The Philadelphia Phillies have a hue hole at third base. There are questions on whether Chase Utley can handle the rigors of second base much longer.
Is it crazy to think this is a two birds, one stone situation?
This is a lost year for the Phillies, but that doesn't mean they can't put the last month and a half of the season to good use. They should see if Chase Utley could be the answer to their issue at third base.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has always found a way to add pieces even when it looks like the team doesn't have any prospects left to swap or money left to spend. With that said, it does appear now more than ever the team's farm system is dry and the payroll is inflated.
If the team doesn't think it can add an impact player at third base, their options would appear to either pickup their option on Ty Wigginton, re-sign Placido Polanco or keep rolling with 30-year-old minor league veteran Kevin Frandsen, their current starter.
Matt Gelb from the Philadelphia Inquirer previewed potential targets at the hot corner this offseason. The results weren't pretty. Among the players expected to hit free agency this winter, Kevin Youkilis of the Chicago White Sox has the highest OPS this season at .777.
The team could always target a more defensive-oriented player like Maicer Izturis of the Los Angeles Angels, but the lineup already took a big hit when they traded away outfielders Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino.
Trading for Chase Headley would be the perfect solution. The Phils attempted to acquire Headley from the San Diego Padres at the deadline. He could still be moved this offseason, but with such a soft market at third, it will likely take a king's ransom to acquire the 28-year-old.
Long story short: You don't want to be searching for a third baseman this winter.
Utley may never get back to the MVP-caliber player he was for so many years, but he's still a very good hitter. In his 34 games since returning from the disabled list, he's hitting .246/.345/.492. He has already hit eight home runs, which is three shy of his 2011 total despite playing in about a third as many games this year.
The main difference between second and third base is turning the double play. A second baseman is extremely exposed and often has his back slightly turned to an oncoming runner while trying to turn two. That's not the position you want your 33-year-old, 15 million-dollar man whose legs are being held together by duct tape and bubble gum.
Third base is no cakewalk either, but there is less risk for injury and Utley is a good enough defender to successfully make the transition. As far as second base goes, the team could re-insert Freddy Galvis, who impressed the club while filling in for Utley.
Galvis, 22, suffered a back fracture, then was suspended 50 games for using a performance-enhancing drug. The native of Venezuela hit a meager .226/.254/.363 over 58 games, but played outstanding defense.
What ever happens, the Phillies need to use the rest of this season to evaluate and address their most pressing issues. They also need to find a way to get a healthy year out of Chase Utley in 2013.