*** 2018 WORLD SERIES opens on Tuesday night *** RED SOX host DODGERS for Game One & Two at Fenway Park on Tues & Weds 8:09PM EDT - TV coverage by FOX *** Games Three, Four, and Five (if necc) on Fri-Sat-Sun at Dodger Stadium

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Dodgers will have 2008 Phillies World Series hero Ryan Madson in their bullpen for the Fall Classic

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Madson will be trying to win his third World Series ring with a third different team

The Los Angeles Dodgers punched their ticket to the Fall Classic with Saturday night’s 5-1 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series over the host Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
The Dodgers will now open the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park in Boston on tonight against the host Red Sox.
This is a return trip for the Dodgers, who a year ago advanced to the 2017 World Series. Los Angeles was edged out in seven games by the Houston Astros last October.
This also marks something of a return to baseball’s biggest stage for two key members of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Series championship team, second baseman Chase Utley and relief pitcher Ryan Madson.
While Utley and Madson are under contract with and have played with the club this season, only Madson will actually be seeing action in the Fall Classic roster that was submitted today.
Madson began this season with the Washington Nationals. He was dealt to the Dodgers on August 31, three days after his 38th birthday.
He would make nine appearances for Los Angeles in September and was particularly effective over the final two weeks of the season. Madson allowed just one run on two hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in five innings down the stretch as the Dodgers battled for a sixth straight National League West Division crown.
Madson was on the Dodgers roster and made two appearances in the NLDS win over Atlanta Braves. He was then included on the NLCS roster in the victory over the Brewers. All total, he has seven postseason appearances so far this year, allowing just one run on six hits over 6.1 innings across seven games with a 6/1 K:BB ratio.
Utley has not appeared at all in this postseason for the Dodgers, though he has been given credit by players such as Matt Kemp and Enrique ‘Kike’ Hernandez for helping them.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Victor Victor Mesa, baseball's top international free agent, signs with Miami Marlins

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Jeter announces signing of top Cuban prospect Mesa (his immediate right in pic)

The Philadelphia Phillies finished in third place in the National League East Division standings this past season, and actually led the division for more than a month.
The Miami Marlins finished in last place in the same division this past season. It marked a fourth finish in the division basement for the Fish over the last eight years.
In the  26-year history of their franchise the Marlins have just four finishes as high as second place. They have never finished a season in first place.
For much of the summer the Phillies appeared to be an organization on the rise. Improving young players winning improbably under inspiring leadership from a rookie manager.
During July and early August, it looked as if the Phillies and the similarly young and exciting Atlanta Braves were headed for a final week showdown for the division crown. The two rivals were scheduled to face one another in seven of the season’s final 10 games.
Many felt that the Washington Nationals had blown their best chances in recent years and were fading. The New York Mets were typically dysfunctional. And the Marlins were, well, the Marlins.
In other words, not only did it look as if the Phillies major competition in 2018 was going to come from Atlanta, but it also appeared that could be the case for years to come.
We all now know that the Phillies collapsed, and looked anything but a team on the rise over the final seven weeks. The club finished with a losing record for the sixth straight season. The Braves ran away with the division title, finishing 10 games ahead of them.
The Nationals slipped past the Phillies to finish in second place. The Mets finished strong, an 18-10 mark in September pulling them within three games of the Phillies by the end.
The Marlins, well, finished up like the Marlins. They won three games in a row just once after the mid-July MLB All-Star Game break.
As I pointed out in a recent article here at Phillies Nation, the Phillies are going to need to spend big and on just the right players in free agency in order to catch up to the Braves and Nationals.
You can also make an extremely compelling argument that the Mets are in at least as good, if not better, shape than the Phillies over the next few seasons.
And now comes the news today that the Miami Marlins ownership has decided that they are not just going to sit around and remain the divisional doormat over the next decade. Derek Jeter and the others in their ownership group opened up their wallets today.
With the Marlins announcement of the signing of the top international prospect in baseball, Victor Victor Mesa, the Miami ownership group is signaling that they too want to push back towards contention.
Mesa is a 22-year-old outfielder from Cuba who is very nearly ready for Major League Baseball. The MLB scouting report on him reads as follows:
“…an outstanding defender with a strong arm. He’s also a plus runner and scouts like his upside and pedigree. There’s the belief that Mesa would be selected in the first round if he was eligible for the Draft, and he’s the type of hitter who could be placed at the top of the order.”

