Reading.

He had been scheduled to begin his rehab last night, but rain prevented that.

Don’t expect this to take very long. Probably just two or three games for Utley, who has not played since May 20 because of a strained right oblique. Remember, he played only nine rehab games after missing nearly three months of the season last year because of an injured knee. He has missed just a month this year, so that’s why I say just two or three games. I would be stunned if he’s not back before the end of the weekend.

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