The Phillies must trade Chase Utley

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)

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A popular radio show host and an esteemed former Daily News columnist, both with the best intentions, yesterday incorrectly declared that Flyers goalie Bernie Parent is the most-loved Philadelphia sports figure in the city’s history.

Forget that the most-loved figure cannot be a hockey player; sorry, fringe sport. No disrespect meant, but there are millions of people in the region who wouldn’t know Bernie Parent from Bernie Madoff.

Ignore that the most beloved should be Julius Erving, universally admired in the sport this town does best.

The most-loved figure in Philadelphia sports history is still making Philadelphia sports history – though that should end soon.

It should, but it might not.

It is Chase Utley.

Like Darren Daulton in the 1990s and Pete Rose a decade before, for better or worse, Utley embodies the excellence that, inexplicably, made the Phillies the best team in baseball from 2007-2011. Right or wrong, he will forever be seen as the soul of the best Phillies teams in history, with a 2008 World Series title and a 2009 appearance and 102 wins in 2011.

Little wonder, then, with his deal expiring after this season, the Phillies reportedly might be negotiating a contract extension with him ...


Utley has to he traded.

Not since the Phillies sent Bobby Abreu to the Yankees in 2006 have they had as obvious and valuable trade commodity in a seller’s climate. Abreu had begun his statistical decline at 31, just like Utley. The difference between them: Abreu almost never missed a game before or after his peak.

For all his toughness, for all his Eastwood-ian posturing, Utley, 34, has not played a full season in 4 years, including this one. That’s right: In each season that Utley made at least $15 million, he lost time to injury: hip, knees, oblique. He is always in superb condition, but he is 34 going on Bynum. . . .

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