Phils Fans About To Get What They Wanted
Remember this, Phils fans. Remember this moment.
It’s not to say you’re cheery that Freddy Galvis – who, according to an initial diagnosis of the “lower back pain” that landed him on the 15-day DL last week, has a pars fracture in his lower back – is hurt. Nobody cozies up to injuries, definitely not ones with prescriptions like 6-8 weeks of an immobilizing brace, and ones that prompt questions about your short- and long- and everything-term durability. Not for guys as warm and welcoming as Galvis (reportedly) is, not for guys who are 22 years old.
But let’s be real: You’ve been jonesing for an excuse for the Phillies to give Chase Utley “The Call” for, like, ever. They just got it.
Not only is their everyday second baseman out, but his replacement is Mike Fontenot. Nobody likes how that rings, not when held against the timbre of a $15 million cash drawer click for Utley. (Who, for reasons I’ll never understand, is still collecting checks.) Not when Utley’s crushing home runs – he hit two in as many (sort-of) games last week – in extended spring training in Clearwater. Not when the fans (misguidedly) believe that he’s still the same “Shell Of A World Series Winner And Five-Time All-Star” he was in 2011. (When he’s really a shell of that shell.) Not when there’s nothing to lose (who’d kill you for playing him?) and yet, all at once, everything to lose. (Now imagine the fan reaction if you don’t.)
Needless to say, with the Phils looking hapless and hopeless, as losers of 10 of their last 14 and of three-straight series sweeps, dude will be penned in the lineup card by July.
Put that in ink.
There’s no turning back now. The Phils could’ve (should’ve?) forced him into retirement, to spare him the pain and to save themselves the cash. (To maybe spend on Cole Hamels? Or something shiny at the trade deadline?) They didn’t. They stretched the elastic on their infield depth. With injuries to (in no particular order) Galvis and Utley and Placido Polanco (missed fifth-straight game Sunday with a tear in his left wrist) Michael Martinez (only recalled to Triple-A Lehigh Valley last week), it broke.
They don’t have options. Not with the fan base purging tickets and interest. Not with the second-highest payroll in the sport bumbling to eight games off the NL East first-place pace. Not when said pace is set by the Nationals. The organization needs to maximize both. (If for no other reason than the particulars of a TV deal – hell, a TV network – for a post-2015 world free of contractual ‘cuffs with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia are being talked over as we speak.) Like, now.
And, now, you’re going to get what you (said you) want: Utley’s busted-up Bizarro, the disheveled 2012 version of the hallowed 2005-2009 hero you knew and loved and duped yourself into thinking you’ll be getting for, basically, ever. You know that’s what he is. But you’ve tricked yourself into believing that, despite mounting conflicting medical evidence, that another year of the patella tendonitis/Chrondromalacia patella tag-team from orthodontic hell grinding his joints to powder, Utley will still be Utley, still able to scoop grounders and tag bags and turn double plays and bound incoming baserunners and dig in at 3-0 fastballs and cut and twist and wrench on his lower body like he always could. (And seemingly always had to.) You figure he’ll still be the .259 hitter and .990 fielder he was in 100 games in 2011. Forget that he missed the first 46 games of the year with chronic, degenerative, perpetually worsening pain. (And that he’s already missed 52 this year.) That he only missed 13 after his 2011 debut boded well for the rest of his time here, which you couldn’t bring yourself to stamp with some time that gleans his mortality.
Thing is, I’m here to tell you, you’re in for a disappointment.
Not only is Utley going to struggle mightily, but it’s going to be crippling to you to find that he’s not really that much better than the guy you wanted replaced, Galvis, who batted an almost 2011 Utleyian .255 last month (his last healthy month) and fielded to near-perfection and wedged himself in the front-runner seat in this year’s Rookie Of The Year field. Especially with this demotion (imagine what Galvis is thinking: They want 40 percent HIM? Instead of 110 percent of ME? Telling…) this early (And I’m not even a half-season into this thing?) assuming the ominous feel of the Phils organizational jerking around of Dom Brown, which, yeah, has turned out well for everybody.
But you’ll find all that out now. Now that you got what you wanted.