Why Chase Utley's Days of Being an All-Star Are Over

Joe IannelloAnalyst IIIMarch 27, 2012

Why Chase Utley's Days of Being an All-Star Are Over

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    The Philadelphia Phillies are once again the odds-on favorite to represent the National League in the World Series. They are the favorites despite the No. 3 and 4 hitters in their lineup being out until God knows when.

    Ryan Howard is still dealing with an "open wound" to his surgically repaired Achilles, and Chase Utley has two ailing knees this season. Todd Zolecki did some great investigative work and wrote that Chase Utley has been spotted in Phoenix this week.

    We can speculate a bit ourselves here and assume that he's seeing a specialist for his knees. It was thought that it could be Dr. Thomas Carter, the same guy who performed micro-fracture surgery on Amar'e Stoudemire.  

    We learned yesterday that Chase is not considering surgery as an option at this point (good, I guess?). 

    Chase Utley can still be a very productive player for the Phillies (here's to hoping anyways), but here are reasons why his days as a perennial All-Star are over. 

The Competition

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    No matter how hard it is for Phillies Nation to admit, it's time for Dan Uggla and his tight shirts to have the honor of best second baseman in the NL East.

    Projections for 2012 have guys like Uggla, Brandon Phillips and Rickie Weeks all having monster years from the second base position. 

    Most "experts" are projecting Utley to hit around .280 with 15 HR. Those numbers may even be on the fair side with the latest information provided from GM Ruben Amaro. Phillies fans have been spoiled the past five years by a middle IF with corner IF power. 

    Philadelphia will always love Chase, but the 30-HR, 100-RBI guy that we came to expect (and love) seems to be a shell of his former self.   

Cartilage Doesn't Grown on Trees

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    We all know that Chase Utley battled knee problems all of last season, but that didn't stop him from playing in more than 100 games. The offseason was quiet on the knee-injury front, but things cropped up rather quickly once the Phillies descended upon Clearwater, FL.

    He hasn’t played in a single Grapefruit League game this spring, and Ruben Amaro finally admitted that Utley will not be ready for Opening Day. A degenerative knee and hip issue is something that one should try and contain. 

    You need cartilage between your bones to avoid irritation and rubbing, and it seems like Utley has little left. I can speak personally as a former college football player: Bone on bone is an extremely painful thing that doesn't go away.

    And baseball is a 162-game grind; football is only 16.  

One Bad Knee Is Better Than Two

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    If Chase Utley's knee problems weren't enough to scare you last year, then how about this year? Last season, he was dealing with a right knee (and hip) issue that forced him to miss the first 46 games of the season.

    This year, it's his left knee that is hurting. That's the same leg that a left-handed hitter drives off and generates power from.

    Scary stuff indeed. 

    Utley may come back and be productive, but it's delusional to think that he will have the same power that he did when he was 25. Hopefully, with age will come more experience and a better all-around hitter.

    That's most likely delusional thinking as well, because Chase is a darn good hitter already. 

The Old Ball Coach

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    Surprised to see Charlie Manuel's name in an article relating to Chase Utley's knees? Well, you shouldn't be.

    Utley missed 46 games last season due to chondromalacia in his knees, and it was said that his workload would be monitored.

    In what ways was his workload monitored, Charlie?

    Utley still trotted (limped?) out to second base every day once he returned and played all nine innings. We all know that Utley is an ultimate competitor and will never ask for a day off. 

    Manuel has shown that he's not the type of manager to rest his stars (see Jimmy Rollins' and Ryan Howard's workload the past five seasons). Manuel needs to give Utley regular rest if this team wants any chance of being productive in October.