Last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers addressed a growing issue in the infield by going after Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies. The veteran second baseman is playing for a different team for the first time in his career, but jumping right into a playoff race is definitely giving him some motivation. That is why many people feel like Utley could really pay off as a small, but important move for the Dodgers.
In his prime, Utley was one of the top middle infielders in the game. He never did any one thing particularly well, but he was always above average in many things. He is still a very disciplined player with solid defensive skills at age 36. Playing every single day is difficult, but Los Angeles does not really plan on using him that way.
Right now, infield depth is an issue for Los Angeles, as Howie Kendrick is out with a strained left hamstring for at least one more week, possibly more. Utley will be filling in for Kendrick for the time being, but he can also move to third base to possibly replace Justin Turner depending on matchups. Being a utility player is somewhat new for Utley, but a playoff chase certainly isn’t.
The trade to Los Angeles gives Utley a chance to win another World Series. The Dodgers have been looking for one since 1988, and they feel confident with this year’s team. They are currently first in the National League West, and they have the best 1-2 punch on the mound in the game. Adding Utley, to play alongside former teammate Jimmy Rollins, gives this team two high character guys who know what it takes to go all the way in October.
Utley isn’t the same player he was from 2006-2010, and his .217 batting average with five home runs in 73 games for the Phillies show that. However, this is an underrated move for the Dodgers, and his impact can’t really be measured by only numbers.
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