Mike Missanelli: Thoughts on Utley's injury and more

. above, won't be back soon, Freddy Galvis won't cut it, and the Phillies will have to deal for a vetto play second. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
. above, won't be back soon, Freddy Galvis won't cut it, and the Phillies will have to deal for a vetto play second. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer (A prediction: Chase Utley)
Posted: March 25, 2012

CLEARWATER, Fla. - I'm writing this column from the Sunshine State and my head is spinning.

I don't know whether that's from the brilliant sunlight and the rum drink I quaffed or the abundance of crazy things that happened last week in the world of sports.

Here are my thoughts on the week's serious, ridiculous, and sublime events.

Chase Utley is expected to speak Sunday at Phillies training camp. That in itself is interesting news, because Utley's mouth rarely functions at all. But Utley is expected to address his troublesome knee condition, which has the Phillies so perplexed that on Friday general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted that they made a big mistake in the handling of Utley.

"It was foolish to trade Wilson Valdez," Amaro told me in a radio interview on 97.5 The Fanatic. "We felt we had coverage there with middle infielders. [In retrospect] we probably would not have traded him."

Amaro gets points for acknowledging a mistake. We would likely not get the same candid response from any front-office member of the Eagles, and Lord knows they have made plenty of similar mistakes.

But all that gets Amaro is a pat on the head. The Phils' second-base problem is not going to end any time soon and the front office has to take the blame for helping the position get so barren.

Amaro's current plan is to continue to wait for Utley to be well enough to play and in the interim hope that 22-year-old Freddy Galvis can hold down the fort. I don't want to be a doomsayer, but I don't think either of those things will happen. If Galvis, whom I've watched take many swings down here in spring training, can hit at the big-league level, I will be shocked.

Players who struggle offensively in the minor leagues, such as Galvis, normally can't handle the breaking ball. And in the major leagues, guys throw hard sliders that shatter bats. Galvis would be fortunate to hit .220 in the big leagues. And as woeful as the Phillies are offensively right now, a second baseman hitting .220 just won't cut it.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure that Utley ever plays ball again.

There is nothing that Utley can do to make his knees better. He has a degenerative condition that has worn away the cartilage cushion of his bones. On top of that, he has tendinitis of the patellar tendon, which will create a constant flaming of his knee cap upon movement.

Jimmy Rollins is no doctor, but he sees what he sees. Rollins acknowledged last week that the condition and the pain prohibit Utley from turning and pivoting like a second baseman has to do in order to chase down ground balls to throw a guy out, or turn a double play.

Two years ago, Utley probably should have gotten microfracture surgery, the only thing that can create new cartilage, which in actuality is scar tissue. There are some experimental things going on in Europe where doctors inject some sort of gel into the joint that serves as cartilage. Amaro revealed that when Utley left camp a few days ago, he did see a different specialist and underwent some different treatment, but added that "it was not all that different from what he's been doing," and that "there's nothing crazy going on." I guess that leaves out the European thing.

Here's my prediction: Utley won't be back soon, Galvis will be sent back to triple A within the first month of the season, and the Phillies will have to trade a couple of more prospects - perhaps, finally, even Domonic Brown - to acquire a veteran second baseman.

Is Tad Iguchi still playing?

I interviewed Phillies president Dave Montgomery last week. In light of the negotiations on a long-term contract with Cole Hamels, I asked Montgomery if his team could afford three pitchers all making more than $20 million per season.

He didn't even blink, looked me right in the eyes, and said, "Yes." Your move, Cole. By the way, the Phillies had 10,500 people come to see their Friday game against the Yankees. Forbes magazine just came out with a story that ranks the Phils with the fifth-highest value in baseball, at $723 million. Nice.

A Los Angeles Times column by a longtime NFL writer sad that Eagles coach Andy Reid has wrestled with his front office for more control in personnel matters and threatened to walk if he didn't get it. Reid denied it and said that he has always had the final say in personnel matters.

Gee, Andy, just when they gave you a perfect excuse for all those lousy decisions, you give it right back?

The punishment NFL commissioner Roger Goodell laid down on the New Orleans Saints, suspending head coach Sean Payton for an entire season, is a complete overreaction that mostly, and unfairly, punishes Saints fans. Fans had nothing to do with this and now they have to suffer without their head coach/offensive coordinator, who is closely tied to the team's most important player, quarterback Drew Brees.

People say to me that the NFL had to set an example for the kids. Why is it the responsibility of professional sports to also raise kids? Raise your own children. The moral degradation of sports happened a long time ago.

And keep in mind that this is professional football, where the league that laid down this bounty suspension, also celebrates big hits.

Some guy named Mark Titus has written a book about being a walk-on basketball player at Ohio State. In the book, Titus calls Evan Turner "The Villain." Titus wrote that "The Villain was an insecure, socially feeble-minded, possibly bipolar, and often callous perfectionist who lacked self-confidence and the ability to trust anybody around him." Titus says that he and Turner, however, are still friends.

Ah, you might want to confirm that with him, Skippy.


Mike Missanelli hosts a show from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 97.5-FM The Fanatic. Contact him at mikemiss@975thefanatic.com

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