There are a million reasons why Chase Utley to third base could actually happen. But perhaps the most important one is this one.
Utley wants it to happen.
Ahead of Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets, Utley took grounders at the hot corner for the first time in ten years. Back then, Utley was a hot-shot young infielder, and the Phils wanted to see if he could handle the position in AAA. Utley played 123 games at third base in 2002 and made 28 errors in 340 total chances.
That’s, um, not a real good ratio.
But now, it’s 10 years later. And while Utley has become an All-Star second baseman, he also is a pragmatist. He knows his contract is up at the end of 2013. He also knows his knees wouldn’t take quite the same pounding at third as they do at second.
If he can learn a position in which the team is sorely lacking and improve his chances of staying healthy, he can make himself that much more valuable, either to the Phillies, or some other team as a 35-year-old free agent.
The most immediate issue for the Phils is that third base appears to be a black hole next year. That may also be why Ruben Amaro is open to the idea, with an eye on Reading 3B prospect Cody Asche possibly taking over the position in 2014.
In case you’re not familiar with Asche, he’s currently tearing it up in AA as a 22-year-old…
|2012||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||124||532||496||70||163||30||6||12||68||11||3||30||87||.329||.368||.486||.854|
As you can see, a slash line of .307/.359/.527 with 10 HRs and 43 RBIs in just 262 plate appearances is something the Phils wouldn’t mind seeing replicated at the big league level sometime soon. However, as Amaro noted, Asche is still a year or two away from being a full-time Major Leaguer.
Which leaves Amaro with a big hole at third in 2013. Moving Utley there allows him to put Freddy Galvis at second, provided he can still play the position now that he’s not all roided up. It’s a spot on the diamond where his weak bat wouldn’t be so much of a hindrance.
Moving Utley to third would make all the difference in the world. Utley thinks it’s a good idea and Amaro thinks it’s a good idea.
Now all Utley has to do is not suck at it.