Sunday, October 21, 2018

David Bell, former Phillies third baseman, named as new Cincinnati Reds skipper

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Bell started at third base for the Phillies from 2002 through July 2006

The Cincinnati Reds have announced that former Philadelphia Phillies third baseman David Bell has been named as their new manager. Bell will be introduced to the Cincinnati fans and media at a Monday press conference.
The 46-year-old Bell signed a three-year contract with a club option fourth season in 2022. He and his father, former big-leaguer Buddy Bell, become the fourth father-son combination to manage in Major League Baseball.
Bell was already an eight-year big-leaguer when he signed with the Phillies as a free agent for the 2003 season. He, first baseman Jim Thome, and closer Billy Wagner were brought in specifically to help the Phillies try to contend as they transitioned from Veteran’s Stadium to Citizens Bank Park.
Over parts of four seasons with the Phillies, Bell slashed .258/.331/.385 with 38 home runs, 209 RBI, and 191 runs scored. On June 28, 2004 at Citizens Bank Park, Bell became the 264th player in MLB history and the eighth and most recent player in Phillies history (Chuck Klein did it twice) to hit for 'The Cycle' (a single, double, triple, homer in same game.)

Bell was dealt away by the Phillies to the Milwaukee Brewers at the 2006 trade deadline. He would then play the final 53 games of that, his final season, with the Brewers.
Overall, he played in a dozen MLB seasons with a .257/.320/.396 slash line. Bell produced 123 home runs and 589 RBI over 5,380 plate appearances with six organizations. In 2002, Bell received the Willie McCovey Award as the San Francisco Giants most inspirational player for a team that reached the World Series.
A Cincinnati native, Bell helped Moeller High School win the 1989 Ohio state championship. He also managed for four seasons from 2009-11 in the Reds minor league system, compiling a 227-332 record.
Bell became the Chicago Cubs third base coach during the 2013 campaign. He also obtained managerial experience in 2009 in the Arizona Fall League.
In 2014, Bell became the assistant hitting coach with the Saint Louis Cardinals. For the last three years he served as Mike Matheny‘s bench coach with the Cardinals.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Phillies have been involved in three winner-take-all postseason games

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Garry Maddox delivered the winning hit and recorded final out in 1980 NLCS

The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers by a 7-2 score on Friday night. The victory by the Brew Crew forces an ultimate Game 7 in the National League Championship Series tonight at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
There have now been 136 seasons of baseball in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise, 14 of which have resulted in a postseason appearance. None has ever resulted in the Phillies participating in a Game 7.
However, the Phillies and their fans have experienced the nervous energy and thrill of some winner-take-all drama on three occasions.
The first was Game 5 of the National League Championship Series back in 198o. The following year during the first-ever National League Division Series held because of the split-season due to a player strike, it happened again. Three decades would then pass before the next in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series.
The Phillies have enjoyed the thrill of victory just once, in that 1980 NLCS. They went down in heart-breaking fashion in both 1981 and 2011. The two losses came as a result of similar circumstances.
The 1980 series between the Phillies and Houston Astros was perhaps the greatest NLCS in history. All three were close, dramatic games, with the last four all ending in extra-innings.
The Phillies won the opener at Veteran’s Stadium by a 3-1 score behind a Steve Carlton gem and a Greg Luzinski home run. Houston then scored four runs in the top of the 10th to even the series at Veteran’s Stadium in Game Two.
Back home at the Astrodome for Game Three, the Astros got a leadoff triple in the bottom of the 11th from Joe Morgan off Tug McGraw in a 0-0 game. Following two intentional walks, Denny Walling scored Morgan with the walkoff, putting Houston within a game of their first-ever World Series appearance.
The Phillies fought back, rallying from a 2-0 deficit in Game Four to score three times in the top of the 8th inning. After Houston tied it up in the last of the 9th, the Phillies scored twice in the top of the 10th to win it. That rally was highlighted by Pete Rose plowing into Bruce Bochy with the go-ahead run.

With the NLCS tied at two games apiece, the decisive Game Five would take place once again in Houston. This time the Astros had a literal ace-in-the-hole in Nolan Ryan, and the big right-hander rolled into the top of the 8th inning with a 5-2 lead.
The Phillies then scratched and clawed their way back, scoring five times in that 8th inning to take a 7-5 lead. Houston refused to die, scoring twice in the bottom of the frame to tie it up, and again the two teams headed to extras.

