Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt not worried about Chase Utley

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Phillies second baseman Chase Utley wasn’t in Saturday’s lineup against the Mets with lefty Jon Niese on the hill. He has been in the starting lineup just once in his team’s last four games, a result of him batting .099/.175/.198 in 103 plate appearances to begin the 2015 season.

Former Phillies third baseman and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt knows how quickly a player can lose it. He famously hit .117/.247/.167 over 73 plate appearances in May 1989 before announcing his retirement in between tears. He doesn’t see that same fate awaiting Utley, though. Via ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick:

Utley has degenerative conditions in both knees and is 36 years old. There’s no question his better days are behind him. However, he also has a .079 batting average on balls in play. Even if he’s completely lost it at the plate, we should still see a much higher BABIP than .079. There’s likely some truth in Schmidt’s optimism.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.