Chase Utley became one of the main baseball men during the Philadelphia Phillies‘ second ‘Golden Era’. But, good days do come to an end at some point. The same is true for great days as well.
Larry Bowa knew that the Phillies weren’t a strong baseball team back in 2003. That’s the season that Utley first wore number 26 at Veterans Stadium, the team’s former Philadelphia home.
‘Bo’ was in the process of mentoring shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who was playing in his fourth big league season back then. That throwback manager knew that he had something special as soon as he saw the chemistry within his emerging double play combination.
Bowa left the Phillies with two games remaining in the 2004 season, choosing that option rather than waiting to be fired. So, he didn’t get to see Rollins and Utley work together for more than 1,000 games, a milestone they jointly crossed as of late June, 2013.
Charlie Manuel has been running the team since 2005. His time, like Utley’s, seems sharply measured as well.
Every great ‘Era’ obviously includes a plethora of favored stories. With many chapters having been written and the 2013 season playing out as it is, inevitability appears to be pushing general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. toward trading Utley by, or before, the July 31 trade deadline.
The 34-year-old is playing in the final guaranteed year of his contract. Choosing to extend his current deal would seem overly risky, considering that he was only able to appear in 115 games in 2010, 103 games in 2011 and 83 games last season.
Every opposing GM knows there isn’t a lot of major league energy left in Utley’s knees, but someone might be willing to exchange something worthwhile for the use of his services through the end of this season.
If an expected trade does occur, it’s possible that this second baseman might be willing to return next season at a rate that costs far less than his current $15 million per season deal. Logically it wouldn’t make sense to sign an aging veteran who might only be able to continue in a part-time role.
As for ‘The Man’ (had to stick that great Harry Kalas reference in at the end), he’ll surely be inclined to pursue the promise of a full-time option elsewhere.
Utley’s desire to play the game is just one reason why he was and will always be revered by every hardcore Phillies’ fan. Soon, he seems likely to be admired by all loyalists from afar.
Yes, all great days do end.