Friday, October 19, 2018

John Middleton will prove to be the key should Phillies quickly return to contention

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(Controlling owner Middleton needs to open the pocketbook wide)

For much of this past summer the Philadelphia Phillies appeared to be a team and an organization on the rise. The club bolted to first place and sat atop the National League East Division standings for more than a month. The teams within their minor league organization were also enjoying success.
But in the end, the Phillies collapsed to finish in third place with a losing record for the sixth consecutive season. And though three of the organization’s minor league affiliates reached the postseason, none were able to capture a title.
It was a disheartening ending to what as recently as early August seemed to be shaping up as a summer full of promise. Still, you might be excused for feeling that the Phillies organization was making positive strides and was now primed to contend for years to come.
Slow your roll.
By the failed stretch run, the Phillies were regularly starting a lineup where half the players were over 30 years of age. And in their most recent organizational rankings, the respected analysts at Baseball America had dropped the Phillies from sixth to 18th place. Just as importantly, the Phillies division rivals were on the rise.
The Atlanta Braves ran away with the National League East Division crown. The Braves are led by 28-year-old Freddie Freeman and feature a pair of dynamic young talents in second baseman Ozzie Albies (21) and left fielder Ronald Acuna (20) in their everyday lineup. Atlanta also has a boatload of talented young pitchers both at the big-league and minor league levels.
The Washington Nationals bolted past the Phillies to finish in second place. They may lose superstar Bryce Harper to free agency, possibly even to the Phillies. However, the Nats are likely to remain serious contenders thanks to the emergence of shortstop Trea Turner (25) and outfielders Juan Soto (20) and Victor Robles (21) along with their returning solid pitching.
Baseball America put the Braves at #5 and the Nationals at #12 in their organizational rankings. And it isn’t just those two teams that the Phillies appear to need to focus upon with concern.
The New York Mets suffered through an extremely disappointing campaign, one marred seriously by injuries. By the end of the year, New York had pulled within just three games of the Phillies in the standings.
The Mets lineup includes emerging young talents in shortstop Amed Rosario (22) and outfielders Brandon Nimmo (25) and Michael Conforto (25), while their talented young pitching features Noah Syndergaard (25) among others.
New York was rated at #19, just one place behind the Phillies, in the Baseball America organizational rankings. That was a jump up from 27th place on their previous list, revealing that the Mets organization appears to be on the rise.
There is no doubt that things are looking up for the Phillies as far as their own possibilities are concerned. There are a handful of talented young players and pitchers, and a few well-regarded minor league prospects. The club is positioned well financially to add impact free agents.
More the point for Phillies fans is that whether their team actually develops into a true contender for the next handful of seasons is not simply a matter of what their own team is doing. It is not simply a matter of whether Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola are joined by two or three more young players stepping forward to impact the on-field talent at Citizens Bank Park.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Phillies could use another strong starting pitcher, and lefty Patrick Corbin fits the bill perfectly

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(Corbin has spent his first seven big-league seasons with Arizona)

There has been a great deal of warranted commentary regarding the upcoming Major League Baseball “Hot Stove” season here in Philadelphia.
Most of that talk has been understandably centered around the two biggest free agent bats, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
However, there is little denying that if the Phillies want to step up and contend over the next three or four years, they need to add another winning arm to their starting rotation.
Aaron Nola stepped up in 2018 to demonstrate that he can be the young ace for whom the franchise has been searching for a few years. Jake Arrieta was signed as a free agent early in spring training. He played a solid, veteran second-fiddle to Nola for much of this past season.
Behind those two, the trio of Vince VelasquezNick Pivetta, and Zach Eflin received the vast majority of starting pitching opportunities.
The level of major step forward that the club will require in order to successfully battle and overcome their National League East Division rivals next year cannot be expected to come from all three of them progressing.
Luckily for the Phillies there is a starting pitcher available in free agency who would perfectly slot in where needed, as a strong left-handed starting pitching option for their rotation.
During what was his sixth season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Patrick Corbin turned 29-years-old in mid-July. He was originally a second-round draft pick of the Angels back in 2009, and was dealt to Arizona a year later in a trade package for veteran starter Dan Haren.
As he reached his prime years over the last two seasons, Corbin began to show significant progress on the mound. This past year the New York native became a National League All-Star for the second time.
Corbin made 33 starts for the Dbacks, allowing just 162 hits over 200 innings pitched. He produced an outstanding 246/48 K:BB ratio with a 3.15 ERA, 1.050 WHIP, an ERA+ of 137, and an outstanding 2.47 FIP mark

