Utley to miss eight weeks as a result of his surgery

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When we passed this along yesterday the word was that Chase Utley was going to miss five or six weeks as a result of his thumb surgery. Now the team is saying that it’s more like eight weeks.

Can a team can survive the loss of one of baseball’s best players for that long?  If anyone can it’s probably the Phillies who have firepower elsewhere in the lineup, but this is simply a devastating blow. Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said yesterday
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a situation where we have to go get
somebody,” but with Utley and Placido Polanco out, I’m not sure how they can avoid looking for infield help.

But who’s available?  Maybe the best choice is Ty Wigginton, who is reportedly being shopped by the Orioles. He’s been hitting well this year and, while he’s a defensive falloff from Utley, so too is just about every other second baseman in baseball.

Of course, the Phillies could just slide Polanco back over to second base when he returns — it was basically his only position for the previous four years of his career — and look for a third baseman instead. I heard people talking about Mike Lowell yesterday, but he’s not healthy either right now and I doubt he’s going to be terribly effective even when he comes back.

Hank Blalock is out of a job too and probably still remembers how to play third base.  No, he didn’t hit at all in Tampa Bay, but neither did Pat Burrell and he’s bounced back nicely since coming over to the senior circuit.

Nothing too inspiring out there, I don’t suppose, but it strikes me that Philly needs to do something to stay in the tight NL East race. 

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.