The Countdown Continues: Second Base

The Inquirer's Countdown to Opening Day continues with a look at Phillies second baseman Chase Utley.The Inquirer's countdown to Opening Day continues.

It's down to 4.

Four as in ... four days before the season opener.

Four as in ... second base.

Chase Utley considers himself merely a trendy pick for National League Most Valuable Player.

He is trendy for a few reasons: 1) He has incredible talent. 2) He finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting each of the last two seasons, and 13th in 2005. 3) He has a chance to follow teammates Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins as MVP. Not since the New York Yankees trio of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard in 1961 through 1963 have three teammates won the MVP in consecutive seasons.

Could Utley make it a Phillies threesome?


"He's the best second baseman in baseball," one rival scout said. "It's not even close. He's a great hitter. He runs every ball out. He plays hard. He's improved immensely on defense. He's a gamer. Give me him over anyone else."

Utley leads big-league second basemen in runs (328), hits (537), home runs (82) and RBIs (310) over the last three years.

Expect that trend to continue.


Other features include:


Looking for this year's Kyle Kendrick? Keep an eye on Drew Carpenter. Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee raved about Carpenter after he threw four shutout innings against the New York Yankees at Bright House Field.


The Phillies are scouring the waiver wire for pitching help. Jim Salisbury writes that if the Phillies open with 11 pitchers (J.D. Durbin could be one of them) that infielder Wes Helms might make the Opening Day roster over Chris Snelling, but Helms probably would be a casualty once closer Brad Lidge returns from the disabled list.