There is no reason that Corbin should not be expected to deliver five strong seasons during his next contract, which would take him through his age 33 campaign. That is the same age Arrieta will turn during spring training next season.
Corbin made $7.5 million this past year and has earned just over $15.5 million during his Major League Baseball career. This will be his big contract opportunity, and it can be expected that his agents at ISE Baseball will be looking to maximize for their client.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

You can count me out on Manny Machado signing with the Phillies in free agency

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Machado will get hundreds of millions in free agency - hopefully not from Phillies

Just yesterday at Phillies Nation, Editorial Director Tim Kelly wrote a piece on Manny Machado which centered around comments the player had made on his own perceived lack of hustle at times.
In that piece, Kelly reported on a handful of quotes attributed to Machado in an interview conducted by Ken Rosenthal at The Athleticwith the pending free agent shortstop.
One of those quotes stood out enough that Kelly highlighted it in his headline:
“…I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle,’…That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”
Well, let me tell what else that is not. That is not going to sell in Philly.
Kelly compared Machado somewhat to former Phillies star shortstop Jimmy Rollins, a franchise icon, the all-time Phillies leader in career hits, and a future Wall of Famer.
Yes, there were times that Rollins did not hustle during his career. In fact, Kelly referenced in his piece the incident well-known to Phillies fans from 2012 in which then-manager Charlie Manuel benched ‘JRoll’ for failing to run out a fly ball.
However, whatever Rollins’ occasional lapses, Phillies fans knew him intimately. They had watched his entire career. They got to see him speed around the bases, sliding head-first into third base for a triple. They got to see him dive into the hole for balls and come up firing the runner out at first base.
Phillies fans watched Rollins proclaim theirs as “the team to beat in 2007, and then deliver an MVP season to back up it up as the club won the National League East Division crown for the first time in 15 years.
They saw him help lead the club to their first World Series championship in 28 years the following season. They roared as Rollins drilled a game-winning and possibly series-saving two-run double in Game Four of the 2009 NLCS against the Dodgers.
The point here is that Rollins was one of our own. We watched him grow from his mid-September debut at Veteran’s Stadium in 2000 through to his final appearance in red pinstripes at Citizens Bank Park in September of 2014.
We forgave him the occasional lapse in hustle or concentration because we saw first-hand the leadership, determination, and toughness over the long haul.
If the Phillies sign Machado this off-season as a free agent, something that up to this point nearly every Phillies fan has been hoping for months if not years, there could be a big problem.
Back in April, Dan Szymborski for ESPN estimated that it would take something along the lines of an eight-year, $300 million contract to land Machado as a shortstop, which is presumably where the Phillies would want him to play.
Now if you, like me, grew up in Philadelphia as a fan of this town’s sports teams, knowing the sports media in place and how involved those fans are with the teams and that media, what do you think? Do you think that a player who is being guaranteed $300 million and who is not hustling all the time is going to go over well here?
A cynic, and we have plenty of those, might say that if Machado is hitting .280-.290 with 40 bombs and 100+ RBI every year while fielding a decent shortstop, then the fans will forgive the occasional lack of hustle. I’m not so sure.
Machado is not home-grown. You pay him that much, you are going to expect that he will come in here and provide more than just his fantasy baseball numbers. Over the first 96 games of this past season, Machado was having a tremendous year. Meanwhile, his Orioles team was baseball’s worst.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What should the Phillies expect from Nick Williams in the future?

