Chase Utley is having a nice season. But (a) he’s 34; (b) his best baseball is certainly behind him, not in front of him; (c) his knees are ticking time bombs; and (d) the Phillies aren’t going anyplace and likely have to rebuild before they’re serious contenders again.
In light of all of that, you have to think that the best move is to try to trade Utley. He could really help a contender this year and, given what Matt Garza and even Francisco Rodriguez brought in trades, the Phillies could probably get a useful piece or two for him.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, however, thinks that the Phillies are working on a contract extension for Utley:
A person with knowledge of the situation says the Phillies have had recent talks with Utley’s representation about a contract extension … Word in well-placed baseball circles is that the Phillies are not listening to trade offers for Utley.
Maybe this is just about making him seem more valuable to Philly than he is in an effort to drive up the price. Maybe Ruben Amaro believes that the Phillies still can contend with an Utley-Howard-Rollins-Lee-Hamels core. If it’s the latter, well, OK, it’s your team Rube. But I kinda disagree with that assessment.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.