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Williams proved a hustler for 2018 Phillies, but what is his future role?
It has been nearly three months since I wrote that Nick Williams may be “breaking out” for the Philadelphia Phillies. He was coming off a four-hit night, slamming a pair of homers to help the Phillies win 9-4 in Cincinnati.
Over a period of two months and 54 games from May 23 through that July 26 night in Cincy, Williams had slashed .280/.354/.520 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI over 195 plate appearances. That is a third-of-a-season worth of work.
The Phillies went 31-25 in that stretch, moving from second place and 1.5 games off the lead in the National League East Division to first place and 2.5 games up.
It appears that I may have been guilty for one of the few times during this past summer by getting swept up in the Phillies mid-summer run to the top of the division.
As the team collapsed over the final two months, Williams own performance declined as well. Over the final 46 games he slashed .246/.301/.352 with just eight total extra-base hits and 11 RBI across 153 plate appearances.
By mid-September his season was pretty much over, done in by hand and shoulder injuries that limited Williams to just a single pinch-hitting appearance (in which he struck out) and three appearances as a pinch-runner.
It hurts the way this season ended,” Williams said per Rob Parent for the Delco Times. “Especially because I’ve been hurt the whole month of September. … It’s a struggle I’ve actually been through, in (2016).
It’s still very hard to know what the Phillies have in Williams, who came to the Phillies as part of the package from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Cole Hamels back in late July 2015.
Over the full course of the 2018 season, Williams hit .262 with a .452 slugging percentage against right-handers. Against southpaws the lefty swinger hit just .232 and slugged at a weak .317 mark. Those numbers reveal that he may be best suited for a platoon role.
Another interesting split for Williams were his numbers in the Phillies wins and losses. You would expect players to have lower numbers in games in which their team lost. But Williams numbers in such situations appear extremely exaggerated.
During the 71 Phillies wins in which he played, Williams slashed .327/.406/.573 with 24 extra-base hits including 13 home runs. He played in 69 of their losses, slashing a putrid .179/.230/265 with just eight extra-base hits.

He was given 239 plate appearances in the victorious games, 209 in the losing efforts, so the opportunities were similar.
He did come through at clutch time for the Phillies. Williams was .306/.386/.516 over 70 “late and close” situations and hit .274 with a .504 slugging percentage in 123 plate appearances during which the games were tied.
When the Phillies either led or trailed by four runs or more, Williams slashed just .219/.265/313 with three extra-base hits over 68 plate appearances.
To me, the numbers reveal Williams to be a “follower”, the type of player who catches fire when the rest of the team is on, but not one who is capable of lighting those fires himself. He also appears to be a “red-light” player, one who is capable of producing when the chips are down, but who perhaps loses concentration when they are not.
One positive thing stood out for me and should have to anyone who watched the now 25-year-old perform this season. Williams never stopped busting it. Accused at one point in his minor league career of coasting, he genuinely appeared to be going all out this summer on most nights, especially while the team was enjoying its greatest run of success.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Time for Matt Klentak to deal away Carlos Santana

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(Giving Santana $60 million in his low-30's was a mistake from the start)

In December 2017, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak signed first baseman Carlos Santana as a free agent. The Phillies GM gave Santana a guaranteed three-year, $60 million deal that would take him from his age 32 through age 34 seasons.

The move was unnecessary right from the start. The Phillies already appeared set with Rhys Hoskins entering his age 25 season at the first base position.
Hoskins had belted 18 homers and drove in 48 runs with a .396 on-base percentage and .618 slugging percentage over just 50 games during his outstanding 2017 rookie campaign.
He is never going to be a Gold Glover anywhere he plays, and so first base is easily the best place for Hoskins. Over parts of four minor league seasons he appeared in a grand total of four games in left field, all just prior to his 2017 promotion.
Hoskins cannot become a free agent until after the 2023 season, so the Phillies should have been set at first base for at least the next half-dozen years.
Santana would produce a season in which he was second on the Phillies to Hoskins in both home runs (24) and RBI (86), which are roughly his career-average levels. However, he also hit for a pitiful .229 batting average.

Santana had a mediocre 2018, and there doesn’t appear to be an opening for him in 2019 with Phillies (Photo by Arturo Pardavila III)
Trying to squeeze some offense out of his lineup, Klentak reached for Santana. It didn’t work. The Phillies were one of baseball’s statistically worst offensive teams all year long.
And in making the move, Klentak also hurt the team defense by moving Hoskins out in left field. The Phillies overall defense was also one of baseball’s worst this past season.
First base was and remains the best position for Santana. Over eight big league seasons he had been a catcher and first baseman. The former was when he was a young player, the latter in recent years. He played just 26 games at third base, all when in his prime at age 28 in the 2014 season.
Down the stretch, with the season already lost thanks to a Phillies collapse over the final seven weeks, the team seemed to admit its mistake. Hoskins was returned to first base, playing there in 11 of the final 17 games and six of the last seven.
Meanwhile, Santana was moved across the infield to the hot corner. He appeared in 18 of the last 27 games there. Regular third baseman Maikel Franco had begun experiencing pain in his wrist, then suffered a shoulder injury while diving into a camera well during a September 11 doubleheader. Franco would play in just nine September games.
Through a late-August road trip prior to the onset of his physical troubles, Franco was arguably having a better season than Santana. He was hitting for a .276 average with 22 homers and 66 RBI in 119 games, a pace that would have seen him finish with roughly 30 homers and 90 RBI. He is certainly a better defensive third baseman.
The Phillies should again be set at both corners. Hoskins is apparently back as the regular first baseman. As our Tim Kelly reported here at Phillies Nation two weeks ago, the Phillies sound committed to Hoskins playing first base in 2019. Across the diamond, Franco is clearly the better option. He also cannot become a free agent until after the 2021 season.
Now as the Phillies begin preparations for 2019, it is time to recognize fully the Santana mistake, and turn the page from the player who will turn 33-years-old early next season. The worst thing that the club could do is enter spring training with any ambiguity involving two key young players.
There are two ways to handle the Santana situation. Either is fine with me. First and best, trade him to another team for something of value. You aren’t going to get much for an aging, limited player making $40 million over the next two years. But maybe if you take on most or all of that contract you can get something decent.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Dodgers keep Chase Utley off the field in playoffs, but his impact remains

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(Utley remains a key figure in the Dodgers clubhouse)
The career of former Philadelphia Phillies hero Chase Utley may on the surface appear to be ending with more of a whimper than a bang. That is the case at least if you are counting his on-field contributions to the Los Angeles Dodgers in their latest postseason run.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced the team’s 25-man rosterfor the National League Championship Series today. Just as with the makeup of the team chosen to play during their 3-1 NLDS victory over the Atlanta Braves, Utley was not included.
During the month of September as the Dodgers were fighting off the Colorado Rockies to capture their sixth straight NL West crown in a Game 163, Utley was given just two starts and played only one complete game.
But despite not being on the field, the player known to Phillies fan as “The Man” continues to be a force behind the scenes and in the locker room for the Dodgers.
Just days ago, Kike Hernandez called Utley “…one of the most valuable, if not the most valuable person in the clubhouse.” As reported by Matt Borelli at Dodger Blue, Hernandez went on to describe Utley’s example:
“I had probably the best season of my career…I give most of the credit to Chase, because the work ethic that I created by being around him…If he doesn’t play ever again, he already played his last game of his career and here we are today, we got here at noon and we worked out like if he was active, like if he was ready to start a game tonight. So I’ll never be done saying thank you to Chase."
Veteran outfielder Matt Kemp, a two-time NL Gold Glove Award winner, three-time National League All-Star, and the 2011 NL MVP runner-up, has sought out Utley for advice here in the postseason.
Despite his best season in years, Kemp found himself platooned in the final weeks and now into the playoffs. He was quoted by Matthew Moreno at Dodger Blue:
“Chase was one of the guys that I went to, you know, because he’s been in a similar situation. But you got so many guys on the bench that can make a big impact. Guys are staying ready and staying hot just in case something happens because you never know when you’re going to come in the game.”

Ten years ago tomorrow, on October 13, 2008, Utley slashed three hits at Dodger Stadium to help the Phillies defeat the Dodgers in Game Four of the NLCS.
This was the famous game where Shane Victorino homered to tie it in the top of the eighth inning, and then Matt Stairs ripped one “into the night” as the Phillies rallied to a 7-5 victory and a 3-1 lead in the series. They would wrap it up two days later behind a Cole Hamels gem.
Utley was in his prime then, a 29-year-old enjoying the fourth of five consecutive National League All-Star campaigns. He was the best second baseman in the game helping lead his Phillies team to the franchise’ first World Series championship in nearly three decades.
Now a 39-year-old who has announced that this will be his final season as an active player, he has been relegated to a behind-the-scenes mentoring role. But as he always did on the field, ‘The Man’ is still working hard, this time trying to end the Dodgers own three-decade World Series drought.